If nations and nationalism are products of industrialisation and modernity, then South Asia is not supposed to have the concept of nationalism since the region neither has experienced industrialisation nor has it undergone the transformation of modernity. The history of nation building in South Asia is a story of adaptation to alien values by the prudent manipulation of political elites. In the name of modernisation, South Asians were asked to relinquish their traditional values and opt for values that were purely western and projected as rational, and the only way to a better sociopolitical future. In the process, for political expediency, the colonial masters dissected the composite society into compartments, thus unwittingly preparing the grounds for debasing the concept of a composite nationhood that was endogenous to the Indian subcontinent. However, in the end the South Asian subcontinent was divided on religious grounds. The two infant nations set out to build nation-states that would be viable as modern states and united as nations. Both nations are still struggling to build their desired nation-states, and the primary threat has come from the question of “ethnicity” that has been haunting them both. The problems India and Pakistan face along with the other South Asian nations are: a multiplicity of nationalities; the overlapping geographical boundaries among nationalities; and the failure to articulate a common nationality.
- Perceptions Spring 2018
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