Before we discuss the meaning of equality, we must understand that equality is a relative concept. The demand for equality has always been against the prevailing inequalities of the times. The existence of social inequalities is probably as old as human society and the debate about the nature and cause of inequalities is an ancient topic of political philosophy.
In classical Greece, Aristotle in his book Politics distinguished three social classes and noted the significant difference between citizens and slaves, men and women in terms of rational and civic capacities. Participation in the Polis was restricted to the citizens only. Similarly, in our Hindu Society, according to the classical text, the society was divided into four (varnas) categories: Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudras. All rights and duties were based upon this classification.
During medieval feudalism, legal privileges were based upon status and birth. In short, different types of inequalities have been long enduring, giving rise to the notion that inequality is inevitable in social relations. In fact, the pre-eighteenth century teachings argued that men were naturally unequal and that there was a natural human hierarchy. Different ideologies justified inequality on grounds of superior race, ancestry, age, sex, religion, military strength, culture, wealth, knowledge, etc.
According to Turner, inequality is multi-dimensional and the elimination of one aspect of inequality often leads to the exaggeration of other aspects of social, political and cultural inequalities. In fact, all human societies are characterised by some form of social inequalities in terms of class, status, power and gender. While studying the concept of equality, the contradiction between equality as a general value of modern society and inequality at a practical level, as a fact of all human societies must be kept in mind.