Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Social Structure In India: Multiculturalism


Multiculturalism is a body of thought in political philosophy about the proper way to respond to cultural and religious diversity. Mere toleration of group differences is said to fall short of treating members of minority groups as equal citizens; recognition and positive accommodation of group differences are required through group-differentiated rights.

India has initiated its own multicultural policies. Traditionally, these state oriented multicultural policies maintain reservation treatment for the socially unprivileged or backward communities. The root of this kind of treatment could be found in the history of India, especially in the era of Mughal Empire, when minorities had gotten special attention from government development programme. After Independence, India has constitutionally recognized the rights and authorities of country’s diversity. In a brief, multiculturalism preserves the multiplicity of cultural values of an existing diverse culture.

The objective of multiculturalism is promoting interaction across social boundaries of class, ethnicity, religion and national origin In this way, multiculturalism creates social and political bonding among different groups, ‘finding a way to preserve discrete ethnic identities, while at the same time, finding in citizenship a countervailing identity that unites the disparate groups within a polity’

 India has two major religious groups and hundreds of different linguistic and sub-cultural sects in its society. Hinduism and Islam play very influential role in Indian culture. Besides, there is a very distinct cultural difference between the Northern India and Southern India. In terms of language, each state represents a different identity than the others. Each state has its own official language, and English often use as a lingua franca ( bridge language) among the states’ correspondences. Most of the states have some dominant ethno-linguistic (language and culture) and ethno-religious (common religious background) groups and this has been achieved through major reorganization of territories in the 1950s and 1960s

 Indian multicultural policies have its deep roots in its Constitutions According to Indian constitution, Article 15, 16 17 19, 21, 29, 30, 39, 46,243D, 243T, 332, 334 and 335 contain fundamental rights for the multicultural communities of India.Constitution has been providing political and institutional recognition and
accommodation of India’s diversity.

 The first Prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru recognized the fact that India is a diverse country and the main spirit of future India would be the ‘ unity of diversity’He denied the tendency for creating a homogeneous state. Although, he did not oppose assimilation process but his idea of assimilation was not a forced or externally imposed one.
Many governments in the world combating social, economical and racial inequalities between different caste, class and groups by implying redistributive government policies. That means to provide facilities to the backward minorities. However, studies show that this policy could bring negative effect to the society and could promote ethnic conflict. So, this ‘dilemma of recognition’ affects more in creating government multicultural policies. After 1940 and early 1950, then Indian government faced very difficult situation
in combating with this dilemma. Recognition of different caste and providing special privileges to them created several expectations and that promote a new dimensional of group inequality and social fragmentation.

According to Frank De Zwart, there are three prominent multicultural policies options that most of the multicultural states follow to combat with this dilemma. These are: accommodation, denial, and replacement (Zwart, 2005: 137).Most of the states pursue accommodation policy as the main tool for maintain
social harmony. This action includes group recognition, special reservation for minority groups etc. The second policy action denies any kind of group rights and promotes the rights of the individual, which is the main philosophy behind liberalism. This action believes that, despite group inequalities, redistribution policies do not benefit any particular group rather it promotes social fragmentation and hamper cultural instigation.
Traditionally, state like France follows this type of policy. The third option, replacement, is a compromise between denial and accommodation, which means government, does not recognize social division and fragmentation, but it also provide redistribution benefits to the most unprivileged group, but in a different way and different name.

According to Indian constitution, the state recognized the identity of many scheduled caste and takes the responsibility of accommodating these caste in a very unequal society. Article 46 of the constitution says about the promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Caste and other articles such as 243 D, 243 T, 330, 332, 334, and 335 ensure the reservation policy of the government in different spheres to the scheduled castes and backward groups. It is estimated that today, over 40 % of India’s population
falls in this affirmative action.The central government reserves some percent of government jobs and seats in higher education. Some states maintain even higher quotas.

Thus promotion of economic opportunities and education system can lead different races to a common goal, and thus racial and cultural differences minimises.

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