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Democracy and Its Institutions$
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André Béteille

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780198080961

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198080961.001.0001

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Pluralism and Liberalism

Pluralism and Liberalism

Chapter:
(p.141) 7 Pluralism and Liberalism
Source:
Democracy and Its Institutions
Author(s):

André Béteille

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198080961.003.0007

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

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