Ayodhya verdict: Rekindling nationalism

Last Updated 07 October 2010, 16:40 IST

When we look into the annals of Indian history, it is evident that the idea of nationalism began with the birth of Indian National Congress in 1885 — an awakening mainly due to the imperialist rule of the British Raj.

No doubt the earliest signs of national awakening found  expression during the ‘Revolt of 1857’, when Hindus and Muslims united for the first time to fight against the British. Bahadur Shah II, the last Mughal ruler was declared unilaterally as the emperor of India. And with this striking thought in the minds of different set of people — the members of princely states, the soldiers, the zamindars, and the ordinary folk, they marched against the imperial masters during the Sepoy mutiny.
But the feeling was short lived with the rift between the Hindus and Muslims in the later years leading to the formation of Muslim League in 1906. The British policy of ‘divide and rule’ sowed the seeds of communal disharmony between the two communities.

Mahatma’s entry

From the second decade of the 20th century, one witnesses a greater change in people’s mindset with the entry of the Mahatma into the national movement creating a new milestone in our history. At the time Gandhiji began his political career, the Muslims joined hands with him by launching the famous Khilafat movement in 1920.
Both the non-cooperation and Khilafat movements started by Gandhi and Ali brothers respectively exhibited the national sentiment at a remarkable pace. With the suspension of non-cooperation in 1922 and over the years that rolled down, the differences between Hindus and Muslims widened resulting in the spread of communal venom followed by frequent riots.

The attainment of India’s freedom in 1947, despite paying a heavy price after partition of the country, never eased communal tensions. On the other hand the creation of Pakistan aggravated the situation not only at the borders in the early years of post independent period, but also spread across the nation in one form or the other.

India witnessed numerous communal riots since 1947, dissipating the spirit of nationalism that once prevailed to fight against the British. This is further evident from the fact that regionalism took its strong hold with the formation of linguistic states. Many local organisations sprang up to safeguard the interests of the regions at the cost of suppressing national interests among our own countrymen.

Issues like inter-state and language disputes, cultural and religious differences have cropped up in recent years making the people residing in different states other than their own native, being victimised to unfavourable circumstances at times of regional crisis.

Perhaps, after many years of independence common people are now united in the name of the ‘nation’ under the banner of Ayodhya verdict by maintaining peace and serenity in the whole country, proving India to be truly a sovereign, democratic, secular, republican nation.

Most sections in the society, be it literate or illiterate, young and old, rich and poor forgot their regional and religious barriers and thought in terms of nationalism wanting to put the nation above everything else. This collective desire acted as a powerful political emotion stirring the very depths of the common masses.

Through the Ayodhya verdict — though it evoked criticisms and mixed responses among a few left historians and also some elitist section belonging to both the communities — the idea of a nation and the feeling of nationalism reigned supreme. In Gandhiji’s words, “True democracy cannot be worked by 20 men sitting at the centre. It has to be worked from below by the people.”

Let the people of India uphold nationalist spirit and think in terms of nation first and prove to the rest of the world that India is a land of unity in diversity.

(Published 07 October 2010, 16:40 IST)

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