Why is India Socially Backward?
As Hinduism has been the main religion of India for thousands of years, there is a tendency
to identify the backward social condition of India with Hinduism. However, we should note that modern India has not formulated itself according to the principles of Sanatana Dharma, but in its original constitution declared itself to be a socialist state. Not surprisingly, India is suffering from many of the same problems of
other socialist and communist states and their stifling
Moreover, India has been
under foreign domination for many centuries. It was ruled by the
Muslims from around 1200, then the British from 1757, and only
independent since 1947. Though the majority of people in India are
Hindus and its recent political leaders have been primarily of Hindu
ancestry, there has been little of the Hindu religion and its
spiritual values in the political or educational systems,
particularly since Gandhi.
There are other problems in
modern Hindu society like child marriage, and dowry deaths. These
are social evils. To associate them with Hinduism as a religion
would be like to associate the widespread use of drugs and sexual
promiscuity with the predominant Christian religion of the West
today. These evils are owing to lack of education, overpopulation,
and a social inertia arising from centuries of foreign domination.
Poverty and related evils
occur in Christian, Islamic and Buddhist, as well as Hindu countries. Yet because India is the only Hindu majority country (with the exception of Nepal), there is a greater tendency to identify its problems with the religion. We don't identify the poverty in the Philippines, for example, with its Catholic religion. Nor do we identify the success of Japan with its Buddhist-Shinto religion. We should address the real causes of poverty throughout the world, which are generally educational and economic, but not confuse them with the spiritual life, whose aim is not merely to improve society materially but to bring us into contact with the immeasurable.