In this article, you can read about national integration and the role of the education system, cinema, and other media in its fostering. This is an important topic for the UPSC exam, especially for the GS I and essay papers.
Role of education in national integration?
Education plays a key role as it changes our thoughts and ideas. Fortunately, in India, we have had very good educationists both before and after independence. School teachers play a great role in shaping the minds of young students in the country. Various characters in history such as Rani Laxmi Bai, Lal Bahadur Shastri, and famous slogans such as ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ have permeated into our collective consciousness over many years. The syllabus designed by NCERT with the help of eminent scholars has also contributed greatly in shaping the idea of India. Also, often students migrate to different parts within the country to pursue higher education at different universities. This has helped young minds to think beyond their regions, caste, and religion, Universities around the country, such as Delhi University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Osmania University, to name a few, have students enrolled from around the country, who within a short span, develop a pan-Indian sense that rises above any cultural or ethnic differences. Unfortunately, our student enrollments in higher education institutions is still very low, and only around 12-13% of our population have access to higher education, whereas in the USA, it is approximately 87%, and in Europe, it is more than 50%, even in China, it is approximately around 25%. Thus, one remains hopeful that in the near future, with the coming up of private universities, and efforts taken by the Government, higher education not only becomes more easily accessible but student enrollments in these institutions also go up. People from diverse cultural groups, and marginalized sections such as minorities, women, tribal groups, etc. who have been alienated in the past from the national mainstream, have gradually been aligning themselves with the mainstream, largely due to the efforts of an inclusive education system. In the words of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, “Right education open to all is perhaps the basic remedy for most of our ills”.
Role of Cinema, Sports, and Literature
Hindi and regional cinemas of the 1960s and 70s helped promote the idea of Indian nationalism, and the idea of secularism. Scriptwriters and directors were conscious towards promoting the idea of nationalism. Movies which showcased love transcended cultural, regional, linguistic barriers, and caste barriers helped in shaping the idea of India. Movies also helped shape a secular India as characters enacted included a broad spectrum of religions, regional backgrounds, ethnicity, etc. It must also be remembered that just after independence, with scant entertainment options around, cinema was a very important source of entertainment for a large section of society. Thus, cinema which imbued the spirit of brotherhood, promoted unity, and the idea of secularism, helped shape the idea of India. The field of sports unfortunately in India has been a neglected area through much of our post-independent history, and stellar performances of our athletes in games such as the Olympics, Asian Games, and Commonwealth Games, has been largely due to their own individual brilliance. India has traditionally done well in hockey, but after the Olympics in Moscow, 1980, performance in hockey has been on a steady decline. Cricket, on the other hand has been able to take centre-stage of the national discourse on sports, and has undoubtedly united Indians. People from all sections of society stand united in support for the Indian cricket team in all competitions and versions of the game, be it traditional test cricket, One-day Internationals, or Twenty20. Literature has also played a leading role in promoting National Integration. One observes that in the field of literature, both English literature and regional literature reflected in the form of poems, short stories, etc. helped promote the national identity and lessen areas of conflicts arising due to differences in caste, region, etc. Patriotic literature by Rabindranath Tagore, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Prem Chand, Bharatendu Harish Chandra, and many others during the freedom struggle helped deepen and spread Indian Nationalism. Their renditions are still alive in the hearts and minds of people, and reinvigorate the feeling of unity in diversity among the people of India, even in the present day.
Contribution of Middle Class, Intellectuals, and Working Class
It is important to note that none of these classes can afford to confine themselves to a particular region. The middle class for example, is a very mobile community, and often migrate between states frequently, either for business, education, or career prospects. Cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Calcutta, etc. have people settled from diverse cultural and regional backgrounds and have made these cities their homes. This section of the middle class, can easily identify themselves with the idea of India. In Mumbai alone, one witnesses people from every region of India, many of whom have migrated there in search of opportunities. Although people migrating from smaller cities to larger ones face various issues, among them being they labeled as ‘outsiders’. However, their will to continue staying and fighting the odds, reflect their confidence in the concept of India. The same holds true for the working class as well. Similarly, the intellectuals, by their very nature of being liberals do not confine themselves within the limits of caste, class, religion and place. They are against the idea of conflicting values and rather work for the collective upliftment of mankind and humanity. Since the evolution of awareness of rights and oneness, we can trace multiple examples when the entire intellectual community has come forward for arbitrary actions of the state against the creative expression of individuals irrespective of caste, creed, religion and place. This allows the space for distinct expressions within a unified India.
Role of the Press/Media/Multinational Companies, etc.
Even before Independence, the press has been an active instrument in the formation of the idea of a unified India. Since independence, due to the tools offered by the Constitution such as freedom of speech and expression, the press and media have gained a substantial amount of autonomy and have been strengthened as an institution. They have made an enormous contribution in building and sustaining the integration of India as one unit in forms that are continuously evolving from printing press to radio to television to social media which caters to the aspirations and views of each generation. Other factors that have been as important as the ones above are the establishments of important institutions such as the State Bank of India, Postal services, Doordarshan, All India Radio, etc. which were important tools of furthering inclusiveness but have subconsciously also promoted and strengthened the idea of a unified India in the minds of our citizens. Hence, although the importance and significance of a region, religion, caste, etc. in the minds of people belonging to each of them cannot be undermined in India due to their historical footprint, however, at all given times, it is the national interest, which must supersede any prejudices towards the above.