Polity NIOS Chapter 02 Nation and State

The term nationality is derived from the Latin word natus, which means ‘to be born’. Therefore in its derivative term, nationality means belonging to the same racial stock or being related by birth or having blood relationship.

Distinction between Nation and Nationality:

  1. Nationality is a cultural term. It is a psychological, which is generated in a group ofpeople having geographical unity and who belong to a common race, common history,religion, customs and traditions, economic interests and common hopes and aspirations.The people of a nationality must have a sense of unity. They must feel that they havesomething in common which differentiates them from other people.

But nation is a people organised; a people united. What unites people in a nation are feelings of oneness. Nation gives an idea of an organisation; nationality gives an idea of sentiment.

  1. Nationality is basically a cultural term; it is ‘political’ only incidentally as Hayes tells Nation is basically a political term, cultural only incidentally. This, however, doesnot mean that nationality is not political and nation is not cultural/concepts.
  2. The evolution of the state has shown that there may be states with more than onenationality and there may be nationalities spread over more than one states. Theformer USSR, as a state, had a considerable number of nationalities; the Korean nationality, to take another example, is spread over two states. Thus a state may or may not co-exist with nationality.
  3. Nation and nationality are distinct terms in yet another sense. Some use the term‘nationality’ to signify the principle or characteristic that creates a nation. This meansthat nationality precedes nation. In terms of origin, therefore, they are not at par. TheJewish nationality created the Jewish nation.
  4. If we use the term ‘nation’ to mean a population of the same race, language andtradition, inhabiting the same territory and constituting the larger part of its population,we may, and in fact, have the Britishers as the nation. If on the other hand, we usethe term ‘nationality’ to mean one of the several distinct ethnic groups scattered overan area and forming but a comparatively a smaller part of its population, we may, andin fact, have the Welsh nationality; the latter as a nationality becomes a part of theBritish nation.


The state exists for the sake of good life. It is only within a state that an individual can rise to his or her ability. If there is no authority, no organisation and no rules, then a society cannot be held together. The state has existed where human beings have lived in an organized society.

The essence of state is in its monopoly of coercive power. It has a right to demand obedience from the people.

Elements of the State:

Population: The State is a human institution. It is the people who make a State. Antarctica is not a State as is it is without any human population. The population must be able to sustain a state. The population size must be enough to constitute governing and governed classes, sufficient to support a political organization. The population should be in proportion to the available land and resources. Also, it should have good quality, that is, a state requires healthy, intelligent and disciplined citizens. They should be possessed with qualities of vitality. Moreover, a homogenous population helps in easy governance.

Territory: There is no state without a fixed territory. The territory has to be definite because it ensures exercise of political authority. Mobile tribals have some sort of political authority but they do not constitute a State because they lack a fixed land. Again, size and quality also matter.

Government: The purpose for which people live together cannot be realized unless they are properly organized and accept certain rules of conduct. The agency created to enforce rules of conduct and ensure obedience is called government.

Government is also the focus of the common purpose of the people occupying the definite territory. It is through this medium that common policies are determined, common affairs regulated and common interests promoted.

The state cannot and does not exist without a government, no matter what form a government may assume.

Sovereignty:  A people inhabiting a definite portion of territory and having a government do not constitute a state so long as they do not possess sovereignty. Sovereignty is the supreme power by which the state commands and exerts political obedience from its people. A state must be internally supreme and free from external control. Thus sovereignty has two aspects, internal and external. Internal sovereignty is the state’s monopoly of authority inside its boundaries. This authority cannot be shared with any other state. The state is independent and its will is unaffected by the will of any other external authority.



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