(Sample Material) UPSC Mains Philosophy (Optional) Study Kit "Socio Political Philosophy (Multiculturalism)"

Sample Material of UPSC Mains Philosophy (Optional) Study Kit

Topic: Socio Political Philosophy (Multiculturalism)

Multiculturalism is a recent development which emerge due to various challenges faced by contemporary society.


Multiculturalism is defined both as descriptive and normative term. In descriptive sense, multiculturalism refers to cultural diversity arising from existence of 2 or more society. As normative terms, multiculturalism endorses the cultural diversity and holds, maintains that such differences should be respected and publicity affirm. In this sense, it means to accept various believes and ways of life as a values.

In this way, multiculturalism is different from pluralism, because multiculturalism not only recognizes fact of cultural diversity but it also holds that such differences should be publicly affirmed.

Central theme of multiculturalism is that individual identity is culturally embedded. It means that people largely derive their understanding of world and their framework of moral belief from culture in which they live and developed. Therefore different cultures deserved to be strengthened.

Liberal – individual – autonomous identity, Marx – class – shapes our identity, on basis of culture perspective, we shape our moral belief – culture bound.

Since, cultural diversity exist in form of religion, language, customs and traditions origin, therefore multiculturalism recognizes the collective identity or group identity based on these factors.

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Will Kymlica

He defined multiculturalism as claims of various ethnic groups.

Bhiku Parekh

Multiculturalism is a much wider concept which has 3 components-

1) There is a close relationship between human nature and culture. Culture shapes and moulds human nature beliefs therefore culture should be recognized.
2) Different cultures have different understanding of this world and good life but these distinction does not make them superior or inferior therefore all cultures should be recognised.
3) Culture is a dynamic with the changing circumstances it changes therefore, Multiculturalism is a dynamic idea.

Emergence of Multiculturalism

Multiculturalism started in decade of 1960’s. In 1971, Canada and in 1993. Australia declared it multiculturalism. Today, most of countries accept multiculturalism as their official policy.
Factors responsible:

1) Decolonization: The process of decolonization resulted in emergence of various new state in Asia and Africa. These post colonial states were plural state. Post colonial theory challenge euro-centric values and emphasize the value system of these societies which were plural in nature. e.g.

i) Edward Said – gave concept of orientalism which emphasized on these societies.
ii) Franz Fanon – decolonization not merely a political process but it is birth of new species.

2) World War-II: Second World war lead to the problem of refuges specially in the fascist countries like Germany and Italy – minorities were forced to leave their own country and settle in other countries due to this, homogenous societies of Europe were confronted with problem of immigrants at international level, this problem was tackled by United Nations but at national level it was addressed by accepting multiculturalism.

3) Globalisation: The process of globalization which encourage free flow of labour from one country to other also resulted in problem of immigrant in these countries.

4) Disintegration of U.S.S.R.: Due to collapse of USSR ethnic nationalism emerge victorious. Later on ethnic groups made demand for separate statehood as in Yugoslavia. This fear also forced various countries to accept multiculturalism.

5) Accommodation to Minority Groups: Liberal democracy in 20th century could not address problems of minority group properly. This dissatisfaction for democracy also strengthen demand for multiculturalism.

Major assumption / Themes

Multiculturalism rejects the controversial notion of equality, politics, universal citizenship, democracy, notion of individual. And formulates its assumptions regarding these.


In conventional political philosophy, equality is treated as sameness. Equality means to treat people equally irrespective of their religion, race, sex language etc. If there are deviation from sameness, then they must be logical, justifiable and as an exception.

But, multiculturalism considers equality as a difference they define equality as a recognition of difference because all political ideals including equality is culture bound.


The conventional notion of politics is politics of distribution. The main purpose of political system is distributive justice which means “who gets what?” Elimination of socio-economic inequality is its main concern.

But, according to multiculturalism identity politics and politics of recognition is more important, elimination of cultural injustice instead of socio economic injustice is more important.


