[Model Answer QP2022 GS1]Are tolerance, assimilation and pluralism the key elements in the making of an Indian form of secularism? Justify your answer.

Tolerance is an important concept that helps people to live together peacefully. To be tolerant means that you accept other people’s opinions and preferences, even when they live in a way that you don’t agree with.
Assimilation is the process whereby persons and groups acquire the culture of another group in which they come to live, by adopting its attitudes and values, its patterns of thinking and behaving—in short, its way of life.
Pluralism is a situation in which people of different social classes, religions, races, etc., are together in a society but continue to have their different traditions and interests.

Justifying Tolerance and Indian form of Secularism

1. Not only do most of the world’s Hindus, Jains and Sikhs live in India, but it also is home to one of the world’s largest Muslim populations and to millions of Christians and Buddhists.
2. A major new Pew Research Center survey of religion across India, based on nearly 30,000 face-to-face interviews of adults conducted in 17 languages between late 2019 and early 2020 (before the COVID-19 pandemic), finds that Indians of all these religious backgrounds overwhelmingly say they are very free to practice their faiths.
3. In India, tolerance is a religious as well as civic value: Indians are united in the view that respecting other religions is a very important part of what it means to be a member of their own religious community.

Justifying Assimilation and Indian form of Secularism

1. The foreign invasions during 200 b.c by the Indo-greeks, Shakas and Kushanas led to these invaders settling in India because of the assimilative capacity of Indian Society.
2. Buddha is seen as a reincarnation of Vishnu. In this way, the good and better practices of Buddhism were accommodated and assimilated into Hindu fold.
3. Tribes have undergone principled assimilation to modern Indian society in  a way that they have adopted modern means of economy but have also maintained their tradition of living with nature and worshiping ancestors etc.

Justifying Pluralism and Indian form of Secularism 

1. The caves of Ellora have halls dedicated to Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Buddhism as well as Jainism. This reflects the pluralism that exists in Indian society already during ancient times. 
2. Religious plurality: Though the dominant religion is Hinduism, religions such as Buddhism, Jainism and Ajivikas have taken birth in India which again shows Indian society’s respect towards pluralism. 
3. Linguistic Plurality i.e. there are more than 1500 languages in India and our eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution stands testimony to the pluralism in Indian Society.

Despite all the disparity, there is an overall acceptance of different faiths. India’s vast population is both multicultural and religious.

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