India is a vast country. Indian society is divided into a number of castes and sub-castes. Different languages are spoken in different parts of the country. Every region has its own regional or local language. Moreover, India is the home of people following different religions - Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Parsees, Janis, Buddhist etc. the problem of national integration means how to unite these different people into a single whole. How to foster national unity among them is the most serious problem facing India today.
A glance at the history of India tells us that internal quarrels have been her worst enemy. Separatist tendencies have always resulted in her fall. It was always divided into a large number of small states at daggers drawn with each other. National consciousness has always been lacking. This has ever the problem of national integration been her greatest weakness. That is why she was conquered by one foreign invader after another.
The use of the common language, English and the introduction of swift means of communication, did much to bring the people of India closer together, but still, after fifty years of independence, casteism, communalism, provincialism and linguistic quarrels are the most serious threats to the freedom and the security of our beloved motherland. A Punjabi thinks himself to be a Punjabi first and an Indian afterwards. Regional loyalties take precedence over the national. Communal riots are a daily occurrence. Linguistic quarrels threaten to break up the country into parts. If the evil is not crushed in time, it is likely to break up the country into as many states as the languages spoken by the people.
Some time ago there was demand for the secession of the south from the north on the part of the D.M.K. The demand of the nagas for a separate state has already been accepted. In the Punjab, the Sikh has been clamoring for khalistan. Terrorism has been on the rise. A number of regional parties have come into being in the south. There has been a growing demand for more powers for the various states. In Assam there was the agitation on the foreigner’s issue. All non-assamese were called foreigners. This is a serious threat to the unity and sovereignty of the country.
Such fissiparous tendencies are serious obstacles in the way of the development of national consciousness. “Unity is strength” is a common saying, but the Indian seem to have forgotten it. Democracy itself is a danger. People vote on the basis of caste and not on the basis of merit. The result is that deserving candidates are not elected. Our representatives are not the best available but those who could enlist the strong support of a particular caste or creed. The sectional appeal is increasing disunity among the people.
Thus, national integration is the crying need of the hour. Every effort should be made to create emotional integration, and a sense of unity. Publicity through every known medium is essential. This process of educating the public opinion should being early in life. Through schools and colleges, the young men should be thought that the whole of India is one. Indian culture is basically one and the differences are only superficial. The very mentality of the young should change.
Text books should be suitably revised. Oneness of the people, rather than the differences, should be emphasized. Long distance tours, from the part of the country to another, would go a long way towards fostering emotional integration among the youth of the country. Steps should be taken to ensure that no communal or caste considerations influence the appointment of teachers. The words, `Muslim’, ‘Hindu’, ‘Khatri’, ‘Brahmin’, etc., should be dropped from the names of educational institutions.
Similarly, the radio, the TV., the cinema and the press, should also be used effectively to educate public opinion and develop national consciousness. The press should not publish news and views which are likely to encourage fissiparous tendencies and sectional attitudes. The cinema is one of the most potent means of publicity. Such films should be shown as depict the people of India as a single whole. The evils of casteism, communalism and provincialism should be clearly brought out through social films, feature films and newsreels and through TV. serials. The radio also can broadcast songs, dialogues, speeches and stories which emphasize the national unity of India. In this way, it can serve as effective means of national integration.
It has been said that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”. India should ever be vigilant against the dangers of casteism, communalism, etc., if it wants to retain its hard won freedom. The nation must stand united to face the combined menace of enemies. In this connection it may be mentioned that a strong centre is essential for national integration. With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, a close friend of India, this need has become still more important.