The concept of India as a composite entity, transcending all her diversities, is a recurrent theme throughout our history, literature, epics, and folklore. In a Hindu ritual, there is an invocation to the rivers the Ganga, the Yamuna, the Krishna, and the Cauvery. The vision of an extended India stretching from the Himalayas to Kanya kumari has inspired sages, poets, and emperors alike. Emperors Ashoka and Akbar ruled practically over the whole of India as one country. India was then united and strong. And yet it is also the lesson of our history that fissiparous forces have repeatedly raised their head to disrupt our unity and threaten our very existence. These forces sapped our country’s strength and made her weak and disunited; she suffered repeated external aggressions and finally became a colony of a foreign power.
Since the Government was fully aware of the diversity found in the country, adequate steps were taken to promote and secure national harmony immediately after independence. The Constitution made India a secular state, guaranteeing equal respect to all religions and the freedom to profess, practice, and propagate them. Safeguards were allowed to linguistic minorities. Untouchability was abolished and special provisions were made for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. But while considerable progress was made in a quarter century of independence, fissiparous forces, though held in check, repeatedly raised their ugly head in one form or the other and gave the newly independent nation no peace. Passions were inflamed in the name of language; there were riots for linguistic states between different language groups in a state. Regionalism and separatism threatened the fragmentation of the country. Untouchability and caste prejudices died hard and instances of atrocities on Harijans continued to be reported. Communal riots kept on frequently erupting in various parts of the country. This led to the growth of different “scenes” which further vitiated the communal atmosphere.
The situation has considerably deteriorated with the advent of terrorism. It is a comparatively recent phenomenon but is posing a grave threat to the security and stability of human life. Sometimes, these terrorists indulge in such inhuman and gruesome activities that humanity itself is put to shame. The Government is fully aware of the problem and is trying its best to meet the threat. However, it has not so far succeeded in containing terrorism. It is suppressed in one area but it raises its ugly head in another. It may be a bitter and unpleasant fact, but it cannot be denied that the gulf being created by terrorists between various communities may prove difficult to bridge.
The entire progress of India depends upon the restoration of communal harmony, which calls for certain positive steps on the part of the Government as well as the people. The first and foremost step is to break the hold of extremist and obscurantist elements over some sections of society. It is not an easy task to accomplish but definite progress can be made in this direction if the mass media such as newspapers, radio, and television play a constructive role. Positive elements of modernity should be encouraged in all spheres of life and the misguided elements should be weaned away from the hold of fanatical elements. There should be a positive change in the attitude of the majority community towards the minorities so that the latter would shed all misgivings and join the mainstream of the nation. Students of minority communities should be offered opportunities to join reputed and progressive educational institutions and weaned away from those catering to the needs of particular communities. The police and administrative machinery should be sufficiently streamlined to deal with all forms of violence and a long-term solution should be chalked out at all costs. If the promotion of national integration is made an integral part of our educational program, it will go a long way in helping us to solve the problem.