Conventional political philosophy supports universal citizenship. Citizenship is a cementing force which creates a uniform identity from the diversity. Universal citizenships strengthens national identity instead of ethnic identity.
But, multiculturalism supports differentiated citizenship which believes in different set of right for different ethnic groups, people should be accepted as citizens with their distinct identity. The purpose of citizenship is not to strengthen national sentiment but to recognize cultural diversity.

Individual Identity

Multiculturalism criticizes the liberalist notion of autonomous individual. According to liberalist tradition, individuals are autonomous creatures who take decision rationally. Therefore individual and his freedom more emphasized. Therefore, liberalism support individual identity as against group identity but multiculturalism believed that individual identity can not be separated from the group which he belongs.

Notion of Democracy

Multiculturalism also criticizes the conventional notion of democracy which is based on majority rule but multiculturalism emphasizes on minority rights in democracy.

Liberal Multiculturalism

It is based on idea of freedom and toleration. The basic argument of liberal multiculturalism one is free to choose its moral beliefs whether it is approved by other or not.

It has 3 main assumptions:


i) It supports toleration which means willingness to accept even those views with which one disagrees but liberal multiculturalism is unwilling to tolerate certain principles like forced marriage, Hizaab, Parda, female dress code.
ii) Liberal multiculturalism differentiate between public of private life. In private life individuals are free to express their language, religious identities etc. But in public, there must be some shared civic values.
iii) Liberal multiculturalism views liberal democracy as only legitimate political system which ensures freedom.

2) Pluralist Multiculturalism: Pluralist multiculturalism is different from liberal multiculturalism because it is based on value – pluralism which means to recognize various values therefore pluralist multiculturalism believes though the values of various cultures are different, all should be respected hence it is called.

3) Cosmopolitan Multiculturalism: It reflects influence of globalization on culture. It believes culture is dynamic globalization has resulted in integration of various cultures. Therefore they believe that each culture learns from another culture and water tight compartments can not be made in various cultures.

According to liberal thinkers, multiculturalism emphasizes on group, instead of individual therefore, it is another form of collectivism which can jeopardize individual freedom.

Multiculturalism has become a plea to justify many defective traditions, like female circumcision, child marriage, dress code may be part of culture and may be defended on ground of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism has posed serious threats before modern nation state, Recognition of various cultural groups has lead to social conflict and instability which ultimately promotes separatism. Disintegration of Yugoslavia and ethnic conflicts in various countries are its example. Multiculturalism fails to address interest of disadvantaged sections of societies as it emphasizes on cultural injustice instead of socio-economic injustice. According to Marxist, real issue confronting minority groups is not the lack of cultural issues but lack of their control over socio-economic resource therefore multiculturalism divides people who have common socio-economic interest people become more aware of what divides them than what unites them.

Feminist have also criticize multiculturalism. According to feminism, central concern of is gender injustice. Sussan Millar Okin in her essay ‘Is multiculturalism bad for women?’ opines that, it neglects gender issues due to its overemphasis on culture. Other feminist also believes that women are most disadvantaged section in every society. Both minority group and majority group discriminate with women. But multiculturalism treats these issues non-seriously.

  • According multiculturalism individual have multiple identity e.g. class identity which is different from cultural identity. Individuals should have freedom to select this identity but multiculturalism asserts on cultural identity only.
  • Multiculturalism views on equality, politics, democracy, individual are full of shortcomings.


1) Multiculturalism highlighted issue of cultural discrimination even in democratic state.
2) Multiculturalism has addressed problems of refugees and immigrants. In era of globalization these groups have become very important.
3) Multiculturalism emphasizes on minority rights which is essential for healthy democratic system.
4) Multiculturalism gives importance to various cultural groups when these minorities are treated in a just way in the society then there belongingness with political system strengthens, in this way instead of being divisive, it becomes a means of national integration. (assimilation {uniformity} Vs unity {belongingness}, Unity in diversity & diversity in unity).

Purpose of Indian democracy is also to bring unity in diversity and at the same time to protect diversity in unity Multiculturalism also aims at protecting this diversity.


