National Integration in India



Abstract: National integration is very important in the building of a strong and prosperous nation.  How to foster national unity among Indians is the most serious problem of India today. A glance at the history of India tells us that internal quarrels have been her worst enemy. Separatist tendencies have always resulted in her fall. It was always divided into a large number of small states. National consciousness has always been lacking. That is why this vast nation was conquered by one foreign invader after another. Many effective steps have been taken to bring the people of India closer together, but still, after sixty six years of independence, casteism, communalism, provincialism and linguistic quarrels are the most serious threats to the freedom and the security of our beloved motherland.

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          National integration is the awareness of a common identity amongst the citizens of a country. It is a feeling of oneness. All our countrymen must feel emotionally integrated. Though the individuals belong to different communities, castes, religions, cultures and regions and speak different languages, all of them recognize the fact that they are one. On the emotional or psychological front, patriotism is the foundation of national integration.

          The arrival of the British in India started a new chapter in India’s history. They tried their best to divide the people socially and economically in order to retain their supremacy. It was during the national freedom movement that the feelings and sentiments of nationhood emerged and the need for national integration was realized. During that movement people belonging to different regions, religions, cultures, communities, castes and creeds joined hands to drive out the British power from the soil of India. Simultaneously they laid emphasis on equality, liberty, secularism, socio-economic development, that formed the main objectives of the new independent nation that emerged after independence.


          National integration is essential for any nation with socio-cultural, religious, linguistic and geographical diversities. And for a country like India, it is still more necessary. India is a very large country. A unique feature of our country is that all the major religions of the world are practiced here. There are more than one thousand languages. There are also great varieties in costume, food habits, and social customs. Geographically our land is diverse and there are amazing differences in climate. Despite all these differences India is one political entity. We have to co-exist with each other peacefully. This is possible only when national integration is realized in true sense of the term. National integration is essential for social peace and harmony. The safety and prosperity of our country depends upon it


          The need for national integration was never as great as it is today. Just after independence, India has been facing many challenges in its efforts to maintain and strengthen national integration. There are many forces that come in the way of our national integration. Often people have very strong feelings about their own religion and language and oppose those of others. Such feelings lead to clashes between different sects. Such occurrences damage our unity and prove to be a hindrance to our progress.  Although various efforts have been made to solve those problems, the challenges are continuing. In the way of national integration the main obstacles are communalism, regionalism, linguism, extremism and casteism.


          Communalism is one factor that poses a great danger to our unity. It has been one of the most complex problems that India has been facing. This is generated when individuals belonging to one religion develop excessive affinity to their religion and hatred towards other religions. This kind of feeling promotes religious fundamentalism and fanaticism and proves to be dangerous for the unity and integrity of the country. India has been suffering from communalism since independence. As we know, we faced worst kind of communal riots on the eve of independence. A very large number of people lost their lives and their homes and had to undergo a lot of suffering to resettle. But what is even more disturbing is that communal riots break out in India even after Independence. Sometimes these riots are not even pre-planned and they erupt suddenly. In the past, these riots were confined to the Hindus and the Muslims only, but now the Hindus belonging to different castes also fight among themselves. These riots take a heavy toll of life. The victims are generally the peace-loving and innocent people. There are people in this country who hold an exclusive view of religion, which drives them into a sectarian frenzy that does not admit of tolerance of other faiths. The British had encouraged communalism because a division between Hindus and Muslims made it easier for them to control our country. Unfortunately, even with the passage of time these communal feelings have not ended. More than sixty six years after independence communal feelings still exist and riots flare-up even now in different parts of the country. It is the result of narrow-mindedness, prejudice, and lack of knowledge of other religions.


          Regionalism is another obstacle in the way of national integration. On many occasions it encourages people to promote regional interests even at the cost of national priorities. One may think that raising the problems of a particular region is needed to attract the attention of the decision makers and to compel them to fulfill justified regional demands. This thinking is reasonable. But when regionalism ignores national interests or encourages people to have negative feelings towards the interests of other regions, it becomes harmful. On many occasions regional protests and demonstrations are based on political considerations. Aggressive regionalism is still more dangerous, as it leads to separatism. We have been experiencing such feelings in certain parts of States of Assam and Jammu and Kashmir. Unfortunately, despite India having attained political unity and declared itself as a secular country, communal and separatist tendencies continue to raise their ugly head every now and then. The anti-national elements make demands for independent Nagaland, Mizoram, Khalistan and Gorkhaland etc. If such demands are accepted, it will upset the unity and territorial integrity of the country. Thus such demands should be curbed with a heavy hand.


          All of us know that India is a multilingual country. People of India speak more than 2000 languages and dialects. Despite a shared culture of so many years, linguistic diversities have often generated tensions and conflicts amongst different communities threatening the fabric of national unity.  Sometimes people display hostility towards the language of other people. This is dangerous for national integration. Linguism has been negatively used on many occasions, particularly in the early decades after independence. When a recommendation was made in the Constituent Assembly to recognize Hindi as the official language of India, it was opposed by representatives of almost all the non Hindi speaking areas. When the Official Language Commission, set up in 1955, recommended in favour of replacing English by Hindi as official language, there were wide-spread protests in all the non-Hindi speaking regions. Such protests and demonstrations were seen once again in 1963, when the Official Language Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha. Such protests and demonstrations generate many challenges for national integration. Every country needs to have a common official language, but it has not been an easy task for India.


