The Rise of Nationalism in Bharat

In Bharat, the political doctrine of nationalism is on an upsurge, taking giant leaps forward, changing the socio-political framework and causing tectonic shifts. This has been a trend in the global politics. The US-China trade war; US President’s efforts to build a wall thwarting illegal immigration; Brexit fuelled victory for Boris Johnson; China’s crackdown on Uighur Muslims; Brazil and Latin America’s changing political spectrum and Bharat’s changing political paradigm; insinuates and indicates a certain surge in nationalistic feelings across the globe. 

On ground observation of recent developments in nationalistic sentiments – which is getting reflected in Modi’s election majority, abrogation of article 370, aggressive attitude towards Pakistan and increase in fierceness of nationalists – indicates that nationalism’s upsurge in Bharat has been the most powerful and transformative one among all. Bharat’s nationalism, despite being distinctly and substantially disparate than western nationalism in both implications and ideals, has the liberal intelligentsia worried across the globe. With meagre understanding of the doctrine’s on ground implications, it would be byzantine to get a grip of changing dynamics in Bharatiya politico. 

Background to Nationalism

Nationalism, the ideology of the nation-state, stands for the sense of togetherness of a people in terms of ethnic, religious, linguistic, territorial, and other unities. Nationalism inspires to work towards a self-governing state and government controls aspects of the economy to promote the nation’s self-interest.

Nationalism is a political-social doctrine of responsibility, fundamental duty and devotion towards the nation state, national interests, nations culture and fellow nationals. And a doctrine of fiercely espousing or holding political sovereignty for the nation and national control of the economy.

Protection of national interests, promulgation of sovereign nation state and promotion of national identity are central ideals of the ideology of nationalism. Nationalism evokes a strong sentiment of sovereignty, responsibility, unity and autonomy in those affiliating to a common nation.

Ramsay Muir, in context of nation, said “A nation may be defined as a body of people who feel themselves to be naturally linked together with certain affinities which are so strong and real for them that they can live happily together and are dissatisfied when disunited and can not tolerate subjection to people who do not share these ties”. 

In a culturally complex and diverse society as Bharat there was always some ideology which in modern terms can be called as nationalism, but its ideals and implications both were fundamentally different from current nationalism. West’ nationalism is less laissez-fair capitalistic and more mercantilistic, while Bharatiya version of nationalism, in present world order, promotes free market and globalised world.

Western nationalism typically sees territorial state as political unit ‘centrally’ belonging to one particular ethnocultural group; the view was exemplified by late 19th century ‘revivalist’ nationalism prominent in Europe and Latin America; its Bharatiya counterpart though promotes preservation of diverse cultural fabric of Bharat adorned with multiple ethnicities while respecting demographics and multifariousness.

The development of nationalism was historically significant and globally vital in its own ways. In miniaturist but apt words, Lord Morley described the development of nationalism “From instinct, it became idea; from idea, abstract form; then fervid prepossession where it is today, a dogma”.

Modern nationalism rose in late 18th century Europe, soon migrating to North and South America. In 20th century nationalism expanded to many Asian countries, later eventually footing in independent African nations. Western nationalism inspired Bharat and African nations to march for freedom and sovereignty. Nationalism bought series of changes, sometimes paradigm shifts, in nations it went.

Story of Bharatiya Nationalism  

The second half of the 19th century witnessed the full flowering of national political consciousness and the growth of an organised national movement in Bharat. Formation of Bharatiya National Congress in 1885 was the initial manifestation of Bharatiya nationalism and the organised expression of political aspirations. The British Raj’s suppressive policies, colonialism, market seizure and economic monopoly, unification of Bharat, enhanced connectivity, influence of western thought and education and rediscovering of Bharat’s glorious past all aided in the spread of nationalism as an en masses ideology. 

