‘National integration', I feel that in this modern day, the whole world is looking upon India ,expecting it to be the most diversified yet successful developing nation. But same thought does not prevail strongly in the minds of many Indians, people are starting to forget the essence of national integrity.

India, also known as Bharat or Bharatham, is a big country. Her civilisation is 5000 years old. She has given birth to some of the world’s most important religions. India has provided refuge to other leading religions also. People of many races have come to India and settled here. She absorbed them all into her blood and nourished them as her children.

There is a rich cultural heritage in India. All of us are inheritors to several grand treasurers in the fields of music, dance, drama, fine arts and paintings, sculpture and theatre. Our ancestors and sages have left behind great treasures of traditions, religious practices, culture. We can take pride that we have inherited a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-caste society but we should not ignore the fact that there is need for preserving and sustaining such an inheritance.

So national integrity is does not only mean that people should bond together but they should do so even though they have their own differences. The chief characteristic of our civilization has been unity in diversity. And  in a Nation like ours’ where there is always a possibility for the clash of ideas and ideologies, I believe National integrity is very important for the country’s development, and also the continuity and strength of our civilization depends on the recognition of our ancient value system.

Perhaps, the most disturbing and dangerous aspect today is the assault on our culture. Ethnic and religious communities have lived together peacefully during the past millennium. Yet today, we see fault-lines developing between communities, and among communities. Hence the need of the hour is realizing National Integration.

But in what way do we induce the feeling of national integration in people?

Well, there are many ways to bring about national integration. It can be forced out, or can be made to strengthen from within the core of our hearts. The result of force would always be weak, unsuccessful and it would be for a temporary phase only. But when the sense of national integration stems from within our hearts, it would be strong stable and ever-lasting.

History speaks for itself, The British government brought about national integration when they ruled India. For the first time during the British rule, the whole of India came together, under the guidance of prominent leaders. The national unity was strengthened when our country fought a united struggle for freedom. In our struggle for freedom people from different communities participated, keeping one thing in mind that they all are Indians first. Emotional integration is the basic foundation on which the main structure of national integration can be created.

Diversities we must be proud of:

India-An Ethnological Museum: India has been often described as an ethnological museum from the human point of view. Her pre-history tells us about the Harappan people who lived in the Indus River areas prior to the coming of the Aryans. The Vedas speak about the Aryans and their spread in the Indo-Gangetic regions. The Sangam classics bear testimony to a well developed culture among the Tamils, even during the pre-Christian Era, in the extreme south of India. Apart from these early settlers, the Persians entered India in the North West. The Greeks, the Sakas, the Huns, and the Kushans followed them. The Arabs, the Turks, the Mongols and the Mughals came to India during the medieval times. These people belonged to many races. The Europeans, such as the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French and the English, came in the modern period. Excepting the Europeans, all others have been absorbed into the stream of Indian life. It is due to this fact that many consider India as an ethnological museum of many races. Indian society is a multi-racial society.Cultural Unity: India’s fundamental unity rests upon her peculiar type of culture. There is no single character or aspect that can be defined as culture. Culture is a product of a corporate civil society. It is expressed through language, literature, religion, philosophy, customs, traditions, beliefs, art and architecture. Thus culture is a complex of many strands of varying importance and vitality. India has achieved cultural unity by fusion of many cultures. She has assimilated the good qualities from all cultures. She has arrived at a synthesis. Her adjustability, accommodation and spirit of tolerance enable Indian culture survive several vicissitudes. Various cultural groups live side by side in India. This has made Indian society a multicultural society.

Languages in India: People in India speak different languages. There are more than 1652 mother tongues in India. 33 languages are spoken by people numbering over a lakh. In ancient times Prakrit andSanskrit were used in most parts of India. Sanskrit is considered as the mother of all North Indian languages. Devanagiri is the script used to write Sanskrit and other north Indian languages. Hindi, Marathi, Gujarathi, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Urdu and Bengali are the major languages spoken in North India. Assamese is the language spoken in the North East. Tamil, Telugu, Oriya, Kannada and Malayalam are the major languages spoken in South India. Many Tribal languages do not have script. English became the common and link language after 200 years of British rule in India. Out of the many Indian languages 18 are recognised as the official languages. Language has never been a hurdle for India’s religious and cultural unity. Even before the improvement of roads, communication, printing, the Mahabharata and Ramayana stories were popular throughout the length and breadth of India. English language had cemented the already existing geographical, religious and cultural unity of India. It made political unity possible.

