Broadly speaking the term ‘nation’ stands for a very large group of people, who feel that they are bound by ties of common race, common land, common emotion, common culture, common language and literature, common history, common religion and common joys and sorrows and common political aims and aspirations? Hence nationalism is a feeling of oneness, and common consciousness based on political, historical, religious, racial, linguistic, cultural and psychological factors in a state.
But such feeling of nationalism was never found in India during the reign of the great rulers like Asoka, Samudragupta, Harsa Vardhana, Alla-ud-din Khiliji, Akbar and Aurangzeb. These rulers of India only artificially created geographical and territorial unions which did never help to build upon nationalism or national hood in the true sense of term. The real national consciousness grew upon in the Indian mass during the British rule only.
Factors Leading To Growth of Indian Nationalism
For the first time in her history, the entire Indian territorial right from the Himalayas to Cape Comorian were brought under one rule with a centralized administration by the British .The British rulers maintained peaceful and orderly Government in India after the unit with top administrators like secretaries of state and Viceroys.
The British sword imposed political unity on India. The establishments of political unity promoted on India. The establishment of political unity promoted the spirit of one mindedness which led to the growth of nationalism.
Unifying factors of British Rule:
There were various unifying factors which bringing all the people of India together irrespective of their caste, creed, language, religion and culture. With the introduction of English language as a medium of instruction in Indian schools and colleges English became a linguafranca through which Indians from different states could communicates their ideas easily. It provided a common forum for the intellectuals of India to draw closer to each other and to exchange their ideas easily.
The rapid growth of western education through English medium, specially after 1854 helped the Indian intellectuals to come in contact with the Western ideas. The liberal and radical thought of European writers like Milton, Shelley, Spencer, Rousseau, Voltaire, Thomas Paine, Locke, Burke, Mill and Macauly for example, inspired the Indian intelligentsia with the ideals of democracy, liberty and nationality of the American and French Revolutions.
It led to the emergence of a new middle class society in India comprising of professional persons such as professors, doctors, journalists and lawyers who were much aware of the events of the British rule and provided strong leaderrship.
Indians could realize that though England was governed by a parliament through a de4mocractic method, the same Englishmen ruled India by an autocratic method. The political consciousness and the intellectual awakening provided the people of India with a sense of nationalism and patriotism.
Improved means of Communication:
It would have been impossible to organize an all-India movement without proper network of communication such as railways, the telegraph and improved postal system. The expansion of railways brought about a revolutionary change in India in the field of communication. It helped people to travel to distant places safely, quickly and conveniently.
By the help of railways people from one part of India were able to establish friendly relations with the people of another part. People belonging to different social status and different religious communities got an opportunity to travel in one railway compartment and develop a kind of fellow feeling.
They started thinking India as their own country and its people as their own fellow countrymen. This kind of feeling led to growth of national consciousness.
Easy communication helped the people of different parts of India to get together at a particular place to discuss over the matter relating to freedom of India. It no doubt, led ultimately to the establishment of the Indian National Congress.
Like railways the introduction of telegraphs in 1852 was another remarkable means of communication which helped the Indian nationalists to keep contact with each other. It established a new social and economic link among the people residing in the various parts of the country.
The above means of communication broke the age-old isolation of Indian villages and remote areas. It availed opportunity for the Indian people to come closer to each other.
The modern means of communication promoted trade and commerce and helped people of different regions to develop social and intellectual intercourse.
This new social and economic link removed their orthodox ways and made them conscious of their social disabilities. In order to provide uniformity and efficiency to Indian administration, the British Government introduced All India Services and codified the entire system of laws in India. The above factors provided the Indians a common platform and common purpose to unite together as a nation.