India is a multi-national and multi-lingual country, speaking many languages, professing many religions and following diverse customs. There is an understanding sense of solidarity which comes out in times of stress, against foreign aggression. But in the absence of cohesive forces, it is outdone by the forces of disintegration. Then conflicts come to the surface and the state is all but on the way of breaking up.
Let us take a look at first at the elements of discord. There is the communal problem. In India, the two major communities, Hindus and Moslems, have really never fused. There is the barrier of untouchability; these are breaking down but they persist and reveal their ugliness every now and then, particularly in the back wad countryside.
Thirdly, there are the barriers of language. The Hindi-speaking people hope to create integration artificially by imposing their language on the non-Hindi-speaking people. Lastly, there is the barrier between the rich and the poor, the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’. It is an unfortunate coincidence that the haves belong to the majority community whose way of life depends on the existence of a large community of have-nots.
They naturally cultivate and take full advantage of the fanaticism that exists by supporting re-actionary political parties. The have-nots have found strong support from the revolutionary parties belonging to the Leftists. In such a climate, the forces of disintegration are likely to thrive or proliferate.
But there are other reasons. For several, centuries the people of India have lived together within the same geographical limits. They have developed common economic interests and traditional bonds. There is a latent awareness of inter-dependence beginning from the rural level.
Even religion, hardly operates unless it is fomented by the bigots or interested factions. In the villages, where religion is largely a matter of customs and superstitions, Muslim dargas are there where devout Hindus make their pious offerings, while Moslems do not hesitate to flock to Hindu festivals in a spirit of camaraderie.
Language is not a problem below the political and official levels, and travellers and pilgrims from one part of the country to another make themselves at home everywhere. Left to themselves, without reactionary politicians to foment discord, Indians everywhere look upon and treat each other as brothers. Finally, having suffered from the exploitation of the British and foreigners, for two centuries, India knows that disunity is the surest way to lose independence.
But it is not enough merely to trust these natural and latent forces of integration; they must be actively cultivated and promoted. The work must be begun at the grass-root levels, for this, a band of honest and popular teachers must work. From the impressionable age, boys and girls, must be taught and encouraged to mix with each other.
The services of the Radio and TV must be intelligently used; people of different states must be introduced to each other’s cultures and ways of life and common elements should be stressed upon. But these will only create an atmosphere of goodwill and mutual understanding. Other steps are necessary.
At government level, it should be obligatory for members of the All India Services to learn at least one language of a state other than that to which they may belong. On the same principle an All India Educational Service should be organised so that teachers of one State may serve in another at the popular level, political parties or organizations with a communal or racial bias should be ruthlessly banned. Finally, all healthy cultural movements to foster a national, all-India outlook should have to be encouraged.