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Diversity and Discrimination - Polity NCERT Notes for UPSC

Jan 20, 2023

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Sometimes people who are 'different' from others are teased, laughed at or not included in a certain activity or group. In this blog, we will try and explore how such experiences are related to the society we live in.

Navigate further to know more about What is Diversity and Discrimination and elevate your IAS preparation

Difference and Prejudice

  • There are many things that create differences in people such as the languages, food, clothes etc. All of these are influenced both by the geography and history of the places.
  • Scale of Diversity of India: 
    • There are eight major religions in the world and every single one of them is practiced in India. 
    • India has more than 1600 languages and more than a hundred dance forms. 

This diversity is not always celebrated because people feel safe and secure with people who look, talk, dress and think like them. Sometimes when people meet those who are very different from them may found them strange and unfamiliar. People also form certain attitudes and opinions about others who are not like them.

DifferencePrejudice
People are different from each other in terms of languages, caste, religions etc.It means to judge other people negatively or see them as inferior. This means thinking that only one particular way is the best and right way to do things. It led to disrespecting others who may prefer to do things differently.
Example: India is a country of people with different religions having different ways of life.Example: If someone thinks that English is the best language and other languages are not important. This means judging the other languages negatively. Prejudices can be related to different things such as people's religious beliefs, the colour of their skin, the region they come from, the accent they speak in, the clothes they wear etc. 

Examples of Stereotypes

  • Gender differences

For example; ''Boys don't cry". This is a quality that is generally associated with males. It is one such stereotype associated with males and females are fitted into an image that society creates around them.

  • 'Disabled persons': 

This term has been changed and now the term used is 'children with special needs'. Certain common stereotypes about them are if their legs are wobbly then their minds also wobbly.

  • Religious: 
    • A common stereotype about some Muslims is that they are not interested in educating girls and therefore do not send girls to school. However, studies have now shown that poverty amongst Muslims is an important reason why Muslim girls do not attend school or drop out from school after a few years.
    • For example; in the state of Kerala, the distance between the school and the home is not much. There is a good government bus service that helps teachers reach schools in rural areas and over sixty per cent of the teachers are women. These factors have helped children from poorer families, including Muslim girls, attend school in much larger numbers.

Negatives of Prejudice 

  • Sometimes prejudices about others are so strong that it hurt others.
  • Fixing people into one image create a stereotype. Stereotypes stop people from looking at each person as a unique individual with his or her own special qualities and skills that are different from others. 
  • Stereotypes affect all of us as they prevent us from doing certain things that we might otherwise be good at.

Inequality and Discrimination

Reasons for Discrimination

  • Discrimination happens when people act on their prejudices or stereotypes. 
  • Inferiority complex: Groups of people, who may speak a certain language, follow a particular religion, live in specific regions etc., may be discriminated against as their customs or practices may be seen as inferior. 
  • Different economic backgrounds: This difference is not a form of diversity but of inequality. People who are poor do not have the resources or the money to meet their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. They experience discrimination in offices, in hospitals, schools etc., where they are treated badly because they are poor. 

On being Discriminated Against

  • Different value of work: Activities like cleaning, washing, cutting hair, picking garbage are seen as tasks that are of less value and people who do this work are seen as dirty or impure. 
  • Caste system:
    • In the caste system, communities/groups of people were placed in a sort of ladder where each caste was either above or below the other. 
    • Those who placed themselves at the top of this ladder called themselves upper caste and saw themselves as superior
    • The groups who were placed at the bottom of the ladder were seen as unworthy and called "untouchables".
    • Inequality: Caste rules were set which did not allow the so-called "untouchables" to take on work, other than what they were meant to do. For example, some groups were forced to pick garbage and remove dead animals from the village. But they were not allowed to enter the homes of the upper castes or take water from the village well.
Case study:

Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar experience of caste-based discrimination:

It took place in 1901 when he had gone with his brothers and cousins to meet his father in Koregaon which is now in Maharashtra.

 There were many bullock-carts plying for hire but because of their identity no one of them was ready to take them as they feel that they will be polluted as they considered them untouchables. 

Caste based discrimination is not only limited to preventing Dalits from undertaking certain economic activities but it also denies them the respect and dignity given to others.

Useful Links for IAS Preparation:

Macroeconomics- Indian Economy Notes: NCERT Notes UPSCElection and Representation- NCERT Notes UPSCCold War: Origin, Causes and Phases- NCERT Notes UPSCPopulation Composition- NCERT Notes UPSC
National Income Accounting- NCERT Notes UPSCFundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution- NCERT Notes UPSCHuman Geography: Nature and Scope- NCERT Notes UPSCBricks, Beads and Bones The Harappan Civilisation- NCERT Notes UPSC

Striving for Equality

  • During Freedom Struggle
    • The struggle for freedom from British rule also included within it the struggle of large groups of people who not only fought against the British but also fought to be treated more equally such as Dalits, women, tribals and peasants etc. 
    • For example; many Dalits organised themselves to gain entry into temples, women demanded right to education etc. 
  • After independence 

When India became a nation in 1947 our leaders too were concerned about the different kinds of inequalities. So, they tried different ways to promote equality such as 

  • Our Constitution makers set out a vision and goals in the Constitution to ensure that all the people of India were considered equal. 
  • Everyone has equal rights and opportunities.
  • Untouchability is seen as a crime and has been legally abolished by law. 
  • People are free to choose the kind of work they wish to do. 
  • Government jobs are open to all people. 
  • In addition, the Constitution also placed responsibility on the government to take specific steps to realize this right to equality for poor and other such marginal communities. 
  • Respecting diversity: The writers of the Constitution felt that people must have the freedom to follow their religion, speak their language, celebrate their festivals and express themselves freely. 
  • No one language, religion or festival should become compulsory for all to follow.
  • Government must treat all religions equally. Therefore, India became a secular country where people of different religions and faiths have the freedom to practice and follow their religion without any fear of discrimination. 

Interesting Points

  • A book “Why are you afraid to hold my hand” is written by Sheila Dhir.
  • Dalit: It means those who have been 'broken'. The government refers to this group of people as Scheduled Castes (SC).
  • Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar (1891-1956):
  • He was born into the Mahar caste, which was considered untouchable.
  • He encouraged Dalits to send their children to school and college.
  • He fought for the rights of the Dalit community.
  • He is considered as the father of the Indian Constitution.
  • Later in life, he converted to Buddhism in his search for a religion that treated all members equally. 

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