Pluralism and Liberalism

André Béteille

in Democracy and Its Institutions

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780198080961
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199082049 | DOI:
Pluralism and Liberalism

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This chapter examines pluralism and liberalism, both of which are widely used to characterize Indian society. It argues that, although their meanings overlap to some extent, there are also important differences in their connotations. Tolerance of diversity is an important component of the liberal outlook and plays a critical role in India’s traditional social order. Liberalism is compatible with ‘competitive’ inequality but not with ‘hierarchical’ inequality. This chapter makes a distinction between language and religion on the one hand, and caste and tribe on the other, as markers of enduring social identity. It also looks at the multiplicity and durability of communities of birth, focusing on tribes and castes as well as their mutual relations. The chapter concludes by considering two major policy initiatives undertaken by the Indian government immediately after independence to reduce inequalities and disparities in the interest of equity and social justice: agrarian reform and positive discrimination.

Keywords: pluralism; liberalism; agrarian reform; positive discrimination; inequalities; castes; tribes; language; religion

Chapter.  8315 words. 

Subjects: Social Movements and Social Change

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