Modern Indian History

India in the Eighteenth Century

Bahadur Shah 1 (1707-12)

Bahadur Shah I succeeded Aurungzeb after latter’s death in 1707.

He acquired the title of Bahadur Shah.

Though he was quite old (65) and his rule quite short there are many significant achievements he made.

He reversed the narrow minded and antagonistic policies of Aurungzeb

Made agreements with Rajput states

Granted sardeshmukhi to Marathas but not Chauth[1]

Released Shahuji (son of Sambhaji) from prison (who later fought with Tarabai)

Tried to make peace with Guru Gobind Sahib by giving him a high Mansab. After Guru’s death, Sikhs again revolted under the leadership of Banda Bahadur. This led to a prolonged war with the Sikhs.

Made peace with Chhatarsal, the Bundela chief and Churaman, the Jat chief. State finances deteriorated

Jahandar Shah (1712-13)

Death of Bahadur Shah I plunged the empire into a civil war

A noted feature of this time was the prominence of the nobles

Jahandar Shah, son of Bahadur Shah I, ascended the throne in 1712 with help from Zulfikar Khan

He was a weak ruler devoted only to pleasures

Zulfikar Khan, his wazir, was virtually the head of the administration

Zulifikar Khan abolished jizyah

Peace with Rajputs: Jai Singh of Amber was made the Governor of Malwa. Ajit Singh of Marwar was made the Governor of Gujarat.

Chauth and Sardeshmukh granted to Marathas. However, Mughals were to collect it and then hand it over to the Marathas.

Continued the policy of suppression towards Banda Bahadur and Sikhs

Ijarah: (revenue farming) the government began to contract with revenue farmers and middlemen to pay the government a fixed amount of money while they were left free to collect whatever they could collect from the peasants.

Jahandhar Shah defeated in January 1713 by his nephew Farrukh Siyar at Agra

Farrukh Siyar (1713-19)

Owed his victory to Saiyid Brothers: Hussain Ali Khan Baraha and Abdullah Khan

Abdullah Khan: Wazir, Hussain Ali: Mir Bakshi

Farrukh Siyar was an incapable ruler. Saiyid brothers were the real rulers.

Saiyid Brothers

Known the Indian History as King Makers

adopted the policy of religious tolerance. Abolished jizyah (again?). Pilgrim tax was  abolished from a number of places

Marathas: Granted Shahuji swarajya and the right to collect chauth and sardeshmukhi of the six provinces of the Deccan

They failed in their effort to contain rebellion because they were faced with constant political rivalry, quarrels and conspiracies at the court.

Nobles headed by Nizam-ul-Mulk and Muhammad Amin Khan began to conspire against them.

In 1719, the Saiyid Brothers killed and overthrew Farrukh Siyar.

This was followed by placing, in quick succession, of two young princes who died of alcohol consumption

Murder of the emperor created a wave of revulsion against the Saiyad Brothers. They were looked down as ‘namak haram’

Now, they placed 18 year old Muhammad Shah as the emperor of India

In 1720, the nobles assassinated Hussain Ali Khan, the younger of the SB.

Abdullah Khan was also defeated at Agra

Muhammad Shah ‘Rangeela’ (1719-1748)

Weak-minded, frivolous and over-fond of a life of ease

Neglected the affairs of the state

Intrigued against his own ministers

Nizam ul Mulk Qin Qulich Khan, the wazir, relinquished his office and founded the state of Hyderabad in 1724

 “His departure was symbolic of the flight of loyalty and virtue from the Empire”

Heriditary nawabs arose in Bengal, Hyderabad, Awadh and Punjab

Marathas conquered Malwa, Gujarat and Bundelkhand

1738: Invasion of Nadir Shah

Nadir Shah’s Invasion (1738)

Attracted to India by its fabulous wealth. Continual campaigns had made Persia bankrupt

Also, the Mughal empire was weak.

Didn’t meet any resistance as the defense of the north-west frontier had been neglected for years

The two armies met at Karnal on 13th Feb 1739. Mughal army was summarily defeated. Muhammad Shah taken prisoner Massacre in Delhi in response to the killing of some of his soldiers

Plunder of about 70 crore rupees. Carried away the Peacock throne and Koh-i-noor

Muhammad Shah ceded to him all the provinces of the Empire west of the river Indus

 Significance: Nadir Shah’s invasion exposed the hidden weakness of the empire to the Maratha sardars and the foreign trading companies

Ahmed Shah Abdali

One of the generals of Nadir Shah

Repeatedly invaded and plundered India right down to Delhi and Mathura between 1748 and 1761. He invaded India five times.

1761: Third battle of Panipat. Defeat of Marathas.

As a result of invasions of Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah, the Mughal empire ceased to be an all-India empire. By 1761 it was reduced merely to the Kingdom of Delhi

Shah Alam II (1759-

Ahmed Bahadur (1748-54) succeeded Muhammad Shah

Ahmed Bahadur was succeeded by Alamgir II (1754-59)

1756: Abdali plundered Mathura

Alamgir II was succeeded by Shah Jahan III

Shah Jahan III succeeded by Shah Alam II in 1759

Shah Alam spent initial years wandering for he lived under the fear of his wazir

Battle of Buxar

In 1764, he joined forces with Mir Qasim of Bengal and Shuja-ud-Daula of Awadh in declaring a war upon the British East India company. This resulted in the Battle of Buxar.

Pensioned at Allahabad

Returned to Delhi in 1772 under the protection of Marathas

Decline of the Mughal Empire

After 1759, Mughal empire ceased to be a military power.

It continued from 1759 till 1857 only due to the powerful hold that the Mughal dynasty had on the minds of the people of India as a symbol of the political unity of the country

In 1803, the British occupied Delhi

From 1803 to 1857, the Mughal emperors merely served as a political front of the British.

The most important consequence of the fall of the Mughal empire was that it paved way for the British to conquer India as there was no other Indian power strong enough to unite and hold India.

Succession States

These states arose as a result of the assertion of autonomy by governors of Mughal provinces with the decay of the central power Bengal, Awadh, Hyderabad

Hyderabad and the Carnatic

Founded by Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jah in 1724

Tolerant policy towards Hindus

A Hindu, Puran Chand, was his Dewan.

Established an orderly administration in Deccan on the basis of the jagirdari system on the Mughal pattern

He died in 1748

Nawab of Carnatic freed himself of the control of the Viceroy of the Deccan and made his office hereditary

Saadutullah Khan of Carnatic made his nephew Dost Ali his successor


1700: Murshid Quli Khan made the Dewan of Bengal

Freed himself of the central control

Freed Bengal of major uprisings

Three major uprisings during his time: Sitaram Ray, Udai Narayan and Ghulam Muhammad, and then by Shujat Khan, and finally by Najat Khan

Carried out fresh revenue settlement. Introduced the system of revenue-farming.

Revenue farming led to the increased distress of the farmers

Laid the foundations of the new landed aristocracy in Bengal

Murshid Quli Khan died in 1727. Succeeded by Shuja-ud-din.

1739: Alivardi Khan killed and deposed Shuja-ud-din’s son, Sarfaraz Khan, and made himself the Nawab

All three Nawabs encouraged merchants, both Indian and foreign.

Safety of roads and rivers. Thanas and Chowkies at regular intervals.

Maintained strict control over the foreign trading companies

They, however, did not firmly put down the increasing tendency of the English East India Company  to use military force, or to threaten its use, to get its demands accepted.

They also neglected to build a strong army


1722: Saadat Khan Burhan-ul-Mulk

Suppressed rebellions and disciplined the Zamindars

Fresh revenue settlement in 1723

Did not discriminate between Hindus and Muslims. The highest post in his government was held by a Hindu, Maharaja Nawab Rai

Died in 1739. Succeeded by Safdar Jung.

Safdar Jung’s reign was an era of peace

made an alliance with the Maratha sardars

Carried out warfare against Rohelas and Bangash Pathans

Organized an equitable system of justice

Distinct culture of Lucknow developed during his period


Haidar Ali, in 1761, overthrew Nanjaraj and established his own authority over Mysore

1755: Established a modern arsenal at Dindigal with the help of French experts

Conquered Bidnur, Sunda, Sera, Canara and Malabar

He conquered Malabar because he wanted access to the Indian Ocean

First and Second Anglo-Mysore War

1782: Succeeded by Tipu Sultan

Tipu Sultan was an innovator. Introduced a new calendar, a new system of coinage and new scales of weights and measures.

Keen interest in French Revolution

Planted a ‘tree of liberty’ at Srirangapatnam and became a member of the Jacobin Club

Made efforts to build a modern navy

Mysore flourished economically under Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan

  Sent missions to France, Turkey, Iran and Pegu Myanmar to develop foreign trade

Some historians say that Tipu was a religious fanatic. But facts don’t support this assertion.


