Social Integration

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n India from time immemorial, people belonging to various religious faiths lived in harmony and peace. There are fundamental values and traditions in our culture that promote integration among different communities. This was helpful for the growth of a great civilization in the Indian sub-continent. It will be our endeavour as the citizens of this country to preserve the rich tradition of Social Harmony among diverse religious and ethnic groups and pass it over to the future generations. Even though communal tensions in India are well under control, there is no place for complacency as many internal and external forces are waiting with their ulterior motives sowing the seeds of ill-will.

Human needs can be found as the same everywhere in the world if we look at it from biological and psychological perspectives. Irrespective of the geographic, linguistic or religious differences humans everywhere have common biological needs like hunger, thirst, sex etc; the satisfaction of which is essential for their survival. Similarly man has psychological needs like, need for recognition, need for companionship, need for security, need for prestige etc. the fulfillment of which is inevitable for maintaining sound mental health. Man cannot satisfy most of such needs through his own individual efforts. He requires the assistance of his fellow members of the group in this regard. That is why human beings are considered as social animals. A cooperative integrated society is most congenial for leading a healthy social life.

Religion is one of the social institutions found in all human societies. It assists man to establish and maintain harmonious relationships with the supernatural forces that are believed to have direct influence in the fortunes of man. Moreover religion is one of the agents contributing to the integration of society. Religion provides ‘we feeling’ among its members. Performance of religious rites, participation in festivals, leadership provided by priests and religious functionaries, following many common beliefs and values, etc reinforces the unity among the members of a religion. Even though holy books and teachings of each religion claim that they help man reach God, none of them propagate hatred against other faiths. All religions in their essence assist people to live in harmony with members of the society. According to Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India “ the communal problem is not a religious problem, it has nothing to do with religion.” Nobody can blame the presence of diverse religions for the emergence of communal problems in the world.

Even though all religions proclaim the universal brotherhood of man, history is full of bloody, violent conflicts between members of different religions. Many battles were fought between Muslims and Christians, Jews and Muslims, Hindus and Muslims and so on in the past. Many such struggles are going on even now like the conflict between Muslims and Jews in Palestine. A deeper analysis of the causative factors of these conflicts shows that in all these situations non-religious, often political and economic interests were instrumental to these problems. Religious identity was used as a mask to cover up the vested interests of the conflicting parties. Therefore the root cause of communalism is not the presence of many religions in the country. When religious sentiments are exploited with an economic or political motive the resultant effect gives rise to the genesis of communalism. According to Madan (2001) communalism is the political expression of religion. He defined communalism as an ideology, which envisages the religious community as a political group committed to the protection and promotion of its social and economic interests and cultural values.

While communalism is a feeling or state of mind existing at a psychological level, communal conflict or riot is its overt expression. Once generated, communalism remains in the minds of people always,...
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