Multiculturalism – Synonym Of Development

multiculturalism2.jpgMulticulturalism is a state of cultural and ethnic diversity within the demographic of social space. When different cultures grow in the same space in harmony, then that society is called multicultural. Multiculturalism is neither a political doctrine nor any philosophical view but it is a perspective of viewing human life. Human beings are culturally embedded that they grow up in a culturally structured world where they organize their lives and maintain social relations in terms of culturally derived system of meaning and significance. Cultures are inherited from ancestors and are responsible for shaping human lives. We have different visions of good life which can only be made possible when we have access to other cultures. No doubt all cultures are internally plural and have assimilations of each among them. Cultures grow out of conscious and unconscious interactions with each other. We need to understand other’s cultural values in order to better understand our intellectual and moral horizon. We can leave narcissism behind and can become richer in cultural values. From a multiculturalist’s perspective, no political doctrine or ideology can represent the full truth of human life. Each of them – be it liberalism, conservatism, socialism or nationalism – is embedded in a particular culture, represents a particular vision of the good life, and is necessarily narrow and partial. Liberalism, for example, is an inspiring political doctrine stressing such great values as human dignity, autonomy, liberty, critical thought and equality. However, they can be defined in several different ways, of which the liberal is only one and not always the most coherent option.There are many examples to prove my point. India is the second largest multicultural country in the world after Africa. In India, there are several states and each have different races and cultures. In a nutshell, it could be said that the states are divided linguistically. Nobody can tell that we are divided, on the contrary we share this diversity and are growing together with it. There is diversity everywhere and in every form of nature, whether it is the weather, rivers, food, birds etc. The one thing which is the cause behind multiculturalism is immigration which has compelled people from different parts of the world to leave their habitat and migrate to other safer places where they can reproduce and live peacefully. This is also seen among birds that fly from one place to another in search of shelter. Even we like clothes which are colorful and also want our life to be colorful. Then how could we possibly imagine our society to be so dull and lack colors. The color of the society is its people and diverse cultures. Monoculture is an obsolete word and is rarely used, as the world is on the path of development and couldn’t count on such outmoded ideology. America treats immigration as an alternative to boost economic development. The absorption of the stream of immigrants becomes in itself a prominent feature of America’s national myth. In Indonesia, more than 700 languages are spoken and although Muslim, the country also has huge Christian and Hindu population. In Britain, the Londoners are influenced by the ethnic diversity that their country is gaining. In the last decade most of the immigrants who settled in Britain were from the Indian subcontinent and the Caribbean. There was once a time when the British strictly followed the English menu but with the rise of multiculturalism they pamper their taste buds with delicacies of different cultures and now ‘Chicken Tikka’ and ‘Indian Curry’ are among their favourites. Cuisine is a specific set of cooking traditions and practices, often associated with a specific culture. Religious food laws can also exercise a strong influence on cuisine. A cuisine is primarily influenced by the ingredients that are available locally or through trade. For example, the American-Chinese dish chop suey clearly reflected the adaptation of Chinese cuisine to the ingredients available in North America. Even in India we have restaurants serving cuisines of France, America, Mediterranean, Chinese etc. This couldn’t have been possible without multiculturalism. There are many organizations operating world wide which are spreading messages of Gita and have made many followers. The knowledge is spreading and people are becoming aware of our Indian culture. The same holds true for the land of dragons, China, their ying-yang philosophy is famous world wide.Each culture has its own collection of clothes or one can say that a culture is known for its different shades of color and clothes. As multiculturalism is gaining more and more awareness, the access to clothes of different cultures is also becoming easy. International brands are opening their branches in different locations to capture more and more market and in a way to serve more foreign customers. People from different culture opt for different mediums of entertainment and the movies, songs, drama or literature of a particular culture reflects its very essence. Today we can watch movies in major foreign languages in almost any part of the world. We listen to songs from different parts of the world, read books by foreign authors and watch plays and performances by artists of different cultures. A cure for an ailment is different in different cultures – for instance people in China use animal extracts in their medicine extensively while here in India plant extracts are used more. The use of Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines are growing worldwide. Thanks to multiculturalism fitness freaks of the West are taking yoga lessons while their counterparts in India are joining aerobics classes. People who migrate generate revenue in the new country and pay taxes, which strengthen the economy of that country. There are still many countries that do not want to share their culture with others and don’t support immigration but by doing so they are only alienating themselves from rest of the world. New York, London, Mumbai are some of the cities that are rich in cultures, and are among the most classic and cosmopolitan cities in the world. New York has one of the largest Indian populations living outside India. Talking about the immigrants who have done well in their life are Salman Rushdie, Google founders Larry Page & Sergey. The countries where these personalities live are proud of their achievements. Approximately 20% of today’s Canadian citizens were born outside Canada, the highest immigration rate of any G8 country, and the second-highest rate in the world. Recent immigrants are largely concentrated in the cities of Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, which have high population growth due to this concentrated immigration. A prominent criticism in the US, echoed in Europe, was that multiculturalism undermined national unity, hindered social integration and cultural assimilation, and led to the fragmentation of society into several ethnic fractions. In Germany the concept of multiculturalism was never appreciated and it met with cold waters. The people there feared losing their cultural identity. In Japan the people considered assimilation of different cultures as pollution. French political thought is generally reluctant to endorse multiculturalism. Even the linguistic and cultural minorities, even if they are of French origin, are not entertained. There is a developing distaste toward the idea and policies of multiculturalism in Europe, especially, as stated earlier, in the Netherlands, Denmark, United Kingdom and Germany. The belief behind this backlash on multiculturalism is that it purportedly creates friction within society. Contrary to this has been the nature of human beings to migrate and step outside the confinements of geographical boundaries in search of something better. The point to be remembered is that the cultural diversity is the positive force for a society’s nationhood or cultural identity.Radhika Agarwal