Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental
This is the story of two girls - Saumya & Devi and their perspectives on equality & equity. Devi is the daughter of the housekeeper who works in Saumya’s house. While Saumya is privileged and has opportunities and resources to get the best education, Devi had to struggle a lot. Read on to find out more.
Saumya: Hey Devi, it’s been a while since we caught up! How are you? How’s aunty? Devi: Hey Saum, I’m alright, everyone at home is also fine. When did you come back from London?
Saumya: Just a few days ago, I wanted to meet all of you before I left again. Anyway, what are you up to?
Devi: I’ve just been busy with college work, it’s super hectic.
Saumya: Oh, what do you study?
Devi: I just enrolled in a Polytechnic College and I’m doing Computer Science Engineering. You completed your English major from Oxford, yes?
Saumya: Oh yes! Oxford is so cool and London is beautiful. I miss it quite a lot. The weather is so good and the places are so clean and pretty, unlike places here. You should come sometime.
Devi: Haha, both you and I know it is almost impossible for me to study abroad. And as much as this place has its shortcomings, this is my home and I will forever love it.
S: I understand, sorry I spoke so rudely. That wasn’t my intention.
D: No, that’s alright. At this point, I’m used to hearing things like this.
S: Anyway, as a part of my research project on equality vs equity - I’ve been meaning to interview some people. Would you like to be a subject?
D: Sure, please go ahead.
S: What does equality mean to you?
D: I believe that equality means providing equal opportunities and resources to people irrespective of factors such as caste, creed, sex, religion, etc.
S: I agree, now do you think you faced inequality in your life?
D: Absolutely! It is almost as if my career and decisions were predestined before my birth. As someone who comes from an underprivileged background, there are not many opportunities for me to explore unlike say a person like you. You get to travel around the world, study in the best of schools but I struggled to even get basic education. It was a hassle for me to pay my school fees which is why my mother had to work as a housekeeper in so many houses. I too had to manage both work and studies at times.
I don’t mean to invalidate your feelings, experiences, and achievements, but it cannot be denied that even though we are friends - we’ve lived very different lives. I’ve struggled to get where I am today while although you too have worked hard, you’ve definitely had it easy. To make it worse, it’s almost like there are people who can’t fathom that underprivileged people too can and want to pursue their dreams.
S: I’m so sorry to hear that and I do understand that most of the opportunities that came to me were through the influences of my parents. I don’t know what to do about it - it’s not like I can’t accept it but at the same time I feel guilty about it.
D: No, don’t be. The fact that you have acknowledged your privilege is a starting step. There’s no use blaming 1-2 individuals for their privilege, it’s time to hold the government, politicians, and other powerful influencers who propagate this baseless system. Discrimination based on caste, gender, religion, etc has existed since the beginning of time - but now it’s time for change.
S: On that note, what do you think equity means?
D: I believe that equity means not just giving equal resources but rather giving people opportunities appropriate and proportionate to their current situation. Equality might give both rich and poor people the same amount of resources which does not bridge the inequality gap but equity on the other hand might give more resources to the poor so that they can maintain the same level playing field as the privileged. Equity is the way to go if one truly wants to bridge these economic, income, educational and social inequality gaps in society.
S: Well said, Devika. What do you think are some ways to achieve equality, or rather equality through equity in our country?
D: The first and foremost step towards achieving a more equal society would be to acknowledge one’s privilege. There are so many people who do not realize the abundance of opportunities they have and rather pick on people with the bare minimum and are super discontent. This could help in identifying and preventing unconscious bias. For example, if someone sees a low caste person doing well, they automatically assume it is only through reservation they could achieve their dreams and not because they deserved it.
As for the government, we need more stringent policies on implementing equality in all phases - be it education, employment, or more. We, as citizens also should be more vocal and proactive in voicing out our opinions and standing for the right of those who do not have a voice.
S: I absolutely agree with what you have to say, Devika. I wish more people were as vocal as you are and I will do my best to be part of the change as well. I hope you get your scholarship to study and I know that no matter where you are, you will be inspirational to many. Thank you.