The Meaning of Diversity

I am sure almost everyone is familiar with the cliché statement (and its reference every now and then) that “India is a diverse country”. What I find hard to understand is why specifically India is referred as a diverse country? What makes India different from the other nations? And why are some people really proud of the so-called-whatever-it-indicates-term “Diversity”.

I would like to answer what diversity really means to me and how it really comes into existence. I would also like to take an ethical stand on whether diversity in its true meaning, is good or bad, important or not, and most importantly why or why not.

Diversity simply means the state of being diverse, that is being different. Wikipedia quite well sums up the various ways of being diverse:-

“The term describes differences in racial or ethnic classifications, age, gender, religion, philosophy, physical abilities, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, gender, identity, intelligence, mental health, physical health, genetic attributes, attractiveness, or other identifying features.”

So quite evidently when the term is used in the context of India being a diverse country, it is being indicated that; India is culturally, religiously and socioeconomically diverse.  And as per the facts, it’s absolutely correct; India does have an intermixing of various cultures, religions as well as languages.

However, it is very important to understand that due to the various intermixing of cultures, religions and more, there is indeed a huge difference in the “Values, Opinions and Thoughts” among the people, which is far more important than anything else . Diversity isn’t just limited to having a different appearance because someone belongs to a particular state, socioeconomic group or religion. But still, just because it is an easier way to identify and highlight diversity, the real meaning of diversity has always stayed in the oblivion and people are objectified on the basis of what they are on the outside.

This is a huge misconception to me, if we treat everyone as different and unique individual beings, we would then be able to appreciate the real power and essence of diversity. Everyone would then be treated as an end in themselves and not a mere means to an end.

Diversity is a value neutral. Every individual person is different and unique, beyond our scope of imagining and understanding. Like it or not, diversity is always going to be there. How we interpret it and accept it makes all the difference. For diversity isn’t just in language, dress and culture. It most importantly is in thoughts”. [Quoted from a dear friend’s blog.] What’s sad is that very few people actually realize that.

Due to such diversity in the thought process of people, things, events and issues are tend to happen that may not be likable to everyone, but then isn’t that the beauty of diversity, it gives us a reason to be accepting of others, their values, opinions and thoughts. As we also enjoy a similar freedom in the diversified environment.

It is ironical though when some so called pretentious patriotic people argue against modernization and westernization saying that it is deterring the Indian Culture, because from where I see it, Indian Culture is the one that flowers diverse individuals in every sense. It’s strange when constraints are put on such a society that already empowers so much diversity (Although every nation and society is diverse in its true meaning, but India is just able to showcase that in a better sense). I mean it should be simpler to adapt to changes for us.

The argument against the deterring of the Indian Culture is bullshit because, one: No one can really define what the Indian Culture is. Two: If India blossoms so easily identifiable diversity, then it shouldn’t be difficult to adapt to more and newer changes. Third: The Indian culture, whatever we define it with, isn’t going to change; it is what it was and will remain that, because it’s just in the definition. What’s changing is the Indian Society.

Those pretentious patriotic people have a hard time believing this because they don’t consider individuals have their own freedom. For what they are in a diverse environment isn’t really a choice they have taken, it’s just by chance. However in its true essence, it would make more sense if people are considered to have a free will and first they are unique individuals with a choice and then if they want, they can choose to be a part of any of the diverse groups.

I mean what should lead to the so-called-identifiable-diversity should be the real diversity in the freedom, thoughts and opinions of people. Because the other way round, it gets difficult to attain true freedom of thought. We need to get this right.

Also, there’s nothing wrong in westernization, modernization or whatever we may call it. Times are changing; we have the means to get connected. Globalization is at its best, so why not expand the horizons of our existence. And it’s not just us, who are intermixing; the western culture does experiments too. They too, try to understand and imitate the culture here as they interpret it. That’s what diversity is, the bigger picture, the larger meaning.


6 thoughts on “The Meaning of Diversity

  1. Superbly articulated Bavneet. The ‘Indian culture’ argument has merely become an excuse of late to promote regressive thinking. You’ll hardly find the folks braying about this to actually support what’s uniquely Indian – our artisans, our theatre forms, our literature or the arts!


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