Salient features of Indian Society
- November 15, 2020
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: MMN
SALIENT FEATURES OF INDIAN SOCIETY – UNITY IN DIVERSITY:
Unity in diversity is used as an expression of harmony and unity between dissimilar individuals or groups.
It is a concept of “unity without uniformity and diversity without fragmentation” that shifts focus from unity based on a mere tolerance of physical, cultural, linguistic, social, religious, political, ideological and/or psychological differences towards a more complex unity based on an understanding that difference enriches human interactions.
The phrase is a deliberate oxymoron, the rhetorical combination of two antonyms, unitas “unity, oneness” and varietas “variety, variousness”.
When used in a political context, it is often used to advocate federalism and multiculturalism.
CHARACTERISTICS OF INDIAN SOCIETY:
- Fusion of tradition and modernity:
Globalization might have bought with it a surge of modern values and practices, but traditionalism is still prevalent and preserved in India. The traditions of Indian society have also made its way to the outside world
- Static and dyanamic:
Our Indian society promotes accommodation as well as assimilation.
Over the years, multiple tribes have lost their core indigenous culture due to assimilation into the major population of Indian society. Such contacts with different cultures also gave birth to newer practices. The society is dynamic as it is changing everyday.
- Unity in diversity:
Indian society has challenged the skepticism of many political thinkers post-independence that were doubtful regarding India’s amalgamation as one nation amidst vast differences and big numbers of ethic groups, languages, culture and diversity.
The core values in the constitution, the reorganization by the state on the basis of language as well as the efforts of the government to protect the interests of minorities has helped in keeping up this unity.
Patriarchy is a family system within which the supreme decision-making power rests with the male head/members of the family.
Women are treated as second-class citizens in a patriarchal society. This system is degrading to women; it hinders the social and emotional development of the fairer sex of the society.
Gender discrimination is a universal deterrent for women.
- Rural agrarian social structure:
For more than half of the population of India, agriculture remains the sole source of livelihood. An estimated 70% of our population lives in rural territories.
- Caste and class nexus:
The modern caste system is the result of the age-old varna system
Economic reforms have led to flourishing urban areas. Here people are categorized based on class (such as income) rather than their social identity.
The emerging class system though closely resembles the caste hierarchy. It has also provided downtrodden sections an opportunity for upward social mobility.
Co-existence through inter-caste marriages and endogamy are examples of this. The divide is evident in the economic structures(poverty, education, income, asset ownership, trades and professions etc.)
It holds collective values above the individual achievements
- Tolerance and mutual respect:
The Indian society has survived in the face of diversity, thanks to its accommodative values of tolerance and mutual respect that have existed from the early times.
The multitude of invaders who made India their home lead to the mixing and co-existence of many different cultures
SALIENT FEATURES OF INDIAN SOCIETY:
1. CASTE SYSTEM:
The caste system in India is the paradigmatic ethnographic example of caste. It has origins in ancient India, and was transformed by various ruling elites in medieval, early-modern, and modern India, especially the Mughal Empire and the British Raj.
It is today the basis of affirmative action programmes in India.
The caste system consists of two different concepts, varna and jati, which may be regarded as different levels of analysis of this system.
The caste system as it exists today is thought to be the result of developments during the collapse of the Mughal era and the rise of the British colonial government in India.
Caste-based differences have also been practised in other regions and religions in the Indian subcontinent like Nepalese Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism.
It has been challenged by many reformist Hindu movements, Islam, Sikhism, Christianity, and also by present-day Indian Buddhism.
New developments took place after India achieved independence, when the policy of caste-based reservation of jobs was formalised with lists of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
Since 1950, the country has enacted many laws and social initiatives to protect and improve the socioeconomic conditions of its lower caste population.
CASTE SYATEM AND ITS CHANGES:
Change is the law of nature. Everything changes. For change various factors are responsible. As a result, a number of changes have taken place in caste system.
- Decline in the supremacy of traditional strata:
In the traditional caste system, the Brahmins occupied the highest position. But, due to the process of secularization and westernization, the supremacy of Brahmins have gradually declined.
- Caste hierarchy and sanskritisation:
Traditionally, each caste has a definite stand in the social hierarchical order. Each caste has its own life style and the higher caste people maintained a better life than the lower caste people. In course of time the process of Sankritization started.
The process of Sanskritization has been the main method for the low castes to improve their social status by imitating the habits of the higher castes. So, the caste hierarchy has been changed.
- Changes in social intercourse:
In the past, caste system had impaired certain restrictions on food, drink and social intercourse. But some of the factors like modern education, transportation and communication have brought a radical change in this sphere.
- Changes in occupation:
In caste society choice of occupation was not free. Each caste has its own traditional occupation. But now-a-days, people follow those occupations, which they consider more suitable and income-oriented.
- Changes in marriage:
Under caste system, there were some rules and regulations in the choice of mate selection. Every caste or sub-caste was an endogamous group. The person who married outside his own caste or sub-caste was severely punished. But now-a-days, the spread of modern education and westernization has declined all these restrictions on marriage. The Special Marriage Act and the Hindu Marriage Act, which declared inter-caste marriages as legally valid, have removed all these restriction on marriage in caste system. Some State Governments give incentives to inter-casted marriages.
- Changes in caste structure:
In the traditional caste system, caste as a .symbol of social status, was fixed by virtue of birth. But, under the changing situation birth is no longer regarded as the symbol of social prestige. Today wealth and achievement replaced birth as the symbol of social status.
2. RELIGION IN INDIA:
Religion in India is characterised by a diversity of religious beliefs and practices.
The preamble of Indian constitution states that India is a secular state. The Indian subcontinent is the birthplace of four of the world’s major religions namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.
