India is a country characterised by diversity. Home to the second largest population in the world, the country has 28 states and 7 union territories. The country is multicultural and multilingual. Due to its rich history dating back to several centuries, the country has also seen the propagation and practice of many religions. In a nation that is defined by so many differences, national integration is a key component in protecting the unity of the country.
The fundamental principle secularism guarantees everyone the right to practice the religion of their choice. While Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism find their origins in the country, major religions like Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism have been imbibed and assimilated into the ethos of the nation. Though there are twenty three officially recognized languages, there are innumerable dialects and accents that are spoken throughout the country. Cultures, costumes, lifestyles, traditions and customs are as diverse as the languages.
The immense number of differences has often threatened to disintegrate the nation. Communal riots , particularly between Hindus and Muslims , have resulted in bloodshed and damage to the secular fabric of the country. Linguistic differences between different states have led to discrimination and disrespect towards other languages or cultures. National integration denotes the efforts by which everyone in the country identifies themselves as one with the nation.
Awareness of the importance of nation over religion is primary in avoiding conflicts and tensions that generally arise due to differences. Secular holidays like Independence Day and Republic Day reinforce the idea that we are all one. Modernisation and cosmopolitanism enables people of different States to interact and depend on each other. Sports like cricket also play a major role in unifying the nation.
Only when there is unity in diversity, can the country progress forward together and in the right direction.