Episode 4: India – the Mother

How are narratives communicated to us? What do we actually feel pride towards? In this episode, we look at what symbols and devices propel national pride, specifically in India.

This series is part of my capstone project for a Bachelor of Arts at Minerva Schools at KGI. Thanks to Professor Grace Woods-Puckett, my advisor, for her invaluable feedback, and to Manu for never seeming to tire of me expressing my love, or asking him questions about Bharat Mata or his national anthem. Special thanks to Manu and Sohit for agreeing to be interviewed by me, and to Georgie Bulis-Gray for giving me inspiration when looking at the role of the woman in nations.



Rabindranath. Bharat Mata, 1905. Watercolor. Kolkata, Victoria Memorial Hall.
Bharati, Subramania. Bharat Mata, 1911. Terracotta. Puducherry, Bharatidasan Museum.

Videos & Music

TIMES NOW: Prime Minister Narendra Modi concludes his Independence Day speech, 2015.

NDTV: Assam Protest: Thousands of people defied a curfew in Guwahati and took to the streets in protest, opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill or CAB, 2019.

Starship, We Built This City, 1985.

The great classical vocalists of India render the Indian National Anthem.

Jana Gana Mana in it’s most famous form.

Jana Gana Mana, featuring some of India’s most famous actors.

Vande Mataram, national song of India.

Further listening…

Throughline by NPR offers a dive into an exploration of what India could have been, and to some extent is starting to be, if another man, not Gandhi, would have won the race to define what Indian nationalism should be…

A Flash Outside the Off Stump and host Andy Carter look closer at Jana Gana Mana, the Indian national anthem, and discusses more closely at how cricket and the anthem came to be an important pillar of Indian nationalism, despite its complicated and contested past.

The Pragati Podcast hosts a conversation with Ashwin Kumar Ph.D., a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Learning Futures at Ahmedabad University with a special focus on the emergence of Indian nationalism, as well as about a deeper analysis of different Indian nationalisms.



“10 Facts on Illiteracy in India That You Must Know.” OXFAM, September 8, 2015. https://www.oxfamindia.org/featuredstories/10-facts-illiteracy-india-you-must-know

Apoorvanand. “The new citizenship bill and the Hinduisation of India.” Aljazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/citizenship-bill-hinduisation-india-190110141421871.html (accessed March 14, 2020). 

Barua, Pradeep. “Inventing Race: The British and India’s Martial Races.” The Historian 58, no. 1 (1995): 107–16. https://www.jstor.org/stable/24449614?seq=1

Bharat Mata, Chromolithograph, ca. 1910, OSIAN’s Archive, Research and Documentation Centre, Mumbai, In The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping Mother India, by Sumathi Ramaswamy, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010. 

Bharata Mata, Illustration, April 10, 1909, Mahakavi Bharatiyar Museum cum Research Centre, Puducherry, In The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping Mother India, by Sumathi Ramaswamy, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010. 

Bhattacharya, Sabyasachi, K L Tuteja, and Kaustav Chakraborty. “Rethinking Tagore on the Antinomies of Nationalism.” In Tagore and Nationalism, 17–30. Shimla: Indian Institute of Advanced Study, 2017. https://link-springer-com.ccl.idm.oclc.org/book/10.1007/978-81-322-3696-2#toc

Biswas, Soutik. “Does India’s National Anthem Extol the British?” BBC News. BBC, July 9, 2015. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-33438577

Clémentin-Ojha, Catherine. “‘India, That Is Bharat…’: One Country, Two Names.” South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal 10 (2014): 1–21. https://journals.openedition.org/samaj/3717#text

Country Profile: India, Country Profile: India § (2004). 

“Culture And Heritage – Ethnicity Of India.” Know India: National Portal of India. Accessed December 9, 2019. https://knowindia.gov.in/culture-and-heritage/ethnicity-of-india.php

“Delhi Population 2019.” Delhi Population 2019 (Demographics, Maps, Graphs). World Population Review, 2019. http://worldpopulationreview.com/world-cities/delhi-population/

Federal Research Division. “Country Profile: India.” Library of Congress: Washington D.C.: 2004. 

Findlay, Stephanie. “India’s citizenship law: what is it and why has it stirred such anger?” Financial Times. https://www.ft.com/content/b96a33c4-247e-11ea-9a4f-963f0ec7e134 (accessed March 14, 2020). 

Fraser, Bashabi, K L Tuteja, and Kaustav Chakraborty. “The Spirit of India: An Exploration of Rabindranath Tagore’s and Mahatma Gandhi’s Ideas on Nationalism.” In Tagore and Nationalism, 245–56. Shimla: Indian Institute of Advanced Study, 2017. https://link-springer-com.ccl.idm.oclc.org/book/10.1007/978-81-322-3696-2#about

Khare, Brij B. “Indian Nationalism: The Political Origin.” The Indian Journal of Political Science 50, no. 4 (December 1989): 533–59. https://www-jstor-org.ccl.idm.oclc.org/stable/41855456

Kim, Anna. “The New Nationalism in Modi’s India.” The Diplomat. https://thediplomat.com/2019/12/the-new-nationalism-in-modis-india/ (accessed March 14, 2020). 

