Counter Nationalism In India Cultural Studies Essay

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Discuss how India is an India held together and sustained by political will that gets challenged every now and then. Illustrate this thru your learning of counter nationalism.

Would like to Start with a sentence which would actually bring out the essence of the whole document "India is actually an idea; you do not live in India but live India" .India is an idea. It's dynamic, fluid and fluxing. The concept and the notion of India keep on changing all the time. It is different for different people. Many things are being defined and we define many things on the daily basis. The very Idea of India goes beyond a solid, coherent concept of a nation. It is multilingual regional and region. There is no competition to India in terms of diversity it encompasses. When we imagine India we should understand the diverse experience of being an Indian. This diversity is a big plus as people have varied life experiences while interacting with people from diverse background. But also at the same time this brings about conflict. Initially there was no fragmentation, there used to constant interaction between communities which was very healthy.

India is a metanarrative. It is a story about a story, encompassing and explaining other "little stories" within totalizing schemes. There are smaller stories of India which are locally co-occupied. It is in our mundaneness that we find more indianness.

There are different layers to the definition of women in India vis-a-vis US .In India she is a women than Indian women then a member of a caste or a community. While when she gets married she drops back to the small provincial identity. It is territorial and deterritorial. It is not merely India, It is indianness.

Different spaces generate new meanings. There are same people residing in India and Pakistan. It is separated by boundaries which were drawn very recently. Where we live and the nation begin and vice versa. Of late there has been a illegitimacy and criminality due to space recognition and suddenly we look at the notion of the nation and wonder whether "Does the notion of the nation"still hold good.

There is always the constant unification of nation. Initially it wasn't as generic as gender but now it is assumed everybody has a nationality. Moreover it is thought of as an acquired phenomena.There is many histories to the concept of a nation. There has been a lot of change since the days of colonial India to the post colonial period.

Nationality is a relatively modern concept. Customs, origins and history are rather vague cultural traits. Language can be an objective cultural trait, but the same definition dismisses the possibility of equating language and nation. And we know they're not the same anyway. There are examples of people who share the same language but don't consider themselves from the same nation, and there are people who speak different languages and consider themselves part of the same nation.

So, with this concept of nation we can't really deduce an objective correspondence with anything. It's too vague; it doesn't give us information to confine it. All we know is that a nation is a type of culture with blur borders. Language is the only trait that seems to be giving some information, but at the same time it has lots of exceptions.

Nations are formed of some memory and some amnesia. There are some memories which you like to remember say that the British came through trade reasons and they ended up ruling the nation. At the same time we do tend to forget about certain stuff which are very important for instance we do remember about the Chola kingdom but we do forget the North east .

Amidst these mixed ambivalences the nation is formed more so in the minds of the people. There were great official spokesperson of the people like Nehru and Jinnah whose speeches many people didn't even understand or connect. But the people still followed them with closed eyes. They were thought leaders but this was a little thing. We should look at the smaller metanarratives which have shaped our nation. They weren't made by leaders who eventually became spokesperson.

We create burden of representation where in a certain people become a symbol of nationality. We form generalisation on the basis of interaction with people of a part or a group. A person who represents a large diverse community on interacting with him you thrust him with the burden of representation. Therefore forming the general perception of the group to which he belongs to.

There is a constant switch between the roles as national and as community person. Remnants of past are trying to find a space in the present. With Education and modernity there have come changes in the middle class in terms of technicalities of language. There is a clash of education versus ethics, religious & social norms of the society. Also there is a clash between the kind of education and mindsets. Socio-economic class determines some education stereotypical facts restraining the thoughts of individuals. There has to be willingness to move with the times irrespective of the level of education. Negotiation and dialogue are important to make a transition rather than making strong projections of the alternatives.

According to Dr. B.R Ambedkar, for the feeling of nationality and nationalism to develop in a person two conditions must exist. First, there must be a 'will to live as a nation' amongst all the citizens of the nation and secondly, there must be a territory which nationalism can occupy and make it a state as well as a cultural home of the nation.

A foreign view:

When people from foreign countries try to figure out what India is they have the following sources:

Travel books

History Books

People from India

Media (books movies) - Mostly Bollywood

The following are the first things that come to their mind when they think of India

Dangerous vs Life changing Experience (depending on people).

