Indian nationalism developed as a concept during the Indian independence movement fought against the colonial British Raj. Scholars note that a national consciousness has always been present in "India", or more broadly the Indian subcontinent, even if it was not articulated in modern terms. Indian nationalism is an instance of territorial nationalism, inclusive of all its people, despite their diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds. It continues to strongly influence the politics of India and reflects an opposition to the sectarian strands of Hindu nationalism and Muslim nationalism.
National consciousness in India
Main article: History of 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. The Mauryan Empire was the first to unite all of India, and South Asia (including much of Afghanistan). In addition, much of India has also been unified under a central government by empires, such as the Gupta Empire, Rashtrakuta Empire, Pala Empire, Mughal Empire, Indian Empire etc.
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 history, as the birthplace of the Indus Valley Civilization and Vedic Civilization, as well as 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 domination, such as Shivaji of the Maratha Empire, Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, Kittur Chennamma, Maharana Pratap of Rajputana, Prithviraj Chauhan and Tipu Sultan who fought the British. The kings of Ancient India, such as Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka of the Magadha Empire, are also remembered for their military genius, notable conquests and remarkable religious tolerance.
Akbar was a Mughal emperor, 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, and Indian National Congress - Freedom Era
See also: Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Aurobindo Ghosh, and 1905 Partition of Bengal
The consolidation of the British East India Company's rule in the Indian subcontinent during the 18th century brought about socio-economic changes which led to the rise of an Indian middle class and steadily eroded pre-colonial socio-religious institutions and barriers. The emerging economic and financial power of Indian business-owners and merchants and the professional class brought them increasingly into conflict with the British Raj. A rising political consciousness among the native Indian social elite (including lawyers, doctors, university graduates, government officials and similar groups) spawned an Indian identity and fed a growing nationalist sentiment in India in the last decades of the nineteenth century. The creation in 1885 of the Indian National Congress in India by the political reformer A.O. Hume intensified the process by providing an important platform from which demands could be made for political liberalisation, increased autonomy, and social reform. The leaders of the Congress advocated dialogue and debate with the Raj administration to achieve their political goals. Distinct from these moderate voices (or loyalists) who did not preach or support violence was the nationalist movement, which grew particularly strong, radical and violent in Bengal and in Punjab. Notable but smaller movements also appeared in Maharashtra, Madras and other areas across the south.
The controversial 1905 partition of Bengal escalated the growing unrest, stimulating radical nationalist sentiments and becoming a driving force for Indian revolutionaries.
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 participated in India's independence 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 Indian nationalists that the British Raj 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 fibre 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.
Main article: Hindu nationalism
An important influence upon Hindu consciousness arises from the time of Islamic empires in India. 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, linguistic groups and ethnicity. In 1925, K.B. Hedgewar founded the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in Nagpur, Maharashtra, which grew into the largest civil organisation 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.
Main articles: Indian Muslim nationalism and Two-Nation Theory
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 independence struggle and the Congress Party. The Aligarh Muslim University and the Jamia Millia Islamia stand apart – the former helped form the Muslim league, while the JMI was founded to promote Muslim education and consciousness upon nationalistic and Gandhian values and thought.
While prominent Muslims like Allama Iqbal, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan embraced the notion that Hindus and Muslims were distinct nations, other major leaders like Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari, Maulana Azad and most of Deobandi clerics strongly backed the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian independence struggle, opposing any notion of Muslim nationalism and separatism. The Muslim school of Indian nationalism failed to attract Muslim masses and the Islamic nationalistMuslim League enjoyed extensive popular political support. State of Pakistan was ultimately formed following Partition of India
Nationalism and politics
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 Mohandas K. 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 independence, democracy and unity. Muslims have remained loyal voters of the Congress Party, seen as defender of Nehruvian secularism. In contrast, the Bharatiya Janata Party employs a more aggressively nationalistic expression. The BJP seeks to preserve and spread the culture of the Hindus, the majority 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 organisation. In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena uses the legacy of the independent Maratha kingdom under famous figures 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 United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) as a benevolent expression of Assamese nationalism. In Tamil Nadu came the first of such parties, the Dravidar Kazhagam (DK). Today the DK stands for a collection of parties, with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (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 dalitHindus 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
Main article: Military History of India
Further information: Indo-Pakistani Wars, Sino-Indian War, and Chola incident
Military history, both past and present, serves as a source of nationalist sentiment in India. The first reference to armies is found in the Vedas and the epics Ramayana and Mahabaratha. There were many powerful dynasties in India such as the Maha Janapadas, Shishunaga Empire, Gangaridai Empire, Nanda Empire, Maurya Empire, Shunga Empire, Kharavela Empire, Kuninda Kingdom, Chola Empire, Chera Empire, Pandyan Empire, Satavahana Empire, Western Satrap Empire, Kushan Empire, Vakataka Empire, Kalabhras Kingdom, Gupta Empire, Pallava Empire, Kadamba Empire, Western Ganga Kingdom, Vishnukundina Empire, Chalukya Empire, Harsha Empire, Shahi Kingdom, Eastern Chalukya Kingdom, Pratihara Empire, Pala Empire, Rashtrakuta Empire, Paramara Kingdom, Yadava Empire, Chaulukya kingdom, Western Chalukya Empire, Hoysala Empire, Sena Empire, Eastern Ganga Empire, Kakatiya Kingdom, Kalachuri Empire, Delhi Sultanate, Deccan Sultanates, Ahom Kingdom, Vijayanagar Empire, Mysore Kingdom, Mughal Empire, Maratha Empire, Sikh Empire etc.
