Mahatma Gandhi had once said, "We have to produce a society of those people who profess different religions, but they live like brothers." In fact, this statement of Gandhiji has the essence of national integration in India.
India is a vast country with a number of differences in food, clothing, languages, even in her different New Years in different communities. Besides, India has seen the mixture of various races, cultures, traditions etc. Again, there are those who are vegetarians and those who are non-vegetarians.
Through all these diversities and differences there runs the invisible link of common culture, common civility, common heritage, the same form of greeting one another, the same form of respect shown to elders as well as there are common Vedas, the Bhagwad Gita, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the festivals, National symbols and finally the struggle for Independence that united the whole mass of Indian people.
Thus, national integration means a feeling of oneness among the entire Indians. All our countrymen must feel emotionally integrated. We must think that we are Indians first and members of a particular religion afterwards. Whenever India has been attacked by a foreign country, it has stood as one man to meet the crisis.
National integration is essential for social peace and armony too. The safety and prosperity of our country depends upon our unity. Our states are like parts of our body prosperity o different states means the progress of the whole country.
The most important for us as Indians is our national feelings, because only this feeling can develop a peace-based- society, the need of the hour.
India is unfortunate to some extent as she has seen many communal riots. The Godhra Carnage which took place in Gujarat is the recent example. It took many innocent lives. Such incidents are a blot on the fair name of our country.
It is a matter of shame and sorrow that Hindus and Muslims, inspite of living together in the same society, hate each other to this extent. The feeling of hatred must be replaced by love and affection. All Indians must consider one another as brothers and live peacefully.
We need national integration on permanent footing. 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. We must not believe in separate identities. It is the time to merge in one main stream. Unless we develop a sense of unity and leave our narrow outlook, we might loose our independence.