The national feeling began to grow in India during the second half of the nineteenth century. It was not the result of a single factor. It was the product of a number of factor operating during the period extending over several decades.
The most important factors which contributed to the growth of national feeling were the following:
Conquest of India by the british
The Indians had not enjoyed long periods of political unity before the coming of the British. Even when it was achieved under rulers like Ala-ud-Din, it was short-lived. The British conquered the whole of India and kept in under control for a long time.
It enabled people to think in terms of the unity of the country. British imperialism made the people of the whole of India feel that they were one. Submission to one foreign authority helped in the development of the feeling of nationalism among the Indians.
Contact with the west
The establishment of British rule brought the Indians in intimate contact with the West. 19th century in Europe was the century of nationalism and the educated Indians imbibed these ideas. Italy and Germany achieved national freedom in the second half of the 19th century.
This gave encouragement to the means of communication helped in the development and spread of the feeling of nationalism among the people.
Spread of the English language
India is a vast country and its people speak different languages. Hence it was difficult for the people of different parts of the country to understand one another. The British rule in India led to the introduction of the English languages. Many people began to study this language in different parts of the country English language enabled the educated persons of different provinces to understand one another. It became the language of the educated class in India and thoughts with one another. It made them feel that they were one. Thus the speed of English language helped in the development of the feeling-nationalism.
Contribution of scholar and reformers
Many scholars carried out researches into the history and culture of ancient India. Some of them were Max Mul|er Monier, Williams, Colebrooke, Ranade R.G. Bhandarkar. Their writings revealed the greatness achieved by the Indians in the past. It created among the people of India feelings of pride in the past and a faith in the future.
The religious and social reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Devendra Nath Tagore, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Swami Dayanand, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Vivekanand presented a glorious picture of India’s past and appealed to the people to revive those good old days.
Contribution of Indian press
The Indian Press, English as well as Vernacular, aroused national conscious- ness among the people of India. Newspapers like ‘The Indian Mirror’, ‘Bombay Samachar’, ‘The Amrit Bazaar Patrika’, ‘The Hindu’, ‘Patriot’, ‘The Bengalee’, ‘The Kesari’ had strong nationalist tone and diffused ideas of nationalism among the people.
Many literary figures also contributed to the growth of nationalism. The writings of Din Bandhu Mitra, R.C. Dutt, Hem Chandra Banerjee, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and Rabindra Nath Tagore also made people national minded.
Discontent of the Indians
Before the outbreak of the Mutiny in 1857. There were many Englishmen who worked for good of India. There was a lot of bloodshed on both sides during the Mutiny. The Europeans wreaked vengeance afterwards. The policy 0f repression created discontent in the country.
The Europeans began to behave arrogantly towards the Indians. The Indians had to make way for the Europeans even in the railway compartments. The assaults on Indians by the Europeans were common. The latter were tried by European judges and were either let off free or a European was worth the lives of many Indians. They further believed that the Indians understand only fear and nothing else. Such an attitude of the Europeans made the Indians discontented.
Worst Economic Condition
The economic condition of the Indian? was very bad. The English education was becoming widespread and many educated Indians were unemployed. The Indian felt that the British were exploiting their country and that was the cause of the poverty of India. According to Blunt, the Finance Minister of India looked more to the interests of Great Britain that to those of India.
The free trade policy of the Government of India stood in the way of the development of the country. The Indian cotton industries were not able to withstand competition from the machine made goods of England. Bad economic condition cause discontent with the British rule and helped in the developed of national feeling.
Anti-indian policy of lord lytton
Lord Lytton followed an anti-Indian policy. He held the famous Delhi Durbar in 1877 when several parts of India were in the grip of a terrible famine. The unjust Second Afghan War was costing the Indian treasure good deal.
The Indian Press bitterly criticized this policy and Lord Lytton passed the Vernacular Press Act in 1878 to stop this criticism. It placed restrictions on the Vernacular Press, and not to the newspapers published in English. This discriminatory Act was universally condemned by the Indian.
The Indian Arms Act was passed in 1878. The Indians had to get license to keep arms but no such license was needed for the Europeans. This Act made invidious distinction between the Indians and the Europeans. It imposed a badge of racial inferiority on the Indians. All these measures were resented by the people of India and contributed to the rise of national movement.
Indian press and literature
The Indian Press (Hindi and English) gave a fillip to national consciousness. There was the Anglo-Indian Press also which was anti-nationalist. The Indian Press was critical of government measures. It advocated racial equality and wanted the government of the country to be managed by the Indians themselves.
The shortage of national platform was supplied by the Press. It awakened the educated classes and inculcated in them patriotic sentiments and national consciousness. In this context, popular literature was developed in the Indian languages, especially in Bengali. Bankim Chandra’s ‘Anand Math’ is the Bible of modern Bengali patriotism. ‘Bande Mataram’ song first appeared in this book.
Durbars and improvement of communications
In 1877, an imperial Durbar was held It gave national leaders and workers the idea of holding all-India conferences and also of organising national institutions on an all-India basis. The Indian leader had not so far visualised and realised the need and importance of the Indian leaders from all corners of the country collecting together. Thus the holding of Durbars turned out to be truly a blessing in disguise.
Lines of transport and communication knit up the vast country and turned geographical unity into a tangible reality. It aroused a sense of oneness and nationality among the people separated by vast distances.