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Unity in diversity is a unique and defining feature of Indian society, encompassing a wide range of differences in geography, race, religion, language, community, and culture. Despite this diversity, a fundamental unity exists due to shared geography, history, politics, values, and culture. Societies generally deal with diversity through either assimilation and homogenization or accommodation and pluralism. Indian society embraces the latter, fostering tolerance, acceptance, and accommodation. Unlike European sociology, which bases unity on linguistic nationality or political sovereignty, Indian sociology attributes unity in India to its ancient and ongoing civilization. Thus, Indian unity is both politico-geographic and cultural in nature.
Exercise/textual questions and answers
Very short answer questions
1. What is meant by unity?
Answer: Unity refers to the process of bringing together various elements within a society to create a single, cohesive unit or entity.
2. What is meant by diversity?
Answer: Diversity refers to the presence of variation and differences among people, things, or ideas within a given context.
3. What is fundamentalism?
Answer: Fundamentalism is the belief held by individuals that their particular religious or ideological viewpoint is the only true and valid one.
4. What is tribal religion called?
Answer: Tribal religion is often referred to as Animism.
5. What is a pilgrimage?
Answer: A pilgrimage is a spiritual journey to a holy site or shrine, undertaken with the intention of deepening one’s religious connection or devotion.
6. How many languages and dialects are there in India according to Grierson?
Answer: According to Grierson, India has 179 languages and 544 dialects.
7. How many languages are included in the Eight Schedule at present? Name two languages from the North-East included in the Schedule.
Answer: Currently, the Eighth Schedule includes 22 languages. Bodo and Manipuri are two North-Eastern languages that are part of the schedule.
8. Which is the official language of India as defined by the Constitution of India?
Answer: According to the Constitution of India, Hindi is the official language of the country.
9. In which year was English made as the associate additional official language in India?
Answer: English was established as the associate additional official language in India in 1950.
10. To which racial group do the Nagas belong?
Answer: The Nagas are part of the Mongoloid racial group.
11. What is communalism?
Answer: Communalism is the practice of prioritizing one’s own community above others, often to the detriment of national unity or harmony.
12. What is regionalism?
Answer: Regionalism is the sense of pride and loyalty that people have toward their specific geographic region.
13. What is ‘casteism’?
Answer: Casteism refers to the mindset and behavior that stems from being overly conscious of one’s caste, often leading to discrimination and prejudice based on caste differences.
Short answer questions
1. Name any three Christian majority states.
Answer: Three states with a Christian majority in India include Mizoram, Nagaland, and Meghalaya.
2. Briefly explain the two aspects of religion.
Answer: Religion comprises two primary dimensions:
(i) Spiritual – This aspect involves the core moral and ethical values common to all faiths.
(ii) Temporal – This aspect pertains to the differences in group identity and cohesion among various religious communities.
3. Name the major religious groups in India.
Answer: The primary religious communities in India are Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity.
4. Mention the four linguistic groups in India.
Answer: The main language families in India encompass Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Mundari, and Tibeto-Burman.
5. What are the three principal races of mankind?
Answer: Mankind’s three main racial groups consist of:
(i) Negroid (black)
(ii) Caucasoid (white)
(iii) Mongoloid (yellow)
6. Cite an example each of mutual borrowing of practices by Muslims and Hindus.
Answer: Examples of cultural exchange between Hindus and Muslims include the adoption of the caste system by Muslims from Hindus, and the incorporation of the Purdah practice by Hindus from Muslims.
7. What are the linguistic problems of India after Independence?
Answer: India has faced several linguistic challenges since gaining independence, including:
- Official language disputes – Anti-Hindi sentiments were particularly strong in South India, especially Tamil Nadu, and demands arose for the inclusion of certain languages in the Eighth Schedule, such as Manipuri.
- State reorganization based on linguistic criteria – During British rule, speakers of the same language were often split across different provinces.
- Minority language and linguistic minority issues in reorganized states – To tackle these concerns, the Constitution of India includes specific provisions for linguistic minorities.
Essay type questions
1. Discuss unity in diversity.
Answer: Unity in diversity is a unique feature of Indian society and a fundamental part of India’s self-identity. Despite the vast diversity in terms of geography, race, religion, language, community, and culture, there is a fundamental unity stemming from geography, history, politics, basic values, and shared culture.
Diversity refers to the variety of differences within a society, which can be observed between regions, groups, cultures, and more. To maintain social cohesion, societies must address these diversities. One approach is to eliminate differences and impose uniformity, while the other is to promote integration and unity while embracing diversity. Indian society is an example of unity in diversity, as it accepts and accommodates differences with tolerance and acceptance. This unity is considered more civilizational than national.
