Short essay on Nationalism in India and Freedom Struggle

A nation is a community of people whose members are bound together by a sense of solidarity, a common culture and national consciousness. Like all social phenomena, nationalism is a historical category. It emerges at a certain stage when conditions both objective and subjective attain maturity. So a nation is a product of concrete historical process. In fact, nationalism appeared during the sixteenth century when nation-states were born from the ruins of the Holy Roman Empire.

India as a country had remained divided politically, but culturally India has always remained united. But nationalism in the modern sense developed in India only during the British rule in the later half of the 19th century Pre-colonial India had some elements of common existence and common consciousness. She was not lacking in some of basic elements which are essential for the making of any nation. Some of these favourable circumstances were provided by the British rule.

In the words of S.R. Mehrotra, "India, from the Indus to the Brahmaputra and from the Himalayas to Cape Camorin possessed a certain underlying uniformity of life which distinguished it from the rest of the world. The sense of belonging to an all-India community cut across regional and linguistic loyalties. Nevertheless, there was nothing like a nation in India until the middle of the 19th century."

A common yoke imposed common disabilities and occasioned common grievances which in thier turn, created common interests and sympathies." According to Bipan Chandra, "It was during the freedom movement that Indian people acquired the necessary collective consciousness and identity. In India's case, the formation of the nation and the struggle for its emancipation are simultaneous." Nationalism in India drew its first breath and grew in the cradle of the British Raj.

The growth of Indian nationalism was the cumulative effect of the operation of a number of factors and elements over a long period of time. Factors like political and administrative unification, development of means of communication, western education, socio-religious reform movements, the rise of Indian press and certain internal and external events led to the rise of national consciousness culminating in the birth of the Indian National Congress in 1885.