Tagore and Post Colonialism

This picture of the Tagore book on Nationalism, I think, is the strongest postcolonial reaction from the Orient. It gave the most robust critique to the idea of the Nation-States on which the European Civilization was built, and the entire project of colonialism was centred around the expansion of spheres of influence for European Nation states(Pursuit of gold, god and glory). Tagore opined that nationalism in the western sense is nothing but an extension of western ideas of Mechanisation and capitalism to the political sphere. He argues that they are fundamentally incompatible with the Indian notion of Samaj or society, which is based on the values of self-autonomy, pluralism and religious tolerance.

Although Indian nationalism developed as a reaction to colonial rule, Tagore opined that India should reject the western notion of nation-state and pursue a more syncretic idea of humanism. His critiques on the notion of nation-states were based on the idea that it rested on the power of commerce and mass communication. It led to various depravations ranging from fascism to militarism in the 20th century, as Tagore foresaw.

Tagore’s work created an alternate vision of history that rejected dominant colonial narratives ranging from linear progressive views of history to the arguments of Civilising mission. Moreover, his ideas are still relevant today as we move towards more global and cosmopolitan world order.

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