Indian nationalism

Indian nationalism

Indian nationalism refers to the consciousness and expression of political, social, religious and ethnic influences that help mould Indian national consciousness.

Indian Nationalism describes the many underlying forces that moulded the Indian independence movement, and strongly continue to influence the politics of India, as well as being the heart of many contrasting ideologies that have caused ethnic and religious conflict in Indian society. It should be noted that Indian nationalism often imbibes the consciousness of Indians that prior to 1947, India embodied the broader Indian subcontinent and influenced a part of Asia, known as Greater India.

National consciousness in India

India has been unified under many emperors and governments in history. Ancient texts mention India under emperor Bharata and Akhand Bharat, these regions roughly form the entities of modern day greater India. Ashokan India began from the eastern heart of modern India, stretched into modern Bangladesh and Pakistan. In addition, India has also been unified under a central government by empires, such as the Mughal empire and the British Raj.

Conception of Pan-South Asianism

India's concept of nationhood is based not merely on territorial extent of its sovereignty. Nationalistic sentiments and expression encompass that India's ancient historyFact|date=February 2008, as the birthplace of the Indus Valley Civilization, and of four major world religions - Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Indian nationalists see India stretching along these lines across the Indian subcontinent.

Ages of war and invasion

India today celebrates many kings and queens for combating foreign invasion and dominationFact|date=February 2008, such as Shivaji of the Maratha Empire, Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, Kittur Chennamma, Maharana Pratap of Rajputana, Prithviraj Chauhan, who combated the Mahmud of Ghazni and Tipu Sultan who fought the British. The kings of ancient India, such as Chandragupta Maurya and Emperor Ashoka of the Magadha Empire, are also remembered for their military genius, incredible conquests and remarkable religious tolerance.

Muslim kings are also a part of Indian prideFact|date=February 2008. Akbar was a powerful Mughal emperor who sought to resolve religious differences, and was known to have a good relationship with the Roman Catholic Church as well as with his subjects - Hindus, Buddhists Sikhs and Jains. He forged familial and political bonds with Hindu Rajput kings. Although previous Sultans had been more or less tolerant, Akbar took religious intermingling to new level of exploration. He developed for the first time in Islamic India an environment of complete religious freedom. Akbar undid most forms of religious discrimination, and invited the participation of wise Hindu ministers and kings, and even religious scholars to debate in his court.


"Main Articles: Indian Independence Movement, Indian rebellion of 1857, Indian National Congress - Freedom Era"In the Indian rebellion of 1857, Indian soldiers and regional kings fought the forces allied with the British Empire in different parts of India. This event laid the foundation not only for a nationwide expression, but also future nationalism and conflict on religious and ethnic termsFact|date=February 2008.

The Indian desire for complete freedom, or "Swaraj", was born with Bal Gangadhar Tilak, whose followers were the first to express the desire for complete independence, an idea that did not catch on until after World War I. When the Amritsar Massacre of hundreds of unarmed and innocent civilians by British forces took place in the same year, the Indian public was outraged and most of India's political leaders turned against the British.

The Gandhian era

Mohandas Gandhi pioneered the art of "Satyagraha", typified with a strict adherence to ahimsa (non-violence), and civil disobedience. This permitted common individuals to engage the British in revolution, without employing violence or other distasteful means. Gandhi's equally strict adherence to democracy, religious and ethnic equality and brotherhood, as well as activist rejection of caste-based discrimination and untouchability united people across these demographic lines for the first time in India's history. The masses could participate in India's freedom struggle for the first time, and the membership of the Congress grew over tens of millions by the 1930s. In addition, Gandhi's victories in the Champaran and Kheda Satyagraha in 1918-19, gave confidence to a rising younger generation of Indians that the British hegemony could be defeated. National leaders like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Azad, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, Mohandas Gandhi, Rajendra Prasad and Badshah Khan brought together generations of Indians across regions and demographics, and provided a strong leadership base giving the country political direction.

