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The Relationship Between National Identity And State Building

1750 words - 7 pages

Taking indication from the book, Nations and Nationalism, I understand the concept of Nation and State as two different islands, formed independently, without the support from the other one and a bridge that links them is Nationalism (Gellner 1983). The people who consider themselves as part of a nation are more homogeneous group in terms of religion, culture, language etc., and tend to be psychologically connected as against the State which has a geographic boundary and heterogeneous mixture of people from diverse groups. However, the purpose of this essay is not to define these concepts, but to understand if there is any relationship between people identifying themselves as belonging to one particular nation and whether this identification conduces the development of that nation. For the purpose of this essay, I would like to consider State building in terms of socioeconomic development of the State in question, than a mere political process of establishment of the State with defined territory. I would like to examine from my understanding of Indian history and my present day experiences to see how such a relationship between people identifying themselves to India and the progress of the State in two different time frames one at the time of freedom struggle and post-independence period and the situation that is existing contemporary.
Culture has a prominent role in germinating national identity among the people, as Fanon (1963) in his book Wretched of the Earth describes that the colonizers have a tendency to impose their culture on the people whom they have colonized and this aggravates the people (ibid), the British in India enforced the Indian soldiers to use the cartridges greased with fat of cow and pig. As the cow is considered to be sacred among Hindus, an Indian soldier, Mangal Pandey refused to use the rifle and he was hanged; this led to mass revolt and thus the first war of Indian Independence was born. This exacerbation among the people had its effects on the cultural aspects of the nation ‘These new-found tensions which are present at all stages in the real nature of colonialism have their repercussions on the cultural plane’ (ibid). In the literary context, plenty of patriotic poems and articles were written – one such famous slogan “Bande Matharam” (Chatterji 1882) meaning, I salute to the mother nation gave a sense of belonging and patriotism among masses. The Country was personified (Carr 1945) as a mother to unite the people. The word of mouth propaganda on anti-British sentiments were spread across the length and breadth of the country. The ‘swadesi’ movement – be Indian and buy Indian, was a huge success through the oral propaganda. Both the culture and the struggle for freedom goes hand in hand (Fanon 1963) and these changes in the cultural aspects and the struggle for freedom boosted the “National Identity” and this was one major factor that resulted in Independence in 1947.
The new nation, India faced similar...

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