India is a vast country with a vast population. The vast population follows different cultures and religions; and; belongs to different castes and sub-castes, races and communities. So, the national integration of India invariably depends on the integrity of its citizens. It is the individuals who constitute a society or a nation. Society or nation is nothing without its individuals. The existence of individuals is a reality; whereas the society or nation is a myth. The nation exists because of individuals.
Therefore, integration of nation is only a mere manifestation of the integrity of the individuals. Further, in India, integration does not mean centralization. In India, it means unity in diversity in which the components and the whole are equally valid and mutually inter-dependent. It can be rightly said that individuals is the pillar on whom the whole edifice of a nation stands. And it is in this sense that national integration is more a myth than a reality, more a dream than a fact, more a conceived by demagogues than an existing reality.
In order to achieve the dream of national integration in India, it is very much necessary to integrate its citizens. And integration of its citizens is not a chore. The citizens are facing with the problems of economic disparity and rampant poverty; persistence of socio-economic inequality between and within the rural and the urban segments of the people; casteism, communalism and religious fundamentalism; and political populism and political exploitations. Due to the problems, national integration in India still remains as a myth.
Socio-economic inequality in India is a heritage of long history. Inequality in India’s past was sanctified by the rigid caste system that had ordained professions by the accident of birth in a given family and jati. Feudalism is another big institutional factor contributing to inequality. The loopholes in land reforms and ceiling on agricultural holdings have retained much of ex-landlords and rich farm’s land and privileges. Another factor contributing to inequality has been the colonial past. The problem of mass poverty, from one angle, is a result of income inequalities.
Other factors for poverty are mass population, mass unemployment and underemployment. Further casteism and communalism is worsening down the process of building of national integration in india. In recent years, there have been recurrent and increasing numbers of communal riots, caste carnages and language animosities. At the base of India’s social structure is the caste (Varna) and sub-caste (jatis). The caste consists of Brahmin, Kshatriya, vaishya and Sudra, apart from the outcastes called the panchama (the untouchability).
And the most detrimental aspect of the caste system is the practice of untouchability of the backward caste. Casteism is the exploitation of caste consciousness for narrow political gain. Along with casteism, communalism is worsening the progress, social change, democracy and of federal nation state building on rational scientific lines. The implications of the problems are the organization of militant movements like the naga national council ( 1946), demand for independent statehood by mizo, formation of the gokha league in Darjeeling area of west Bengal etc.
The other implications of the problems are the formation of the regional parties like Telegu Desam party, the formation of Dravidian Munnestra Kazhagam (DMK) and all India Anna-DMK was due to committed to the concept of a distinct autonomous Tamil Nadu etc. The Kashmir movement came into existence to get the grievances of all the classes of people redressed and its name was changed into All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference. Other implications are establishments of the State Reorganization Commission (SRC) in 1953 and formation of state of Andhra in 1953 on the basis of language.
Thus, problems of poverty, ignorance, illiteracy, economic backwardness and social backwardness of the rural poor, regional imbalanced development, unprincipled search for power, criminalization of politics, rise of fundamentalism, communalism, parochialism, casteism etc. all these provide a fertile ground for growth of violence and terrorism. The government and other scholars have from time to time suggested different forms of feasible solutions and viable alternatives to the system.
It was for the first time in the 45th session of the congress (1931), that a resolution on fundamental right was adopted. The constitution has incorporated socio-economic justice. The essence of social justice as the goal of planned development means reduction of inequality and removal of poverty. The other measures are employment generation opportunities measures, greater avenues for self-employment are being opened, minimum- wage programme and the introduction of Panchayati Raj system.
The scheduled castes and tribes have been specified by presidential orders issued under the provisions of article 341 and 342 of the constitution. The constitution has abolished untouchability. It provides reservation of seats for SC/ST in the lok sabha and state legislative assemblies. The government has announced welfare scheme for SC/ST like post metric scholarships, provision for hostel facilities to SC girls etc. to provide broad guidelines on policy formulation relating to the development of SC and ST women and children, an Advisory Board is unction since 29 august 1986.
However, all the measures, programmes and policies has failed to truly eliminate or root out the dreaded evils that have nearly disorganized and marred the social fabric of life. The crisis is truly individuals not political. It is the crisis of character, the crisis of confidence, the crisis of values. R. W. Emerson said, “Nothing is greater than the integrity of your own personality”. “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles”. Thus, national integration involves readjustment of loyalties of the people.
It is a movement away from traditionalist allegiances and towards a movement for the establishment of a new national identity. It presumes the existence of both unity and diversity. In the quest for building a new identity and promoting cohesive mutual unity, we can draw sustenance from the heritage of the Indian National Movement and enriched it with contemporary and more relevant values of collection life like secular nationalism, democracy, equal rights, and promotion of science, technology and rationalist temper.
Thus, to device a new system which is capable of giving a stable and integrated society is a myth. National integration is a myth as it involves building a new national identity by coalescing its multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-caste, multi-lingual and multi-regional population around a unified national consciousness.