Rabindranath Tagore's essay, "Nationalism in India" is a chapter in his 1917 book, Nationalism, which also examines Nationalism in the West and in Japan. The book as a whole is addressed primarily to the American reader. When he comes to consider India, Tagore notes that the country is particularly affected by the problem of race distinctions. He says, however, that America has "no right to question India" until her own racial problems have been solved.
Tagore argues that these problems will only be exacerbated by Nationalism, which has only ever been a menace to India. Although he is talking specifically about his own country in this essay, one can argue by analogy about the role of Nationalism in the world:
Her problem was the problem of the world in miniature. India is too vast in its area and too diverse in its races. It is many countries packed in one geographical receptacle.
The caste system, which looks so unjust to outsiders, is actually a serious attempt by Indians to solve the race problem with as little violence as possible. Tagore accepts such imperfect solutions as holding positions because he regards large-scale, simplistic theories like Nationalism (whether Western or Indian) with suspicion. He ends his essay on an equivocal note, not by proposing measures of his own, but by pointing out the unsatisfactory position of India from a political, social and industrial point of view and saying that any workable solutions must come from India, not from the West.
It is a sign of laziness and impotency to accept conditions imposed upon us by others who have other ideals than ours. We should actively try to adapt the world powers to guide our history to its own perfect end.
There is clearly a shift in perspective here. Tagore was clearly writing for the American reader at the beginning of the essay and, indeed, in the rest of the book, but here he seems to be addressing his fellow Indians in emphasizing that it is their responsibility to find solutions which avoid simplistic Nationalism.