Forms Of Diversity In India

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FORMS OF DIVERSITY IN INDIA
  • “Unity in Diversity”, the adage is appropriate for India which is a land of diversity, be it racial diversity, language diversity, ethnic diversity etc. Diversity can be witnessed not only from moving north to south or from east to west but also within the same state and within the same region too. This makes India a unique nation and an attractive destination for tourists from all over the world. The intensity of diversity can well be guaged by the fact that India is not only a centre of spirituality but also adventure tourism. Rishikesh being an example of hosting both and attracting huge foreigners. 

 

VARIOUS FORMS OF DIVERSITY EXISTING IN INDIA
  • GEOGRAPHICAL DIVERSITY
    • The Indian peninsula has all the variety of relief features which makes India a remarkable country. The Himalayas in the North act like sentinels and separate us from Tibet and China.
    • The Karakoram Range, Vindhya Range in the Central Indian region and the Satpura Range in the eastern Gujarat, The Aravali Range in Rajasthan and the Western Ghats are known as Sahyadris make these regions different from the Plains which are found in the northern plains and are called Indo-Gangetic Plains.
    • On the basis of the soil, texture, vegetation and the regions these are broadly divided into the Bhabhar Belt, The Terai Belt, the Bangar Belt andthe Khadar belt. The Thar desert stretches in the west and covers almost 6 percent area of the state of Rajasthan.
    • Malwa plateau in the west, Deccan plateau in the south and Chota Nagpur plateau in the east make the Central Highlands of India.
    • Coastal areas in the west and extreme south and in the east make India a peninsula.
    • Also, there are islands of Lakshadweep, Andaman, and Nicobar make union territories.
    • India is a land where on one hand Mawsynram receives an average annual rainfall of 11802.4 mm while on the other hand Jaisalmer receives about 209.5 mm of annual rainfall.
    • Presence of perrenial rivers like Ganga and disappearing rivers like Luni.
    • Himalayas are young fold mountains while Vindhyas and Satpura are block mountains.
    • Sunderbans are found in West Bengal whereas Karst topography is found in the Vindhya region (mainly southwestern Bihar), the Himalayas (parts of Jammu & Kashmir, Robert Cave, Sahasradhara, the eastern Himalayas, areas near Dehradun), Pachmarhi in Madhya Pradesh, the surrounding coast near Vishakhapatnam, and Bastar in Chhattisgarh.  

 

 

  • Geographically India can be divided into four regions.
    • The first is the Himalayan region or the Northern Mountain wall that extends from Kashmir in the West to Assam in the East. This region includes Kashmir, Kangra, Tehri, Kumaun Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan.
    • The second region is the great and big Northern Plains which are provided with water by the rivers like Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra and their tributaries. Due to this the region is most fertile and productive.
    • The third region comprised of the plateau of the Central India and the Deccan.
    • The Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats are stretched on the two sides of the Deccan which meets at the Nilgiris. The Coromandal Coast stands between the Eastern Ghats and the Bay of Bengal.
    • The region between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats is known as the Konkan up to Goa beyond which it is known as Kanara or Karnataka while the Southern most part is known as the Malabar Coast or Kerala.
    • The ancient names of Western Ghats was Sahyadri while that of Eastern Ghats, Mahindra. Undivided India is as large as Europe without Russia.
    • India contains about one fifth of the total population of the whole world. Thus the physical features of the country with its numerous rivers and lofty mountains favour a speculative bent of mind among the people living in these geographical regions. This geographical feature promoted the growth of composite culture of the country.
  • RACIAL DIVERSITY
    • Along with the physical variety the most remarkable feature of India is the presence of the variety of human beings which she presents through her teeming millions.
    • The people of India can be divided into four major groups on ethnic and linguistic grounds.
    • The first group include the Neolithic and Paleolithic men who inhabited in this country since the remote past.
    • The second group of people belong to the Mongoloid type and they are found in Bhutan, Sikkim and Nepal.
    • The third group is identified as Dravidians living in the Southern part of the country.
    • The fourth group include the tall and fair complexioned Indo-Aryans living in the North-Western part of India. Gradually they brought the whole Gangetic Valley under their settlement.
    • With the passage of time the Dravidians and the Aryans came closer to each other. Other races like Persians, Greeks, Kushanas and Huns came to India at different periods and permanently settled in the country.
    • From the Seventh century onwards Muslim invaders made India their hunting ground. The Arabs, Turks and the Mughals came to India and settled here. Thus the racial diversities play a vital role in Indian society and culture.

