The Myth Of Absolute Equality

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SUJIT DE, KOLKATA

THIS is with reference to the letter ‘Not quota but merit-based appointments’ by Kajal Chatterjee (NT, May 26, 2018). To defend the notion of absolute equality, Chatterjee has put forward an example that in a road, cycles enjoy equal space and absolute equality with cars. We know that since absolute equality means no equality, footpaths have to be created to reserve them for pedestrians. Now, it is found that if we let even cycles enjoy absolute equality with automobiles then more often than not it will cause accidents. Sanity demands that such a gross injustice must not be delivered in the name of equality to those who ride cycles! As a result, many countries have been reserving a separate lane for cycles further narrowing the width of a road.  Perhaps, it is not very difficult to understand that to combat the rising incidents of rape against women, it is not men but the women of our country need special legal protection and their strict implementations. Similarly, to combat the rising incidents of caste atrocities against Dalits, it is not upper castes but the Dalits of our country need special legal protection and their strict implementations. And there must be sizeable presence of Dalits and women in public administration especially in the police force so that such laws can properly be executed without any caste and gender hatred.   It will be a gross injustice if existing prejudices and hatred against Dalits and women and the poor have been swept under the carpet of absolute equality. The idea of absolute equality was ridiculed by Anatole France when he said, “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor, to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets and to steal bread.” To replace such “majestic” laws by sensitive ones, laws have been enacted to do positive discriminations in favour of some who need protection for survival.  As for example, many welfare states notably the United States of America and Nordic countries provide the unemployed with a substantial allowance. It will be ludicrous if those countries also start giving unemployment allowance even to those who are employed for the sake of absolute equality!