According to the 2011 census, 79.8% of the population of India practices Hinduism, 14.2% adheres to Islam, 2.3% adheres to Christianity, 1.7% adheres to Sikhism, 0.7% adheres to Buddhism and 0.4% adheres to Jainism.
Zoroastrianism, Sanamahism and Judaism also have an ancient history in India, and each has several thousands of Indian adherents.
India has the largest population of people adhering to Zoroastrianism (i.e. Parsis and Iranis) in the world, even though this religion initially grew in Persia.
Throughout India’s history, religion has been an important part of the country’s culture.
Religious diversity and religious tolerance are both established in the country by the law and custom, the Constitution of India has declared the right to freedom of religion to be a fundamental right.
3. KINSHIP IN INDIA:
Since India is a land of immense diversity, its different regions reflect different systems of kinship. In the limited scope of two units, it is not possible to even outline all the various types of kinship systems found in India.
As the country’s two major geographical divisions, the north and the south, present two distinct forms and have been described in sociological literature.
It is to be remembered that this does not mean that there are no further varieties of kinship systems in certain pockets of both North and South India.
India’s north eastern parts, as well as, other regions in its west and south provide many other types.
DEFINITION OF KINSHIP SYSTEM:
It said that the kinship system refers to a set of persons recognised as relatives either by virtue of a blood relationship or by virtue of a marriage relationship.
In sociological terms,
- All blood relationships are known by a technical term,
- Similarly, all relationships through marriage are given the term
For example, the relationships between mother and son/daughter, sister and brother/sister, father and son/daughter are consanguinal , while relationships between father/mother-in-law and daughter-/son-in-law are affinal.
Mostly, it is the social recognition of these relationships that is more important than the actual biological ties. Networks built around kin relationships play a significant role in both rural and urban social life in India.
DIMENSIONS OF KINSHIP SYSTEM:
In order to describe the features of kinship systems found in North and South India, we need to focus on certain aspects.
- Kinship Groups: Kin relationships provide both a method of passing on status and property from one generation to the next effective social groups for purposes of cooperation and conflict.
- Kinship Terminology: The list of terms used by the people to refer to their kin relationships expresses the nature of kinship system. This is why by describing kinship terminology, we are able to throw light on the kinship system. Most features of the kinship system of any society are usually reflected in the way kinship terms are used in that society.
- Marriage Rules: Just as kinship groups describe the form of kinship system found in a society, so also rules for marriage, categories of people who may/ may not marry each other, relationships between bride-takers and bridegivers provide the context within which kin relationships operate.
- Exchange of Gifts: As there are always two terms to any relationship, kinship behaviour is described in terms of pairs. For example, the parent-child relationship would describe kinship behaviour between two generations. We cannot therefore describe kinship behaviour. Instead we consider the chain of gift giving and taking among the relatives for understanding the behavioural aspects of kinship system.
THE BASIC DIFFERENTIALS FOUND IN THE NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN KINSHIP SYSTEM
(1) In northern India there is a prevalence of the patriarchal kin system. In the south, however, there exist both patriarchal and matriarchal systems of kinship. The matriarchal kinship system is found in Kerala among the Nairs, Moppilas and Teeyyars.
Studies also finds matriarchal system in the east among the Garo (Megha- laya) and Khasi tribes. There are no traces of matriarchal kin system in north. However, patriarchal system is also popular among castes of southern parts of India along with matriarchal system.
(2) In the north sapinda marriage is prohibited, whereas in the south cross-cousin marriage has the status of a preferential marriage.
(3) Bride-price marriage is not recognized in the north. In the south it is a common practice in marriage.
(4) Normally, village endogamy is not preferred in the north. In the south, on the contrary there is no prohibition against endogamy, that is, one can marry from his own village.
(5) In the north, there is a specific kinship terminology for blood kin and marital kin. In the south, there is no difference in kinship terminology between these two groups.
Kinship terminology depends largely on the language. Karve has studied both the Indo-Aryan language family and the Dravidian language family.
4. MARRIAGE IN INDIA:
Marriage is an important social institution that it has a universal reference and application. Marriage is a socially supported union involving two or more individuals in what is regarded as a stable, enduring arrangement typically based at least in part on a sexual bond of some kind.
All the same it is a relationship that has, in the context of India, given rise to many controversies relating to the definition of marriage.
In all societies we find ways of regulating who may not marry whom and who may marry whom.
Incest rules: The rules of incest decide who is outside the category of those one can marry. Incest refers to sexual union of near kin.
Positive (endogamy) and negative (exogamy) rules :
There are positive and negative rules of marriage to determine the unit within which one should marry and the unit within which one must not marry. The positive rules pertain to the unit of endogamy within which one can marry. In India, among the Hindus this refers by and large to one’s caste or sub-caste. The negative rules pertain to the unit of exogamy within which one must not marry.
Local caste panchayats have reportedly taken action against such couples though the courts have upheld their marriages. Such cases are indicators of changes in the perceptions of people about rules of marriage. Even the unit of endogamy is no longer a universally accepted unit of positive rules of marriage.
CHANGING PATTERNS OF MARRIAGE IN INDIA:
1. Changes in the Aims of Marriage:
The main objective of marriage in India was Dharma Although Kama or sex was one of the aims of marriage, it was the least desirable aim. In recent years, the order of aims of marriage has undergone change Sex has become primary and Dharma has become least important aim to marriage. In this manner the aims and the basis of marriage are undergoing changes.
2. Change in the process of Mate Selection:
As far as the selection of the bride and bridegroom was concerned it was the prerogative of the parents or the guardians .
This tradition of selecting the marriage partner for sons and daughters continued till the end of 19th century when the ideas of liberalism and industrialism were incorporated into Indian society as a result of the impact of Western culture.
