National integration refers to the bond tying together the people of a country into a unified whole.l This concept has variable meanings. In the West, it means assimilation of all the cultural traits into a national culture. There the minorities and regional groups are absorbed and assimilated into the nation's mainstream
But in India the ideal of 'unity in diversity' has been adopted. Jawaharlal Nehru believed that there were no divisions between the North and South and East and West of India, but there was only East and West of India, but there was only Indian of which all the people were inheritors. Viewed thus, the concept of national integration does not mean 'Hinduisation' of the people or the 'Islamisation' of the country. It means 'Indianisation', where every citizen is expected to be 'an Indian first, Indian second and Indian last.'
Despite the high ideals envisaged behind the concept, Indian remains a nation in a limited sense. Different groups, faiths and linguistic organisations have made the goal of national integration difficult.The British by riding on the policy of 'divide and rule' delayed the process of national integration. After independence, with the merger of states on linguistic basis, it was felt that the recognition of cultural traits would pave the way to national integration and national unity would be achieved once and for all. But the facts proved contrary.
The problems of national integration have political, economic, social, cultural, volitional and psychological dimensions.
1. Political dimension : Territoriality is an important prerequisite for national integration. A diffused state with fluctuation boundaries coupled with kinship ties and tributary arrangement, may have been acceptable in historic periods. But modern politics requires independent units with sovereign and plenary jurisdiction. Thus 'state building' is an essential prerequisite for 'nation building.'
Political integration of the country was realised after independence. the State Reorganisation Act, 1956 led to the creation of states on linguistic grounds. Thus the erstwhile Madras state was divided and an exclusive Telugu-speaking Andhra Pradesh was created. Bombay was bifurcated into Gujarat (Gujarati speaking) and Maharashtra (Marathi seaking) in 1960 and Punjab into Haryana (Hindi) and Punjab (Punjabi) in 1966.
But this arrangement failed to quell the antinational force in the form of linguism and regionalism. Regionalism refers to subnationalism demanding the preference of the region as against the country as a whole. Linguism has not remained confined to efforts to promote one's mother tongue, but has also included a negative aspect to destroy the basis of a multilingual society. Almost all parties use language and religion to serve their political ends. The number of regional parties in the country has been steadily going up, e.g. Telugu Desam, AGP, DMK, etc. Even governments oscillate between the domination of Hindi and vague promises to other linguistic groups to protect their interests. This political inactivity and opportunism have led to the promotion of regionalism and linguism.
2. Economic dimension : Lack of all-round development has created an important ground for agitation. Lack of employment opportunities, poverty of the people and the absence of economic justice have commented on these sources in particular. It is for redressal of economic grievances that the Telangana people revolted in the late 1960% and the Assmaese also fought for more or less similar demands in the 1980s.
3. Social dimension : A dichotomy exists in Indian society between the traditional institutions of caste, kinship ties, etc. on the one hand, and modern political system on the other. National integration requires that the people of the country should be socially integrated.
That is people should not be divided on the grounds of religion and caste. Racial and communal segregation or social alienation severely damage national unity. Communalism, in particular, has shown its worst effect in India recently. The electoral process has, instead of pulling down the walls of community and religion. made it more pronounced. Caste is another force which cements the communal cleavages. Here again, the parties bless the caste organisations for narrow political gains.
4. Cultural dimension : The culture of people embracing language, script, customs, ideas and the whole way of life plays an important role in achieving national integration. So deep is people's attachment to their district language, custom and entire way of life that they strive to maintain separate existence. In India, the problem of national integration is related to the end discovery of one's identity in a multilingual and multi-religious State.
In such a State, the sub-national communities are too strong to allow easy association with a common loylty. These communities, which revolve around religion, language, culture, history, challenge the democratic institutions. It often happens that the unbalanced progress of one community vis-a-vis the others leads people to their own cultural and communal cocoons and a vested interest develops in their group behaviour. This tendency jeopardises national integration.
5. Volitional dimension : Elite-mass linkage is a must for national integration. In India the pressure groups serve this end but generally the group leaders are not genuine spokespersons of the group of the masses. The elite mass integration is conspicuously absent in rural areas. Forced labour and suppression of weaker communities still persists as remnants of feudal dynamics. This causes Naxal movements as one form of armed conflicts in rural India. West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala have the worst forms of such social conflicts.
6. Psychological dimension Emotional and psychological integration is essential for national integration. Unless the people prefer nationalism to their primordial loyalties, psychological unity cannot be achieved. All activities intended to disrupt the unity and integrity of the country spring from the absence of feeling and sentiments of nationalism. The problem with Indian nationalism is that it develops only against some entity. For example, the British were the main entity against whom this sense developed. In post-independence India, we require a massive media campaign to inoculate the same sense of nationalism.
The abolition of absentee landlordism, the cenenting of trade union movement, special concessions to depressed sections of society in educational institutions and in employment go a long way in consolidating the social and economic status of different segments. Also, the envisaged ideals of the Indian Constitution, namely secularism and socialism can play a vital role in facilitating national integration. Government should try to promote these ideals.
A National Integration Council was created in 11968 with the Prime Minister as its head. But the council soon became inactive. In the wake of the communal riots of 1979 and 1980, the NIC was revived.