Indian Freedom Struggle: Rise of Indian Nationalism after 1860

The emergence of Indian nationalism during 1860 added a glorious chapter to the history of India because for the 1st time in entire Indian history, a strong collective consciousness developed among the citizens (Indians). Nationalism is a cultural concept; it is an ideology that believes in a common identity. It emphasizes that all the citizens inhabiting a land are part of one large family.

The spirit of Nationalism manifested itself when the citizens started sharing the pleasure & pain of each other, the events taking place in one part of the country started generating reactions in other parts. Such development became visible during 1860. The rise of Indian Nationalism was the outcome of the combined effect of a large number of factors. Among these factors, the role of British rule contributed to Indian social reformers of the 19th century. The impact of contemporary international development & the sense of pride inculcated by new historical researchers were most important.

Role of British Rule in the rise of Indian Nationalism

The changes witnessed in India after the establishment of British rule played an important role in creating the circumstances responsible for the emergence of Indian Nationalism. The British carried out the Political Unification of India by annexing several neighboring states of subjugating others. The uniform admin system was introduced by the British in India.

A new judicial system based on the concept of rule of law was introduced by the British that replaced the traditional caste & religion based judicial system. The positive initiatives undertaken by British rule paved the way for one common political identity which gradually got transformed into the common cultural consciousness. The British introduced modern means of communications in the form of Railways, Telegraph & a better postal system.

Vernacluar Press act
Cutting of The Daily Gazette

These new communications system greatly reduced the geographical distance prevailing among the citizens living in various parts of India as a result of which the people started realizing that all of them were part of one larger entity known as India. The modern press played a very important role in the rise of Indian Nationalism because it brought about a strong intellectual unity.

The Indians living in different geographical regions could come to know about the events taking place in other territories. The Indian Vernacular Press was not only a newspaper but it was an example of views paper as well. The Indian leaders propagated their nationalist thinking among the masses with the help of newspapers as a result of which a strong nationalist consciousness begins to manifest in India by 1860. The western education introduced by the British resulted in the spread of scientific & rational thinking.

The liberal & progressive ideas of enlightenment entered India along with western education. Nationalism was also a part of these western ideas because nationalist thinking had emerged in Europe during the end of the 18th century i.e. 1790. The hold of traditional ideas over the Indian psyche was greatly weakened by the modern western ideas brought by western education.

Critical Examination of the Role of British Rule

The positive impact of the British Raj had contributed immensely to the emergence of Indian nationalism & because of this, British scholars like Richard Copland emphasized that ‘Indian nationalism was the child of the British raj. Once Indian Nationalism immersed on the scene of the British could not succeed in suppressing it they started taking credit for its emergence so that the Anti-British attitude among the Indian nationalist could be reduced.

Though it cannot be denied that, the role of the British Raj was quite significant in the creation of circumstances leading to the same time it must be emphasized under British Raj was aimed at the progress or the awaking of Indians. The political unification of India was carried out so that an extensive colonial empire could be established. Uniform admin was introduced so that India could rule effectively.

Railways were developed in India to connect the parts with the markets & fields so that the maximum possible amount of British marketing goods could be imported of the maximum possible amount of raw material that could be exported from India. Telegraph & modern postal system were also introduced for the convenience of colonial rule. Modern western education was introduced to create a class in India that would be Indian in blood & color but European in taste.

Since the fundamental objective behind the positive changes introduced by British Raj was the benefit for the British colonial empire; the British can never take the credit for the emergence of Indian Nationalism. Nationalist thinking emerged among Indians as a result of the unintended consequences of their initiatives.

Role of Negative Impact of British Rule

The British Raj in India was colonial in character; it was despotic, anti-people, racist, unethical, alien, insensible & exploitative. The British Raj was guided by the British interest, which was to exploit Indian resources to the maximum possible extent. To achieve these colonial objectives, the British carried out several changes in civil, judicial, revenue admin. The millions of Indian Peasants were deprived of their right over land. Indian wealth was systemically drained out & Indian handicrafts were destroyed deliberately. These positive developments witnessed under British Raj resulted in the emergence of strong anti-British colonial rule was one expression of Indian Nationalism.