Abu Shama Ahmed –
India is a big country where religiously different people like Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Parsis, Sikhs, and others live together. Their languages, traditions and customs are quite different. Hindu religion is the oldest in India. It is union of Vedic religion Sanatan dharma, Jainism, Budhism and various other smaller castes and creeds. The same state of affairs is of other religions also. This leads us to conclude that India is a wonderland of diversities and distinctions. But it must be borne in mind that inspite of all these diversities; there lies an underlying sense of unity. All Indians have a sense of oneness and unity. They express this fundamental sense of oneness, unity and belongingness in all spheres of thinking and behavior. Sir Jadu Nath Sarcar and Herbert Rizley speak very high of this unity in diversity. In short, as flowers in a bunch are of different form, colour, size and smell, yet they all combine to make that that bunch one whole, similarly all Indians inspite of their differences are essentially one. They feel that they belong to the same cultural stream of Indian life.
National Integration forms a vitally important part of the process of Nation-building. It stands for the integration of the people of the state into an emotionally and psychologically integrated team, a nation committed to secure the objective of socio-economic development of the whole society. Without a high level of national integration the march towards Nation-building is found to remain slow, uneven, inadequate and inefficient. National Integration alone can provide a healthy environment in which all the people can feel encouraged to secure the goals of nation-building. For a pluralists society like India it is all the more essential to work for securing a high level of national integration.
What Is National Integration?
In simple wards we can say National Integration means the process as a result of which community attains a psychological emotional and spiritual unity and solidarity and starts behaving as a strong and united nation committed to secure the national goals of socio-economic-politico-cultural development.
National Integration was defined by the first National Integration Conference as: “a psychological and educational process….. involving the development of a feeling of unity; solidarity and cohesion in the hearts of the people, a sense of common citizenship (destiny) and a deep feeling of loyalty to the nation.”
J.A. Cutlet defines National Integration “as a process of becoming a whole, of acquiring consciousness, of having a goal which makes it possible to rally round a pole of convergence.” Another scholar conceptualizes National Integration in terms of emotional and psychological integration of the people through the inculcation of a spirit of spiritual, moral, national unity- Nationalism.
According to Myron Weiner “ National integration covers a vast range of human relationship and attitudes- the integration of diverse and discrete cultural loyalties, and the development of a sense of nationality (unity), the integration of political units into a common territorial framework with a government which can exercise authority, the integration of the rulers (Elites) and the ruled (Masses), the integration of the citizens into a common political process, and finally, the integration of individuals and organizations for purposive activities.”
Myron Weiner further observes that National Integration means:
- Territorial Integration and National Identity: The process of bringing together culturally and socially discrete groups into a single territorial unit, and the establishment of a national identity.
- Political Integration: The Process of establishing a national central authority over subordinate political units or regions.
- Elite Mass Integration: The forging of links between the ruling elite and the broad mass of people who are ruled, i.e. reducing the gulf between the elite and the masses in terms of aspirations and life conditions.
- Cultural Integration: the development of minimum value-consensus necessary to maintain a social order.
- Integrative Behaviour: The Securing of integrative behaviour which involves the capacity of the people in a society to organize for some common purpose.
As such we can say that National Integration is the process of uniting and organizing the people of the country into a well-knit nation, team emotionaly united and committed to serve the national interest through integrative efforts involving territorial integration, emotional integration, political integration, cultural integration, elite-mass integration and integrative behaviour. Infact, National Integration means the inculcation of a spirit of unity in diversity and emotional integration among the people.
Defining the model of National Integration that stands accepted in India, Prof. Rasheeduddin Khan has rightly observed “It means and ought to mean cohesion not fusion, unity but not uniformity, reconciliation but not merger, agglomeration but not assimilation of the discrete segments of the people constituting a political community or state.”
Speaking in 1955, PM Jawaharlal Nehru categorically stated: “We should not become parochial, narrow-minded, provincial, communal and caste-minded, because we have a great mission to perform. Let us, as the citizens of the Republic of India, stand up straight, with straight backs and look up at the skies, keeping our feet firmly planted on the ground bring about this synthesis, this integration of the Indian people.
With a view to developed National Integration in India, the Union Government organized a National Integration Conference in September-October 1961. It was attended by the Prime Minister, Union Ministers, Chief Ministers of States, leaders of various political parties, educationist, scientists and journalists.
The conference resolved to unite the people against the forces of communalism, regionalism and linguism. For this purpose it was considered essential to prevent the political parties of India from encouraging or using these evils for their political gains.
Consequently, the conference favoured a code to conduct for political parties. The important principles recommended for this purpose were:
- No Party should indulge in any activity which aggravates the differences or causes tension between various castes, communities or linguistic groups.
- The political parties should not resort to agitational methods for the redress of the communal, linguistic and regional grievances of any section of society.
- Each political party must refrain from disturbing or obstructing the meetings and processions of other political parties.
- The government was not to impose restrictions on the civil liberties of the people on the plea of maintenance of law and order. It was to desist from using any such measure as could interfere with the normal activities of the political parties.