Happy New Year’s Day: Putu Varushapirappu Naal, Illustration, April 20, 1907, Courtesy of Ceeni Viswanathan, In The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping Mother India, by Sumathi Ramaswamy, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010. 

Hegewald, Juli A. B., Subrata K Mitra, and Lion König. “Icons, Nations and Re-Use: Marianne, France, and Bharat Mata, India.” In Re-Use: The Art and Politics of Integration and Anxiety, 288–313. New Delhi: Sage Publications Pvt. Ltd., 2012.

Mother India. Mehboob Productions, 1957.

Rag, Pankaj. “Indian Nationalism 1885-1905: An Overview.” Social Scientist 23, no. 4 (1995): 69–97. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3520216

Ramaswamy, Sumathi. The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping Mother India. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010. https://read-dukeupress-edu.ccl.idm.oclc.org/books/book/1343/The-Goddess-and-the-NationMapping-Mother-India

Singh Bal, Hartosh. “Poisonous Roots.” The Caravan. https://caravanmagazine.in/perspectives/poisonous-roots-bharat-mata-jai-sangh (accessed March 14, 2020). 

Stewart, Neil. “Divide and Rule: British Policy in Indian History.” Science & Society 15, no. 1 (1951): 49–57. https://www.jstor.org/stable/40400043

Strachey, Sir John. India. London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1888. 

Tagore, Rabindranath. Bharatvarsher Itihas. Bangadarshan, 1902.

Tuteja, K L, and Kaustav Chakraborty. “Introduction: Rabindranath Tagore and an ‘Ambivalent’ Nationalism.” In Tagore and Nationalism, 1–13. Shimla: Indian Institute of Advanced Study, 2017. https://link-springer-com.ccl.idm.oclc.org/content/pdf/10.1007/978-81-322-3696-2_1.pdf

“Vande Mataram: The History, Lyrics, and Meaning of National Song of India.” National Song. Cultural India. Accessed December 9, 2019. https://www.culturalindia.net/national-symbols/national-song.html


Bharati, Subramania. Bharat Mata, 1911. Terracotta. Puducherry, Bharatidasan Museum.

Tagore, Rabindranath. Bharat Mata, 1905. Watercolor. Kolkata, Victoria Memorial Hall.


Sohit, interview by Klara Eriksson, Buenos Aires, January 29, 2019.

Manu Jayamohan Nair, interview by Klara Eriksson, Taipei, January 19, 2020.

Music and Videos

bbpfilms. “Jana Gana Mana All Vocal.” YouTube video, 1:59. Aug 13, 2007. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3TtgYuaVFk

Blake Ewing, “Natyashastra,” Pangaea Two, Musicbed, online. https://www.musicbed.com/songs/natyashastra/26144

Brique a Braq, “Vauxcelles,” Vauxcelles, Musicbed, online. https://www.musicbed.com/songs/vauxcelles/40527

Bytheway-May, “Rising Tension,” Gunslinger, Musicbed, online. https://www.musicbed.com/songs/rising-tension/24878

Gungor, “Body & Blood,” One Wild Life Spirit, Musicbed, online. https://www.musicbed.com/songs/body-blood/28561

Gvm reddy. “Janaganamana song and respected to our Indian song.” YouTube video. Mar 21, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r128achwd3k

Kerry Muzzey, “Bernini’s Angels (Original Orchestral Version),” Bernini’s Angels, Musicbed, online. https://www.musicbed.com/songs/berninis-angels-original-orchestral-version/1028

Kerry Muzzey, “If Dante Had Wings,” Trailer Music 2, Musicbed, online. https://www.musicbed.com/songs/if-dante-had-wings/1049

Makeup and Vanity Set, “Ono Sendai,” Wavehymnal, Musicbed, online. https://www.musicbed.com/songs/ono-sendai/22603

Makeup and Vanity Set, “System One,” System One, Musicbed, online. https://www.musicbed.com/songs/system-one/24933

Shemaroo. “Jana Gana Mana (HD) – National Anthem With Lyrics – Best Patriotic Song.” YouTube video, 1:01. Aug 7, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtMF973tXIY

Shemaroo. “Vande Mataram (HD) – National Song Of india – Best Patriotic Song.” YouTube video, 1:04. Aug 7, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfqMmypbACg

Starship, “We Built This City,” track 1 on Knee Deep In The Hoopla, Jefferson Starship Inc., 1985, LP.

TIMES NOW. “PM Modi concludes his #IndependenceDay speech with “Bharat Mata Ki Jai,” and ‘Jai Hind’ slogans.” YouTube video, 0:25. Aug 14, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fk8VRex3kHw

UV Niranjan. “VANDEMATARAM | Instrumental | Indian National Song.” YouTube video, 1:35. Jul 11, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3N4SRohMoEg

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