Equality

  • Equality is a condition in which adequate opportunities are given to all.
  • Equal Right to Vote: In a democratic country like India, adults, irrespective of their religion, caste education, status, gender or place of birth, are given the right to vote under Universal Adult Franchise.
  • Equality in Indian Democracy:
  • The Indian Constitution recognises every person as equal. This means that every individual in the country, including male and female persons from all castes, religions, tribes, educational and economic backgrounds are recognised as equal. However, it does not mean that inequality does not exist in India.
  • Four provisions provide equality in India; equality before the law; no discrimination on the basis of caste, colour, religion, race, gender; everyone has access to all public places and untouchability has been abolished.

The government has tried to implement equality firstly through laws and
secondly through government programmes or schemes to help disadvantaged
communities. These schemes are introduced and implemented to ensure
greater opportunities for people who have not had them in the past.
• In addition, programmes like mid-day meal scheme have been launched to
improve the attendance and enrolment ratio of children in schools. Dalit women
have been employed to prepare the meals.
Issues of Equality in Other Democracies: In USA, the Civil Rights Movement of
1960’s restored the dignity of African-Americans based on colour. The Civil
Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, religion or national origin.
• It also stated that all schools would be open to African–American children and
that they would no longer have to attend separate schools specially set up for
them. However, despite this, a majority of African–Americans continue to be
discriminated in the country.

Role of the Government

  • Private and Public Healthcare:
  • Healthcare is divided into two categories: Public health services and private health services Public health services are a chain of health centres and hospitals run by the government.
  • One important aspect of public health is that it is meant to provide quality healthcare services either free or at low cost so that even the poor can seek treatment.
  • At the village level, there are health centres where there is usually a nurse and a village health worker. They are trained in dealing with common illnesses and work under the supervision of doctors at the Primary Health Centre (PHC)
  • Such a centre covers many villages in a rural area. At the district level is the District Hospital that also supervises all the health centres. Large cities have many government hospitals.
  • Another important function of public health is to take action to prevent the spread of diseases such as TB, malaria, jaundice, cholera, etc.
  • According to our Constitution, it is the primary duty of the government to ensure the welfare of the people and provide health care facilities to all. The government must safeguard the Right to Life of every person.
  • Private health services are not owned or controlled by the government. People have to pay a lot of money for every service that they use.
  • A large number of doctors run their own private clinics. In the rural areas, one finds Registered Medical Practitioners (RMPs). Urban areas have large number of doctors, many of them providing specialised services.
  • There are hospitals and nursing homes that are privately owned. There are many laboratories that do tests and offer special facilities such as X-ray, ultrasound, etc.There are also shops from where we buy medicines.
  • (iv) In 1996, the Kerala government made some major changes in the state.
  • Forty per cent of the entire state budget was given to panchayats. They could plan and provide for their requirements.
  • This made it possible for a village to make sure that proper planning was done for water, food, women’s development and education.
  • Water supply schemes were checked, the working of schools and anganwadis was ensured and specific problems of the village were taken up. Health centres were also improved.
  • (v) The best example of healthcare comes from Costa Rica where the government provides for adequate healthcare to people.
  • Several years ago, Costa Rica took a very important decision and decided not to have an army. This helped the Costa Rican government to spend the money that the army would have used, on health, education and other basic needs of the people.

How the State Government Works

  • The government works at three levels- national, state and local.
  • Who is an MLA?
  • Every state in India has a Legislative Assembly. In states, it is the MLA (Member of Legislature Assembly) who represents the people. The MLAs are elected by the people and they form the government.
  • Every MLA is elected from one area. This area is known as his or her constituency.
  • A political party whose MLA’s win more than half the number of constituencies in the state get majority. The political party is called the ruling party.
  • All the other members form the opposition.
  • The head of the state is the Governor while the head of the government consists of the council of ministers headed by the Chief Minister.
  • After the elections, the MLAs belonging to the ruling party will elect their leader who will become the Chief Minister. The chief minister then selects other people as ministers. After the elections, it is the Governor of the state who appoints the chief minister and other ministers.
  • The chief minister and other ministers have the responsibility of running various government departments or ministries. They have separate offices.
  • A debate in the Legislative Assembly:
  • In common usage, the word ‘government’ refers to government departments and various ministers who head them. The overall head is the chief minister. This is called the executive part of the government.
  • During debates in the Legislative Assembly, MLAs can express their opinions and ask questions related to the issue or give suggestions about what should be done by the government. Those who wish to, can respond to this. The concerned minister then replies to the questions and tries to assure the Assembly that adequate steps are being taken.
  • All the MLAs who gather together (assemble) in the legislative assembly are called the Legislature. They are the ones who authorise and supervise their work.