As a result of this some cases of individual choice of mate was found. In the post independent India, the tendency of selecting one’s own partner has remarkably increased.
Now-a-days the younger generation is not very much in favor of parental choice in matter of selection of marriage partners.
A new trend is emerging in the process of mate selection among the middle and upper class educated youth in urban areas. In some cases marriage partners are chosen by children. In most of the cases the parents allow their children to have a say in selection of partners.
3. Changes in the Rules of Endogamy and Exogamy:
There have been some visible changes in the matter of rules of endogamy and exogamy. The rules of Varna, caste and sub-caste endogamy, Gotra and Pravara exogamy have been banned by legislations.
Now we do not find restriction in cross-cousin marriages. Cross-cousin marriages were taking place but these were not very common. It appears that the attitude of people towards cross-cousin marriage is changing. The numbers of cross-cousin marriages are gradually increasing. Under certain circumstances these types of marriages are found to be accepted by people.
As regards the rules of endogamy, remarkable changes have taken place. The Hindu Marriage Disabilities Removal Act of 1946 allowed marriage between different subdivisions of the same caste. The Special Marriage Act of 1954 and Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 have enabled marriages between persons of different castes and religions.
Arya Samaj Movement has promoted inter-caste marriages. Inter-caste marriages, hitherto considered unthinkable, are now not only permitted but also encouraged. Besides the legislations, the freedom in mate selection has promoted inter-caste marriages.
4. The Age at Marriage:
In course of time child marriage became the prevalent mode of marriage in India. Hence, child marriage was the practice to safeguard chastity and purity of females. The practice of child marriage was strong even in the 20th century. In the 20th century, the Child Marriage Restraint Act, popularly known as Sharada Act prescribed the minimum age of marriage at 14 years for girls and 18 years for boys.
Then, the Indian Parliament raised the age of marriage. For girls, the minimum age is 18 years and for boys 21 years. Marriage of boys and girls below the prescribed age has been made a cognisable offence.
Various sociological studies conducted in the last few decades have revealed that the trend in age at marriage from 1930 onwards has shown a continuous change. Due to certain changed social conditions, people prefer marriage at a higher age now-a-days.
5. Changes in the Rites of Marriage:
Traditionally, marriage is a religious sacrament and the marriage can take place only through the performance of certain rites and rituals.
Some of the most important rites and rituals connected with Indian marriage are Kanya Dana, Vivaha Home, Panigrahana, Agni Parinayana and Saptapadi etc. But today the situation is that some changes have taken place regarding the rites and rituals of marriage.
On the one hand, we find that due to shortage of time the rites and rituals connected with Hindu marriage have been cut down. Generally, it is observed that people sometimes ask the priest to hasten the ceremonies of the marriage.
On the other hand, some marriages are performed in civil courts. As a result of this, the sacred nature of rites and rituals has been diminished to a considerable extent.
Apart from this, the Arya Samaj movement has also simplified the rites and rituals of marriage. Another factor responsible for the decline in the religionsity of marriage is that Indian society as a whole is moving from sacred to secular nature and as a result of this; the traditional values are undergoing vast changes.
6. Change in the Stability of Marriage:
Traditionally, divorce was not easily granted and permitted in Indian society. The hindrance on divorce made the institution of family and marriage stable and enduring.
Due to the enactment of marriage and family legislations and many other factors the divorce rate in India has been steadily increasing.
The incidence of divorce is a clear indication of the fact that the institution of marriage is undergoing changes. The stability of married life is gradually being affected. Marital instability is gradually increasing. There was a time when a wife could not think of divorce. But now women have started taking resort to dissolution of marital bond.
7. The Problem of Remarriage:
The old tradition of Kanya Dana prohibited the marriage of widows. The remarriage of widows was generally not favoured in Smritis.
Although widow remarriage was in rare cases permitted, it was not regarded as sacramental as the first marriage was. The remarriage is not marriage once a maiden is given in marriage.
The Widow Remarriage Act, 1856 allowed widows to remarry if they liked. Apart from this law, the Arya Samaj Movement also favoured widow remarriage. During early period of the 20th century, we come across sporadic cases of widow remarriage.
In the post- independence era the number of widow remarriages has considerably increased.
Hence, we can say that our old values are changing. The attitude of hatred and abhorrence which was associated with the idea of widow remarriage is being replaced by more liberal ideas of accepting the widow remarriage.
8. Dowry Systems:
The traditional form of marriage implies Kanya Dana in which the father of the bride provides jewels and ornaments to daughter at the time of marriage. It was only a token of love and affection.
Actually this was not a dowry which was being practiced in ancient India. In course of time, child marriage emerged and with this also emerged the necessity of providing a huge dowry because the selection of bridegroom became difficult in recent years.
The problem of dowry has led to many problems namely suicide by the girls, malpractices by the father and humiliation of the father who cannot provide dowry.
Although the Government has taken steps to eradicate the evil practice of dowry, it persists and gradually the problem of dowry is becoming acute Bride-burning cases have been increasing every year in different parts of our country due to failure to meet the expected demand by the family of the bridegroom.
In many cases conjugal rights have been denied to the newly married girl on the plea that her father has not given all agreed amount of dowry.
9. Marriage and Morality:
One of the most important values connected with Hindu marriage for boys and girls was chastity.
The Hindu Sastrakaras have emphasised on pre- nuptial chastity of both boys and girls. They were not one-sided in their valuation of chastity but they placed equal value on the pre-nuptial chastity on the part of the male as well is evident that elaborate rules were laid down for the sexual conduct of both boys and girls till his or her marriage.
Pre-marital and extra-marital relations were not allowed .Love was the consequence of marriage between boys and girls, and marriage was not the consequence of love.
