Intolerance versus the path to a pluralistic civil society in India

Intolerance versus the path to a pluralistic civil society in India

Source – The Hindu and PIB.

General Studies – Polity and Governance of India, Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP), Preamble/Preamble of the Indian Constitution, Identity and Citizenship, Good Governance, Pluralistic Theory of State.

Why in the News ? 

  • Recently, during the inaugural session of the new Parliament building of India, a controversy erupted after copies of the Indian Constitution were gifted to the Members of Parliament (MPs), as the preamble of the gifted copies of the Indian Constitution contained the word ‘socialist’. The words ‘and’ ‘secular’ were removed.
  • Subsequently, the debate in civil society across India focused on whether any of these words define the true spirit of the Constitution of India?
  • The meaning of the opening words of the Preamble/Preamble of the Indian Constitution is – ‘We the people of India’.

Preamble of the Indian Constitution :

“We, the People of India, having resolved to constitute India into a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic Republic, and to all its citizens:


social, economic and political justice,

Freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship,

To achieve equality of status and opportunity,

And in all of them,

To promote fraternity, which ensures the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation,

“With strong resolve, in our Constituent Assembly this day, 26th November, 1949 (Miti Margashirsha Shukla Saptami, Samvat 2006 Vikrami), we hereby adopt, enact and dedicate this Constitution.”

Main words contained in the Preamble/Preamble of the Indian Constitution

Main vocabulary – Meaning

Universal – Universal.

Socialist – Democratic socialism where the private sector and the government sector can work together.

Secular – Progressive secularism.

In a democratic manner – Supreme power rests with the people.

The head or president of the republic is elected by the state/country.

Justice-  Fairness in dealing with people at social, economic and political levels.

Freedom of expression of thought, belief, faith and worship.

Equality: – Equality of opportunity means the state will not discriminate against its citizens on the basis of language, gender, religion etc.

Fraternity – Brotherhood with the unity and integrity of the country.

  • India is not dominated by any external power and the state has its own independent power, it simply means that the citizens of India have the power to elect the heads of the state and other representatives and also have the power to criticize them.
  • The nature of the State of India is stated in the Preamble of the Constitution of India. They are – Socialist, Sovereign, Secular, Democratic, Republic.
  • The Preamble of the Constitution also includes objectives like liberty, justice, fraternity and equality. In the words of Sir Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer, the President of the Constituent Assembly, who played an important role in the drafting of the Constitution, “The Preamble of the Constitution is the reflection of our long-term dreams.”
  • Member of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly. M. Munshi described the Preamble as ‘The future of our sovereign democratic republic’. Similarly, another member of the Constituent Assembly, Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava called the Preamble of the Constitution the “Soul of the Constitution”.

Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) :

Constitutional Provisions:

  • DPSP is included in Part IV (Articles 36-51) of the Constitution of India.
  • Article 37 of the Indian Constitution talks about the provisions of Directive Principles.

Background :

  • The Directive Principles contained in the Indian Constitution are taken from the Constitution of Ireland. It is noteworthy that Ireland itself had taken this principle from the Constitution of Spain.
  • Such ideas can be seen in the Declaration of Human Rights and declarations of independence by the American colonies, as well as the Gandhian concept of Sarvodaya.
  • In India, similar guidelines were provided in the Government of India Act 1935.

Good governance:

  • Good governance means a good governance system that is accountable to the people. In practice it concerns all those processes; Through which such an environment is created in the society in which all individuals get a chance to move towards excellence as per their potential.
  • The characteristics of good governance have been clarified by institutions like the Planning Commission and World Bank.

The main features of good governance can be seen as follows –

  • Free and fair elections and democratic transfer of power.
  • Accountability and transparency of government institutions.
  • Decentralization of power and public participation in administration.
  • Timely availability of socio-economic services.
  • Economy and efficiency of administration.
  • Ethics in Administration.
  • Establishment of rule of law.
  • Promotion of interests of the deprived sections of the society.
  • Emphasis on environmentally sustainable development.


