Sunday, July 21, 2024

Nationalism in India and West

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Nationalism in India and West differ markedly, let’s understand the difference between the perception of this social force in two different settings

Nationalism is defined as the love for one’s country.

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It lays emphasis on prioritizing your country’s national interests.

It stands for the idea of eulogizing your country. The epistemological origins of Nationalism lay in the Enlightenment period in Europe.

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That period marked the onset of absolutist monarchies and the inter-European wars.

But nationalism as a potent social force emerged in Napoleonic France.

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Steven Pinker in The Better Angels of Our Nature states that nationalism as a force was weaponised by Napoleon.

It, however, emerged as a force to reckon with in the 19th and 20th centuries in the world.

Nationalism in the West

In the West, nationalism has no religious connotation, but it is based on the deification of geographical terrain as a fatherland or motherland.

However, western nationalism is materialistic as emphasises on capturing political power for acheving material prosperity.

This is evident from the large colonial empires that the European countries had established in the 17th-20th centuries (first half of the 20th century).

Nationalism in the West, had devastating consequences.

It became the cause of two World Wars with a cumulative loss of over 100 million lives.

The extreme nationalism of Germany, Italy and Japan, their determination to emerge as the strongest and the urge to emerge as the master race wrecked havoc.

Robert Sapolsky in his book Behave argued nationalism was one of the potent reasons why the Nazis supported Eugenics.

In doing so, the Nazis contributed to the otherization of the Jewish people.

It manifested itself in denigrating Jews as “rats, cockroaches” etc.

Similarly Japan’s militaristic nationalism stood for emerging as the best Asian race.

It was driven by an imperialistic urge to rule all of Asia and in the process enslave all other races for the Japanese cause.

Therefore nationalism in the West is a socially uncohesive force.

Indian Nationalism

Indian nationalism too deifies the motherland.

In India’s case it is Bharat Mata. Benedict Anderson had argued that nation is an “agglomeration of imagined communities”.

This is applicable in every country’s case.

But in India, nationalism is different.

Thinkers like Swami Vivekananda, Aurobindo Ghosh, Bipin Chandra Pal, Veer Savarkar all underlined the need for a religious edifice for India’s nationalism.

Religion, according to Swami Vivekananda is the source of strength.

However, nationalism meant promoting the physical and intellectual vitality of the country. Unlike Europe, Nationalism is a positive force in India which helps in cementing social cohesion.

In India’s case, nationalism has also acquired besides cultural, civic nationalism.

It stands for the idea of displaying nationalism by adhering to the norms and principles of the constitution.

Hence Nationalism in India and West differ.

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