2. Explain any two factors of ‘unity in diversity’ of India.
Answer: Two factors of unity in diversity in India are:
(i) Geographical Factors: India’s geographical features vary greatly, from high mountain ranges, plateaus, plains, to deserts. Temperature ranges from extremely hot to cold, and both tropical and polar climates are found in India. The geography of India has played a critical role in promoting unity and a sense of distinctiveness. The Himalayas in the north and the seas and oceans on other sides delineate India as a distinct geographical entity. Geographic unity and resource abundance have supported the growth of an ancient civilization, agricultural economy, political organization, and cultural life.
(ii) Cultural Factors: India’s cultural diversity is immense, with numerous ethnic groups, communities, castes, and tribes in different regions, each with its distinctive way of life. This results in a wide variety of customs, habits, and practices, as well as material traits like dress, habitation, arts, and crafts. Despite this diversity, several cultural factors contribute to unity, such as Indian religious beliefs, philosophy, art, and literature. The celebration of festivals across India in similar ways also fosters a sense of cultural unity.
3. Explain the geographical factors of unity in India.
Answer: Geography has been instrumental in promoting unity and a sense of distinctiveness in India. The Himalayas in the north and seas and oceans on the remaining sides demarcate India as a distinct geographical entity. This geographic unity and resource richness have enabled the growth of an ancient civilization, agricultural economy, political organization, and cultural life.
Another factor promoting unity is the institution of pilgrimage. Pilgrimage sites or holy places for Hindus, Muslims, and Christians are found across India. People from various regions travel long distances to visit these sites, bridging geographical distances and fostering a sense of geographic unity.
4. Explain the religious factors of unity in India
Answer: The following factors contribute to religious unity in India:
- All religions uphold and promote the same basic values.
- There are similarities in personal spirituality, such as the Bhakti or devotion promoted by Hindu saints and Muslim Sufi saints.
- People commonly participate in cultural celebrations related to religious festivals of other faiths, such as Diwali, Christmas, and Id-ul-fitr.
- The institution of pilgrimage is another unifying factor, with people of various faiths visiting the holy places of others.
There has been mutual borrowing among religions, such as Muslims adopting the caste system from Hindus and Hindus adopting the practice of Purdah from Muslims.
5. Discuss the diversities found in India in terms of religions.
Answer: India is a multi-religious country, with followers of all major world religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. According to the 2011 census, the religious communities in India are as follows:
(1) Hindus: 79.80% of the population (2) Muslims: 14.22% (3) Christians: 2.30% (4) Sikhs: 1.72% (5) Buddhists: 0.70% (6) Jains: 0.37% (7) Other religions: 0.65% (8) Religion not stated: 0.24%
Additionally, many tribal communities have their own religions, which are collectively known as Animism. India’s religious landscape is diverse, with Hindus forming the majority and Muslims, Christians, and others as religious minorities. However, some regions have different majority religions, such as Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir and Christians in Mizoram, Nagaland, and Meghalaya. These religious groups have their own internal diversities in the form of sects and denominations, and caste distinctions exist not only among Hindus but also among Christians and Muslims. In a multi-religious country like India, religion can sometimes become a basis for conflict, and communal harmony has been under strain in recent times.
6. Explain the cultural factors of unity in India.
Answer: There are several cultural factors that contribute to unity in India. The story of Indian culture is one of continuity, synthesis, and enrichment. Dominant groups or rulers did not eliminate cultural differences; rather, they coexisted with those practicing other religions. Indian religious beliefs, philosophy, art, and literature have been significant factors of unity. Festivals are celebrated all over India in a similar manner, and there are commonalities in temple and palace architecture and art. The social institutions of caste and the joint family are found throughout India, making them uniquely Indian institutions. This shared cultural heritage creates a sense of unity.
7. Discuss the political factors of unity in India.
Answer: India has never been a completely unified political entity under a single governing body. There was considerable political diversity in the past, but the idea of bringing the entire country under one central authority has always been on the minds of great kings and statesmen. The British tried to establish political unification under their paramount power, focusing on defense, external relations, foreign policy, and certain economic matters.
After independence, the unity of India was expressed in the establishment of India as a nation. This unity was a product of the freedom movement as well as the constitutional legacy left by the British rule. Today, there is political and administrative unity, with the nation and its various organs serving as pillars of unity. The unity of India is strengthened by the values of equality, liberty, fraternity, secularism, and justice. Parliament has passed various acts to integrate weaker sections into mainstream society.