 

  • SOCIAL DIVERSITY
    • Indian Society is marked by high degree of variations which are determined by caste, class, religion,occupational pattern in a given territory.
    • People in a society follow different customs and manners.
    • People of different regions use different types of dresses, their eating habits and customs differ. Certain people are quite civilized while others are very backward in their customs. In short, “India is a museum of cults and customs, creeds and cultures, faiths and tongues, racial types and social systems”.
    • The people differ considerably in the social habits. They differ in their dresses, customs, food habits and manners. Different kinds of festivals are observed in different parts of the country by different categories of people.
    • India possesses a rich variety of races. The Indian sub-continent received a large number of migratory races mostly from the Western and Eastern directions. Majority of the people in India are descendants of immigrants from across the Himalayas. Their dispersal into sub-continent has resulted in the consequent regional concentration of a variety of ethnic elements.
    • In the religious sphere, India possesses a great diversity. India is a multi-religious country. Religion is both a factor of unity and diversity in Indian society.
    • But, all aredifferentiated internally. Traditionally, different religious groups have lived in India in more 5 or less peaceful coexistence. India is not religiously a homogenous state even though nearly 80 percent of the population is Hindus.
    • There are six major religions in India, namely Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and Zoroastrianism. There are also other religions like Judaism, Zoroastrianism and Bahaism. Then there are sects within each religion. Hinduism has sects like Shaivas and Vaishnavas. Similarly, in Islam the Shias and the Sunnis, Sikhs as Namdharis and Niirankaris, Jainism into Digambar and Shwetambarand Buddhism into Hinayana and Mahayana
    • India is a country of castes. The term caste is generally used in two senses: sometimes in the sense of Varna and sometimes in the sense of Jati. Varna refers to a segment of the four-fold division of Hindu society based on functional criterion. The four varnas are Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra with their specialized functions as learning, defense, trade and manual service. The Varna hierarchy is accepted all over India.
    • Jati refers to a hereditary endogamous status group practicing a specific traditional occupation. There are more than 3,000 jatis in India. These are hierarchically graded in different ways in different religions.
    • The practice of caste system is not confined to Hindus alone. One can find castes among the Muslims, Christians, Sikhs as well as other communities. There is the hierarchy of Shaik, Saiyed, Mughal and Pathan among the Muslims.
    • Furthermore, there are castes like teli (oil presser), dhobi (washerman), etc among the Muslims. Similarly, caste consciousness among the Christians in India is not unknown. Since a vast majority of Christians in India 6 were converted from Hindu fold, the converts carried the caste system into Christianity.
    • In this view, one can imagine the extent of caste diversity in India.
    • In addition to the above described major forms of diversity, we have diversity of many other sorts like settlement patterns – tribal, rural, urban; marriage and kinship pattern along religious and regional lines and so on. In this way diversity pervades on the whole of Indian subcontinent. And such diversities are not the hallmarks of Indian culture. The main theme of Indian culture is unity which absorbs all these diversities.
  • DIVERSITIES IN LANGUAGE
    • The people of India speak different languages.
    • There are in India separate group of people with their own language. Each of these people’s has its own literature.
    • More than 200 different dialects and languages are used in this vast sub-continent.
    • The principal languages of India are Sanskrit, Hindi, Bengali, Oriya, Assamese, Gujarati, Marathi, Sindhi, Urdu, Punjabi, Tamil, Telgu, Malayalam, Kashmiri and Kannada. The hill tribes of Central India speak Austric type of languages.
    • The people of the South who belong to the Dravidian group speak Telgu, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada. On the other hand the languages like Hindi, Bengali, Oriya, Marathi, Gujarati and Punjabi are used by the Indo-Aryans.
    • Constitutional ProvisionsList of languages in the Eighth Schedule
      • The Eighth Schedule to the Constitution consists of the following 22 languages:-(1) Assamese, (2) Bengali, (3) Gujarati, (4) Hindi, (5) Kannada, (6) Kashmiri, (7)Konkani, (8) Malayalam, (9) Manipuri, (10) Marathi, (11) Nepali, (12) Oriya, (13)Punjabi, (14) Sanskrit, (15) Sindhi, (16) Tamil, (17) Telugu, (18) Urdu (19) Bodo,(20) Santhali, (21) Maithili and (22) Dogri.
      • Of these languages, 14 were initially included in the Constitution. Sindhi language was added in 1967.
      • Thereafter three more languages viz., Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali were included in 1992. Subsequently Bodo, Dogri, Maithili and Santhali were added in 2004.
      • Demands of languages for inclusion in the Eighth Schedule-
      • At present, there are demands for inclusion of 38 more languages in the
      • Eighth Schedule to the Constitution. These are:- (1) Angika, (2) Banjara, (3) Bazika, (4) Bhojpuri, (5) Bhoti, (6) Bhotia, (7)Bundelkhandi (8) Chhattisgarhi, (9) Dhatki, (10) English, (11) Garhwali (Pahari),(12) Gondi, (13) Gujjar/Gujjari (14) Ho, (15) Kachachhi, (16) Kamtapuri, (17)Karbi, (18) Khasi, (19) Kodava (Coorg), (20) Kok Barak, (21) Kumaoni (Pahari), (22)Kurak, (23) Kurmali, (24) Lepcha, (25) Limbu, (26) Mizo (Lushai), (27) Magahi, (28)Mundari, (29) Nagpuri, (30) Nicobarese, (31) Pahari (Himachali), (32) Pali, (33)Rajasthani, (34) Sambalpuri/Kosali, (35) Shaurseni (Prakrit), (36) Siraiki, (37) Tenyidi and (38) Tulu.