‘Like medicine good in limited dose’.

Crime means violation of Law

If a person harms the other member of society or disturb social order which is against law then it is crime. Therefore, in various societies and various times, the notion of crime is different. One important aspect of crime is misuse of free will, if a person intentionally harms other then only it is crime.

There are various interpretalion of crime.

1) Biological Interpretation: According to this, crime is the result of certain biological disorders therefore so called criminal is biologically a sick person, therefore he does not misuse his free will.
2) Psychological Interpretation: According to Sigmund Freud, criminal is a psychologically sick person. This view also believes that psychological disorder forces criminal to commit crime.
3) Social Interpretation: According to this, society is responsible for crime.

Robert K. Merton

Society puts individual certain goals, it also provide means to achieve these goals. When these means are insufficient then frustration develops in individual which forces him to commit crime.


Crime is the result of capitalism. Capitalism alienates individual and exploits him which results in crime. Labour class does not commit crime but his acts are interpretated as crime.

All these interpretations believes that criminal does not use his free will while committing crime.


Punishment means to make someone suffer some way or other way because he has committed some crime. Punishment is a means of social order is maintained in a 2 ways-

i) Through socialization
ii) Through social control

Socialisation means internalization of social values by in individual and its means are mass media, education system, family etc.

‘Social control is of 2 types

i) Positive sense - Reward
ii) Negative sense – Punishment

In positive sense, it is to reward. The purpose of reward is to encourage desired behaviour.

In negative sense, it is punishment and its purpose is to discourage undesired behaviour.

There are three theories of punishment

1) Retributive Theory
2) Determent Theory
3) Reformative Theory

Retributive Theory is based on notion of retributive justice. It is corrective or rectificative in nature. It believes punishment should be proportionate to the crime committed.

In practice it means – “An Eye for an eye”

Deterrent Theory – Punishment should be more than the crime committed. The purpose of punishment is to deter or prevent other individual from committing crime therefore, punishment should be too harass and exemplary, so that criminals as well other members of a society deterred from committing crime.

Reformative Theory – believes that instead of punishment, criminal should be reformed so that they could become responsible member of society. This is based on idea – ‘hate crime, not the criminal’. They support their view point with the help of modern interpretation of crime.

Retributive theory treats punishment as a moral act because it rectifies or correct some mistakes. In word of Hegel, it is duty of criminal to be punish so that crime committed by him is rectified.

Deterrent theory treats punishment in utilitarian sense.

Reformative theory does not believe in making criminal to suffer. Instead of suffering it supports reforms.


N. Vitthal has defined corruption as a financial terrorism.

According to world bank, it means use of pubic office for private profit. Bribe is its most obvious form. “Corruption can be defined as exploitation of one’s official position for one’s own interest at the cost of public good.”

Corruption means

1) Misuse of official position or authority
2) Deviation from rules, norms or law
3) Non action when action is required
4) Harm to public good

Causes of corruption

1) Erosin of moral and ethical values in the society.
2) Scarcity of goods and resources
3) Declining real salaries
4) Red Tapism
5) Lack of transparency
6) Lack of awareness in people for their rights
7) Certain social evils like Dowry
8) Inadequate laws for dealing corruption and non implementation of laws.
9) Culture of tolerance is also responsible for growing corruption.

Corruption is legitimized in society.

Kaushik Basu

Sanskritisation of corruption – which means, in society corruption is legitimized and people of lower class try to follow, imitate lifestyle and ways of corrupt people (must be zero tolerance , most grievous cause of corruption materialistic and consumeristic culture erosion of value and ethics need and greed).


1) Corruption is against security of nation
2) Corruption is always anti – poor and government plans and scheme, which are for poor does not reach to them. It is believed that one third of Public (PDS) distribution system is sold in Black Market Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi also confessed less than 50 paise reaches poor.
3) Corruption is anti-economic development it leads to increasing of Black money High level of corruption discourages foreign investment.
4) Corruption demoralizes the honest persons.
5) It promotes social evils like dowry, prostitution.

