The Punjabi University as a premier institution of this region established the National Integration Chair in the year 1993, as it was felt that the Universities have a definite role to play in inculcating the spirit of Nationalism in the students, who are going to be the future citizens. A need was also felt to develop a spirit of social criticism among the intelligentsia by virtue of which they can distinguish between right and wrong, knowledge and 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. This tradition has imparted a dynamic character of the spiritual tradition ground for social relation envisaged in the ideal of peace.
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.
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.
India is a pluralistic nation consisting of a large number of ethnic groups and communities. The various communities within the nation constantly keep on striving to project their economic and political interests. Most of these groups try to exploit the religious sentiments of their members in order to achieve their goals. Such efforts give rise to the phenomenon of communalism. The Chair proposes to undertake an in-depth study of the genesis and consequences of Communalism in India.
A multi-pronged attack, on war footing, is badly needed to curb the growing fissiparous tendencies. Provincialism, regionalism, casteism etc. have no locus standi. 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. 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.
Research will no doubt remain the main plank of National Integration Chair; but along with it the knowledge gathered in this field needs to be disseminated among the young students of schools, colleges and Universities. It is proposed that the various facets of national integration ought to be taught at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. As the first step, the component of national integration will be included in the syllabus of honors schools, languages and social sciences. The teaching material, both in English and regional languages, will be prepared by the experts in this field. These experts will also be invited to deliver special as well as classroom lectures to students and faculty of the various courses.
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.
In the above background the Punjabi University rechristened the Chair as Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur National Integration Chair had decided to spread the high ideals laid down by the Great Guru.