“The development of new mores in sex is generally presented in a society which has its roots in tradition and religious belief. Conventional sex morality cannot however stem for long the tide of a new awakening the need for a new concept of sex relationships is now as much as recognized by the older as by the younger generation only . This recognitions has not percolated to all layers of Indian society. Changes is hence slow and therefore less dramatic.”
However, remarkable changes are taking place in sex mores and values. Pre-marital sex relationship which was totally unknown in traditional Indian society is gradually becoming visible.
Youths have started establishing sex relationship much before marriage; Brahmacharya Vrata has become irrelevant because of new values. Due to the impact of Western culture and weakening of regulation of sexual conduct married persons are keeping sexual relationships beyond their partners. The Vedic ideal embodied in the Saptapadi formula’, I take thee to be my companion in life, is not acceptable to people in some cases.
5. FAMILY IN INDIA:
A family is a place where one can freely express one’s feelings, emotions and needs without being threatened or ashamed of them. Family is a place where one can feel security, wholeness and a sense of being wanted.
Family can also be defined as “Those related persons who live together within a household, usually with common eating habits or one kitchen.” It is experienced and proved that children grow best in an atmosphere of security and affection and that material attributes can never be substituted for true love.
FAMILIES BASED ON MARRIAGE:
Families formed on the basis of marriage are of two types:
- monogamous family, in which one man marries one woman at a time,
- polygamous familyis formed by the concurrent marriage of one sex to two or more members of the opposite sex.
FAMILIES BASED ON STRUCTURE AND SIZE:
- The large Joint Family
- The Nuclear Family
- The Extended Family
Joint family is one that has a greater generation depth than the nuclear family, in which members are related to one another by property, income, mutual rights and obligations.
Nuclear family is one in which the parents and their unmarried sons and daughters live together.
The extended family is a later development of the joint family system with a transformed image. It mediates the nuclear family and the large joint family.
FAMILIES BASED ON AUTHORITY:
On the basis of authority and power family may be classified into the following three types. They are:
- Patriarchal Family:
In this family the power and authority is vested in the hands of the male member of the family. In other words the patriarch or father is the; center of power and authority.
He is the owner and administrator of the family property and right. He exercises un challengeable authority over his family members.
- Matriarchal Family:
Matriarchal family is just the opposite of patriarchal family. It is also known as maternal family or mother-right family or mother dominated family.
In this family, the authority rests with mother or some other female members. She owns all the family property and rules the family as male member, in case of patriarchic family. Descent is reckoned through the mother.
The female members alone have the right to succeed to property of a maternal family. Thus husband is sub-ordinate to his wife and plays a secondary role.
This type of family is found among the Nayer and Tiya castes in Kerala, the Khasi and Garo tribes of Assam and the North American Indians.
- Egalitarian Family:
When power and authority are shared by husband and wife in the family they said family is termed as egalitarian family. This type of family is also known as equalitarian family or symmetrical Family. In this type of family, both husband and wife are more alike. They take decisions jointly. Both sons and daughters inherit family property equally. In short, this type of family provides equals opportunity to both male and female to enjoy their rights and authority. In modern societies this type of family is very common.
ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS OF A FAMILY:
These functions are basic for continued existence of family. They may be regarded as primary functions of family.
(I) Satisfaction of sex need:
The primary objective of family is satisfaction of sex need. The sex need is irresistible and satisfaction of this need brings the desire for union of man and woman through marriage institution. If sex instinct is suppressed, it may create personality maladjustment and disrupt social relations. Havelock states “with failure of sexual harmony, the marriage structure rests on shifting sand”. The family fulfils sex instinct in better way.
(II) Production and rearing of children:
Family is an institution par excellence for the production and rearing of children. No other institution can as efficiently bring up the child as can the family.
The process of reproduction is institutionalized in the family. The task of race perpetuation has always been an important function of the family.
The Hindu scriptures point out that the religious activities of man cannot be consummated unless he has a son. Legitimate production and rearing of children can be possible only through family. The family gives the individual his life and a chance to survive with appropriate protection.
(III) Provision of home:
Home is the sanctuary place to provide comfort and affection to its members. The family satisfies the need for love and affection of human being through home and eliminates emotional behaviour problem of human beings. Man after the hard toil of the day returns home where in the midst of his wife and children he sheds off his fatigue. Children are born and brought up in homes only.
In addition to the essential functions the family performs a number of non essential functions which may be discussed under the following heads. The non-essential functions of family are various which differ from one another.
Firstly, it serves as an economic unit. Family is a consumption and production unit as well Most of the commodities for consumption are made at home even though readymade foods, clothing and other commodities are available in the market. Family serves as insurance company for the family members at the time of financial constrain. The movable and immovable property of family are protected and maintained by family members.
Family is the centre of religious training centre of the children. In the family children learn religious, virtues and practices like idol worship, yogyo, religious discourses and sermons. Family plays an important role to make the outlook of children religious.
The family is an important educational agency. It is the first window of the child to the world outside. The child learns the first letter under the guidance of parents, though nowadays, there are provision of many kindergarten and public school. Family is also the centre of vocational education because in low socio economic status family, from the childhood children are associated with the families is occupation like carpentry, tailoring, blacksmith though the children of rich family are taking admission in many technical institutes and college for vocational education.
Family fosters health services to its members. Sick man was cared for in the family by his own kith and kin though today various nursing home and govt. medical facilities are available. The consolation and hearty care of family members enable to cure the illness of sick member quickly and they forget their pain to some extent.
Family is the centre of recreation for family members. Children keep themselves engaged in many indoor games like carom, ludo, cards playing, chess, watch T.V. in the family. They also get chance of merry making with siblings and relatives in the family.
Family is the cradle of civic virtues. The child learns the first lessons of citizenship in the family. The virtues of love, cooperation, toleration sacrifice, obedience and discipline are first learnt by the child in the family. These qualities enable him to grow into a good of citizen in the country.
