What are the elements of Nation?

A number of factors such as race, religion, language, common history and culture, political consciousness and economic interests together contribute to making of a nation. The role of each of these elements (factors) which contribute to the making of a nation are as follows :

1. Common Race

Belonging to a Common race contributes to the making of a nation. A common race, creates the spirit of oneness among the people. But in what part of the civilized world, today, does a pure race exist? There is no nation with people belonging to a pure race. The U.S.A., Switzerland, India are examples of multi-racial nations. Hence judging nationalism only on the basis of race would be wrong. Its applicability should be treated only in limited sense.

2. Common Religion

Religion plays a very important role in creating and sustaining national spirit. Religion was the basis for the creation of Pakistan. Among the Jews and the Japanese, religion has been the mainspring of their national life. However, most modern nation states are secular and tolerate all religions. It binds people together.

A common religion can not prevent disintegration of Pakistan in 1971. Thus in modern times religion is not as strong force as it used to be earlier. But it is double edged sword because it divides the people also.

3. Common Language

Language plays a vital role in uniting the people and creating a common consciousness among them. Rose and Joseph have attached tremendous significance to language as a cohesive force. According to Joseph, a common language enables the people to project common ideas, ideals, sentiments and feelings, set up common standards of morality, manners and justice, conserve historical traditions, and generate a Common psychology. Language is not mere words. Every word is charged with associations that touch feeling and evoke thought.” It is the language that has led to the birth of Bangla Desh. However, there are multi-lingual nations like Switzerland, India and the U.S.A. In India diversity of language has been an obstacle to national unity. The issue of making Hindi the official language has divided the Hindi and the non-Hindi speaking population. However, a tolerant ‘ attitude can unite the people-speaking different languages.

4. Common Culture

It implies that people share common customs and tradtions, literature, epics and art. The unity of ideas and ideals constitute a very important element of nation-hood. Unity of culture, embraces common customs and traditions, common folklore, literature and art. It also stands for “a certain dominant view of life with its common standard, duties and prohibitions”. Unity of ideas and ideals unite people emotionally. National literature creates, and sustains the sentiment of pride and reverence among the people. National education creates common vision of life and value system, described as political culture.

5. Geographical Factor

Defined territory, creates national feelings among the people inhabiting a common land, described as “motherland”, or “fatherland”. In the absence of a “homeland”, it is difficult to develop national feelings among the people. The common geographical factors develop common physical, mental and psychological traits among the people. When people live together on a common land they develop attachment to that common land.

6. Common History

Common historical background makes people feel proud of the past glory and keeps them united. It contributes to the making of a nation. According to Ramsay Muir,” A memory of sufferings endured and victories won… the dear names of the great national heroes… heroic achievements, agonies heroically endured… that make the soul of a nation.” The sentiment of national pride is generated among the people by such common history. Thus the memories of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj or Maha Rana Pratap or the war of Independence of 1857 or the sacrifices made by the revolutionaries or the freedom struggle led by Mahatme Gandhi unite the people of India and contribute to the making of the Indian nation.

7. Economic Factors

Common economic interests unite the people as was witnessed in thirteen British colonies in the North America. When these people realized that they were exploited by England, the mother country, they raised the banner of revolt which led to the American War of Independence in 1775. However, economic interests alone cannot foster national spirit. Thus Ashirvatham observes that, “If economic interests alone were enough to constitute a nation, we should expect a nationality of labourers… and of capitalists.” Common economic factor is thus a contributory factor in the making of a nation.

8. Political Factors

Subjugation to a foreign rule generates nationalist sentiment among the people as was the case with the countries of Asia and Africa. The foreign rule meant common sufferings and humiliation suffered by the entire people. The British rule fostered Indian nationalism and led to struggle for freedom. It united people of India belonging to different regions, speaking different languages and professing different religions. Freedom from foreign rule means political sovereignty. The Constituent Assembly enacted a constitution for India, created common political institutions and conferred common Fundamental Rights on the people of India. Thus the political sovereignty fostered sense of unity among the people of India. In a nutshell, common subjugation to foreign political authority and common political institutions contribute substantially to making of a nation.

9. Will to be a Nation

The most potent among anelements of nations is the will to be a nation. Even if all other factors are present and the will to be a nation is absent, that people cannot be a nation. The disintegration of Pakistan (1971) and of the U.S.S.R. (1991) proves that when unwilling people are forced to live together, they cannot make a nation.

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