Divided into large number of feudal chiefs in the l8 century

Four important states

Calicut (under Zamorin), Chirakkal, Cochin and Travancore

In 1729, Travancore rose to prominence under King Martanda Varma

Conquered Quilon and Elayadam, and defeated the Dutch

From 1766 Haidar Ali invaded Kerala and annexed northern Kerala up to Cochin  Revival of Malyalam literature

Trivandram became a famous centre of Sanskrit scholarship

Rajput States

Rajputana states continued to be divided as before

Raja Sawai Jai Singh of Amber was the most outstanding ruler of the era

Founded the city of Jaipur

Made Jaipur a great seat of science and art

Astronomer. Erected observatories at Jaipur, Ujjain, Varanasi, and Mathura

Drew up a set of tables, entitled Zij Muhammadshahi, to enable people to make

astronomical observations

Translated Euclid’s “Elements of Geometry” into Sanskrit

Social reformers. Reduce lavish marriage expenditures.


Jat peasants revolted in 1669 and 1688

Jat state of Bharatpur set up by Churaman and Badan Singh

Reached its highest glory under Suraj Mal, who ruled from 1756 to 1763


Sikhsim transformed into a militant religion during Guru Hargobind (1606-45), the sixth guru.

Guru Gobind Singh waged constant war against the armies of Aurangzeb and the hill rajas

After Guru Gobind Singh’s death (1708), leadership passed to Banda Singh (Banda Bahadur)

He struggled with the Mughal army for 8 years

Put to death in l7l5

Banda Bahadur failed because

  -Mughal centre was still strong

  -Upper classes and castes of Punjab joined forces against him

  -He could not integrate all the anti-Mughal forces because of his religious bigotry

After the withdrawal of Abdali from Punjab, Sikhs were again resurgent

 Between 1765 and 1800 they brought the Punjab and Jammu under their control

They were organized into 12 misls

Ranjit Singh

Chief of the Sukerchakia Misl

Captured Lahore (1799) and Amritsar (1802)

Conquered Kashmir, Peshawar and Multan

Possessed the second best army in Asia

Tolerant and liberal

Fakir Azizuddin and Dewan Dina Nath were his important ministers

“known to step down from his throne to wipe the dust off the feet of Muslim

mendicants with his long grey beard”

Negative point: He did not remove the threat of British. He only left it over to his successors. And so, after his death, when his kingdom was torn by intense internal struggle, English conquered it.


Maratha Families

Peshwa — Pune

Gaekwad — Baroda

Bhosle — Nagpur

Holkar — Indore

Scindia – Gwalior

The most powerful of the succession states Could not fill the political vacuum because Maratha Sardars lacked unity

Lacked the outlook and programmes which were necessary for founding an all-India empire


Son of Sambhaji

Imprisoned by Aurungzeb

Released in 1707

Civil war between Shahu and his aunt Tarabai who ruled in the name of her infant son Shivaji II

The conflict gave rise to a new era of Maratha leadership, the era of Peshwa


Balaji Vishwnath

1713: Peshwa of King Shahu

Induced Zulfikar Khan to grant the chauth and sardeshmukhi of the Deccan

Helped the Saiyid brothers in overthrowing Farukh Siyar

Maratha sardars were becoming individually strong but collectively weak

Died in 1720. Succeeded by his son Baji Rao I

Baji Rao I

The greatest exponenent of guerrilla tactics after Shivaji

Vast areas ceded by the Mughals

Marathas won control over Malwa, Gujarat and parts of Bundelkhand

Rivalry with Nizam ul Mulk

Compelled the Nizam to grant chauth and sardeshmukhi of the Deccan provinces

1733: Campaign against Sidis of Janjira and the Portuguese (Salsette and Bassein)

Died in 1740

Captured territories but failed to lay the foundations of an empire

Succeeded by Balaji Baji Rao (Nana Saheb)

Balaji Baji Rao (1740-61)

Shahu died in 1749. Peshwas became the de facto rulers

Shifted the capital to Poona

Captured Orissa

Mysore forced to pay tributes

In 1752, helped Imad-ul-Mulk to become the wazir

Brought Punjab under their control and expelled the agent of Ahmad Shah Abdali

This led Ahmad Shah Abdali to come to India to settle accounts with Marathas in the Third Battle of Panipat

Third Battle of Panipat

 Ahmad Shah Abdali formed an alliance with Najib-ud-daulah of Rohilkhand and Shuja-ud daulah of Awadh.

Saranjami system

Social and economic condition OF 19TH Century India

Administrative Organization of the British


Army fulfilled four important functions:

1. Instrument to conquer Indian powers

2. Defended the British Empire in India against foreign rivals

3. Safe-guarded against internal revolt

4. Chief instrument for extending and defending the British Empire in Asia and Africa.

Bulk of the army consisted of Indians. In 1857, of the total strength of 311400, about 265900 were Indians. Highest Indian rank was that of Subedar.

British could conquer and control India through a predominantly Indian army because:

1. There was absence of modern nationalism at that time

2. The company paid its soldiers regularly and well, as opposed to the Indian rulers and chieftains.


Cornwallis was responsible for the creation of a modern police system in India. He established a system of Thanas (or circles) headed by a daroga.

 The police:

1. Prevented organization of a large-scale conspiracy against foreign control

2. Was used to suppress the national movement.


Though started by Hastings, the system was stabilized by Cornwallis.

Civil Cases

District: Diwani Adalat (civil court) presided over by the District Judge

Provincial Court: Appeal from civil court

Sardar Diwani Adalat: Highest appeal

There were also, below the District Court, Registrar’s Court (headed by Europeans) and subordinate courts headed by Indians known as munsifs or amins.

Criminal Cases

4 divisions of Bengal presidency. Each had a Court of Circuit presided over by the civil servants. Appeals could be made to Sardar Nizamat Adalat.

William Bentinck:

Abolished the provincial courts of appeal and circuit

Their work was assigned to District Collectors

Raised the status and power of Indians in the Judicial service.

In 1865, High Courts were established at Madras, Calcutta and Bombay.

British brought about uniformity in the system of law. In 1833, the government appointed Law Commission headed by Macaulay to codify Indian Laws. This eventually resulted in the Indian Penal Code, Code of Civil and Criminal Procedures and other codes of laws.

Spread of Modern Education

1781: Hastings set up the Calcutta Madrasa for the study and teaching of Muslim law and related subjects

1791: Jonathan Duncan started a Sanskrit College at Varanasi for the study of Hindu law and philosophy.

1813: Charter of 1813 directed the Company to spend Rs. 1 lakh for promoting modern sciences in the country. This sum was however made available only in 1823.

1835: Macaulay’s minute.

English was made the medium of instruction in schools. Education of masses was however neglected. British advocated the ‘downward filtration theory’ for education. As per this theory, since the allocated funds could educate only a handful of Indians, it was decided to spend them in educating a few persons from the upper and middle classes who were expected to assume the task of educating the masses and spreading modern ideas among them.

1844: Compulsion for applicants for government employment to possess knowledge of English. This made the English medium schools more popular.

1854: Wood’s Dispatch asked the government of India to assume responsibility for the education of the masses.

It thus repudiated the ‘downward filtration theory’. As a result, Departments of Education were instituted in all provinces and universities were setup in 1857 at Madras, Calcutta and Bombay.

The main reason why British adopted some measures towards education in India was because:

1. They needed educated people to man their system of administration. It was not possible to get enough Englishmen to man all the posts.

2. Another important motive was the belief that educated Indians would help expand the market for British manufactures in India.

3. Lastly, it was expected to reconcile the people of India to British rule.

Major drawbacks of the Eng1ish education system:

1. Neglect of mass education. Mass literacy in India was hardly better in 1921 than in 1821. High fees in schools and colleges led to the education becoming a monopoly of the rich.

2. Almost total neglect of the education of girls. As late as 1921 only 2 percent Indian women could read and write.

3. Neglect of scientific and technical education.

4. The government was never willing to spend more than a scanty sum on education.

Development of Education

Charter act of 1813

Sanctioned 1 lakh rupees annually for promoting education and modern sciences

Not made available till 1823

Orientalist-Anglicist Controversy

Lord Macaulay’s minute (1835)

Wood’s Despatch (1854)

 Rejected the downward filtration theory

Asked the government of India to assume the responsibility of education of the masses

English as medium for higher studies and vernaculars at school level

1857: University of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras

Hunter Commission (1882-83)

State care required for promotion and spread of primary and secondary education

Transfer control of primary education to district and municipal boards

Raleigh Commission, 1902

Universities Act 1904

Saddler Education Commission (1917-19)

School course should cover 12 years

Less rigidity in framing university regulations

Hartog Committee (1929)

No hasty expansion or compulsion of education

Wardha Scheme of basic education (1937)

Vocation based education

Social and Cultural Awakening

Raja Rammohan Roy:

Raja Rammohan Roy was a social reformer and intellectual in the early nineteenth century Bengal. He is most widely known for founding the Brahmo Samaj and his relentless campaign against the practice of Sati and child marriage.

Debendranath Tagore:

Brahmo Samaj:

Brahmo Samaj was founded in 1828 by Raja Ram Mohan Roy with the purpose of purifying Hinduism and to preach monotheism or belief in one God.


In the Indian national movement, the Gramscian perspective of war of position was successfully practiced.

It provides the only historical example of a semi-democratic or democratic type of political structure being successfully replaced or transformed.

State power was not seized in a moment of revolution, but through prolonged popular struggle on moral, political and ideological reserves.

