Education for fostering National Integration in India in the 21st century
Urvi Sharma (M.A., Panjab University, Chandigarh)
Legal Bloc Journal (ISSN: 2395-0277) : Vol. I Issue III
The modern new India arises from the long slumbers of medieval ages with the world shaking slogans of equality, liberty and fraternity but countrymen are still awaiting to realize these ideals…In a country like India which is an epitome of diversity, we are the people who are connected not by race or religion or colour but by the sense of sharing the pride of belonging to this one distinctive nation binding in it all the ethnicities, cultures and religions in an intact manner and heralding a golden dream for its brighter future. This pride should not be allowed to deteriorate into chauvinism.… The articulate vision of moral, educational and political values of the India’s multifarious cultures can’t be understood today unless we don’t make our young minds understand where those values come from, the struggles in which they were forged, and the historical contexts which generated those struggles … The citizens need to perform their duties towards nation diligently and honestly for no government can function in an ideal manner unless the citizens won’t comply in a constructive manner. And this can be attained with the introduction of a good education policy that fosters the national integration in our nation which herald medley of diversities within it.
“India is a museum of cults and customs, creeds and cultures, faiths and tongues, racial types and social systems”- Radhakumud Mukherjee
The modern new India arises from the long slumbers of medieval ages with the world shaking slogans of equality, liberty and fraternity but countrymen are still awaiting to realize these ideals. In the times when freedom is hurt, humanity is bleeding and haemorrhaging grotesquely, poverty is being perpetuated due to the unequal division of power, a woman being raped every twenty minutes with inexpressible brutality, people are divided in the name of castes and religions, the heartbreaking crimes meted out to many in the outpouring insurgencies and unrest all around the country from Kashmir to Manipur, some that will never even be known to humankind; it has become indisputably clear with unison rise in demand of a good education policy for fostering the education of national integration among the young impressionable minds to ensure their consistent and abiding participation as citizens of this incredible nation, is no longer a luxury but a necessity, vital to our very survival as a powerful developing nation that we claim to be.
Dorothy Simpson defines National integration as ‘a feeling that binds the citizens of a country.’ National Integration Day in India is observed on 19th November, the birthday of the most prodigious woman, Indira Gandhi. National integration is the creation of a feeling of oneness where the diversities are recognised by imbibing a sense of nationhood suggesting that even though we belong to different castes, religions and regions and speak different languages; we share the pride of belonging to this distinctive and diverse nation sharing the same patriotic vigour. In a country like India which is an epitome of diversity, we are the people who are connected not by race or religion or colour but by the sense of sharing the pride of belonging to this one distinctive nation binding in it all the ethnicities, cultures and religions in an intact manner and heralding a golden dream for its brighter future. This pride should not be allowed to deteriorate into chauvinism. The rising potency of India is not measured as much as in terms of the military and economic supremacy it has established but more in terms of the belongingness that binds the citizens of this incredible nation in one big family. The citizens are to nation, not what garb is to body but what soul is to body thus playing a vital role in shaping the country’s affluence. So it becomes all the more necessary to foster the education for national integration to encounter all the fissiparous forces and hence move onto to write about a beautiful dawn for the future generations of our country.
Today in India the problem of integrating has its own structural, regional, economic, political and religious implications. With twenty-nine states and 7 union territories, India is regarded as the largest democracy in the history of the world. Indian constitution itself recognises 22 languages with Hindi as the official language and English as the link language and about 2000 languages are spoken by the various sections of the Indian people. Positions and opportunities are monopolised seldom by a particular section to create enmity among the others in the prejudice of religion/region/caste by many avaricious entities who exploit us as per their own petty profits. The Hindus being ‘majority’ in India constitute 82.72 per cent of the total population but Muslims, Sikhs and Christians are majority communities in the states of Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab and Nagaland, respectively.
The SCs are enumerated as Hindus, but do not share the Hindu identity in a real sense of the term. The availability of scarce resources result in people competiting for gaining access to these resources, thus encountering resistance, acrimony, conflict in the process. If we reflect upon the atrocities which such biased views have inflicted upon the Indian people, the account is horrifying. How can one neglect the ruthless and demoniac massacres like Godhra riots or 1984 Delhi riots or the recent church attacks that still send a chill down our spines or the agony in which countrymen are dying a slow and horrible death in the name of religion, the sanctity of which has been belittled today by certain people for their petty nefarious profits? And unless and until we don’t do away with these petty prejudices, the country’s development will continue to be trampled ruthlessly under the stampede of such vote bank politics.