More than just "Indian"

"See Also: Demographics of India"

Indian nationalism is as much a diverse blend of nationalistic sentiments as its people are ethnically and religiously diverse. Thus the most influential undercurrents are more than just "Indian" in nature. The most controversial and emotionally-charged fiber in the fabric of Indian nationalism is religion. Religion forms a major, and in many cases, the central element of Indian life. Ethnic communities are diverse in terms of linguistics, social traditions and history across India.

Hindu Rashtra

An important influence upon Hindu consciousness arises from the time of Islamic empires in India, during which many Hindu temples were destroyed and Hindus forcibly converted to Islam, and thousands killed by Muslim invaders. Entering the 20th century, Hindus formed over 75% of the population and thus unsurprisingly the backbone and platform of the nationalist movement. Modern Hindu thinking desired to unite Hindu society across the boundaries of caste, lingustic groups and ethnicity. In 1925, K.B. Hedgewar founded the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in Nagpur, Maharashtra, which grew into the largest civil organization in the country, and more potent, mainstream base of Hindu nationalism.

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar coined the term "Hindutva" for his ideology that described India as a "Hindu Rashtra", a Hindu nation. This ideology has become the cornerstone of the political and religious agendas of modern Hindu nationalist bodies like the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Hindutva political demands include revoking Article 370 of the Constitution that grants a special semi-autonomous status to the Muslim-majority state of Kashmir, adopting a uniform civil code, thus ending a special legal framework for Muslims. These particular demands are based upon ending laws that Hindu nationalists consider as offering special treatment to Muslims. Demands like banning cow slaughter and building a Ram Janmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya.

The Qaum

In 1906-1907, the All India Muslim League was founded, created due to the suspicion of Muslim intellectuals and religious leaders with the Indian National Congress, which was perceived as dominated by Hindu membership and opinions. However, Mahatma Gandhi's leadership attracted a wide array of Muslims to the freedom struggle and the Congress Party. The Aligarh Muslim University and the Jamia Millia Islamia stand apart - the former was averse to the freedom struggle, while the JMI was founded to promote Muslim education and consciousness upon nationalistic and Gandhian values and thought.

While prominent Muslims like Allama Iqbal and Muhammad Ali Jinnah embraced the notion that Hindus and Muslims were distinct nations, other major leaders like Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari, Maulana Azad, Badshah Khan, Hakim Ajmal Khan strongly backed the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian freedom struggle, opposing any notion of Muslim separatism. This school of Muslim nationalism did not enjoy much support in the provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan and Bengal, where the Muslim League enjoyed extensive political power, and where Pakistan was ultimately formed. Zakir Hussain, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam were all Muslims, and holders of the Presidency of the Republic. Actors Shah Rukh Khan, Naseeruddin Shah, Aamir Khan, music legends Zakir Hussain, Amjad Ali Khan and cricketers Syed Kirmani,Irfan Pathan,Zaheer Khan, Mushtaq Ali and Mohammad Azharuddin are icons to the Indian public.

Nationalism and politics

"See Also: Politics of India"The political identity of the Indian National Congress, India's largest political party and one which controlled government for over 45 years, is reliant on the connection to Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, and the Nehru-Gandhi family which has controlled the Congress since independence. The Congress Party's fortunes up till the 1970s were single-handedly propelled by its legacy as the flagship of India's Independence Movement, and the core platform of the party today evokes that past strongly, considering itself to be the guardian of India's freedom, democracy and unity. Muslims have remained loyal voters of the Congress Party, seen as defender of Nehruvian secularismFact|date=February 2008. Small religious parties have arisen, and Muslim frustrations with communal violence and the aggressive attitudes of Hindu nationalists might lead to the development of a party solely on Islamic religious lines. In contrast, the Bharatiya Janata Party employs a more aggressively nationalistic expression. The BJP seeks to defend the culture and heritage of India and the majority of its people, the Hindu population. It ties nationalism with the aggressive defence of India's borders and interests against archrivals China and Pakistan, with the defence of the majority's right to be a majority.

