diversity showcasing photo by miles peacock

Diversity and inclusion are complex concepts for most people. Many people already know a part of what diversity and inclusion mean. However, in reality, not everyone knows or applies all possible nuances in their daily life. Diversity and inclusion- these concepts can be interpreted differently based on individual experiences, cultural backgrounds, social contexts, and personal beliefs.  Therefore, Ginny’s Planet asked people what diversity and inclusion meant to them.

Here is what the contest participants shared with us. 

1. Mutually beneficial

Dr. Chirag, S P College of Education, Rewari, Haryana, shares: 

Diversity in any situation or any context is described as the variation in personal, physical, geographical, demographical, and social characteristics, such as gender, ethnicity, religion, age, locality, socio-economic condition and education, etc.”

What is inclusion? In my opinion, “Inclusion refers to the procedures/strategies/techniques that we adopt to include/integrate everyone, irrespective of their difference due to various diversities existing in the society, in the mainstream, in a mutually beneficial way. The main vision of inclusion is to make everyone feel accepted and comfortable and have the right to share their opinions and thoughts without any fear or hesitation.

The best examples of both the terms can be seen in the big MNCs where people from various countries and ethnicity works and companies also facilitate all as per their traits to get their best so that all can grow equally.

hands on tree photo by shane rounce

2. Seek out and embrace differences 

Jalaj Nagar, National Para-Boccia Player, and Help Desk Officer, Score Foundation, shares: 

Diversity and inclusion are two terms that have become increasingly important in modern society, especially in workplaces and educational institutions. While they are often used together, they refer to different concepts that are equally important.

Diversity refers to the presence of differences among people, such as differences in race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, ability, and more. Inclusion, on the other hand, refers to creating an environment where everyone feels valued and respected, regardless of their differences. Inclusion is about embracing diversity and creating a sense of belonging for all individuals.

To me, diversity and inclusion mean creating a world where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed and thrive, regardless of their background or identity. It means recognizing and valuing the unique perspectives and experiences that different individuals bring to the table, and actively seeking out and celebrating diversity.

Diversity and inclusion are important for a number of reasons. First and foremost, they promote fairness and equality. When we create inclusive environments where everyone feels valued, we are creating a more just society. Additionally, diversity and inclusion can lead to better decision-making and problem-solving. When we bring together people with different perspectives and experiences, we can come up with more creative and innovative solutions.

As someone who values diversity and inclusion, I believe it is important to actively seek out and embrace different perspectives. This means listening to and learning from people with different backgrounds and experiences, and being open to changing my own beliefs and assumptions.

I also believe that creating inclusive environments requires ongoing effort and commitment. It’s not enough to simply have a diverse group of people – we must also actively work to create a sense of belonging for everyone. This means challenging biases and stereotypes, promoting open communication and dialogue, and taking concrete steps to address inequities and promote diversity and inclusion.

In conclusion, diversity and inclusion are essential values that promote fairness, equality, and innovation. As someone who values these principles, I believe it is important to actively seek out and celebrate diversity, and to work towards creating inclusive environments where everyone feels valued and respected.

human and planet relationship

3. Biodiversity, traits, & other factors 

Arti, Assistant Professor, Firoze Gandhi Memorial Government College, Hisar, Haryana, shares: 

Diversity literally means ‘variations’.

What kind of variations do we see in this world?

This world is full of variations, starting from the very basic components of life i.e.flora and fauna. We wholly depend on them for our survival. In the case of flora, variations become means of their study and we divide them categorically e.g. herbs, shrubs, trees, medicinal plants, timber-giving plants,paper-making product-giving plants, etc. If we come to fauna, there is again a vast region of diversity. The main categories are: unicellular (blue-green algae)and multicellular (birds and animals).

Human is greedy and claims mastery over others. There is the illegal cutting of forests and poaching of animals and birds. As a result, some species have become extinct and some have become endangered. Elephants are poached for tusks, rhinoceros for horns, crocodiles, and snakes for skin, and Musk deer for scent. Animals like tigers, elephants, olive ridley, turtles, black bucks and Musk deer are endangered animals.

The government made many wildlife protection laws, especially, the Act of 1972. National parks and sanctuaries have been created. Some of the famous national parks and wildlife sanctuaries of our country are: Jim Corbett National Park, Kaziranga National Park, Kanha National Park, Bandhavgarh National Park, Bandipur Bird Sanctuary, Sariksha Wild Life Sanctuary. In these parks and sanctuaries, nobody can hunt birds or animals. The government has taken these effective steps to include them in the full panorama of life.

Our history as well as literature reinforce these efforts e.g. there started a protest against the destruction of forests in the Terai of Garhwal. This movement was led by Chandi Prasad Bhatta and Sunder Lal Bahuguna. This became popular as the Chipko Movement.

