Indian society is an exemplification of multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-ideologicalconstructs, which co-exist, at once striving to strike harmony and also to retain its individuality. Based on the generous concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam (the world is one family), Indian society possess a great cultural heritage. During the course of its evolution, it has accommodated and integrated many communities and their ways of life from time to time.
Characteristics of Indian Society
- Multi-ethnic society- Indian society is multi-ethnic in nature due to co-existence of wide variety of racial groups in India. India is home to almost all the racial profiles prevalent in the world,
- Multilingual society- Across the length and breadth of the country, more than 1600 languages are spoken. Among them the major languages are Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Bengali etc.
- Multi-class society- Indian society is segmented into multiple classes. This division can be on the basis of birth as well as financial and social achievements during one’s lifetime.
- Patriarchal society- Indian society is largely a patriarchal society where men tend to enjoy greater status than women . However, some tribal societies are matrilineal societies where women have the dominant decision making power.
- Unity in diversity- This is an inherent feature of Indian society. Diversity in India exists at various levels in different forms. However, beneath this diversity, there is fundamental unity in social institutions and practices.
- Co-existence of traditionalism and modernity- Traditionalism is upholding or maintenance of core values. Whereas modernity refers to questioning the tradition and moving towards rational thinking, social, scientific and technological progress. Due to the spread of education and technological advances, modern thinking among Indians has increased.
- However, the family life is still bound by traditional value and belief systems. Balance between spiritualism and materialism- Spiritualism’s main focus is to promote an individual’s experience with God. Whereas materialism is a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values. Indian society is largely possess spiritual orientations. However due to increased Westernisation, materialistic tendencies have also become quite visible.
- Balance between Individualism and collectivism- Individualism is a moral, political or social outlook that stresses human independence, self-reliance and liberty. Whereas collectivism is the practice of giving a group priority over each individual in it. There exists a fine balance between them in Indian society.
- Blood and kinship ties- Blood relations and kinship ties enjoy a stronghold over other social relationships. They continue to govern the political and economic spheres of life
Features of Indian Society
• Caste can be defined as hereditary endogamous group, having a common name, common traditional occupation, common culture, relatively rigid in matters of mobility, distinctiveness of status and forming a single homogenous community.
• The caste system in India is mainly associated with Hinduism and has governed the Hindu society for thousands of years. Some of the features of caste system in India include the following:Segmental division of society: It means that social stratification is largely based on caste. Membership to a caste group is acquired by birth, on the basis of which people are ranked in relative to other caste groups.
o Hierarchy: It indicates that various castes are categorized according to their purity and impurity of occupations. Just like a ladder, castes are ranked from higher to lower positions. Pure caste is ranked at the top and impure is ranked at the bottom.
o Civil and religious disabilities: These comprise of restrictions based on contact, dress, speech, rituals etc. and are placed on every caste group. It was done in order to maintain purity of specific caste groups. Example, lower caste groups had no access to wells, they were restricted from entering temples etc.
o Endogamy: Members of a particular caste have to marry within their caste only. Intercaste marriages are prohibited. However, in urban areas, the phenomenon of intercaste marriage is increasing.
o Untouchability: It is the practice of ostracizing a group by segregating them from the mainstream by social custom. Untouchability was a corollary of the caste system, wherein the untouchables (those belonging to the lowest caste groups) were deemed impure and polluted.
o Manual scavenging: Manual scavenging eventually became a caste-based occupation, which involves the removal of untreated human excreta from bucket toilets or pit latrines. It has been officially abolished by the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013.
Caste based violence in India: Increasing trend of caste based violence are related to instances of inter-caste marriage and assertion of basic rights by Dalits including land rights, freedom of expression, access to justice, access to education etc. e.g. A group of Dalits were attacked in Una, Gujarat when they had participated in the movement for demand of land ownership for the Dalits.
o Policy of caste based reservation: The system of caste-based reservation in India comprises of a series of affirmative action measures, such as reserving access to seats in the various legislatures, to government jobs, and to enrollment in higher educational institutions. E.g. Scheduled Caste groups are given 15% reservation in government services and educational institutions.