8. What are the linguistics problems of India after Independence?
Answer: The linguistic problems of India after Independence include:
i. The official language issue: There was a strong anti-Hindi movement in South India, particularly in Tamil Nadu. There were also movements for the inclusion of some languages in the Eighth Schedule, as in the case of Manipuri.
ii. Re-organization of the States on a linguistic basis: During the British period, people speaking the same language were sometimes divided and belonged to different provinces.
iii. The problem of minority languages and linguistic minorities in the reorganized States: To address this issue, the Constitution of India has special provisions for linguistic minorities.
9. How is language a source of unity?
Answer: Language plays an essential role in promoting unity in India despite its linguistic diversity. Throughout history, certain languages have served as link languages, connecting people from different linguistic backgrounds. Sanskrit was the link language in ancient times, followed by Persian and Arabic during the medieval period, and Urdu and Hindustani emerged as the languages of the masses. English became the official language and medium of instruction in higher education during the British period. After India’s independence and the adoption of its constitution in 1950, Hindi became the official language, with English as an additional official language. Regional languages were also recognized as official languages of the states, with 22 languages currently included in the Eighth Schedule. Despite this linguistic diversity, there is a fundamental unity and similarity in the ideas and concepts expressed in these languages.
10. Discuss the racial factors of unity in India.
Answer: Racial classification is based on physical and biological differences, such as skin color, stature, body build, head and face shape, and the formation of the nose, lips, and forehead. The three main races of mankind are the Negroid (black), the Caucasoid (white), and the Mongoloid (yellow, with Nagas belonging to this group). These groups are further divided into several categories.
Anthropologists have presented various racial classifications for the Indian population. B.S. Guha has identified six racial types in India. They are the Negrito, found in the tribal groups in central India and the Andaman Islands; the Proto-Australoids, found in many isolated or semi-isolated parts of the country; the Mongoloids, found in the Himalayan borderland, particularly in Ladakh, Sikkim, and North-East India; the Mediterraneans, who constitute the bulk of the population of India; the Brachycephals, found in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu; and the Nordics, found in the northwestern part of the country (Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan).
Despite such racial diversity, the Indian population shares common characteristics due to racial admixture in varying degrees. Additionally, various social, religious, and cultural factors have played a dominant role in promoting a sense of unity.
11. Unity in diversity is India. Discuss.
Answer: Unity in diversity is a distinctive characteristic of Indian society and serves as a fundamental aspect of India’s self-identity. Despite the immense diversity in terms of geography, race, religion, language, community, and culture, there exists an underlying unity rooted in geography, history, politics, shared values, and a common cultural heritage.
Diversity encompasses the wide range of differences within a society, spanning across regions, groups, cultures, and more. In order to maintain social cohesion, societies must address these diversities. There are two primary approaches: one is to eliminate differences and enforce uniformity, while the other is to foster integration and unity while embracing diversity. Indian society exemplifies unity in diversity, as it welcomes and accommodates differences through tolerance and acceptance. This unity is often regarded as more of a civilizational attribute than a strictly national one.
In essence, India demonstrates a harmonious coexistence of diverse cultures, beliefs, and languages while maintaining a sense of national identity. This balance between unity and diversity enables the country to celebrate its rich cultural heritage and thrive as a nation, showcasing a unique example of peaceful coexistence in a diverse society.
12. What is communalism? Why is it a threat to national integration?
Answer: Communalism refers to prioritizing one’s own community over other communities and even the nation itself.
In India, communalism poses a threat to national integration as it fosters hatred and encourages violence, leading to the destruction of life and property. Certain individuals and groups with vested interests actively promote communal tension and violence. India has experienced numerous communal riots, such as the Hindu-Muslim riots during the 1946-47 partition, the Hindu-Sikh riots in 1984 following Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination, the 1992 riots after the demolition of the Babri Mosque, and the 2002 Gujarat riots. These events have harmed India’s secular image globally.
Communal violence and riots cause significant destruction, but the damage to national integration is even more severe. These conflicts generate suspicion and animosity between different religious communities, causing people to lose sight of their shared national identity.
13. What is regionalism? How is it a challenge to national integration?
Answer: Regionalism is the sense of pride and loyalty that people have towards a particular region, based on shared culture, language, and economic interests. This sentiment can sometimes lead to feelings of uniqueness or superiority.
Regionalism challenges national integration by fostering regional loyalties and animosity towards other regions. In India, regional political parties and politicians often exploit regionalism for their own benefit, leading to demands for new states and prioritizing local residents for employment opportunities.
