Within about a hundred years, the British took control of almost every aspect of life in India. Many Indians began to feel that the British control had to end to make India the country for Indians.
Early Political Associations: After 1850, many political associations were formed. Most of them were formed in the 1870s and 1880s. Most of these associations were led by English-educated professionals. Some of the important ones were; the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, the Indian Association, the Madras Mahajan Sabha, the Bombay Presidency Association. The Indian National Congress was also formed during this period. The naming conventions of these political associations suggest that they wanted to take issues which affected all the people of India; although many of these associations functioned in specific parts of the country.
Some of the reasons for dissatisfaction with British rule in the 1870s and 1880s are as follows:
The Indian National Congress
The Indian National Congress was established in 1885 at Bombay. In its first meeting at Bombay, 72 delegates from all over the country were present. The early leadership was mainly composed of people from Bombay and Calcutta. Dadabhai Naoroji, Pherozeshah Mehta, Badruddin Tyabji, W. C. Bonneryji, Surendranath Banerji, Romesh Chandra Dutt, S. Subramania Iyer, etc. were part of the early leadership of Congress.
A nation in the making
In its first twenty years, the Congress was "moderate" in its objectives and methods. During this period, the main demand of Congress was about getting a greater voice for Indians in the government and administration. Some of the demands made by the Congress during this period are as follows:
Economic demands which were during the early years of the Congress are as follows:
These demands show that in spite of being a body of the educated elite, the Congress also talked about the common people.
The Moderate leaders wanted to create public awareness about the unjust nature of British rule. In order to do so, they published newspapers, wrote articles and tried to show the bad effects of the British rule.
By the 1890s, many Indians began to question the style of the Congress. New leaders emerged who began to explore more radical objectives and methods. Bepin Chandra Pal, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Lala Lajpat Rai were among the radical leaders. They criticized the Moderates for their "policy of prayers". They argued that people should not believe on the so called good intentions of the government and must fight for swaraj. Tilak raised the famous slogan, "Freedom is my birthright and I shall have it".
Bengal was partitioned in 1905 by Viceroy Curzon. At that time, Bengal was the largest province of British India. It included Bihar and parts of Orissa. Administrative convenience was cited as the reason for the partition of Bengal. Most of the analysts believe that the partition was done to reduce the influence of Bengali politician and to split the Bengali people.
Effects of Partition of Bengal: People all over India were angry with the partition of Bengal. All sections of the Congress opposed it. Large public meetings and demonstrations were held to protest the decision. The struggle against the partition of Bengal came to be known as the Swadeshi Movement. It was strongest in Bengal but was felt in other parts of the country as well. It was known as the Vandemataram Movement in Andhra.
The radicals advocated mass mobilization and boycott of British institutions and goods. Some leaders also suggested the use of revolutionary violence to overthrow British rule.
Muslim League: The All India Muslim League was formed at Dacca in 1906; by a group of Muslim landlords and nawabs. The League supported the partition of Bengal. Some seats in the council were reserved for the Muslims. The League wanted the representatives for those seats to be elected by Muslim voters. This demand was willingly conceded by the government in 1909.
Split in Congress: There was a split in the Congress in 1907. The Moderates were opposed to the use of any kind of violence. After the split, the Congress came to be dominated by the Moderates. However, the two groups reunited in December 1915. In 1916, the Congress and the Muslim League signed the historic Lucknow Pact. They decided to work together for representative government in the country.
The Growth of Mass Nationalism
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