- Define multiculturalism.
- Briefly state about India’s multiculturalism.
- Discuss the approaches.
Multiculturalism is defined as the state of co-existence of diverse cultures. Culture includes, racial, religious, linguistic, etc. which may have differences and distinctions in customary behaviours, cultural assumptions and values, patterns of thinking and communicative styles. It also aims at the preservation of different cultures and their identities within a unified society as a state or nation.
‘Multiculturalism’ is now used not only to define disadvantaged and marginalised groups like tribals, linguistic-cultural-religious minorities, LGBT, disabled, etc., but also immigrants who may come under ethnic, religious minorities as well as minority nations and indigenous peoples.
India is home to policies of legal pluralism in religious family law (Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Parsi), territorial autonomy for several linguistic and tribal groups, as well as quotas in legislatures, government jobs and educational institutions for caste and tribal minorities and hence a good example of multicultural society.
Multicultural claims include a wide range of claims involving religion, language, ethnicity, nationality, and race. Culture is a contested, open-ended concept, and all of these categories have been subsumed by or equated with the concept of culture. Hence, we can say that multiculturalism is itself a theory of culture and its values comprising all its aspects.
The Indian Constitution embodies two distinct approaches to the accommodation of difference that might roughly be termed integrationist and restricted multicultural. It is true that in advance of many Western democracies notably the US, the Indian Constitution recognizes affirmative action (known as reservations) for historically disadvantaged groups.
As a basis for group differentiated rights, cultural differences, unlike ‘backwardness’, lacked adequate normative support in India’s constitutional vision. The normative deficit at India’s founding moment continues to be politically influential. State assistance to minority cultures has been seen as an illegitimate concession motivated by electoral considerations, a line of critique exploited skilfully by a resurgent majority right. For further reinforcing India’s multiculturalism there is a need to recognise the rights of minorities, vulnerable section, and women and work towards their upliftment.
For recognizing the minority rights the government has launched various schemes like pre-matric and post-matric scholarship, financial assistance for higher education especially for girls, skill India, and credit scheme under Mudra for encouraging entrepreneurship among minorities. However the need of the hour is to implement these schemes in true spirit. The recently proposed citizenship Amendment Bill which seeks to provide citizenship status to the migrants is also a welcome step in further reinforcing multiculturalism.