Since antiquity, all religions, cultures and societies have provided for living in harmony. It is actually the fundamental law of creation and continues to govern our life. Etymologically, harmony means ‘joint’. It is understood as ‘binding together and being in concord with one another and the cosmos and in the context of communities of different thoughts and belief – be it social, economic, political and ecological’. It simply means living with unity and mutual reciprocity, beyond class, caste, creed, religion and gender barriers. Violence erupt whenever the communal harmony is disturbed. No human being enjoys disharmony or violence. Communal harmony now is the fundamental need of every country’s fabric. Communal harmony means that people of different religions, castes, creeds, sex and different background live together in the society with love and peace amongst them. Communal harmony strives to create goodwill and harmony among various communities. The aim is to foster an ethic of coexistence rooted in or inspired by religious and cultural values. Unity in diversity’ is one of the most powerful thoughts India has given to the world. From time immemorial, Indians have never felt the need to bring about uniformity among people. On the other hand, Indians have always displayed a unique ability to look through the diversities to explore the innate unity. In his book The Discovery of India, Jawaharlal Nehru explained this idea of ‘unity in diversity’ and claimed that it is the defining character of Indian civilization. He writes: “Some kind of a dream of unity has occupied the mind of India since the dawn of civilization. That unity was not conceived as something imposed from outside, standardization of externs or even of beliefs. It was something deeper and, within its fold, the widest tolerance of belief and custom was practiced and every variety acknowledged and even encouraged.”Unity in Diversity of India teaches us many things one of which is that our differences do not need to keep us apart. People of India can be different but still, support each other, work together, and have common goals. It is a lesson that lovingly and more kindly helps us to live together in a loving and kinder way. Since ancient times, the powerful kings and rulers were inspired by one united India which is indivisible. We all celebrate together the National festivals even in modern times like Independence Day, Republic day, Gandhi Jayanti, etc. Widely celebrated in all schools, colleges, and universities, these special days give us a sense of unity and togetherness. Every Indian sees the ceremony of flag hoisting at Red fort and listens to the Prime Minister spoke. A similar event takes place in every state which displays the oneness and indivisible character of India. India has been an excellent example of providing this concept for many years. People from different religious backgrounds and cultures live here. They follow the different religions of their choice because India is a secular country. Related to different cultures, languages, and religions, the people here respect one another and live in a spirit of love and brotherhood. India, a 5000-year-old civilization is a country of diversity, be it religion, race, caste, culture or language, there is so much diversity in the country. There are about 29 regions and each grouphave its own culture and language. Every year more than 30 new festivals are celebrated for the various communities in the country. Despite such differences, the Indian people display a genuine sense of unity among themselves that reflect the concept of unity in diversity of India is considered to be unique in a world that threatens global society. This is because of the ancient Indian culture that taught the people and the same bond of nationality. People from all parts of the world are joining the brotherhood. Unity in diversity is a positive aspect of our nation because people of different religions have had a human band for many years. If we are not united, we will surely fall which means “united we stand and we are divided we fall”. The constitution of India gives all citizens the right and freedom to live their lives with dignity and respect without interference.
Unity in diversity instructs us that although we are from diverse caste, creed or race, these variations cannot keep us apart and we are eternally united for the improvement of our nation. This is the most uncommon event which is exposed in our country. It not only performs the nation united and strengthened but it also holds us alive in the old eras, the belief of co-existence with love, peace, and respect. The distinction in culture, traditions, festivals, music and dance makes the country energetic and makes an unbelievable country in the world.The preamble of our Constitution states India is a Secular country. It gives its citizens the freedom to practice any religion of their own choice. People belonging to different culture and religions, shares common platform to understand each other’s cultural and religious beliefs which in turn fosters the feeling of mutual trust and harmony. Democracy would indeed be hollow if it fails to generate this spirit of brotherhood amongst all sections of the people. A feeling that all fellow citizens are children of the same soil, same motherland. This spirit of brotherhood becomes all the more essential in a country like India, composed of so many races, religions, languages and cultures. The ideals of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity in the preamble are relevant and meaningful because these ideals promote a common feeling of brotherhood. Provisions relating to common citizenship are directed towards strengthening Indian fraternal feelings and building a strong Indian fellowship, being sons of same Mother India. But a society where some members of the community are treated as to a lower order lacks the feeling of fraternity. Each and every citizen must enjoy the same status and dignity. The preamble of the Indian Constitution provides liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship and therefore, religious harmony is the basic feature of the Indian Constitution. However, fraternity as an object is not reflected in any Article of the Constitution – no Constitution and no law can produce a brotherly feeling or concord. However, there are some provisions in the Constitution, such as common citizenship, the right to move freely, to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India, to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business, which work in the way of generation generates this spirit of brotherhood. Individuals and groups with vested interests have always been active in creating disharmony in the society. This phenomenon in the Indian context is politically motivated and always been engineered by vested interests has to be stopped. India has set an important example of communal harmony to this world. India is the only country of the world where people of all religion and beliefs have been living peacefully for a long time. It is important to note that even during the reign of British; there was no tension among the various religious people. India, a multi-religious, multilingual and multi-racial country, has always enjoyed the essential unity of culture amidst diversities that kept her people united. After independence, narrow religious, regional and communal feelings attracted the country. The apparently mindless communal tensions and bloody riots that take place occasionally create a sense of mistrust among the two principal religious communities involved in clashes. The country pays a heavy price for such disturbances through loss of life and property. Unfortunately, this traditionally peace-loving country is sometimes plagued by communal problems. It all happens as some fanatical zealots indulge in torturing the people of other religion. The alarming rise of fundamentalism is a great concern to the nation. Almost all the States of our country suffer owing to religious intolerance. Inter-communal relationship suffers a breach in this vitiated atmosphere. Our unity, integrity and solidarity are now at stake. It hampers the growth of the nation at every step. If the nation wishes to make sound progress in the socio-economic, political and scientific spheres, communal harmony has to be ensured as a permanent feature of life. Evil forces trying to destroy this should be crushed at any cost. It is also our duty spread the message of importance of communal harmony. Communal harmony is of paramount component for the social, economic and cultural development of any country. If only the followers of different religions had the vision of Swami Vivekananda who had proclaimed: “Different religions are like the streams which lead to the same ocean”! If all people developed a deeper understanding of their separate religions, they will realise that all religions talk of love and internal bliss and prohibit harming all creatures—living as well as non-living. In a pluralistic society, the best approach to nurture secularism is to expand religious freedom rather than strictly practicing state neutrality. It is incumbent on us to ensure value education that makes the younger generation understands and appreciates not only its own religious traditions but also those of the other religions in the country. There is a need to maintain communal harmony is the country. In this regard, police reform is necessary because, after every communal riot, questions have been raised about whether our police are neutral or communal.
(The Author is Research Fellow at United nations World Peace Institute. Views are exclusively his own)