India is uniquely characterized by its unity and diversity. A grand synthesis of cultures, religions and languages of the people belonging to different castes and communities has upheld its unity and cohesiveness despite multiple foreign invasions. National unity and integrity have been maintained even through sharp economic and social inequalities have obstructed the emergence of egalitarian social relations. It is this synthesis which has made India a unique mosque of cultures. Thus, India present seemingly multicultural situation within in the framework of a single integrated cultural whole.
The term ‘diversity’ emphasizes differences rather than inequalities. It means collective differences, that is, differences which mark off one group of people from another. These differences may be of any sort: biological, religious, linguistic etc. Thus, diversity means variety of races, of religions, of languages, of castes and of cultures.
Unity means integration. It is a social psychological condition. It connotes a sense of one- ness, a sense of we-ness. It stands for the bonds, which hold the members of a society together.
Unity in diversity essentially means “unity without uniformity” and “diversity without fragmentation”. It is based on the notion that diversity enriches human interaction.
When we say that India is a nation of great cultural diversity, we mean that there are many different types of social groups and communities living here. These are communities defined by cultural markers such as language, religion, sect, race or caste.
India is a land of diversity each state in the country is home to several communities who live in harmony with each other while preserving and upholding their own distinct culture and traditions. From Delhi, the capital of India, to Tamil Nadu, the southernmost state of India, the land, is blessed with amazing scenic beauty. The country is also home to several historical monuments which add to the varied heritage of India.
India is also classified by the Dravidian and the Nagara architectural styles as the focal focus of Hindu architecture. In the empires, in the South of India, the Dravidian style prospered, whilst in the North of India, the Nagara style predominately appeared.
India’s history, culture and religion are ingrained in its architecture.
India have cultural domains all over the nation.Few are listed below:
The inheritance of diversity of languages: The relationship between language and culture is perfectly embedded. In fact they are entangled. Peoples Linguistic Survey of India identified 780 languages of which 50 got extinct in past five decades. Officially there are 122 languages but 22 languages in the Eighth Schedule of the constitution give cultural pockets like Assamese, Gujarati, Konkani, Maithili, Manipuri, Oriya, Tamil, Telugu etc.
Religious diversity: According to the data on Population by Religious Communities of Census 2011, Hindu 96.63 crores (79.8%); Muslim 17.22 crores (14.2%); Christian 2.78 crores (2.3%); Sikh 2.08 crores (1.7%); Buddhist 0.84 crores (0.7%); Jain 0.45 crores (0.4%) are dispersed all over the nation forming cultural pockets.
Racial diversity: Most contemporary anthropologists categorize Indians as belonging to racial admixture. Mongoloids are largely confined to the North-eastern region whereas Negritos are found on the Andaman Islands.
Ethnic diversity: As per the 1901 census, the eight different ethnic groups found in India are: 1. Pre-Dravidian 2. Dravidian 3. Indo-Aryan 4.Turko-Iranian 5.Scytho-Dravidian 6. Arya- Dravidian 7. Mongoloid 8.Mongoloid-Dravidian. Because of this, India has been termed as an ethnological museum. A particular ethnic group shared a common culture, common language or dialect, a common religion, a common norm, practices, customs and history. Such multiple groups appeared as cultural pockets.
Advantages of diversity:
• It helps in strengthening love and tolerance promoting amity and unity and openness to other diverging views
• It is the identity that India had asserted for long in three international foras
• Diversity of culture translates into diversity of ideas and innovations
• The rich heritage and culture resultant of this diversity has enormous potential for tourism capable of creating large scale employment
• Geographical diversity creates rich reserve of flora and fauna benefiting the environment, tourism, pharmaceutical etc.
• The social tension and conflicts arising from this diversity leading to growth of divisive tendencies like communalism, regionalism, linguism etc. present a major that to the social fabric, economic development and survival of democracy
Disputes are inevitable in any diverse society and when not managed properly they can turn into conflict, threatening the very survival of society as was the case in Balkan Peninsula. Similarly Indian society faces following challenges which endanger its ‘unity in diversity’.
• Communalism: the rising majoritarian tendencies such as call for a ‘Hindu rashtra’, cow vigilantism, love jihad claims against inter-religion marriages threaten the secular fabric of Indian society
• Regionalism: the demands of new states and even secession based on language (gorkhaland, Dravidnaad), religion (khalistan), ethnicity (nagalim) continue to mar the unity and integrity of nation
• Linguism: perceived threats to the local language and recent attempts the Fife Hindu on non-willing sections have in the past led to movements like Dravidian movement and can be seen in recent times as well such as Gokhaland and Bodoland movements
• Casteism: caste oppression had continued for long time with scant attempts to challenge it until recently. With the opportunities provided by increasing literacy rate and economic reforms and excessive politicisation, caste identities are becoming more pronounced than before. While some use it to challenge the oppression they have faced (Bhima-koregaon), others use it to claim benefits of reservation (Jat, Patidar, Maratha)
• Racism: discrimination against people of North-east, people of south in northern states and vice versa threatens a whole section of the society, dissipating discrimination into division
• Separatist movements: The ongoing separatist movements in J&K and North-East along with Naxalism have for long and continue to pose significant risks to India’s unity.
Ensure this unity:
A society based on justice, liberty, equality and fraternity only can stay united for long, especially society as diverse as India. As the Sachar committee report has pointed out, minorities continue to fare poorly in socio-economic indicators as compared to majority. Similar is the case with tribals and Dalits where high GDP growth has not translated into development and improvement in quality of life.
It is therefore necessary that principles espoused in directive principles are realised in spirit. Investments in the social sector including health and education, electoral reforms to keep out the divisive tendencies, providing for development needs of deprived sections such as tribals and Dalits, inclusive and equitable urbanization and curbing the majoritarian tendencies through appropriate legal measures is the only way forward to ensure a united and integrated India.