Describe any four cultural elements of diversity in India and rate their relative significance in building a national identity. (UPSC – 2015) [150 Words]

Ans.: Diversity connotes collective differences among people that differentiates one group of people from another.
India is considered as a mega culturally diverse country due to the existence of various groups that provide a unique blend to India’s diversity. These culturally diverse elements have given India an identity that is heterogeneous compared to any such large countries.
Cultural elements of diversity in India: 

  • Religious Diversity
    All major religions of the world are found and practised in India. The foreign religions have interacted with regional culture and formed a unique blend that is not formed elsewhere.
    Ex: Blend of Parsi culture with indigenous culture in Maharashtra . 
  • Language
    India is home to a large number of languages that we cannot find in any other countries. These languages have evolved over centuries and some are very rare. This diversity in language has provided India a colourful blend. Fundamental unity is found in the ideas and themes expressed in these languages. 
  • Festivals
    Every region and community in India has their own festivals based on their cultural identity. These festivals are the backbone of their culture and are delicately preserved and followed. These festivals allow the identity of communities to transmit over generations.
    Ex: Lohri in Punjab , Pongal in Kerala, Bihu in NE states. 
  • Races
    India is home to major races of the world. These races have mixed with each other over hundreds of years to give rise to present ones. This has allowed the existence of unique races in India.
    Ex: Indo-Aryan races in India, Dravidian etc. 
  • Pilgrimages 

Significance of cultural elements in building national identity

  • Unity in diversity
    The different cultural elements have allowed India to be seen as a country that respects all traditions and beliefs. This has reiterated India’s commitment to towards unity in diversity motto.
  • Building tolerance
    Existence of various forms of diverse culture in India has made India an example of tolerance. When the world is fighting over colour and language, India’s acceptance of cultural diversity is a beacon of hope. 

Thus, cultural diversity has an important role in shaping India’s national identity that is not based on any language or religion but instead on common hopes and aspirations.