The modern Army of India was raised under the British Raj in the 19th century. Today the Republic of India maintains the world's third largest armed forces with over a million troops strong. The official defence budget stands at ₹1,644,151.9 million (US$25 billion) but the actual spending on the armed forces is estimated to be much higher. The army is undergoing rapid expansion and modernisation with plans to have an active military space program,missile defence shield, and nuclear triad capability.
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India is a land of cultural, religious and linguistic diversity. Nationalism is the only thread which binds the people together in the thread of oneness, despite their belonging to different cultural-ethnic backgrounds. It plays an important role in uniting all Indians from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
Students are supposed to write essays on nationalism in various examination and competitions. Here we are providing essays of varying words-length – 100, 150, 200, 250, 300 and 400 words – and they can take their pick as per their needs to articulate their sense of pride in the oneness of their vast, beautiful and strong nation.
Essay on Nationalism 1 (100 words)
Nationalism means the spirit of devotion to the nation, which must permeate the hearts and minds of every citizen of the country. This is the reason why national anthem is played in educational institutions, and now even in cinema halls before the start of the movies, and the curriculum is enriched with the life stories about the nation’s great sons, heroes and the freedom fighters.
Nationalism is the feeling which gives courage and strength to the soldiers to guard the borders of their country. If the citizens stand united despite being the followers of different religions, speaking different languages, and practicing diverse cultures of their regions, no internal or external threat can harm their country. India is a prominent example of this all-pervasive sense of nationalism that has always served the nation well.
Essay on Nationalism 2 (150 words)
Nationalism is a concept according to which the nation is considered to be supreme – deserving the highest priority. Nationalism is an ideology that promotes the shared identity of the citizens of any country. For a nation’s progress and prosperity, it is imperative that its citizens rise above their regional identities and strengthen the sense of pride in their nation.
There are many countries, including India which are culturally, religiously and linguistically diverse and in these countries the sense of nationalism helps achieve unity in diversity. For the development of India, it is imperative that its citizens work together despite being different in their thoughts and ideas and it can be made possible only through developing a sense of nationalism among them.
Indians have a deep sense of nationalism and this is the reason why they always stand untied when it comes to respecting and honouring their national flag, national anthem and national symbols, which all leads towards preservation of the unity and integrity of the country.
Essay on Nationalism 3 (200 words)
Nationalism means rising about narrow identities of caste, religion and regions to feel a deep sense of pride in our nation. Lord Ram rightly told brother Lakshman after defeating Ravan that the famed golden city of Lanka hardly appeals to him as Janani janmabhoomischa swargadapi gariyasi (Mother and motherland are superior to heaven).
Our country does not practice any sense of discrimination to any citizen as they enjoy all rights and privileges. It is the duty of all of us to foster the unity and integrity of India by a sense of nationalism that transcends all barriers of region, religion and language.
It was this overriding spirit of nationalism that won India freedom from the British after years of hard struggle and innumerable sacrifices. At that time India was divided into several princely states but it stood as one nation in the struggle for freedom. We have to preserve and protect this freedom as even seven decades after independence; there are threats to national security and unity from the separatist and secessionist forces within and outside India. Only a deep-rooted feeling of nationalism can save India from any further division in the name of right to self-determination in Kashmir or insurgent movements in North-East India.
