India gained its independence on 15th August, in the year 1947. To achieve its independence, India had to fight relentlessly. India was able to achieve complete independence through the sacrifice of numerous heroes. However, the outrage of rebels started with the introduction of nationalism. The Indian National movement was the first movement that shook the British and the national movement itself paved the path of independence for India and its people. Nationalism played an important part in constructing the history of India and the Indian National Movement

How did nationalism arise?

Numerous developments took place in the country and these developments make people curious about certain things. They started asking questions like what is the country of India, and for what kind of people India is meant for? Eventually, the questions were answered. All the people of India together make India where an individual’s class, color, sex, and language do not matter. Additionally, all the resources that are present inside the boundaries of India belong to the people of India as well. As the people of India received answers like this, they started to become aware of the British implementation of control on the lives of the citizens, and resources of India. People started to understand how the British government was compromising the well-being of the country of India and only focused on the development of Britain. The political associations that were formed after the year 1850 were majorly those that came into formation in the 1870s and 1880s. These political associations had well-educated individuals who were professionally a lawyer. Some of the most important political associations were the Indian association, the Bombay Presidency Association, the Madras Mahajan Sabha, Poorna Sarvajanik Sabha, and the Indian National Congress.  The Poorna Sarvajanik Sabha was called so because the word “Sarvajanik” translates to “for or of all the people” (Sarva= all, Janik= off the people).  All of these associations worked in a certain part of the country. The goals set by these associations were goals set by the people of the entire nation.

The goals remained uniform among all the citizens and they did not change according to caste or creed. This was to make India a sovereign country. Sovereignty was a relatively modern concept for the people of India. The idea of sovereignty played a big role in nationalism. In simpler words, the Indian people believed that they must be allowed to take care of their affairs. Then another act was introduced named ‘The Arms Act’. According to this act, Indians were not allowed to carry any kind of weapons. The Vernacular Press Act was introduced to silence the voice of the Indian Press. Then a bill, named Ilbert Bill was supposed to be passed. According to this bill, the Britishers and the Indians would get equal grounds in a court. However, the Britishers did not allow the Bill to pass. This showed the mindset of the Britishers regarding Indian race. The Britishers discriminated based on color. Therefore, due to the passing of such acts and the prevalence of racial discrimination, the Indians started to generate a feeling of nationalism inside their heart.

The nationalism, as we know it, is a modern phenomenon which evolved in eighteenth-century Europe and, in the wake of European hegemony over the globe, spread to all parts of the world. The new form of community, that is nation, was created through imagination and not through shared experiences. Such communities also demanded to have their own representative states, and they succeeded in a large number of cases. It was through this process that the nation-states emerged, which is a completely novel form of state as it is organically connected with the society. Unit 1 will discuss various theories of nationalism and their relevance in Indian case. Indian Nationalist Movement, as you are aware, was a grand and prolonged struggle launched against British imperialism. Nationalism was the main ideology and the instrument with whose help this struggle was launched. In the context of the Indian Nationalist Movement, Indian nationalism represented two major ideas: anti-imperialism and national unity. In other words, any person, movement or organization that practiced and upheld these two ideas, could be considered a nationalist. It would be best to look at Indian nationalism as a case-study of nationalism in general, but as an important and distinctive case-study. It may not be necessary to construct a separate theory of Indian nationalism, but rather that general theories of nationalism will have to be modified and tailored so as to accommodate the Indian case-study. Perhaps one should separately look at the two components of the Indian experience – the Indian component (specific) and the nationalist (generic) one. It should therefore be seen both as Indian nationalism and also as Indian nationalism.

Rise Of Nationalism In India:

For India, the making of national identity was a long process whose roots can be drawn from the ancient era. India as a whole had been ruled by emperors like Ashoka and Samudra gupta in ancient times and Akbar to Aurangzeb in Medieval times. But,
it was only in the 19th Century that the concept of a national identity and national consciousness emerged. This growth was intimately connected to the anti-colonial movement about which you have already read in lesson 4. The social, economic and
political factors had inspired the people to define and achieve their national identity. People began discovering their unity in the process of their struggle against colonialism. The sense of being oppressed under colonial rule provided a shared bond that tied different groups together. Each class and group felt the effects of colonialism differently. Their experiences were varied, and their notions of freedom were note always the same. Several other causes also contributed towards the rise and growth of Nationalism. One set of laws of British Government across several regions led to political and administrative unity.

This strengthened the concept of citizenship and one nation among Indians. Do you remember reading the lesson Popular Resistance Movements? Do you remember the way the peasants and the tribals rebelled when their lands and their right to livelihood was taken away? Similarly this economic exploitation by the British agitated other people to unite and react against British Government’s control over their lives and resources. The social and religious reform movements of the 19th century also contributed to the feeling of Nationalism.

Do you remember reading about Swami Vivekananda, Annie Besant, Henry Derision and many others? They revived the glory of ancient India, created faith among the people in their religion and culture and thus gave the message of love for their motherland. The intellectual and spiritual side of Nationalism was voiced by persons like Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Swami Dayanand Saraswati and Aurobindo Ghosh. Bankim Chandra’s hymn to the Motherland, ‘Vande Matram’ became the rallying cry of patriotic nationalists. It inspired generations to supreme self-sacrifice. Simultaneously, it created a fear in the minds of the British. The impact was so strong that the British had to ban the song. Similarly, Swami Vivekananda’s message to the people, “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached”, appealed to the Indians. It acted as a potent force in the course of Indian Nationalism.