Working of the Government

  • The legislative assembly is a place where leaders debate and discuss on important issues and make important bills.
  • In addition to legislative assembly, a ‘press conference’ is also a mode of knowing what the government does for the people.
  • The government works through various departments like public works department, agriculture, health and education.
  • The government has the power to make new laws for the state regarding health and sanitation. This act of making laws on certain issues is done in the Legislative Assembly of each state. The various government departments then implement these laws. Laws for the entire country are made in the Parliament.

Growing up as Boys & Girls

  • Gender justice is an important issue to be highlighted.
  • The society we grow up in teaches us what kind of behaviour is acceptable for girls and boys, what boys and girls can or cannot do.
  • The roles women play and the work they do are usually valued less than the roles men play and the work they do.
  • Women’s work and equality:
  • (i) While the constitution does not discriminate between males and females in reality,discrimination still carries on.
  • (ii) The government has set up Anganwadis or child care centres in several villages to help women.
  • (iii) The government has passed laws that make it mandatory for organisations that have more than 30 women employees to provide crèche facilities. The provision of crèches helps many women to take up employment outside the home. It also makes it possible for more girls to attend schools.

Women Change the World

  • In 1890s, Ramabai championed the cause of women’s education.
  •  She never went to school but learnt to read and write from her parents.
  •  She was given the title ‘Pandita’ because she could read and write Sanskrit.
  •  She went on to set up a Mission in Khedgaon near Pune in 1898, where widows and poor women were encouraged not only to become literate but to be independent. They were taught a variety of skills from carpentry to running a printing press.
  • (v) Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain learnt English from her elder brother and an elder sister inspite
  • of family opposition and went on to become a famous writer. Though she knew how to read
  • and write Urdu, she was stopped from learning Bangla and English. In those days, English was
  • seen as a language that would expose girls to new ideas, which people thought were not correct for them.
  • (vi) Rashsundari Devi of Bengal was the first Indian woman to write an autobiography called ‘Amar Jiban’.
  • Her book titled Amar Jiban is the first known autobiography written by an Indian woman.
  • Rashsundari Devi was a housewife from a rich landlord’s family. At that time, it was believed that if a woman learnt to read and write, she would bring bad luck to her husband and become a widow. Despite this, she taught herself how to read and write in secret, well after her marriage.
  • A huge number of SC and ST children leave school at an early age. The 2011 census even shows that Muslim girls are less likely than Dalit girls to complete primary school.
  • Many reasons like non-availability of teachers and schools, lack of transport, cost of education,indifferent attitude of teachers and parents are responsible for negligence of education of some children.

Understanding Media

  • Media is the plural form of the word ‘medium’ and it describes the various ways through which we communicate in society.
  • Media refers to all means of communication; everything ranging from a phone call to the evening news on TV can be called media.
  • TV, radio and newspapers are a form of media. Since they reach millions of people across the world, or masses, they are called mass media.
  • Media is a very effective tool that can help people be more informed and aware of the happenings all over the world. Media also helps people put across their points of view
  • Media and Democracy:
  • Media plays a very important role in providing news and discussing events taking place in the country and the world.
  • New stories of media inform people about important events in the country.
  • if they wish to, people can take action on the basis of these news stories. Some of the ways in which they can do this is by writing letters to the concerned minister, organising a public protest, starting a signature campaign, asking the government to rethink its programme, etc.

Market Around Us

  • A market is where buyers and sellers are involved in the sale and purchase of goods. It establishes a link between the producer and the consumer and helps them connect to each other. It allows the sellers to sell their produce and the buyers to choose from the various products.
  • Weekly Market:
  • (i) A weekly market is so-called because it is held on a specific day of the week.
  • (ii) Weekly markets do not have permanent shops. Traders set up shops for the day and then close them up in the evening. Then they may set up at a different place the next day.
  • (iii) There are thousands of such markets in India.
  • (iv) People come to the markets for their everyday requirements.
  • (v) Many things are available in a weekly market at cheaper rates. This is because when shops are in permanent buildings, they incur a lot of expenditure – they have to pay rent, electricity, fees to the government. They also have to pay wages to their workers.
  • (vi) Weekly markets even have a large number of shops selling the same goods which means there is a competition among them.
  • (vii) One advantage of weekly markets is that most of the things of need are available at one place.
  • Shops in the Neighbourhood:
  • There are many shops that sell goods and services in our neighbourhood.
  • We may buy milk from the dairy, grocery from the departmental stores, etc.
  • These shops are useful as they are near our home and we can go there on any day of the week.
  • Usually, the buyer and seller know each other and these shops also provide goods on credit.
  • There are other markets in the urban area which have many shops at one place. These are called shopping complexes.

