There were three aspects of the Constitution which helped immensely in promoting national integration. The very first was the Preamble, beginning with the letters, “We the people of India”, i.e. Bharat. Then, the Fundamental Rights, enshrined in the constitution, that guarantee equal rights to all- irrespective of religion, region, caste, sex, creed, etc. The Directive Principles of state policy that directs states in taking steps towards bringing equality, justice, liberty to all. The ideals of the Preamble are to be established through the Directive Principles of State Policy. It is these three facets of our Constitution, when read together, aim at creating conditions for an egalitarian society in which individual freedoms are secure.
Uniform civil/army/judicial administration
The services which we inherited from the British, which we continued with some changes after independence that included IAS (Indian Administrative Service), IPS (Indian Police Service) and IFS (Indian Forest Service). Through AIS (All India Services), a candidate say from Bengal, would have had to serve in say, Gujarat. Those from Gujarat would have had to work in Karnataka, and so on. Generally the tenure of service would be around 30 to 35 years. Most often such candidates would travel to the state of their posting with their families, and settle in that particular state during a certain period- thereby mixing with the local culture and assimilating many of its cultural traits. These services have contributed towards national unity and integration. Thus, the idea of India is based on a very good ‘sangam’, or union and is thus is based on the idea of fusion rather than fission. It is this idea of fusion which was attempted in the past by Mughal rulers such as Akbar and Jahangir as well as Sufi and Bhakti saints in the medieval ages. Even in the Indian armed forces, jawans and officers are recruited from different parts of India- often their family members come from diverse cultural backgrounds, and often one sees members within the same family belonging to different regions, and sometimes even following different religions. This has also contributed towards making regional identities less important when it comes to the National identity. The presence of a unified judiciary in the country, with a single hierarchy of courts with the Supreme Court at its apex, upholds the basic tenets of our Constitution which enforces equality before law, and has been a refuge for civil society as a whole to voice their concerns. Recent innovations taken up by the Judiciary has further deepened the idea of Justice for all that reaches all sections of society and providing an effective stage to the aggrieved citizens of the country in the form of Public Interest Litigations (PILs) that have brought the attention of the larger public towards key issues. Also, judicial activism has further strengthened the principle of ‘checks and balances’ between the other two pillars of Governance, namely, the legislature and the executive, often shaping more just and equitable public policies.
Role of Planning and Finance Commission
Planning Commission, Finance Commission, Election Commission, UPSC, CAG, SC, HC etc. helped in national integration. Over and above this, the PSU (Public Sector Undertakings), where workers, who come from different parts of the country, are selected on the basis of competitive exams. In fact, one finds a mini-India in the residential townships of PSU’s such as SAIL, BHEL, NTPC, etc. They have played a major role in subverting regional feelings. Recently, the Planning Commission being replaced by the NITI Aayog, has further strengthened the concept of cooperative federalism that seeks to achieve greater involvement of states towards nation building. The Central Government, through the recent 14th Finance Commission recommendations, devolving a greater share (42%) of the divisible pool of taxes to states, thereby granting them greater fiscal space, has reposed greater faith in the role that States play in nation building.
Railways and Communication
One witnesses the diversity of India when one travels by the Indian railways. In fact, one witnesses different classes of people, spanning across the length and breadth of the country. The geographical extent of India becomes visible through the fact that, if one removes Russia from the map of Europe, India is bigger than Europe. The process of railway development in the Indian context rapidly increased from 1858 onwards. Statistics show that, the pace at which the rail network increased was more than 900 kms per year. However, after independence, the average rate of growth of the rail network has been around 300 kms per year. It can be observed that with increasing rail network penetration, even remote extremities of our country were connected with each other thus increasing people-to-people contacts within the country. The railways hasn’t only been an effective vehicle for movement of cargo and people within the country, but, since its inception, and even during the days freedom struggle where it played a key role, continues to be a medium of cultural and emotional exchange of thoughts and ideas to this very day. The huge telecom reform and revolution in India has helped in strengthening people-to-people contacts. These days, we have many telecom service providers such as BSNL, Airtel, Vodafone, etc. Mobile technology today isn’t restricted to the affluent class of society, but has been made accessible to the people at the bottom of the social pyramid. This has played a key role in promoting national integration by connecting a large section of our population, bridging the communication divide.
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