While both India and the USA are culturally pluralistic societies which have a democratic form of government and similar judicial systems, they have different interpretation of the notion of Right to Equality.
Right to Equality in USA
Right to Equality in India
United States had derived this right from Declaration of Rights and most importantly, from the Bill of Rights. It was inserted in the Bill of Rights through fourteenth Amendment in year 1868.
Concept of ‘Equal protection of law’ – equal treatment under equal circumstances.
Emphasis on civil and legal equality
Equality in procedural sense; focus on equality of opportunity.
Original constitution did not prevent discrimination. E.g., Segregation against African-Americans before the Civil Rights Act, 1964.
In India, the Constituent assembly had the intent to inculcate this right in the constitution at the initial level. Assembly did the same by inserting them in Chapter III named as “Fundamental Right”.
Follows both – British model of ‘Equality before Law’ and American model of ‘Equal protection of law’ [Article 14]
Both civil-legal as well as socio-economic equality.
Substantive equality. Provides expressly for Affirmative action to ensure equality [Art 16]; Focus on ensuring Equality of outcomes along with equality of opportunity. [e.g., reservation in promotions]
Prevents discrimination and abolishes untouchability since its inception and adoption. [Art. 15, 17]