National Integration and Communal Harmony
Communal harmony is the glue that binds the people of a nation together. But today, we see intolerance amongst sub-groups that people have formed on varying degrees of common interests. How long is it going to take before people realize that ALL people can form a big community, rather than smaller groups forming selfish communities?
National Integration and Communal Harmony
What is a nation built with? Not money or resources alone – it’s the people. And if the people of a nation don’t stand united, it brings in anarchy and chaos, and that nation is doomed to breaking point. This is exactly what is happening in India currently. Where did we go wrong? Is this the India that our forefathers dreamed of when fighting for her freedom? Is this the India we would like to leave behind as our legacy for our future generations? It’s high time we asked ourselves these questions seriously.
National integration is the awareness of a common identity amongst the citizens of a country. It means that though we belong to different castes, religions and regions and speak different languages we recognize the fact that we are all one. Communalism is the practice of religious or sub-religious groups trying to promote their own interests at the expense of others. Clearly, the absence of friction between communities, called communal harmony, is a major driving force towards national integration. According to the Indian Constitution, one of the fundamental duties of every citizen of India is to “promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities.” Obviously, we have not been doing that. The most resounding proof of this fact is that a mere rumour was enough to cause the biggest internal exodus in the country since its independence.
Let us now analyse why this has been happening. The British had encouraged communalism to propound their “divide and rule” policy. Unfortunately, even sixty five years after independence communal feelings still exist and riots flare-up even now in different parts of the country. It is the result of narrow-mindedness, prejudice, and lack of knowledge of other religions. If we give more importance to our religion rather than our country we cannot contribute to its progress and development. We have to inculcate tolerance and understanding for other religions and not let communal feelings destroy our unity.
Linguistic differences also have led to cold blood between communities. Our Constitution has given recognition to twenty two languages. Even then, sometimes people recognize only one language – their own – and display hostility towards people speaking other languages. This again harms the cause of our national unity. As responsible citizens we must give due respect to other languages and cultures and realize that they add to the diversity of our country.
Casteism also poses a great threat to our unity. Often people of one caste support each other and oppose the progress and development of people belonging to other castes. People also avoid social interaction with other castes. A huge majority of us don’t allow inter-caste and inter-religious marriages even today. Politicians often exploit such feelings at the time of elections. Appointments in jobs and admissions in educational institutions are often on the basis of caste considerations. But as responsible citizens, we should not let these feelings of resentment and hostility threaten the integrity of our country.
These, according to me, are the prime causes hampering national integration and communal harmony. All of this is about the mindset of people, which I agree is shaped by the society we live in to quite an extent. But I believe that the courage to walk the path of righteousness comes from within, if at all it does. And societal dogma needs courage to be examined and questioned – even more so if we are to discuss its flaws with the very people who construct this passive society we live in. So, I believe the desire, the will to question and doubt popular beliefs and faiths has to be made a part of our inner sanctum if we are to rise above and see beyond the hitherto unquestioned idiosyncrasies of our societal construct. The responsibility of self in the societal structure can’t be neglected.
I also believe education has to become a major driving force for this kind of a mindset transition to occur. A major part of our education is what we learn in our childhood. So, the role of parental education has a paramount role in determining how children think in future. Parents need to understand this fact and visualize its importance in building their children’s mindset. If parents expose their children to superstition, casteism and communalism, these feelings will remain engrained in their children’s minds forever. So, parents need to be responsible in educating their children properly, guiding them to truth rather than false prejudices, because today’s children are going to constitute tomorrow’s society.
A paradigm shift in our thinking is inevitable if we are to exist and prosper before communal differences destroy our nation. After all, like Yasser Arafat said, “Religious wars are people fighting over who is the better imaginary friend”. So why fight over a fictitious element when we can all coexist peacefully and prosper?