Religious nationalist parties include the Shiromani Akali Dal, which is closely identified with the creation of a Sikh-majority state in Punjab and includes many Sikh religious leaders in its organization. In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena uses the legacy of the independent Maratha kingdom under heroes like Shivaji to stir up support, and has adopted Hindutva as well. In Assam, the Asom Gana Parishad is a more state-focused party, arising after the frustration of the ULFA as a benevolent expression of Assamese nationalism. In Tamil Nadu came the first of such parties, the DMK. Today the DMK stands for a collection of partiesFact|date=February 2008, with the DMK, the AIADMK, the PMK and the MDMK. Caste-based politics invite the participation of the Bahujan Samaj Party and the party of Laloo Prasad Yadav, who build upon the support of poor low-caste and dalit Hindus in the northern, and most populated states of India like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Almost every Indian state has a regional party devoted solely to the culture of the native people of that state.

Nationalism and military conflicts

"See Also: Indo-Pakistani Wars, Military History of India"

Military history, both past and present, serves as a source of nationalist sentiment in IndiaFact|date=February 2008.

ee also



* Jonah Blank "Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God"
* J. N. Dixit "India and Pakistan in War and Peace"
* Katherine Frank "Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi"
* M.K. Gandhi "My Autobiography, or the Story of my Experiments with Truth"
* Rajmohan Gandhi "Patel: A Life"
* Jawaharlal Nehru "Discovery of India"
* Stanley Wolpert "A New History of India"
*"BusinessWeek"; August 12, 2005; "Chindia": "China and India special feature"
* Haug, Martin and Basu, Major B. D. (1974). "The Aitareya Brahmanam of the Rigveda, Containing the Earliest Speculations of the Brahmans on the Meaning of the Sacrificial Prayers". ISBN 0-404-57848-9
* Thurston, Hugh (1994). "Early Astronomy". Springer-Verlag, New York. ISBN 0-387-94107-X

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Indian Muslim nationalism — refers to the political and cultural expression of nationalism, founded upon the religious tenets and identity of Islam, of the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent.Rising from the first days of Islamic empires in Pakistan and India, this article… …   Wikipedia

  • Indian painting — is a form of Indian art.PreludeThe earliest Indian paintings were the rock paintings of pre historic times, the petroglyphs as found in places like Bhimbetka, and some of them are older than 5500 BC. Such works continued and after several… …   Wikipedia

  • Indian independence movement — The term Indian independence movement is diffuse, incorporating various national and regional campaigns, agitations and efforts of both Nonviolent and Militant philosophy and involved a wide spectrum of political organizations, philosophies, and… …   Wikipedia

  • Indian National Association — The Indian National Association was the first avowed nationalist organization founded in British India by Surendranath Banerjea and Anand Mohan Bose in 1876. The objectives of this Association were “promoting by every legitimate means the… …   Wikipedia

  • Indian National Congress — Not to be confused with Indian National Congress (Organization). Indian National Congress …   Wikipedia

  • Indian National Army — Infobox Military Unit unit name=Indian National Army caption= dates= August 1942 September 1945 country=India allegiance= Azad Hind branch= Infantry role= Guerrilla Infantry, Special Operations. size=43,000 (approx) commanders= ceremonial chief=… …   Wikipedia

  • Indian Liberal Party — The Liberal Party of India was a political organization espousing liberal, pro British points of view in the politics of India under the British Raj.Liberal point of viewThe Liberals at various points backed British rule in India, and virtually… …   Wikipedia

  • Indian Rebellion of 1857 — Sepoy Mutiny redirects here. For other uses, see Sepoy Mutiny (disambiguation). Indian Rebellion of 1857 A 1912 map of Northern India The Revolt of 1857–59 showing the centres of rebellion including the principal ones …   Wikipedia

  • Indian Independence League — The Indian Independence League (also known as IIL) was a political organisation operated from the 1920s to the 1940s to organize those living outside of India into seeking the removal of British colonial rule over India. Founded in 1928 by Indian …   Wikipedia

  • Indian Home Rule Society — The Indian Home Rule Society (IHRS) was an Indian organisation founded in London in 1905 that sought to promote the cause of self rule in British India. The organisation was founded by Shyamji Krishna Varma, with support from a number of… …   Wikipedia