EQUALITY!!! Perhaps the only word in the world with universal appeal. A word that attracted many towards revolution. A word that promised to make the world a better place to live. Today I am going to argue that equality is not something any country, society, nation or a civilization has ever had, does have or will ever have. Furthermore, my argument is that equality is not something we should even try to achieve. What any developed, prosperous society needs is upward social mobility.
In a recent judgment by the supreme court of India, where it upheld OBC reservation in NEET, the judgment said, "Merit cannot be reduced to narrow definitions of performance in an open competitive examination which only provides formal equality of opportunity… high scores in exam are not a proxy for merit. Merit should be socially contextualized and reconceptualized as an instrument that advances social good like equality. In such context reservation is not at odds with merit."
Now, I don't want to be contemptuous of the supreme court of India, but this judgment is a reflection of the ideology which is prevalent in the higher echelons of Indian judiciary. One of the judges who wrote this judgment has even had his doctorate from Harvard University on the topic of affirmative action. We will talk about this particular individual later but first focus on the topic, affirmative action especially in the context of the United States talks about wrongdoings by the white slave owners to the slave population of the time. It talks about affirmative action for the betterment of the African American community, as a price for atrocities their ancestors faced in the United States. Now going into the merits of it, is not the topic of today but to copy paste and apply it in the Indian context is appalling to say the least.
No country, no society, no civilization and no nation can ever do anything to right the wrongs of the past. To quote one of the great economists of the 20th century, Dr. Thomas Sowell, who happens to be an african american himself, While speaking about German chancellor Angela merkel and her role in the refugee crisis in Europe after the war in Syria. “It does not matter what Angela Merkel does now. None of that can and will ever wipe out what the Germans under Hitler's Nazi regime did. They cannot reclaim lives of 6 million Jews, they cannot do justice to what happened with millions of Europeans during that period. All they can do is to ensure that none of that ever happens again.” No future generations anywhere in the world can wipe out or 'whitewash' the wrongdoings of their ancestors. All we can do is to create a society where those wrongdoings won't be repeated. This is what Dr. Sowell had to say about affermative action in India....
What any kind of affirmative action presumes is that no matter how good your current circumstances are, no matter how much equal opportunities you have, none of that will matter as long as you do not compensate for your ancestors' crimes.
Now it would be understandable if such nonsense is uttered in an educational institute where you have heavy Marxist influence. But to have such a thing in the judiciary is exasperating. Any modern, liberal judiciary is there to get justice and to punish the crimes of an individual. No modern judiciary, no liberal judiciary can even think of punishing an individual for his or her ancestors' mistakes and crimes. That goes against the very core principle of justice. That, I am afraid, sounds more like North Korean justice where a two year-old child has to pay for his grandfather's alleged crimes.
Affirmative action speaks of crimes against a community or a group of communities in the past, which should be actively rectified by giving that marginalized community more (what it doesn’t say is, by taking it from the community or a group of community, which was engaged in that injustice in the past.) Now, the irony is, this judgment was written by a judge whose father was the 16th CJI and whose son is also in the same profession. This is a classic case of a ‘wannabe Woke’ who is too old for activism, showing his allegiance by waving this judgment, to prove his loyalty to the ideology. Had he been sincere about repudiation of inheritance, about which he has written in the judgment, he should have been the first to repudiate. Alas, that did not happen. Because preaching is easier than leading by example.
Now, let's come to the alternative, Upward Social Mobility. As the name itself suggests, a country, a society or a nation should have upward social mobility. This is a categorically positive way. This means that there should be equal opportunities given to the people, irrespective of their Caste, creed, gender, race, religion, etc. Everyone should have an equal opportunity to climb the socio-economical ladder. There should not be any stagnancy anywhere on that ladder. This means, you are not looking at Equality in the society, because it is not desirable.
Equality almost never in practice, but also not explicitly in theory means everyone will be better off. In reality it means everyone will be equally poor. Even today, if you go to any tribe in the Amazons, you will find great equality of economic standards, because everyone is poor. That is not the kind of equality anyone should even pursue. That equality is a road to disaster. The 20th century is a good example of that experiment around the world.
Equality of opportunities is the only thing a state, of which judiciary is a part of, can ensure. It cannot ensure equality of outcome. And it is this equality of outcome that this judgment is looking at. Ensuring equality of opportunities, does not ensure equality of outcomes. It ensures that we live in a better society than our ancestors did, it ensures that nobody suffers injustice because of their caste, creed, race, gender, religion ,etc., it ensures that we live in a just society.
If we don't speak of and adhere to Upward Social Mobility, we fall prey to the seductive term called Equality. Which promises taking from the ‘Rich’ and giving it to the ’poor’, which leads to the path of Marxist revolution, which promises nothing but disaster.
Let us avoid disaster, let us adhere to the path of Upward social mobility.
Apoorva Sahasrabudhay is a media graduate who writes about politics, international affairs, geopolitics, economics and history. He has a keen interest on tracking sociological data of various countries and societies. He is also interested in psephology. He is meanwhile also exploring his hand in culture and religion.