Modern History


Rabindranath Tagore portrayed India as a civilization of assimilation, cultural unity and not only territorial unit.

Imperialism in India
  • The colonialist view rejected the idea of India as a nation due to diversity, disunity land of hostile and war. And so colonialist thinkers justified for the colonial rule to have united it.(James Mill’s History of India)
  • According to colonialist thinkers, India was a conglomeration of different and often antagonistic religion, tribe, castes, ethnic, linguistic and regional groups which could never be forged or welded into a nation.
  • Valentine Chirol in Indian Unrest (1910), wrote that India was a ‘mere geographical expression’, put together by Britishers,  with great degree of difference that even ,‘there are far more profound racial differences between the Maharatta and the Bengalee than between the German and the Portuguese’.
  • In the nationalist ideas some have been adopted under the influence of the West, while some others argue that they have been present since the ancient times(Har Bilas Sarda, in Hindu Superiority (1906), wrote that ‘the ancient Hindus were the greatest nation that has yet flourished in the earth’, and Lajpat Rai in his Young India (1916) stated that ‘fundamentally India has been a nation for the last 2,000 years’, K.P. Jayaswal, in Hindu Polity (1924) claimed that India had everything that England prouds to have at present).
  • Another views by Surendranath Banerjea, in India as ‘a nation-in-the-making’ and R.C. Majumdar is that ‘the conception of India as a common motherland was still in the realm of fancy. There was no India as it is understood today. There were Bengalis, Hindustanis, Marathas, Sikhs, etc. but no Indian, at the beginning of the nineteenth century’. and argued that it was the National movements launched by the INC that ‘gave reality to the ideal of Indian unity’. Also Tara Chand said India is a ‘the combined economic and political change’
  • Other Views such as by Rabindranath Tagore portrayed India as a civilization of assimilation, cultural unity and not only territorial unit. The arrival of  Greeks, Shakas, Huns, Turks, Persians, Afghans, Parsis etc, to enrich the prevailing traditional culture. Subhas Chandra Bose, in Indian Struggle, stated that India has ‘a fundamental unity’ despite endless diversity. Jawaharlal Nehru also argued India to have ‘unity in diversity’ and ‘a cultural unity amidst diversity, a bundle of contradictions held together by strong but invisible threads’.
  • Marxist approach have been critical of both the colonialist due to being racial supremacy and nationalist due to finding India nationalism in her ancient past but its based on modes of production and classes.
  • M.N. Roy in his India in Transition (1922), argued that India was becoming apart of international capitalism and thus dominant classes being bourgeoisie and workers would be revolutionary against the existing order. But Roy also argued that in early 20th century Indian national movement moved to  the political ideology of Native Capitalism which was in aspiration of a youthful bourgeoisie.
  • R.P. Dutt in India Today (1947) stated that the revolt of 1857 was also against the old consevatives Indian rule. He was also critical of INC because it was always in the hands of propertied classes. Following Dutt, A.R. Desai in his Social Background of Indian Nationalism (1948) divided Indian freedom struggle in five phases and argued that INC was deliberately keeping the movement civil and non-violent to continue geting the support of the propertied classes.

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