Changes in the Caste system
• Trends for inter-caste marriage: Purity of blood was one of the main aim of the caste system. As a result, inter-caste marriages were socially forbidden. Due to economic and social necessities, inter-caste marriages on western lines are being performed at increased frequency
• Challenge to orthodoxy: Orthodox practices of the caste system such as child marriage, ban on widow re-marriage, ban on conversion, insensitiveness of superior class towards the low caste people are being challenged in the wake of urbanization.
• New food habits: Due to frequent mixing of the people at meetings, conferences, seminars etc., food habits have changed. Moreover, people have adapted to new social norms such as eating at the same table, accepting food prepared by low caste people without any reservations etc.
• Changes in occupation: Occupational mobility has become the new feature. Leaving behind their traditional roles, Brahmins have become traders whereas Vaishyas have joined teaching and so on.
• Improvement in the position of lower caste: Due to steps initiated by the government, position of lower castes have improved economically as well as socially.
3.1.2. Factors Affecting the Changes in Caste System
• Sanskritisation: Sanskritisation as a process of change is the mobility concerned with positional change in the caste system. By changing the customs and rituals such as by adopting vegetarianism and teetotalism, people belonging to the low castes are claiming a ‘higher’ position in the caste hierarchy.
• Westernisation: Due to changes in the spheres of education, food habits, dressing sense, style of eating, manners etc., westernization has brought occupational changes cutting across the caste barriers.
• Modernisation: It is a process which primarily relies on scientific outlook, rational attitudes, high social mobility, mass mobilisation and specialisation in work. It has made caste system more flexible. For instances, in the urban areas, castes are gradually becoming classes. The emergence of middle class with a rational outlook and goal orientation is a testimony to the fact.
• Industrialisation and urbanisation: With the growth of industrial towns and cities, migration has spiralled up. Unlike the source regions, destination areas witness fewer adherences to caste rules.
• Democratic decentralisation: The reservation provided in the Panchayati Raj system has given the opportunity for the lower castes to empower themselves.
• Caste and politics: They both are closely linked to each other. In fact, the link has led to an empowerment among the lower castes since they ventilate their feelings through elections and power lobby. Dalit politics is one such example, where Dalits are trying to assert their identities and have become successful in capturing power in various states.
• Legislative measures: A variety of social legislations have been introduced in the postindependence era which aim to safeguard the interests of the down-trodden, to eradicate untouchability and to facilitate the social and economic development of the depressed castes. For instance, Untouchability (offences) Act, 1955 provided for punishment against the practice of untouchability.
Different Religious Groups in India
India is a secular country comprising various religions of the world, which are further subdivided into several sects and cults. Religion in India is characterized by a diversity of religious beliefs and practices. The Indian subcontinent is the birthplace of four world religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism.
Further, variants of Hinduism such as Vaishnavism, Shaivism, etc is practiced. Even in Islam, multiple variants such as Shia, Sunni tenets are followed. Animistic and naturistic religions are also followed by tribal groups. Thus, there is a plurality of multiple religions and each religion has individual salient tenets and associated festivals and customs.
Kinship, Marriage and Family
Kinship system refers to a set of persons recognized as relatives either by virtue of a blood relationship or by virtue of a marriage relationship. According to the Dictionary of Anthropology, kinship system includes society recognized relationships based on supposed as well as well actual genealogical ties. These relationships are the result of social interaction and are recognized by society.
Kinship system represents one of the basic social institutions. Kinship is universal and in most societies plays a significant role in the socialisation of individuals and the maintenance of group solidarity, It is supremely important in the primitive societies and extends its influence on almost all their activites – social, economic, political, religious, etc.
Types of Kinship
• Affinal Kinship: The bond of marriage is called ‘affinal’ kinship. When a person marries, he establishes relationship not only with the girl whom he marries but also with a number of other people in the girl’s family. Moreover, it is not only the person marrying who gets bound to the family members of the girl but his family members also get bound to the family members of the girl. Thus, a host of relations are created as soon as a marriage takes place.
• Consanguineous Kinship: The bond of blood is called consanguineous kinship. The consanguineous kin are related through blood whereas the affinal kin are related through marriage. The bond between parents and their children and that between parents and their children and that between parents and their children and that between siblings is consanguineous kinship.
Regional differences regarding kinship systems and marriage in North and South India • North India: In North India, there are mostly patrilineal groups, with descent traced in the male line from father to son. Members of a patri-lineage cooperate in in ritual and economic activities. Caste endogamy is strictly practiced. Further, marriage is prohibited within the same gotra or clan and village exogamy is commonly preferred. Thus, marriage prohibitions tend to bar marriage over a wide area in terms of kinship as well as space.
