The problem of National Integration is universal and it involves reconciliation of all diversities to build up national solidarity. Nationalism and regionalism do not go together. If Nationalism represents the ‘forces of unity and cohesion’, regionalism is a symbol of ‘Particularistic identity’.
The process of National Integrations, therefore, tries to achieve both —the forces of national unity, solidarity and cohesion and the regional identity and freedom. In brief, national integration helps building up the national character out of the individual character. It involves national cohesiveness through territorial unity. Amidst socio-cultural, regional, religious, linguistic and economic diversities, national integration aims at the process of uniting together various parts of the society into a “functions whole”, where in there shall be “reduction of all barriers and tolerance of all differences unity, shared values and consensus.”
However, national integration lacks a precise definition. To a common man, the term ‘integration’ implies ‘the process of becoming a whole’. It is more a psychological, behavioural and emotional concept. In a limited sense, it (National integration) believes in a sense of territorial nationality which overshadows or eliminates the subordinate parochial loyalties .
National integration is highly necessary in a multi-religious, multi-ethnic, multi-caste, multi-regional society like India. Realizing the need of it, the National Integration Conference organised in 1961, had suggested a code of conduct for political parties. Besides the suggestions of the National Integration Conference, some other steps can be recommended for securing high level of national integration.
(1) Promotion of Secularism:
The spirit of secularism is highly necessary in Indian multi-religious society. For this reason the National Integration Conference of 1961, suggested that no political party should indulge in any activity aggravating the differences or causing any tension between various castes, communities or linguistic groups. There is a demand to ban all communal parties and communal organisations by which the danger of communalism can be made less serious. Any sorts of activities creating communal reactions in the public mind should be prohibited. No discrimination among the people on the grounds of religion should be made.
2) Cultural Integration:
Recognizing the existence of a wide range of groups, inter-group relations should be promoted in India. Though not uniformity, yet unity among the people can be created with a common set of values. National goal or national objectives generate cultural integration which partially favours emotional integration of the nation.
(3) Economic Development:
Regional imbalance in economic development and acute poverty of certain section of the people impose serious impediments in the achievement of national integration. Despite the adoption of five-year economic planning’s and a number of socio-economic welfare measures, poverty continues as a serious problem. A great chunk of people remain far away of national mainstream. Economic development means the development of whole people and the development of entire nation. Special efforts are necessary in this direction to ensure common national prosperity.
Illiterate and ignorant people cannot be conscious of the values of national integration. Education only can promote faith in the integrity and the moral worth of the individual. The educational institutions can play important role as forums for arousing the spirit of national integration.
The study and solution of various social problems can be assigned to the educational institutions. In case of higher educational institutions like colleges and universities, exchange of teachers and students from one institution to another for lectures or seminars can promote national integration. Reading materials used by students in schools and colleges should be properly examined to avoid communalization of text books.
Political and Administrative Measures:
Since India is a federal-democratic country, its integration in all respects should also be done on a democratic basis. Each ethnic, caste, tribal, religious and linguistic group should have freedom for protecting and promoting their own culture and traditions. Analyzing the process of national integration in India, Prof. Rasheeduddin Khan has observed that it means cohesion not fusion, unity but not uniformity, reconciliation but not merger, agglomeration but not assimilation, solidarity but not regimentation of the people constituting our political community. Emotional integration with the development of a strong brotherhood among the people, discourage the growth of separatism, regionalism or secessionism.
The agencies of media both electronic and print should be used for inculcating a national outlook. Academic seminars and entertainment programmes on the theme of communal harmony should be organised. Cultural Academies should be established and they should work for strengthening the movement for unity.
Besides the governmental steps, non-government social service organisations can play an important role in strengthening the process of national integration. These organisations can create necessary social awareness for bringing social reforms and change in the mind set of the people. Emergence of awareness can subsequently promote national integration .