2.1 Concept of Diversity

The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.  It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.

Diversity is a reality created by individuals and groups from a broad spectrum of demographic and philosophical differences. It is extremely important to support and protect diversity because by valuing individuals and groups free from prejudice, and by fostering a climate where equity and mutual respect are intrinsic.

"Diversity" means more than just acknowledging and/or tolerating difference. Diversity is a set of conscious practices that involve:

Diversity includes, therefore, knowing how to relate to those qualities and conditions that are different from our own and outside the groups to which we belong, yet are present in other individuals and groups. These include but are not limited to age, ethnicity, class, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, as well as religious status, gender expression, educational background, geographical location, income, marital status, parental status, and work experiences. Finally, we acknowledge that categories of difference are not always fixed but also can be fluid, we respect individual rights to self-identification, and we recognize that no one culture is intrinsically superior to another.

The diversity in India is unique. Being a large country with large population. India presents endless varieties of physical features and cultural patterns. It is the land of many languages it is only in India people professes all the major religions of the world. In short, India is “the epitome of the world”. The vast population is composed of people having diverse creeds, customs and colours. Some of the important forms of diversity in India are discussed below.

2.2 Types of diversity: Gender, Linguistic, Caste, Region, Socio- economic, and Disability


Women, constitutes nearly 50% of India‟s population. According to the provisional population totals of Census 2011, women make 48.46% (586.5 Million) of Indian population. The sex ratio has increased by 7 points to 940. The women constitute an important segment of the work force in India and their participation in the workforce is gradually increasing in the market. The literacy rate of women in India has increased from 53.67% in 2001 to 65.64 % in 2011, which has outnumbered males. The total job seekers registered with employment exchanges has increased from 26.95 % (as in 2005) to33.3 per cent in 2010 of the total number of applicants on live register. Moreover, percentage of placement to registration of women job-seekers has increased from 2.7 per cent in 2009 to 5.3 per cent in 2010 (Statistical Profile on Women Labor, 2009-2011). With increasing literacy rates women in India is developing a potential talent pool to be explored.

More women are entering the organized labor market. A total of 20.5%women are employed in the organized sector in 2011 with 18.1% working in the public sector and 24.3% in the private (Women and Men in India 2013 15th Issue). Among the Private sector, percentage of women is highest in communications & IT sector with 15.75 %( Statistical Profile on Women Labor, 2009-2011). Women are playing a significant role in the expansion of the Indian software industry, constituting 45 per cent of the workforce (Budhwar, Saini, and Bhatnagar, 2004). Similar trends can be noticed in education sector and the BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) industry where women are employed in sizeable numbers (Woodward & Saini, 2006). MNCs in India are increasing the number of women in their organization and recruiting higher number of women exclusively concerned as business case. Further, the new company law 2013 has a mandate to, have at least one woman on the board. The second provision of sub-section 1 of Section 149 of the new Indian Companies Act 2013 compels every listed Company and every other Public Limited Company which has paid-up share capital of one hundred crore rupees or more; or turnover of three hundred crore rupees or more to include a women board member. This would, force companies to rope in gender diversity at top level.


The census of 1961 listed as many as 1,652 languages and dialects. Since most of these languages are spoken by very few people, the subsequent census regarded them as spurious but the 8′h Schedule of the Constitution of India recognizes 22 languages. These are (1) Assamese, (2) Bengali, (3) Gujarati, (4) Hindi, (5) Kannada, (6) Kashmir. (7) Konkani. (8) Malayalam. (9) Manipuri, (10) Marathi, (11) Nepali. (12) Oriya, (13) Punjabi, (14) Sanskrit. (15) Tamil, (16) Telugu, (17) Urdu, and (18) Sindhi, (19) Santhali, (20) Boro, (21) Maithili and (22) Dogri. But four of these languages namely Sanskrit, Kashmiri, Nepali and Sindhi are not official languages in any State of the Indian Union. But all these languages are rich in literature Hindi in Devanagiri script is recognized as the official language of the Indian Union by the Constitution.

The second largest language, Telugu, is spoken by about 60 million people, mostly in Andhra Pradesh. Most of the languages spoken in North India belong to the Indo- Aryan family, while the languages of the South namely Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada belong to the Dravidian family.

