National Integration and Role of National Integration Council

National integration is the creation of a feeling of oneness where the diversities are recognized and respected by imbibing a sense of nationhood.

The diverse Indian society is unified by certain emotional forces thus leading to national integration.  The chief objective of national integration is to encounter the separatist forces. National Integrity has its social, political, religious, regional and economic dimensions. The three basic factors of National Integration are Structural Integrity, Cultural Integrity and Ideological Integrity. Structural integrity calls for socio-economic unity and demands equal opportunities for all specially those who are socially and economically backward. Cultural integrity demands abolitions of social and cultural discriminations such as untouchability and inapproachability. Ideological integrity seeks awareness about ‘national objectives’ among the people who hold divergent views on political and religious and similar other fields.

Challenges to National Security

Regionalism and Communalism are the two main challenges to national security supplemented by several social evils such as casteism and extremism.  Regionalism gives more importance to one’s own region than to one’s nation. When regionalism is linked with language and religion it creates regional interests rather than national interests. This creates parochialism among the people. Communalism is not believing in any particular religion or observing its rites. Excessive affinity to one’s own religion transforms into hatred towards other religions. Thus religious fanaticism arises. When religion, caste and race are used to make social and political gains, it is called communalism.

National Integration Council

In the aftermath of Jabalpur violence, in 1961 a was conference convened by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to find ways and counter the problems that were dividing the country including attachment to specific communities, castes, regions and languages. The outcome of this conference was National Integration Council. The National Integration Council thus met for the first time in June 1962 to review national integration issues and make recommendations. At present National Integration Council works under the chairmanship of Prime Minister and has 147 including Union Ministers, Leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, the Chief Ministers of all States and Union Territories with Legislatures and members from wide array of social segments of India.  Council aims at finding ways to combat communalism, casteism and regionalism.

Assessing its performance

The National Integration Council was formed to combat the evils of communalism, casteism and regionalism. It was meant to be a broad forum with representation from all political parties, Chief Ministers, Central Cabinet ministers and representatives from the civil society. The council is an utter failure because it has very limited advisory role to play. During the previous UPA-I regime, the NIC met only twice. During UPA-II also NIC has met only twice. NIC has been a national talk shop which can give vent to the voice of those who are victims of communalism in one form or the other and deliberate on solutions to this problem dogging our nation. The latest meeting of NIC was held in September 2013 in the aftermath of Muzaffanagar violence and it was not even widely reported in mainstream media.

NIC can be meaningful only if comes out of the slumber of inactivity and given some powers to effectively bridge between different religious communities.