India's customer care centre.

In India people don't get the proper food which they want

Over charging of foreigners when they use the various modes of transport

Arranged marriages which lasts for a long time

Intense regard for life but none for personal spaces

Depressing poverty

Good people


We do keep on asking personal questions in general conversations.

There is an obsession with caste.

We do need certain modes to connect like caste, Sense of origin/location.

Feminization of Nation:

Nation is seen as a nurturing mother. The genealogies and mythologies clearly indicate that nation has been expressed as various kinships. Understanding of nationalism is connected with antinationalism. The development of this idea is a development as an overarching agenda to bypass aspirations of sub nationalism. Nations can be arbitrary .The narrative of the nation is seen as a notion of sacrifice as an uplifting idea. For a nation there is a great requirement of boundaries as a marker of sovereignty. But when there is the case of creating boundaries with in the nation the people are taken aback. People don't even give heed to the request as long as they are not affected by it. The very first reaction whenever there is a demand of dividing the nation in to further smaller pieces is a BIG NO. The idea is thrashed in the minds of the people of the nation before even given a chance to present itself.

Nationality is a social feeling: A feeling of sentiment of oneness which makes those associated with it kith and kin. Also there grows an anti fellowship feeling for those who aren't a part of one's own social group. As a result anyone whoever is not having the feeling of nationality is considered antinational.

But this whole integrity is challenged by the phenomenon of counter nationalism in J&K, Northeast, Telangana and Ayodhya. These are the states of alienation and they represent the counter narratives of regionalism. We sitting at our homes may condemn these concepts and demands outright without understanding the ground scenario which has let to such counter action.

Counter Nationalism:

There have been lots of instances of counter nationalism. We shall look in to each one of them and try to understand the factors behind them. I won't be dealing with much of historical facts rather will focus on ideas and views on the issue.

Case for Pakistan:

Whenever you ask anyone in India about the identity of Pakistan, the first reply that would come to you would be that it is was the part of India and was partitioned due the selfish tendencies of some of our national leaders.

Hindus always claimed India to be a nation. They felt that Indians were fighting against a common enemy i.e. the imperialist rulers thus they could not afford to be divided at that time. Hence the congress always spoke of Hindu & Muslim unity .Also It is was a matter of shame for an Indian to be without nationality and to have the feeling of nationality one has to have a nation, thus Hindus started believing that a nation called India existed and they had a national identity. The people of India and Pakistan always shared a common Environment, language and culture. There have been stories of long past relationships of sacrifices, efforts and struggles which the two communities have done together. Infact, the freedom struggle was the greatest example of such a struggle which the two communities won together and which has become a pride and achievement.

But when we look at the other side of the coin we do come across certain arguments which are really very strong. Muslims were always considered as a separate entity and they always very closely bound. They always have the sense of oneness within their community which they do not extend to the other communities. So it isn't fair on our part to tell that the thought of having a separate nation was developed after we had got independence.

North East:

How many of us have called a different looking (different just because he doesn't look like us) and called him a CHINKI?

Most of US have done so and that too many times!!!!!!!

These small incidents give us a big understanding on why there is unrest in the North East?

Why they are not happy?

Why they feel alienated?

The answer is because we make them feel so. And we keep on doing this time and again. And when it crosses the threshold and they react to the situation we condemn them and tag them as anti national.

North-east has traditionally been different from 'the rest of India' because of differences in facial features and ethnicity, language, art, culture etc. Christianity is one of the major religions in these areas- which set them further apart, and we assume the cultural landscape of the region to be more westernized than the rest of the country. Instead of celebrating these differences we feel awkward by them. Like other imperial civilizations, India is paternalistic to its own people and peripheral folk alike. Its social hierarchy ranks their tribes, likes Gonds and Bastars, below their lower and untouchable castes. Indian social attitudes largely hold tribes as primitive, backward, and sexually permissive. However, this traditional Indian perception of their own tribes is alien to the tribal people of the Northeast as the latter had historically been their own masters. They in turn see mainstream Indians as untrustworthy and exploitative. It is safe to say the way India perceives the Northeast is not the same as the way the people in this Eastern Himalayan region see themselves.