 

  • RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY
    • There is also to be found an equal variety of religions. All the world religions are found here — Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Islam and Christianity.
    • All have their sects and sub-divisions. The Hindu religion itself is split up in countless creeds, the Vedic religion, the Puranic Hinduism, the Sanatan Dharma, the Brahmo Samaj, the Arya Samaj.
    • Originally Brahmanical Hinduism was the religion of the people. But the sixth century gave birth two new religions namely Buddhism and Jainism.
    • During the medieval period Sikhism emerged as a new religion.
    • Gradually, Persian, Zoroastrianism, Islam and Christianity also spread in India. Thus India is a land of many religions. The people therefore differ considerably in the social habits and cultural differences vary from State to State which has become the fabric of Indian culture composite in nature. Conflicting and varying shades of blood strains of culture and modes of life all-together build up rich and complex diversity in India. There is no wonder that “India is a museum of cults and customs, creeds and culture, faiths and tongues, racial types and social systems” yet India is a land of unity.
    • There is deep underlying fundamental unity in India. An observer fails to discover the one in many, the individual in aggregate, and the simple in the composite. The sense of geographical unity othe country was always present in the minds of the founders of the Indian Civilization. This unity has undoubtedly nurtured in recent times by the uniform system of administration and the spread of modern education.
    • Dr B.S.Guha identifies the population of India into six main ethnic groups based on 1931 census operations, namely
      • the Negritos
      • the ProtoAustaloids
      • the Mongoloids
      • the Mediterranean or Dravidian
      • the Western Brachycephals
      • the Nordic.
    • People belonging to these different racial stocks have little in common either in physical appearance or food habits. The racial diversity is very perplexing
    • Herbert Risley had classified the people of India into seven racial types. These are 
      • Turko – Iranian
      • Indo-Aryan
      • Scytho – Dravidian
      • Aryo – Dravidina
      • Mongo-Dravidian
      • Mongoloid and
      • Dravidians.
    • These seven racial types can be reduced to three basic types – the Indo-Aryan, the Mongolian the Dravidian.
    • The vast population of India consists of the jungle tribes like the Bhils, the Konds, the Santhals, the Jarawas etc.
    • Extremes and diversities of the physical features, climatic conditions, socio – cultural
    • composition, economic conditions have thus produced cultured heterogeneity of high order in India.

 