It is said that India is a “Veritable tower of babel”. In the words of A.R. Desai “India presents a spectacle of museum of tongues”.

This linguistic diversity notwithstanding, there was always a sort of link languages, though it has varied from age to age. In ancient times, it was Sanskrit, in medieval age it was Arabic or Persian and in modern times there are Hindi and English as official languages.


India is a country of castes. Caste or Jati refers to a hereditary, endogamous status group practicing a specific traditional occupation. It is surprising to know that there are more than 3,000 Jatis in India. These are hierarchically graded in different ways in different regions.

It may also be noted that the practice of caste system is not confined to Hindus alone. We find castes among the Muslims, Christians, Sikhs as well as other communities. We have heard of the hierarchy of Shaikh, Saiyed, Mughal, Pathan among the Muslims, Furthermore, there are castes like Teli (oil pressure). Dhobi (washerman), Darjee (tailor) etc. among the Muslims. Similarly, caste consciousness among the Christians in India is not unknown. Since a vast majority of Christians in India were converted from Hindu fold, the converts have carried the caste system into Christianity. Among the Sikhs again we have so many castes including Jat Sikh and Majahabi Sikh (lower castes). In view of this we can well imagine the extent of caste diversity in India.

In addition to the above described major forms of diversity, we have diversity of many other sorts like settlement pattern – tribal, rural, urban; marriage and kinship pattern along religious and regional lines and so on.


 India is a large country having continental dimensions and comprising 29 States/regions and 7 Union Territories. Regionalism in India has roots pre independence when it was used as tool to keep India divided. After independence the provinces were reorganized on the basis on language recommended by States Reorganization Committee (SRC) of 1953, headed by Fazal Ali.

These regions vary by languages, topographic and climatic variations along with differences in the settlement pattern. Each of these regions is a distinct cultural region with distinct cultural heritage, folklore, myths, symbolism and historical traditions. These are the areas with distinct geographical boundaries and have common cultural elements. Moreover, the other dimensions of identity such as religion and caste are also regionally specific, plural in beliefs and practices. Followers of similar religion vary in their practices in different regions (Bhattacharya, 2005) due to cultural differences.

These regions are unevenly developed. This disparity has caused the feeling of relative deprivation among the inhabitants of economically neglected regions. After independence regional feelings has very much thrived in India (Gochhayat, 2013). Moreover, the regional political parties exploit the regional sentiments to develop their support bases. The breaded regional feeling has strongly manifested into demand for separate states such as Bodoland, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Chhatisgarh, and Telangana.

The phenomenon of regionalism has its roots in the hearts and minds of Indian. Singh & Bhagel (2013) states that every Indian carries a split personality-he is in part rationalistic and in par nationalistic , there is always a natural tendency towards the primacy of the rationalistic element over the nationalistic one. People identify themselves with their regions as Punjabi, Rajasthani, Guajarati, Marathi etc. portraying their strong emotional attachment to their states.


Grounded on the familiar typology of Harrison et al., (1998) and contextual understanding of dimension in Indian society, the most identified demographic and socio-cultural dimension of diversity are categorized as visible, partially visible, partially deep and deep. They categorized different dimensions of diversity as: surface-level diversity and deep-level diversity. Surface level diversity is defined as “differences among group members in overt, biological characteristics that are typically reflected in physical features” (p. 97). These dimensions are visible and easily perceived by individuals. Whereas, deep-level diversity refers to more subtle attributes that cannot necessarily be perceived right away.

The demographic dimensions such as gender, age and physical disability (moving and seeing) are easily identified by the biological characteristics and are categorized as visible dimensions. The socio-cultural dimensions such as religion and the demographic dimensions such as region of origin and physical disability (hearing and speaking) are partially visible. Though these dimensions are not readily visible but a little observation, can lead to identification. India has 29 states and each state, due to variation in topography, climate and history has differences in culture, lifestyle and physical appearance, which are indicators of region an individual belongs to .For eg. North Indians are fairer in complexion whereas South Indians are a shade darker. Further, Kashmiri and Himachli are very fair with sharp features. Tamilians were chandan mark on forehead. Keralites have dark curly hairs. North eastern Indians are generally short and have small eyes. South Indians are more traditional in dressing than north Indians and north eastern Indians. Similarly different religions , has their own symbols of identification , Sikh wear turban ,few Muslims keep beard and wear cap, Hindu brahmins wear a thread around their shoulder and all hindu women were a bindi . And physical disability (hearing and speaking) could be identified by their aids or the signals they use. Readily visible and partially visible dimensions are identifiable without any interaction.