Mass Violence

Mass violence means to perform act of violence at mass level or against masses and today terrorism its most obvious form.

Terrorism is defined as a use of violence in order to terrorise people to achieve certain political objective. According to Columbis and Wolfe. Terrorism is the use of violence to attain certain political objective.

According to Walter Lequer – Terrorism is a use of violence to induce a state of fear in the victim.


1) It is well thought out strategy hence it is planned and organized use of violence.
2) Terrorism has certain political objectives.
3) Terrorism creates terror and fear among the people.
4) Even innocent people can be killed in a terrorist attack. Innoscent people are used as a messenger to convey message of terrorists to its opponent.

Terrorism is different from other forms of violence like extremism (Nagaland)

1) Extremism is within country but terrorism may be international.
2) Extremism is against one’s own government but terrorism may be against other state also.

Extremism is always against the state but terrorism is may or may be state sponsored. Extremism is based on some local support but terrorism may not have local support.

Terrorism Vs Revolutionary Violence

Revolutionary violence is against foreign rule. It is against autocratic and unjust government but terrorism is may be against democratic government. Revolutionary also uses violence but it does not kill innocent people.

Forms of Terrorism

There are various types of terrorism Audrey Kurth Crowin has described 4 forms of terrorism.

1) Left wing terrorism
2) Right
3) Separatist
4) Religious

1) Left wing terrorism is based on ideology of Marxism, its main examples are the terrorist methods used by Bolshevik party in Russia and Naxalities in India.
2) Right wing terrorism is influenced by conservative or rightist ideology e.g. Holocaust by Nazi Party.
3) Separatist terrorism is that form of terrorism whose purpose is to separate statehood e.g. Terrorist acts of L.T.T.E. and in Chechenya.
4) Religious terrorism has emerged as a most dangerous form of terrorism Religious terrorism is based on religious fundamentalism. e.g. Terrorism by Al. Queda. Like this there are other form of terrorism.
5) Cross Border Terrorism It has roots in one country and it operate with support of country of its origin but it performs terrorist activity in another country eg. Israel Gaza Pok – India.
6) International Terrorism Cross Border Terrorism is a form of international but it is different from it. In cross border terrorism, terrorist outfit operates only in one county but in international terrorism. Terrorism has its victim in several other countries e.g All Queda.
7) State sponsored terrorism In a state sponsored terrorism, state become directly or indirectly involved in terrorist activity e.g. Bolshevik violence.

Factors responsible Why terrorism emerged?

According to liberals terrorism is a result of socio-economic deprivation and bad government. When a particular section of society is exploited then it may lead to growth of terrorism.

According to realist, terrorism is the result of competition between nation-state. According to conservative philosophers they attributes to national stress of nation building. New systems of laws and institution backed by government creates fear under certain groups which lead to growth of terrorism.

According to Amarty Sen, terrorism is the result of identity disregard. When a particular section of society feels that its identity has not been recognised by system then that section may adopt terrorist method, to make its presence felt.

Growing ethnic consciousness is also a reason for growth of terrorism. Increasing ethnic consciousness encourages the separatist tendencies which may lead to growth of terrorish e.g. Irish republican army fighting for separate nation state.

Religious fundamentalism has emerged most important factor for growth of terrorism.

Impacts of Terrorism

Terrorism creates an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty, therefore it is psychologically disastrous. Terrorism victimizes, innocent people, e.g killing of bread earner.

Financial support for terrorism mainly come from various illegal traits of which drug trafficking is main.

Terrorism is against economic development of country because if there is not peace, all economic activities disrupted.

To counter terrorism, huge amount of national wealth is used, which otherwise might had been used for developmental activities.

In counter terrorist activities military and paramilitary forces, police force is used, mainly many soldiers loose their life which is lost of skilled man power.

How terrorism should be controlled?