For example, in November 2000, three new states—Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, and Jharkhand—were created, followed by Telangana in 2014. These new states were established based on regional sentiment and loyalty. There are also ongoing demands for Bodoland in Assam and Gorkhaland in West Bengal.
14. Instead of disappearing in the wake of modernism, caste has become still stronger. Discuss.
Answer: Contrary to expectations, modernism has not led to the disappearance of the caste system. Instead, the caste system has adapted to the changing conditions of life and has taken on new roles.
Caste consciousness among community members has increased, with each caste focusing on protecting its interests. To achieve this, castes are organizing themselves similarly to labor unions. Today, caste organizations aim to address the educational, medical, and religious needs of their members, operating hostels, hospitals, schools, colleges, reading rooms, libraries, dharmashalas, and temples.
Caste has also become deeply intertwined with politics. Elections often revolve around caste issues, with candidate selection, voting analysis, legislative party leader appointments, and ministerial portfolio distribution all heavily influenced by caste.
15. What is casteism? Mention any four attempts made by caste organizations to strengthen their identity.
Answer: Casteism refers to the mindset and consciousness of individuals who prioritize their caste and its interests. The primary goal of casteism is to secure the loyalty of caste members in order to fortify their caste identity and solidarity.
Four attempts made by caste organizations to strengthen their identity include:
- Although caste panchayats are declining, caste organizations are growing in number and influence.
- Caste organizations publish newspapers, bulletins, periodicals, and magazines to promote caste consciousness and interests.
- Caste integration is being pursued through the establishment of caste-based trusts and trust-units.
- Occupational castes strive to improve the economic conditions of their members by creating cooperative credit and industrial societies.
Higher order thinking skills (HOTS) and problem solving assessment
1. The official language of Nagaland is English but the popular common language is Nagamese. Explain in your own words why Nagamese is important in Nagaland.
Answer: Nagamese is important in Nagaland for several reasons, despite English being the official language of the state. Nagaland is a culturally and linguistically diverse region in Northeast India, with more than 16 major tribes and numerous sub-tribes, each having their own distinct languages and dialects. As a result, communication across these linguistic barriers has historically been a challenge.
Nagamese serves as a lingua franca, or common language, that enables people from different tribes to communicate with one another. It is a creole language that has developed over time, primarily based on the Assamese language and incorporating elements from various Naga languages and dialects. This fusion has allowed Nagamese to evolve as a unifying tool that bridges the gap between the diverse communities in Nagaland.
The importance of Nagamese in Nagaland extends beyond everyday communication. It fosters a sense of shared identity and social cohesion among the different tribes, which is crucial for maintaining harmony and promoting cultural exchange. Furthermore, the widespread use of Nagamese helps in the preservation and propagation of the region’s rich oral traditions, folklore, and indigenous knowledge.
While English remains the medium of instruction in schools and the official language for government and administrative purposes, Nagamese continues to play a vital role in the social and cultural fabric of Nagaland. Its significance as a common language not only facilitates communication, but also strengthens the bonds among the diverse communities that call Nagaland their home.
2. Apply the concept of “unity in diversity” to Nagaland. (What are the diversities found in Nagaland? What are the factors promoting unity in Nagaland at present?)
Answer: In Nagaland, the concept of “unity in diversity” is well exemplified through the harmonious coexistence of its diverse tribes, languages, cultures, and traditions. Here’s a brief overview of the diversities found in Nagaland and the factors promoting unity in the region.
Diversities in Nagaland:
- Tribes: Nagaland is home to more than 16 major tribes, including the Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Konyak, Lotha, Sumi, Zeliang, and others, along with numerous sub-tribes.
- Languages: Each tribe in Nagaland has its own unique language or dialect, making the region linguistically rich and diverse.
- Customs and traditions: Nagaland’s tribes have distinct customs, traditions, and social structures, which include specific rituals, ceremonies, and festivals.
- Art and craft: The tribes of Nagaland have their own styles of traditional art, craft, and handloom weaving, showcasing a variety of patterns and techniques.
- Clothing and attire: Each tribe has its own traditional attire, complete with unique designs, colors, and accessories, representing the diverse cultural heritage of the region.
- Cuisine: The culinary practices in Nagaland also vary among the tribes, featuring unique ingredients, flavors, and cooking methods.
Factors promoting unity in Nagaland:
- Nagamese language: As a lingua franca, Nagamese enables effective communication and interaction among the diverse tribes, fostering unity and social cohesion.
- Cultural festivals: The state’s annual Hornbill Festival is a platform for tribes to showcase their unique cultural heritage, promoting cultural exchange and mutual appreciation among the different communities.