It is also an example of how the constitutional space offered by the existing structure could be used without getting coopted by it.

Diverse perspectives and ideologies


The path that India has followed since 1947 has deep roots in the struggle for independence.


Values and modern ideals on which it was based

Vision of the leaders: democratic, civil libertarian and secular India, based on a self-reliant, egalitarian social order and an independent foreign policy

The movement popularized democratic ideas and institutions in India

The strong civil libertarian and democratic tradition of the national movement was reflected in the constitution of independent India.

Pro-poor orientation


A non-racist, anti-imperialist outlook which continues to characterize Indian foreign policy was the part of the legacy of the anti-imperialist struggle.

India’s freedom struggle was basically the result of fundamental contradiction between the interests of the Indian people and that of British colonialism.

Revolt of 1857

During the Governor-General Lord Canning

May 11, 1857. The Meerut incident. Capture of Delhi. Proclaiming Bahadur Shah Zafar as the emperor.

Almost half the Company’s sepoy strength of 232224 opted out of their loyalty to their regimental colours.

Kanpur: Nana Saheb;

Lucknow: Begum Hazrat Mahal;

Bareilly: Khan Bahadur;

Jagdishpur (Ara): Kunwar Singh;

Jhansi: Rani Lakshmi Bai

Only the Madras army remained totally loyal. Sikh regiment as well remained largely loyal.

Causes for the revolt

The revolt was a result of the accumulated grievances of the people against Company’s administration and a loathing for the character and policies of the colonial rule. The causes can be classified as social, economic, religious and military.


The conditions of service in the Company’s army and cantonments increasingly came into conflict with the religious beliefs and prejudices of the sepoys.

The unhappiness of the sepoys first surfaced in 1824 when the 47th Regiment of Barrackpur was ordered to go to Burma. To the religious Hindu, crossing the sea meant loss of caste. The sepoys refused.

The regiment was disbanded and those who led the opposition were hanged.

The rumors about the Government’s secret designs to promote conversions to Christianity further exasperated the sepoys.

The greased cartridges

They were also unhappy with the emoluments

Discrimination and racism

Misery brought to the peasants by the British rule. E.g. the land revenue system imposed in Oudh, where about 75000 sepoys came from, was very harsh.

The civilians also participated

After the capture of Delhi, a letter was issued to the neighboring states asking for support.

A court of administrators was established in Delhi

Ill-equipped, the rebels carried on the struggle for about a year

The country as a whole was not behind them. The merchants, intelligentsia and Indian rulers not only kept aloof but actively supported the British.

Almost half the Indian soldiers not only did not revolt but fought against their own countrymen.

Apart from a commonly shared hatred for alien rule, the rebels had no political perspective or definite vision of the future

Delhi fell on September 20, 1857.

Rani of Jhansi died fighting on June 17, 1858

Nana Saheb escaped to Nepal hoping to revive the struggle.

Kunwar Singh died on May 9, 1958

Tantia tope carried on guerrilla warfare until April 1959 after which he was betrayed by a zamindar, captured and put to death.

Important Persons relating to the Revolt

Bahadur Shah Zafar: Bahadur Shah Zafar was the last Mughal emperor of India.

Nana Saheb

Rani Lakshmi Bai

Kunwar Singh

Nawab Wajid Ali Shah

Birjis Qadr: The son of Wajid Ali Shah and the leader of the revolt in Lucknow.

Shah Mal: He belonged to a clan of Jat cultivators in parganan Barout in UP. During the revolt, he mobilized the headmen and cultivators of chaurasee des (84 villages: his kinship area), moving at night from village to village, urging people to rebel against the British.

Maulvi Ahmadullah Shah: Maulvi Ahmadullah Shah was one of the many maulvis who played an important part in the revolt of 1857. 1856, he was seen moving from village to village preaching jehad (religious war) against the British and urging people to rebel. he was elected by the mutinous 22nd  Native Infantry as their leader. He fought in the famous Battle of Chinhat in which the British forces under Henry Lawrence were defeated.

Begum Hazrat Mahal:

Civil Rebellions and Tribal Uprisings

The backbone of the rebellions, their mass base and striking power came from the rack-rented peasants, ruined artisans and demobilized soldiers.


The major cause of the civil rebellions was the rapid changes the British introduced in the economy, administration and land revenue system.

The revenues were enhanced by increasing taxes.

Thousands of zamindars and poligars lost control over their land and its revenue either due to the extinction of their rights by the colonial state or by the forced sale of their rights over land because of their inability to meet the exorbitant land revenue demanded.

The economic decline of the peasantry was reflected in twelve major and numerous minor famines from 1770 to 1857.

The new courts and legal system gave a further fillip to the dispossessons of land and encouraged the rich to oppress the poor.

The police looted, oppressed and tortured the common people at will.

The ruin of Indian handicraft industries pauperized millions of artisans

The scholarly and priestly classes were also active in inciting hatred and rebellion against foreign rule.

Very foreign character of the British rule


From 1763 to 1856, there were more than forty major rebellions apart from hundreds of minor ones.

Sanyasi Rebellion: (1763-1800)

Chuar uprising (1766-1772 & 1795-1816); Rangpur and Dinajpur (1783); Bishnupur and Birbhum (1799);

Orissa zamindars (1804-17) and Sambalpur (1827-40) and many others


These rebellions were local in their spread and were isolated from each other.

They were the result of local causes and grievances, and were also localized in their effects.

Socially, economically and politically, the semi-feudal leaders of these rebellions were backward looking and traditional in outlook.

The suppression of the civil rebellions was a major reason why the revolt of 1857 did not spread to South India and most of Eastern and Western India.


The colonial administrators ended their relative isolation and brought them fully within the ambit of colonialism.

Introduced new system of land revenue and taxation of tribal products

Influx of Christian missionaries into the tribal areas

They could no longer practice shifting agriculture

Oppression and extortion by police officials

The complete disruption of the old agrarian order of the tribal communities provided the common factor for all the tribal uprisings


Santhals Kols of Chhotanagpur (1820-37)

Santhal Uprising -1855

BirsaMunda (1899-1900)


Many dispossessed peasants took to robbery and dacoity.

Indigo Revolt of 1859-60

By the end of 1860 indigo cultivation was virtually wiped out from the districts of Bengal

A major reason for the success of the Indigo revolt was the tremendous initiative, cooperation, organization and discipline of the ryots.

Another was the complete unity among Hindu and Muslim peasants

Another significant feature was the role of intelligentsia of Bengal which organized a powerful campaign in support of the rebellious peasantry.

The government’s response to the revolt was rather restrained and not as harsh as in the case of civil rebellions and tribal uprisings.

The government appointed the Indigo Commission to enquire into the problems of indigo cultivation.

The report of the commission exposed the coercion and corruption in indigo cultivation

The government issued a notification in November 1860 that ryots could not be compelled to sow indigo and all disputes were to be settled by legal means.

Why did national movement arise?

Indian nationalism rose to meet the challenges of foreign domination

The British rule and its direct and indirect consequences provided the material and the moral and intellectual conditions for the development of a national movement in India.

Clash of interest between the interests of the Indian people with British interests in India

Increasingly, the British rule became the major cause of India’s economic backwardness

Every class gradually discovered that their interests were suffering at the hands of the British

Peasant: Govt took a large part of produce away as land revenue. Laws favoured the Zamindars

Artisans: Foreign competition ruined the industry

Workers: The government sided with the capitalists

Intelligentsia: They found that the British policies were guided by the interests of British capitalists and were keeping the country economically backward. Politically, the British had no commitment of guiding India towards self-government.

Indian capitalists: the growth of Indian industries was constrained by the unfavourable trade, tariff, taxation and transport policies of the government.

Zamindars, landlords and princes were the only ones whose interests coincided with those of the British. Hence they remained loyal to them.

Hence, it was the intrinsic nature of foreign imperialism and its harmful effect on the lives of the Indian people that led to the rise of the national movement.

This movement could be called the national movement because it united people from different parts of the country as never before for a single cause.

What factors strengthened and facilitated the national movement?

Administration and Economic Unification of the country

Introduction of modern trade and industries on all-India scale had increasingly made India’s economic life a single whole and interlinked the economic fate of people living in different parts of the country.

Introduction of railways, telegraph and unified postal system brought together different parts of the country and promoted contact among people like never before.

This unification led to the emergence of the Indian nation

Western Thought and Education

A large number of Indians imbibed a modern rational, secular, democratic and nationalist political outlook

They began to study, admire and emulate the contemporary nationalist movements of European Nations. The western education per se did not create the national movement. It only enabled the educated Indians to imbibe western thought and thus to assume the leadership of the national movement and to give it a democratic and modern direction

Modern education created a certain uniformity and community of outlook and interests among the educated Indians.