The articulate vision of moral, educational and political values of the India’s multifarious cultures can’t be understood today unless we don’t make our young minds understand where those values come from, the struggles in which they were forged, and the historical contexts which generated those struggles. Inspite of succumbing to blind ignorance of casteism, religiosity or chauvinism in all its manifold guises; it is now rather essentially important to imbibe the value of national integration through an education policy that embodies the heritage of our past as Gita, Upanishads, Vedanta, Manu Smriti, Purana and Vedas; our national symbols and the unique flavour of this beautiful nation. It is important to get back to our roots through the essence of the diversity of our motherland in an unbiased manner and find meaning and beauty in the values that embody our glorious history and heritage.
Our motherland binds us in a sacred bond that captures much more sanctity and depth, far beyond the petty boundaries of religions, regions, languages and politics. Hence fostering the education for national integration of India is important not solely as a luxury but as a necessity in the modern twenty first century to resurrect this land of golden sparrow into golden lion where there is scope for development of fearless minds and exuberant intellects.
In the era of liberalization, globalization and of information and communication technology, the curriculum framers of our nation are merely speaking on these dimensions but hardly any effort is being made for the provision of moral, spiritual and on national building education. Indeed there is immense requirement to take up these dimensions of education on which rest the whole of our student’s growth and development. There is also a need to foster the awareness of our constitution and its ideals through education so that the ideas of equality, liberty and fraternity are cultivated in the minds of countrymen at a very tender age. There is also need to develop all modern Indian languages, and take necessary steps to resurrect Hindi as our national language in true sense as quickly as possible so that it is able to function effectively as the official language of the Union.
The three language formula, put forward for promoting national integration and exchange among states, can be of immense use. The formula is that Hindi, English and any one of the mother tongues shall be included in the school curriculum which will bring the students closer to their traditional and cultural values thus inspiring a feeling of patriotism in their minds.
Education can indeed play a vital role in it by introducing a common school system of public education; making social and national service an integral part of education at all stages and promoting national consciousness. The Preamble of the Constitution of India states: We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic and to secure to all its citizens: Justice- social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation. The detailed study and analysis of constitution will also help children in learning the values of freedom, respect for others’ freedom and responsibility that comes with freedom. They will become aware of the need of “integrity” in our nation. The dictionary meaning of ‘integrity’ is the state of being whole and undivided: upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty.
The word “Integrity” originated from Latin “integritas”, meaning integral, and integrate. In the words of Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru ‘the Indian state is based on the principle of unity and integrity in diversity’. Etzioni (1965) believes that a community is integrated when it has an effective control over the means of deliberately educating the masses; a centre of decision-making that significantly affects the allocation of resources and rewards; and a dominant focus of political identification for a large majority of national citizens who are politically aware; all of which is possible if only we foster the education and awareness of national integration among the citizens of our nation. The American born, sister Nivedita (1867-1911) the ardent disciple of Swami Vivekananda has aptly said, “Each Indian for ten minutes in the evening should think that we Indians are one and we will not renounce the spirit of unity.”
National integration is a multi-dimensional concept, with many inter-locking elements that operate independently to some degree but yet are also interactive, cumulative and generally complementary. It is also holistic in the sense that an integrated community is often more viable than each of its constituent parts. It is a highly complex phenomenon in the sense that what is integrative on the one hand may be disintegrative on another; and it is a dynamic construct in the sense that ‘once integrated does not mean always integrated’. But Education is that aspect of human being’s phenomenal existence having the capacity to lift his mind to transcendental heights, above the humdrum of narrow self-perception of everyday life.
This has indeed been the central message of the evolving educational policy of India that has opted for herself a uniform system of school education that emphasizes on the need to sensitize the country’s young through the knowledge of our common cultural heritage. If anything, there is a greater need of its augmentation, which can propel the country’s future citizens to work for enduring peace and harmony with reassurance.
The Report of the Secondary Education Commission 1952-53 emphasizes the role of the educational system and observes that “the educational system must make its contribution to the development of habits, attitudes and qualities of charter, which will enable its citizens to bear worthily the responsibilities of democratic citizenship and to face all those fissiparous tendencies which hinder the emergence of a broad, national and secular outlook”. The Report of the Education Commission (1964-66) in evolving the educational system, identified the “social and national integration” as one of the major problems of national development and called for different means through which these themes can be taught in schools and colleges.