Trust me it's not that tough to treat them as one amongst you. I had two friends in college who were from Manipur and Nagaland. They are just like us. Agreed that their culture is a tad different but that's where the learning part comes in. They were my very good friends but the attitude of the other students towards them was very ignorant. Those 2 students used to feel awkward about it but they had learnt to live with it.

The above example may be very small but it's the foundation stone for the things which are currently happening in the north east. The seven sisters are always in some kind of distress or the other.

The Insurgency in Assam; the refugees coming from Tibet and Bangladesh in to Arunachal Pradesh; The Land Reform Act of Manipur that led to the insurgencies; Inadequate infrastructure, drinking water, health services, sanitation and hygienic way side amenities in Meghalaya; Failure in exploiting the natural resources leading to growing unemployment and resentment among a section of the youth in Tripura; unemployment problem in Mizoram; The Insurgency in Nagaland.

They are already facing so many problems and on top of that if we ignore and neglect them it would be like adding fuel to fire. The culture of these regions should be celebrated as they contribute variegated colours to an organic whole; instead difference is seen as a cause for concern. The case of ULFA was also brought up, how initially their struggle began with a call for enlightened change and not militancy. It was only when the state refused to treat the people as equals, instead resorting to condescension, that militancy eventually emerged.

They should be well represented in all the sectors of the society. Lots of movies should be made to bring about this issue and getting it noticed by the people. These states are an integral part of India and they should not be left to be torn in parts.


Ask this question to any Indian in any part of the country except Andhra and the answer would be a resounding NO. Their logic would be that why should we bifurcate and dissect our country any further. The general public should understand that whenever there is movement going on there has to be a background to it. By this I am not supporting the demand for Telangana but just emphasising on the idea that all the parties involved in a conflict must be heard properly before coming to a conclusion.

Whenever the people belong to this province rise their voice, it is always doubted with little concern with more questions. The people who opposed this concern were unaware of the historical background or political strategies and its outcomes, few of them acted as protecting Telugu speaking people, but in reality it is their selfish motive, but irrespective of their faiths and more selfish motives, a reality check is indeed is required.

The demand for separate statehood is born out of the problem people faced, few say most of the people's wishes to have a separate statehood is an selfish motive, do they think all people robbed periodically, for over 48 years, those who have raised voice against this statehood are neither farmers nor they have seen drinking water problem, irrigation water problem and cuts in electricity supply, not even they have not lost their livelihood on account of new industries or closure of existing industries. Telangana is systematically robbed, diverting its natural resources like water and underground resources etc. It is still a misery that in spite of having so many chief ministers from this region duly elected by the people as their representatives, nothing has been done for the people.

So before taking any stand on this very delicate issue the people have to study the minute details of what's happening and what not. Only then can we reach a rational decision. Before taking any decision we have to understand that state borders are only meant for administrative convenience and not for personal convenience, no language should have an edge over the welfare of the people and state, then only we can see a 'Free and Secular India'.




The same slogans used to entice me and bring out a passion in me some 6 years back. I have been brought up in a Jain family and my dad is a Hindutva ideology supporter. I too wanted that a Hindu temple should be built by devastating the masjid. But when I started reading and opened my mind to various ideas and interpretations on the same issue I realised that how adamant, stubborn and narrow minded I was.

For a second Leave alone what was there before. Is this question that important that it takes the life of so many people and creates unrest in the society. No, certainly not. Keep the history and geography of the events for a second and let us bring some sensibilities to the issue, I know that religion is like a hot furnace when it comes to controversies even a small spark can trigger a wide spread forest fire. So we have to be careful and while respecting the religious sentiments of people come to a compromise which can satisfy both the parties.

India has got so much to think about rather than wasting so much of legislative, administrative and legal time in deciding this issue which is just like what came first the egg or the chicken. Let us create awareness among people by engaging them in debates and making them realise that such non-fruitful discussions.


The time has come to analysis these instances of counter nationalism in India instead of shrugging them off completely, calling them as anti- national. Each and every movement mentioned above has a very strong reason which has to unearthed, analysed, then steps should be taken to make sure the issues of the people are addresses. We have to go through this long and tedious route as these problems are very complex Each and every citizen of the country should be given just treatment and that's our duty it's in our hand. And if we make sure that their basic problems are addressed to then these issues of counter-nationalism would automatically dissipate.

In the end I would again like to reemphasize "We live India and not live in India".