Role of Press and Literature

Large number of nationalist newspapers appeared in the second half of the 19 th century

They criticized the policies of the British government and put forth the Indian point of view National literature in form of essays, novels and poetry also played an important role. Bankim Chandra, Tagore: Bengali; Bhartendu Harishchandra: Hindi; Lakshmikanth Bezbarua: Assamese;

Vishnu Shastri Chiplunkar: Marathi; Subramanya Bharti: Tamil; Altaf Husain Hali: Urdu

Rediscovery of India’s past

The British had lowered the self confidence of the Indian through the propaganda that Indians are incapable of self-government

Nationalist leaders referred to the cultural heritage of India to counter this propaganda. They referred to political achievements of rulers like Ashoka, Chandragupta Vikramaditya and Akbar.

However, some nationalists went to the extent of glorifying the past uncritically. They emphasized on the achievements of ancient India and not medieval India. This encouraged the growth of communal sentiments.

Racial arrogance of the rulers

Englishmen adopted a tone of racial superiority in their dealings with the Indians

Failure of justice whenever an Englishman was involved in a dispute with an Indian.

Indians kept out of European clubs and often were not permitted to travel in same compartment as Englishmen

Rise of Indian National Congress

Predecessors of Indian National Congress

East India Association

By Dadabhai Naoroji in 1866 in London

To discuss the Indian question and to influence the British public men to discuss Indian welfare

Branches of the association in prominent Indian cities

Indian Association

Surendranath Banerjee and Ananda Mohan Bose in 1876, Calcutta

The aim of creating strong public opinion in the country on political questions and the unification of the Indian people on a common political programme

Poona Sarvajanik Sabha

Justice Ranade, 1870

Madras Mahajan Sabha

Viraraghavachari, Anand Charloo, G Subramanian Aiyer, 1884

Bombay Presidency Association

Pherozshah Mehta, K T Telang, Badruddin Tyabji, 1885

These organizations were narrow in their scope and functioning. They dealt mostly with local questions and their membership were confined to a few people belonging to a single city or province

Indian National Congress

Indian National Congress was founded on 28 December 1885 by 72 political workers. A. O. Hume was the first secretary and was instrumental in establishing the Congress

First session in Bombay. President: W C Bonnerjee

With the formation of Indian National Congress, the Indian National Movement was launched in a small but organized manner

The Congress itself was to serve not as a party but as a movement

Congress was democratic. The delegates to INC were elected by different local organizations and groups

Sovereignty of the people

In 1890, Kadambini Ganguli, the first woman graduate of Calcutta University addressed the Congress session

Safety Valve Theory

The INC was started under the official direction, guidance and advice of Lord Dufferin, the Viceroy, to provide a safe, mild, peaceful and constitutional outlet or safety valve for the rising discontent among the masses, which was inevitably leading towards a popular and violent revolution.

Does the safety valve theory explain the formation of Congress?

The safety valve theory is inadequate and misleading

INC represented the urge of the Indian educated class to set up a national organization to work for their political and economic development

A number of organizations, as mentioned above, had already been started by the Indians towards that end.

Hume’s presence in Congress was used to allay official suspicions

Why was there a need for an All-India organization?

Vernacular Press Act, 1878

 Ilbert Bill (1883) which would allow Indian judges to try Europeans was opposed by the European community and was finally enacted in a highly compromised state in 1884.

The Indians realized that they could not get the Ilbert bill passed because they were not united on all India level. Hence need for INC was felt.

In order to give birth to the national movement

Creation of national leadership was important

Collective identification was created

Aims of INC

Promotion of friendly relations between nationalist political workers from different parts of the country

Development and consolidation of the feeling of national unity irrespective of caste, religion or province

Formulation of popular demands and their presentation before the government

Training and organization of public opinion in the country

The first major objective of the Indian national movement was to promote weld Indians into a nation, to create an Indian identity

Fuller development and consolidation of sentiments of national unity

Efforts for unity: In an effort to reach all regions, it was decided to rotate the congress session among different parts of the country. The President was to belong to a region other than where the congress session was being held.

To reach out to the followers of all religions and to remove the fears of the minorities, a rule was made at the 1888 session that no resolution was to be passed to which an overwhelming majority of Hindu or Muslim delegates objected.

In 1889, a minority clause was adopted in the resolution demanding reform of legislative councils.

According to the clause, wherever Parsis, Christians, Muslims or Hindus were a minority their  number elected to the councils would not be less than their proportion in the population.

To build a secular nation, the congress itself had to be intensely secular

The second major objective of the early congress was to create a common political platform or programme around which political workers in different parts of the country could gather and conduct  their political activities.

Due to its focus solely on political issues congress did not take up the question of social reform.

Since this form of political participation was new to India, the arousal, training, organization and  consolidation of public opinion was seen as a major task by the congress leaders.

Going beyond the redressal of immediate grievances and organize sustained political activity.

Contribution of early nationalists

Early nationalists believed that a direct struggle for the political emancipation of the country was not yet on the agenda of history. On agenda was:

Creation of public interest in political questions and the organization of public opinion

Popular demands had to be formulated on a country-wide basis

National unity had to be created. Indian nationhood had to be carefully promoted.

Early national leaders did not organize mass movement against the British. But they did carry out an ideological struggle against them. (Important from a Gramscian perspective)

Economic critique of imperialism

Economic critique of imperialism was the most important contribution of the early nationalists

They recognized that the essence of British economic imperialism lay in the subordination of the Indian economy to the British economy

They complained of India’s growing poverty and economic backwardness and the failure of modern industry and agriculture to grow

They wanted the government to promote modern industries through tariff protection and direct government aid

Popularized the idea of swadeshi and the boycott of British goods

They propounded the ‘drain of wealth’ theory and demanded that this drain be stopped

Demanded reduction of taxes and land revenue

Condemned the high military expenditure

Constitutional reforms

They were extremely cautious. From 1885 to 1892 they demanded the expansion and reform of the Legislative Councils

Due to their demands, the British passed the Indian Councils Act of 1892

They failed to broaden the base of their democratic demands. Did not demand the right to vote for the masses or for women.

Administrative and other reforms

They demanded Indianisation of the higher grades of the administrative services.

They had economic political reasons for this. Economically, appointment of British only to ICS made Indian administration costly because they were paid very high. Politically, appointment of  Indians would make the administration more responsive to Indian needs.

Demanded separation of the judicial from executive powers so that the people might get some protection from the arbitrary acts of the police and the bureaucracy.

Urged the government to undertake and develop welfare activities and education

Defense of Civil Rights

Methods of work of early nationalists

Dominated by moderates till 1905

Method of moderates: Constitutional agitation within the four walls of the law, and slow, orderly political progress. Their work had two pronged direction:

To build a strong public opinion in India to arouse the political consciousness and national spirit of the people, and to educate and unite them on political questions

They wanted to persuade the British government and British public opinion to introduce reforms along directions laid down by the nationalists.

In 1889, a British Committee of the INC was founded. In 1890 this committee started a journal called India.

What about the role of the masses?

The basic weakness of the early national movement lay in its narrow social base.

The leaders lacked political faith in the masses.

Hence, masses were assigned a passive role in the early phase of the national movement.


The basic objectives of the early nationalist leaders were to lay the foundations of a secular and democratic national movement, to politicize and politically educate the people, to form the headquarters of the movement, that is, to form an all-India leadership group, and to develop and propagate an anti-colonial nationalist ideology.

Very few of the reforms for which the nationalists agitated were introduced by the government.

It succeeded in creating a wide national awakening and arousing the feeling of nationhood. It made the people conscious of the bonds of common political, economic and social interests and the existence of a common enemy in imperialism

They exposed the true character of the British rule through their economic critique.

All this was to become a base for the national movement in the later period.


The leaders assumed that the rulers would be less suspicious and less likely to attack a potentially subversive organization if its chief organizer was a retired British civil servant.

Gokhale himself stated explicitly in 1913 that if any Indian had started such a movement the officials wouldn’t have let it happen.


The socio-religious reforms are also referred to as the Indian renaissance

The socio-cultural regeneration in nineteenth century India was occasioned by the colonial presence, but not created by it.

Formation of the Brahmo Samaj in 1828.

Paramhansa Mandali, Prathna Samaj, Arya Samaj, Kayasth Sabha: UP, Sarin Sabha: Punjab, Satya Sodhak Samaj: Maharashtra, Sri Narayana Dharma Paripalana Sabha: Kerala

Ahmadiya and Aligarh Movements: Muslims, Singh Sabha: Sikhs, Rehnumai Mazdeyasan Sabha: Parsees

Their attention was focused on worldly existence.

The idea of otherworldliness and salvation were not a part of their agenda.

At that time the influence of religion and superstition was overwhelming. Position of priests strong; that of women weak.

Caste was another debilitating factor

Neither a revival of the past nor a total break with tradition was contemplated.

Rationalism and religious universalism influenced the reform movement.

Development of universalistic perspective on religion

Lex Loci Act proposed in 1845 and passed in 1850 provided the right to inherit ancestral property to Hindu converts to Christianity.

The culture faced a threat from the colonial rule.


First, the Indian intellectuals co-operated with the British in the hope that British would help modernize India.

However, the reality of social development in India failed to conform to their hopes.

Three people who carried out the economic analysis of British India:

Dadabhai Naoroji: the grand old man of India. Born in 1825, he became a successful businessman but devoted his entire life and wealth to the creation of national movement in India.

Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade: He taught an entire generation of Indians the value of modern industrial development.

