Nationalism : “An ideology that takes the nation to be of fundamental value”

Source: News Bharati English02 Dec 2013 14:53:39

Bharat Mata 

Nationalism : “An ideology that takes the nation to be of fundamental value”

“The basis of our nationalism is not simply Bharat but 'Bharat Mata'. Remove the word Mata and Bharat would remain just a piece of land. Country is created by the coming together of land as mother and an integrated society as son. If nationalism is about the pride for the nation, then Patriotism is the love for the nation.

Hrishikesh Thakur

As India is approaching towards the biggest ballot vote in 2014, Nationalism is the leading ideology existing in the political world. Before inflowing into nationalism, it is important to comprehend the concept of nation which is very essential for understanding nationalism.

In modern times, the concept of nationalism is indispensable to the study of state system and interstate relations. Nationalism can be best explained as a spiritual and emotional force, predominant in people belonging to a common race. Such people inhabit a common territory and share a common language, common religion, culture and traditions.

The twentieth century saw the heyday of the nation state, with the rise and consolidation of nation-states in different parts of the world either as an immediate corollary to the world wars or as a result of the national liberation movements in the erstwhile colonies. Depending upon the historical process,nation were formed through transformation of either sub-continental empires into modern multinational states like India, or regional kingdoms into nation states like those of western Europe nation In either case,became the embodiment of the nationalism of the people who constituted that nation-state.

Quoted in Modern Political Thought mentioned in an Essay by Renan* “A nation is a soul, a spiritual principle. Two things which are really only one go to make up this soul or spiritual principle. One of these things lies in past, the other is in present. The one is the possession in common of a rich heritage of memories; and the other is actual agreement: the desire to live together and the will to continue to make the most of the joint inheritance. Man cannot be improvised. The nation, like the individual is the fruit of a long past spent in toil, sacrifice and devotion.”

The Foremost essential element for a nation is a contiguous piece of land surrounded by natural boundaries which serve as the layer on which the nation has to live, progress and flourish. Second most important element is, the people living in that particular land should have developed love and respect for it as their motherland. The people should not be just an association of diverse individuals. People should be united in a coherent and well-organized society having common goals and traditions, a common memory of the pleased and displeased experiences of their past life, common feelings of friendship and unfriendliness then such people living in that territory named as ‘nation’. And one more important point that if we think that we are a nation then we are a nation. If we don’t believe or feel that we are the children of this soil then we are not a nation.

The core belief of nationalism is a loyalty to a nation which is the utmost superiority or value that an individual or group can hold close. Nationalism is also the collective identity and moral significance given to the territory. Pride for the Nation is also acknowledged with nationalism. Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya** explained the heart of our nationalism when he quoted that “The basis of our nationalism is not simply Bharat but 'Bharat Mata'. Remove the word Mata and Bharat would remain just a piece of land. He propounded that a country is created by the coming together of land as mother and an integrated society as son. If nationalism is about the pride for the nation, then Patriotism is the love for the nation.

Nationalism is a theory an ideology. But it is not a modern creation like state,even the mythological period taught us that, there was a sense of nation. "Janani Janma-bhoomi-scha Swargadapi Gariyasi" (mother and motherland are greater than heaven)*** a symbolic representations which was there in the past. This invokes a sense of belonging.

Since, it is important to know the need of national identity in India, where the cultural, linguistic and religious identity changes in very distance of 10 kilometer.  In India there exists an assortment of multiple personality born natural.  Even no human being is made up of one composite. When a resident of Chennai and you (reader) are resident of Mumbai and the cricket match between India and England or Pakistan or Australia then it’s the hold up and applause for the Team India. But when League match between Chennai super king and Mumbai Indians, then the support comes for the State of Chennai and Mumbai, so we are not a single identity, we are a combination of identities, and is subjective. In different situations one identity or the other becomes important. But the fact remain that all the people are Indians, When anybody will ask us where are we from? We will say we are from India, Even when somebody outside India will criticize India, we will feel bad. That's a reality. So the reality that one of our identities is National identity. That’s why sense of nationalism is necessary because this is how we identify ourselves and we should feel proud of it; this is what nationalism is all about Nation first India first.

But at the same time we should see that it does not become hateful and we should not add arrogance in it as when we add arrogance in it we start hating each other. Even Indian nationalism cannot be compare to western nationalism. Calling Indian nationalism destructive or claiming that our nationalism would be as calamitous as that of European countries is wrong.  To support this argument we can see the entire history of India which is full of goodwill for the whole world. Even in the present context have we ever come across report like that Indian Solders cross over border or Indian solders try to capture land of our neighboring state?  Answer is NO; the truth is that India has always endeavored the good of the entire creation.

In my India when we compare between a men from Kerala and men from Assam there language, customs clothing and cuisine, none of that similar but one thread I see which connect both to india is there Inspiration, enthusiasm of seeing India be great.But I quote that today the inspiration is falling apart because Delhi losing its authority, dignity and credibility with the unheard cry of the people there exist a gap of directions.

To conclude the heart and soul of the nationalism my act of consciousness leads me to certain events of triumph and achievement of losses and agonies of people which promotes nationalism. Is when a girl from North East, perhaps where we haven’t visited, gets a medal in boxing and I feel proud!I get a feel of pride when I raise my head to look up to my National flag. The twinge of my country people affects me more than the same pain of the other country people.

The terms ‘nation’, ‘nationality’ and ‘nationalism’ are closely related. They are so popular that one can assume that they must have always existed. A ‘nation’ is characterized by political unity, ‘nationality’ relates to cultural unity, while ‘nationalism’ is associated with spiritual unity.

I as Indian strongly believe upon the desire and the will to actually feel one with the nation is, in fact, a very important factor for the growth of nationalism.

(The Author is pursuing his post graduate degree in Development Studies at IIT Guwahati)

Ref.  * Qu'est-cequ'une nation?is a 1882 essay by French historian Ernest Renan (1823–1892), known for the statements that a nation is "a daily referendum", and that nations are based as much on what the people jointly forget, as what they remember.

** Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya (September 25, 1916 - February 11, 1968) was an Indian philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and political activist. He was one of the most important leaders of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the forerunner of the present day Bharatiya Janata Party. Available at, last visited on 09/11/2013.

*** The verse is from the great Hindu Epic Ramayana in Sanskrit composed by AdiKavi (Primordial Poet) sage Valmiki. Rama uttered this while addressing his younger brother Lakshmana after their victory over the Rakshasa (demon) king Ravana. "अपि स्वर्णमयी लङ्का न मे लक्ष्मण रोचते जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी" : "Lakshmana, even this golden Lanka does not appeal to me, mother and motherland are greater than heaven."