Following the devastating tsunami that ravaged parts of the South Indian coast in December 2004, there were reports of continuing caste discrimination against India's Scheduled Caste (Dalit) community. The reported absence of common feeling shattered the image of India as an ‘imagined community’. Taking its cue from Aloysius, Nigam and Chatterjee, this article draws on field notes and archival reports to examine the ongoing and contested processes of nation and national identity formation in India. It is argued that the template against which the post-colonial state imagined the Indian ‘nation’ was one that excluded marginalised sections of the population. The article concludes by asking whether India may be seen as a ‘national-state’, and critically analyses the interplay between caste and nation.