India - An Unnatural Nation

Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,648
New Delhi, India
#21
Religion within India is rather complicated given that Hinduism (itself a word that was coined in the 18-19th centuries) is a collection of regional cults, traditions, and philosophies. There are obviously certain philosophical commonalities but the emergence of a cohesive and unified Hindu identity is a relatively recent phenomenon. Throughout much of Indian history, it was far more likely for any two Indians to be divided on the basis of caste, language, polity, gender, and class than united on the basis of a broadly similar theological commitments.

The curious thing about India is that in the case of linguistic or even ethnic identities, the allocation of individual states on the aforementioned bases has actually increased the overall integrity and unity of India. Most Indians are more than happy to assert their regional identities within the confines of their geopolitical (sub)entity while simultaneously identifying as Indian in matters concerning India as a whole.

The best that can be said about India is that its an anomaly in many respects. But that makes it all the more interesting a case study.
Tired of trying to correct this misconception.Indians were known to Central Asians as Hindus (Sapta-Saindhava, Hapta-Hendu, people of the land of seven rivers) since the time of Zoroaster (perhaps earlier than 1,500 BCE). Even now there is no unified Hindu identity. We have hundreds of sects and hundreds of views in each sect. And yes, we have all types of differences, regional, religious, castes, tribes, languages, professions, traditions, looks, etc. Diversity holds no devils for us. We take that as granted. It is the diversity which keeps us united.
 
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Aug 2017
189
USA
#22
Tired of trying to correct this misconception.Indians were known to Central Asians as Hindus (Sapta-Saindhava, Hapta-Hendu, people of the land of seven rivers) since the time of Zoroaster (perhaps earlier than 1,500 BCE). Even now there is no unified Hindu identity. We have hundreds of sects and hundreds of views in each sect. And yes, we have all types of differences, regional, religious, castes, tribes, languages, professions, traditions, looks, etc. Diversity holds no devils for us. We take that as granted. It is the diversity which keeps us united.
No, I specifically stated that the word "Hinduism", which is an English word with the typical suffix "ism", was coined in the 18-19th centuries. I'm well aware the word "Sindhu" and its variants (such as "Hindu", "Indus", etc) are obviously of more ancient provenance.

A unified Hindu identity does not have to occur along intrinsic ethnic, caste, linguistic, vocational, or political lines. It can indirectly form in opposition to external group identities irrespective of whatever internal divisions there are and this was indeed the primary impetus from the 12th century and on with the advent of Muslim and British rule.
 

kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,767
USA
#23
I dont think India having persisted despite its diversity is very surprising, given that most post-colonial nations in Africa and Asia share similar levels of diversity, if not even more more, and the majority of them have also persisted (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...-most-and-least-ethnically-diverse-countries/ ).
Nevertheless factors that have kept India united in my opinion are:

- Strong administrative foundation laid during the colonial period (including most importantly a lingua franca in the form of the English language).
- Common religion
- Fear of an external/foreign threat (Pakistan)
- Last but not least a strong military which has stopped regions like Kashmir and Punjab from breaking away.
I understand the top 2 points.
I don't see how the threat of Pakistan keeps India united. On the contrary, threat of India may keep Pakistan united. You know that India divided Pakistan into two countries in 1971. India has never considered Pakistan as a threat of that kind, but as an annoying neighbor (actually Pakistan seems to enjoy that role) in South Asia that detests Indian hegemony.
Most countries have strong militaries, India is no exception. Its military is large because it has a population of 1.3 billion.
 
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Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,648
New Delhi, India
#24
It can indirectly form in opposition to external group identities irrespective of whatever internal divisions there are and this was indeed the primary impetus from the 12th century and on with the advent of Muslim and British rule.
I accept that you are right there. Make it 8th century when the Muslims first came in from West in Balochistan. From Buddhists they got the word 'But' (pronounce like 'put', idol) in Afghanistan. But we were known as Hindus (geographical and religious description) centuries/millenniums before that.
 
