Education For Fostering National Integration In India In The 21st Century

Rupali & Harshit Singh Jadoun

 


Editor’s Note:
 If the history of India is examined before the advent of Britishers then the phrase “India being a land of diversity with unity” fits in appropriately. Religion and language in ancient time acted as a main constituent of strengthening harmony along with uniformity but in today’s point of time both of these elements are acting as a force in opposition of concord. In current scenario the theory of Oscar Wilde has been proved to be true which says that “Society exists only as a mental concept; in the real world there are only individuals”, it was long back when people use to believe in premises of Tolerance, accommodation and Secularism, nowadays communal violence has become mundane and nothing sort of tolerance or accommodation exists among folks. National Integration has been a matter of concern since the Britishers adopted the policy of “Divide and Rule” and in spite of various clauses mentioned in our Constitution after Independence to assure equality and secularity to individuals irrespective of their caste, race, religion or creed achieving integration has been a challenge due to various evils like linguism, communalism, and religionalism.

INTRODUCTION

“And just because you have colleges and universities doesn’t mean you have education”. -Malcom

The above line was very famously and beautifully said by Malcom when asked about education. Education should be such which unites the country into one bond, integrates each and every culture and religion so that no space is left for any type of communal violence, which these days have become a run of the mill. We all are aware of the fact that India has the second largest education system in the world (after China)[1] but the issue is in its deliverance. Quality of instruction varies widely, depending on the region of the country and whether one is enrolled in a state-supported public school or a fee-based private school which should strictly not be the case.

HISTORY

The history of education enlightens us that since the era of Traditional Hindu System passing through the colonial period and up till now, education has been mostly for the elite class.[2] Earlier, during the pre-British period, the educational system of India was divided. It was divided regarding many criteria such as caste, religion, class, etc. and various others. For example, Brahmin Hindus were given education at temples, the sons of kings were educated at Gurukul, the Muslims were taught at masjids by maulvis, Sikhs were given education at gurudwaras. Not only this, in these institutions, children were taught only about their religion and they learned only the religious texts.

The subjects learned by a Brahmin were different from those learned by a Muslim child or a Sikh child. There was no uniformity among what was taught to different students. Furthermore, the children of the lower class and caste were not allowed to seek education from any of these institutions. It was presumed that education was not meant for a child who belongs to a shudra family because he was only meant to do the low-class work. The girls were also denied education and were only trained to do the daily chores which would help her raise her family in the future. Later on, as the other classes emerged and came to knew about the importance of education as a tool for political power they acquired it without fail. Even in today’s era, the students who belong to cream families of the society are sent to English medium schools as English is considered a distinction of social class.

EDUCATION FOR FOSTERING NATIONAL INTEGRATION

National Integration is something of which India has been devoid of since a long time due to the failure of its citizen to in recognizing India as one whole nation and building common identities rather than sectional one and demolishing the country’s unanimity.

A nation from all its perspectives can develop and flourish only when people despite the fact that they belong to a different caste, religion and region apprehend that they are one and share a joint identity. After the advent of the British in India, India saw a drastic change in the education system. There was a total transformation in the method, procedure as well as the quality of education that was being imparted during that time. After the uprising of 1857, Britishers understood that there was a need for educated Indians in their administration in order to control the Indian revolts. They declared a post for the Indians in the administration known as Indian Civil Services. They also felt that there was a need for proper educational institutions for the Indians to get educated and participate in the examination.

Thus, they set up various schools and colleges that would impart education. They also prescribed the syllabus and the teaching methods. The proper implementation of the new educational system, originally designed by the Britishers, was one of the reasons that led to national integration and as a result of it, independence. The same teaching style unified India in one thread. When people started studying, they started differentiated between the ‘Good’ and the ‘Bad’. They started understanding their benefits and losses. It united India at that time to raise their voice against the unjust British rule. With the people being educated, they started differentiating between rule and exploitation.

Our leaders like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Rabindranath Tagore also tried their best to avoid people of India becoming communal and caste-oriented. Jawaharlal Nehru effort of forming an Emotional Integration Committee in 1961 demonstrates the leader’s intention to fuse the people of India into a single knot and build a nation of unity with diversity.

Since the time the word “integrity” has been entered in the Preamble of the Indian Constitution by 42nd amendment in 1976, it has been basic aim of the country to stress upon the desire to integrate the masses and bring the feeling of harmony among them.[3] 19th November, the birthday of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is celebrated as the “National Integration Day”. The basic aim or objective of this day to generate a feeling of brotherhood among people in a religious, social, political, region, economic and other dimensions. For a nation to progress towards integration it requires its citizen to have a sense of responsibility within them to imbibe a feeling of love and affection towards every individual regardless of their caste, religion and their territorial zone, folks should share such values and norms which displays a universal behavior even among different groups.

India has shown a great importance towards education since ancient times and this can be seen from the fact that the world’s oldest university ‘The Nalanda University’ exists in India itself, however education in India has gone through many stages and its journey from Gurukuls to IIT has witnessed various ups and downs and is still facing several challenges which prevent it from stretching its ambit of building an emotion of concord among the inhabitants. There has been a constant effort even by the legislature in the field of education to enhance its scope so that it can prove to be an effective tool for growth and prosperity of the nation, and this maturity in a country can only be brought when a sense of uprightness and veracity is imbibed within the populace.

One of the major barriers in National Integration in today’s point of time is the variation in language. India being a multi-lingual country has about 2,000 languages which are spoken in different sections of society and there are exactly 22 languages which are mentioned in our constitution. The controversy regarding this Multi-linguistic character of nation started from the time of Independence when Hindi was being declared as an official language and South Indians opposed it and revolted against this decision, the result is that in 1956 states were divided on the basis of languages which was the major step that drew a line on the assimilation of the country.[4]

Nowadays, language has become a tool for politics and therefore the politicians and individuals use it for their personal interests and gains which should not be the case. Language is something which carries culture from a particular community to another and teaching a language to another person brings in a form of adoration and tenderness among people which fosters integration.

