Social Scientist. v 10, no. 107 (April 1982) p. 36.

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On National Integration

THEJproblem of forging harmony, unity and cohesion among the different segments of a population is undoubtedly a difficult task as no country has perfectly homogeneous people. If the people are of a mixed character, there are bound to be social differences, ethnic and cultural variations, political discords, economic rivalries and historical antagonisms. There is no sovereign remedy to eliminate the problem in order to bring about a uniform pattern of thinking and behaviour.

Here a distinction should be made between political integration and national integration. Political integration means a shifting of loyalties to the newly created centre in the system.1 National integration is something more than political integration. Its essence is an agreement among the different nationalities, minorities and otner groups constituting the political community which strikes an equilibrium between the "communal" identity and the national identity. Pluralism and cross-pressuring are the devices to effect such an equilibrium. National integration, therefore, is a necessary condition for political and economic development.

In the developing countries, the problem of integration is becoming more and more acute. The Tamils in Sri Lanka, the overseas Chinese in Indonesia, the Qadionis and Pushtu-speaking population in Pakistan, the Bihar Muslims in Bangladesh, the Kurds and Bahais in Iran may be mentioned in this context. In India, the problem of the Muslims, Christians, Scheduled Castes and the tribals still awaits solution. The Assam agitation and the demand for Khalistan underline the gravity of the problem of integration.

In India, the problem of national integration is generally perceived in terms of the role and aspirations of the different minority groups. The basis of these groups may be religion, ethnicity, language or region. However, no definition of the term minority can be taken as wholly satisfactory. Those who constitute less than 50 per cent should be called a minority. But difficulties arise when

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