Social Scientist. v 27, no. 316-317 (Sept-Oct 1999) p. 42.

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Liberalisation and Hindutva: New Threats to National Unity

It is appropriate that in the seminar organized to observe the first death anniversary of EMS Namboodiripad, we are going to discuss, among other topics. The National Question and the Problems of National Unity in India'. It was a subject of great interest for EMS In the Marxist scholarship on this subject, his National Question in Kerala (1952) holds a key position as an original and pioneering effort. Moreover, EMS constantly updated his understanding. One of his last comments on the subject was titled The Indian National Question: Need for Deeper Study'1. It is in this spirit that we should undertake the work of studying the present contours of the subject in the background of certain major developments in the last decade of the twentieth century. Both the impact of imperialist-sponsored globalization and the domestic political changes witnessed in the installation of a BJP-led government at the Centre have far-reaching effects on the prospects for national unity. The focus of this brief paper is to highlight these twin factors which will influence any discussion on the national question in India.

The making of a nation-state is historically determined. India's modern national consciousness arose in the struggle against colonialism. The elements of nationhood which existed in pre-colonial times took concrete shape with the development of capitalism under British rule. It was the specific impact of British rule in India which produced the socio-economic formations and classes which laid the basis for a bourgeois-led national movement for independence. The retarded nature of this capitalist development, the uneven impact of this process on the various linguistic-nationalities of India, and the awakening of a twin and inter-related consciousness—pan-Indian nationalism and regional linguistic-nationality consciousness—are all

* Member of the Polit Bureau of the CPI (M)

Social Scientist, Vol. 27, Nos. 9 - 10, Sept. - Oct. 1999

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