India is a secular state which means that the state does not interfere with anyone’s religion and considers every individual irrespective of their religion equal before law, but the phase where the question arises is that whether the people of country consider the other person belonging to different religion equal to them or do they give them the same status notwithstanding their creed, this is where communalism arises leading to communal riots and internal disturbances which hinders the process of the nation’s advancement. Political leaders without understanding the sensitivity of this issue exaggerate this issue for their political interests and gain but on another side, it creates differences amongst people of the same country.

According to our great books, our country follows the view that state will not interfere in the existence of any religion and would work on the philosophy of live and let-live but in reality the one running the state intervene with religious issues in such a manner that it empowers the thought process of people and manipulates them for their own assistance paying no attention to the demolition of the country’s unanimity.

Casteism is an affair which acts as a disruptive force in the country as well as acting against the nation-building. There are so many of caste-based political affairs prevailing at the present time in the country such as admission to various institutions, selection to a different government post, etc. It further leads to animosity among other people who get deprived of the post due to lower strata of society or just because of not having a just and a probable cause. Issues like inter-caste marriages arise in the country and people protest against it which many at times leads the couple or the sufferers with no option other than committing suicide.

Inter-caste marriage, if accepted, can help one to a great extent. For example, it may help in developing the relationship between people of two different communities by bringing them close to each other. Even the Supreme Court has considered it and said that “Inter-Caste marriages can work towards national interest and it can prove to be valuable in a country like India where Caste system is a “curse” and citizens have to face atrocities which should not be the case in a free democratic country”. Until and unless people themselves become sensitive and think reasonably on this matter along with the benefit of society, no particular law can bring changes or help in building the nation’s unity. As we know the aftermaths of this Casteism are humiliating to such an extent that it can bring down the entire society out of order, therefore, it is necessary to curb this sin as soon as possible.

One of the major factors thwarting Integration is Extremism which means creating fear in minds of people, with the help of illegal means, for gaining self-interests.[5] It is mostly through the public speeches that the politicians deliver at the time of elections. It directly makes a hit on the sentiments of people and makes make them realize that they have been devoid of their rights and what they deserve is not being provided to them by the current ruling party. These are some of the challenges that our country is facing at the present time and, therefore, is not able to foster integration.

“The function of Education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus Character that is the goal of true education.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.

Education is a device through which many objectives and aims of the nation as well as of the whole world can be targeted. We have seen that whichever country it may be its basic ambition is to make its public educated because until and the unless the inhabitants of the country are educated none of the policy of the government would be accomplished as the people or the beneficiaries would fail to understand the motive of policy which the state is trying to propose. It would be very shocking for us to know that India has the largest number of illiterate people in the world.[6] According to the Census of 2001, more than one of every three Indian citizens (and 42% of the adults) are illiterate in India.[7]

We need to understand that as at the time of independence, education helped us to fight against British rule, the same thing can also be applied at the present time. Today, we aren’t really independent. We still are under the rule of our present government, which today is dividing the public and ruling them. The present government, like Englishmen, is also dividing the general public on the basis of class, caste, religion, etc.

Today, no doubt, we have a uniform education system, but then too we are divided by our government. We need to understand the role of education in uniting our country. No government of the world can divide a well-educated crowd. Well educated people cannot be driven by emotions or illogical claims. An educated crowd can only be driven by reasoning for various assertions that the government keeps on making from time to time. Thus, education can help India change into people who are self-governing and are not driven by fake assertions backed by any sort of emotional call.

Social and National integration requires an upliftment of thinking process and shift in mental capacity from being narrow-minded to practical in approach and education is a tool using which we can, very innovatively, cultivate the feeling of brotherhood among people as well as help in creating unity, peace, and harmony in the country. Education has a great role and contribution in framing the attitude and behavior of a person and making him realize his duty after being a citizen of a democratic country. Education policies with academics and subject knowledge should also focus on communal harmony, values, and environment. The instructional material prescribed by different boards should not only have courses that teach science, maths and other traditional subjects, but it also makes children aware about the basic aim of national educational policies and Indian Constitution. There should be a specific curriculum and method in which education should be transmitted which could nurture the country’s social, economic and political growth.

The educational institutions recognized by the government should not practice any form of discrimination under the name of caste, place, sex, creed, religion, etc.[8] Admission in the institutes should be merit-based rather than on the basis of caste or race, it would help in augmenting a feeling of equal opportunity among people of the nation. Students should be made aware of all types of languages that are used in India with the aim of making them conscious about the diversity that the country retains. They should also be taught to respect other religion, caste, class, languages, sex, etc.

In order to discern the students with the prestigious past of the nation, there should be plays and acts regarding Ancient past and contemporary India with an exhibition of films promoting National diversity and unity. Apprentices should be taught about the culture, traditions of other state and visits to other states should be in the schedule of the institute, current affairs of each and every state should be known to them. In order to bring synchronization and accord among the residents of the country, a feeling of sensitization need to bring for the pains and suffering of people belonging to other state and can stand in support of them during any type of catastrophe or struggle which would boost a sense of reliability and cooperativeness amongst citizens.

CONCLUSION

If education bestowed in a well-organized manner it would definitely raise the standard of living and reduce unemployment, the two basic necessities that our country is deficient in.[9] It is only through education that the lacuna between the privilege and the unprivileged, the rich and the poor, the urban and the rural can be parted off with. Thus, we need to realize that in this 21st century educating people can easily help in the unification of our country. Thus, education seems to be the only means by which our nation can be integrated into one single thread.

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