Diversity in Nation Building: Recognising the Role of The Minority
news that in UK, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled (17/10/2020) 50 Pence
'Diversity coin’ to celebrate Britain’s diverse history and recognise the
profound contribution minority communities have made to the shared history of
the country. The coin carries the message “Diversity Built Britain”. This is in
the backdrop of the campaign led by ‘We too built Britain’ group. The release
of the coin is the beginning of the series which will honour the country’s
ethnic minorities. There can be a detailed elaboration as to how different
ethnic minorities have lived and made Britain their home. A significant number
of these are from South Asia, including India.
import of this is the backdrop of the thesis of ‘Clash of civilizations’ by
Samuel Huntington, as per which the present era is the one where after the
collapse of socialist Soviet union, the clash is along the lines of
civilizations. Different religions will be in conflict as per this
is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new
World will not be primarily ideological or
primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating
source of conflict, will be that the cultural. Nation states will remain the
most powerful actors in world Affairs, but the principal conflicts of global
politics will occur between Nations and groups of different civilizations. The
clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between
civilizations will be the battle lines of the future."
theory dominated the global scene particularly in the aftermath of 9/11 attack
on World Trade Centre. Osama bin Laden called 9/11 jihad and George Bush
launching the attack on Afghanistan used the word Crusade, while Tony Blair,
the then UK PM, attributed ‘divine reasons’ for the attacks on the countries of
theory did provide an ideological cover for the attacks on different countries
by US and allies. It was primarily driven by lust for control over oil
resources. The ‘Clash theory’ provided cover for the violations done by
American axis always out to control global resources, earlier in form of direct
colonization and now as imperialist forces, influencing global economy with an
eye on oil resources. At ideological level the best response to this thesis
came from the then President of India, Dr K.R. Narayanan, who stated that ‘civilizations
don’t clash, it is barbarisms which clash’.
United Nation at that time was led by Kofi Annan, who was the General
Secretary. He went on to appoint a high level international committee, cutting across different
religions and nations to come up with an understanding of the world today and
to recommend the measures to restore the amity of civilizations, cultures and
people of the of the World. The report (Mid Nov2006) (http://www.unaoc.org/repository/report.htm) is a landmark in more ways than one.This committee came out with a
brilliant document, ‘Alliance of Civilizations’.
not much awareness about this global study, which aptly describes the role of
migrations, building of nations by diverse communities through alliances at
of India, diversity has been the hall mark of this society from long.
Christianity entered India, right in first century. Already different religious
traditions, Jainism Buddhism were present here. Islam came in 7-8 Century from
Malabar Coast through Arab traders and later many of those who were victims of
Varna-Caste system embraced Islam through Sufi saints. The Muslim invaders
coming from North West were more for reasons related to power and wealth.
Buddhism had spread in various South East Asian countries. Indians also
migrated to different parts of the World mostly for economic purpose,
employment or greener pastures. UK has abundant number of them, Similarly
America and Canada, now Australia has lot of migrants from India. Earlier many
Indians did migrate to Caribbean’s, Mauritius, and Ceylon among other places.
migrating communities have no monolithic approach in the countries of their
migration. Most of them do maintain their nostalgia for the country of their
origin, while relating to the societies of their migration in different ways.
Today you will see a large numbers of Indians in West Asia, particularly in
Gulf region. Here in India the sectarian elements uphold the Non Resident
Indian’s nostalgia for India, they also look down upon minorities (Muslims and
Christians) as foreigners. There is an infinite diversity within the Hindu fold
itself. Indian culture has been a total mix of diverse sections of society, each
contributing in their unique ways. All our Literature, Art, Architecture is a
mix of contributions from multiple streams.
diversity has been multi-factorial and at different layers. Different
communities have been living and celebrating this diversity. Religious
festivals have been one of the strong platforms for community interactions. In
the area of religions Bhakti and Sufi traditions have upheld the diversity.
While ‘melting pot model’ of cultural integration does apply partly, the main expression
of diversity has been a ‘salad bowl’ model where different components are
visible and still are thick part of the whole. Our literature for example not
only mirrors the reality of society, it also tells us the diversity which has
been prevailing here. We can learn this from so many literary giants and see
this diversity of our culture. The same diversity formed the base of freedom
movement of India, which gave space to each of these components of diversity.
contrast to those who were part of national movement, the communal streams went
for monolithic concepts, like ‘Urdu-Muslim-Pakistan’ and matching
‘Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan’. The leasers of freedom movement went on to uphold this
diversity as a strength to coin phrases like ‘Unity in Diversity’. One of the
paramount leaders of freedom Movement, Jawaharlal Nehru, went on to express the
same as a celebration in his magnum opus, ‘Discovery of India’.
do need to learn from the UK example where role of minorities is recognised,
appreciated and upheld. One needs to give the similar acceptance for diversity,
to pave the path of peace and progress.