A Shirt in the Market

This deals with steps involved in marking a shirt. The chapter highlights a chain of markets that
link the producer of cotton to the buyer of the shirt in the supermarket. Buying and selling takes
place at every step in the chain.
A Cotton Farmer in Kurnool:
• A small farmer grows cotton on his small piece of land. Once the harvesting is done, cotton balls
are collected.
• These are taken to the local trader as the farmer had borrowed money from the trader to buy
seeds, fertilisers, etc. for cultivation.
• Even though the market price is high, the trader buys it at a meagre price from the farmer.
• Cultivation of cotton requires high levels of inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides and the
farmers have to incur heavy expenses on account of these. Most often, the small farmers need
to borrow money to meet these expenses.
• They depend on traders for loans and other expenses during exigencies. Also, there are times in the year when there is no work and no income for the farmers, so borrowing money is the only means of survival.

  • The Cloth Market of Erode:
  • The bi-weekly market of Erode in Tamil Nadu is one of the biggest cloth markets in the world.
  • Cloth made by weavers from all over comes here for sale.
  • Instructions about the type of cloth to be made are given in advance by merchants to traders.
  • The merchant distributes work among the weavers based on the orders he/she has received for cloth. The weavers get the yarn from the merchant and supply him/her the cloth.
  • For the weavers, this arrangement has two advantages:
  • The weavers do not have to spend their money on purchase of yarn.
  • Also, the problem of selling the finished cloth is taken care of. Weavers know from the outset what cloth they should make and how much of it is to be woven.
  • (v) This dependence on the merchants both for raw materials and markets means that the merchants have a lot of power. They give orders for what is to be made and they pay a very low price for making the cloth.
  • (vi) The arrangement between the merchant and the weavers is an example of putting-out System, whereby the merchant supplies the raw material and receives the finished product. It is prevalent in the weaving industry in most regions of India.
  • The garments factory makes shirts to be sold to businessmen from the US and Europe who run a chain of business stores.
  • These large stores do business strictly on their own terms. They demand the lowest prices from the supplier. In addition, they set high standards for quality of production and timely delivery. Any defects or delay in delivery is dealt with strictly. So, the exporter tries his best to meet the conditions set by these powerful buyers.
  • Faced with pressure the garment centre tries to extract maximum work from their workers of the lowest cost.
  • Most hired workers are temporary and get low salary
  • The Shirt in the US:
  • The shirts sent from garments export centres are sold in dollars in the US.
  • The shirts sold at Rs 200 by the garment export centre sell at Rs 1,200 in the US.
  • Thus, a chain of markets links the producers of cotton to the buyers at the supermarket.
  • Market and Equality:
  • Foreign businessmen made huge profits in the market.
  • Garment manufacturers only make moderate profits.
  • Weavers at Erode market and small farmers don’t make huge profit.
  • Poor people have no option but to depend on the rich.
  • The poor are exploited in the market.
  • Laws should be made to protect the interests of weavers and small farmers. Cooperatives of producers should also be formed to help them.
  • Struggles for Equality:
  • Throughout the world, people are fighting for their rights and equality, trying to end the discrimination which they face.
  • Women’s struggle and movements for equality were fighting for equal rights and justice.
  • The Tawa Matsya Sangh in Madhya Pradesh is also an example of people coming together to fight for an issue.
  • There are many other struggles such as those of beedi workers, fishfolk, agricultural labourers, slum dwellers, etc. who have been fighting for equality and justice.
  • Tawa Matsya Sangh (TMS):
  • It is a federation of fisher-workers’ cooperatives that fights for the rights of forest dwellers who have been displaced from Satpura forest located in Madhya Pradesh.
  • When dams are built or forest areas declared sanctuaries for animals, thousands of people are displaced. Whole villages are uprooted and people are forced to go and build new homes, start new lives elsewhere.

Struggles for Equality

In urban areas too, bastis in which poor people live are often uprooted. Some of them are
relocated to areas outside the city. Their work as well as their children’s schooling is severely
disrupted because of the distance from the outskirts of the city to these locations.
• With the beginning of the construction of Tawa Dam in 1958 till its completion in 1978, large parts of the forest and agricultural areas were submerged. Thus, the forest dwellers had to suffer a set back as they earned very little.
• The government gave rights for fishing in the Tawa reservoir but to only private contractors in
1994.
• When the contractors started exploiting the poor villagers, they came together to form a union
and set up an organization to protect their rights, which was called Tawa Matsya Sangh.
• Rallies and Chakka jam were organized time and again. In response, the government granted fishing rights to the villagers in 1996. A five-year lease agreement was signed two months later.
On January 2, 1997, people from 33 villages of Tawa started the new year with the first catch.
• By managing to earn a higher wage as well as preserving the fish in the reservoir, the TMS has shown that when people’s organizations get their rights to livelihood, they can be good managers.

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