Social environment is very comprehensive because it may include the total social factors within which a business enterprise operates.
Social environment includes people’s attitude, family background, religion; education etc. traditions, customs and social attitudes have changed the attitudes and belief of the persons which have their effect on entrepreneurial environment.
1. Pluralistic Society:
Indian society is a pluralistic society with a complex social order characterized by a multitude of ethnic, linguistic, religious and caste divisions. Hindu constitutes the majority community and comprises about 82% of the population. They stand evenly distributed across regions.
The Muslims constitute 12% and the Sikhs 2% of the population. Muslims are concentrated in J and K Assam, Bihar, U.P. Kerala and West Bengal. Christians are concentrated in the small states of North East like Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and the Sikhs arte concentrated in Punjab.
These distributions have an important bearing upon the politics of these areas. The Muslim concentrated areas are communal riots areas; the concentration of Sikhs in Punjab is a determinant of politics in Punjab.
2. Predominantly Rural Society:
About 70% of the Indian people live in villages and Indian villages continue to be under developed even backward. Lack of civic amenities, employment opportunities, roads, transport facilities, electricity, hospitals and schools in rural areas is a hard reality.
The gains of industrialization and development during the past 55 yeas have mostly been cornered by the urban areas. On an average a city dweller earns nearly 2.5 times more than a retaliate. The gains of technological back-through and industrialization are yet to reach the villages.
Urban-rural gap is a reality of our society. The ruralites feel that though agriculture accounts for a major part of India’s national income. The rural areas continue to lag behind because of the governmental policies which favour the urbanities.
In the democratic political process, the rural people by virtue of their large majority play an active a dominant role and yet the leadership in India continues to be in the hands of the urban elite.
Of late, the government of India has started giving due importance to the objective of rural development. IRDP, NREP, Panchayati Raj etc. are all designed to achieve this objective.
The growing awareness among the rural people and their increasing participation in the politics process are healthy signs yet the process continues to be slow.
Poverty of the masses is an important feature of Indian social system. Despite the fact of having made considerable progress in the fields of agriculture and industrialization.
India continues to be an economically backward country. It still remains world’s 15th poorest nation despite maintaining an overall industrial growth rate of 3 to 5 % and an agrarian growth rate of 2 to 3 %. The increase in GNP from 1.3 % in 1947 to 3.6 % in 1980 ha failed to match the growing number.
A large number of Indians continue to live below the poverty line. The economic development of the society through organized plans and all round industrial and technological development constitutes the biggest and most challenging objective of the Indian polity. The objective of economic upliftment of at least 90 % of the people by the end of 8th Five Year plan period is indeed laudable, yet chances of achieving it appears to be weak.
4. Illiteracy and Ignorance:
Illiterates constitute a major part of Indian social system. A large number of Indians are still illiterate. Nearly 64 % of the population continues to be illiterate. Despite the spread of the educational network and adoption of ideal like free and compulsory education for children up to 14 years and the ideal of making 80 million adults literate by 1995.
India remains a state inhabited by a large majority of illiterates. The population explosion and poverty combined with inadequate resources and efforts have all combined to perpetuate the problem. The political process continues to be predominated by illiterate masses who are exploited by literate and neo-literate leaders.
Even many political leaders have a vested interest in perpetuating illiteracy and public ignorance because they are leadership. The faulty system of education has further compounded the evil of illiteracy.
Even the literates have failed to keep away from casteism, communalism, factionalism, regionalism, indiscipline and corruption. Politics in India continues to operate in an environment of illiteracy and ignorance.
Nevertheless, with the passage of time the people of India are learning through formal and informal means of education gaining experience and becoming more and more mature.
Illiteracy creates so many social problems. The need is for more determined governmental action and strong social support in this respect.
5. Linguistic Diversity:
Communalisation of language is another factor which is polluting the social environment of India. On the basis of language, Indian society stands divided into linguistic groups.
The Constitution of India recognizes as many as 15 languages as the major languages which are spoken by 87% of population. There are as many as 1952 ‘mother tongues’ in India.
In the North-East region alone, which constitutes just 8% of the Indian Territory and 4% of the population, there are 432 languages. Hindi is spoken by nearly 31% of the peop0le followed by Telugu which is spoken by nearly 9% of the population.
Linguistic diversity and emotional and parochial love of people for their regional languages have forced the government to accept and follow the principle of reorganization of Indian States on the basis of languages i.e., the creation of linguistic States.
This feature has, further, hindered the recognition and use of Hindi as the official language of the Union. The Southern States are not prepared to accept Hindi as the national language and instead are prepared to retain English as the medium of communication with the Centre and other States.
Language has emerged as key factor of social and political tension in India. Hindi has failed to get support as the National Language and attempts to popularize it are regarded by the people of the South, particularly in Tamil Nadu, as ‘impositions’ and they oppose it through aggressive and violent protests.
