How was the original version of Indian nationalism different from Europe’s (or, later, Pakistan’s)? Ramachandra Guha had some answers at the 23rd Justice Sunanda Bhandare Memorial Lecture in Delhi (video above) where he described nationalism as the “motherlode” from which patriotism and jingoism have flowed.
Arguing that nationalism began in 19th Century Europe, Guha said it was marked by a common language, a common religion, and a common enemy. And in that sense, he said, Pakistan is a “perfect European country”, its nationalism being created around the idea of being unable to live with Hindus, the use of Urdu, and a hatred for India.
However, according to Guha, Indian nationalism grew as a unique model, its “special genius” being that it neither privileged a single language or religion, nor needed hatred for the English despite their having colonised the country for 200 years. Instead, this nationalism was what Mahatma Gandhi called a table with four legs, which were democracy, the abolition of caste, pluralism of language and religion, and economic self-reliance.
“I call this form of nationalism Constitutional patriotism,” said Guha, going on to explain how jingoism is a “vice”.