Unification of Bharat under one sovereignty of British was one of the most crucial factor behind upsurge of nationalism. Better communication (in the form of English lingual and Postal system) and transportation aided smooth flow of idea. Growth of nationalism requires a common unifying factor, a common enemy or challenge. British Raj became that challenge and later enemy; which prompted people to blur the social-religious hierarchical boundaries and fight as one. 

Bharatiya Nationalism was culminated creation of multi-factors. It upsurged surfing on the waves of anti-British national sentiments and national unification. In other words Bharatiya Nationalism grew partly as a reaction to colonial policies in fact and partly as a result of colonial policies.

Nationalism in Bharat always remained the leading ideology and political doctrine even after the independence. Skirmishes with vicinal Pakistan kept the fire burning inside both the countries. The harbingers of nation interests on both the sides, as hammering the hot iron, steered the flames spawning further nationalism. The fire increased the disparaging heat in both sides for each other. 

Extra inflammatory fuel to already burning fire, that was nationalism, was added during former PM Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure. The Shah Bano case and Ram Mandir issue furthered the spirit and became the fissile material for a different nationalism – the religious nationalism. Preferences and intentions were changed and within no time national nationalism morphed into religious nationalism. It reached its zenith in independent Bharat’s history in and post 2014 when nationalistic forces unified for different causes and gave BJP a electoral mandate unseen in 30 years. 

The nationalism in 21st century Bharat is not the nationalism of freedom struggle. The objectives and undertakings both are in each other’s sharp contrast. The earlier one was for self-governance, sovereignty and freedom, the current one is for civilisation, culture and religion. The current rise of nationalism in Bharat is a silent volcano filled with magma waiting to explode, capable of causing paradigmatic changes. Which makes us wonder what are the reasons behind this rise of nationalism in Bharat?

Reasons behind the rise of nationalism

Pseudo-Secularism – an artful and ostentatious nepotistic formula for promulgation of inequality, injustice, discrimination, favouritism, duplicitousness and embedded hypocrisy – is one of the prime reasons behind the rise of religious nationalism. The establishment’s approach, however exceedingly fawning and obsequious, for handling the mix of multi-religious diversity sprayed across the vast canvas reflects spuriousness and banality.

An enmesh of unequal ideals and selectivity under the veil of secularism has been masqueraded into the system, which has created a sense of marginalisation in the majority. Hindus are expected to be secular while every other religion can freely practice and propagate their religion. Despite being a community doctrine, secularism in Bharat has become a one way traffic.

Hindus lynching at the hands of Muslims/Christians is ignored and veiled upon, while the contrary being if done by a Hindu gets exploded and entire ‘seculars’ blazes their guns over Hindu Dharma. Traditions of Hindu Dharma being put to tests; hate crimes against Hindus veiled; holy deities, animals, customs, places and peoples being mocked; all being legitimised and institutionalised under the gasp of secularism. 

State’s unfair treatment of Hindus ever since independence created a spiral turn. After independence, all other religions were allowed to propagate their religion and create religious educational centres, but Hindus were snatched from this right to freedom of religion. Hindus were made to follow the only law of the land for them – the Bharat constitution, while minority as Muslims were allowed to practice their civil laws as per shariat.

The state as a mobster snatched the control of Hindu temples from religious authorities, created a system of monopoly over temple management, consistently steals temple money and property and provides a meagre salary to the priests. While minorities were allowed to freely execute, administer and manage their religious centres; state provided financial support to those centres and often times it was the money taken from temples that were directed to minority religious centres. Minority specific scholarships through a separate minority affairs ministry, at the same time no religion specific schemes for Hindus created a ridge and sense of distrust in Hindus for the system. 

This marginalisation, exclusion and discrimination of Hindus, via manipulated imposition of ideals of secularism, created a fire ground for nationalism to thrive. As nationalists demanded fair two-way system of secularism, majority of Hindus, except for elitists, chose nationalism. Narendra Modi in 2019 through surfing the same wave reached to zenith with largest electoral majority in decades. It’s true politicians has often time exploited the sentiments through nationalism, but no demagoguery was an avast to the feeling of not letting ‘anti-nationalists’ win. 

