Editorial Notes

[Editorial Notes] Dismantling the pluralistic ideas of India

India is now got used to half-truths and lies, which has hijacked the legacy of past leaders for its own cause — Gandhiji, Patel, Netaji Bose, Bhagat Singh, Vivekananda, Ambedkar — although all of them were openly against the idea of Hindutva, as currently interpreted, and Hindu Rashtra.
By IASToppers
October 15, 2019


  • Introduction
  • IT’s Input
    • What is Nationalism?
    • What is Ethnic Nationalism?
    • What is Civic Nationalism?
  • Nationalism philosophy of Gandhi and Tagore
  • Nehru-Ambedkar idea of nationalism
  • Civic vs Ethnic nationalism
  • Conclusion

Dismantling the pluralistic ideas of India

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  • In India, the idea of nationalism is now changing as it is now focusing towards extreme patriotism and hating a neighbouring country as well as enemies within India.
  • All over the world today, ethnic nationalism of one kind or another is taking place. For example, Christian nationalism in Poland and Hungary, white nationalism among evangelical Christians in the US, Slavic and orthodox-church based nationalism in Russia, Islamic nationalism in Turkey and Indonesia etc.

IT’s Input

What is Nationalism?


  • Nationalism is an ideology based on the premise that the individual’s loyalty and devotion to the nation surpass other individual or group interests. It holds that a nation is the fundamental unit for human social life.
  • The nationalism can be expressed as Ethnic nationalism, Civic nationalism, Expansionist nationalism, Cultural nationalism, Revolutionary nationalism, Post-colonial nationalism, Liberation nationalism etc.

What is Ethnic Nationalism?

  • Ethnic nationalism is a form of nationalism wherein the nation is defined in terms of ethnicity. The central theme of ethnic nationalists is that nations are defined by a common language, a common faith, and a common ethnic ancestry.

What is Civic Nationalism?

  • Civic nationalism believes in an inclusive form of nationalism that adheres with traditional liberal values of freedom, tolerance, equality, and individual rights.

Nationalism philosophy of Gandhi and Tagore


  • About a hundred years back, leaders such as Gandhiji and Rabindranath Tagore discussed on what should be the basis of nationalism in the diverse society of India.
  • Both of them found that the nationalism policy of European countries is unacceptable for India’s diverse society as European countries followed singular cultural practices along with militarized borders with extreme patriotism against supposed enemy states.
  • Instead, they both focused upon the folk tradition of Indian society (which grew out from bhakti movements against the dominance of the rigid Hindu brahminical system) encouraging positive interaction between different religious traditions.

Nehru-Ambedkar idea of nationalism


  • After Gandhiji and Rabindranath Tagore, Jawaharlal Nehru and Ambedkar followed the society-centric pluralistic idea of nationalism of Gandhiji and Tagore and gave it a legal-juridical form in the Indian Constitution.
  • A pluralistic society is a diverse one, where the people in it believe all kinds of different things and tolerate each other’s beliefs even when they don’t match their own.
  • The Nehru-Ambedkar idea of nationalism gave India the basis of its civic nationalism that prevailed for many decades.

Civic vs Ethnic nationalism

Civic vs Ethnic nationalism iastoppers

Ethnic nationalism

  • In the name of national integration and fighting enemies, both outside and within, ethnic nationalism undermines minority rights and procedures of democracy.
  • Moreover, they accuse liberals of appeasing the minorities (blacks and Hispanics in the US, immigrants in Europe, Kurds in Turkey, Muslims in India), and try to suppress dissent as anti-national.

Civic nationalism

  • In the West, the US followed the idea of civic nationalism was pursued. Even the German philosopher Habermas called civic nationalism as ‘constitutional patriotism’, as opposed to patriotism based on ‘blood and soil’ which used to have popular appeal in Germany.
  • Civic nationalism emphasises the procedural aspects of democracy, and tries to use constitution to bind the hands of subsequent generations to prevent them from curbing basic civil rights.


  • Gandhiji openly said that ‘Free India will not be a Hindu Raj; it will be an Indian Raj, based not on the majority of any religious sect or community’.
  • However, the idea of civic nationalism is now being attempted to be dismantled by the Hindu nationalists. If India lose the ideological battle of civic nationalism, the foundational values of our multi-cultural society that our earlier great social thinkers adored will be in serious danger.
  • The British politician, Nye Bevan, after his first visit to Pakistan said that: “I have never been to a country (Pakistan) so much in love with hate”. Unfortunately, we are fast reaching a situation where this description may fit India as well.


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