The process of socialization of family members begins within the family. Its members are imbued with “We” feeling in the family. It also imparts the knowledge of social customs mores etc. to the future generation. It is an important agency of social control. It exercises social control over its members which helps in the maintenance of a well organised society. It is also the custodian of culture and serves as the natural and convenient channel of social continuity.
- Family an instrument of culture transmission:
Family serves as an instrument of culture transmission. It guarantees not only the biological continuity of the human race but also the culture continuing of the society of which it is a part. It transmits ideas and ideologies, folkways and mores, customs and tradition, beliefs and values from one generation to the next.
- Affectional function:
Family is an institution to provide emotional satisfaction and security to its individual members. The individual first experiences love and affection in his family within the circle of parents and siblings. A person who has never been loved is seldom happy and ability to thrive is damaged.
Family, the only primary group, keeps close contact with children throughout life and exerts a persistent intimate influence on the habits, attitudes and social experiences of the child. No other group can compete with the family. The influence of the family upon the child is deeper and more abiding than of other group. It plays the foremost role in the formation of personality and occupies a key place in social organisation.
CHANGES IN THE FAMILY STRUCTURE:
- In India, the old traditional joint family system no longer continues.
- It was patriarchal in nature, its size was large, status of women in the family was very low, members of family had no individual identity, and the decision-making power lied exclusively with the eldest male member of the family.
- The members were the blood relations, and had property, residence and hearth, and even worship, in common. The members in a joint family could be of three or more generations, and were morally bound to one another by rights and duties.
- Indian family system has undergone drastic change in response to development in terms of industrialization, education and urbanization. Industrialization and urbanization, leading to accelerated rate of rural-urban migration, diversification of gainful economic activities and individual-friendly property laws, have had consequential impact in terms of drastic reduction in the size of family in the country.
- Most families, particularly in urban areas, have only one or two generation members (i.e., parents and their unmarried children). But, it does not mean that the Indian family is becoming nuclear. Actually, the existence of nuclear family in India is only circumstantial.
- The culture and attitude of people is still in favour of the joint family system. Existing nuclear families in the country (whatsoever is the number) are only a temporary phase. In reality, the joint family has been a tradition of India. The nuclear families also existed though it is not an Indian tradition.
- The family in the country is no longer patriarchal in true sense of the term; it exists as a patri-local household. There is a lot of individual autonomy and no longer is decision-making the exclusive right of the eldest male member of the family.
- The family is now essentially democratic and most of the decisions in the family are taken collectively. However, the extent of autonomy and democracy may vary from region to region, community to community and caste to caste, depending upon the degree of its adaptation of the modern values and the urban way of life.
- The family in India is passing through a contradiction. Even educated males, though are in favour of modern education for their girl children, continue to expect them to remain inside homes and have their decisions be taken by the elder male members, particularly their parents. They also wish them to be working women but continue to expect them to work in the house and, in some cases, observe purdah.
- As most people have now started taking up jobs in different parts of the country leaving their parental family behind, they are having separate households.
- Such small households look forward to maintaining relationship with the parental family and extending help and support to it.
- Changes in the structure and function of joint families in India are thus following a reconciliatory pattern, a pattern common in the structural changes in the Indian society.
- In mate selection, the principle of personal choice, especially in urban families, is today increasingly reconciled with parents’
- The wife’s freedom in middle-class homes to work outside in offices and schools operates within the traditional framework of the husband’s approval and sometimes the approval of husband’s or even wife’s parents.
- Such reconciliations are, however, not without tension which is an inalienable aspect of social change. Despite these changes, traditional views on joint family still prevail.
- Passing away of the traditional joint family system and not being replaced by nuclear family system has resulted into a new kind of family set-up in the country.
- Today, most families form as nuclear kind of households and continue to exist as constituents of joint families. Therefore, today, it has become more relevant to study households rather than joint or nuclear families.
DIVERSITY IN INDIA:
India is a vast country and is considered as a Sub-Continent for its vastness. The Persians of ancient time called the river Indus as Hindhu. The ancient Greeks referred the river Indus as Sindhu.
They named this land as India and called its people as Indians. During the Medieval age the writers called this land as Hindustan or the land of the Hindus.
The extra ordinary characteristic of this land is that in-spite of all diversity in different fields-physical, social, linguistic, cultural and religious, there is a fundamental thread of unity in the history of India.
- Geographical Diversity:
Geographically India can be divided into four regions.
The first is the Himalayan region or the Northern Mountain wall that extends from Kashmir in the West to Assam in the East.
The second region is the great and big Northern Plains which are provided with water by the rivers like Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra and their tributaries.
The third region comprised of the plateau of the Central India and the Deccan. The Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats are stretched on the two sides of the Deccan which meets at the Nilgiris. The Coromandal Coast stands between the Eastern Ghats and the Bay of Bengal.
The region between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats is known as the Konkan up to Goa beyond which it is known as Kanara or Karnataka while the Southern most part is known as the Malabar Coast or Kerala. India contains about one fifth of the total population of the whole world.
Thus the physical features of the country with its numerous rivers and lofty mountains favour a speculative bent of mind among the people living in these geographical regions. This geographical feature promoted the growth of composite culture of the country.
- Racial Diversity:
Along with the physical variety the most remarkable feature of India is the presence of the variety of human beings which she presents through her teeming millions. The people of India can be divided into four major groups on ethnic and linguistic grounds.
The first group include the Neolithic and Paleolithic men who inhabited in this country since the remote past.
The second group of people belong to the Mongoloid type and they are found in Bhutan, Sikkim and Nepal.
The third group is identified as Dravidians living in the Southern part of the country.