Literature also shows love and respect for each living being. Let us take a poem from the Romantic age.”The Rime of Ancient Mariner(1798)” by S.T. Coleridge. In this poem, a friendly albatross accompanies a ship. But the mariner shoots the innocent bird with his crossbow. After this, the mariner has to face several terrifying experiences. His shipmates hang the albatross around his neck as a punishment for the act. The sailors and mariners are thirsty. There is water around(in the ocean) but no water to drink-this is the irony of the situation. They have to encounter a ghost ship. On its deck, death and life-in-death were gambling with dice for the lives of the sailors and the Mariner. Life-in-Death wins the soul of the mariner, the sailors began to die of thirst, falling to the deck one by one, each staring at the mariner in reproach. The mariner wants to pray but fails to do so. He feels that life is not always a boon and his shipmates are blessed with death. He is facing a curse of life in death. When he notices how beautiful the water snakes around the ship are, he is finally able to pray. He has learned that how low a creature may seem, it is beautiful in the eyes of its Creator. We should treat them with respect and reverence. With this realization, the albatross falls from his neck and sink into the sea.

Diversity among human beings:
Finally, we come to human beings. We differ in gender, language, manners, culture, social roles, sexual orientation, education, skill, income, and countless other domains. These differences make it harder for people to connect and empathize with each other.

In North America, the word “diversity” is strongly associated with racial diversity. Toni Morison’s”The Bluest Eye”(1970) is a clear example of female subjugation there. Racial subjugation is dominant. When we come to the Indian context, it is found that our society was divided into four major categories: Brahmin, Vaishya, Kshatriya, and Shudra. The function of Brahmins was to perform rituals; the function of Vaishya was related to economy; the function of Kshatriya was related to defense and the function of Shudra was skill-based (shoemaking, weaving, etc). This division was based on the work or function they performed. Initially, they could change their categories but in the course of time, the boundaries of these categories became rigid and these groups became self-contained and shiftless. So, after freedom, our constitution provided reservation as a form of inclusion.

Once, in my childhood, someone told me that:  our present life and fortune are resultant of our previous births The situation is much like storing our grain(wheat) in a pot/tanky. At the next harvest, we put this product also in that pot, without cleaning it; thereby mixing both and so on for the consecutive births. Our fortune/misfortune is resultant of this product. Fortune is the result of good performance(punya) in any of the previous births and misfortune is the result of bad performance(sins) in any of these births. In the occurrence of fortune or misfortune, the principle of uncertainty and probability plays a significant role.

At that time, I was too small to respond to it. But today I can. When I was in 12th, I read Mendel’s experiments on pea plants which enables me to respond to the previous theory. Johann Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) is called the “father of genetics”. Through his experiments, he gave laws of inheritance, incorporating three laws: the Law of Dominance, the Law of Segregation, and the Law of Independent Assortment.  The same should be true in the case of human beings. But experiments for humans are not possible to carry over generations like pea plants.

Today, I am able to respond to that childhood tale. I can state that the occurrence of a disease or a physical condition is wholly controlled by our genotype and other factors. In our classroom, we have all types of children. We can control some factors like economic factors by providing them with facilities. But our brilliance is often the result of our genotype. So, our curriculum must matter for all types of students. It must incorporate such activities that all students can perform and learn. It must be according to the needs of all students.

Examples of persons with disabilities 

Many psychological experiments also show that behavior and teaching pedagogies play an important role in learning. Sean O’Casey’s play “The Playboy Western World “(1907) is a clear-cut example of it. So, if a disabled child is present in class, then teaching should be special needs-oriented. The child may have some other skills as well. So our curriculum should be skill-based. Furthermore, we can’t challenge the brilliance of Stephen William Hawking(1942-2018) – an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author, and at the time of his death, was director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge. He had motor neuron disease.

Great poet, Surdas is a brilliant example in the ancient Indian context; John Milton in an English context. Ravindra Jain (1944-2015, blind) can be cited in the modern Indian context. He was a music composer, lyricist, and playback singer who make Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana an immortal work with his music.

In conclusion, I emphasize that India is a country where all types of variations e.g.regarding religions, creeds, regions, economy, castes and much more exist. curriculum should be framed in such a manner that all differences must be curbed early on and opportunity to go ahead be present.NEP-2020 is according to India’s integration principle.

Thus, according to me, diversity means sanctity and reverence for all living beings, irrespective of their flaws. Inclusion means giving equal opportunity to all to go ahead and represent themselves and be an integral part of this cosmos.

References: 1. S.T. Coleridge’s “The Rime of Ancient Mariner”(1798). 2. Toni Morison’s “The Bluest Eye”(1970). 3. Sean O’Casey’s “The Playboy of Western World”(1907). 4. Stephen Hawking, Leonard Mlodinow’s”The Grand Design”(2010). 5. Johann Gregor Mendel’s experiments on pea plants,1856. (P.S.Dhami’s book on Biology-12th). 6. New Education Policy(2020).

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You all can still submit your entry to the contest on diversity and inclusion!

contest on diversity and inclusion on Ginny's Planet.

Write an article of 500-800 words on the following topic.
“What does diversity and inclusion mean to me?”
The last date for submission is 30th July 2023 at 10 pm IST.
Win –
1. Grit – The Vishwas Story (A graphic novel)
2. The top 5 entries in each category will be posted on Ginny’s Planet website.

* Open to residents of India only
Categories of submission
Category 1: Teachers /Educators in Schools, Colleges teaching at any level
Category 2: Educators working directly with children in NGOs or Social Enterprises
Category 3: Anyone above the age of 18 yrs.
Category 4: Teachers participating in the online refresher course, organized by BPS HRDC Khanpur Kalan

To know more about the contest and its rules click HERE