The social problems in India today has their roots in the diversity of religion, language, region, culture and caste. Attachment to one’s region, language, religion is a natural sentiment but when these attachments grow to an extreme level to breed intolerance for other religions, regions or languages, problems are bound to rise.
In common parlance religion and secularism are juxtaposed as op-positional forces and communalism is viewed as the degenerate manifestation of religion. Thus, the term communalism is used pejoratively and is believed to be a negative social force in contemporary India. Communalism has come to be perceived as the tendency on the part of a religious group to affirm that it is a political entity.
The social problems in India is the result of divergent views among various social groups. What has gone wrong with the Indian society and culture where tolerance was so deeply embedded in people’s consciousness ?
Since Independence India has experimented with an extremely modern political system, namely, multi-party parliamentary democracy based on universal adult franchise.
However, very often, this very modern system in India is often operated with pre-modern units of mobilization. Thus the choice of candidates by most political parties is dictated by the caste or communal or linguistic composition of constituencies and these identities are freely used in mobilizing votes and support.
Caste system is a major social problem in India. Practically all other religionists in India, sometimes including atheists, go by caste considerations even when they do not subscribe to the theory of caste system. The caste system is among the root cause of poverty in India . The other caste based problems in India are untouchability, caste conflicts, reservation policy, caste barriers and casteism.
Communalism manifests itself when attachment to one’s religious community spills over to other spheres of life and blinds people to the basic need to maintain harmonious social relations with people of all religions. There is a need of Communal harmony in India.
Language problem in India manifests itself in the form of dislike of other languages and linguistic groups, claim of superior status to one language compared to others. When linguisim demonstrates itself through political actions and programmes, linguistic fanaticism results.
Prevalence of racism in subtle forms is proved when some Aryans assert their superiority over the native races of India and propagate the view that their culture is the basic culture of India. Differences in dresses, food habits, feasts and festivals, folk arts and classical arts, etc. are natural and healthy signs of regional diversity in India. But dislike of people of other states and regions, sons of the soil theory, interstate border and river disputes etc. are the manifestations of regionalism.
The problems arising out of diversity in India can be effectively dealt with only if the modern norms of equality and social justice are not merely preached but effectively practiced. Wrong interpretation of the natural attachment to one’s language, region and culture as something inherently bad has to be given up even while promoting the secular values of equality and social justice. India is a large country and there is need of Unity in Diversity in India.
Equality of opportunity in education and employment, equal promotion of all languages and cultures by the state and reduction of inequalities are important components of equality; whereas reservation of seats and posts for backward classes, protection to minorities, prevention of exploitation of the people of one region by outsiders etc. are essential components of social justice.
Some of the practical steps that may be taken to promote national integration are:
- use of formal education to inculcate the spirit of tolerance;
- informal education through schools and media to promote national integration; and
- familiarizing the people of one state with the traditions arts and literature of other states.
The Indian nationalist perspective advocates that the multiplicity of cultural identities should be dissolved in favor of a uniform ‘nation’ identity, the content of which is essentially political. The nationalist perspective seeks to establish the hegemony of the state.
There is need of social and communal harmony in India, where there is coexistence of different cultures within the same nation. India is a country of Unity in Diversity. No culture is inferior of superior, and hence the need and possibility of the coexistence of social cultures in India.