Romesh Chandra Dutt: a retired ICS officer, published The Economic History of India at the beginning of the 20th century in which he examined in minute detail the entire economic record of colonial rule since 1757.

They concluded that colonialism was the main obstacle to India’s economic development.

Three aspects of domination of British: trade, industry, finance

The problem of poverty was seen as a problem of national development. This approach made poverty a broad national issue and helped to unite, instead of divide, different regions and sections of Indian society.

The early nationalists accepted that the complete economic transformation of the country on the basis of modern technology and capitalist enterprise was the primary goal of their economic policies.

Because their whole-hearted devotion to the cause of industrialization, the early nationalists looked upon all other issues such as foreign trade, railways, tariffs, finance and labour legislations in relation to this paramount aspect. (and hence the obsession of Nehru with industrialization)

However great the need of India for industrialization, it had to be based on Indian capital and not foreign capital.

The early nationalists saw foreign capital as an unmitigated evil which did not develop a country but exploited and impoverished it.

Expenditure on railways could be seen as Indian subsidy to British industries.

A major obstacle in the process of industrial development was the policy of free trade

High expenditure on the army

Drain theory was the focal point of nationalist critique of colonialism.

A large part of India’ a capital and wealth was being transferred or drained to Britain in the form of  salaries and pensions of British civil and military officials working in India, interest on loans taken by the Indian government, profits of British capitalists in India, and the Home Charges or expenses of the Indian Government in Britain.

This drain amounted to one-half of government revenues, more than the entire land revenue collection, and over one-third of India’s total savings.

The Drain theory was put forward by Dadabhai Naoroji. He declared that the drain was the basic cause of India’s poverty.

Through the drain theory, the exploitative character of the British rule was made visible.

The drain theory possessed the merit of being easily grasped and understood by a nation of peasants. No idea could arouse people more than the thought that they were being taxed so that others in far off lands might live in comfort.

This agitation on economic issues contributed to the undermining of the ideological hegemony of the alien rulers over Indian minds.

The nationalist economic agitation undermined the moral foundations inculcated by the British that foreign rule is beneficial for India.


On 29th January 1780, the Hickey’s Bengal Gazette or the Calcutta General Advertizer was published. It was the first English newspaper to be printed in the Indian sub-continent.

The press was the chief instrument of forming a nationalist ideology. The resolutions and proceedings of the Congress were propagated through press. Trivia: nearly one third of the founding fathers of congress in 1885 were journalists.

Main news papers and editors

The Hindu and Swadesamitran: G Subramaniya Iyer

Kesari and Mahratta: BG Tilak

Bengalee: S N Banerjea

Amrita Bazar Patrika: Sisir Kumar Ghosh and Motilal Ghosh

Sudharak: G G Agarkar

Indian Mirror: N N Sen

Voice of India: Dadabhai Naoroji

Hindustani and Advocate: GP Varma

Tribune and Akhbar-i-Am in Punjab

Indu Prakash, Dnyan Prakahs, Kal and Gujarati in Bombay

Som Prakash, Banganivasi and Sadharani in Bengal

Newspaper was not confined to the literates. It would reach the villages and would be read by a reader to tens of others.

Reading and discussing newspaper became a form of political participation.

Nearly all the major political controversies of the day were conducted through the Press.

‘Oppose, oppose, oppose’ was the motto of the Indian press.

The section 1 24A of the IPC was such as to punish a person who evoked feelings of disaffection to the government.

The Indian journalists remained outside 124A by adopting methods such as quoting the socialist and anti-imperialist newspapers of England or letters from radical British citizens

The increasing influence of the newspapers led the government to pass the Vernacular Press Act of 1878, directed only against Indian language newspapers.

 It was passed very secretively

The act provided for the confiscation of the printing press, paper and other materials of a newspaper if the government believed that it was publishing seditious materials and had flouted an official warning.

Due to the agitations, it was repealed in 1881 by Lord Ripon.

S N Banerjee was the first Indian to go to jail in performance of his duty as a journalist.

B G Tilak:  The man who is most frequently associated with the struggle for the freedom of Press during the nationalist movement is Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

In 1881, along with G G Agarkar, he founded the newspapers Kesari and Mahratta.

In 1893, he started the practice of using the traditional religious Ganapati festival to propagate nationalist ideas through patriotic songs and speeches.

In 1896, he started the Shivaji festival to stimulate nationalism among young Maharashtrians.

He brought peasants and farmers into the national movement.

He organized a no-tax campaign in Maharashtra in 1896-97

Plague in Poona in 1897.

Popular resentment against the official plague measures resulted in the assassination of Rand, the Chairman of the Plague Committee in Poona, and Lt. Ayerst by the Chaphekar brothers on 27 June 1898.

Since 1894, anger had been rising against the government due to the tariff, currency and famine policy.

Tilak was arrested and sentenced to 18 month rigorous imprisonment in 1897. This led to countrywide protests and Tilak was given the title of Lokmanya.

 Tilak was again arrested and tried on 24 June 1908 on the charge of sedition under article 124A.

He was sentenced to 6 years of transportation. This led to nationwide protests and closing down of markets for a week. Later, in 1922 Gandhi was tried on the same act and he said that he is proud to be associated with Tilak’s name.

The Indian Councils Act of 1861 enlarged the Governor-General’s Executive Council for the purpose of making laws.

The GG could add 6-12 members to the Executive Council. This came to be known as the Imperial Legislative Council. It didn’t have any powers.

‘Despotism controlled from home’ was the fundamental feature of British rule in India.

The Indians nominated to the council were not representative of the nationalist movement.

Despite the early nationalists believing that India should eventually become self-governing, they moved very cautiously in putting forward political demands regarding the structure of the state, for they were afraid of the Government declaring their activities seditious and disloyal and suppressing them.

Till 1892, they only demanded reforms in the council.

The Swadeshi Movement: 1903-1908

Nationalist Movement 1905-1918

 Reasons for the growth of militant nationalism (this is different from revolutionary terrorism)

Disillusionment of the nationalists with moderate policies

The moderates thought that the British could be reformed from within

Politically conscious Indians were convinced that the purpose of the British rule was to exploit India  economically

The nationalists realized that Indian industries could not flourish except under an Indian government

Disastrous famines from 1896 to 1900 took a toll of over 90 lakh lives

The Indian Councils Act of 1892 was a disappointment

The Natu brothers were deported in 1897 without trial

In 1897 B G Tilak was sentenced to long term imprisonment for arousing the people against the government.

In 1904, the Indian Official Secrets Act was passed restricting the freedom of the Press

Primary and technical education was not making any progress

Thus, increasing number of Indians were getting convinced that self-government was essential for the sake of economic, political and cultural progress of the country

Growth of Self-respect and self-confidence

Tilak, Aurobindo and Pal preached the message of self-respect

They said to the people that remedy to their condition lay in their own hand and they should therefore become strong

Swami Vivekananda’ s messages

Growth of education and unemployment

International Influences

Rise of modern Japan after 1868

Defeat of the Italian army by the Ethiopians in 1896 and of Russia by Japan in 1905 exploded the myth of European superiority

Existence of a Militant Nationalist School of Thought

Partition of Bengal

With the partition of Bengal, Indian National Movement entered its second stage

On 20 July, 1905, Lord Curzon issued an order dividing the province of Bengal into two parts: Eastern Bengal and Assam with a population of 31 mn and the rest of Bengal with a population of 54 mn.

Reason given: the existing province of Bengal was too big to be efficiently administered by a single provincial government

The partition expected to weaken the nerve centre of Indian Nationalism, Bengal.

 The partition of the state intended to curb Bengali influence by not only placing Bengalis under two administrations but by reducing them to a minority in Bengal itself as in the new proposed Bengal proper was to have seventeen million Bengali and thirty seven million Oriya and Hindi speaking people.

The partition was also meant to foster division on the basis of religion.

Risley, Home Secretary to the Gol, said on December 6, 1904 — ‘one of our main objects is to split up and thereby weaken a solid body of opponents to our rule.’

the nationalists saw it as a deliberate attempt to divide the Bengalis territorially and on religious grounds.

The Swadeshi Movement

The Swadeshi movement had its genesis in the anti-partition movement which was started to oppose the British decision to partition Bengal.

Mass protests were organized in opposition to the proposed partition.

Despite the protests, the decision to partition Bengal was announced on July 19, 1905.

It became obvious to the nationalists that their moderate methods were not working and that a  different kind of strategy was needed.

Several meetings were held in towns such as Dinajpur Pabna, Faridpur etc. It was in these meetings that the pledge to boycott foreign goods was first taken.

The formal proclamation of the Swadeshi movement was made on 7 August 1905 in a meeting  held in the Calcutta town hall. The famous boycott resolution was passed.

The leaders like SN Banerjee toured the country urging the boycott of Manchester cloth and  Liverpool salt.

The value of British cloth sold in some of the districts fell by five to fifteen times between  September 1904 and September 1905.

The day the partition took effect — 16 October 1905 — was declared a day of mourning throughout Bengal.

The movement soon spread to the entire country.

Militant nationalists

The extremists were in favor of extending the movement to the rest of India and

carrying it beyond the programme of just Swadeshi and boycott to a full fledged

political mass struggle. The moderates were not as willing to go that far.