  • Civil society means such social organizations other than government and business organizations which serve the public voluntarily and in the spirit of social welfare. Non-governmental organizations, consumer organizations, environmental groups and cooperative organizations formed for social purposes are examples of civil society.
  • At present their role is very important in implementing the concept of a public welfare state. By connecting with the public, these organizations present the real wishes of the public to the government and implement the concept of good governance by promoting public participation in governance. The Right to Information Act, considered a milestone in the direction of transparency, is the result of the Right to Information movement of civil society. Apart from this, civil society under the leadership of Anna Hazare has also made an important contribution in passing the famous Lokpal Bill. They also increase accountability in governance by making the public aware of government policies, programs and shortcomings. Being committed to ethical trends, many altruistic organizations also establish ethical values in governance. Apart from this, as a non-governmental organization, they also increase the quality of administration by efficiently implementing many government schemes.
  • Like the successful implementation of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao or Ayushman Bharat Yojana or Nari Shakti Vandan Yojana is an excellent example of good governance.
  • The role of civil society in good governance in India is very important.

Pluralistic Theory :

  • A pluralistic society is a society where many groups with unique ideologies and values work collaboratively to influence government policies and are active in the governance process. Groups in a pluralistic society may be determined by culture, religion, or common ideologies and values.
  • The ideology that emerged against the monistic notion of sovereignty is called political pluralism or multi communism. Thus, pluralism can be said to be a reaction against the monistic concept of sovereignty which, although it wants to maintain the existence of the state, considers it necessary to end the sovereignty of the state.
  • According to pluralist ideology, state power is not sovereign and autocratic. The existence of many other communities existing in the society limits the state power. To fulfill his needs, a person not only accepts membership of the state, but also accepts membership of many other communities and associations along with the state. In such a situation, complete power cannot be given to a single state. Famous scholar Hasio has written in this regard that – “A pluralistic state is a state in which there is not only one source of power, it is divisible into different areas and should be divided.

Pluralist Thinkers :

  • Pluralistic ideology has been propounded by many writers and thinkers, including Gierke, Maitland, Figgis, Digvit, Crewe, Paul Bunker, A. D. Lindley, Durkham, Miss Follett, Ernest Barker, G. The names of D.H. Cole and Harold Laski can be mentioned prominently.

Principles of Pluralism :

