India is a land of contrasts-a unique culture amalgamating diverse facets of lifestyle from all over the world into a single culture-the Indian identity. Thus it is quite clear that national integration becomes all the more relevant in the Indian context because of difficulties experienced in harmonising a democratic secularist policy with such a colourful vibrant culture.
In India, people belonging to different races, communities, religions, castes and cultural groups have lived together for ages. Synthesis of diverse people enriched the cultural heritage of India. It gave rise to a composite culture. Although in the past, India had lacked political unity, yet it always had cultural unity.
It was during the British regime that India had, for the first time in its history attained political unity. Though British rulers made India united geographically, they followed a deliberate policy of “divide and rule” which was successful in creating a wedge between the Hindus and the Muslims. While Indians under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi were advocating that Hindus and Muslims are one nation, Muslims under the leadership of Mohammad Ali Jinnah started subscribing to the two-nation theory.
The Muslims claimed that they formed a separate nation and, therefore, should have a homeland of their own. Ultimately, the British rulers granted Independence to India on 15th August, 1947 but they divided the country into two independent countries-India and Pakistan.
When India became independent, it had nearly 560 Indian States ruled by the native rulers. When the British rulers left India, they declared that these States were independent and were free to accede to either India or Pakistan use to his firm and sagacious policy, Sardar Patel was able to secure the accession of most of these States to India. Integration of so many States with India was indeed a stupendous task. But the credit for this goes to Sardar Patel, we then Home Minister of India.
Today, India possesses not only cultural but also political unity. The ^institution of India which came into force on 26th January, 1950, applies to all 28 States and 7 Union Territories. Politically, India is one country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
India is a secular State. Citizens enjoy all the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution irrespective of their religion, caste or creed. Though Pakistan was created for Muslims, yet the Muslims who preferred to settle in India have been given equal rights under our secular Constitution.
Unfortunately, despite India having attained political unity and declared itself as a secular country, communal and separatist tendencies continue to raise their ugly head every now and then. These anti-national elements make demands which, if accepted will upset the unity and territorial integrity of the country. Thus, demands made from time to time for independent Nagaland, Mizoram, Khalistan and Gorkhaland, etc. have rightly been turned down by the Government of India. The movements launched in support of these demands should be curbed with a heavy hand.
But what is even more disturbing is that communal riots break out in India even after Independence. Sometimes these riots are not even pre-planned and they erupt suddenly. In the past, these riots were confined to the Hindus and the Muslims only, but now the Hindus belonging to different castes also fight among themselves/These riots take a heavy toll of life. The victims are generally the peace-loving and innocent people.
After achieving Independence in August 1947, India has made rapid strides in every field of activity. India will emerge as the second largest economy along with US by 2050, with China taking the number one slot. In a report, The World in 2050, global consultancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PWC) projected that in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), India will witness the highest growth of 5.2% in 2005-2050 against 3.9% of China and Brazil and 2.4% of Russia. US will grow at 2.4% during this period, while UK, France, Germany and Japan will grow at 2.4%, 2.2%, 1.8% and 1.6% respectively.
This report is more or less in same line with BRIC report of Goldman Sachs. It has already become self-sufficient in foodgrains. It is now one of the most industrially and scientifically developing countries in the world. It also had been the leader of the Non-Aligned group of countries. Certain imperialist countries are highly jealous of India’s progress and stature in the world and they do not want India to become a powerful country. They are, therefore, trying their level best to destabilise our country by sowing seeds of disunity
The need for national integration was never so great as it is today. main obstacles to national integration are communalism, racialism, regionalism linguism, casteism, etc. All these evils must be removed if India is to remain united. Students in schools and colleges should be made aware of the need national and emotional integration of the country.
Powerful media like radio and television should devise programmes highlighting the paramount need of promoting national integration. These programmes should exhort people to give up their communal and sectarian outlook. They should consider themselves as Indians first and Indians last.
The problems, if any, faced by minorities in India should be studied in depth and effective steps be taken to ensure not only social but also economic justice to them. Only then will they feel part and parcel of the country’s mainstream. Law and order should be maintained at all costs. Whichever community starts a communal riot, the culprits should be brought to book immediately.
To sum up, national integration is the need of the hour. It alone can lay the foundation of a strong, united and prosperous India. National integration does not mean that one should abandon regional, lingual and religious pride. On the contrary, a national sentiment springs from the patriotic spirit one invokes towards the fact that one is recognised as a Rajasthani or a Bengali only when one is an inseparable part of the Indian identity. Therefore, it is the foremost duty of every citizen to do his best and work for the national integration of India.