Each one of us is widely familiar with the term called Nationalism. However, it is a concept that is anything but simple in nature. Nationalism in the literal sense of the term would mean anything that concerns itself with Nation and state. So, was the idea of states and nation present even in the earliest times?! The answer to this cannot be understood before one goes into a wide range discussion that would be explored in this post.
In this article, we have given you all the information about nationalism, its history, importance, effects, comparisons between, nationalism and patriotism, nationalism and sectionalism, nationalism and internationalism, the existence of nationalism in India, role of youth in nationalism etc. This information will help you to write an essay, speech on nationalism in your school exams, essay, speech competitions and for the competitive exams. So let’s go ahead.
Essay on Nationalism, Patriotism, Internationalism, Sectionalism Speech, Article in English
An Introduction to the Nationalism
As a definition, nationalism would be better analyzed as a western concept that developed with the idea that nation, states sharing common boundaries and having a similar historical experience would have a potential to be clubbed under a common thread and that linking thread would be understood as nationalism. Besides, nationalism creates a virtual sense of perceiving own country as most important against any other. However, several naturalists argued that nationalism is a natural phenomenon that forms the basis of conceptualizing the idea of a nation or political state.
Combining both, one can see that nationalism is more of an idea that has a lot to do with the way history has been written. Ethnosymbolism is another perspective to understand nationalism where a continuous shared historical process along with symbols shared by a common set of population separate themselves from others by means of symbols and shared connections. This paradigm has an important consequence on the modern understanding of nationalism where it is understood that once there is a nation state, the citizenship of people associated with it will automatically make them loyal to that nation under the concept of nationalism.
History of Nationalism
There are several ways in which history has been written regarding nationalism, where first instances were found in the way religion or identity gave rise to nationalism. Jewish revolts and Persian re-emergence as a culture then opposition of Western Roman Empire by Latin America, stands as an example to the sapling stage of understanding nationalism. The French Revolution as well as American Revolution against the idea of a common Western Empire, made famous the concept of a nationalism based on nation, state and not just religion or identity.
The advent of Industrial Revolution in the 18th century with the world shifting away from agriculture-based economic practices to manufacturing, industrial labor marked a great deal of change in how nationalism transformed from broad socio-ethnic domain to a smaller domain of territory and economy shared by people.
In India, the practice of nationalism mostly coincided with this phase i.e the phase of Industrial Revolution as the revolution was brought in by the British Rulers by the means of trade in India and ultimately conquering the governance of the country. Capitalism marked the rise of the idea of nationalism in India as nationalist sentiments developed in protest to the exploitative capitalist practices carried out by the British rulers in India. Historically India had the idea of a nationalism that was mostly identified with religion and common practices, this feeling was further strengthened in a modern form of understanding territorial importance. Territory as a pivotal basis of nationalism developed with British rulers granting less and less freedom to Indians as a population.
Importance of Nationalism
However clichéd it may sound yet nationalism is one emotion that binds a population more than many other factors can indeed hope to. It instills a competitive mindset among a large set of people who acknowledge their unity through the common feeling of sharing history and experiences to forward various constructive interests for the nation. With national feelings in place, there is a myth of common culture that runs within the memory of people and there is a natural tendency to respect a common authority. Rousseau called this a popular sovereignty which is extremely crucial to prevent breaking up of a common consciousness in case there is a large influx of foreign invasion within that set of population.
Nationalism signifies an urge to remain loyal to common practices and culture which makes people sharing similar background remain helpful to each other and extend their personal interest to the community as well.
Nationalism versus Patriotism
Although the terms ‘nationalism’ and ‘patriotism’ is often used as a synonymous identity, yet there is a considerable distinction between the two. Patriotism is often a sentiment that is used to highlight the sense of loyalty towards a nation where every action in the name of the nation is justified and people feel obliged towards the service of the nation in question.
Nationalism, in practice, is a more complex idea which is guided by the principle of superiority vis a vis any other nation in question. Patriotism, when carried forward, becomes jingoism and nationalism blends the idea of patriotic loyalty with a cult of glorifying own nation against any other. Thus, nationalism can be understood as a more passionate form of patriotism.
Nationalism versus Sectionalism
Historically, Sectionalism in the United States acted as a chief catalyst to promote the modern idea of nationalism amongst nation states. Sectionalism as a concept is mainly concerned with the idea of having a deep sense of attachment and obligation towards a geographical section of a common set of population. The unity is mostly seen in lifestyle, occupation and cultural domain that separates one region from another.
In the US in 1860’s the presence of wide sectionalism between Northerners and Southerners over economic and slavery issues led to the cessation cry by Southerners to form a separate state. However Abraham Lincoln opposed to the idea of sectionalism quashed it. In wake of the same, nationalism can thus be said to be formed as a response to extended sectionalism from a small geographic unit of the region to a large geographical entity of nation-state.
Nationalism versus Internationalism
With the end of the Second World War and rise of globalization patterns post 1950’s, as the perils of nationalism were becoming more prominent by consecutive two world wars, a new brand of cooperation within nation states emerged. Internationalism, developed so as to keep in reigns the negative effects of nationalism by promoting close economic and other ties between nation states.
It was assumed that Internationalism would make a step forward towards the creation of more equal and free world without compromising on the national sovereignty of nations. Economic ties and free and liberal trade practices are hallmarks of internationalism. The European Union is an example how Internationalism helped to preserve both nationalism as well as globalization.