Mar 2013
1,019
Breakdancing on the Moon.
#25
I understand the top 2 points.
I don't see how the threat of Pakistan keeps India united. On the contrary, threat of India may keep Pakistan united. You know that India divided Pakistan into two countries in 1971. India has never considered Pakistan as a threat of that kind, but as an annoying neighbor (actually Pakistan seems to enjoy that role) in South Asia that detests Indian hegemony.
Most countries have strong militaries, India is no exception. Its military is large because it has a population of 1.3 billion.
It's a fairly self explanatory concept and one pretty basic to most discussions of diplomacy/state formation/IR. Countries absolutely can use external threats, real or perceived, to foster a sense of unity that overrides whatever other internal differences they are dealing with.

The threat of a nuclear armed state with strong links to terrorism and a, frankly, inimical religion is a pretty strong one. Despite Indian chest beating (not a threat, just an annoying neighbour).

So, yes, Pakistan's existence absolutely plays a role.
 
Aug 2017
189
USA
#26
I understand the top 2 points.
I don't see how the threat of Pakistan keeps India united. On the contrary, threat of India may keep Pakistan united. You know that India divided Pakistan into two countries in 1971. India has never considered Pakistan as a threat of that kind, but as an annoying neighbor (actually Pakistan seems to enjoy that role) in South Asia that detests Indian hegemony.
Most countries have strong militaries, India is no exception. Its military is large because it has a population of 1.3 billion.
Threats posed by external geopolitical entities can foster a sense of unity within any given country. Pakistan and India are no exception and the influence does terminate even on a military level. Even the existence and domestic actions of both countries provide a validation to the principal or founding ideologies of either country. For example, the mistreatment of religious minorities in any South Asian country reverberates throughout the subcontinent by providing ammunition for Hindu or Muslim communalism. Other examples are obvious.
 
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specul8

Ad Honorem
Oct 2016
3,351
Australia
#27
I think most nations ( and concepts and borders of nations ) are unnatural .

Some things that seem to define natural 'nations' are 'natural' features of geography ; rivers, oceans and seas, mountain ranges , watersheds.

The term ' nation ' is a tricky one .
 
Apr 2015
4,700
India
#28
This brings me to my final question which I now pose to all: why does India survive? Given that it is widely agreed to be an “unnatural nation” with an almost unrivaled heterogeneity that is often viewed as anathema to successful nation building, why has it continued to persist?
Indians see India as a historical culture entity often referred historically with various names Bharat, India, Al-Hind, Hindustan, this can't be compared to Soviet nationalism. The federalism ensures that all major ethnic groups have a degree of self governance and freedom to promote their own language and culture. Beside this, India despite 1.3 billion people have political parties aka Indian National Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party which can win election pan-India wise similar to small size democratic countries in other parts of the world.
 
Sep 2012
9,167
India
#29
Tired of trying to correct this misconception.Indians were known to Central Asians as Hindus (Sapta-Saindhava, Hapta-Hendu, people of the land of seven rivers) since the time of Zoroaster (perhaps earlier than 1,500 BCE). Even now there is no unified Hindu identity. We have hundreds of sects and hundreds of views in each sect. And yes, we have all types of differences, regional, religious, castes, tribes, languages, professions, traditions, looks, etc. Diversity holds no devils for us. We take that as granted. It is the diversity which keeps us united.
The apparent diversity that India presents to interested outsiders is only superficial. A person from Arunachal Pradesh will not look like nor talk like a person from Tamilnadu. Nor a person from Gujarat will have any resemblance with a person from even a nearby state like Maharashtra. But let there be an external threat like the recent ruckus about Doklam region with the PRC, the entire nation will react as one. Hostile neighbours nowadays tiptoe around our sensitivities. Not only our armed might or our technolgical knowledge it it is also our culture unity that makes sweat break out on the face of enemies. But, in substance, it is our ' Hindu-ness ' that keep us united.
 
Likes: Futurist
Sep 2012
9,167
India
#30
India is just starting a little later than Germany. In three or four generations, India will be just as unified as Germany is today. They've even gotten themselves a fascist ultra-nationalist leader like the Germans had eighty years ago.
Narendra Modi is not a fascist, if by fascist you mean someone like Mussolini or-- worse-- like Hitler. Nor can he be equated with Stalin. He is a hardboiled practical person, extremely hardworking and greatly interested in the uplift of the country. He is not going to be overly friendly with Pakistan nor with the PRC. And he is not going to be mealy mouthed with appeasers of any party.
 

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