General Studies Paper 1 (Social Issues)
Question:- 73. Describe any four cultural elements of diversity in India and rate their relative significance in building a national identity. Answer in 150 words.
Sep 23, 2022


India is a plural society both in letter and spirit. It is rightly characterized by its unity and diversity. A grand synthesis of cultures, religions and languages of the people belonging to different castes and communities has upheld its unity and cohesiveness despite multiple foreign invasions.

LINKAGE POINT: Cultural diversity of India plays a great role in defining the national identity of India. The following are the four subsets of cultural identity in India:


2.Festivals, traditions, clothing, food


4.Race / Ethnicity



  1. 1.Language: It’s a way of expression and the more ways we know of, the better we connect!

-India is one of the most linguistically diverse countries.

-Most Indians are bilingual (or sometimes multilingual), and can effortlessly handle more than one or two languages.

-To be precise, India has 22 major languages, written in 13 different scripts, with over 1100 distinct dialects

-+ve- these languages and dialects connect the people; vast literature (from Ancient to modern times) –hence, giving a better way of life to future generations

–ve – they have also been a major source of conflict in the past, hence, leading to the linguistic reorganization of states. Most often the linguistic tensions are being manifested in the border areas which are bilingual.

-Goans are divided on the basis of Maratha and Konkani languages. In Belgaum there is a tug of war between Marathi and Kannada speaking people. Assam is confronted with Bengali and Assamese. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are not free from the linguistic problem too – conflict tends to persist among the Urdu, Hindi and Oriya speaking people and Urdu and Hindi linguistic groups respectively.

-It has also been demanded to include English in the eighth schedule of the Constitution.

-Thus, on one hand the linguistic diversity adds richness to the culture of India , it poses a major threat to the unity and existence of our country on the other.


  1. 2.Festivals, traditions, cuisines, attires:

-The backbone of their culture and are delicately preserved and followed. These festivals allow the identity of communities to transmit over generations.

-Due to modernization, many belief systems and traditions are deemed as redundant or backward looking – a scientific backing is demanded for everything. This creates a rift between old and new generations, east and west, and creates divisions between followers and non followers of customs.

-+ve- add richness to the culture, promote tourism – especially during various festivals, fairs etc. Indian cuisines are popular all over the world for their taste and therapeutic benefits, generates employment in small areas due to the unique attires created, artistic heritage etc.


  1. 3.Religion

-While on hand it provides multiple pathways to the people to deepen their spiritual connection,  the rigidity of religious divide in India is very high and hence, it often becomes a reason of


-Conflict, violence and hatred

-Political gimmicks

-However, urbanization has brought us to a point where people from all religions stay together in cities. The modern city culture gives a backseat to religious divides and economic growth and intellect take the front seat. Hence, chaos is low.

-Social media – cross connects people from various religions and geographical areas. This also gives a pathway to people to spill out hatred.


  1. 4. Races

-India is home to major races of the world. These races have mixed with each other over hundreds of years to give rise to present ones. This has allowed the existence of unique races in India.
Ex: Indo-Aryan races in India.

-Some areas haven’t amalgamated well with other regions due to apparent differences in appearances – divisions + hatred + regionalism



The different cultural elements have allowed India to be seen as a country that respects all traditions and beliefs. This has reiterated India’s commitment to towards unity in diversity. Moreover, the existence of various forms of diverse culture in India has made India an example of tolerance and a torchbearer of hope in times of international disorder. Thus, cultural diversity has an important role in shaping India’s national identity.