The 19th century began witnessing a growing discontent against the British rule in India. This gave birth to an organized national movement. Inspired by this movement, there emerged a corpus of literature which in turn contributed to the growth and spread of nationalist sentiments across different regions of the country as well as among the various sections of Indian people.
Dadabhai Nauroji had put forward the Drain of Wealth theory, which implied that British economic policies had directly resulted in a significant outflow of national wealth from India annually. This led to a drain because India did not get anything in return from such an outflow.
Romesh Chandra Dutt, in his work The Economic History of India, had calculate the amount of drain of economic resources that had happened under the British.
The economic critique of British rule had shattered the propaganda around the colonial rule. It was no longer possible for the British to justify their rule over India as the White Man’s Burden.
Gandhiji had effectively used literary works to spread his nationalistic ideals of nonviolence and truth. He wrote extensively in English, Hindi, and Gujarati using literary styles which common people can easily understand. In his Hind Swaraj, he emphasized the importance and use of nonviolence and satyagraha as the tools for our freedom struggle. He also explained that Swaraj is not just limited to freedom from British rule, but also includes freedom from the autocratic rule by Indian Princes.
Jawaharlal Nehru had composed great literary works on India as well as the world during his prison time. In his Discovery of India, Nehru explained the great history of our country which played an important role in shaping the opinion of Indian people, that unity in diversity has been the essence and strength of our culture.
Through his Glimpses of World History, he talked about the stories of major nations of the world which later on helped in the shaping of independent India’s foreign policy that is based on equal respect for all the nations of the world.
Apart from the freedom struggle, the social and religious reforms which were underway in the Indian society since early 19th century also contributed to the rise of nationalist literature.