The differences between the extremists and moderates came to had in 1907 Surat session where the party split with serious consequences for the Swadeshi Movement.

In Bengal, the extremists acquired a dominant influence over the Swadeshi


They proposed the technique of extended boycott which included, apart from boycott of foreign goods, boycott of government schools and colleges, courts, titles and government services and even the organization of strikes.

Aurobindo Ghose: Political freedom is the lifebreath of a nation.

Boycott and public burning foreign cloth, picketing of shops selling foreign goods, became common in remote corners of Bengal as well as in many towns across the country.

The militant nationslists, however, failed to give a positive leadership to the people.

They also failed to reach the real masses of the country, the peasants.

The movement also innovated with considerable success different forms of mass mobilization such as public meetings, processions and corps of volunteers.

The Swadesh Bandhab Samiti set up by Ashwini Kumar Dutt, a school teacher, in Barisal was the most well known volunteer organization.

During the Swadeshi period, traditional festivals were used to reach out to the masses. The   Ganapati and Shivaji festivals were popularized by Tilak. Traditional folk theatres such as jatras were also used.

Another important aspect was the great emphasis given to self-reliance or Atmasakti as a necessary part of the struggle against the government.

Self-reliance was the keyword. Campaigns for social reforms were carried out.

In 1906, the National Council for Education was setup to organize the education system.

Self-reliance also meant an effort to set up Swadeshi or indigenous enterprises.

Marked impact in the cultural sphere

The songs composed by Rabindranath Tagore, Mukunda Das and others became the moving spirit for nationalists.

Rabindranath’s ‘Amar Sonar Bangla’, written at that time, was to later inspire the liberation struggle of Bangladesh and was adopted as the national anthem of the country in 1971.

 Nandalal Bose, who left a major imprint on Indian art, was the first recipient of a scholarship offered by the Indian Society of Oriental Art founded in 1907.

The social base of the national movement was now extened to include certain zamindari section, lower middle class and school and college students. Women also participated in large numbers.


Was not able to garner the support of the mass of Muslims, especially the muslim peasantry. The British policy of communalism responsible for this.

By mid-1908, the movement was almost over. The main reasons were:

The government, seeing the revolutionary potential of the movement, came down with a heavy hand.

The split of the congress in 1907 had weakened the movement.

The movement lacked an effective organization and party structure.

The movement declined partially because of the logic of the mass movements itself —

They cannot be endlessly sustained at the same pitch of militancy and self-sacrifice.

The anti-partition movement, however, marked a great revolutionary leap forward for Indian nationalism.

The decline of Swadeshi engendered the rise of revolutionary terrorism.

Assessing the movement

Cultural impact

Social Impact

Economic impact

Role of students and Women

All India aspect of the movement

From passive protest to active boycott

Revolutionary Terrorism

Revolutionary young men did not try to generate a mass revolution. Instead they followed the strategy of assassinating unpopular officials

1904: VD Savarkar organized Abhinav Bharat

Newspapers like The Sandhya and Yugaantar in Bengal and the Kal in Maharashtra advocated revolutionary ideology

Kingsford Incident: In 1908, Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki threw bomb at a carriage they believed was carrying Kingsford, the unpopular judge of Muzaffarpur.

Anushilan Samiti threw a bomb at the Viceroy Lord Hardinge

Centres abroad

In London: led by VD Savarkar, Shyamaji Krishnavarma and Har Dayal

In Europe: Madam Cama and Ajit Singh

They gradually petered out. It did not have any base among the people


Moderates were successful to some extent.

Moderates failed in many aspects. Why?

They could not acquire any roots among common people.

They believed that they could persuade the rulers to change their policies. However, their achievement in this regard was meager.

They could not keep pace with the events. They failed to meet the demands of the new stage of the national movement.

The British were keen on finishing the Congress because:

However moderate the leaders were, they were still nationalists and propagators of anti-colonialist ideas.

The British felt that moderates led congress could be finished off easily because it did not have a popular base

In the swadeshi movement, all sections of INC united in opposing the Partition

However, there was much difference between the moderates and the extremists

about the methods and scope of the movement

The extremists wanted to extend the Swadeshi and Boycott movement from Bengal to the rest of the country and to boycott every form of association with the colonial government

The moderates wanted to confine the boycott movement to Bengal and even there to limit it to the boycott of foreign goods

After the Swadeshi movement the British adopted a three pronged approach to deal with congress. Repression-conciliation-suppression.

The extremists were repressed

The moderates were conciliated thus giving them an impression that their further demands would be met if they disassociated from the extremists. The idea was to isolate the extremists.

Once the moderates and extremists were separate the extremists could be

suppressed through the use of state force while the moderates could later be


The congress session was held on December 26, 1907 at Surat, on the banks of the river Tapti.

The extremists wanted a guarantee that the four Calcutta resolutions will be passed.

They objected to the duly elected president of the year, Rash Behari Ghose.

There was a confrontation with hurling of chairs and shoes.

The government launched a massive attack on the extremists. Newspapers were suppressed. Tilak was sent to Mandalay jail for six years.

The extremists were not able to organize an effective alternative party or to sustain the movement.

After 1908 the national movement as a whole declined.

The moderates and the country as a whole were disappointed by the 1909 Minto-Morley reforms

The number of indirectly elected members of the Imperial and provincial legislative councils was increased.

Separate electorates for Muslims were introduced.

With the split of Congress revolutionary terrorism rose.

In 1904 V D Savarkar organized Abhinav Bharat as a secret society of revolutionaries

In April 1908, Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose threw a bomb at a carriage which they believed was occupied by Kingsford the unpopular judge at Muzzafarpur.

Anushilan Samity and Jugantar were two most important revolutionary groups.

An assessment of the split

The split did not prove useful to either party

The British played the game of divide and rule

To placate the moderates they announced the Morley-Minto reforms which did not satisfy the demands of the nationalists. They also annulled the partition of Bengal in 1911.

Morley-Minto Reforms, 1909

Increased the number of elected members in the Imperial Legislative Council and the provincial council

However, most of the elected members were elected indirectly. The reformed councils still enjoyed no real power, being merely advisory bodies.

Introduced separate electorates under which all Muslims were grouped in separate constituencies from which Muslims alone could be elected. This was aimed at dividing the Hindus and Muslims. It was based on the notion that the political and economic interests of Hindus and Muslims were  separate.

This later became a potent factor in the growth of communalism

It isolated the Muslims from the Nationalist Movement and encouraged separatist tendencies

The real purpose of the reforms was to confuse the moderate nationalists, to divide nationalist ranks and to check the growth of unity among Indians

Response of Moderates

They realized that the reforms had not granted much

 However, they decided to cooperate with the government in working the reforms

This led to their loss of respect among the nationalists and masses

Growth of Communalism


Communalism is the belief that because a group of people follow a particular religion they have, as a result, common secular, that is, social, political and economic interests.

Second stage: Secular interests of followers of one religion are dissimilar and divergent from the interests of the followers of another religion

Third stage: The interests of the followers of different religions or of different religious communities are seen to be mutually incompatible, antagonistic and hostile.

Communalism is not a remnant of the medieval period. It has its roots in the modern colonial socioeconomic political structure.

Divide and Rule

After 1857, British initially suppressed Indian muslims. However, after the publishing of Hunter’s book ‘The Indian Mussalman’ they actively followed the policy of divide and rule and hence started supporting the Muslims.

They promoted provincialism by talking of Bengal domination

Tired to use the caste structure to turn the non-brahmins against Brahmins and the lower caste against the higher castes.

It readily accepted communal leaders as authentic representatives of all their co-religionists.

Reasons for growth of communal tendencies in Muslims

Relative backwardness: educationally and economically

Muslim League

1906 by Aga Khan, the Nawab of Dhaka, and Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk

It made no critique of colonialism, supported the partition of Bengal and demanded special safeguards for the Muslims in government services.

 Muslim League’s political activities were directed not against the foreign rulers but against the Hindus and the INC.

Their activities were not supported by all Muslims

Ahrar movement was founded at this time under the leadership of Maulana Mohamed Ali, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Hasan Imam, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, and Mazhar-ul-Haq. They advocated participation in the militant nationalist movement.

Muslim Nationalists

The war between Ottoman Empire and Italy created a wave of sympathy for Turkey

During the war between Ottoman empire and Italy, India sent a medical mission headed by MA Ansari to help Turkey. As the British were not sympathetic to Turkey, the pro-Caliph sentiments in India became anti-British

However, the militant nationalists among muslims did not accept an entirely secular approach to politics.

The most important issue they took up was not political independence but protection of the Turkish empire.

This approach did not immediately clash with Indian nationalism. However, in the long run it proved harmful as it encouraged the habit of looking at political questions from a religious view point.

Hindu Communalism

Some Hindus accepted the colonial view of Indian history and talked about the tyrannical Muslim rule in the medieval period

Over language they said that Hindi was the language of Hindus and Urdu that of Muslims.

Punjab Hindu Sabha was founded in 1909. Its leaders attacked the INC for trying to unite Indians into a single nation.

