We are talking about self-reliance quite a bit these days. Is self-reliance bounded to materialistic things only or does it apply to ideologies too? We live in modern nation-states, so the sense of nationalism is already a part of us. It is nationalism, that classified the majority of the world as distinct nation-states, protected by specified boundaries. The process of nation-building takes decades or even centuries. Still, we cannot land at a universal definition for a nation-state. The process of nation-building is different for different countries.
If we trace the rise of nationalism in India, it developed as a concept during our struggle for Independence against the colonial British Raj. It is the umbrella movement that brought different ethnic, linguistic and religious groups together.
Analysts call India’s nationalism as ‘territorial nationalism’, but it is much more beyond that. The concept of the Indian nationalism seemed unreal at first and it received a major setback due to the ‘two-nation theory’ which demanded the creation of a separate Muslim nation.
The theory believed that the two major religious communities, The Hindus and the Muslims, cannot live as citizens of a single nation. Yet, not everything was lost. The creation of Pakistan didn’t lead to the creation of a Hindu Pakistan on the other side. The idea of India didn’t die, it in fact strengthened. The creation of The Republic of India was a contradiction to the two-nation theory.
There was a much bigger challenge awaiting for the newborn Republic, i.e. practising democracy. Before India adopted democracy, no one believed that it could be practised in a poor country. The analysts of democracy had predicted that democracy is a concept for the economically stable countries only and poor countries cannot develop under a democracy, The world laughed when we adopted it, the rest is history.
Another challenge was diversity. It was then believed that modern nation-states cannot survive with diversity. Europe, barely the same size as India is divided into forty-odd nations because they believed people speaking different languages, practising different faiths cannot constitute a nation-state.
India, being a hundred times more diverse than Europe, is one singular nation without a singular state language or religion. India was the first big experiment in human history which accommodated diversity in the most beautiful way. Even if we look at close experiments, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia collapsed. This was another way India showed the world how democracy is practised. This makes the Indian Nationalism the most unique and beautiful in the world.
Looking at contemporary politics, since the rise of the NDA government, the concept of Indian nationalism has been altered and the idea of India is constantly under threat. Indian Nationalism is slowly being converted into the nationalism imported from Europe, which certainly violates the idea of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
The nationalism people talk about today and which masses are forcibly made to prove, is not our nationalism. Hate is rising and community identities are overlapping the national identities. People constantly term this as ‘New India’, which certainly shows that our own idea of India is being slowly destroyed under the foot of brutal political aspirations.
There is also a section opposing this, but their dissent has made them dislike the very idea of nationalism. They are branded anti-national because they give the bigots room to do so.
By opposing this false nationalism, they end up opposing the idea of nationalism. They need to understand that our nationalism is not what they tell us, it is what we feel, it is what the constitution tells us. To counter their brand of imported nationalism, we don’t need to oppose the idea of nationalism but to bring forward our idea of nationalism, the idea of India. If we fail to do so, then this dream republic which is under huge threat won’t survive one day. So, it is for us to decide if we want to keep living in our India or the “New India”, which will be a Hindu Pakistan.