- The political power was not to be used for serving party ends.
The conference accepted that secularism was the ideal condition and a historical necessity of India and hence should be strengthened and made a way of life. It further stressed the need to reform the educational system as a means for promoting National Integration Council for coordinating efforts towards national integration and for drawing a code of conduct for the general public, the student and the minorities and suggesting steps for the redressal of the same.
The leaders of the modern India have been taking some steps for promoting national integration, In November 1976, the working group of National Integration Council suggested the following seven-point programme for securing national integration:
- Ending the hold of obscurantist and extremist elements.
- Fostering the growth of positive elements of modernity.
- Ending suspicions and prejudices about the minorities.
- Countering the evil of clannishness.
- Free mixing of children belonging to various professions and faiths.
- Use of mass media for highlighting the role of various organizations towards the cause of integration.
- Curbing extremist tendencies.
The group regarded regional economic imbalances as a negative factor and called upon the State Government and the Planning Commission to formulate plans for removing or bridging these. It also emphasized the need (i) to use the educational system for promoting national integration, (ii) to protect better the interests of the minorities for getting them involved fully in the process of national integration, (iii) to place systematic curbs on parochial tendencies, and (iv) to use mass media for highlighting the need for national unity.
In November 1980, the National Integration Council held its meeting to discuss there important items: the problems of national integration, the problems of North-eastern states, and the need for reforms in the educational system. The NIC held that communalism posed the biggest danger to national integration and noted that a handful of people/groups were behind the spread of this evil. It was also agreed that social and economic imbalances were adding fuel to the fire of communalism. Regional imbalances constituted the major cause of trouble in North-eastern states. Regarding educational system, the NIC noted that there was a need to make it a balanced system capable of fighting communalism at various stages.
Prime Minister Mrs. Gandhi, as the chairperson of NIC, announced the appointment of two communities- one was to study the causes of increase in the frequency of communal riots and the second was to suggest plans for reorienting the educational system with a view of make it an instrument for the promotion of secularism and national integration. The NIC on its part decided to set up a standing committee for keeping a continuous watch over the activities of the forces of communalism and vision. It was also to monitor the progress of the implementation of the decisions of the NIC.
National Integration: Hinderances and Remedies
The reasons behind the inability to achieve a high level of nation at integration even after 55 years of independence have been many. Several constraints have been present in the environment of Indian political System which has hindered the success of the process of National Integration.
- Communalism: Communalism has been the biggest hindrances in the way of national integration. The attempt on the part of various communities to impose their respective interest, views and values upon other communities constitutes communalism. Communal riots continue to break out in different parts of the country. In February 2002 Gujarat experienced a big and very harmful communal flare up. Majority Communalism, Minority Communalism, Hindu Communalism, Muslim Communalism and Regional communalism continue to be hard and sad realities of Indian society. These evils continue to impose serious strains of the process of national integration.
- Regionalism: Regionalism as the attempt to secure regional and local interests over and above the national interests, continues to be feature of favour of more and more state autonomy, demand s for statehood and demands for full statehoods or special privileges (on the pattern of Art. 370). Regionalism always provides strength to the forces of disintegration and hence is a big limitation on the process of national integration.
- Linguism: Politics of linguism has been a major irritant in the way of national integration. The absence of a nation language has been a big weakness. The strong controversy, nay a conflict between pro-Hindi North and anti-Hidi South has always adversely affected the process of nationa integration. Linguistic regionalism and linguistic roits have been recurrent features of Indian politics system. The Three Language Formula, the Official Languages Acts and the constitutional provisions regarding language have not been successful in resolving the language controversy. The linguistic reorganization of states has proved to be country-productive. It has strengthened linguistic regionalism of India.
- Existence and operation of Terrorist and Militant Organisations: Existence of militant organizations and their activities based on communalism and in support of secessionism/autonomy/special status have always adversely affected the process of national integration. Continued activities of Maoist-War Groups (PWG) in Andhra, increasing role of violence in almost all the north-eastern states, continued operation of militant out-fits in Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland and the presence of terrorism in J & K, have all been putting grave strains on the efforts towards national integration.
- Exixtence of Communal Organisations: Another major constraint upon the process of National integration in India happens to be the existence and popularity of several communal and sectarian organizations in various parts of the country. These have been depending upon bigotism, regionalism, parochialism, linguism, communalism, casteism, religious fundamentalism and tribalism for getting support from the local people. Almost all the political parties have been using these undesirable means for securing political gains. The political environment of India fails to provide the necessary impetus and help to the process of national integration.
- Sectarianism: Sectarianism also poses a big threat to national integration. Clashes among the religious sects and their organizations often engulf the entire nation. Shia-Sunni conflict often leads to riots in some parts of India. The Punjab problem had its origin in the form of dispute between Akalis and Nirankaris over the issue of religion. Sectarian conflicts in India have always hindered the process of National Integration.
- Casteism: Casteism is proving to be a cancerous trouble for India. It has been keeping the people divided in the name of castle. It has been limiting the process of adoption of secularism as the way of life. It has emerged as the strongest political party in India which always works for maintaining caste.
