Parochialism in India: Priyansi Vijay Patil
“We are in the middle of a tough, ideological conflict that is being waged across the entire continent. On the one side are those who say that global challenges like migration and terror cannot be met with national parochialism. On the other side are those who would like to see a renaissance of the nation-state.”
— Martin Schulz
The diversity in India is unique. India is a country with diversity in religion, caste, culture, language, ethnicity, etc. All these diversities are amalgamated intricately in our country since centuries. Being a country with a large population, India presents endless varieties of physical features and cultural patterns. India is the land of many languages and it is over here only that people are professing all the major religions of the world. In short, India is “the epitome of the world”.
But at times we Indians come across certain instances where people consider their religion or culture as superior and have a narrow outlook towards other’s existence. And this feeling of superiority amongst a certain group of people gives birth to a disgraceful concept of Parochialism.
Parochialism means having a narrow outlook, especially focused on a local area or in short narrow-mindedness. Parochialism is the state of mind, whereby one focuses on small sections of an issue rather than considering its wider context. More generally, it consists of being narrow in scope. In that respect, it is a synonym of “provincialism”. It may, particularly when used pejoratively, be contrasted to universalism.
Parochialism has survived in our country in various forms since ages. In ancient India, during the Vedic period, society was divided not only on the basis of socio-economic indicators but also on the basis of Varna or Castes. The Varna system defined the hereditary roots of the new-born and also fixed the class of the people. In the Varna system, society was divided into 4 castes of Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas were considered to be upper castes while Shudras were considered to be lower castes. An individual had to follow the same caste in which he or she was born. There was no scope for change in this hierarchy of Varna system. In later Vedic period, this injustice or discrimination against the lower castes by upper castes widened.
British ruled over the Indian subcontinent for over 2 centuries. During the British period, British government divided the Indian people on the basis of religion, they did this so that people could not unite against them and revolt. The example of this policy of British is the ‘Division of Bengal’ in 1905 by Lord Curzon wherein people were divided into two territories on the basis of religions of Hindus and Islam. They continued this policy by introducing separate electorates for different religions during the Indian Council Act of 1909 and the following acts.
This tendency continued even after the Independence of our country. People demanded for separate states on the linguistic basis. Linguistic reorganisation has not only in any manner adversely affected the federal structure of the Union or paralysed the centre but also the unity of our Country. Reservations to certain sections in education and employment have also proved to be a form of parochialism.
India under the glory of a self-assured nation on the point of starting its journey to superpower status, there simmer various parochial discrimination of caste, linguistic identity, religion, region, etc. Even after seven decades of independence our nation is still trying to stand on its feet despite military progress. But the might of the state cannot substitute for the spirit of the nation. The stink of parochialism that surrounds the idea of India only reinforces the oft-ignored fact that the Indian nation is a product of colonialism, not one that has existed since time immemorial.
We very frequently come across instances in which people suffer injustice because of being poor or belonging to specific religion or region, etc. We everyday witness the lynchings of Dalits and other oppressed castes. We all are even aware of the atrocities and crimes which are committed against the Dalits. The concept of Marathi pride in the state of Maharashtra is not new to all of us. We have witnessed the strong regionalism in Punjab ultimately resulting in the growth of separatism Politics. We are familiar with certain sections of people who are living in this country but are under the influence of foreign authorities.
There are various reasons for existence of parochialism in the India like feeling of superiority of one’s religion and culture, historical and geographical isolation, lop-sided development, continuous neglect, insider-outsider complex that nurtures nativism and son-of-the soil ideology, internal colonialism, reaction to an imposed ideology that can make its appearance as a reaction against the perceived imposition of a particular ideology and language or cultural pattern on all people and groups, political interests of the leaders, etc.
Parochialism has resulted into communal violence, hatred, regional movements, rise of regional parties, inter-state hostility, etc. which results into disturbance of law and order of the state but also it has negative implications on the economy of the country. In the shield of parochialism, militancy and extremism are also creating the threat to the internal security of the country. Parochialism in broad sense undercuts the national interest by being hurdle in international diplomacy.
Parochialism is present in all the sectors in our country. Positive parochialism is good to certain extent in society because it creates a feeling of brotherhood among the particular community or religion. On the contrary, when this parochialism is practised towards other communities or religion it creates a severe threat to that particular community and indirectly to the entire country. Parochialism poses a threat to sovereignty of the country and also it weakens the fabric of ‘Unity in Diversity’. Parochialism also promotes vote bank politics creating severe harm to national integrity.
Despite all odds India has prided herself as being a torch bearer in the World which marks peaceful co-existence of various social groups together. During the hour of difficulty all the countrymen have stood together unitedly and proved the greatness of our country India. Time and again Indians have proved that Unity in diversity is the strength of our country.
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# Parochialism in India