Essay on Nationalism 4 (250 words)
Nationalism means that we carry in our hearts, respect, love and gratitude for our motherland. Although this sense is bestowed on us naturally, but due to some external causes, or may be due to a little ignorance or vicious propaganda, there have been movements espousing anti-national feelings such as the ones witnessed in Kashmir or North-East India. But thanks to the unwavering sense of nationalism in its citizens, India has stood firm as one nation, foiling the designs of separatist forces.
Putting the nation first
As a mother gives birth to her children and overpowers many obstacles to extend love and care on them, our nation also does the same for us. Just like a mother, our motherland also bears the pain while producing means of survival and nourishment for all of us. Scholars have said all the vegetation, rivers and other natural resources of the place where we take birth act as the greatest gifts to live a happy and peaceful existence. It is the affection and the sense of honour towards our motherland that makes us stand strongly in front of the other nations around the world.
In fact, a nation is born only when all citizens living in its boundary share a sense of oneness in cultural heritage and involvement with each other. It is this undiluted sense of nationalism that binds India in one thread from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. The feeling of nationalism has always prevailed over differences of cast, creed and religion in a vast country like India. Indians justifiably take pride in living in the largest democracy of the world, known for its values of peace, human brotherhood and collective progress.
Essay on Nationalism 5 (300 words)
The kind of love, affection and the blessings that a mother showers on her baby while nursing him is incomparable and the same is true with our motherland. Just like a mother who can never think of anything other than the betterment of her children, our nation also showers motherly love on us, without expecting anything in return from us. But it is imperative for every Indian to have a sense of pride and gratitude towards the nation, in other words, practice nationalism in words and deeds.
India is one nation, despite religious and regional diversity
Nationalism binds us all in a spirit of oneness, despite all of us having different customs, holding different beliefs, observing different festivals and speaking in different languages. It is the sense of nationalism that protects the nation against all threats and dangers to its unity and integrity. We can have our different identities as people living in culturally and linguistically distinct states, but stand together as one under one flag, national anthem and national emblem. We can take our place with pride among citizens of the world as proud and loyal citizens of the largest democracy of the world.
The importance of our motherland surpasses all other considerations of caste, creed, and religion. It is only through this deep sense of nationalism and patriotism that we can safeguard our freedom that we achieved after supreme sacrifices and sufferings by millions of sons and daughters of India. Let us never dilute the spirit of nationalism to repay our debts to our motherland.
There are some forces at work which want to weaken the country by spreading separatist feelings and cries for azadi (as witnessed in troubled parts of Kashmir and North-East India). It is unfortunate that some educational institutions in India were recently in the thick of anti-India sloganeering and protests with cries of tearing apart India rending the air. Only an unwavering sense of nationalism can save the country from falling a prey to the evil designs of anti-India forces.
Essay on Nationalism 6 (400 words)
A sense of attachment and dedication towards the country in which one resides is called nationalism. Nationalism is the only reason which keeps every citizen of a country united despite their differences on linguistic, ethnicity and cultural fronts.
Equating nation with mother
Not only in our country but in the entire world, the nation is commonly treated as mother, because as a mother does for her children a nation cares for its citizen and rears and support them with the help of various natural resources without which requirements and purpose of life cannot be completed. It has been observed that during the times of conflicts and war, common citizens of the nation also get united and support their soldiers and the government.
Nationalism binds people in one thread
Nationalism is a collective sense of idea, the power of which can be sensed through the reality that the people living in the country’s borders ignore their differences and give importance to the loyalty towards the nation. Even they do not hesitate to give supreme sacrifice for their nation if it becomes necessary for the survival of their nation. Only because of the sense of nationalism, the people of different part of a country who may be completely unknown to each other get united, develop consensus and also discuss together on the issues related to their nation and find a common solution.
Nationalism and Globalisation
According to some scholars, the process of globalisation has influenced the nationalist thinking up to a major extent and now because of it the sense of national borders as well as the nationalism no longer exit and it has become a challenge to be handled. They argue that globalization and technological progress, such as internet and mobile phones have together turned the world into a global village and thus there is no sense of nationalism as a core value. However, this interpretation of nationalism is immaterial.
For the progress of any nation it is important that its citizen keep alive the sense of nationalism within them. Observing keenly the importance of developing sense of nationalism and spirit of love for their country in their citizens, every government around the world essentially organize their national festivals in which honouring the national flag is an important activity. Overall, the progress of any nation largely depends on the sense of nationalism in their citizens which is an important feeling to bind all the citizens together despite them hailing from different religions, castes, or social strata.