What are the factors that promote Nationalism?

The factors which integrate a people and contribute the emergence of nationalism are as follows

1. Ethnic Factor

The ethnic or racial factor, that is, blood relationship, common ancestory, has played important role to keep people united. The birth of Israel, in 1948, was based on the principle of ethnicity. The Jews succeeded in establishing the state for their race. However, this does not mean that nations cannot exist without common racial origin.” Nations like Switzerland, America, Russia, etc., have citizens from different races. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that racial unity may promote a feeling of oneness.

2. Language

It is another factor which promotes nationalism. A common medium of communication is necessary for the people to understand the feelings, passions and problems of one another. Before the British came to India there was no common language and hence India was divided. English langage, which the British taught the Indians for their imperialist interests, actually turned out to be a language of communication among people speaking different languages. Thus, languages played a highly significant role in knitting the people into a homogeneous nation.

3. Religion

Another force which instils nationalism in the members of a group is religion. People following the same religion have a great sense of unity. This has been a very old bond of union. The birth of Pakistan as a nation was mainly due to the religious factor. Today, if Pakistan is able to keep itself intact despite so much regional tension there, it is because of the religious unity Islam provides to its people. However, there are nations like India, Switzerland and many others which have great religious diversity and yet their people have common national sentiments. But it cannot be denied that religion continues to be very great source of nationalism.

4. Geographical Factors

It is natural that people living in’ a geographically continuous territory develop a feeling of oneness. They have common interest and there is free communication among them. This helps to create in them a feeling of homogeneity and brotherhood which infuses in them the spirit of nationalism. If the territory is separated by some other country, or sea or huge mountains due to which communication between the two sides is difficult, it is possible that sentiments of togetherness may be weak. The example in this context is that of East and West Pakistan which got divided into two states of Bangladesh and Pakistan mainly because the two were separated geographically, and there were serious problems of effective communication between each other. However, geographical continuity is not a very essential factor if the states are well-knit nations. For example, Indonesia is a nation of many small islands but its national integrity has not been challenged by inhabitants of any island. In the case of India also, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshdweep are situated away from the mainland, yet we do not face any problem from the inhabitants of these Indian islands.

5. A Common Historical Background

History also unites the people on the basis of past glories and sufferings, rich tradition and culture that they inherit. Indians, sharing a common political heritage of national movement, developed a sentiment of unity which finds expression through national feelings.

6. Common Economical Interest

The common economic interest and problems also bring the people closer so that they can jointly find solutions for the betterment of the whole community. The rise of strong middle class gave political stability to European states and strengthened the cause of nationalism.

7. Common Political Aspirations

With all these common factors, the most ^powerful and essential factor that binds a nationality is common political aspirations, ‘the desire to be an independent state. A nationality is not a political state until it has an independent political setup of its own. Hence only with this political desire the people, with all other common factor things, can be called a Nation. An important factor, that has helped people forget all their ethnic, religious, linguistic or territorial differences, and acquire sentiment of nationalism, is the desire for political freedom from foreign rule. Thus, colonial rule has acted as a force in promoting and strengthening nationalism in case of India.

The educated native elite helps to induce the spirit of nationalism in the masses. In most of the Asian and African countries under imperial powers, the elite has played a decisive role in bringing the people together under one banner.

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