Social Scientist. v 10, no. 115 (Dec 1982) p. 61.


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COMMUNICATION

The Indian National Question:

Need for Deeper Study

PROFESSOR AMALENDU GUHA's paper {Economic and Political Weekly, July 31, 1982) gives what the author claims to be "A Conceptual Frame" for the discussion of the question of Nationalities in India.

It exposes the two mistakes originating from opposite ends:

(a) considering India as a whole to be the 'nation', negating the multinational character of the country; and (b) absolutising the multinational character, or negating the unity, of the country as a whole. The author, going in detail into the story of how the British colonialists changed Indian society, proceeds as follows:

Put into the melting pot of colonial oppression, the diverse ethnic elements came closer to each other than in pre-British times. A process of bourgeois class formation, transcending barriers of caste, religion and tribe started. ... There appeared simultaneously two streams of national consciousness—one pan-Indian and the other regional. The former was professedly based on observed pan-Indian homogeneities of culture such as a common all-India tradition and history, economic life and psychological make-up, and the accepted unifying role of Sanskrit, Persian, English and Hindustani by turn and also calculations of advantages of an India-wide market. The other consciousness was professedly based on the relevant region's homogeneities and demands for substantial or exclusive control by the sons of the soil for its resources and market facilities.

India's national movement, the author goes on, is a combination of these two streams. The same people—collectively as well as individually—are conscious of their being Indian citizens as well as citizens of their own particular linguistic-cultural region. By the time the millions of peasants were brought into the stream of the national movement in the beginning of the present century, the two trends had acquired a well-defined character.

From this arose the two political ideologies and slogans: (1) a



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