What does National Integration mean?
National integration is the awareness of a common identity amongst the citizens of a country. It means that though we belong to different castes, religions and regions and speak different languages we recognize the fact that we are all one. This kind of integration is very important in the building of a strong and prosperous nation.
Unity in Diversity
Unity in our country does not mean the kind of oneness that comes from racial and cultural similarity. It is unity in spite of great differences, in other words, unity in diversity. An important historical event in which this unity was displayed was the freedom movement when all the Indians united against the British rule.
What is the common feature in all the religions?
India is a very large country. We have the second largest population in the world and our land area is about the same size as Europe minus the former Soviet Union. About one thousand six hundred fifty-two languages and dialects are spoken in our country. From among these eighteen have been given special recognition by our Constitution as National languages of our country.
A unique feature of our country is that all the major religions of the world are practiced here like Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, and Zoroastrianism. 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 a political entity, every part of which is governed under the same Constitution. We have to co-exist with each other peacefully, respect the culture and religion of our fellow Indians.
Forces Working against 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.
Communalism is one factor that poses a great danger to our unity. The formation of the State of Pakistan in 1947 led to terrible communal riots. A very large number of people lost their lives and their homes and had to undergo a lot of suffering to resettle.
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 fifty 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.
This is also because of the exploitation of such feelings by some politicians to further their interests. If we give more importance to our religion rather than our country we cannot contribute to its progress and development. We have to develop tolerance and understanding for other religions and not let such feelings destroy our unity.
Linguistic differences also create problems. Our Constitution has given recognition to eighteen languages. This is something important in a country such as ours. One’s mother tongue is dear each and everyone. It is also essential to impart education in the mother tongue for quick and easy learning for the convenience of the people of a State it is also necessary to carry on official work in it. This also helps a language to develop and grow. Hindi and English act as link languages between States in our country.
However, sometimes people display hostility towards the language of other people. This again harms the cause of our national unity. As responsible citizens we must give due respect to other languages and cultures and realize that they add to the greatness of our country.
Casteism also 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.
Forces Promoting National Integration
Indian Constitution Our founding fathers were aware that there were threats to our unity from various forces. Consequently, certain safeguards were placed in our Constitution. These took the form of certain ideals and principles like Democracy, Secularism, and Social Equality that are guaranteed under our Fundamental Rights. Thus, our Constitution is the most important force that promotes national integration.
Secularism India is a secular state. This means that each citizen of our country has the right to practice his or her religion. The government cannot show preference to one religion at the expense of another.
Democracy as a democratic states all the citizens of India are equal under the law of the country. As studied earlier, our Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy specifically state that each citizen is equal in every way. People cannot be discriminated against on the basis of differences of caste, religion, language, and culture.
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.
Interdependence Earlier, we studied how plans for economic development are made for our country as a whole. The Central and State Governments are working together to achieve these common objectives. Different regions of the country are dependent on each other for supplying and consuming various kinds of products that result in their economic growth. Wheat grown in Punjab may be sold in Tamil Nadu and cotton textiles from Gujarat may be sold in Bihar. No region is so self-sufficient that it can do without the other. These factors also bind the country together.
Our National Symbols like the National Flag, the National Anthem, and the National Emblem also help to remind us that we are all 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.
Other forces like the communication system and the mass media help in the exposure to all the cultures of different regions of India. Thus, bringing the whole country together as one nation.