India is the second-largest populated country in the world, next only to China. According to the 2001 census, India’s population in 2001 was about 102. 87 crores. It has 28 States and 7 Union Territories. Due to its large population India has been facing a number of socio-economic and political problems. The main problem faced by India in the past was maintenance of unity and stability in the country. When India was ruled by the Britishers, the disunity in the country was attributed to the British policy of “Divide and Rule”. India achieved independence from the British rule on 15th August, 1947.
A period of more than 63 years has elapsed since then, but India is still facing the problem of unity. In fact, the main cause of India’s slavery in the past for such a long time was the lack of political unity. Whenever India had a weak and unstable centre, it became a prey to external aggression. A weak centre had always tempted the foreigners to attack our country and plunder its wealth. India is a land of unity in diversity. Political unity presupposes a strong and stable Central Government which can keep the diverse elements in the country together.
Whenever the Central Government in India became weak, foreign countries enslaved her. This is the lesson of history. If we forget this lesson, we will do so at our peril. In ancient times, India used to be called a “Golden Sparrow” because it possessed immense wealth. Many foreign invaders were, therefore, tempted to attack this country and loot its wealth. Thus India was attacked and subjugated by the Greeks, Portuguese, Moghuls and the Britishers. Had India possessed political unity, these foreign invaders would not have succeeded in their evil designs.
The credit for giving India political unity goes to the Britishers who ruled over India for about 150 years. They established a strong Central Governing whose writ ran throughout the country. They developed rapid means transport and communications in the country to enable them to govern country effectively. They also organised an effective Police Sew ice to main law and order throughout the country. After India became free, the framers of our Constitution were conscious of the need to have a strong Centre.
They were convinced that a strong alone can ensure the territorial integrity of the country and safeguard its hard- earned freedom. It was for this reason that a number of provisions in the interest of the unity of the country were enshrined in our Constitution. Our Constitution provides for many common bonds like integrated judicial organisation with a Supreme Court as the highest judicial authority, a single Comptroller and Auditor General of India, a single Election Commission, and all-India integrated services like the I. A. S. , IFS. I. P. S. , etc.
Besides, a number of para-military forces like the Border Security Force, the Central Reserve Police, the Industrial Security Force, etc. have been set up under the Central Government. A Planning Commission at the Centre draws up the five-year plans for the economic development of the country. When the fathers of the Constitution framed the Constitution, their aim was the unity and security of India. They, therefore, gave ample powers to the Central Government. They provided for imposition of President’s rule and declaration of a state of Emergency by the Centre under certain situations.
Some critics are of the view that the Constitution of India has given wide powers to the Central Government at the cost of the States. They feel that States have been reduced to the position of what one may call “glorified municipal corporations”. In recent years, the States, especially those where opposition parties are in power, have been demanding greater autonomy and devolution of powers. A Commission headed by Justice R. S. Sarkaria, a Judge of the Supreme Court, was appointed to examine and review the Centre-State relations in all spheres and recommend appropriate changes.
The review was to cover the working of the existing arrangements between the Union and the States in regard to powers, functions and responsibilities in all spheres. The commission recommended an Inter-State Council headed by the Prime Minister. Besides the Prime Minister, six cabinet ministers and all Chief Ministers of States and Union territories will constitute the Council. This Council has been set up as a forum for dialogue to ensure better co-ordination between the Centre and the States. A permanent secretariat is also to be set up for the day-to-day functioning of the Council.
The unity of India faces grave challenges today. First, regionalism is gaining ground in India. A large number of regional parties have come into existence it is generally seen that these parties prefer regional interest to national interest. Secondly, separatist tendencies are developing among certain sections the people who demand separate homelands, for example, Nagaland, Mizoram, “odoland, Khalistan, Gorkhaland, etc Thirdly, despite our Constitution having declared India as a secular State communal riot erupt every now and then and pose a threat to the unity of India.
Fourthly, casteism and lmguism are also affecting the unity of the country Caste factor also plays a great role during the elections. In order to curb all these problems, it has become indispensable that the Centre should have a say in them so that it may control them before they become harmful for the unity and integrity of India. Let the States have more powers to implement their economic programmes but we should see that the Centre is also clothed with sufficient powers needed to maintain the unity and integrity of India as well as to safeguard its independence from external aggression and internal subversion.