Social Scientist. v 14, no. 159-60 (Aug-Sept 1986) p. 81.

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India s Freedom Struggle

IN ex-colonial countries the formation of a nation and the growth of national consciousness takes place in the course of struggle against foreign rule. India was not a nation in the modern sense, when it was conquered by the British. This is a historical truth and should not be treated as denigration of our people. Neither England nor France for that matter were modern nations before the rise of capitalism in these countries. They became nations, when the rising capitalist class overthrew feudal rule, abolished feudal relations, and integrated the country into single economic units for purpose of commodity exchange, etc.

However the fact that India was not a nation in this sense does not mean that the Indian people were alien to each other, with nothing in common between the peoples of various parts and regions. There was a history of common culture, outlook, ideological traditions and the firm idea that India extended from one end of the country to another. The common culture reinforced by modern convictions of economic unity helped the people to unite against the British.

It was natural and inevitable that in the early years of our national struggle, leaders emphasised that India was always one nation. But we should know that this was not so, that the process of nation building is still going on. We should bear in mind that no country of such immense dimensions as India was conquered for the foreigners by its own army as our country was. It took nearly a century after the introduction of British rule to organise a national resistance to the enslaver.

When the people of a country have to fight a foreign ruler the illusion of a complete homogeniety in the ranks is easily created. No thought is given to the role of various interests and their relation to the foreign ruler. Few analyse the old social situation in which the country could be enslaved. If at all this is done, it is regarded as irrelevant, as problems to be hushed away by saying that all these will be settled once the country is free. No effort is made to demarcate those whose interests run counter to the ultimate interests of the people and ensure that they do not affect the shape, the destiny of the struggle.

The struggle for the formation of a nation cannot start without the

*Member of the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

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