• South India: The Southern zone presents a very complicated pattern of kinship system and family organization. While there is dominance of patrilineal and patrilocal system, but simultaneously matrilineal (descent from maternal line) and matrilocal systems also exist.
Rules of marriage also vary in South India.
Marriage is an important social institution. It is a relationship, which is socially approved and sanctioned by custom and law. It is also a set of cultural mechanisms which ensure the continuation of the family. It is more or less a universal social institution in India.
Structural and functional changes in the marriage system
The marriage system had undergone radical changes especially after independence. Even though the basic religious beliefs associated with marriage have not crumbled down, many of the practices, customs, and forms have changed. The recent changes in the marriage system are as follows:
• Changes in the aim and purpose of marriage: In traditional societies the primary objective of marriage is ‘dharma’ or duty; especially among Hindus. But today the modern objective of marriage is more related to ‘life-long companionship’ between husband and wife.
• Changes in the form of marriage: Traditional forms of marriages like polygamy, polygyny are legally prohibited in India. Nowadays, mostly monogamous marriages are practiced.
• Change in the age of marriage: According to legal standards, the marriageable age for boy and girl stands at 21 and 18 respectively. Average age of marriage has gone up and prepuberty marriages have given place to post-puberty marriages.
• Increase in divorce and desertion rates: Relaxed legislative provisions for divorce have virtually affected the stability of the marriage, particularly in the urban areas. . It is mainly due to economic prosperity and internet connectivity. Internet has exposed people to the different social trends prevalent across the world and has revolutionized the institution in an otherwise conservative Indian society.
• Live in relationships: They are on a steady growth rate in India especially among the youth in metropolitan cities. The institution also has legal recognition as a three judge bench of SC in 2010 observed that a man and a woman living together without marriage cannot be construed as an offence and held that living together is a Right to Life and Liberty (Article 21). SC has also acknowledged that children born out of such relations are legitimate and have property rights of their parents under Section 16 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
Family in Indian Society
The family is the basic unit of society. It is the first and the most immediate social environment to which a child is exposed. It is in the family a child learns language, the behavioral Patterns and social norms in his childhood.
In some way or the other the family is a universal group. It exists in tribal, rural and urban communities and among the followers of all religious and cultures. It provides the most enduring relationship in one form or other.
Characteristics of Family
• Family is a basic, definite and enduring group.
• Family is formed by the relatively durable companionship of husband, wife who procreate children.
• Family may be limited to husband, wife or only the father and his children or only the mother and her children.
• Family is generally smaller in size companied to other social groups, organizations and associations.
• Family can also be large in size in which persons belonging to several generations may live together.
Types of family
1. On the basis of marriage:
Polygamous families may be described as families in which either spouse is allowed to have more than one spouse simultaneously.
Monogamous families are those families in which the marriage is limited to one spouse.
2. On the basis of residence:
Patrilocal family: The family in which after marriage wife comes to reside in the family of her husband is known as patrilocal family. The patrilocal family is also patriarchal and patrilineal in nature.
Matrilocal family: The family in which after marriage husband comes to reside in the family of her wife is known as matrilocal family. It is just opposite of patrilocal family. This type of family is also Matriarchal and Matrilineal in nature.
Bilocal family: In this type of family after marriage the married couple change their residence alternatively. Sometimes wife joins in her husband’s house while at some other times husband resides in wife’s house. That is why this type of family is also known as family of changing residence.
Neolocal family: After marriage when newly married couple establish a new family independent of their parents and settled at a new place this type of family is known as neolocal family.
3. On the basis of size and structure:
Nuclear Family: A nuclear family is a family which consists of husband, wife and their unmarried children. The size of nuclear family is very small. It is an autonomous unit. There is no control of the elders because newlyweds crate a separate residence for themselves which is independent of elders. It is also known as primary family.
Joint or Extended Family: It includes members of three to four generations. It is an extension of parent child relationship. This family is based on close blood ties. It is like the joint family of Hindu Society.
The eldest male member is the head of the family. It is characterized by common residence, common kitchen, commensality, sharing of property, performance of ritual bonds, reciprocal obligations and sentiments.