          The extremist movements going on in different parts of the country are yet another challenge to national integration. We are familiar with Naxalite movement or Maoist movement etc. These movements quite often use violence, create fear in public life, cause loss of lives of government personnel and people and destroy public property. Mostly the youth participate in such movements. The basic reason for taking up arms by the youth is the continuing state of socio-economic deprivations. Moreover, the day-to-day humiliation, denial of justice, human rights violations, various kinds of exploitation and political marginalization prompt them to join the Naxalite movement. But the extremist activities have been threat to law and order and peaceful living of the people residing in the affected areas.

          The age –old caste system has also contributed in no small measure to weaken the bond of unity among different sections of the society. It poses a great threat to our unity. People of one caste support each other and oppose the progress and development of people belonging to other castes. Appointments in jobs, admissions in educational institutions are often on the basis of caste considerations. People also avoid social interaction with other castes. Politicians often exploit such feelings at the time of elections. This leads to feelings of resentment and hostility that threaten the integrity of our country. All the above forces and factors do pose a serious challenge to India’s unity and integrity and, therefore, conscious efforts will have to be made by all concerned to preserve the same.


          Although the above stated challenges do exist, there are certain important factors that provide sound base for national integration. The Constitution of India lays great emphasis on national integration. Its Preamble includes unity and integrity of the nation as a major objective. It also stipulates that every citizen has the fundamental duty to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India. It has accepted socialism, secularism, democracy, liberty, equality, justice and fraternity as the goals of Indian political system. The Directive Principles of State Policy directs the State to promote equitable economic development, eliminate social discrimination, and promotion of international peace and security. And above all, the provisions related to various institutions and processes have been geared towards national integration. A National Integration Council has been set up to consider issues related to national integration and recommend suitable measures to be taken. A Single Planning Commission prepares plans for economic development of the entire country and one Election Commission conducts elections. These factors also bind the country together.


          National festivals also act as an important unifying force. Independence Day, Republic Day, and Gandhi Jayanti are festivals that are celebrated by all Indians and in all parts of the country, regardless of language, religion or culture. They remind us of our common nationality. We also observe the National Integration Day every year and take a pledge. This day is also known as ‘Qaumi Ekta Divas’. The Text of the National Integration Pledge: ‘I solemnly pledge to work with dedication to preserve and strengthen the freedom and integrity of the nation. I further affirm that I shall never resort to violence and that all differences and disputes related to religion, language, region or other political or economic grievances should be settled by peaceful and constitutional means’. Moreover, our National Symbols like the National Flag, the National Anthem, and the National Emblem also help to remind us that we all have one identity. For this reason we stress on the importance of showing proper respect to these symbols. These act as strong unifying forces both in times of celebration and adversity. Moreover, the All India Services, unified judicial system, postal and communications networks, including radio and television, and the internet promote the unity and integrity of the Indian nation. One may be aware that the members of the All India Services are recruited centrally, but they work in States. Many of them, after having long experiences at the state level come to work in the Central government and be a part of policy decision-making for the entire country.


          We need national integration on permanent footing. The most important for us as Indians is our national feelings. Only this feeling can develop a peace-based- society. This can be achieved when we enlighten our children. All the children, during their formative years, must be taught that we all are Indians belonging to the one Motherland. Youth are the pillars of national development of any country.  In case our youth are imparted moral and value based education, it may groom their personality and then only we can expect a prosperous nation.   In order to sow the seeds of national integration among the youth, the initiatives of the establishment of NCC, NSS and the like, are laudable steps. We should encourage students for taking part in such organizations. The art and culture of the country should also be developed on nationalistic lines. Students in schools and colleges should be made aware of the need of national and emotional integration of the country. All the evils mentioned above must be removed if India is to remain united.


           India is unfortunate to some extent as she has seen many communal riots. These riots are a blot on the fair name of our country. India is a land of various religious communities. Each community should appreciate every other community. The feeling of hatred must be replaced by love and affection. All Indians must consider one another as brothers and live peacefully. We have to develop tolerance and understanding for other religions. If we give more importance to our religion rather than our country we cannot contribute to its progress and development.  There are in India, various linguistic groups speaking different languages. Each linguistic group should respect the language of every other linguistic group. Every Indian student should be given full facility to learn through his own mother tongue wherever he is in India. As responsible citizens we must give.

          To sum up, national integration is the crying need of the hour. It alone can lay the foundation of a strong, united and prosperous India. National integration does not mean that one should abandon regional, lingual and religious pride. On the contrary, the fact that one is recognized as a Rajasthani or a Bengali only when one is an inseparable part of the Indian identity. Therefore, it is the foremost duty of every citizen to do his best and work for the national integration of India.

References:
1. Brass Paul R. Language, Religion and Politics in North India. Vikas
          Publishing House Delhi, 1974.
2. Cutlat, J. A. Integration: a social and political problem. The Indian
          Anthropological Society, Calcutta, 1972.

3. Desai, A. R. National  Integration and Religion. Aalakh Publishers, Jaipur,
          1976.
4. Johari, J.C. Indian Political System, A Critical Study of the Constitutional

          Structure and the Emerging Trends of Indian Politics. Anmol  Publications, New Delhi, 1996.
5. Tirtha N. V. National Integration: A Study of Social Foundations of
          Education. University Publishers, Jallunder-Delhi, 1964.
6. Tinker Hugh. Unity and DiversityOxford University Press, London, 1967.

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