FACTORS LEADING TO UNITY AMIDST DIVERSITY IN INDIA
  • CONSTITUTIONAL IDENTITY
    • The entire country is governed by one single Constitution. Even, most of the states follow a generalized scheme of 3-tier government structure, thus imparting uniformity in national governance framework.
    • Further, the Constitution guarantees certain fundamental rights to all citizens regardless of their age, gender, class, caste, religion, etc.
    • Religious co-existence: Religion tolerance is the unique feature of religions in India due to which multiple religions co-exist in India. Freedom of religion and religious practice is guaranteed by the Constitution itself.
    • Moreover, there is no state religion and all religions are given equal preference by the state.
  • INTER-STATE MOBILITY
    • The Constitution guarantees freedom to move throughout the territory of India under Article 19 (1) (d), thus promoting a sense of unity and brotherhood among the masses. Other factors such as uniform pattern of law, penal code, and administrative works (eg. All India services) too lead to uniformity in the criminal justice system, policy implementation etc.
  • ECONOMIC INTEGRATION
    • The Constitution of India secures the freedom of Trade, Commerce and Intercourse within the Territory of India under Article 301.
    • Further, the Goods and Service Tax(GST) have paved way for ‘one country, one tax, one national market’, thus facilitating unity among different regions.
  • INSTITUTION OF PILGRIMAGE AND RELIGIOUS PRACTICES
    • In India, religion and spirituality have great significance. From Badrinath and Kedarnath in the north to Rameshwaram in the south, Jagannath Puri in the east to Dwaraka in the west the religious shrines and holy rivers are spread throughout the length and breadth of the country. Closely related to them is the age-old culture of pilgrimage, which has always moved people to various parts of the country and fostered in them a sense of geo-cultural unity.
  • FAIRS AND FESTIVAS
    • They also act as integrating factors as people from all parts of the country celebrate them as per their own local customs. Eg. Diwali is celebrated throughout by Hindus in the country; similarly Id and Christmas are celebrated by Muslims and Christians, respectively.
    • Celebration of inter-religious festivals is also seen in India.
  • CLIMATIC INTEGRATION VIA MONSOON
    • The flora and fauna in the entire Indian subcontinent, agricultural practices, life of people, including their festivities revolve around the monsoon season in India.
  • SPORTS AND CINEMA
    • These are followed by millions in the country, thus, acting as a binding force across the length and breadth of India.

 

FACTORS THAT THREATEN INDIA'S UNITY
  • REGIONALISM
    • Regionalism tends to highlight interests of a particular region/regions over national interests. It can also adversely impact national integration.
    • Law and order situation is hampered due to regional demands and ensuing agitation.
  • DIVISIVE POLITICS
    • Sometimes, ascriptive identities such as caste, religion etc. are evoked by politicians in order to garner votes.
    • This type of divisive politics can result in violence, feeling of mistrust and suspicion among minorities.
  • DEVELOPMENT IMBALANCE
    • Uneven pattern of socio-economic development, inadequate economic policies and consequent economic disparities can lead to backwardness of a region.
    • Consequently, this can result in violence, kick start waves of migration and even accelerate demands of separatism.
    • For instance, due to economic backwardness of the North East region, several instances of separatist demands and secessionist tendencies have sprung up in the region.
  • ETHNIC DIFFERENTIATION AND NATIVISM
    • Ethnic differentiation has often led to clashes between different ethnic groups especially due to factors such as job competition, limited resources, threat to identity etc. E.g. frequent clashes between Bodos and Bengali speaking Muslims in Assam.
    • This has been accentuated by son of the soil doctrine, which ties people to their place of birth and confers some benefits, rights, roles and responsibilities on them, which may not apply to others.
  • GEOGRAPHICAL ISOLATION
    • Geographical isolation too can lead to identity issues and separatist demands. The North-East is geographically isolated from the rest of the country as it is connected with the rest of the country by a narrow corridor i.e the Siliguri corridor.
    • The region has inadequate infrastructure, is more backward economically as compared to the rest of the country.
    • As a result, it has witnessed several instances of separatism and cross-border terrorism, among others.
  • INTER-RELIGIOUS CONFLICTS
    • Inter-religious conflicts not only hamper relations between two communities by spreading fear and mistrust but also hinder the secular fabric of the country.
  • INTER-STATE CONFLICTS
    • This can lead emergence of feelings related to regionalism.
    • It can also affect trade and communications between conflicting states. For instance, Cauvery river dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
    • Sometimes external factors such as foreign organizations terrorist groups, extremist groups can incite violence and sow feelings of separatism. E.g. Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been accused of supporting and training mujahideen to fight in Jammu and Kashmir and sow separatist tendencies among resident groups.

 

CONCLUSION
  • In-spite of the challenges posed by diversity, there can be no doubt on the role played by sociocultural diversity in sustaining and developing Indian society.
  • Problem is not of diversity per se, but the handling of diversity in India society.
  • The problems of regionalism, communalism, ethnic conflicts etc. have arisen because the fruits of development haven’t been distributed equally or the cultures of some groups haven’t been accorded due recognition.
  • Various government efforts such as linkimg the North-east part of India with mainland India by improving connectivity and infrastructure such as setting up of airports is a uniting factor. 



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