  • The state is only a community: Pluralists do not accept the state as an omnipresent, omnipotent and moral institution. According to him, on the basis of the present condition and structure of the society, the state is nothing but a community like other communities. The needs of human life are multifaceted and the state cannot fulfill all the needs of man. Due to this, apart from the state, other communities also have a useful existence. The work of the state is mainly related to the political aspect of life and according to pluralists it should be limited to its own area, so that other communities can independently develop adequately in all aspects of an individual’s life.
  • Pluralists differentiate between state and society: Like idealists, pluralists do not consider state and society as one but accept them as different units. Pluralism considers the state as a community equal to other communities and describes society as a much broader organization than the state. The state is the only part of the society which cannot be a companion of the society in terms of its purpose and scope.
  • Pluralists believe in controlled state power: Pluralism rejects unlimited sovereignty and considers sovereignty as limited in both internal and external areas. The power of the state in the internal sphere is limited by its own nature and the rights of its citizens and communities, and in the external sphere the power of the state is limited by international law and the rights of other nations. Thus, pluralism is opposed to the autocratic power of the state both in the internal and external spheres.
  • According to pluralism, law is independent and superior to the state: Pluralists, unlike the traditional proponents of sovereignty, consider law to be independent and superior to the state. In this regard, the views of French thinker Digit and Dutch thinker Crave are noteworthy. According to Dugvit, ‘Law is independent of political organization, superior to it and prior to it. Without law, social unity or organization or dependence of humans on each other is not possible. The personality of the state is a mere imagination. Law limits the state, the state does not limit the law.’ Crabb has also expressed similar views.
  • Pluralism believes in decentralization: Pluralism does not believe in a centralized state like idealistic philosophy, rather it considers decentralization as the basis of the real usefulness of the state. According to pluralism, local problems are no less important and these local problems cannot be solved by the method of centralization of power. According to the pluralists, the state should decentralize its centralized power and divide it among other communities on the basis of the system of professional representation and thus a federal social organization should be established.
  • Pluralism is not opposed to the existence of the state: Pluralists oppose the autocratic power of the state, but like anarchism or communism, they are not in favor of destroying it completely. Instead of destroying the nation, they want to limit the powers of the state. According to the pluralists, the monistic theory of sovereignty is nothing but ‘blatant nonsense’. The nature and importance of the state of a pluralistic society will be the same as that of other associations and institutions. Pluralists are ready to give priority to the state over other unions, because the state will act as an arbitrator to resolve mutual disputes between unions, but they are ready to accept the state in its aggressive and autocratic form. It is not, which has been propounded by ‘singularist thinkers’.
  • Pluralism is a democratic ideology: Though pluralism is opposed to the present form of the state, it is not opposed to the democratic system. Pluralism never accepts the use of violent methods to achieve its objectives. From beginning to end he believed in professional representation and secret ballot. In fact, the aim of pluralism is to establish a democratic state in place of a totalitarian state, in which the organization of governance is from the bottom up. They consider equal distribution of sovereignty among other unions as a symbol of the democratic system.
  • Pluralism believes in professional representation: Pluralist thinker G. D.H. Cole is a special supporter of the principle of professional representation in democracy. Pluralists consider the method of regional representation to be unfair and flawed, because individuals elected on the basis of region can represent them in real form. In such a situation, only this method of representation, which is based on business, can be considered appropriate. A farmer’s interests cannot be represented as well by a lawyer living near him as by a farmer living in a distant area who understands his difficulties. For this reason, according to pluralists, constituencies should be decided on the basis of occupation.

Criticism of Pluralism :

  • The logical conclusion of pluralism is anarchy: The main basis of criticism against pluralism is that the natural result of accepting pluralistic ideology will be a state of anarchy. If every community is considered equal to the state and they are also given proportional rights of sovereignty, then a lawless situation will arise in the society. Pluralistic thinkers are also aware of this fact. For this reason, even after dividing sovereignty into communities, pluralism gives the state the power to establish coordination and harmony among different communities of the society, but such work cannot be done by the state until it is given a statutory mandate. Do not attain the highest position in terms of vision.
  • Pluralism is based on some misconceptions: Pluralism is based on some misconceptions. It is wrong to think that the field of work of every community is completely separate from each other and human work can be divided into such departments which have no relation with each other. In the present organization of society, traditional conflict of different interests and beliefs is quite natural. In such a situation, if there is no final legal authority in the society, then due to mutual conflict between different communities, an unhealthy environment will arise, in which human progress will become almost impossible. Therefore, it is false for the pluralists to believe that every community will continue to perform its duties without any conflict.
  • All communities are not of equal status: An important argument against the pluralist ideology is that in this ideology all the communities of the society are considered to be of equal status. It is a grave mistake of the pluralists to consider every community equal to the state. In fact, due to its special functions of the state institution, its situation is different and special from all other communities.
  • Pluralism attacks the imaginary monistic enemy of sovereignty: One basis for criticism of pluralism is that the autocratic sovereignty which pluralism attacks has not been propounded by any other proponent of state power except Hegel. All thinkers like Bodden, Hobbes, Rousseau, Austin etc. definitely accept some natural, moral or practical control on the sovereignty of the state. The gist of his statement is simply that sovereignty cannot tolerate the existence of any power equal to itself and this is an irrefutable truth.
  • Pluralism is full of contradictions: A serious thing against pluralism is that the pluralistic ideology is full of contradictions. Theoretically, pluralists reduce the powers of the state and give it equality with other communities, but when they come to practice, they accept that political society cannot be imagined without making any one institution sovereign. . In this way they indirectly accept state sovereignty, this can be seen in all pluralist thinkers.
  • Individuals will not be free in a pluralistic system: Pluralists have this misconception that if the state controls other communities, an individual will get an environment of freedom for the development of his personality, in fact this is not the case. Those who oppose state control in the name of freedom of communities can go further than the state in violating individual rights when they come to power. In the Middle Ages the Church severely persecuted dissenters, and Brainy and Galileo suffered severe torture at the hands of their own countrymen.
  • State cannot be a federation of communities: The statement of Lindsay, Barker and other pluralists that the state is a federation of communities has been harshly criticized by critics. There is a fundamental difference between the situation of the state and other communities. While other communities are concerned with a particular interest of human beings, the state is concerned with their universal or widespread interests. For this reason, apart from the state, no other community can claim to be the symbol of man’s complete personality.
  • Pluralism is anti-patriotic: Due to reducing the importance of sovereignty and state and being international in its ideology, pluralism opposes the patriotic feeling of the citizens, which cannot be called appropriate and practical. No matter what may be said against state power and no matter how important international ideas are considered, it cannot be denied that patriotism has its own place and importance in the present day states.