The National Policy on Education 1986 points out the need for establishing the national system of education and institutions to promote national integration and different components of the Constitution. In 1999, a committee was set up under the Chairmanship of Justice J.S. Verma to implement the suggestions to teach Fundamental Duties to the Citizens of the country. The report popularly known as Justice J.S. Verma Committee Report, provides conceptual definition of “Duty”, Preamble of the Constitution and all the Fundamental Duties. The Reports lists out the Schemes/Programmes related to National Integration and Communal Harmony, culture and Values and Environment. The report also contains an analysis of curriculum at various levels of education and teacher education from the point of view of various Fundamental Duties including National Integration and Communal Harmony. From its inception, National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has made efforts to improve the quality of school education as directed by educational policies. Development of instructional materials is one of the major tasks of the Council. These materials, besides including the pedagogical principles are also supposed to include content materials to foster Core components of national educational policies and Indian Constitution. These instructional materials which include, curricular frameworks, syllabi, textbooks, supplementary reading materials etc. have also been evaluated time and again on whether the instructional materials incorporated core components such as “National Integration”, “Communal Harmony” or not.
For instance, in the early 1970s, under the project entitled, National Integration Project, the Council has produced many books meant for children to foster National Integration. Following the recommendations of the National Policy on Education (1986) and the Programme of Action (1992) to review the National Curriculum Framework for School Education after every five years, NCERT has initiated the process of the review of the ‘National Curriculum Framework of School Education. A National steering Committee has been set up under the Chairmanship of Prof Yash Pal, an eminent scientist and a scholar, to deliberate on all aspects of school curriculum. Concerns of communal harmony and national integration are inherent in the goals for- peace education.
There cannot be national integration without understanding the character of the nation and there cannot be communal harmony unless we intrinsically believe in the validity of different beliefs and approaches. When these factors are taken into consideration, it can be seen that national integration is a complex problem and political integration is only one part of it.
It is beyond doubt that the threats of disintegration are staring us in the face. If we keep on remaining disunited in the name of religion, community or language, the country will be in trouble. If we do not sink petty differences our freedom is in peril. Divisions on the basis of language or community will have serious repercussions. In short, there is urgent need to rethink about our basic political and cultural concepts, reinterpret them, and be bold to emphasize them through educational system, political behaviour and social environment. At the same time socio-economic and cultural differences are to be avoided also. Caste discriminations should be eradicated. We must realize that we have the strong bond of same cultural heritage and must not let ourselves fall apart and disintegrate. We must show to the world that a country with as old a tradition as ours can holds back personal differences for the sake of higher interest of the country. India is a land of various races, religions, languages and cultures.
Dr. Radhakrishnan said, “If India is to remain free, united and democratic, education should train people for unity and not for localism, for democracy not for dictatorship”. Education is the central force to develop emotional integration among all. The curriculum, methods, aims and objectives, etc. will provide guidelines to all teachers, educators and students to integrate the fruits of education for national and emotional integration. Now-a-days our society and media are flooded with reports of crime, murder, agitation, kidnapping, dacoity, religious and political fundamentalism and divisive tendencies. All these occurrences indicate the need for ‘education for national and emotional integration’.
Education is of great significance for bringing out about National and emotional integration. It is a strong weapon which can be used effectively for achieving our national understanding. The National Policy of Education should have the uniform pattern from primary to university level throughout the length and the breadth of the country. Domiciliary restrictions in regard to migration of students between one state and another should be immediately removed. There is an imperative need for recasting books on Indian history, geography, literature and language etc. These activities prepare the students for National integration in a direct and an indirect way. They exercise a more effective and useful impact on their personality.
Further, the celebration of National Days, birthday’s of great men, celebrating cultural festivals, donating Blood, organizing adult education programme, participating in social activities can help in a great way to integrate the youth under the mutual feelings of patriotism as well as pride of being the citizen of this idiosyncratic nation.
Mass illiteracy and lack of proper education, endanger national solidarity. India is still a land of mass illiteracy. Adult education programmes should be organized while keeping in view the development of national consciousness and national solidarity. Students may be asked to repeat a pledge twice a month dedicating themselves to the service of their country and their countrymen. Teacher should play a very effective role for the promotion of national integration. Only national minded teacher can strengthen the spirit of unity and the idea of compositeness.
