Concepts of Nationalism(Iqbal and Ambedkar
Nationalism is viewed by both , Sir Muhammad Iqbal and B R Ambedkar as a unifying spirit among people who feel akin to each other and co-exist harmoniously- inspired by common elements, such as culture and traditions. Sir Iqbal attributes this unifying spirit primarily to a common faith (Islam) which in his words “an ethical ideal plus a certain kind of Polity – a social structure regulated by a legal system and animated by a specific ethical ideal”.
Arguing against bifurcation between an individual’s spiritual and temporal life, he feels that Islam can provide a Pan-national force that transcends territorial borders. According to Ambedkar, nationalism is not necessarily fostered by a common land, race or language but is rather a desire of people to live together, based on a shared common heritage. (Quoting Renan)- In matters of pride or sorrow.
In fact he stresses that even this desire and consciousness of kind awareness of the existence of that tie of kinship is just “nationality”, till it is catapulted to” nationalism” by ” the desire for separate national existence for those who are bound by this tie of kinship. And this also precludes that those who will to live as a nation should necessarily possess geographical territories which they would turn into a state that serves as a cultural home for their nation (as happened in the case if Muslims aspiring for Pakistan). Dr.
Ambedkar strongly advocated the concept of constitutional morality as an adjunct for true nationalism which cannot merely blossom with self- governance based on universal adult suffrage but requires the governing class to overcome their internal limitations of traditions, outlook, vested interests and social philosophy-to cater effectively to the social and economic needs of the depressed classes. In the Indian context, this means taking greater care of backward classes such as Scheduled Castes and Tribes as well as Women-by enhancing their Economic opportunities.
And our constitution has taken ample care to redress the situation with measures such as Jobs and Reservations. Mr. Iqbal, on the other hand, stressed that true nationalism could thrive only if minorities (Muslims) enjoyed full freedom to pursue their faith and cultural traditions. And here too our constitution and laws have thoroughly safeguarded their interests- with measures such Muslim Personal law, jobs, reservations etc. Both Sir Mohammed Iqbal and Mr. Ambedkar agree that nationalism stems from a sense of bonding between the people living in a particular area.
While Sir Iqbal attributes this oneness to a common religion (Islam), Ambedkar has not spelt out the causes of this phenomenon. Nevertheless, it can safely be assumed that such bonding could arise from a common land, shared traditions, common language or a combination of a number of these factors. To cater to such common sentiment, for promoting greater cohesiveness and harmony, India needs a federal system of governance comprising of states that are precipitated by people having common language and the traditions- as witnessed in formation of linguistic states such as Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand from erstwhile Punjab and UP.
Such federalism is further reinforced through Rajya Sabha which ensures that parochial sentiments and needs of the states find adequate expression in the supreme law making body–Parliament. The predominance of the Union government in several subjects like defense, foreign affairs and communications adds to the nationalistic bonds among the Indian people through common state induced laws that govern them all. Going by the readings of both Sir Muhammad Iqbal and Dr. B.
R Ambedkar one can conclude that according to Mr. Iqbal, the sole unifying factor for promoting nationalism was religion, Dr. Ambedkar believed that there could be many varying factors leading to nationalism such as common language, shared traditions and a combination of many such factors. This feeling of nationalism can be further strengthened by taking care of the weaker sections of societies and gender discriminations and by providing equal opportunities to all by the means of reservations and empowerment.