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Trajectories of Indian Nationalism


Admission requirements

This course is open to BA II year students as well as exchange and stydy abroad students. No prior knowledge of Indian history, society and politics is mandatory to join this course.


Indian nationalism represented diverse ideas, discourses and practices during India’s anti-colnial struggle for national independence. Despite prevalence of such contestations, the architects of India’s freedom struggle, under Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership, successfully negotiated with different variants of nationalism and constructed an inclusive version of an Idea of India which united all Indians against British colonial rule and made India free. Postcolonial India, under its first primeminister Jawaharlal Nehru, continued with the nation-building project by adhering to a secular, composite and inclusive nationalism. However, Hindu nationalism’s emergence as a dominant ideology and its control over the state power in India, had derailed this secular nationalist project. While claiming India as a Hindu nation, the Hindu Right attempts to impose a majoritarian nationalism. In this context, this course, covering colonial as well as contemporary period, will reflect on the diverse trajectories of Indian nationalism by engaging with multiple issues and discourses as well analysing the writings/views of some prominent nationalist thinkers, from Ram Mohan Roy to B.R. Ambedkar. Besides, this course will critically examine the nature and content of contestatations between Nehruvian secularism and Hindu nationalism and explain how and why the Hindu Right has become hegemonic and how it impacts the Idea of India.
The course will use both primary and secondary sources, such as writings/speeches of Indian nationalist thinkers, commentaries, book chapters and journal articles.

Course objectives

  • To understand the idea of nationalism in general, and mutiple dynamics of Indian nationalism in particular;

  • To familiarise with some prominent modern Indian thinkers and political leaders and analyse their ideas on nationalism;

  • To compare and contrast the ideology and politics of Nehruvian nationalism and Hindu nationalism;

  • To explain the rise of the Hindu Right in contemporary social, cultural and political context, both national and global;

  • To acquire skills to reflect critically, argue logically and present coherently.


The timetables are avalable through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

1) Written Assignment (Short Term Paper of 1500 words): 25%;
2) Class Presentation and Discussion: 25%;
3) Final Examination: 50%

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of “5.50” (=6) or higher.

Re-sit is possible only for element 3 (Final Exam 50%), and only if the student participated in the first written assignment/presentation and received an overall mark for the course of “5.49” or lower.

The course is an integrated whole. All three assessments must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.




Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Readings will be upoladed via Brightspace or circulated beforehand. Students are required to go through the readings before the class in order to actively engage with the course. Students are expected to attend all classes.


Enrolment through My Studymap (Login | Universiteit Leiden) is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: VRIESHOF


All other information.