A teacher has been regarded as the builder of the nation. He influences the students by his behaviour. He should have a national outlook and reflect national consciousness, actions, conduct and behaviour so that the students may receive the message of national integration. He should rise above petty biases and prejudices. He should be impartial and treat his students equally without distinction of caste, sex, creed, colour and religion etc. He should have firm faith in national unity and love for the country. What a teacher does speaks more loudly than what he says. Teacher must introduce his country in his lessons of History, civics and geography, literature, art and music should be taught from the national point of view. Teacher should co-operate in recasting books on Indian history, civics, literature and language etc. leading the students to appreciate historical, social, cultural, linguistic and religious of the people of India. Teacher should prepare the students mentally for national integration. The teacher should stimulate students to read newspapers and books of non- communal nature throwing light on the contributions of nationalists. Teacher should inspire them for having faith and love for national language, national literature, national culture, national festivals, national symbols and national glory. When the teacher notices that young minds are going towards casteism, linguism, narrow mindedness, rowdyism and hooliganism, he should try to give them counselling and being them back to the right path.
For instance, recently the 12-year-old Class VI student of Cosmopolitan High School won the ‘Gita Champions League’ contest for explaining the teachings of the scripture in the best possible manner organised by International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) in January. However this is not as surprising as the fact that the girl Maryam is herself a muslim who remarked, “Humanity is the ultimate religion” and Gita as man’s “spiritual dictionary”. This tolerance for other religions needs to be inculcated within the youth of our country through definite education procedure. The directions and programmes of the government for developing national integration should be taken more seriously and implemented. National Integration is vital for India’s survival. The country must mobilize all its resources to evolve a concrete national programme. The future of the nation is dark unless a high national character of the people is developed. Toleration, co-operation and feeling of brotherhood should guide us in maintaining the national unity of our country.
Let us echo what Pandit Nehru said, “There is no division between North and South, East and West of India. There is only one India of which all us are inheritors, it belongs to all of us.”
This is a poison deeply rooted in our polity. India cannot succeed in forging any unity, if communalism continues. Nobel Laureate, Dr. Amartya Sen, mentioned about the two different interpretations of secularism. One sees secularism as neutrality of the state towards religions. The other views, Secularism as distancing the state from any religious symbolism. While the latter is a Western concept, our country has followed the former view.
The state, while being neutral, allows coexistence of all religions. Secularism is not a political ideology. It is a social and cultural philosophy of live and let live, and the non-interference of the State in the personal faith of an individual. Because the students are lacking in these values that’s why they are resorting to petty conflicts in/outside the school/college premises and sometimes these quarrels take a violent form by harming one another. In order to teach the students about the practices which we were following since times immemorial we need to teach the related subjects to our rising future generations by taking moral, spiritual and concept of nationalism in view.
More than sixty-seven years have passed since we attained freedom but we must not forget those countless hopes, innumerous desires and unlimited aspirations for which infinite freedom fighters valiantly kissed death for the sake of freeing this nation from the clutches of foreign rulers. With an undying hope and indomitable courage, we need to work together to resurrect this land of golden sparrow into golden lion where there is scope for development of fearless minds and exuberant intellects.
A feeling of patriotism should be exalted in every citizen that makes him put the interest of his country before his own personal interest and by not entering into any contract which might prove harmful to the interest of his country. But the value should be seasoned with the proper degree of humility. No country is too small to be on its own; and no country too big to learn from others. A good citizen is the one who regards himself the citizen of a nation as well as that of the world instilling in others all the compassionate virtues of humanity, one who possesses the dignity and a self healthy approach. A country needs its citizens to be free and fearless to make it strong for a healthy mind dwells in a healthy body.
The citizens need to perform their duties towards nation diligently and honestly for no government can function in an ideal manner unless the citizens won’t comply in a constructive manner. And this can be attained with the introduction of a good education policy that fosters the national integration in our nation which herald medley of diversities within it. So let’s pledge to work together to ward off these monsters of melancholy darkness and enlighten every hut and heart with the light of prosperity, education, love and compassion. Till then, we have to march on to reach that faraway utopian land in that peaceful dawn that country is still in search of.
This article was submitted to Legal Bloc – Samvaad Essay writing competition, 2015 and published in Legal Bloc Journal (ISSN: 2395-0277) : Vol. I Issue III (Aug. 2015)