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Modern History Part-III: Indian National Movement

Published on Sunday, October 01, 2017
Indian National movement divided into three phases
Moderate phase: 1885-1905
Extremist phase: 1905-1917
Gandhian Phase: 1917-1947

Moderate phase: (1885-1905)

The leading personalities during the first phase (moderate phase) of the National Movement were W.C. Banerjee, Surendra Nath Banerjee, Dhadabhai Naoroji, Feroze Shah Mehta, Gopalakrishna Gokhale, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, Badiruddin Tyabji, and Justice Ranade. They were called moderates because they adopted peaceful and constitutional means to achieve their demands. Some of the demands of moderates were
  • Expansion and reform of legislative councils.
  • Greater opportunities for Indians in higher posts by holding the ICS examination simultaneously in England and in India.
  • Separation of the judiciary from the executive.
  • More powers for the local bodies.
  • Reduction of spending on army.

Freedom of speech and expression and freedom to form associations
The Moderates had total faith in the British and were loyal to the British.
The Moderates used petitions, resolutions, meetings, leaflets and pamphlets, memorandum and delegations to present their demands. They confined their political activities to the educated classes only. Their aim was to attain political rights and self-government stage by stage
The only demand of the Congress granted by the British was the expansion of the legislative councils by the Indian Councils Act of 1892.

Some of the achievements of Moderates are:
  • Moderates were able to create wide national awakening among the people
  • They popularized the ideals of democracy, civil liberties etc.
  • Succeeded in getting the expansion of legislative councils by the Indian councils act of 1892
  • They explained how the British were exploiting Indians
Some of the important events which took place during this phase are:
  • Formation of INC-1885
  • Indian Councils Act 1892 was passed by the British Parliament to increase in the size of the legislative councils. This act marks the beginning of representative form of Government in India. Passage of Universities act by Lord Curzon in 1904

Some of the important moderate personalities:
  • Dhadabhai Naoroji was known as the Grand Old Man of India. He is regarded as India’s unofficial Ambassador in England. He was the first Indian to become a Member of the British House of Commons. 
  • Gopal Krishna Gokhale was regarded as the political guru of Gandhi. In 1905, he founded the Servants of India Society to train Indians to dedicate their lives to the cause of the country
  • Surendranath Banerjee was called the Indian Burke. He founded the Indian Association (1876) to agitate for political reforms. He had convened the Indian National Conference (1883) which merged with the Indian National Congress in l886. 
  • G. Subramanya Aiyar founded the The Hindu and Swadesamitran. 

Extremist phase (1905-1916)

The period from 1905 to 1916 was known as extremist phase in Indian National movement. This phase was led by Extremists. The extremists or the aggressive nationalists believed that success could be achieved through bold means. The important extremist leaders were Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh.

The main causes for the rise of extremism
1. The failure of the Moderates
2. The ill-treatment of Indians in South Africa on the basis of colour of skin.
3. The Russia-Japanese war of 1904-5 in which Japan defeated the European power Russia. This encouraged Indians to fight against the European nation, Britain.
4. The immediate cause for the rise of extremism was the reactionary rule of Lord Curzon:
  • He passed the Calcutta Corporation Act, (1899) reducing the Indian control of this local body.
  • The Universities Act (1904) reduced the elected members in the University bodies. It also reduced the autonomy of the universities and made them government departments.
  • The Sedition Act and the Official Secrets Act reduced the freedoms of all people.
  • Partition of Bengal (1905).
The main objective of the Extremists was to attain Swaraj or complete independence and not just self-government.
The Extremists had no faith in the British. They believed that political rights will have to be fought for. They had the spirit of self-reliance and self-determination. They used methods like Boycotting of foreign goods, not cooperating with British and introduction and promotion of National education

Some of the important events during extremist phase were:
  • Partion of Bengal-1905
  • Swadeshi movement-1905-06
  • Formation of Muslim league-1906
  • Surat Split-1907
  • Morley-Minto reforms-1909
  • Delhi Conspiracy case-1912
  • Komagata Maru incident-1914
  • Home rule movement-1916
  • Lucknow pact-1916

Partition of Bengal:

The partition of Bengal in 1905 provided was one of the main cause for the rise of extremism in the Indian National Movement. The main aim of the partion of Bengal were
  • To break the growing strength of Bengali nationalism since Bengal was the base of Indian nationalism.
  • To divide the Hindus and Muslims unity
On the same day when the partition came into effect, 16 October 1905, the people of Bengal organised protest meetings and observed a day of mourning.
Gandhi wrote that the real awakening in India took place only after the Partition of Bengal.
The anti-partition movement culminated into the Swadeshi Movement and spread to other parts of India.

Swadeshi Movement:

The Swadeshi Movement involved programmes like the boycott of government service, courts, schools and colleges and of foreign goods, promotion of Swadeshi goods, Promotion of National Education through the establishment of national schools and colleges. It was both a political and economic movement.
The government adopted several tough measures. It passed several Acts to crush the movement. Finally the movement was suppressed
Extremist leaders Bala Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh were imprisoned and deported.

Formation of Muslim league-1906

The All-India Muslim League was set up on December 30, 1906. Like the Indian National Congress, they conducted annual sessions and put their demands to the British government.
Initially, they enjoyed the support of the British. Their first achievement was the separate electorates for the Muslims in the Minto-Morley reforms.