The socio-cultural dimensions such as language and caste are identifiable by some interaction and are categorized as partially deep. As language is the medium of communication and incidences of informal communication could identify the mother tongues. Most of the Indian castes are identified by the sir names of an individual, which could be known by the initial interactions and further interactions could identify better.


According to the Census 2011, there are 2.21 % (i.e. 26,810,557 Crores) persons with disabilities in India. In India, government departments and public sector undertakings (PSUs) have taken the lead and had been important employers of disabled people. The Govt. of India has reserved 3% reservation of jobs for persons with disability in 1977; the reservation was only in the lower ranking jobs (C &D categories). However, with India adopting the Persons with Disability Act of 1995, the reservation was extended to higher ranking (A & B) categories. The categories of persons with disability benefited by this scheme are the visual impaired, the hearing impaired and the orthopedically impaired on 1% reservation for each category in the Central Govt. services, Public Sector Banks and Govt. Undertakings.

A Study by Society for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies (2008) on public sector reported that 80% of the respondents got the employment within 1 year of applying for the job. And 90% of the disabled employees were in their respective profession for more than 5 years.

Further , to motivate private sector, the Persons with Disability Act of 1995 provides employment incentives for public and private sector companies that have at least 5% of their workforce comprising of disabled persons. In a survey conducted by National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) on top 100 companies in 1999, the rate of employment of disabled in private sector was a dismal 0.28% and in multinational companies, it was 0.05%. In 2001, NCPEDP conducted a survey on „top 100 IT companies‟, the rate of employment of disabled people was 0.58%. A recent study titled “'Indian IT/ITES Industry; Impacting Economy and Society 2007-2008' by NASSCOM and Deloitte in April 2008 indicates that "64% of IT/ITES companies employ persons with disability.

This portrays that the scenario is changing , corporate India has, in recent years, followed in the public sector's footsteps and hiring people with disability for various economic and social reasons not just as a token gesture but as a business imperative. Private companies in IT, Manufacturing, Hotels, Food & Beverage outlets have started hiring disabled people for several reasons such as corporate social responsibility, increasing diversity in workplace, to be viewed as equal opportunity employer, tap a larger talent pool. Further it makes them business sense, as the disabled exhibit higher degree of focus and concentration, higher retention rate, more dependable, greater value in certain roles; they bring value to our customers, more loyal to an organization and increases workforce morale. The percentage of people with disability in the population is steadily increasing, and it is impractical to continue to ignore this segment of our population.


 2.3 Diversity in learning and play

Play and Cultural Diversity

One of the most common elements of childhood across cultures is play. Early childhood educators must recognize the importance of play in the lives of young children and make use of play as a means of promoting cultural awareness.

An examination of the relationship of play and cultural diversity is important for at least three reasons. First, a rapidly growing population of young children from culturally diverse backgrounds is entering schools. Second, play is a way for children to learn about the world around them and to learn cultural values. They not only learn about themselves but also about differences in other people. And finally, early education programs must work to enhance a positive awareness of individual differences and cultural diversity as a whole. Play experiences may serve as an excellent way to help teach children about the differences in other people and that these differences are not bad.

Play and Cultural Values

Communicating cultural values to young children is a part of every society. Swick (1987) notes that cultural influences on children come from many sources including the family, neighborhoods, child care centers, and the media. He also stresses the importance of young children developing a sense of pride in themselves and a sense of understanding of people in various cultures. Matiella (1991) indicates that it is important to teach children that differences in people do exist and that these differences are not bad. Play is a way for young children to learn about the cultural norms and values of a society. Ivic and Marjanovic (1986) indicate that traditional games, especially games with rules, generally form an integral part of a culture in that they provide a means of communication for social norms, assist in the assimilation of group members, and allow for differentiation among group members. The games children play and the playthings they use in play are often tied to the culture in which they live and provide a way for children to practice skills needed as adults. Play then, serves an important role in enculturation.

