The most remarkable characteristic of Indian society is unity in diversity. India is a vast country. This sub-continent is called “the epitome of the world”. It has different types of climates, variety of crops, people belonging to more than forty distinct races or nationalities, who speak 150 different languages and use as many as 30 different scripts. Despite such diversities, India is geographically, politically, socially and culturally blessed with fundamental unity Since the ancient times “India offers unity in diversity.” Let us first discuss the diversities in our country.
Diversity of Soil
India being a large country, has different types of soils in different parts of the country In the north it has great Himalaya mountains. The snowy wall runs across the north of India and is about 1600 miles long. The western ranges are not so high. The plains of Indus and the Ganges are about 1000 feet above sea level. While the Deccan plateau is between 1000 feet to 3000 feet high above sea level. Thus India has fertile plains, deserts, hills and high mountains. Some plains of the Ganges are very fertile while the territories of Sindh and Rajasthan have large tracts of deserts. The land of Deccan is rocky and less fertile. But the coastal lands of the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea are very fertile.
Diversity of Climate
The country, as writes Minoo Masani, has a variety of climate from the blazing heat of the plains, as hot in places as hottest Jackobabad in Sindh down to the below freezing point, the Arctic cold of the Himalayan region. While Cherrapunji in Assam hills has 400 inches of rainfall in the year, upper Sindh has only three inches of rainfall in a year.
Diversity of Agricultural Produce
Due to the diversity of climate, different types of crops are produced in different parts of the country. In the eastern regions such as Gangetic plains, the agricultural products are wheat, rice, jute, tobacco, while in the north-west regions farmers mostly produce wheat, cotton, sugar, oilseeds etc. The Deccan region produces spices, coffee, copra, tea, rice, millet etc. There are many types of animals and plants in India in different regions of the country. According to Blandford, ‘The fauna of India surpass that of Europe which is twice its size”.
Diversity of Races
India has different types of people belonging to different races such as Negroids, eddias, the Melainidis (Dravidians), the Mongoloids and Indids (the Indo-Aryans). There are black as white people. There are tall as well as short statured people. There are snub-nosed people as hose with long and pointed noses. No other country contains such differences of human types as India. Some people have small eyes and some have big eyes. Some have long hair and some have short great families of human species, the Austrics, the Tibetarts, the Chinese, the Semitic, the davidians and the Indo Europeans inhabit India, Different dialects are spoken in this sub-continent.
Diversity of Languages
India is a multilingual country It is estimated that 150 languages and 544 dialects , pent in India. The Indian Constitution officially recognizes eighteen languages in the country.
Diversity of Religions
In religion too India shows the same diversity as in climate, land and people. Hindus, Buddhists, Jams, Sikhs, Muhammadens and Christians live here side by side. The Hindu religion itself is divided into numberless sects such as the Vedic Hindusim, Sanatan Dharma, the Puranic Hinduism, the Brahmo Samaj etc. There is also no unity in other religions. For instance, the Buddhists are divided into Hinayanas and Mahayanas. The Muslims are divided into Shias and Sunnis. The Christians are divided into Roman Catholics and Protestants. Thus India has great diversity of religions.
Diversity in Social life
There is much diversity in the social life of the country. The people belonging to different religions follow different social customs, traditions and religious practices. Hindu society is divided into four main castes and numerous sub-castes. The people belonging to different castes and religions have different types of food habits, dress, customs, ritual and religious practices. The people living in the North differ considerably in the social habits from the people living in the South.
The large size of the country, the endless variety of races, huge population, division of society into countless castes, multiplicity of languages and dialects made difficult for any ruler to establish an all India empire. There was no political unity in the true sense in the country. Some powerful rulers like Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka, Samudragupta, Ala-ud-din Khilji, Akbar and, Aurangzeb exercised their sway over a large part of India. However, the extensive Southern peninsula always remained independent and was governed by her local provincial dynasties. In fact, India had never enjoyed political unity till the nineteenth century, under the British rule.
Thus India because of such diversities, has sometimes been called the “ethnological and sociological zoo inhabited by all types of people with conflicting and varying shades of blood, culture and modes of life”.