The fourth group include the tall and fair complexioned Indo-Aryans living in the North-Western part of India.
Other races like Persians, Greeks, Kushanas and Huns came to India at different periods and permanently settled in the country. From the Seventh century onwards Muslim invaders made India their hunting ground. The Arabs, Turks and the Mughals came to India and settled here. Thus the racial diversities play a vital role in Indian society and culture.
- Diversity in Climate:
The extreme diversity of physical features presents different kinds of climatic conditions for the inhabitants. India has high mountains, and deserts, plateaus, fertile plains, rivers, valleys and vast sea coasts. Cherrapunji in Assam is the place which records the highest rainfall in the World and on the other hand there is no rainfall in the deserts of Rajasthan.
There are also varieties of temperature and climate in this country. When pinching winter is felt in the Kashmir region for more than six months the people of the extreme South like Kerala never experience such cold at any time. One can find varieties of temperature and climate in India.
- Social Diversity:
The people differ considerably in the social habits. They differ in their dresses, customs, food habits and manners.
Different kinds of festivals are observed in different parts of the country by different categories of people.
- Diversities in Language:
The people of India speak different languages. There are in India separate group of people with their own language.
Each of these people’s has its own literature. More than 200 different dialects and languages are used in this vast sub-continent.
The principal languages of India are Sanskrit, Hindi, Bengali, Oriya, Assamese, Gujarati, Marathi, Sindhi, Urdu, Punjabi, Tamil, Telgu, Malayalam, Kashmiri and Kannada.
The hill tribes of Central India speak Austric type of languages.
The people of the South who belong to the Dravidian group speak Telgu, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada.
On the other hand the languages like Hindi, Bengali, Oriya, Marathi, Gujarati and Punjabi are used by the Indo-Aryans.
- Religious Diversities:
There is also to be found an equal variety of religions. All the world religions are found here — Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Islam and Christianity. All have their sects and sub-divisions.
The Hindu religion itself is split up in countless creeds, the Vedic religion, the Puranic Hinduism, the Sanatan Dharma, the Brahmo Samaj, the Arya Samaj. Originally Brahmanical Hinduism was the religion of the people. But the sixth century gave birth two new religions namely Buddhism and Jainism.
During the medieval period Sikhism emerged as a new religion. Gradually, Persian, Zoroastrianism, Islam and Christianity also spread in India.
Thus India is a land of many religions. The people therefore differ considerably in the social habits and cultural differences vary from State to State which has become the fabric of Indian culture composite in nature.
Conflicting and varying shades of blood strains of culture and modes of life all-together build up rich and complex diversity in India.
UNITY IN INDIA:
There is no wonder that “India is a museum of cults and customs, creeds and culture, faiths and tongues, racial types and social systems” yet India is a land of unity.
There is deep underlying fundamental unity in India. An observer fails to discover the one in many, the individual in aggregate, and the simple in the composite.
The sense of geographical unity of the country was always present in the minds of the founders of the Indian Civilization.
This unity has undoubtedly nurtured in recent times by the uniform system of administration and the spread of modern education.
- Geographical Unity:
The country that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountains is called Bharat for their dwell the descendants of Bharata. Its people are designated as Bharata santati. The term Bharata varsha stands for fundamental unity, the term was not only associated with the geographical boundaries but with the idea of universal monarchy.
The theologians, political philosophers and poets have always referred to India as one and have highly praised the rulers who attempted to extend their political supremacy from Himalaya in the North to Cape Camorin in the South, from the river Brahmaputra in the East to Indus in the West.
The rulers of the Medieval period also considered India as one geographical unit and sought to extend their supremacy over this whole land. Even now this Geographical unity is reinforced by the conception of common motherland “Bharatmata”. The song Vandemataram characteristically embodies this sentiment of unity.
- Political Unity:
The sense of the unity of the whole country was promoted by politics also. The rulers of India established their sway over the whole country and consequently contemplated over it as a unit.
The rulers of India from ancient times aimed to rule over the entire country and to become Chakravarti. Chandragupta, Asoka and Samudragupta had established their suzerainty over the whole of India and became Chakravarti. The institution of paramount sovereignty was a familiar political idea of the Hindus in ancient ages.
The frequent use of the terms Rajadhiraj, Samraj, Eka-raja, Adhiraja, Virat, and Sarvabhauma etc. in the ancient Sanskrit literature and the repeated performance of such rites and sacrifices as the Rajasuya, Vajapeya, Punaraviseka, Mahabhisekha etc. show that the idea of universal conquest and an all India overlord-ship was well-known to the ancient Hindus.
In the Medieval period Ala-ud-din Khilji, Akbar and Aurangzeb sought to establish their political supremacy over the whole of the country.
The Mughals established an imperial system which deepened the conception of oneness of rule and sameness of political experience. The British also achieved the political and administrative unity of India. After the political emancipation of India the incorporation of the Princely States in the Indian Union has completed this political unity of the country.
- Religious Unity:
There is an under current of religious unity among the various religious sects in the country. The worship of Vishnu and Siva under different names is as widespread in the North as in the South.
The temples of Vishnu and Siva have been constructed all over the country. They raise their spires not only in the snow covered Himalayas and Indo-Gangetic plains but in the deltas of the Tungabhadra, Kaveri and Krishna also.
The Ramayana and the Mahabharata have been studied in the far South as well as in the Punjab, Kashmir and the Doab.
The stories of Ram and Krishna are sung with much devotion and respect in the South, North, East and West.
The Cow, the Vedas, the Gita, the Puranas and other scriptures are respected equally throughout the country.
Monotheism, immortality of the soul, reincarnation. Karma, Moksha, Nirvana etc. are the doctrines believed in and followed by all the sects of the country.
