ETHNIC RELATIONS IN INDIA:
India is a land of diversities, whether in terms of race, language, religion, caste etc. Language and region have been important premise on which ethnic identities are built. Each language group has its own state e.g. Bihar for Biharis, Gujarat for Gujaratis etc. When people migrate to another region, they start their own voluntary association to cater to their cultural needs. Religion is another premise of ethnic identification. Several religious groups exist with the Hindus being the predominant group. At times there emerge communal clashes between different religious communities, especially Hindus and Muslims in India.
Caste is another significant basis for ethnic identity. The Varna system divided the total Hindu population—Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, Shudras placed in hierarchical ranking. The caste member form an in-group and caste identity is important for social boundaries. However, through social mobility; Sanskritisation process, some lower castes have incorporated the higher caste life-styles and moved up the social ladder. Since the British rule the power equation between different castes altered. Some lower castes have acquired economic and political power. Caste, thus, has been an important basis of division between different caste groups:Sometimes the cleavage is between the Brahmin and the upper caste non-Brahmin or between the upper non-Brahmin and lower non-Brahmin castes or the clean and the untouchable castes.
ROLE OF THE GOVERNMENT:
The British Government tried to reduce caste inequality. English education was free of caste consideration, several reforms were introduced which increased political power, economic benefits for the minority and the backward classes. Several legal provisions were made. With independence, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar became the Chairman of the Drafting Committee and Minister of Law in the Government. Minorities Committee was set up under Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel.
The Constitution of India endorsed equality of opportunity and equal protection under law. The SC, ST and OBCs were given some preferential treatment e.g. reservation of seats in educational institutions, political system, public employment. The Constitution prohibited discrimination and abolished untouchability and passed acts in favor of the minorities.