What is Nationalism?

Nationalism is an ideology and most powerful force even today. It is a sentiments and feelings for which masses live and die. It is combined with the ideology of liberalism, socialism, fascism and ex-colonial peoples. It means love for motherland or homeland and promotion of one’s culture and civilization. Western scholars who gave ideas of nationalism are Geller, Anderson, Hans kohn and Hobsbawm whereas Indian thinkers who dealt with nation, nationalism and nationhood are Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar, Sri Aurbindo, Tilak, Tagore, vivekanand and Deen Dayal Upadhyay.

Nationalism stems from the idea that people shares common cultural ethos, occupying a geographical entity, and shares strong bond of common interests.

Gandhi wanted Indian nationalism to be non-violent and anti-militaristic. His nationalism does not devised to harm any nation or individuals, he believes on the idea of Swaraj. He just wants freedom from the British rules. He aimed at the moral regeneration. Ambedkar in his book ‘Pakistan or the partition of India’ described nationality as ‘consciousness of kind, awareness of the existence of that tie of kinship’ and nationalism as ‘the desire for a separate national existence for those who are bound by this tie of kinship’. According to him there are two conditions to be met for nationality to grow into nationalism.

First, there must be a will among people to live as a nation and Second, there must be a territory which the people can acquire and make it the cultural home of the nation.

Gandhi and Ambedkar both stresses on the need of common language in order to strengthen the unity and spirit of nationalism. They believe people speaking different languages may have problem of expressing their thoughts. Gandhi advises people to enrich one’s mother tongue.

Geller says “nationalism is not the awakening of nations to self-consciousness; it invents nations where they do not exist”. Whereas Louis L Snyder writes “nationalism is a product of political, economic, social and intellectual factors at a certain stage in history, is a condition of mind, feeling or sentiment a group of people liking in a well defined geographical area, speaking a common language, possessing a literature in which the aspirations of the nation have been expressed, attached to common tradition and common customs, venerating its own heroes and in some case, having a common religion”.

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