Many Indians had fallen so low that they had lost confidence in their own capacity for self-government. Also, many British officials and writers of the time constantly advanced the thesis that Indians had never been able to rule themselves in the past.
That Hindus and Muslims had always fought one another, that Indians were destined to be ruled by foreigners, that their religion and social life were degraded and uncivilised making them unfit for democracy or even self-government.
Many of the nationalist leaders tried to arouse the self-confidence and self-respect of the people by countering this propaganda.
They pointed to the cultural heritage of India with pride and referred the critics to the political achievements of rulers like Ashoka, Chandragupta Vikramaditya and Akbar.
In this task they were helped and encouraged by the work of European and Indian scholars in rediscovering India’s national heritage in art, architecture, literature, philosophy, science and politics.
Unfortunately, some of the nationalists went to the other extreme and began to glorify India s past uncritically, ignoring its weaknesses and backwardness.
Great harm was done, in particular, by the tendency to look up only to the heritage of ancient India while ignoring the equally great achievements of the medieval period.
This encouraged the growth of communal sentiments among the Hindus and the counter tendency among the Muslims of looking to the history of the Arabs and the Turks for cultural and historical inspiration.
Moreover, in meeting the challenge of cultural imperialism of the West, many Indians tended to ignore the fact that in many respects the people of India were culturally backward.
A false sense of pride and smugness was produced which tended to prevent Indians from looking critically at their society.
This weakened the struggle against social and cultural backwardness, and led many Indians to turn away from healthy and fresh tendencies and ideas from other parts of the world.