winds of change-part III-Domestic strategy-ch 30

30. National Solidarity

WHEN WE TALK of national integration and the emergent need for creating a national consciousness about our unity and solidarity, it is not, let me make it clear, founded upon any apprehension of an imminent or eventual disintegration of the country. Basically what we aim to achieve is to make the people aware of the positive values of our cultural, religious and linguistic diversities so that these are viewed in proper perspective. Viewed thus, these diversities not only lend a richness to our heritage but constitute the fountain source of its strength.

The fundamental task that befell us after the attainment of independence was the transformation of a cleavage ridden society, with its deeply embedded ideas of discrimination and privileges, into a modern society. These cleavages had to be welded before we could redesign the social fabric on the principle of equality of every human being. The process has been going on for the last 20 years. Significant progress has also been achieved in removing these ideas of discrimination and privileges through the spread of education and through a large measure of legislative action. But a lot still more remains to be done on the side of social action. Such an action is a necessary complement of all legislative measures if we seek to achieve a fundamental change in the outlook and attitudes of the people.

Every change, whatever be its nature, always finds resistance from those who believe in the status quo. This is particularly true in respect of such a radical social transformation that we seek to achieve. The vested interests that have enjoyed privileges for centuries are bound to react sharply and resist the forces of change with all their might. During the last 20 years we have had our share of these strains manifesting themselves in various undesirable forms leading to violence, group tensions, caste and regional jea­lousies, etc. These unfortunate manifestations of intolerance and narrow loyalties seem to have been gaining strength during the last few days. It was in the light of this experience that the National Integration Council was revived. It evoked a positive response from almost all the political parties in the country. It is very gratifying and heartening that in the deliberations of the Council we discovered an unanimity of views about the task ahead. The declaration of objectives issued by the Council lays down in clear and specific terms the guidelines for our struggle against obscurantism.