It has often been repeatedly said that India is a land of ‘Unity in Diversity’. Though this apparently sounds as a contradiction in terms but that is what we have always cherished for and have even demonstrated as and when occasion arose.
The diversity in the country has several facts. There are several religions, several communities and castes; several languages and different life-styles in different regions.
By the very fact of these different life-styles we easily distinguish between a Bengali from a Punjabi’ a Southerner from a Northerner, and of course community wise — a Hindu from a Muslim.
With these apparent diversities we have constantly to face problems. These are asterism, regionalism and linguist. These create divisions among people.
The divisions are rather deep-rooted too. Though much has been done and much has happened in removing the caste divisions but still the discrimination on the basis of castes continues.
The upper castes — the Brahman, Kshatrias and Vaishs are still not completely reconciled to a total alignment with the backward and the scheduled castes. So much so that evens the constitution of India grants reservation to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
That having been made a part even the constitution, this discrimination keeps on continuing and successive governments have gone on extending the time-limit of these reservations in the matter Rudiment to government services or selection to technical courses.
Religion has been a great dividing force of the Indian community. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and even Buddhists have their separate religious sects and different tenets of religion.
Regionalism also raises its ugly head at times and divides the interest of people either in favour or against people of the other region. Every region has its own manners, customs, food habits and dress and can easily be distinguished by these from the others.
Then there are divisions on the basis of languages. There are so many languages — to start from the north — Dogri, Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Oriya, Kannada, Konkani,Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and some more.
The protagonists of all these languages promote their language and are not prepared to accept their language as in any way inferior to any other. And true it is that literature of a very high order has been produced in all these languages. Hindi has been accepted as the official language but not as the lingua franca of the country. Conflicts are going on, on this account.
In spite of all these basic diversities, one comes across a peculiar sense of unity among all the people of this vast country in the matter of religious beliefs and gills. If there is a Kumbh mela either at Allahabad or at Haridwar people from all parts of the country would congregate in large numbers.
Bengalis throng the streets Varanasi or Mathura. Even Hindus visit the Dargah of hwaja Salim Chishti or the Dargah of Dewa in U. Pand during the Guru Pooja on the Kartiki full moon, Hindus and Sikhs all congregate at the Gurdwaras and partake in their’ Langars’ — the congregational meal.
The greatest unity has been demonstrated arrionn the people whenever there has been a foreign invasion challenging the frontiers of our country whether it was the Chinese aggression in the year 1962, or the Pakistan aggression in 1965 or 1971 when India fought a war with Pakistan to liberate Bangladesh. During the recent warlike conflict in the Kargil Sector with Pakistan, the whole country rose up in unison and demonstrated the true national spirit of unity. The Indian psyche gets surcharged with the sense of unity and integrity in such times of challenge which in itself is a great comforting factor of Unity.
Even culturally India feels the same pulse, breathes the same air and remains one or exhibits total unity — be one a Southerner or a Northerner or from the West or the East, fairs and festivals or temples bring them all together and that is a great oneness.
What is needed is that in our country further strengthening of this process and spirit of Unity needs to be inculcated among our children from their very young age.
For this it is not the government but the people; the parents; the schools and their teachers who have to play their part with a sense of dedication and a commitment to the national cause. It may appear to be an arduous task but is not an impossible one. National Integration should become the watchword of all education at all levels.