- Politics of Reservations vs. Anti-Reservations: The policy of reservation of seats and jobs and grant of special privileges to the Scheduled castes, Scheduled tribes, other Backward classes and weaker sections of society was adopted on the principal of protective discrimination, and was designed to help the socio-economic uplift of these downtrodden classes with a view to secure their integration in the nation as equal and well-functioning partners. The policy has however, failed to generate the desired the result and effect. It has failed to give due benefits to all the people belonging to these groups. It has, even encourage the perpetuation of class distinctions for getting periodic extension of privileges and reservations. It has led to the emergence of strong anti-reservation thinking among the caste Hindus and uncovered classes. The conflict between the pro-reservationists and anti-reservationists has been always adversely affecting the cause of national integration.
These can be listed as eight major impediments in the way of national integration in India.
Steps for Securing National Integration
Every one realizes the importance of securing a high level of national integration. Without it the goal of Nation-building cannot be achieved. It alone can give a solid foundation of India’s struggle to become a developed and powerful nation. It can be achieved through several constructive and honest attempts.
The following steps can be suggested for securing a high level of national integration:
- Recognition and acceptance of the existence of a wide range of groups in the context of the setting in which these have developed.
- The recognition of inter-group relations, as a matter of concern for all.
- Development of a uniform model code of conduct capable of motivating and directing social relations.
- Promotion of faith in the integrity and the moral worth of the individual and a genuine faith in social change as means of progress.
- Formation of voluntary organizations across the country like, National Conference for Emotional Integration, Neighbourhood groups, and Cooperatives to encourage change of behavior and to develop a favourable climate for social reforms and change.
- A willingness to assign to schools, as part of their educational task, roles in the study and solution of social problems.
- Preparing teachers and community leaders to be intellectually and emotionally sensitive to the diagnosis and solution of social problems.
- The task of developing a Uniform Civil Code as envisaged in Art, 44 of the Directive Principles of State should be handled with care and caution.
- Steps should be taken to assist and promote non-government social service organizations for encouraging them to work for securing social awareness, social reforms and desired social change.
- To target the youth of the country for instilling in them ‘Indian brotherhood and sense of collective living. For this.
- Free movement and exchange of teachers and students from one university to another on all India basis, particularly, lectures and seminars should be organized for providing specialized training and community experience.
- Organization of summer courses (vacation courses) in different regions and in different universities should be undertaken and admission in these should be open to all university students.
- The recommendation made by the Nation Integration Committee are worth consideration-educations is of utmost importance for creating a national outlook. The most impressionable age is at the pre-primary stage but we cannot afford to neglect any age group. Education should, therefore, be reoriented and made broader based. It should aim at (a) equipping students with an intimate knowledge of the different aspects of this country, including the events which led to freedom, (b) encouraging all such studies and activities as can lead to greater understanding between communities and states, thus fostering a feeling of national unity; and (c) creating a feeling that the country and its resources belong to the citizen who thereby acquires certain rights and privileges along with corresponding duties and responsibilities. For this purpose the following step can be under taken.
- Reading material provided to boys and girls in schools and colleges should be properly examined. Textbook Committees should receive definite guidance in this particular matter. Model books should be got prepared by the UGC/NCERT.
- Communalisation of history book should not be permitted and tolerated. Books on the views and deeds of all national heroes should be prepared and placed in all the libraries.
- Cultural academies should be established and made to work for strengthening the movement for unity.
- Celebration of all festivals by members of all communities should.
- Means of media should be used for inculcating a national outlook.
- Seminars and dramas on the theme of communal harmony should be organized. A mass contact movement for educating people in the values of communal harmony and against the danger of communalism should be initiated. Every political party should enlist in this campaign the support of social activities.
- The question of lacing a ban on communal parties has been raised from time to time in the country. While it may be open to question whether a ban can be an adequate remedy against communalism or not, no one can ignore the danger being posed by the communal parties. Any communal emphasis on the part of a community in its propaganda, political and other activities, creates an immediate unhealthy and aggressive communal reaction in the minds of the people of other communities, and gives rise to various tensions. We have, therefore, to think in terms of breaking the vicious circle.
By enconraging meaningful and nationally desired changes in the process of socialization, attempts should be made to inculcate a sense of national pride and commitment among the children. The values of religious toleration, freedom from superstition, scientific outlook, rational attitude towards authority, secularism, democracy and cultural pluralism should be implanted in the minds of young children by the parents, teachers and community leaders. Use of religion and caste in politics should be eliminated and for this the political leaders must behave as truly national leaders.
- Indian Government and politics by- K.K. Ghai- Page: 462, 464, 465, 466, 467, 468,
469, 470, 471.
- History of education in India by- Dr. Sharma. P-314.
- Philosophical and sociological foundation of Education by N.R. Swaroop Saxena P-148.
The writer is the Asstt. Professor, Deptt. of Education, Moriom Nessa, Deptt. of Political Science, Jaleswar College, Tapoban (India)