Literature: India is a treasure house of vast literature. The Vedas, Mahabharata, Ramayana, Bhagavad Gita, the Bible, the Quran, and the Thirukkural are familiar with all Indians. These are available in all Indian languages. Kalidasa’s literary works like Megadootham and Sakunthalam are still read in many parts of India. Hindu, Buddhist, Jainist, Saivaite and Vaishnavite philosophical treatises are read in every nook and corner of India. Philosophical interpretations written by saints like Sankara, Ramanuja, Kabir, Nanak and Chaitanya are widely read. All irrespective of caste and status sings the Thevaram and Nalayira Divya Prbhandam, written by Nayanmars and Alwars. These literary works bring unity among the Indians and act as the vital unifying force.

India is famous for religious festivals. Hindu festivals like Deepavali, Rama Navami, Krishna Jayanthi, Durga or Ayutha Pooja, Vinayaka Chaturthi, Holy and Makara Sankaranti or Pongal are celebrated all over India. Muslims celebrate Meeladun Nabi, Bakrid and Ramzan. Christians celebrate Good Friday and Christmas. The Sikhs celebrate Guru Nanak Jayanti. Buddha Poornima and Mahavir Jayanti are celebrated by the Buddhists and the Jains respectively. All Indians celebrate the New Year Day. During these festivals people exchange their greetings forgetting their religious affiliations. Many without any intolerant incidents observe Kumba Melas and Iyyappan Poojas. It speaks of the unity enjoyed by Indians. India’s secular character is known from the importance that the Government gives for the peaceful celebration of these festivals with public holidays.

Art and Architecture: India’s art and architecture speak of her grandeur. India is famous for her Carnatic and Hindustani styles of music. Each region in India is famous for its style of music. There are a variety of dance forms in India. The popular ones are Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Manipuri and Oddissi. These dance forms adopt more or less similar themes from Hinduism during performances. Various folk dances have the influence of Indian cultural life. They promote unity among the Indians.

So what does our government do, to promote National integrity?

Our government is taking efforts to promote national integration, some of the efforts include the celebration of national integration day and the presenting of national integration awards.

The 19th of November, the birth day of Mrs.Indira Gandhi is celebrated as national integration day. The aim of National Integration Day is to bring unity, peace, and spreading of love and brotherhood among fellow Indians.

The National Integration Day is celebrated to bring people especially youth of different religious back ground, different economical, social, cultural and education, together in a camp and common platform so that these young people will understand and learn about each other and try to work in a group and then when they go back to their native place can spread and develop better understanding of different ideologies, beliefs, faiths and life - styles, which in turn would strengthen a secular and eclectic outlook on their part.

The Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration is the prestigious award accorded by the Indian National Congress. This Award is given annually starting from 1985 to distinguished persons or institutions for promoting national integration of India .The Award carries an amount of Rs. 1.51 lakh in cash and a citation. The Award is given on the Martyrdom Day i.e. 31 October.

Recently at Kargil ,on July 23 A colourful dance festival, featuring artists from all parts of the country, was organised by the Indian Army to mark the 10th anniversary of the Kargil war and to acknowledge the help and cooperation of the people of Kargil. Artists from all over the country came together to perform and spread the message of unity and integrationThe Indian army believes that the people of Kargil have been very helpful during all the wars that India has seen, the dance festival was a way to acknowledge this help.The artists were enthusiastic and believed that such efforts help connect people and should be encouraged especially in a country that is so diverse.

"When we all come together in programmes like these, we interact and get a chance to know each other. We are sending a message of love and integrity through this programme," said one of the artist who took part in the festival

I would like to conclude by emphasizing the importance of National integrity. There is a need to make efforts for creating a sense of unity. The need of the hour is national integration. It should be taught at the very beginning, in all schools and colleges all over the country that India is one and only one. The school and college teaching material should be suitably revised wherein importance and need of unity should be emphasised. From one end of the country to the other end, regular long distance tours must be conducted so as to foster emotional integration among the young students of our country. To achieve national integration, we must work from the bottom –up.

Through national integration, we will prosper and flourish, we will carry with us, power, strength, and solidarity and the element of cohesiveness which will give us further permanence to stay strong in present struggling world.

“WHAT AN INDIVIDUAL CANNOT ACHEIVE, CAN BE ACHEIVED BY THE NATION AS A WHOLE, SO LET’S TAKE PRIDE IN OUR COUNTRY’S DIVERSITY AND WORK TOWARDS A GREAT FUTURE !”


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