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Salient features of the Indian society | For UPSC IAS Exams

In this article, we will infer the importance of knowing about Indian Society for UPSC examination. We will also understand in detail...

Greeta Sulochana Written by Greeta Sulochana · 4 min read >
Salient features of the Indian society

In this article, we will infer the importance of knowing about Indian Society for UPSC examination. We will also understand in detail the significant features regarding Indian society from the perspective of your syllabus.

Let us begin with understanding why studying Indian society is crucial for your UPSC exam:

  • Indian society is a major topic given under the UPSC syllabus for mains general studies paper 1
  • This topic is just as important as Indian history, physical geography and world history.
  • Compared to other topics, Indian society is fairly easy to study, as it requires neither specific knowledge nor mugging up of facts
  • The above point must in no way stop you from preparing for it any less seriously.
  • The UPSC will try to test your overall understanding of the society.
  • The best way to study this subject is from the perspective of an outsider. Our expert tip – study the entire subject as a foreigner. Observe and analyze, as an outsider would view India had they got the opportunity.

Let Us Now Explore The Significant Issues Stagnating The Indian Society From The UPSC Perspective:

  1. The vast spread regionalism
  2. The threat of communalism
  3. The various problems arising out of large population
  4. The vicious cycle of poverty
  5. The effects of globalization of Indian society
  6. The apparent social backwardness
  7. The modern-day urbanization and its problems
  8. Major developmental issues

What is society?

As per sociologists, a Society can be defined as a group of people who have interactions within a common territory, and share similar culture.

we will now breakdown the keywords – social group, territory, interaction and culture for better understanding.

Social Group

It is the coming together of two or more people who interact and further identify with one another.

Territory

Every Country owns formal boundaries and territory (areas) that the world recognizes as belonging to the respective country. But, a society’s boundaries don’t necessarily have to be only geopolitical borders.

Interaction

The members of any society must come in contact with each other. If one group of individuals within a country will have no regular contact with another group, those groups cannot be considered part of the same society.

Language barriers and Geographic distance separate societies within a country.

Culture

People belonging to the same society will share aspects of their culture, such as language and beliefs. Culture is the values, language, beliefs, behavior, and material objects that make up their way of life. It is a defining element of any society.

About Indian society

What makes Indian society so unique from any other in the world is its feature of ‘unity In Diversity.’

As the phrase suggests, university in diversity is the celebration of oneness the citizens of India enjoy irrespective of their vast culture, geographical, ethnic and social differences. This is India’s motto and it fuels the human interaction within the nation.

Unity in diversity is best showcased in how the citizens of India identify themselves as Indian in the midst of such significant differences.

Accommodation without assimilation is a key feature of our society. Over the years, India has welcomed and interacted with various elements of society without making any of these elements lose its authenticity and roots.

Every individual in India enjoys the freedom to practice his or her chosen way of life.

Salient features of Indian society for UPSC exam

1. The Merging Of Tradition With Modernism

Globalization might have bought with it a surge of modern values and practices, but traditionalism is still prevalent and preserved in India. The traditions of Indian society have also made its way to the outside world through the same gates of globalization.

Let us see a few examples: –

  • Dance and music: Indian dance/music forms are equally popular as its western counterparts. Indo-western fusion has been a popular theme in performing arts.
  • Gyms might have become an important part of the Indian lifestyle, but yoga has also attained a celebrity status.
  • Nuclear families have become common, but children still live with and take care of parents in their old age.
  • International cuisines and food habits are equally popular as local ones.

2. The Indian Society Is Syncretic And Dynamic

As mentioned earlier, our society promotes accommodation as well as assimilation.

Over the years, multiple tribes have lost their core indigenous culture due to assimilation into the major population of Indian society. Such contacts with different cultures also gave birth to newer practices. The society is dynamic as it is changing everyday.

  • Assimilation examples: –
  • The number of PVTG (particularly vulnerable tribal groups) is increasing
  • Many ethnic tribes like the naga are struggling to protect their culture from the outside world
  • Syncretism examples: –
  • Urdu comes from both Arabic and hindavi
  • The Rashtrapati Bhawan is an architectural splendor created from the fusion of European, Rajput and Mughal design.
  • The Sufi movement and the bhakti movement were complementary to each other.

3. The Underlying Theme Of Unity Is Diversity

Indian society has challenged the skepticism of many political thinkers post-independence that were doubtful regarding India’s amalgamation as one nation amidst vast differences and big numbers of ethic groups, languages, culture and diversity.

The core values in the constitution, the reorganization by the state on the basis of language as well as the efforts of the government to protect the interests of minorities has helped in keeping up this unity.

Examples:

  • Inter-state migration
  • Mutual celebration of religious festivals despite religious differences
  • Cosmopolitan culture in metros

4. Patriarchy

Patriarchy is a family system within which the supreme decision-making power rests with the male head/members of the family.

Women are treated as second-class citizens in a patriarchal society. This system is degrading to women; it hinders the social and emotional development of the fairer sex of the society.

Gender discrimination is a universal deterrent for women.

5. The Society Is Largely Agrarian And Rural

For more than half of the population of India, agriculture remains the sole source of livelihood. An estimated 70% of our population lives in rural territories.

Agrarian festivals celebrate the harvest of the crops, and are celebrated in the form of holi, lohri, pongal, onam, sankrant, etc.

Many rural art forms like madhubani (Bihar), fabric weaves like Khadi, and handicrafts of bamboo are just as popular in the urban areas.

6. Class And Caste Divide

The modern caste system is the result of the age-old varna system

Economic reforms have led to flourishing urban areas. Here people are categorized based on class (such as income) rather than their social identity.

The emerging class system though closely resembles the caste hierarchy. It has also provided downtrodden sections an opportunity for upward social mobility.

Co-existence through inter-caste marriages and endogamy are examples of this. The divide is evident in the economic structures(poverty, education, income, asset ownership, trades and professions etc.)

It holds collective values above the individual achievements

7. There Is Tolerance And Mutual Respect

The Indian society has survived in the face of diversity, thanks to its accommodative values of tolerance and mutual respect that have existed from the early times.

The multitude of invaders who made India their home lead to the mixing and co-existence of many different cultures.

In ancient period, Indus valley civilization was a secular society and traded peacefully with societies like Mesopotamia, importing their culture too.

Buddhism and Jainism promoted these values through ancient texts. “sarva-dharma-sam-bhava” represents such secular values.

The co-existence of various philosophies including atheistic, religious and materialistic, symbolizes the society that must have existed in those times.

During the medieval period, the repeated invasions and trade led to fusion of multiple cultures.

The mixing of Nagara and Dravid styles into Vesara style, Arabic and hindavi into Urdu, Bhakti and Sufi movements (Teachings of Kabir, Guru Nanak, Khwaja Chishti etc.), Dīn-i Ilāhī of Akbar are good examples of mutual respect.

I hope that the above-mentioned information was helpful in getting you started as well as to understand the importance of knowing about Indian Society for your UPSC examination.

Good luck!

Written by Greeta Sulochana
Greeta Sulochana is a content evangelist with a flair for compelling creative writing. She has penned down her thoughts in poetry and prose since the past five years, and has catered her skills to the Indian and international audiences. She started out as an advertising intern with Grey worldwide, and is now a full-fledged writer in passion and profession, who has worked for major national brands. Profile

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