Saturday, May 29, 2010


I have a favourite theme – a pet theory.

“No two people are equal - not even the so-called identical twins. People are born unequal, have unequal intelligence, unequal capabilities, unequal opportunities, unequal value systems and so on.

I have, of late, found a need to re-visit it.

I shall make a few observations before I dig deeper into it all.

Every person, undoubtedly, contributes differently to society, to his family and to his fellow beings. The difference itself means they are not equal. Moreover, some contributions are more significant than the others - and that further implies unequal contributions.

Each has his own space carved out in society. But not necessarily equal space or space of equal importance or significance.

All this reinforces my averment that "No two people are equal ...". I would go so far as to say that nothing in the universe is equal to - or identical to - any other. Is this moment the same as the last? Certainly not - if one realises that this moment is X moments away from some fixed reference point in the past and the next is X+1 moments removed from the same reference point.

Now, what do we mean by equality when we talk about the equality of people?

What I mean is obvious. A literal interpretation. Given that, there remains the need to examine what people mean - which is not quite the same as what they think they mean.

Despite the inherent inequality of any two things or any two instances of the same thing (eg. two mangoes), there is this issue of equality that has attracted philosophers - political philosophers in particular.

What they mean essentially is that all persons shall be treated the same way and shall be subject to the same laws, same privileges, same punishments, same opportunities etc because they are, broadly speaking, the same or equal. (Perhaps, 'similar' fits the bill better than 'equal' here; but who cares for semantics when 'equal' sounds more impressive and emotionally compelling?)

Fair enough.

But this is where hypocrisy begins.

Do we accord a boil on the person of a Bill Gates the same disdain as we accord the boil on the person of a beggar near India Gate or the Gateway of India? Don't we make so much fuss over Bill (if we have a chance of being noticed by Bill or his cronies, that is!) while we simply ignore the lowly beggar?

Do we treat the problems faced by a less important friend of ours with the same concern as we treat those of a socially better-placed or more influential friend - assuming for a moment that the problems are similar in character?

Is a case relating to the property of an ordinary citizen heard by law courts with the same urgency as that of a case involving the fortunes of an Ambani, a Birla or a Modi?

Is the government as keen on acquiring land to help a poor man build a house as it is to help a large industrial house build a factory (even if it adversely affects the lives of several ordinary citizens)?

Apparently not.

Because some are more equal than the others!!!

So much for equality.


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