Surat Split-1907

The 1907 INC session at Surat led to split of moderates and extremists which was popularly known as Surat Split
The aggressive nationalists forced Dhadabhai Naoroji to speak of Swaraj (which was not a Moderate demand) in the Calcutta Session of Congress in 1906. They adopted the resolutions of Boycott and Swadeshi. The Moderate Congressmen were unhappy. They wanted Swaraj to be achieved through constitutional methods.
The differences led to a split in the Congress at the Surat session in 1907. The extremists came out of the Congress led by Tilak and others.

Indian Councils act-1909:

Indian council’s act 1909 was also known as Morley-Minto reforms. Lord Morley, the Secretary of State for India and Lord Minto, the Governor-General of India. Both were responsible for the passing of this Act. It was passed to win the support of the Moderates in the Congress. Some of the important provisions of the act are:
  • Communal representation. Lord Minto came to be known as father of communal representation
  • It provided for the first time the association of Indians with the executive councils of the Viceroy and Governors. Satyendra Prasad Sinha became the first Indian to join the Viceroy’s executive council. He was appointed as a law member
The Minto- Morley reforms never desired to set up a parliamentary form of government in India. However, the Moderates welcomed the reforms as fairly liberal measures. The principle of separate electorates had ultimately led to the partition of India in 1947.

Delhi conspiracy-1912
Delhi conspiracy refers to a conspiracy in 1912 to assassinate the then Viceroy of India, Lord Hardinge, on the occasion of transferring the capital of British India from Calcutta to New Delhi. Delhi Conspiracy Case is also known as Delhi Lahore Conspiracy Case or Hardinge Bomb Case.

Komagata Maru incident-1914
The Komagata Maru incident involved a Japanese steamship, ‘Komagata Maru’ that sailed from Hong Kong, Shanghai, China to Yokohama, Japan and then to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in the year 1914, carrying 376 passengers from Punjab, India.

Out of all the passengers 24 were admitted to Canada, but the other 352 passengers were not allowed inside Canada, and the ship was forcefully returned to India.
The ‘Komagata Maru’ incident was widely cited at the time by Indian groups to highlight discrepancies in the Canadian immigration laws.
The Home Rule Movement (1916)
Two Home Rule Leagues were established, one by B.G. Tilak at Poona in April 1916 and the other by Mrs. Annie Besant at Madras in September 1916.
The aim of the Movement was to get self-government for India within the British Empire.
The two Leagues cooperated with each other as well with the Congress and the Muslim League in putting their demand for home rule. While Tilak’s Movement concentrated on Maharashtra, Annie Besant’s Movement covered the rest of the country.
Commonweal and New India were the papers of Home Rule League.
Home Rule Movement was organized congress party when it was decaying. It popularized concept of home rule. It created organizational links between town and country. Declaration of Montagu and the Chelmsford Reforms were influenced by the Home Rule League agitation.

The Lucknow Pact (1916):

During the 1916 Congress session at Lucknow two major events occurred.
The divided Congress became united.
An understanding for joint action against the British was reached between the Congress and the Muslim League and it was called the Lucknow Pact.
The signing of the Lucknow Pact by the Congress and the Muslim League in 1916 marked an important step in the Hindu-Muslim unity.

Leaders of the Extremists:

The extremists were led by Bala Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bipinchandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh.
1. Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Bal Gangadhar Tilak is regarded as the real founder of the popular anti-British movement in India.
He was known as ‘Lokamanya’.
He attacked the British through his weeklies The Mahratta and the Kesari.
He was jailed twice by the British for his nationalist activities and in 1908 deported to Mandalay for six years.
After his return from jail, He set up the Home Rule League in 1916 at Poona and declared “Swaraj is my birth-right and I will have it.”

2. Lala Lajpat Rai
Lala Lajpat Rai is popularly known as the ‘Lion of Punjab’.
He played an important role in the Swadeshi Movement.
He founded the Indian Home Rule League in the US in 1916.
He received fatal injuries while leading a procession against the Simon Commission and died on November 17, 1928.

3. Bipin Chandra Pal
Bipin Chandra Pal began his career as a moderate and turned an extremist. He played an important role in the Swadeshi Movement.

4. Aurobindo Ghosh
Aurobindo Ghosh was another extremist leader and he actively participated in the Swadeshi Movement. He was also imprisoned.
After his release he settled in the French territory of Pondicherry and concentrated on spiritual activities.

Achievements of Extremists
The achievements of extremists can be summed up as follows:
1. They were the first to demand Swaraj as a matter of birth right.
2. They involved the masses in the freedom struggle and broadened the social base of the National Movement.
3. They were the first to organize an all-India political movement, viz. the Swadeshi Movement

Revolutionary Organisation during this phase:

  • In the first half of the 20th century, revolutionary groups sprang up mainly in Bengal, Maharashtra, Punjab and Madras. The revolutionaries were not satisfied with the methods of both the moderates and extremists. Hence, they started many revolutionary secret organizations.
  • In Bengal Anusilan Samiti and Jugantar were established. 
  • In Maharashtra Savarkar brothers had set up Abhinava Bharat. 
  • In the Madras Presidency, Bharathmatha Association was started by Nilakanta Bramachari.
  • In Punjab Ajit Singh set up a secret society to spread revolutionary ideas among the youth. 
  • In London, at India House, Shyamji Krishna Verma gathered young Indian nationalists like Madan Lal Dhingra, Savarkar, V.V.S. Iyer 
  • In 1913, Pacific Coast Hindustan Association was founded by Lala Hardayal with Sohan Singh Bhakna as its president, which was called Ghadar Party. The members of this party were the immigrant sikhs of US and Canada
With the advent of Gandhi to India in 1915, Indian National movement entered into next phase

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