Civil society is the terms used for the particular space or field which is beyond the private sphere of the family but also come outside the sphere of state and market. It is that non-state and non- market part of the public sphere which allows the individuals to willingly create the institutions and organisations.
In civil society, citizens are active, deal with the social issues, try to influence the decisions of the state and demand for it, focus on the collective interests, and include voluntary association, organisation and institution formed by the group of the people. Also, it includes political parties, trade unions, mass institutions, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), religious organisations and other groups. The significant factor of the civil society is that organisation under it is not state controlled and also not completely commercial profit-making entity. For example –Private television channels are part of the civil society whereas Doordarshan is not; trade unions of the workers are a part of the civil society but a car manufacturing company is not. In fact, such fields are totally dependent on the one who is managing them for example – an NGO get the support through government funds or newspaper could be run as a commercial venture.
We have many examples of the role of the civil society in today’s world. Although during the time of Emergency people participated actively and civil society initiatives emerged. As during this time, the country saw the number of movements such as women’s, environmental, human rights and Dalit movement.
But today it emerged in a larger context, activities of civil society organisation also includes advocacy, active participation, lobbying activities with national and international agencies. The issues are also of different types such as tribal struggles, campaigns against rape and violence against women, fishermen’s struggle, primary education reform, etc.
The most recent issue is related to the campaign for the Right to information. This began with the permission to release the information on government funds spent on village development which they refused led to the starting of agitation. The government then declared the new law of citizen’s right to information as a response to the campaign. All this proves that civil society made the state responsible towards the nation and to its people.
Any type of community identity may or may not lead to the formation of the nation-state. However, community identity considered to be an element that leads to the formation of the nation-state act as a dangerous foe for the existing states. To be able to control and manage the state, they tend to support only single and homogeneous national identity. If cultural diversity repressed it might prove costly as isolation of minority, subordinated communities who are considered as ‘non-national’ only trigger them and lead to conflicts and dispute. So, encouraging cultural diversity is good policy from both the practical and the principled point of view.
India as a Nation-state is one of the most diverse countries of the world. India is the second largest countries of the world constitute the population of about 1029 million people. In India, people speak about 1,632 different languages and dialects and eighteen of these languages are officially recognised and to guarantee their legal status it is included in the 8th schedule of the constitution. 80.5% of the population is Hindus who speaks different languages, divided by castes, have a different belief system and are regionally specific; about 13.4% of the population are Muslims and Christians (2.3%), Sikhs (1.9%), Buddhists (0.8%) and Jains (0.4%).
In terms of the relationship between nation-state with Community identities, India’s doesn’t fit the Assimilationist and integrationist model. Assimilationist policy was never the concept to be followed by Independent India from starting even though the dominant section of the society demanded it. Also, India was never ‘integrationist’ too.
The Indian constitution declared India as a Secular state but language, religion and other factors still exist in the public sphere. Furthermore, communities are also recognised by the state. According to international standards, minority religions are provided with strong constitutional protection. All this had been done to maintain peace and order among the different section of society. It is important to implement and practice laws and principles rather than just thinking about it. All this proves India is a good example of ‘Nation-state’. Thus, encouraging cultural diversity is good policy from both the practical and the principled point of view.
NOTE – Assimilationist – it is a type of policy which includes a basic set of cultural values, rules and norms which are imposed on the citizens which they have to follow. These rules are largely based on the opinions of the dominant groups in society.
Integrationist – It is a type of policy which persists on following common nation pattern which includes public culture but at the same time, what is considered as ‘non-national cultures’ should be demoted to the private sphere.
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