Extended family consists of father, mother, their sons and their wife, unmarried daughters, grandchildren, grandfather, grandmother, uncles, aunts, their children and so on. This type of family found to exist in rural community or agrarian economy
4. On the basis of Authority:
Patriarchal Family: The family in which all the power remains in the hands of patriarch or father is known as patriarchal family. In other words in this type of family power or authority is vested in the hands of eldest male member of the family who is supposed to be the father. He exercises absolute power or authority over the other members of family. He owns family property.
After his death authority transferred to the eldest son of family. In this family descent is known through father line. In this type of family wife after marriage come to reside in his husband’s house. Joint family system among the Hindus is a fine example of patriarchal family.
Matriarchal family: This type of family is just opposite of patriarchal family. In this family power or authority rests on the eldest female member of the family especially the wife or mother. She enjoy absolute power or authority over other members of the family. She owns all the family property. In this family descent is known through the mother.
Headship is transferred from mother to the eldest daughter. Husband remain subordinate to his wife in a matriarchal family. This type of family is found among the Nayars of Kerala and among the Garo and Khasi tribes of Assam.
5. Family on the basis of descent:
Patrilineal family: The family in which descent or ancestry is determined through father line and continues through father it is known as patrilineal family. The property and family name is also inherited through father line. The patrilineal family is also patrilocal and patriarchal in nature.
Matrilineal family: Matrilineal family is just opposite of the patrilineal family. The family in which descent is determined through mother line or continues through mother it is known as Matrilineal family. The property and family name is also inherited through mother line.
This right transferred from mother to daughter. A woman is the ancestor of family. The Matrilineal family is Matrilocal and Matriarchal in nature. This type of family found among the Nayars of Kerala and among tribals like Garos and Khasis.
Functions of the family
• Primary function- Some of the functions of family are basic to its continued existence.
o Production and rearing of the child
o Provision of home
o Instrument of culture transmission
o Agent of socialization
o Status ascribing function
o Agency of social control
• Secondary function
o Economic functions: With economic advancements, family has become more
consuming unit than a producing one. Members are engaged in earning wages for ensuring socio-economic well-being of the family.
o Educational functions: Family provides the basis for the child’s formal learning. In spite of great changes, the family still gives the child his basic training in the social attitudes and habits important to adult participation in social life
o Religious functions: Family is a center for the religious training of the children. The children learn from their parents various religious virtues.
o Recreational functions: Family provides the opportunities to parents and children for engaging in various recreational activities such as playing indoor games, dancing, singing, reading etc.
Structural and functional changes in the Indian family system
With the advent of industrial civilization with modern technology the structure and functions of the family fatedly changed. Today most of the traditional activities of the family were transferred to outside agencies; this further weakening the bonds that in the past kept the family together. There occurred a reduction in the educational, recreational, religious and protective functions of the family which have been more or less taken over by various institutions and agencies created for that purpose.
Some of the major changes in the Indian family system are discussed below:
• Changes in family: Family which was a principal unit of production has been transformed in the consumption unit. Instead of all members working together in an integrated economic enterprise, a few male members go out of the home to earn the family’s living. These affected family relations.
• Factory employment: It has freed young adults from direct dependence upon their families.
This functional independence of the youngsters has weakened the authority of the head of the house hold over those earning members. In many cities even women too joined men in working outside the families on salary basis.
• Influence of urbanization: Various sociologists have revealed that the city life is more favorable to small nuclear families than to big joint families. Thus, urban living weakens joint family pattern and strengthens nuclear family patterns.
• Legislative measures: Prohibition of early marriage and fixing the minimum age of marriage by the child marriage Restraint Act, 1929, and the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 have lengthened the period of education. Even other legislations such as the Widow Remarriage Act, 1856, Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Hindu succession Act, 1956, all have modified inter personal relations within the family, the composition of the family and the stability of the joint family.
• Changes in marriage system: Changes in the age of marriage, freedom in mate-selection and change in the attitude towards marriage has diminished marriage is not very much considered a religious affair but only a social ceremony. Modern marriage does not symbolize the superior authority of the family head over other members.
• Influence of western values: Values relating to modern science, rationalism, individualism, equality, free life, democracy, freedom of women etc. have exerted a tremendous change on the joint family system in India.