Importance of Pluralism :


  • Despite presenting an exaggerated picture of the fragmented form of state power and the importance of unions, there is a lot of truth in the pluralistic philosophy. In the words of Gattil – “Pluralism is a timely and welcome reaction against rigid and principled legalism and Austin’s theory of sovereignty.”
  • Pluralism emphasizes the increasing importance of non-political associations. It warns against interference by the state in the proper sphere of action of the communities and propounds that not only should these communities be recognized by the state but these communities should be given a greater degree of autonomy in their sphere of action. Keeping in view the outward-looking needs of human life in the present times, this idea of pluralism can be called praiseworthy. Accepting this idea of pluralism in proper form will not only help in the development of an individual’s personality but will also essentially increase the efficiency of the state.
  • Despite the ongoing debate on intolerance in India, India is a pluralistic society and the Indian Constitution guarantees a secular nation with diversity and equal respect for all sects and religions.
  • In the year 2022, the Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu had said that – ‘It is not Indian culture to degrade any culture, religion or language.’ He called upon every citizen to thwart efforts to weaken India and unite and unite the nation. Called upon to take the responsibility of protecting the interests of.
  • The Vice President underlined that – “India’s civilizational values teach respect and tolerance for all cultures and isolated incidents cannot weaken the secular ethos of India. Condemning efforts to malign India’s image on the international stage, Shri Naidu reiterated that India’s parliamentary democracy and pluralistic values are models to be emulated for the world.”
  • An excellent example of the concept of pluralism in the democratic system of India is that the population of India is about 1 billion 40 crores, in which there are more than 4635 communities, out of which 78 percent are not only linguistic and cultural categories but also social categories. Religious minorities constitute 19.4 percent of our population, of which Muslims constitute 13.4 percent, which is approximately 160 million in number. Human variations are both sequence and local. We, the de jure sovereign people, are in reality a fragmented ‘we’, divided by thorny gaps yet to be bridged. About 22 percent of our people live below the official poverty line and despite recent improvements, overall health and education indicators for our population remain far below desirable.

Practice Questions for Preliminary Exam:

Q.1. From which part of the Constitution is the phrase “We the people of India” mentioned in the Constitution of India taken?

  1.  From the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of India.
  2. From the fundamental duties mentioned in the Constitution of India.
  3. From the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution of India.
  4. From the Preamble/Preamble of the Constitution of India.

Which of the above options is correct?

(A) Only 1 and 4

(B) Only 2 and 3

 (C ) Only 3

(D) Only 4

Answer – (D)

Practice Questions for Main Exam:

Q.1.What is the importance of pluralistic principle in any democratic State/ Nation? Critically evaluate how the principle of pluralism protects the unity and integrity of India in the context of intolerance in India?


No Comments

Post A Comment