National Integration in simple words means the basic one-ness of the country; it reflects a spirit of identity and solidarity among all citizens of the nation. National integration has, there-fore, been considered as complete unification of merging of all the diversities into a compact whole in a Nation. It is a feeling of oneness which may transcend all group or cultural differences and synthesise different religions, castes, and communities with varying languages into a compact whole. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, said in 1955 that:
We should not become parochial, narrow-minded, provincial, communal and caste-mined, because we have a great mission to perform. Let us be citizens of the Republic of India, stand up straight with straight backs and look up at the skies, keeping our feet firmly planted on the ground and bring about this syntesis, this integration of Indian people. Political integration has already taken place to some extent but what I am after is something much deeper than that --an emotional integration of the Indian people so that we might be welded into one and made into one strong national unit maintaining at the same time all-out wonderful diversity.
The problem of national integration has assumed great importance in the context of India. Almost five decades of self rule has contributed to a tendency among the communities in the country to separate and emphasize their cultural attainments only rather than national achievements. This is a dangerous tendency which can be attributed to:
All these are responsible for creating differences, among various communities and the feeling of separateness among them Educational institutions have failed to form well balanced personalities and to develop qualities of character, civic consciousness and a sense of responsibility due to language and religious differences which continue to exist. The process of national integration must continue and be strengthened if we are to preserve, sustain and enrich our hard-won freedom. We need as much today the same overwhelming sense of purpose and enthusiasm to meet the new challenges to our freedom as we did in the past to win it. The responsibility for maintaining a non-communal atmosphere in the country has to be shared by the Indian people as a whole.
Showing sensitivity to the dimension of education, the Punjabi University is the premier institution to establish the National Integration Chair in 1993. It was felt that the Universities have a definite role to play in our National Life. They are to inculcate the spirit of social criticism among the intelligentsia by virtue of which it can distinguish right from wrong, knowledge from opinion and fact from theory. The spirit of research fostered by the universities creates an attitude of free enquiry and rational discussion. Universities must fulfill their social and intellectual obligations to provide direction for meeting the national objectives.
The National Integration Chair has been re-christened as Guru Tegh Bahadur National Integration Chair in May, 2005. The various projects and programmes to be undertaken by the Chair have accordingly to be guided by the philosophy and ideology of the great Guru who made the supreme sacrifice for upholding 'Dharma'.
In a multi-religious society the real harmony will only come when there is tolerance, social justice and equality. in this context let us remember that integration of different stands of social fabric is a major concern of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The founder of Sikh faith, Guru Nanak denounced religious understanding and toleration.
Guru Nanak, was such a believer in the universal identity of al religion that he visited holiest shrines of the Hindus and mosques of the Muslims and fearlessly proclaimed to the assembled crowds that the rejected all sects and only knew one God. Guru Nanak was the first religious leader who instituted the practice of 'Langer' i.e. free kitchen where people of all castes and religions would take their food together. Though Nanak had respected for all religions, he rejected that supremacy of the Brahmins and denounced the caste system and untouchability. Talking about Guru Nanak, Rabindernath Tagore called him the Teacher of Mankind who taught the universal message of monotheism.
Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur, ninth Sikh Guru reminds us of the ideal of neither violating that self-respect of others, nor capitulating to any such attempt by the others (Bhai Kahan Kau det nahi, nahi bhai manat an). This tradition has imparted a dynamic character of the spiritual tradition ground for social relation envisaged in the ideal of peace.
The main reason for the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur in 1675 was the He come in the way of Mughal State, which wanted to destroy the multi-religious and cultural diversity character of Indian society through its repressive policy. Guru Sahib supporting the Kashmiri Brahmins outraged the emperor. He laid down his life to protect the 'others'
Guru Tegh Bahadur was leading the people of India in the direction of liberty, freedom, dignity and self respect. Spiritual liberation is incomplete without political, social, religious, economic, cultural and intellectual freedom. Hence fearlessness, enlightenment and strength are his key-terms in the sloakes (1-57). There are tools with which all bonds can be broken.
The contemporary Indian society is faced with a number of challenges like communalism, casteism, terrorism and regionalism. The Chair will endeavor to address to these burning issues through research and teaching. National Integration chair had invited articles on the theme of National Integration and various issues and matters allied to it such as its difference concepts and connotation, its imperative need in the present-day scenario, the impediments in its realisation especially the formidable challenges posed do it by the various ethnic, linguistics, religious, castiest, cultural, communal and regional identities, the measures to combat the divisive, disruptive and disintegrating forces, the strategies and methods to promote the sentiments, of nationhood among the various sections of Indian society and to achieve a well-knit Indian Nation and unity and solidarity of the country.
A multi-pronged attack, on war footing, is badly needed to curb the growing fissiparous tendencies. Provincialism, regionalism, casteism etc. have no locus standii. Even nationalism should be redefined the context of world peace and world unity. What is required is harmony at all levels within the individual, the family, the community, the national and the world at large; and in the times to come at the interplanetary level too if find life on some other planet. Humanism should be our motto, 'means ki jaat sabhai ekai pehchanbo'. The biggest lacuna in our present-day education is its alienation from the masses and lack of moral and spiritual values. Albert Einstein has very rightly pointed out: 'The tragedy of our education is that we are producing doctors, engineers, Barristers, lawyers, technicians but not human beings'. That is the crux of the problem. Instead of bridging the gulf between the rich and the poor, the privileged and the underprivileged, the urban and the rural, the elite and the commoner, it is rather widening it.
The present day Indian society is faced with the challenge of strong ethnic affiliations. Such ethnic ferment poses a threat to National Integration. It is proposed to carry out a study to investigate various facets of ethnicity. An effort will be made to explore the sources of ethnicity, ethnic- dynamics, social and political implications of ethnicity and the consequences of ethnicity for Indian Nationalism.
After the attainment of independence, most of the national leaders have been taking an alarmist perspective and projecting regionalism as a threat to the stability and integrity of the nation. Regionalism has been considered as anti-national and anti-development by majority of the leaders. However, there is an increasing realisation that there is no other alternative except province-building to solve the accumulated socio-economic problems of the people. The concept of province building refers to freewheeling, decentralisation, maximisation of regionally defined social welfare functions and provincial administrative maturation. It is proposed to conduct a study to probe the two perspectives i.e.. regionalism as an obstacle to integrative mechanism and the need of province building to solve the multifarious problems faced by the specific regions. An effort will be made to explore that how regional identities are formed, the process of mobilization, the strategies adopted by collectivities to protect their interest and the manner in which the state authorities meet the demands of these collectivities.
The Universities have to be responsive to the national need of promoting peaceful co-existence and encouraging the spirit of inquiry. For this purpose, the Chair will also focus on the third dimension of University education i.e. extension. The activities to be included under this theme will include the organisation of multi-cultural and inter-faith activities as may enshrine the rich cultural heritage of India on the one hand and do away with the regional, linguistic and religious barriers on the other. The Chair will also endeavour to coordinate its activities with the other social agencies with a view to provide purposeful perspective which all of us can follow as a dignified, self-respecting and a sovereign nation.
Let me conclude with the worlds of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan : "National Integration cannot be built by brick and mortar or with chisel and hammer. It has to grow silently in the minds and hearts of men and the process by which it could be achieved was by education." (From his address to National Integration Conference on Sept. 28,1961
In the above background the Punjabi University rechristened the Chair as Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur National Integration Chair (SGTBNIC) and decided to spread the high ideals laid down by the Great Guru.