The first session of the All India Hindu Mahasabha was held in April 1915 under the presidentship of the Maharaja of Kasim Bazar.

It however remained a weak organization because the colonial government gave it few concessions and little support.


Increasing number of Indians from Punjab were emigrating to North America.

The British government thought that these emigrants would be affected by the idea of liberty. Hence, they tried to restrict emigration.

Tarak Nath Das, an Indian student in Canada, started a paper called Free Hindustan.

The Hindi Association was setup in Portland in May 1913.

Under the leadership of Lala Har Dayal, a weekly paper, The Ghadar was started and a headquarters called Yugantar Ashram was set up in San Fransisco.

On November 1, 1913, the first issue of Ghadar was published in Urdu and on December 9, the Gurumukhi edition.

In 1914, three events influenced the course of the Ghadar movement:

The arrest and escape of Har Dayal

The Komagata Maru incident

Outbreak of the first world war

Gharadites came to India and made several attempts to instill the Indian population to revolt.

However, this was of no avail.

The Ghadar movement was very secular in nature.

Ghadar militants were distinguished by their secular, egalitarian, democratic and non-chauvinistic internationalist outlook.

The major weakness of the Ghadar leaders was that they completely under-estimated the extent and amount of preparation at every level — organizational, ideological, strategic, tactical, financial

— that was necessary before an attempt at an armed revolt could be organized.

It also failed to generate an effective and sustained leadership that was capable of integrating the various aspects of the movement.

Another weakness was its almost non-existent organizational structure.

Some important leaders: Baba Gurmukh Singh, Kartar Singh Saraba, Sohan Singh Bhakna, Rahmat Ali Shah, Bhai Parmanand and Mohammad Barkatullah.

Inspired by the Ghadar Party, 700 soldiers at Singapore revolted under the leadership of Jamadar Chisti Khan and Subedar Dundey Khan. The rebellion was crushed.

Other revolutionaries: Jatin Mukharjee, Rash Bihari Bose, Raja Mahendra Pratap, Lala Hardayal,

Abdul Rahim, Maulana Obaidullah Sindhi, Champakaraman Pillai, Sardar Singh Rana and Madame Cama

The Home Rule Movement

After being released in 1914, Tilak sought re-entry into Congress. Annie Besant and Gokhale supported.

But finally Pherozshah Mehta won and Tilak was not admitted.

Tilak and Besant decided to start the home rule movement on their own.

In early 1915, Annie Besant (and S Subramaniya Iyer) launched a campaign through her two newspapers,

New India and Commonweal, and organized public meetings and conferences to demand that India be granted self-government on the lines of the White colonies after the War. From April 1915, her tone became more peremptory and her stance more aggressive.

At the annual session of the Congress in December 1915 it was decided that the extremists be allowed to rejoin the Congress. The opposition from the Bombay group has been greatly weakened by the death of Pherozshah Mehta.

Tilak and Annie Besant set up two different home rule leagues.

Tilak’ s league was to work in Maharashtra (excluding Bombay city), Karnataka, the central provinces and Berar and Annie Besant’ s league was given the charged of the rest of India.

Tilak was totally secular in nature. There was no trace of religious appeal. The demand for Home Rule was made on a wholly secular basis.

“Home rule is my birthright, and I will have it”

The British were aliens not because they belonged to another religion but because they did not act in the Indian interest.

Tilak’s league was organized into six branches, one each in Central Maharashtrra, Bombay city, Karnataka, and Central Provinces, and two in Berar.

On 23rd July 1916, on Tilak’s sixtieth birthday the government sent a notice asking him to show cause why he should not be bound over for good behavior for a period of one year and demanding securities of Rs 60000

Tilak was defended by a team of lawyers led by Mohammad Ali Jinnah. He won. Tilak used the opportunity to further the Home Rule movement.

In Besant’ s league, the main thrust of activity was directed towards building up an agitation around the demand for Home Rule. This was to be achieved by promoting political education and discussion.

Lucknow Pact: 1916 in the Congress Session at Lucknow. Also known as Congress League Pact.

Extremists were accepted back in congress. An agreement was reached between Muslim League and Congress.

The turning point in the movement came with the arrest of Annie Besant in June 1917

There was wide agitation and many leaders joined the league.

The government agreed to grant self rule but the timing for such a change was to be decided by the government alone.

After the great advance in 1917, the movement gradually dissolved.

The moderates were pacified by the government’s assurance of reforms after Besant’ s release.

The publication of scheme of government reforms in July 1918 further created divisions. Many rejected it while others were for giving it a trial.

Later, Tilak went to England to fight a case. With Besant unable to give a firm lead, and Tilak away in England, the movement was left leaderless.

Achievements of the movement

The achievement of the Home Rule movement was that it created a generation of ardent nationalists who formed the backbone of the national movement in the

coming years.

The Home rule leagues also created organizational links between town and country which were to prove invaluable in later years.

By popularizing the idea of self-government, it generated a widespread pro-nationalist atmosphere in the country.

The movement set the right mood for the entry of Mahatma Gandhi and take the


Lucknow Pact (1916)

Nationalists saw that their disunity was affecting their cause

Two important developments at the Lucknow Session of Congress

The two wings of the Congress were again united

The Congress and the Muslim League sank their old differences and put up common political demands before the government.

Indian National Congress and Muslim League passed the same resolutions at their sessions, put forward a joint scheme of political reforms based on separate electorates, and demanded that the British Government should make a declaration that it would confer self-government on India at an early date.

 The pact accepted the principle of separate electorates

Main clauses of the pact

There shall be self-government in India.

Muslims should be given one-third representation in the central government.

There should be separate electorates for all the communities until a community demanded joint electorates.

A system of weightage should be adopted.

The number of the members of Central Legislative Council should be increased to 150.

At the provincial level, four-fifth of the members of the Legislative Councils should be elected and one-fifth should be nominated.

The size of provincial legislatures should not be less than 125 in the major provinces and from 50 to 75 in the minor provinces.

All members, except those nominated, should be elected directly on the basis of adult franchise.

No bill concerning a community should be passed if the bill is opposed by three-fourth of the members of that community in the Legislative Council.

The term of the Legislative Council should be five years.

Members of Legislative Council should themselves elect their president.

Half of the members of Imperial Legislative Council should be Indians.

The Indian Council must be abolished.

The salaries of the Secretary of State for Indian Affairs should be paid by the British government and not from Indian funds.

Of the two Under Secretaries, one should be Indian.

The Executive should be separated from the Judiciary.


As an immediate effect, the unity between the two factions of the congress and

between Indian National Congress and Muslim League aroused great political enthusiasm in the country.

However, it did not involve Hindu and Muslim masses and was based on the notion of bringing together the educated Hindus and Muslims as separate political entities without secularization of their political outlook

The pact therefore left the way open to the future resurgence of communalism in Indian politics.

Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms

Provincial Legislative Council enlarged. More elected members


Some subjects were reserved and remained under the direct control of the Governor; others such as education, public health and local self-government were called transferred subjects and were to be controlled by the ministers responsible to the legislature.

At the centre, there were two houses of legislature.

Response of nationalists

INC condemned the reforms as disappointing and unsatisfactory Some others, led by Surendranath Banerjea, were in favour of accepting  the government proposals. They left the Congress at this time and founded the Indian Liberal Federation


The governor could overrule the ministers on any grounds that he considered special.

The legislature had virtually no control over the Governor-General and his Executive Council.

The central government had unrestricted control over the provincial governments

Rowlatt Act


It authorized the Government to imprison any person without trial and conviction in a court of law.


Gandhii was the first Indian barrister to have come to South Africa.

He was faced with various racial discriminations within days of his arrival in SA.

He led the Indian struggle in SA.

The first phase of Gandhi’s political activities from 1894-1906 may be classified as the ‘moderate’ phase.

He set up the Natal Indian Congress and started a paper called Indian Opinion.

By 1906, Gandhiji, having fully tried the ‘Moderate’ methods of struggle, was becoming convinced that these would not lead anywhere.

The second phase, begun in 1906, was characterized by the use of passive resistance, Satyagraha. There was no fear of jails.

South Africa prepared Gandhiji for leadership of the Indian national struggle:

He had the invaluable experience of leading poor Indian labourers.

South Africa built up his faith in the capacity of the Indian masses to participate in and sacrifice for a cause that moved them.

Gandhiji also had the opportunity of leading Indians belonging to different religions.

South Africa provided Gandhiji with an opportunity for evolving his own style of politics and leadership.

Gandhi returned to India on January 9, 1915

He founded the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad in 1916

Initially he was politically idle. He spent his time studying the situation of the country.

He was deeply convinced that the only viable method of political struggle was satyagraha.

During the course of 1917 and early 1918, he was involved in three significant struggles — in Champaran in Bihar, in Ahmedabad and in Kheda in Gujarat. The common feature of these struggles was that they related to specific local issues and that they were fought for the economic demands of the masses.

Champaran Satyagraha (1917)

Peasantry on the indigo plantations in Champaran, Bihar was excessively oppressed by the Eurpoean planters.