Marxist or Socialists argue in favor of Internationalism as they believe that it helps create a solid base of economic agents not divided by the shallow nationalist feelings to create an economically equal world in the long run.
Effects of Nationalism
Nationalism as a concept has effects that travel beyond one generation. Basically, as Anderson has suggested, nation state is an ‘imagined political community’, which makes people stay together and obey a sovereign that protects a definite but small territory. National feelings assume a negativity when one justifies every action of the nation in the name of national interest or nationalism. The trend called ‘white supremacy’ developed in the name of nationalism where whites by the means of governance tried to establish themselves as superior to blacks or browns.
Nationalism has more divisive qualities in it than features that can unite people. Peace or means to achieve peace between nations is often rendered impossible for overhyped nationalist trends. In Africa, several governments carry on with genocide in the name of national interest that clearly violates International Humanitarian laws.
Rise and Strengthening of Nationalism in India
Nationalism in India, as spoken in a previous section, arose mainly as a reaction against the British Rule in India. The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 in Barrackpore, Bengal was the first step towards a mobilized identity of pan-India sentiment against the atrocities of British Raj in India. Despite the failure of the mutiny and consequent succession of British as the political rulers of the country, it only furthered the case of nationalistic sentiments in Indians.
The setting up of Indian National Congress in 1885 was the result of nationalist forces uniting Indians as a remarkable first time. In fact, several British steps to capitalize on India as their major economic stronghold including:
- Establishment of modern railway networks
- Enacting laws like Rowlatt Act, Curbing Freedom of Press
- The spread of Western Education and liberal democratic values through English education
- Introducing Modern Press in India
All such steps coupled with the consensus regarding extreme economic deprivation and constant wealth drain from India to Britain gave rise to a brand of nationalism that promoted territorial as well as the economic understanding of nationalism.
However, the British policy of Divide and Rule that instigated the Hindus and Muslims to form political unity along religious lines, created a nationalistic tendency that made Hindus and Muslims fear and ultimately hate their respective communities. The communal tone in nationalism that led to the formation of All India Muslim League by M.A Jinnah, became the precursor to the establishment of Pakistan.
The difference between Hindu and Muslim identity that became a part of communal nationalism in India, remains even to date. Hindu nationalism version still views Muslims as a threat to Indian sentiment. Although India remains a secular Republic, yet instances of over-enthusiastic and violent nationalist sentiment become visible in examples like the demolition of Babri Masjid, the call for the temple in Ayodhya or the case of aggressive nationalism by suppression of Press during the Emergency Years under Indira Gandhi.
The brand of nationalism that developed in pre Independence era under the likes of Mahatma Gandhi or Jawaharlal Nehru and BR Ambedkar was always uniting in nature. The current brand of aggression in nationalist sentiments by suppressing dissent in universities like JNU, an indiscriminate political action for any slight towards the government or opposing the views of the government, raises important doubts on whether nationalism can be promoted as a compulsory duty at the cost of other liberties. For example, a call for Hindu Rashtra as a nationalistic principle does not go down with the Constitutional provision of a secular democracy. This, definitely calls for a more detailed study on the concept of Indian nationalism which remains more complicated than before.
Merits, Advantages, Benefits of Nationalism
Merits of Nationalism are several. It firstly promotes a sense of belonging to too many people at once which forms the fundamental basis of citizenship pertaining to a particular nation state. In older times, nationalism helped to get rid of several limiting customs and traditions that prevented an overall unity amongst people sharing similar history and culture.
For example in India itself, continuous efforts by leading Bengalis like Raja Rammohan Roy, Swami Vivekananda to purge Indian society of narrow parochialism and removing social stigmas to achieve more unity, led to the modern concept of nationalism without the divisive societal tendencies. Also, a shared identity creates a greater need for progress and modernization in the society which helped in the advancement of the greater world economy.
Demerits, Disadvantages of Nationalism
Nevertheless, the flip side or demerits of nationalism are far too many, especially in the modern world. Nazism in Germany is a profound example of what frenzied national sentiments can lead to in the form of ‘we versus them’ idea. The Jewish Holocaust practiced legally between 1920’s till the end of 2nd World War in 1945 continued under the garb of German nationalism. Nationalism, therefore, when extended too far creates a suspicion for foreign elements.
This is not a healthy feeling given that humanity everywhere has commonalities despite being broken up into separate nation states. Also, national sentiments running high means heightened tension created by the protector of national interests against any slight opposition. In the long run, it only promotes unnecessary civil strife.
Youth and Nationalism: Beginning of a different conclusion
The current trend in the world is one where nation states are becoming more and more aggressive in promoting their national interests. North Korea justifying nuclear arms for national interest or the US justifying to cap immigrants for national interest or the current saffronisation trend that makes anything non-Hindu, non vegetarian as hurting the nation’s sentiment, each one of it is linked to the extreme polarization of nationalism.
The youth has a very important role to play in order to promote a positive sense of nationalism. It is advisable that the youth do not blindly follow nationalist propaganda made by various political parties but study the propaganda, find their flaws and mobilize in favor of the good aspects of such nationalist trends and abandon the negativities. Youth, across the world, is a weapon to either perpetrate the existing flaws of nationalism or make constructive nationalism a weapon in their hand to fight the ill effects of nationalism.
While nationalism has to be practiced with great care to see humanity and civil life is helped by it, the youth has an immense role of changing the existing flaws by adequate application of progress and knowledge of the same.