Indian Culture- Fundamental Ideas

Indian-Culture--Fundamental-Ideas​

Table of Contents

Indian Culture- Fundamental Ideas

  • Pride in diversity
  • Inventiveness
  • Adaptability
  • Harmony
  • Modesty
  • Lightheartedness
Core Concepts

With more than a billion people living there, India boasts a remarkably diverse population in terms of languages, geographical areas, religious customs, and social classes. Given the wide range of demographic variations in India, it is important to note that not every Indian is represented in the following descriptions. Nonetheless, the values, attitudes, beliefs, and conventions of the prevailing civilization are influenced by a number of recurring themes and concepts. In general, Indians take great pleasure in the uniqueness and diversity of their cultural heritage. One might be proud of the nation’s advances in science, engineering, infrastructure, and agriculture, among other fields. Furthermore, India’s rich exports of the arts, music, literature, and spirituality are a major source of pride.

Space and Geography

India has a very varied climate and topography. The Great Indian (Thar) Desert and the Himalayan mountain range, covered in snow, are what define northern India. In the meantime, the south is distinguished by islands, beaches, coastal plains, rainforests, and tropical jungles. In India, the natural world is extremely important, particularly the rivers Godavari in the center and southeast and the Ganga (sometimes known as the “Ganges”) in the north. Both serve as a means of transportation, irrigation for agricultural areas, and are revered by many Hindus.

India has one of the greatest populations in the world, hence both public and private areas are frequently packed with people. This affects how people perceive privacy because it is infrequently accessible, desired, or enjoyed. In general, crowding is tolerated extremely well in cultures. For instance, it’s not unusual to see multiple generations living in one home, and it’s typical to see dogs and cows wandering freely around towns and public spaces.

The rapidly developing economies of Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Delhi are a hive of technological innovation and quick economic expansion; the telecoms industry is one such example. These cities serve as examples of India’s emergence as a global economic and political force. The global Indian diaspora serves as another illustration of this. The hundreds of thousands of villages and small towns, each with unique microsocieties, contrast with the huge metropolitan metropolis. Indians frequently use an individual’s dialect, language, mannerisms, and clothing style to determine where they are from. People who have a sense of regional pride and identity toward their place of origin are, in fact, not uncommon.

Linguistic and Ethnic Content

India’s population is still among the most ethnically diverse in the world, despite the country’s official rejection of racial and ethnic classifications in the national census. Based mostly on their linguistic heritage, India’s ethnic groups can be divided into two major categories: Indo-Aryan and Dravidian. For instance, a sizable population of Indo-Aryan ethnicity resides in the nation’s north. Commonly spoken Indo-Aryan languages are Bengali, Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati, Urdu, Odia, and Punjabi.

Dravidian ethnic groups, on the other hand, are primarily concentrated in the southern region of the nation. Commonly spoken Dravidian languages are Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, and Telugu. While they don’t often represent people’s personal identities, the terms “Indo-Aryan” and “Dravidian” are typically useful for classifying the ancestry of Indian ethnic variety. People are not likely to identify as “Indo-Aryans” or “Dravidians,” for instance.

There is a great deal of linguistic variation among these large language groupings, which include hundreds of regional or local languages in addition to 22 major languages. Speaking both their official language and one or more regional tongues, the majority of Indians are typically bilingual or multilingual. English is frequently used exclusively for official and business reasons, and it is regarded as a subsidiary official language. When communicating, those who do not speak Hindi or English as their first language would usually use one or the other. The linguistic diversity of India should be taken into consideration, since many Indians view their language—especially their regional or local tongue—as a source of identity.

Identity of the Nation

Throughout the nation’s history, as governmental and religious institutions have altered both inside and outside of India, the “Indian identity” has undergone constant transformation. The British Raj (1858–1947), for instance, significantly altered the political, cultural, and economic landscape of the nation. Along with India’s 1947 separation from the British Empire, Pakistan was divided into the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the Republic of India, respectively. This resulted in widespread violence, which many Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus in the Punjab region of northwest India now experience as pain and sorrow.

The religious complexity of Indian identity is reflected in the partition. One tendency is to conflate the national identity of India with the identity and principles of Hinduism. Since British colonization, this association has been established. But this kind of thinking tends to distort India’s rich religious and cultural diversity. Although it could appear to be a helpful tool for characterizing a cohesive national identity, these broad generalizations actually contribute to serious conflicts amongst different groups in Indian culture.

Over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries, significant attempts have been undertaken to foster a feeling of nationalism and overcome severe tensions and disparities. Through affirmative action programs, social legislation has attempted to empower traditionally disadvantaged segments of society, such as women, people with disabilities, tribal populations, ‘Untouchable’ castes (see Social Structure and Stratification below), and occasionally, tensions have resulted in violence.

Stratification and Social Structure

India has a long-standing, highly stratified social structure known as the “caste” system. The word “caste” is derived from the word “casta,” which Portuguese observers used to characterize Indian society’s hierarchical stratification. It is widely accepted that the caste system is an age-old institution exclusive to the Indian subcontinent. The caste system, despite being grouped together under a single title, is actually the combination of two distinct but overlapping stratification systems.