The most sacred places of Hindu pilgrimage such as Badrinarayan in the North, Dwaraka in the West, Rameswaram in the south and Jagannath Puri in the East embrace the whole of the country and they speak of India being one land.
The daily prayer of the Hindus include the names of all the main rivers of the north and the south like the Indus (Sindhu), the Ganga, the Jamuna, the Godavari, the Saraswati, the Narmada and the Kaveri. This speaks of the fundamental unity of the people of India. These religious beliefs lay emphasis in the fact that India is one land.
- Cultural Unity:
Indian culture and civilization is unique in its features. No doubt people follow different languages and customs but one can find a basic unity of literary ideas, philosophy, literature, and conventions throughout the country.
The festivals like Diwali, Dashera, Rakshabandhan and Holi are celebrated in every part of the country. The cultural unity and the homogeneity is also reflected in the social ceremonies and the religious rites, festivals and modes of life which are the same in north, south, east and west.
The sanctity of the family, the rules of the castes, the Sanskars, the rite of cremating a dead body, the cleanliness of the kitchen etc. are common to all the communities and sects of India.
- Unity of Language:
India enjoyed unity of language. Before the Christian era Prakrit was a common language of the people.
The message of the missionaries of Asoka was successfully carried in this language to the doors of his subjects. Subsequently Pali and Sanskrit replaced Prakrit language.
Sanskrit has been acknowledged as one sacred language by all sections of the people irrespective of their race, rank and creed. Different sects and creeds have adopted Sanskrit as the sacred language of their scripture.
Sanskrit has become the original source of different languages of the country like Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Oriya and Bengali etc.
Sanskrit has always been the medium of philosophy, theology and mythology. During the time of the British rule English language achieved success in uniting the people of India when it was declared as the medium of instruction in all educational institutions and used as the official language. At present Hindi has been doing the same work.
In course of time they had lost their separate individuality and were completely absorbed in the Hindu fold. Even large number of Muslims and Christians who have been living in India are the descendants of the Hindus who were converted to Islam and Christianity. All the races and tribes living in India have acquired the physical uniformity.
Indian culture is an organic and harmonious synthesis of a large number of human cultural trends. Thus in-spite of the appalling diversity India is herself the great example of the doctrine of one in many.
There is unity in diversity — a unity for more profound than that produced either by geographical isolation or by political suzerainty. In India there is unity that transcends the innumerable diversities of blood, colour, language, dress, manners and sects.
The unique feature of Indian culture, civilization and its history lies in the continuity of religious practices and the spirit of tolerance by its people in all ages.
Threats to National Integration and unity in India :
It is the biggest challenge to national integration and democracy. Threat of communal hat redness has shaken the very unity and integrity of our nation.
There is a growth of feeling of hat redness of one religious community against other community on the grounds that religion of one community is anti-thesis to other religion.
Religious fundamentalism and communal fanaticism have raised their ugly heads which vitiate the atmosphere of peace and tranquility of the nation.
Misinterpretation of religion by fundamentalists is said to be the chief reason of spreading the fire of communalism.
Sectarianism poses another threat to national integration because it creates a further gulf among various sects of the people belonging to the same religion.
This trend is surely a threat to the hard-won fabric of national unity and integration.
Caste is the basis of the division of our society. It is often remarked that in India one can change everything except ‘caste’. Everything is organised on the line of caste. Caste loyalties are looming large. Different castes look to the benefit of their own castes.
As things are today, more and more power is getting concentrated in the hands of the dominant castes and the latter resent the attempts made by the lower castes to move up. This has resulted in inter-caste rivalries and tensions.
High caste people develop a feeling of superiority over the low caste people who are always despised by the former.
While the high castes have not shed their sense of superiority, the low caste especially Harijans and backward castes have become increasingly assertive about their rights.
The result is the overt rivalries and clashes which pose a grave danger to the vital aspect of the nation i.e., national integration.
Now, politics is getting affected by caste. Politicization of caste is a recurring phenomenon in India which divides the people on caste lines.
Therefore, caste plays a dominant and formidable role in every affair of the people which is detrimental to the vibrant force of national cohesion and unity.
Although language plays an integrative role, in a number of times, it plays a disintegrative role. The linguistic cultural divide between the Aryan-Sanskritic North (Heart land) and the Dravidian South has put to test India’s hard-won integration.
Controversy over ‘official language’ had triggered off serious law and order problems in southern belts. Tamilians are quite reluctant to accept ‘Hindi’ as official language in their states.
Their slogan is ‘English ever and Hindi never’ and they say they are Indians but not Hindians. Even other states are not free from linguistic animosities. Linguistic differences have created social tensions and marred the social solidarity of the people. This situation poses a grave danger to the unity and integrity of the nation.
Regionalism presents a serious threat to national integration. It can be defined as a feeling of attachment to a geographically and culturally marked segment of the national territory.
Cultural diversity, economic and social disparities, religious and linguistic differences, economic imbalances and uneven regional development are the root causes of the growth spurt of regionalism. Regionalism is visible in every domains of national life—industry, business, education, politics and service.
Political parties have been formed on regional basis whose concerns are to uphold the supreme interest of the state.
Even within the states, regionalism raises its ugly head. Parochial loyalties and acute regional sense have been the order of the day.
The offshoot of this sense is the “theory of sons of the soil” which fundamentally implies the attachment of people of one area to such an extent that other people particularly ‘minorities’ so-called ‘outsiders’ are not allowed to remain in their former regions to function in different aspects of life. This aspect of regionalism is the most powerful threat to national solidarity and cohesion.
- Economic Differences:
The socio-economic reality in India exposes the glaring contrast between the ‘rich’ and ‘poor’; the chasm between wealth and affluence on the one hand and abject poverty and inhuman misery on the other, between haves and have-not’s. Thus there is the existence of two Indians inside India.