Failure of libertarians – the supposed harbingers of freedom, galloping horses of liberty – has created a black hole for nationalism. Liberalism’s failure is another major cause behind upsurge of nationalism. Liberalism, which was founded on the principles of freedom and equality, got ailed with a gangrenous disease of favouritism, selectivity and elitism. Intellectual absolutism grappled the fundamental undertaking of liberals in Bharat leading to elitism.

Elitism caused exclusion of non-elitists, eventually furthering the ridge. Embedded hypocrisy in the blood and bone of liberal intelligentsia, veiled under the art of deception, has had cataclysmic effects on the common masses understandings. Liberals Hinduphobia and anti-Hindu verbose darkened liberalism’s any chances of fostering. Libertarians Hindu hatred festered liberalism instead of fostering.

Whenever a Muslim was lynched by a Hindu, libertarians transformed into canon guns blasting the fortress of an entire religion of Hindu Dharma. But whenever a Hindu suffered in the hands of Muslim, was lynched on grounds of religion, as in the case of Ankit Saxena, Chandan Gupta, TN Ramalingam, Bharat Yadav, Dr Narang, Dhruv Tyagi, the liberals remained silent and activism was put to rest for those moments. This selective trait and uncontrolled practice of favouritism, has gone under the skin of Bharatiya masses hurting their sentiments. 

Double standards, the duplicitous mendacious nature, of liberals caused majority to shift towards nationalism. As a counter to libertarians vindictive propaganda, hoi-polloi chose to side with national interests rather than chicanery. About which I previously wrote – “One more ailing limb in the gangrenous body of Bharatiya libertarians is the mindful chicanery – the wanton sabre made from the mendacious metal of spuriousness – that has turned the majority of Bharatiya populace away from believing in liberalism.

The mix of chicanery is the artful bending of character and fundamental principles with a little added salt of verbal deception. As in the case of humanising terrorism. When the liberals address terrorists with unnecessary humanising verbose of they being a ‘son of a school master’, a ‘Dhoni fan’, a ‘PhD Scholar’ and when they do a caste based classification of Bharatiya soldiers who lost their lives on the line of duty; their chicanery remains on full on display.

When the liberals chose to defend the Islamic veiling practice of hijab or burqa, while at the same time ruthlessly attacking the Hindu veiling practice of ghoonghat; they display their mix of hypocritical chicanery and dishonesty to the cause of true liberalism.” This chicanery of some in Bharat caused many to side with nationalism. 

Terrorism being another major reason behind rise of nationalism. Radicalisation and terrorism has caused plethora of damage to the Bharatiya society and culture. The terrorists unleashed a ‘war of civilisation’. Radicalisation targeted the Bharatiya culture. Nationalism, as a protection shield to the storm of terrorism, was the only doctrine willing to quash and exterminate the terrorism and radicalisation from its roots. No wonder the nationalism rose and gathered en mass ground support, as the threat of terrorism increased. It came as a natural tendency, a proclivity, uniting all the patriotic Bharatiyas under the same banner of nationalism. 

Nationalism in Bharat is taking giant leaps forward and is suddenly becoming a household doctrine, a kind of movement throughout the nation. Nationalists aim for holistic development; complete integrity; sovereignty; safety and security; and preservation of Bharatiya culture. It is wrong to assume that politicians steered the rise of nationalism, while in reality it is the nationalism that steered the rise of politicians.

Bharat’s nationalism is a protective shield against the malevolent anti-Bharat forces. But we must also ensure that nationalism remains in the true spirit of Bharatiya-ness and not turn into a totalitarian doctrine. The rise of nationalism has given new ambitions to the nation state of Bharat. 

(Featured Image source)


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About the Author

Yogendra Thakur
A student and two time state topper in Astrophysics and Art of Lecturing. Primary focus areas are Indology and Economics.