Nationalism in India emerged in the 19th century as a united reaction against political, economic and cultural oppression of British. The causes of nationalism are as under:
a. Impact of India’s glorious past:
Due to great knowledge India was called World Guru in ancient time due to the limitless knowledge we possessed. Our illustrious kings made efforts to unite India as one. This was explored by European and Indian historians who explored India’s glorious past. This inspired self-confidence and nationalism amongst Indians to put up against the oppressions of the British.
b. Impact of British Rule:
Imperialistic policies of Britishers exploited Indians economically and culturally. Multiple revolts occurred against the British Government spanning from 1837 AD to 1857 AD which included tribal revolts. However, they soon realised that this would not cause any major impact. They needed to enforce a larger movement, which led to the start of India’s national movement of 1857. This was also spawned due to the short-sightedness and rushed harsh decisions of Lord Lytton.
c. Impact of English Education:
Although Macaulay wanted to mentally enslave Indians by imposing English language on them, it soon became a commonly used form of communication that opened opportunities of Indians towards Western education and philosophies. This in the long term led Indian youth taking interest in higher education which eventually encouraged national awareness.
d. Influence of Western Philosophies and Thinkers:
With the introduction of English education Indians now could transmit and inculcate new ideas. Indian youth came in the contact with thinkers and philosophers like, Burke, Bentham, Mill, Rousseau, Milton and Spencer, etc. They took inspiration and developed upon their revolutionary and nationalist thinking, paving the way for India’s nationalism.
e. Contribution of Indian Scholars:
Indian poets and authors developed literature that was deeply rooted in the idea of nation and nationalism. Imminent dramas like Anand Math and Neel Darpan scripted the feeling of nationalism in people. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s Anand Math became synonymous with patriotism. He also developed our national song Vande Matram, which became a prominent source of inspiration for activists. Literati like Hemchandra Banerjee, Navin Chandra Sen, R.C. Dutt, Rabindranath Tagore, among others provided immense contribution in awakening the feeling of nationalism through their literary creations.
f. Printing Press and Newspapers:
Newspapers and magazines are the readily available means of communication. The first printing press of India was started in 1800 A.D at Rampur, Kolkata which provided stimulus to publication of newspapers. In 1774 AD, the first newspaper India Gazette and in 1780 AD, Bengal Gazette were published. Raja Ram Mohan Roy published ‘Samvad Kaumudi’ and Miratul newspaper. In 1826 AD, the first Hindi newspaper ‘Uddant Martand’ was published. Majorly, they explored the exploitation policies of colonialism of East India Company and were criticised. They attempted to reform social and political ideologies through written word. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar published ‘Som Prakash’ and Harish Chandra Mukherjee published ‘Hindu Patriot’. Tilak published ‘Kesri’ in Marathi and ‘Martha’ in English. This movement built an atmosphere of sacrifice and nationalism in India.
g. Discriminatory Policy of British against Indians:
Indians were barred from being posted at higher ranks of authority at defence and administration even as they had the potential. Post the Revolt of 1857, British imposed atrocities upon Indian employees. They were routinely insulted and discriminated which created an unrest among Indians against their discriminatory policies.
h. Impact of Movement of Religious and Social Reforms:
Pre- Revolt saw the emergence of religious philosophical schools like Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj and Ramakrishna Mission played an important role in the elimination of social evils. Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Swami Dayanand Saraswati tried to remove the social evils and awaken the nationalism among people. Thoughts like service towards motherland, preservation of social equality and personal freedom and the elimination of sati, purdah system amongst others aided the movement.
i. Economic exploitation of India:
Britishers exercised harsh economic policies which ruined India’s cottage industries and textile industry. They purchased raw material at low cost which was sent to Britain at Liverpool and Manchester. Post manufacture, the finished cloth was exported sold at high cost in India. They wanted to exploit Indian economy by restricting them to be an agricultural country. There was a great difference on export and import duties on Indian goods. Indians were burdened with taxes which drained the wealth of India.
These causes played a prominent role in raising nationalistic feelings among Indians, which led to vehement opposition against the oppressive policies of British.
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