Children can differ from each other in many ways, and an awareness of differences should include an understanding of differences based on such variables as gender, disability, religion, or geographic region. The most important factor is to encourage children to interact with each other, and play may be the best way to foster this interaction.




2.4 Addressing diverse learning needs

All children can learn and reach their full potential when they get opportunities, effective teaching and appropriate resources. It is best to make decisions related to the placement of students on an individual basis in a way that maximizes their opportunity to participate fully in the experience of schooling.


Diverse learners include students from racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse families and communities of different socioeconomic status.

Learning and Thinking Styles: refer to the preferred way an individual processes information


Sensory Preferences- individuals tend to gravitate toward one or two types of sensory inputs and maintain dominance in one of the following types:


Visual Learners may think in pictures and learn best from visual aids like diagrams, illustrated textbooks, overhead transparencies, videos, flip charts and hand-outs.

·        Visual Iconic- prefer visual imagery like film, graphic display or pictures.

·        Visual Symbolic- prefer abstract symbolisms like written words or mathematical formula


Auditory Learners learn best through verbal lectures, discussions, talking things through and listening to what others have to say.

·        Listeners- remember things said to them and make the information their own.

·        Talkers- prefer to talk and discuss


Tactile/Kinesthetic Learners prefer “learning by doing”, benefit much from hands-on approach, actively exploring the physical world around them

For School

1. Recognize the diversity of students as learners and offer powerful programs that provide the differentiated learning opportunities that will accelerate the achievement of all students.

2. Commit to time for faculty to:

       engage in discussions of the needs of diverse learners and how those needs can be identified in the classroom;

       identify and use school-wide strategies for addressing those needs; and,

       identify the methods and criteria for monitoring the success of these strategies.

3. Implement the shared strategies and monitor them to make mid-course corrections as needed.

4. Develop community support for the school and its work among parents and the surrounding community; provide them with meaningful action opportunities.

5. Communicate clearly within the school and the school community about the achievement of diverse groups of students, analyzing ongoing school successes and challenges, and committing to continuous improvement in the achievement of all students.


 2.5 Diversity: Global Perspective

The need for students to be able to empathize with others, value diverse perspectives and cultures, understand how events around the world are interconnected, and solve problems that transcend borders has never been greater.

Engaging students with the world is one step toward one day accomplishing such objectives. But what should educators teach to ensure that all students are prepared to successfully engage in the globalized world in which they already live? Furthermore, what steps can educators take to effectively foster globally minded knowledge, skills, and attitudes in students?

For students to participate effectively in the global community, they will need to develop global competence: the attitudes, knowledge, and skills needed to live and work in today’s interconnected world and to build a sustainable, peaceful, inclusive world for the future. Global competence is often, and rightly, labeled a “21st century skill” needed for employment in today’s global economy. Yet global competence is so much more than a ticket to a competitive job. Students also need global competence to participate as empathetic, engaged, and effective citizens of the world.

These frameworks tend to coalesce around the following attitudes, knowledge, and skills:

• Attitudes: This includes openness, respect, and appreciation for diversity; valuing of multiple perspectives, including an awareness of the cultural and experiential influences that shape one’s own and others’ perspectives; empathy; and social responsibility, or a desire to better the human condition on a local and global scale.

• Knowledge: This refers to the ability to understand global issues and current events; global interdependence, including the impact of global events on local conditions and vice versa; the processes of globalization and its effects on economic and social inequities locally and globally; world history; culture; and geography.

• Skills: These includes the ability to communicate across cultural and linguistic boundaries, including the ability to speak, listen, read, and write in more than one language; collaborate with people who have diverse cultural, racial, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds; think critically and analytically; problem-solve; and take action on issues of global importance.


Classroom Strategies

• Integrating global topics and perspectives across content areas.

• Providing opportunities for authentic engagement with global issues.

• Connecting the global experiences of students and teachers to the classroom.