A key theme of this book has been the diversity of India, in many different spheres. The commonly used term ‘the Indian subcontinent’ recognizes this size and diversity. How then does this diversity fit with nationalism? There is something approximating a pan-Indian culture that is consumed, to a greater or lesser extent, across all Indian regions. In this category we can talk of sport, literature, film, as well as the national media discussed in the previous chapter. Much, but not all, of this material is communicated in English and is accessed by middle-class consumers in India and elsewhere. Some cultural forms, including sport and some films, depend less on language. There are flourishing popular cultures across India and in each of the major regional languages there is serious cultural production in the forms of literature, film, popular music, broadcast and print media. Improvements in communications technology mean that these products are also consumed by members of the diaspora. As we will discuss in this chapter, Indian nationalism is strong, especially when directed externally, against Pakistan. It is also very evident at the time of major sporting fixtures, especially those involving cricket. A sense of Indian identity, however imperfectly communicated, can be seen in the juggernaut that is the Bollywood film industry. Just as important are the attempts of the Indian state to foster and standardize a strong sense of identity. The components of that identity have political implications, as we shall see. They are also contested — and have changed over time.
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