The British Indian Empire embraced the area which covered the present independent Republics of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka was governed as a ‘Crown colony”.
The smaller nations of Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives were not British colonies, but were ‘protectorates’, that is, in return for surrendering their autonomy over their external relations; their independent existence was protected by the British.
Given that nationalism in South Asia emerged as a reaction against colonial exploitation and subjugation, the regions which were under the direct control of the colonial administration witnessed strong anti-colonial and nationalist movements. The rise and growth of nationalism in South Asia was a reaction against colonial exploitation and subjugation.
The new form of nationalism that became the basis of the new states in South Asia derived much of its ideology and political theory from the West but was adapted to particular circumstances and experiences. The basis of this new nationalism was an instinctive and xenophobic hatred for imperialism and symbols of imperialism. It was a simple hatred against those who had occupied their land by force, exploited their riches by force, crushed their government, and enslaved their people.
Nationalism also became a creative force which aimed at building a nation based upon the principles of liberty, independence, economic justice and nationality. It not only united the people, but also inspired them to contribute their share in the national reconstruction. The lead in this regard was given by India which produced one of the biggest mass movements in the world. The movement not only succeeded in freeing it from colonial yoke, but also left a historically developed, well thought out programme for free India.