India is a vast country with various traditions, cultures, religions, and languages. Due to this multiformity, India is characterized as a nation with Unity in Diversity. Diversity means different types of religion, caste, culture, tradition, languages, race, etc. Unity means a bond, a feeling of oneness that keeps the society together. Therefore, Unity in Diversity means “diversity without fragmentation”. It is based on the principle that diversity cultivates or enriches cooperation.
What is Unity in Diversity in India?
Diversity in India is in many forms, namely, religious, linguistic, geographical, racial, caste, and cultural.
Geographical diversity: India is the seventh-largest country globally, admeasuring 3,287,263 sq km. It has various physical features such as evergreen forests, deserts, lofty mountains, long coasts, rivers, different landscapes, etc.
Cultural diversity: As India is a multi-religious country, these religions are further divided into caste and subcaste, so these religious groups follow different traditions and cultures. Hence, you get to see a variety of dance forms, arts, theatre forms, architecture, music, folk songs, etc.
Religious diversity: India is a country known for its religious diversity. It has many religions like Hindu, Muslim, Christians, Buddhist, Sikh, and Jains. Each religion is further divided into sects like in Hindus; there are Shaivates, Smartas, Vaishnavas, etc. Muslims are also divided into two sects, namely, Shias and Sunnis. Likewise, other religions also have their sects.
Caste diversity: Every religion has a caste and subcaste like Hindu religion is divided into two castes like jati and varna. There are 4-fold divisions (varna): Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. Similarly, there is caste in other religions also.
Racial diversity: India’s racial diversity has been classified into six groups per the 1931 census. These are as follows; the Negrito, Mongoloid, Proto-Australoid, Mediterranean, Nordic and Western Brachycephaly.
Linguistic diversity: India ranks second with the highest number of languages. These languages belong to many language families. Some of these languages are; Dravidian, Indo-Aryan, Sino-Tibetan, Austroasiatic, Tai-Kadai, etc. There are other languages spoken in different tribes and regions in many parts of the country.
What factors have contributed to the unity in diversity?
Despite many diversity, there is unity in India. Following factors have contributed to the unity in diversity in India:
- Single Constitution: India is governed by the provisions of the Indian Constitution. The Constitution has made provisions keeping in mind the country’s diversity; some of these are fundamental rights, fundamental duties, directive principles of state policy, etc. These articles are equally applicable to all irrespective of race, gender, caste, age, religion, etc.
- Inter-State mobility: The unity and brotherhood in the country are assured by Article 19(1)(d) of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of movement throughout the country. Where people interact and work with people belonging to different regions.
- Religious co-existence: India is a secular democratic country, which means there is no religion. The citizens are guaranteed the freedom to practice and propagate any religion of their choice. Therefore, multiple religions co-exist with a spirit of tolerance and respect.
- Economic integration: The geographical diversity has contributed to the country’s economic growth. People from different regions can engage in trade with other areas. The Constitution has guaranteed freedom of trade and communication in any part of the territory of India. The Goods and Service Tax (GST) has also contributed to the unity based on ‘one country, one national market, one tax’.
- Fairs and festivals: People from different religions participate in the fair and festivals in the country. People from all religions celebrate festivals such as Diwali, Eid, and Christmas.
- Sports and Cinema: Sports have contributed to the unity of the country as people from all around the country come together to watch and motivate the spirit of the sports team. Even at movie theatres, people enjoy the movie irrespective of any religion, region or caste barrier.
What are the threats to the tradition of unity in diversity?
To preserve the character of unity in the country’s diversity, the Constitution has made several provisions. But, there is always a threat to the unity of the country. Following are the threats to the unity of India:
- Politics: Politics has always contributed to shackling the unity of the country. It has always tried to divide the country based on race, religion, region, caste, etc. It has led to violence, feeling of insecurity, mistrust, hatred, and hostility.
- Regionalism: Regionalism means giving importance to a particular region over the national interest. It is one of the significant causes of violation and distress among the people. The doctrine of ‘Son of the Soil’ does not allow people from other parts to migrate into their region and try to settle and procure occupation or seek jobs. This doctrine assigns some rights, benefits, roles, and responsibilities to the people born in that region. These rights and benefits do not apply to other people.
- Developmental imbalance: As India is a vast country with geographical diversity, some regions are underdeveloped and backward compared to the other areas. Inadequate economic policies and different socio-economic development pattern has contributed to the economic disparities. Which has, in turn, led to an increasing number of migrants, violence, and demand for a separate state.
- Geographical isolation: Some states are geographically isolated from other states. These states have inadequate infrastructure and are economically backward. As a result, there is a feeling of left out and backwardness, which is why these places have become prone to cross-border terrorism and demand for separate states.
- External factors: Terrorist groups, foreign organizations, extremist groups are the external factors that influence people’s minds, inject hatred and entice violence and feeling of separatism among the people.
Importance of Unity in Diversity
Unity in diversity is essential for:
- National integration – Unity helps maintain the integrity of the country. It holds people together and creates a bond. Therefore, national integration helps maintain peace, harmony, and prosperity in the country.
- Development and Growth – We cannot be civilized if we do not cooperate. Therefore, if there are fewer internal issues, the country will be socially and economically stable and progress manifold. Moreover, unity helps boost the morale at the organization, workplace, and community.
- Global Recognition – a united country is respected globally for its values and cultures.
- Peaceful co-existence – unity helps in peaceful co-existence among people with diverse background and culture and resolve internal conflicts. It creates love, respect, and brotherhood among the people. Remember, “United we stand, divided we fall.” If there is no unity, there will be disharmony, violence, and hatred.
As rightly quoted by Mahatma Gandhi –
“Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.”
How can one maintain unity in diversity?
Tolerance plays a vital role in maintaining unity in a country with diverse nature. Therefore, every citizen should keep empathy, love, and respect all religions, traditions, and cultures.
As the Constitution has no doubt made provisions for protecting the integrity of the country and maintaining equality. The government should implement the directive principle of state policy to ensure the economic development of the socially, economically, and educationally backward classes.
The government should also make an effort to provide equal job opportunities in geographically isolated regions and make policies to maintain balance despite geographical diversity so that there is no violence, hatred, and separatism.
India is a democratic country with unity in diversity as one of its characteristics. It is diverse in languages, religions, castes, geographical indications, etc. However, many factors have threatened the country’s unity. Every citizen must maintain the spirit of brotherhood and tolerance to preserve this Unity in Diversity.