There are 2 models to control terrorism

1) To control terrorism with use of violence, force. This model does not believe in peace talks to terrorist organisation and their sympetizer nations e.g. USA and Israel supports this strategy of tackling terrorism with iron hand.

2) This model believes in peaceful talks with terrorist organisation.

  • Socio-economic disparities should be mitigated.
  • Recognition of identity
  • Strengthening intelligent system
  • Strict laws for terrorist activities
  • Ban on drug traffic – effectively
  • Use of latest technology to curb terrorism.


Genocide consist of 2 words-Genos + cide

Family / tribe to kill

Hence literal meaning of genocide is to fill a particular ethnic or racial group.

The term genocide was coined by Raphel Lemkin. Lemkin, in his book, “Axis rule in occupied Europe” defined Genocide as destruction of nation or ethnic group i.e. murder on vastly greater state. (Axis rule refers to Germany, Italy, Japan, Elite powers to support nation of and Britain).

In 1948, United nations general convention defined “Genocide means any of the following acts – committed with the intention to destroy in parts or whole a national, ethnic or racial group.

i) Killing members of group.
ii) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of group.
iii) Deliberately performing those acts which may lead to extinction of a particular group. e.g. assimilation of group into other group.
iv) Imposing measures intended to prevent birth within group e.g. Mass-sterilization.
v) Forcefully transferring the children of group to other group.


1) Socio biological explanation: Some groups posses certain genes which forces them to eliminate other group. But, today science has disapproved this thesis by E.O. Wilson.
2) Economic Explanation:

i) When the victim population is in the possession of valuable resources e.g. Holocaust – jews (10%) possession of resources (90%).
ii) According to Marxist, greed of capitalist class is responsible for large scale killing of a particular group. e.g. colonial rule in Africa.

3) Psychological explanation: Human psychology motivates individuals to participate in genocide. Some people become tolerant and some become authoritarian based on their socialization. These authoritarian personalities participate in genocidal activities. Sigmand freud also indicated that all of us have aggressiveness in our psychology. When this aggressiveness is encouraged through socialization process, then people may participate in genocide.

Lifton has explained individuals participation in genocide with help of idea of doubling. According to Lifton doubling is a process through which individuals develop a second self which is capable of demoniacal behaviour.

4) Amarty Sen: In his book “Identity and violence illusion of destiny” Sen has discussed genocide on the basis of identity. An individual has a multiple identity but when a single identity is emphasized then genocidal violence occur. Eg. Rawanda – Tribal conflict of Sen explains that Hutu person has many identities, he is a Kigali – Rawanand – African – Labourer – But when other identities neglected and Hutu identity emphasized then genocide occurs (Vs Tulsi Tribe).

5) Structural Explanation: Leo Kuper, contemporary genocide takes place within divided societies when the autocratic state seeks to defend its monopoly over other groups and there is challenge from other group.

Types of Genocide

1) Instrumental Genocide: It is basically utilitarian in nature. In instrumental genocide, purpose of genocidal violence is to achieve some pragmatic goal.
2) Ideological Genocide: Targeted population is destroyed for reasons of ideology principles.

There are 2 other types with different perspective as follow—

1) Active genocide: Direct killing or mass strelisation, so that a particular group is eliminated.
2) Passive Genocide: Those acts which leads to indirect elimination of the group. E.g. Blockade hence starvation death reorganization of resources scorched earth – destruction of resources in a territory.

Stages of Genocide

According to Gregory standon, There are 8 phases of genocide

i) Classification: To classify and separate targeted group ‘we & they’ concept introduced.
ii) Symbolizaton: Various symbols are used to generate hatred against targeted population.
iii) Dehumanization: Targeted group is not recognised as a human being. They are treated as sub-humans.
iv) Organisations: Masses are organized and even military training is given.
v) Polarization ‘we & they’ feeling of isolation consolidated. Hatredness widened.
vi) Preparation – This is beginning of genocide e.g. collection of arms.
vii) Destruction – Actual killings of people of particular race.
viii) Negation – Those who performed genocide will fail to accept they have done any wrong.

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