Approaches to the study of Colonialism & Nationalism in India - Political Science

Approaches to the study of Colonialism & Nationalism in India

History is a very interesting subject.The study of any historical occurrence is filled with debates and contradictions.It is viewed from various different perspectives and makes a wide variety of opposing assumptions.(Going into the past,at the moment,isn't possible to verify :p)
It is even more fascinating in India's case,the study Colonialism and Nationalism in India has been done from four major different perspectives:
  1. Imperialist Approach
  2. Marxist Approach
  3. Nationalist Approach
  4. Subaltern Approach
It will be very interesting and amusing to note what the views of the above mentioned approaches are.In this post i will discuss the imperialistic approach

The Imperialist Approach
The Imperialist approach is also known as the Cambridge school and this perspective is seen in the writings of viceroys such as Lord Duferin, Curzon and Minto.Its views on Colonialism and Nationalism in India can be summed up in the following points :
  1. India under British rule grew into a stage at which she could advance claim to the sight of self-government.
  2. The British rule was essentially Benevolent,understood the aspirations of Indians and gradually moved towards it fulfillment.
  3. The imperialistic historiographers deny the existence of colonial exploitation,underdevelopment and other anti-imperialistic and nationalistic forces.
  4. They also deny the existence of colonialism as an economic,political and social structure.
  5. They say it was simply a foreign rule and neither was it exploitative.Hence,they do not agree with the view that the socio-economic and political development of India required the overthrow of colonialism.
  6. They do not see any basic contradiction between the British and Indian interests which led to the national movement.
  7. India as a nation was a myth.India was neither a nation nor a nation-in-making but a group of different castes and religious groups which are the real basis of political organisation.
  8. Nationalism in India was not anti-imperialistic;rather the politicization of Indian society developed along the lines of traditional social formations such as linguistic,regional,castes or religious communities rather modern categories of class and nation.
  9. The struggle against colonialism was a motiveless and simulated combat.It was merely a product of the need and interests of the elite groups who used to serve either their own narrow interests or the interests of their perspective groups.
  10. The basic pattern was of an educated middle class reared by British rule engaged in various renaissance activities and virtually turning against their masters and so giving birth to modern nationalism out of frustrated, selfish ambitions, ideals of patriotism and democracy derived from western culture or natural revulsion against foreign rule.
  11. The imperialist approach questioned the ontology of a unified nationalist movement and has traced instead only a series of localized movements in colonial India.
  12. India was not a nation but an aggregate of desperate interest groups and they were united as they had to operate within a centralized national administrative framework created by the British.
Criticism and analysis of the imperialistic approach
  1. This approach denies the existence and legitimacy of exploitative nature of British rule and of Nationalism as a movement of the Indian people to overthrow imperialism.
  2. Categories such as nation,class,mobilization,ideology etc which are generally used by historians to analyse colonialism and nationalism are missing from this approach.
  3. It deliberately misses the economic exploitation,under development,racialism and the role of the masses in the anti-imperialistic struggle.

For complete organized notes before your exams, you can refer to this copy of Indian Polity:

Want to become a leader and develop your skillset? Here is an opportunity to join the Student Leadership Program by Eat My News. Click here to know more: