Religious diversity in India

Mains Marks Booster     3rd August 2023        
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“India is a country in which every great religion finds a home.” Annie Besant 

India is among the countries having significant religious diversity. Almost all the major religion of the world are practised in India. Moreover, India is the birthplace of religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

  • Hinduism is the largest religion and consists of many sub-groups i.e., Vaishnavas, Shaivites, Shaktas, and Smartas.
  • Islam is the second largest religion and includes sub-groups like Shiaites, Sunnis, Ahmadis, etc.
  • Many tribal groups follow animistic and naturistic religions.
  • Every religion has diverse beliefs, customs and festivals associated with it.
  • Indian population consists of the Hindus (82.41%), Muslims (11.6%), Christians (2.32%), Sikhs (1.99%), Buddhists (0.77%) and Jains (0.41%).
Linguistic diversity
  • According to census data, more than 19500 languages and dialects are spoken as mother tongue in India.
  • There are 22 scheduled languages mentioned in the constitution of India and according to census 2011, 96.71% of the population of the country uses one of these 22 scheduled languages as mother tongue.
  • Though officially there are 122 languages, Peoples Linguistic Survey of India has identified 780 languages, of which 50 are extinct in past five decades.
  • As per census data, there are 121 languages having more than 10000 speakers each.

Issues With Linguistic Diversity

Way Forward

  • Three Language Formula: as proposed by Kothari Commission promoting one regional language along with 2 widely used languages (Hindi and English) shall not only bridge linguistic gap but also preserve regional language and culture.
  • Use of technology: can be used for providing online resources in regional languages, for translation related services. e.g., Use of AI for translation, e-Bhasin app, OTT platforms have given a strong voice to regional content.
  • Preserving endangered languages: There is a need to preserve and protect endangered languages like great Andamanese, Asur and Balti.
  • Awareness campaigns: to promote feeling of unity and integrity, to curb linguistic discrimination etc.
  • Effective use of Language Bureau of Ministry of Education to implement and monitor the language policy.
  • UNESCO has recommended use of use of mother tongue in the early years of schooling. This is also reflected in the NEP 2020.