A few people are rolling in wealth and living a life of ostentation and submerge in conspicuous consumption while masses are deprived of even a square meal per day who bear the brunt of endless exploitation and perennial oppression. As such, this wide hiatus gives birth to anti-national elements.
Poverty compels the poor to resort to anti-national activities which are suicidal for the preservation of national integration. They are apathetic to national development and do not accept governmental activities as a sign of their upliftment.
Due to poverty, many a youth do prefer to join in the camps of anti-nationalist organizations like Naxalite and Maoist. This is not a healthy symptom for the largest democracy in the world.
India is a nation accommodating different political parties which are formed on the basis of caste, language, region and personal charisma. These parties play a dubious role in disintegration of the nation. They give top priority to their own interests at the cost of the national interest.
They uphold their own values of self-aggrandizement and busy in amassing of wealth. They do not think of the interest of the nation and continue to misled people through their false propaganda and slogans to upgrade their positions.
They play dirty and narrow politics for the interests of their own which sap the national feeling and solidarity. Thus, politics is played to consolidate one’s position vis-a-vis other’s at the cost of national interest.
Terrorism poses a great threat to national unity and integration. The main objective of terrorism is to create a climate of extreme fear psychosis and thus, it undermines the confidence of people in the political system and the government. Violence is a means to achieve the goal of destabilizing the nation by infusing a spectra of fear in the minds of common people.
The reasons for the growth of terrorism are historical, political, economical and religious. Bomb-blasting, arsons, hijacking, abduction, killing, maiming etc. are some of the means to destabilize the country. State-sponsored terrorism is the ugliest manifestations of it pointed to disturb the unity and stability of other nations.
- Student Unrest:
Now student unrest stands as a great stumbling block on the path of national integration. In-fact, students are the future of a nation. If they get dissatisfied and frustrated due to unemployment, internal bickering, defective educational system, etc.
Misled by politicians students commit a plethora of sinful activities which are detrimental to the health of our nation? They paralyze the machinery of government by going on strike, dharana, and setting fire major offices, vehicles, shops etc. Hence, Student unrest is a serious threat to the national unity and integrity.
- Lack of Good and Committed Leadership :
The success of a democratic republic harbours on good and committed leaders who are the harbingers of national development. But now, most of our leaders are swayed by petty interests, alienated from doing things for the interest of the nation.
Leaders are found to be interested in their own affairs setting the ground for sowing the seed of communalism, casteism, linguism and provincialism. Such leaders do not provide a berth to the rise of national culture.
Hence, these leaders stand as obstacles on the path of national unity. Therefore, national integration is under the fire of threats from myriad forces.
National integration is highly necessary in a multi-religious, multi-ethnic, multi-caste, multi-regional society like India. Realizing the need of it, the National Integration Conference organised in 1961, had suggested a code of conduct for political parties. Besides the suggestions of the National Integration Conference, some other steps can be recommended for securing high level of national integration.
- Promotion of Secularism:
The spirit of secularism is highly necessary in Indian multi-religious society. For this reason the National Integration Conference of 1961, suggested that no political party should indulge in any activity aggravating the differences or causing any tension between various castes, communities or linguistic groups. There is a demand to ban all communal parties and communal organisations by which the danger of communalism can be made less serious. Any sorts of activities creating communal reactions in the public mind should be prohibited. No discrimination among the people on the grounds of religion should be made.
- Cultural Integration:
Recognizing the existence of a wide range of groups, inter-group relations should be promoted in India. Though not uniformity, yet unity among the people can be created with a common set of values. National goal or national objectives generate cultural integration which partially favours emotional integration of the nation.
- Economic Development:
Regional imbalance in economic development and acute poverty of certain section of the people impose serious impediments in the achievement of national integration. Despite the adoption of five-year economic planning’s and a number of socio-economic welfare measures, poverty continues as a serious problem. A great chunk of people remain far away of national mainstream. Economic development means the development of whole people and the development of entire nation. Special efforts are necessary in this direction to ensure common national prosperity.
Illiterate and ignorant people cannot be conscious of the values of national integration. Education only can promote faith in the integrity and the moral worth of the individual. The educational institutions can play important role as forums for arousing the spirit of national integration.
The study and solution of various social problems can be assigned to the educational institutions. In case of higher educational institutions like colleges and universities, exchange of teachers and students from one institution to another for lectures or seminars can promote national integration. Reading materials used by students in schools and colleges should be properly examined to avoid communalization of text books.
- Political and Administrative Measures:
Since India is a federal-democratic country, its integration in all respects should also be done on a democratic basis. Each ethnic, caste, tribal, religious and linguistic group should have freedom for protecting and promoting their own culture and traditions. Emotional integration with the development of a strong brotherhood among the people, discourage the growth of separatism, regionalism or secessionism.
The agencies of media both electronic and print should be used for inculcating a national outlook. Academic seminars and entertainment programmes on the theme of communal harmony should be organised. Cultural Academies should be established and they should work for strengthening the movement for unity.
- Role of Non-Government Organisations:
Besides the governmental steps, non-government social service organisations can play an important role in strengthening the process of national integration. These organisations can create necessary social awareness for bringing social reforms and change in the mind set of the people. Emergence of awareness can subsequently promote national integration.
In conclusion, Unity in Diversity is an integral part of ethics and morality. The concept is certainly essential for the future progress of human society. People must display faith in this concept. Above all, they must keep aside feelings of racism, discrimination, and oppression.
SOURCES AND REFERENCES:
- MA SOCIOLOGY – IGNOU MATERIALS
- KINSHIP, FAMILY AND MARRIAGE IN INDIA (BOOK) – PATRICIA UBEROI
- NEWSPAPERS AND ARTICLES