But at the same time, it is to be noted that an undercurrent of unity has always been there throughout the country which kept the country united. Our places of pilgrimages are not centralised within a particular region.
They are spread over throughout the country. Rameshwaran, Dwarika, Jagannath-puri and Badrinath are notable examples.
It was the wonderful wisdom of our religious leaders that they established places of pilgrimage in the four corners of the country in order that people from one corner may go to the other and may thus visit the whole country, may know each other and consider themselves an internal part of this vast land with a feeling of oneness.
Since the beginning of Indian civilization and culture, our countrymen have been visiting the different places of pilgrimage. People from north and south, east and west have been going from one part of the country to the other.
Thus there have been cultural exchanges since ancient times and people have considered themselves as citizens of one country.
Different rivers of our country have been considered sacred. Krishna, Kaveri and Godavari in the south Indus in the west, Ganga, Yamuna, Sarayu and Gaumati of north India and Brahmputra in the east have been considered holy and worth- worship. Similarly, mountains in different regions in the country have been considered sacred.
Different cities of the country have been recognised as places of pilgrimage and centres of culture. Thus it is clear that our sages have always tried to unite the country with a cultural thread and they have always been successful in their efforts.
This feeling of cultural unity inspired our religious leaders and social reformers to inculcate the feeling of common citizenship in our countrymen. It is because of this feeling that whenever our great leaders have raised their voice on any issue, the whole country has followed them.
It was because of this that all the groups in the country struggled for freedom under the banner of Indian National Congress, forgetting their religion, caste or community and consequently won independence.
The unity shown by the people during the freedom struggle was not artificial, but something natural. In fact, that was the voice of country’s conscience, Gandhiji’s Dandi march and ‘Quit India Movement’ had shaken the country so much that even the British Empire had begun to doubt its permanency.
Chinese invasion in 1962 and Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971 had united the whole country and it was evinced that the same feeling of patriotism was running in the veins of the whole nation. The periods of Asoka, the Great and Akbar the Great gave us a glimpse of this kind of unity.
The rebellion of 1857 is a fine example of feeling of oneness. Needless to say that we should make our political and national unity durable and should not encourage disruptive forces.
Emotional unity of our countrymen is necessary for our national integration. So long as our countrymen do not consider themselves as one and do not realise that first and foremost they are the citizens of this country and their personal, sectarian, social and religious interests are secondary, there can be no national integration.
They must be made to feel that from historical and geographical point of view, India has always been one nation and will always remain so. They should be convinced that ours is a culture which every person should ^ proud of.
We should attract the attention of the people to this through education. By doing so all will be emotionally integrated and will rise above their personal interests for the good of the country.
In our country different groups based on community, religion, caste, poverty and wealth are found. These groups remain indifferent to each other and lack the feeling of national unity. They are wanted in the feeling of brotherhood.
There is influence of caste in some region, strong sectarian feelings in the other and some particular religion, another. In fact, this situation is very unfortunate. For national integration it is necessary that people of different classes and communities are brought together and feeling of unity is infused in them.
For this, some collective programmes should be arranged and people of all classes, communities and different religions should be invited. Every community should be made to feel that the interest of their community lies in the interest of the country which comes first and foremost and then anything else.
No class or community can make progress by ignoring the interest of the nation. Needless to say that we have to forego communalism and regionalism for social unity. This does not, however, mean that we should have no love for our community, religion or region and should forsake them. It only means that we should first think of the country and after that, of any ‘ism’.
Religionism, casteism, regionism and linguism have been encouraged by some political parties in our country and these parties have acted against national unity. At the time of elections different political parties plead for religion, class, caste and region and want to secure votes on the basis of these slogans.
A candidate is selected from that caste or religion which dominates a particular area. Such an action is just a misuse or religion or caste for political interest and creates conditions for national disintegration.
Inter-caste and Inter-state Marriages:
Some people are of the opinion that for national integration, inter-caste and inter-state marriages should be encouraged- This means that people should marry into other castes and religions. Similarly, persons of different regions should not hesitate to inter-marry.
The children born of such marriages will be above caste, religion and regionism. They will consider themselves Indians first and anything else afterwards. In support of this argument people cite the examples of U.S.A. and Japan.
The Spanish, German, French and British people who settled in America after migrating from different countries of Europe, accepted inter-caste marriages. The off-spring of these people consider themselves Americans first and take pride in calling themselves as such.
Similarly, in Japan also, followers of different religions are found in one family and their offspring’s call themselves Japanese first and not of this or that religion or caste. Thus, national integration in America and Japan has been very much encouraged.
In our country this process should be adopted voluntarily and anyone who is desirous of inter-caste marriage should be encouraged and should be given special social recognition.
The economic inequalities pervading the country are weakening its unity. Some have wealth beyond measure and some are dying for two square-meals a day. These inequalities will have to be removed for the sake of national integration and that no specific class or community remains backward.
For this, it is necessary that minorities and backward persons are given special help. They should be given special facilities of education, houses and government services. If the backward classes are not struggling for survival they will contribute to national integration.
The question of national language has become very important for us. According to the Constitution, Hindi in the Devnagri Script has been accepted as the national language and in 1965; Hindi was to occupy the place of national language of the country. But in 1965 when this status was accorded to Hindi, riots broke out in South and in Calcutta.
If we want to encourage national integration, we should not be in a haste to make Hindi compulsory in every region. So long as people of non-Hindi speaking areas do not agree to accept Hindi, the clause of the Constitution regarding Hindi should be kept in abeyance.
We should prepare the non-Hindi people for accepting Hindi voluntarily. This does not mean that knowledge of English is not useful for us. In fact, our education cannot be considered complete so long as we do not acquire good knowledge of English.
In order to benefit from international culture and knowledge, the knowledge of English is very necessary. So, the subject of English should not only be available in our schools, colleges and universities but it should be made compulsory upto the intermediate or degree stage.
In spite of all this, we have to adopt our own language and so far that language is Hindi and so long as the related clause of the Constitution is not changed, we should strive for the acceptance of Hindi as a national language in such a way that one day the whole country may be prepared to accept it gladly.
But as long as non-Hindi people do not show their willingness to accept it, Hindi should not be imposed on them as it will only hinder national integration.
Therefore, we should try to see that our national language Hindi (or any other Indian language) is helpful in national integration rather than an obstruction. Evidently, we have to work in this direction cautiously, affectionately, sympathetically and with consideration for the feelings of others.
Education is a powerful means for national integration. Through education we can inspire the future citizens.
So the aim of national integration is to be kept supreme in organising the different components of education, framing the curriculum,, in the class-room teaching, in educational centres, cultural activities, in the organisation of co-curricular activities, in the management of schools, in the various stages of education — schools, colleges or universities.
In the appointment of teachers, in the distribution of education facilities, in the composition of text-books, we should follow such policies as will encourage national integration rather than helping the divisive tendencies of class, community, religion or region, etc.
In the present situation of the country and in the international context the need for unity should be emphasised more vigorously. We have to be careful that no disruptive forces work against national integration. If we follow the suggestions given, we shall be successful in maintaining national unity.