- Education and literacy: With English as the medium of instruction and the official language of Nagaland, education has played a role in bringing people together and promoting a shared understanding of their diverse backgrounds.
- Inter-tribal marriages: Increasing instances of inter-tribal marriages have contributed to the breaking down of barriers between communities and fostering a sense of unity.
- Political representation: The Nagaland Legislative Assembly ensures representation for all major tribes in the state, promoting cooperation and collaboration among the different communities.
- Modernization and urbanization: The exposure to modernity and urbanization has led to a more unified outlook among the younger generation, who are more accepting of each other’s differences and willing to work together for the common good.
- In conclusion, Nagaland demonstrates unity in diversity by embracing and celebrating its rich cultural, linguistic, and tribal differences while fostering a sense of shared identity and purpose through various unifying factors.
Extra/additional questions and answers
1. What is a unique feature of Indian society?
Answer: A unique feature of Indian society is its unity in diversity.
2. What are the two ways in which a society deals with diversity?
Answer: A society deals with diversity in two ways: 1) by doing away with diversities and imposing uniformity (assimilation and homogenization), and 2) by promoting integration and unity while accepting diversities (accommodation and pluralism).
3. How is the concept of unity in diversity different in European sociology and Indian sociology?
Answer: European sociology explains unity in terms of linguistic nationality or political sovereignty, where the primary basis of unity is cultural (sharing a common language) or political (belonging to a nation). However, Indian sociology considers unity in India as civilizational because it goes back to ancient times and continues to the present day. Thus, the unity in diversity found in India is civilizational rather than national.
4. Explain how Indian society is characterized by unity in diversity.
Answer: Indian society is characterized by unity in diversity because it encompasses a vast range of geographical, racial, religious, linguistic, community, and cultural differences. Despite these diversities, there is a fundamental unity due to factors such as geography, history, politics, basic values, and culture. Indian society accepts diversities and organizes itself in a spirit of tolerance, acceptance, and accommodation, which is an example of promoting integration and unity while accepting diversities. This approach aligns with the concept of accommodation and pluralism, making Indian society a plural society or a society characterized by pluralism.
5. What is the significance of geographic factors in promoting unity in diversity in India?
Answer: Geographic factors play a crucial role in promoting unity and a sense of distinctiveness or Indianness despite the immense diversity. The high Himalaya mountains in the north and seas and oceans on all other sides demarcate India as a distinct geographical entity. The geographic unity and richness of resources have facilitated the growth of an ancient civilization, agricultural economy, varied forms of political organization, and cultural life for nearly four thousand years. The institution of pilgrimage further promotes geographic unity by overcoming distances as people from various places visit holy places of different religions, traveling long distances.
25. Discuss the various ways in which caste organizations are working to strengthen their caste identity and solidarity.
Answer: Caste organizations are increasingly working to strengthen their caste identity and solidarity in various ways:
a) While caste panchayats are disappearing, caste organizations are growing in number and strength, aiming to obtain the loyalty of their members and solidify their caste identity.
b) These organizations run their own papers, bulletins, periodicals, and monthlies to promote caste consciousness and further their caste interests.
c) They attempt to increase caste integration by establishing caste-based trusts and trust-units, which provide support and resources to members of their caste.
d) Occupational castes are making efforts to improve the economic conditions of their members by establishing cooperative credit and industrial societies, providing financial assistance and opportunities for growth.
e) Caste organizations collect regular subscriptions from their members, arrange annual conferences, and organize agitations and protest meetings against government policies that they perceive as damaging to their caste interests. These activities serve to maintain a strong sense of unity and shared purpose among members of each caste.
1. Which geographic feature demarcates India as a distinct entity in the north?
A. Thar Desert B. Arabian Sea C. Himalaya Mountains D. Bay of Bengal
Answer: C. Himalaya Mountains
2. What is the institution that promotes geographic unity in India by overcoming distances?
A. Education B. Pilgrimage C. Trade D. Sports
Answer: B. Pilgrimage
3. Which religion constitutes the majority of India’s population according to the Census of 2011?
A. Christianity B. Islam C. Hinduism D. Sikhism
Answer: C. Hinduism
4. In which state are Christians the majority according to the Census of 2011?
A. Jammu and Kashmir B. Mizoram C. Punjab D. Gujarat
Answer: B. Mizoram
5. What is the category name for tribal religion in India?
A. Paganism B. Polytheism C. Animism D. Shamanism
Answer: C. Animism
36. Which groups are challenging the supremacy of Brahmins and asserting their rights?
A. Scheduled Castes B. Non-Brahmin castes C. Minorities D. Scheduled Tribes
Answer: B. Non-Brahmin castes
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