In some states like Punjab, which is a bilingual state, the three language formula stands implemented but it has unduly burdened the educational system and within the State has divided the people on language basis.
6. Facial Diversity:
India is inhabited by people of different racial connections. People of the North are of Aryan race whereas the people of South represent the Dravidian race.
In the Eastern States people have affinity with Mongolian race. The racial inter-mixing has taken place but only in a limited way. The principle of unity in diversity is accepted and yet diversities are many a time allowed to dominate the objective of unity.
The Constitution categorically ends racial discrimination and provides for secularism as the best way, yet in actual operation of socio-political processes, racial factor plays a role in India.
7. Caste and Castes:
Caste and casteism has been the pre-dominant feature of India social system. It is an ancient practice, may an ancient evil which continues to influence India’s social, economic, cultural and political life.
The constitution in abolishing untrouchability and in providing for no discrimination on the basis of caste and creed has taken a great step towards their dilution, if not elimination of caste and casterism.
But in the actual process of Indian society, caste and casteism continue to be major factors. An attempt is on to limit their role.
Increased social mobility and inter-mixing of people living in various parts of the country have made the people less caste continues to be a major factor in the political processes like political socialization, leadership recruitment, political communication, political participation and voting behavior.
Caste membership and caste loyalties continue to influence the popular participation in politics. Even the constitution provisions for reservation of seats and jobs for the people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Tribes have failed to produce the desired integrative effect.
Caste system has deep historical roots and hence cannot be abolished. It has been playing an integrative role but only at the group level. It has helped the formation of social groupings in an otherwise vast and heterogeneous population.
Hence what is needed is not its abolition but the cultivation of the ability to limit its role and prevent it from acting as a source of communalism, regionalism and parochialism.
The presence of communal tension and the periodic outbreak of communal riots have been the bone of Indian social system. Even after 55 years of independence these continue to strain the socio-political system. The existence of some regional and communal political parties adds fuel to the fire.
Exploitation in the name of religion, election campaigns based on communal lines and use of religion as a pressure group are practiced by political parties, which prefers secularism and also those which are based on a particular religion. Communalism remains a big strain on India’s efforts towards nationalism.
The mean ace of communalism constitutes a big danger to the unity and integrity of the nation. Even the spread of literacy and operationalisation of several control mechanism have produced little success towards the elimination of this menace.
The rejection of communal electorates and the implementation of a communal electrode too have failed to produce the desired results. Each year the State has to spread a huge amount of money for preventing and controlling riots and providing assistance to riot affected people. All this seriously limits the capabilities of India social system.
Religious, linguistic, cultural and caste diversities prevailing in the India society have together strengthened the forces of regionalism. Love and concern for one’s local areas of inhabitation is something natural.
The adoption of federal structure presupposes the existence of some regionalism due to which the division of pw3r is done between the federal government and the federating units. India is not an exception to generalization. But unfortunately, regionalism in India often takes the form of sub-nationalism or even anti-nationalism.
The sons of the soil principle and the existence of several regional political parties with narrowly conceived regional goals have aggravated the problem.
People belonging to a particular region or state regard fellow citizens who belong to other areas/regions/states as outsiders. People of Haryana regard Punjabis outsiders and even raise such slogans as Haryana for Haryanvi’s. Similar cries are also heard from other parts of the country.
Inter-state boundary disputes, demand for more and more autonomy for the states, separate states and independent states are manifestations of regionalism which characterize Indian society and which deep the political system under stress.
The need to channelize ‘regionalism’ and make it a contributing part of nationalism is one of the biggest tasks before the Indian socio-political system.
10. Tradition and Modernity:
Tradition and modernity exist side by side in the Indian society. The attempts of modernization of tradition as well as traditionalisation of modernity are simultaneously present.
Tradition is clearly being affected by modern trends and pressures like politicization of caste, lessening of caste consciousness among the urban elites, operationalism of modern western tools of administration and government etc but at the same time modernity after gets colored with traditionalism when the social and political elites talk in terms of age old glorious traditions of India.
The Indian approach towards development reflects both tradition and modernity. As Rajni Kothari writes, “The Indian approach to development may be characterized as one in which the exposure to modernity led to a renewed awareness and quickening of traditional identity, its reinterpretation and rejuvenation and its consolidation in the framework of new institution and ideas.
The Indian response to modern stimuli consisted of asserting the Indianans of India, reformulating this Indianans and giving it a modern character.
The model of those who conceive of modernization as a rejection of traditionalistic and transformation on modern lines does not apply to India. Nor does the opposite model of those who deny potency to modern institution and values and simply assert the durability and resilience of traditionalism.”
What is happening in India can be described as an attempt as a synthesis of tradition and modernity for achieving a new identity without destroying its rich diversity and cultural heritage.