The Indian National Project: Failures and Successes
This paper analyzes several strands of nonwestern Indian nationalist discourse as a response to British colonial subjugation of India and its consequential results. These nonwestern strands of Indian nationalism and their associated discourse historically and sociologically evolved in reaction to the British colonization of India. This paper analyzes both the failures and successes of the Indian national project of modern state formation within a distinct theoretical framework. This framework measures the extent to which nonwestern Indian nationalism in response to British colonial subjugation required certain liberally tolerant civic/political and social/economic equitable reforms to be incorporated into it in order to construct a liberated and tolerant modern multicultural state. The reason for its failure is primarily due to nonwestern Indian nationalism and its discourse being based upon an extremely exclusionary national theoretical framework. In other words nonwestern Indian nationalism and its discourse was premised primarily on Hinduism. Therefore, nonwestern Indian nationalism failed to imaginea manner in which India’s numerous, diversified, non-Hindu, culturally conceived imagined communitiesand social groupings would also be incorporated into its future equitably.
Modern India and its leaders (past and present), due to India’s colonial past, have lacked sustaining vertical and horizontal political and social legitimacy. Hence India is an unstable and weak democratic state in transition. Paradigmatic of most post-colonial states, modern Indian rulers maintain social control and political authority over the communities they rule by often resorting to coercive internal state security methods including despotic authoritarianism, secret police, and state surveillance. Post-colonial India has also been impotent in compelling its civil society to comply with Western models of secular styled democracy and constitutional rule of law. Additionally, India’s civil society has been largely unreceptive in adopting Western-styled secular democratic governance. This is partially attributed to the British colonialists leaving many localized and scattered power vacuums in India when they departed. These have since been filled by local Indian rulers in many of India’s more traditionally ruled decentralized rural village communities, which exist far removed from India’s modern political capitol in Dehli.
The Indian national project and its nonwestern strands of Indian nationalist discourse that were a part thereof were as striking a failure as a success. Indian nationalism was, theoretically, a success insofar as it resulted in constructing an independent nation-state liberated from British rule. However, it was an equally striking failure insofar as it failed to construct a tolerant modern multicultural nation-state in which all cultures, regardless of race, religion, gender, and creed would be integrated into it (i.e., post-colonial India) equally. Consequently, the liberated independent post-colonial state of India as a national project failed in resolving its continuous intercultural contentions from Kashmir to Madras. Therefore, this paper argues that Indian nationalism was as striking a failure as it was a success when considering the extent to which post-colonial India brought substantially tolerant equality to its citizenry regarding both civic/political and social/economic human rights. Drastically failing to imagineIndia’s future liberated national state identity as an integrated multicultural community respecting, and tolerating equally, India’s many non-Hindu, culturally conceived imagined communities (Anderson, 1991) is the means by which the Indian national project fails in containing its present intercultural contentions.
By the mid-19th century, Indian nationalists responded to British colonial subjugation by developing their own distinct, nonwestern, anti-colonial national liberation discourse. Indian nationalism eventually culminated in several cataclysmic historical world events having modern day salience:
- liberating India from British colonial rule;
- establishing an independent post-colonial state of India;
- the tragically devastating humanitarian disaster that was the partition of India in 1947.
These three momentous world events forever impacted international f