breaking up india 5

[notes from a forthcoming book: part 5 of a series of exercises involving breaking up india into parts to understand it better. i'm not posting all the notes, only random ones]

talking against indian nationalism while writing within its framework is naturally very counter-productive. india was always considered an empire all through history - how did it become a nation?

the empire became a nation in the same way as the brahmins became just another jati. both ideas are now articulated as common sense. the indian nation has become so much common sense that even those who have critiqued indian nationalism, from an anti-caste perspective, have not questioned this fundamental premise.

historically, aloysius says: 'The cultural unity of the subcontinent, then, is mostly derived from the ascriptive and hierarchical elements of power as dominance.'

in other words, the existence of the caste system across the subcontinent is viewed as indicative of 'cultural unity'. how acceptable is this theory of 'cultural unity', and how did it merge so totally with the idea of one nation and one nation-state, when historically there had always been several states in the subcontinent?

if a shared system of oppression were to be taken as an indicator of cultural unity, all the former colonized lands of the world should also be seen as one nation. all the former roman colonies should also be one nation. one could think of several such examples. the subcontinent itself wouldn't have evolved into the 5 or 6 nations that it is now if the theory of cultural unity were tenable.

cultural commonalities can't be interpreted as signs of cultural unity. there might be much in common, culturally, between maharashtra and gujarat or andhra and tamil nadu or bengal and odisha and all of these regions and foreign countries such as malaysia, sri lanka and pakistan and so on.

even if we assume, for argument's sake,  there is cultural unity across the subcontinent, history has provided more than enough evidence that political unity, based around this cultural unity, was always short-lived. because, obviously, the kind of 'cultural unity' that many see in the subcontinent is a very narrowly defined unity. and this unity is defined from the perspective of the dominant brahminized classes, across regions.  

cultural unity of india was the dominant classes' excuse for forging one political geography out of the largest part of the subcontinent. it needs to be understood that more than any cultural unity, the indian state is the result of the political unity of the dominant classes of india.

but, as dr. ambedkar would have said, it might be in the interests of the dominant classes to define india as one nation, but how can it be in the interests of the oppressed classes to accept that definition?
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