National integration has been a very serious and prominent challenge in all the developing countries including India. For a proper analysis of the concept of national integration it is necessary to know the meaning of certain concepts. The first and foremost concept is the term integration itself which may be defined as “a process of becoming whole.” In other words, “an integrated whole is one in which all structural aspects and parts, fit together with at least some minimal amount of unity or mutual compatibility.” Furthermore, “integration is the name for the state of relationship between parts of the system.” It “has to do with the interrelations of units.” Thus, “an integrated society is one in which established institutions and rights and values associated with them are generally accepted.” These definitions generally present the static character of integration with its main focus at maintenance of the system. But in reality while concerned with the process of becoming whole, integration is also directed towards an orderly change within the system.
Various Challenges to National Integration are:-
The term national integration tends to be obscure in the light of varying definitions of nation and nationalism. The minimum requisite for nationhood is considered to be the people living in a compact geographical area with general cultural unity. They form a nation by accepting a particular political order and forming a state. Language, race, religion and history are additional factors which generally strengthen the bond of nationhood. According to J. P. Narayan nationhood is made up of tangible and intangible elements, the latter constituting much the larger part of it.
The most essential tangible elements of nationhood are:
- A well-defined territory
- Political unity represented by a constitution, common citizenship and a government
- A workable medium of communication.
The intangible elements are:
- An attitude of mind which makes it natural and normal for every citizen to regard loyalty to the nation as being above sectional and group loyalties
- An attitude of mind which makes it natural and normal for every group and section of the nation to subordinate its interest to national interests;
- An attitude of mind which makes it natural and normal for the nation to think of the interests of every citizen and of every group and section of the nation.
Problem of National Integration in Post-Independence India
The main challenges to national integration in post-independence India are
linguism, communalism, casteism and regionalism.
India is a multi-linguistic nation with several well developed languages
which are rich in grammar, expression and literature and have their own distinct
script. Multi-linguism is, therefore, one of the primordial facts of the Indian
Despite the acceptance of Hindi as the official language of the Republic by
the Constituent Assembly of India and its further recognition by the Hindi-
speaking states, the language issue has remained unsettled. In post-independence
India the language issue took a different turn. Now instead of the Hindi-Urdu
conflict what emerged was a conflict between Hindi and English on the one hand
and Hindi and regional languages on the other hand, particularly those spoken in
the South India like Tamil and Telugu. Till 1960, the language issue mainly
revolved round Hindi and English. So long as the memory of the freedom struggle
and its commitments were fresh in the minds of leaders of different parts of India,
there was no sharp public reaction or mass mobilisation against Hindi. The non-
Hindi speaking people were taking interest in Hindi, especially in the Hindustānī
form of Hindi, even in the pre-independence period. The leaders from non-Hindi
areas had been emotionally committed to replacing English by an Indian
language. Moreover, after independence, for three successive elections the
Congress party had won overwhelming majority in most of the states. Congress
leadership convinced the anxious non-Hindi speaking people and their leadership
that the promotion of Hindi would not take place at their cost.
To make a compromise between the supporters and the opponents of Hindi
the ‘Three Language Formula’ was accepted as a middle path. However, the issue
was finally settled by the Official Languages (Amendment) Act, 1967, and it was
decided that English will continue to be the Associate Official Language of the
Union for all the non-Hindi states till the time they themselves opt for Hindi.
Religion is a very crucial factor as far as the national integration of India is
concerned. There are six major religious communities in India accounting for a
substantial population in the country as a whole. Historically, religion has never
played a predominant role in the governance of the state in India. Whenever
attempts were made to introduce religion as a principle of administration, it failed.
Still, religion directly or indirectly, influences our politics to some extent and in
its accentuated form, it leads to communalism and violence and then poses a
serious threat to national integration.
A sense of blind loyalty towards the community that may go to the extent of subordinating one’s higher loyalty to his or her nation or society as a whole. Instead of having an attitude towards a particular religion enlightened enough so as to circumvent any possible feeling of orthodoxy, it leads to the inculcation of wrong orientations that have their manifestation in the form of fanaticism or religious orthodoxy. As such, communalism refers to the attitude of the people and their groups when they “place their loyalty to the community above loyalty to the body politic to which they belong, or else when they develop active hostility towards communities
living within the same body politic.”
Regionalism is one issue that has apparently caused the greatest threat to
national integration. Regionalism is defined as politicisation of regional
sentiment. To have a conceptual understanding of the term regionalism, let us first
see the meaning of the term region.
Region generally means a large tract of land, a more or less defined portion
of the earth’s surface specifically distinguished by certain natural features and
climatic conditions. The essential point is that a region is characterised, more than
anything else, by a widely shared sentiment of ‘togetherness’ in the people,
In India the most important factor responsible for the growth of
regionalism has been regional imbalance and regional disparity. The unequal
development of different regions of India owes its genesis to the colonial past.
The British did not have much interest in India’s development, least be said of
equal development of all the regions.
internalised from a wide variety of sources and, what is more, a ‘separateness from others.’ The concept of regionalism draws sustenance from the factors of
geography, topography, religion, language, culture, economic life, customs,
political traditions and shared historical experiences. The term regionalism has its
wider and narrower connotations. In the former sense, it covers the case of a
movement directed against ‘centralism’; in the latter sense, it refers to the
attachment of the people with interests of a local significance and in that respect it
becomes analogous to localism or sectionalism