The term “varna” refers to the widespread caste system. This divides society into four major castes: shudra (artisan or laborer caste), vaishya (merchant caste), kshatriya (nobility caste), and brahmin (priestly caste).1. Some people in the community believed that the varna system was the best kind of social organization. As time went on, some lower castes were stigmatized as being “less pure” than upper castes, which restricted contacts between them. The concept of “untouchables,” or “dalits,” was added later. This group was considered to be the lowest class and “least pure” in Indian civilization, and it was believed to exist outside of the caste system.

Over 2,000 jati categories make up the “jati” system, a small-scale caste system that determines a person’s profession or line of work based on their family of birth. Some of these jobs, or jatis, are regarded as caste-neutral (such agriculture or non-traditional government service), and are graded accordingly. The everyday social structure of Indian culture is especially observant of the jati system. It clarifies, for instance, why it is typical to see people pursuing careers similar to those of their parents, grandparents, and so forth.

Interactions Across Castes

Caste discrimination is illegal and the caste system(s) are no longer legally enforced. Based on economic, social, and historical factors, Indian administrations divided the jati categories into four general divisions in the second part of the 20th century. Affirmative action initiatives, which reserve jobs, education scholarships, and other advantages for historically disadvantaged or persecuted castes, were established by the government to remedy disparities among jatis. Particularly in large cities and urban areas, a huge number of people do not openly adhere to the caste system. Nonetheless, caste-related societal presumptions continue to have an impact on a number of facets of Indian life. For instance, the custom of arranged marriages, which is typically carried out through pre-existing (often caste-based) networks, is one way that the caste system continues to influence marriage (see Relationships and Marriage in Family). In rural places, the caste system is more tightly enforced. 

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While it is still difficult to move up the caste system, many jatis are working to change the social structure and question the caste system itself. People from “lower” jatis have been known to subvert the social order by taking on certain aspects of the lifestyles of those from more “pure” castes. The social order is constantly being negotiated. Avoiding “polluting” or “demeaning” jobs, being a vegetarian, and giving up alcohol are a few examples. On the other hand, certain jatis have been known to emphasize that other elements, such political power, land ownership, and economic standing, should determine a person’s caste position.

Even though caste-based discrimination is incredibly rare, everyone is still subtly aware of the social hierarchy. Individuals are nonetheless aware of their own and other people’s social status. It is still uncommon to doubt or stray from one’s assigned function. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that the caste system frequently systematically dictates a person’s career and social position from birth while engaging with someone from India. Inquiring about someone’s caste (in the broad sense of the varna system) may not be suitable, however it is considered socially acceptable to enquire about their profession. 

Harmony and Collectivism

Indians typically cherish peace and togetherness with others highly, maintaining close ties to their family, community, and friends. An individual can rely on a daily support system in a cohesive and interdependent family or community. A person’s jati is frequently used to enlighten community groups. To assist preserve peace and order, many community groups, particularly in rural northern areas, have their own set of self-imposed laws. These systems are frequently viewed as essential because of financial difficulties or the untrustworthiness of government services. Rules are not always imposed by the upper caste; depending on the situation, individuals of the lower caste may be in charge of the community.

Indians may rely on their social networks for support in almost any situation. Seclusion or isolation can be frightening since security and confidence are provided by group allegiance and the guarantee of inseparability. Indians have a tendency to be aware of the effects their actions may have on their society or family. Many people place a strong focus on humility and the maintenance of their personal and their group’s honor, dignity, and reputation. Indians, for instance, sometimes use indirect language to diffuse tensions and preserve societal peace. It is also required of people to fulfill their commitments, responsibilities, and tasks. In fact, it is not unusual to find Indians living overseas transferring money to their relatives back home to maintain themselves.

Karma, Gratitude, and Individual Determination

Many Indians have a tendency to accept where they are in life or to think that their current circumstances—whether good or bad—are justified as a result of their acts in a previous life. This mindset is somewhat influenced by religious concepts like “samsara,” or the cycle of reincarnation, and “karma,” which holds that one’s deeds determine one’s fate in this life and the next. The interaction of these social, cultural, and religious elements enables individuals to accept the course and circumstances of their lives. This should not be taken to mean that Indians are not willing to accept responsibility for their own conditions in life. Many people frequently consider how their choices may affect them in the future and adjust their activities accordingly. By claiming their free will to select their career, marriage, and other aspects of their lives, some young people in India are rejecting a fatalistic viewpoint. Indeed, there is a growing sense that one may change one’s circumstances as social mobility becomes more widespread.

Conservativeness and modesty

In most facets of life, Indians lean heavily towards conservatism, especially in rural regions. This is particularly evident in the way that people act and dress. Many people will refrain from making excessive hand gestures or speaking loudly, and it’s normal for friends, family members, and strangers of different genders to avoid making physical contact. Additionally, as relatively few people wear revealing apparel, it is advisable to wear clothing that covers the arms and legs. While most people dress traditionally, men and women can frequently be seen wearing Western-style apparel around the nation particularly in urban areas.

Adjustability and Sensitivity

India has a sizable population, but this hasn’t made the ordinary Indian feel like “one among many” or lessened their ambitions. Rather, a spirit of invention and entrepreneurship coexists with variety. In this regard, a lot of Indians are highly flexible and imaginative, frequently seeing enormous opportunities for themselves, their people, and their nation. In addition to being upbeat, creative, and cooperative, problem-solvers typically approach situations that could otherwise be perceived as difficult with humor. For instance, strangers are happy to assist others with menial tasks like parking a car or finding directions.

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