“National integration cannot be built by bricks and mortar; it cannot be built by chisel and hammer. If has to grow silently in the minds and hearts-of men. The only process is the process of education. That may be a slow process, but it is a steady thing. It is a permanent thing. It is the one thing by which we will be able to transform the people themselves.” Dr. S. Radhakrishnan.
“India is a land of unity in diversity” says Dr. Rajendra Prasad. Since the ancient times people belonging to different communities, religions and cultural groups have been living in this abode of sages and gods in perfect harmony. India was one country, strong and united during the reigns of Ashoka and Akbar. Though there was not much of political unity, there was cultural and emotional unity in the country. Outwardly, India was politically united during the British regime, but the clever British rulers practiced the theory of divide and rule. They created disunity among the people belonging to different communities and provinces. They promoted fissiparous and separatist tendencies among people and sowed the seeds of communal dissensions and animosity between Hindus and Muslims, which flourished in the form of the partition of India and the blood-bath on the heels of partition in 1947. Thus, it is also a lesson of our history that fissiparous forces have time and again raised their bead to disrupt our unity and to weaken our strength.
When India attained independence, the leaders were immediately faced with the stupendous task of modernizing the economy and of welding the people into one integrated nation, First of all, Sardar Patel wisely integrated almost 560 princely States into the Indian Union, Being fully aware of the diverse elements m the country, the Government took adequate measures to promote national integration. The Constitution made India a secular state, guaranteeing equal status and respect to all religions, and the freedom to practice and propagate them. Unaccountability was abolished acid special provision were made to uplift the scheduled castes and tribes. Safeguards were allowed for linguistic and communal minorities.
But while considerable progress was made in forty one year of independence, fissiparous forces, though held in check, repeatedly raised their ugly head in one form or the other. There are certain any-national elements inside the country and some hostile neighbors who are jealously at work to see that India is disintegrated into small states. Certain foreign powers are also jealous of India’s achievements and are out to weaken it. The main obstacles in the way of national integration are : communalism, racialism, provincialism, linguism and casteism etc.
Passions have lime and again been inflamed in the name of language leading to riots between different language groups in a state. Regionalism and separatism threatens fragmentation of the country as in Assam, Arunachal, Punjab and now Goikhaland in West Bengal. Untouchability and caste prejudices are still the bane of the Indian social life and atrocities on Harijans still continue to be reported. Communalism, the legacy of the British rule, still persists in India. Communal riots are still taking place in different parts of the country. The fanatics in each community simply refuse to see reason. This has led to the growth of various ‘sena’ which further vitiate the communal atmosphere and create communal tension.
The advent of terrorism, a comparatively recent phenomenon, has posed a potent danger to the concept of national integration and to the security and stability of human life. These terrorists are the greatest enemies of the nation. They indulge in the most inhuman and gruesome activities like mass massacre that puts humanity itself to shame.
Among the other factors leading to disintegration are defective educational system, lop-sided role of political parties and the great economic factor. One disastrous effect of foreign rule was the cultural denudation of the educated youth by means of westernized education which presented colored and distorted versions of our history and culture. Political parties in this country give first priority to their political ambitions at the cost of love for the country. They do not hesitate to exploit communal, regional and other parochial passions; the temptations of power are too strong for some politicians and parties. But one of the greatest cause of disintegration is the great economic factor—the ever widening gulf between the rich and the poor. So long as this gap lasts, all talks of national integration will sound hollow.
How is national integration to be accomplished. The first and the foremost step is to eradicate terrorism from the soil of India. The Central Government must check obscurantism, regionalism and separatism with an iron hand. The Government should never yield to regional pressures, particularly when they are in the form of violence and intimidation. Linguistic fanaticism should be suppressed, but there is need of a common national language to inculcate a sense of unity. A nation which has no language of its own is no nation it can never achieve integration in any real sense.
Fissiparous tendencies cannot be checked by force and the compulsions of law. They have to be eradicated by persuasion and education. The battle of national integration is to be waged in the minds of men. All media of mass communications, such as newspapers, radio and television must be utilized for a drive for promoting national unity. Then, our educational system must be so reconstructed as to emphasize the composite nature of our culture and to instill in the minds of the youth legitimate pride in our social heritage. Promotion of national integration should be made an integral part of our educational programme.
There should be a positive change in the attitude of the majority community towards the minorities so that the latter join the main stream of the nation. Indian nationalism must fight the pernicious caste system tooth and nail. Students of minority communities should be offered equal opportunities for all jobs and services.
Political parties have a significant role to play in shaping the national outlook. They need greater discipline and restraint in India than those in other countries. They must learn to subordinate other political ambitions, to the imperative need, of bringing various people together and they must train people to think in national terms.
Finally, there can never be sense or unity of fellow feeling in a country where there are huge inequalities in the distribution of national income and wealth. The best way to achieve national integration, to mobilize all our resources for rapid development and to archive stability is to make Nehruji’s concept of Democratic Socialism a reality.
For the national integration, it is essential that people should give up communal and sectarian outlook. They should reconsider themselves as Indians first and Indians last. Emotional and psychological integration is vital to national integration. National integration depends on the Indianization of the educated masses, eliminating parochial loyalties, establishing social justice and reconstructing the educational system to give it a truly national bias.