What do you mean by sense of collective belongingness and how was it practised in India by the Indians?



It means that people began to believe that they were all a part of the same nation and discovered some unity, which bound them together.
Main cultural processes:

  • Figures or images helped create an image with which people could identify the nation.
  • Devotion to this mother figure came to be seen as evidence of one’s nationalism.
  • It was with the growth of nationalism, that the identity of India was associated with the image oiBharat Mata.
  • This image was first created by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, who wrote the song ‘Vande Mataram in his novel Anandamath.
  • Then Rabindranath Tagore painted the famous image of Bharat Mata. He was moved by the Swadeshi movement.
  • In this painting Bharat Mata is portrayed as an ascetic figure; she is calm, composed divine and spiritual.
  • In subsequent years, the image of Bharat Mata acquired many different forms as it circulated in popular prints and was painted by different artists.
  • Devotion to this mother figure came to be seen as evidence of one’s nationalism.

Indian folklore:

  • Ideas of nationalism also developed through a movement to revive Indian folklore.
  • Folk tales were sung by bards in the villages, to give a true picture of the traditional culture, which was corrupted and damaged by outside forces.
  • In Bengal, Rabindranath Tagore himself began collecting ballads, nursery rhymes and myths to revive the folk culture.
  • In Madras, Natesa Sastri published a four-volume collection of Tamil folk tales, The Folklore of Southern India.

Icons and symbols (flag):

  • During the Swadeshi Movement in Bengal, a tricolour flag (red, green and yellow) was designed.
  • It had eight lotuses, representing eight provinces of British India and a crescent moon, representing Hindus and Muslims.
  • By 1921, Mahatma Gandhi designed the swaraj flag.
  • It was also again a tricolour (red, green, white) flag and had a spinning wheel in the centre, representing the Gandhian ideal of self-help.
  • Carrying the flag holding it aloft during marches became a symbol of defiance.

Reinterpretation of history:

  • The British saw Indians as backward, primitive and incapable of governing themselves.
  • In response, Indians began looking into the past to discover India’s great achievement.
  • They wrote about glorious developments in ancient India in arts and architecture, science and maths, religion and culture, law and philosophy, etc.
  • This glorious time was followed by a history of decline, when India was colonised.