• Changes in the position of women: Main factor causing changes in the position of women in our society lie in her changing economic role. New economic role provided a new position in society and especially with respect to men.
Over the years, various sociologists have affirmed in their studies that the rise of nuclear families — consisting of a couple and their unmarried children — is consistent with rapid urbanization.
According to the 2001 census, out of 19.31 crore households, 9.98 crore or 51.7% were nuclear households. In the 2011 census, the share grew to 52.1% — 12.97 crore nuclear out of 24.88 crore households. However, there is the decline in the proportional share of nuclear households in urban areas. From 54.3% of the urban households of 2001, nuclear families have fallen to 52.3% of all urban households. In contrast, in rural areas, the share of nuclear families has risen from 50.7% to 52.1%.
Joint families, meanwhile, fell substantially from 19.1% (3.69 crore) to 16.1% (4 crore) across India. In rural areas, the dip was sharper – from 20.1% to 16.8% – than in urban India where it fell from 16.5% to 14.6%. Thus, the declining share of urban nuclear families is attributed to increased migration as well as lack of housing.
Diversity in India
India is a plural society both in letter and spirit. It is rightly 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.
Various forms of diversity in India
• Religious diversity: India is a land of multiple religions. Apart from the tribal societies, many of whom still live in the pre-religious state of animism and magic, the Indian population consists of the Hindus (82.41%), Muslims (11.6%), Christians (2.32%), Sikhs (1.99%), Buddhists (0.77%) and Jains (0.41%). The Hindus themselves are divided into several sects such as Vaishnavas, Shaivates, Shaktas, Smartas etc. Similarly, the Muslims are divided into sects such as Shias, Sunnis, Ahmadiyas etc.
• Linguistic diversity: Languages spoken in India belong to several language families, the major ones being the Indo-Aryan languages spoken by 75% of Indians and the Dravidian languages spoken by 20% of Indians. Other languages belong to the Austroasiatic, SinoTibetan, Tai-Kadai, and a few other minor language families and isolates. India has the world’s second highest number of languages, after Papua New Guinea.
• Racial diversity: 1931 census classified India’s racial diversity in the following groups- The Negrito, The Proto-Australoid, The Mongoloid, The Mediterranean, The Western
Brachycephals and the Nordic. Representatives of all the three major races of the world, namely Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid, are found in the country.
• Caste diversity: India is a country of castes. The term caste has been used to refer to both varna as well as jati. Varna is the four-fold division of society according to functional differentiation. Thus, the four varnas include Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras and an outcaste group. Whereas Jati refers to a hereditary endogamous status group practicing a specific traditional occupation.. There are more than 3000 jatis and there is no one all India system of ranking them in order and status. The jati system is not static and there is mobility in the system, through which jatis have changed their position over years.
This system of upward mobility has been termed as “Sanskritization” by M. N. Srinivas.
• Cultural diversity: Cultural patterns reflect regional variations. Because of population diversity, there is immense variety in Indian culture as it is a blend of various cultures.
Different religion, castes, regions follow their own tradition and culture. Thus, there is variation in art, architecture, dance forms, theatre forms, music etc.
• Geographical diversity: Spanning across an area of 3.28 million square kilometre, India is a vast country with great diversity of physical features like dry deserts, evergreen forests, lofty mountains, perennial and non-perennial river systems, long coasts and fertile plains.
In addition to the above described major forms of diversity, India also has diversity of many other types like that of settlement patterns – tribal, rural, urban; marriage and kinship patterns along religious and regional lines and so on.
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 generalised 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.
• 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, administrative works (eg. All India services) too lead to uniformity in the criminal justice system, policy implementation etc./Indian Society/
• 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./Indian Society/
• 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./Indian Society/
• Fairs and festivals: 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./Indian Society/
• 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, kickstart 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.Indian Society • 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, kickstart 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./Indian Society
• 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 (Chicken’s neck). The region has inadequate infrastructure, is more backward economically as compared to the rest of the country. As a result, ithas 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./Indian Society/
• 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.
• Influence of external factors: 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.
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.
Hence, Constitution and its values must form guiding principles of our society. Any society which has tried to homogenize itself, has witnessed stagnation in due-course and ultimately decline. The most important example is this case is of Pakistan which tried to impose culture on East-Pakistan ultimately leading to creation of Bangladesh.
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