Indian civilization has survived-through the ages despite temporary setbacks. Since the earliest times, Indian civilization has marched with common objectives of culture and society. In early days, great emperors like Ashoka unified the country and its civilization and knit ft round a common culture from one end of the country to the other. During and after the Hindu period and later by the spread of Buddhism in whole of Asia, Indian culture and civilization got a further impetus. It brought about integration among different classes of people and common ideological and political thinking. The spiritual content of Buddhism spread through the country and brought a strange renaissance in the Indian social set-up. After the 14th century, the impact of the Muslim culture penetrated into the Indian civilization and created a plural social structure without, however, impairing the units of the country. The Mughals when they came to power also tried to bring the whole country under one array.
The arrival of the British in India started a new chapter in India’s history. Always aiming at dividing the people so as to rule themselves, they launched a number of disintegrating measures to litter away the common points among various religions, communities and classes in the country. The British rule, however, provided one common economic system to the country although the British did their best to divide the people socially and economically in order to retain their supremacy. The most important single factor which brought unity in the Indian fabric was political struggle for independence from the British rule. The great personages who founded the Indian National Congress to fight out the British and to attain political independence for the country brought to one platform varying interests, communities and sections of society. The national image came to prominence with the national movement which provided a focus for the developed feeling of patriotism.
The English language, although alien to the spirit of the country, brought educated classes of various communities to one platform and made them fight shoulder to shoulder against the mighty British. By the end of the 19th century, the feeling of the Indian unity became rooted in the minds of all Indians. The arrival of Mahatma Gandhi on the Indian scene started yet another chapter in Indian history. Mahatma Gandhi brought the gift of a non-violent movement as a new weapon to the national struggle of India. Under the circumstances of the times, this method proved highly efficacious and brought the British under political and moral pressure of the times and made them to bow At the eleventh hour, however, certain reactionary elements in the country exploited the situation created by the British policy of ‘divide and rule’ and demanded the partition of the country, according to the communal ratios and majorities prevailing in various parts of the country.
In order to avoid too much bloodshed, Mahatma Gandhi and other national leaders agreed to the partition, even though it was based on the ever-condemned two-nation theory. Ever since independence, India has adopted a secular constitution and given birth to a nation based on the principles of equal rights to all its citizens, irrespective of caste, creed religion or sex.The Constitution has provided fullest freedom to all religions in matters of worship, customs, etc., and protected them in every way. As a secular democracy, India is marching on the path of progress in all spheres—economic, political, social and cultural. In order to provide and encourage national integration in India, the Government office India has taken numerous steps which are worth mentioning. It has provided a national programme of education on secular lines and encouraged the development of national institution and policies. Through various media of education like the radio, the cinema and the T.V., it has provided for emotional integration of the people as one nation and encouraged them to think as one people. Equality of rights in various spheres has provided the people with common interests and enabled them to work and progress side by side without thinking of the narrow interests.
The five-year plans of economic development have contributed to the raising of standards of people without regard to community, caste and creed. The class distinctions of the people have broadened out to economic distinctions from those of religion, community or caste. The art and culture of the country is also being developed on nationalistic lines. There is also due effort to develop a national language, although its imposition is being avoided for the time being in order to avoid conflicts of regional linguistic interests. The cinema, which is one of the most important means of recreation for the common man in India, is providing a uniform all-India pattern of art and culture to the whole country, thus contributing to emotional integration. Let us hope the movement of national integration now in motion goes faster and achieves the desired object of binding various communities and sections of the Indian society to a common way of thinking, without impairing the local and the regional arts and cultures, which should be allowed to flourish within the overall pattern of national art and culture.