Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) composes of three aspects that aim to ensure just treatment and opportunity for all. EDI aims to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against an individual or a group of individuals on the grounds of their protected characteristics such as Age, Disability, and Marriage and Civil partnership (covered by Article 15 of the Indian Constitution to an extent).
While the Indian government has granted polyethnic rights and to an extent representational rights to religious minority groups such as Muslims and Christians, and allotted reservation to correct historical imbalances among the caste system of India, we as a country have failed to recognize other protected characteristics that require attention to ensure fair treatment and opportunity. When it comes to educational institutions and work spaces, there is an option for voluntary opportunity enhancement however, if there is a lack of understanding around the issue, how do we correct it? For example, there is a lack of understanding and representation of mature students in higher education in India, or insufficient infrastructure for visible and invisible disabled individuals in educational institutions and work places.
It is crucial to create a sense of understanding and increase representation to fully embrace diverse individuals. For example, while India in 2017 passed the Maternity (Amendment) Bill, increasing the right to paid maternity leave for women from 12 to 26 weeks - third highest in the world, realistically speaking, it is only applies to less than 1% of the women in India (Rajagopalan and Tabarrok 2019). This is due to women working in unorganized and care-giving sectors. This creates a sense of tokenism and highlights the need to fine-tune ideas and laws to suit the local work culture. The idea is correct, but the implementation? Not to much!
Similarly, all the nine protected characteristics once understood and worked with will allow a range of individuals and communities to feel equal, and included. One step at a time, we can embrace diversity!