Wednesday, June 11, 2014


When I visit Europe, I observed that National Consciousness in Europe is a very strong part of the identity of the average European. A German feels proudly German and has a very strong bond with his people. The same goes for the French, Serbian, Bosnian, Spanish or any other European nationality. This give rise to a social and cultural consciousness that pervades individual difference. In Europe, the cultural identity is strong without the need of a Moral Police to defend and beat people into ‘following’ a Serb/German/ French Culture.

Yet, when I look around in India, I fail to see this sort of national consciousness among the Indian people. Our Patriotic fervour is limited to jingoistic songs, political pep talks and pseudo-nationalist laments that we are not ‘united’ as Indians. In spite of our assertion of patriotism, there is no common bond that unites Indians the way German Nationalism unites the Germans. The countless number of etho-lingual conflicts in several Indian States gives an insight that our political imposed identity as Indians is weak.

Perhaps this is where the trouble lies – India is not really a nation but a political union of many nations coming together to form a country. According to the oxford Dictionary, a nation is, “ a large body of people united by Common descent, History, Culture or Language, inhabiting a particular state or territory”. By this definition, India is a conglomerate of the Bengali Nation, Marathi Nation, Assamese Nation, Naga Nation and several other Nations that add up to 30 or more Nations. All of these nations of the Indian union have distinct ethnic markup, History, Cultures and mutually unintelligible Languages. This is how South Asia was, before the Europeans started colonising the region in the 1700s.

A Punjabi girl (left) and a Naga girl (right). Both are Indians. Note the ethnic differences.

The failure of the political pan-Indianism has shown in Indian Government’s inability to handle nationalist consciousness cropping up in the different states, banded by the political circles as ‘Regionalism’. The imposition of Hindi as a national Language during the Nehruvian era evoked conflicts in several parts of India, only to be hastily revoked and positioned as an official language along with English for the Union, leaving each state free to decide its own official Language ( Article 343 of the Indian Constitution). Nationalist self-determination movements, that crop up now and then have been suppressed by Brute Military Force. Not only that , the average Indian seems to identify better with his/her fellow Assamese, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati or Naga people than with other Indians.

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