On the invitation of the peasants he went to Champaran and began to conduct a detailed inquiry into the condition of the peasantry

The government was forced to set up a committee with Gandhi as one of the members. The sufferings of the peasants was reduced.

Others in this movement: Rajendra Prasad, Mazhar-ul-Haq, J B Kriplani, Narhari Parekh and Mahadev Desai.

Ahmedabad Mill Strike (1918)

Dispute between workers and mill owners

Gandhi advised workers to go on a non-violent strike. He himself took to fast

Owners yielded and gave a 35 percent increase in wages to the workers

Kheda Satyagraha (1918)

Despite crop failure in Kheda the government insisted on full land revenue Gandhi advised the peasants to withhold payment.

Govt issued instructions that revenue should be collected from only those farmers who could afford to pay

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel played a major role in this satyagraha.

Impact of these early experiences

Brought Gandhiji in close contact with the masses

He identified his life and manner of living with the life of the common people

He had three main aims

Hindu-Muslim Unity

Fight against untouchability

Raising the social status of the women

Gandhiji’s first major nation-wide protest was against the Rowlatt Bills in 1919. He formed the Satyagraha Sabha whose members took a pledge to disobey the Act and thus to court arrest and imprisonment.

Satyagraha was launched. The form of protest finally decided was the observance of a nation-wide hartal accompanied by fasting and prayer.

However, protests were generally accompanied by violence and disorder.

In Punjab, the situation was particularly violent. Genral Dyer was called to control the situation. On 13April, Baisakhi Day, General Dyer ordered to open fire on unarmed crowd in Jallianwala Bagh.

The government estimate was 379 dead, other estimates were considerably higher.

Gandhiji, overwhelmed by the total atmosphere of violence, withdrew the movement on 18 April.

Difference between earlier methods of struggle and Satyagraha

Earlier, the movement had confined its struggle to agitation. They used to hold meetings, demonstrate, boycott etc

Through Satyagraha they could act now.

The new movement relied increasingly on the political support of the peasants, artisans and urban poor.

Gandhiji increasingly turned the face of nationalism towards the common man

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

On April 13, 1919 a large crowd had gathered in Amritsar to protest against the arrest of their leaders, Dr. Saifudding Kitchlew and Dr. Satyapal

General Dyer opened fire

Widespread criticism. Tagore returned his knighthood.


Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms 1919: Dyarchy

In a system called “dyarchy,” the nation-building departments of government agriculture, education, public works, and the like were placed under ministers who were individually responsible to the legislature. The departments that made up the “steel frame” of British rule finance, revenue, and home affairs were retained by executive councillors who were nominated by the Governor.

The Hunter Committee report praised the actions of general Dyer.

Khilafat Movement

For support of Turkey

Khilafat Committee formed under the leadership of Ali Brothers, Maulana Azad, Hakim

Ajmal Khan and Hasrat Mohani

The promises made to the Khilafat Committee were not kept after the World War.

The All-India Khilafat Conference held at Delhi in November 1919 decided to withdraw all cooperation from the government if their demands were not met.

On June 9 1920, the Khilafat Committee at Allahabad unanimously accepted the

suggestion of non-cooperation and asked Gandhiji to lead the movement.

Khilafat movement cemented Hindu-Muslim unity

Gandhiji looked upon the Khilafat agitation as “an opportunity of uniting Hindus and Mohammedans as would not arise in a hundred years”

The non-cooperation movement was launched on August 1, 1920. Lokmanya Tilak passed away on the same day.

People countrywide observed hartal and took out processions.

The congress met in September at Calcutta and accepted non-co-operation as its own.

The programme of non-cooperation included:

Surrender of titles and honors

Boycott of government affiliated schools and colleges, law courts, foreign cloth and could be extended to resignation from government services.

Mass civil disobedience including the non-payment of taxes.

National schools and colleges were to be set up

Panchayats were to be established to settle disputes

Hand-spinning and weaving was encouraged

People were asked to maintain Hindu-Muslim unity, give up untouchability and observe strict nonviolence.

Changes in Congress to attain the new objective:

At the Nagpur session in 1920 changes in the Constitution of Congress were made.

The goal of congress was changed from the attainment of self-government by

constitutional and legal means to the attainment of Swaraj by peaceful and legitimate means.

The Congress now had a Working Committee of fifteen members to look after its day to day affairs.

Provincial congress committees were now organized on a linguistic basis.

Mahalla and ward committees were formed.

The membership fee was reduced to 4 annas a years to enable poor to become


This was not without opposition however. Some members still believed in the

traditional methods. Leaders like Jinnah, GS Khaparde, Bipin Chandra Pal and Annie Besant left congress during this time.

Gandhiji, along with the Ali brother, undertook a nationwide tour to address people.

Thousands of students left government schools and joined national schools.

The most successful item of the programme was the boycott of foreign cloth.

Picketing of toddy shops was also very popular.

Students let government schools and colleges. IT was during this time that Jamia Milia Islamia of Aligarh, the Bihar Vidyapith, the Kashi Vidyapith and the Gujarat Vidyapith came into existence.

Lawyers such as Deshbandhu CR Das, Motilal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Saifudiin Kitchlew, C. Rajagopalachari, Sardar Patel, T Prakasam and Asaf Ali gave up their legal practice.

Tilak Swarajya Fund was started to finance the Non Cooperation Movement.

In 1921, Khilafat Committee issued a resolution that no muslim should serve in the British Indian army.

The visit of the Prince of Wales on 17th November 1921 was observed as a day of hartal all over the country.

The Congress Volunteer Corps emerged as a powerful parallel police.

By December 1921, the government felt that things were going too far and announced a change of policy by declaring the volunteer corps illegal and arresting all those who claimed to be its members.

Thousands of peasants and tenants participated in the movement.

In Punjab, the Akali movement to remove corrupt mahants from the Gurudwaras was started.

Assam: Tea plantation workers went on strike. Midnapore: peasants refused to pay Union Board taxes. Guntur (Chirala): Agitation led by Duggirala Gopalakrishayya Malabar: Moplahs (muslim peasants) created a powerful anti-zamindari movement.

As the government refused to yield, Gandhiji announced that mass civil disobedience would begin in Bardoli taluqa of Surat.

However, in Chauri Chaura, Gorakhpur on 5 February 1922 crowd set fire on a police station and killed some policemen. On hearing this, Gandhiji decided to withdraw the movement.

The congress working committee ratified his decision. Thus, on February 12, 1922, the non cooperation movement came to an end.

Assessing the Withdrawal:

Some scholars say that Gandhiji withdrew the movement because he wanted to

protect the interests of the propertied class.

Some argue that there was no logic why a small incident should lead to withdrawal of  the movement itself.

However, government could use Chauri Chaura to justify its repression of the


If movement was started at that time, it would have been defeated due to the

repression of the government.

Gandhiji was protecting the movement from likely repression, and the people from demoralization.

Mass movements tend to ebb in some time. Hence, withdrawal is a part of the strategy of mass movements.

Gandhiji was tried in 1922 and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment.

He invited the court to award him “the highest penalty that can be inflicted upon me for what in law is a deliberate crime, and what appears to be the highest duty of a citizen”.

Positives out of the non-cooperation movement:

Congress started commanding the support and sympathy of vast sections of the Indian people.

Millions of Indians became politically involved. Women were drawn into the movement.

Muslims participated heavily and communal unity was maintained.

Strengthened the national movement. Nationalist sentiments and the national movement had reached the remotest corners of the land.

People gained tremendous self-confidence and self-esteem.


Three important peasant movements of the early twentieth century:

Kisan Sabha and Eka movements in Avadh in UP

Mappila rebellion in Malabar

Bardoli Satyagrah in Gujarat

The UP Kisan Sabha was set up in February 1918 through the efforts of Gauri Shankar Mishra and Indra Narain Dwivedi with the support of Madan Mohan Malviya.

By June 1919, it had established about 450 branches in 173 tehsils of the province.   In August 1921, Mappila (Muslim) tenants rebelled. Their grievances related to lack of any security of tenure, renewal fees, high rents and other oppressive landlord exactions.

The no-tax movement was launched in Bardoli taluq of Surat district in Gujarat in 1928.


There were some working class movements in second half of l9 century. However, they were impulsive and not very well organized. The early nationalists had a lukewarm attitude towards the question of workers. This was because initially Congress wanted to focus on issues, which were of common concern to all the people of India.

There was a difference in attitude of the nationalists towards workers in indigenous and European enterprises.

The most important feature of the labour movement during the Swadeshi days was the shift from agitation and struggles on purely economic questions to the involvement of the worker with the wider political issues of the day.

The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) was founded in 1920.

In 1918 Gandhi founded the Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association.

The AICC in November 1927 took a decision to boycott the Simon Commission and many workers participated in the massive Simon boycott demonstrations.

Alarmed by worker’s movement, the government enacted repressive laws like the Public Safety

Act and Trade Disputes Acts and arrested the entire radical leadership of the labour movement and launched the Meerut Conspiracy Case against them.

The labour movement suffered a major setback partially due to this government offensive and partially due to a shift in stance of the communist led wing of the movement.

From the end of 1928, the communists stopped aligning them with the national movement.

Communists got isolated within the AITUC and were thrown out in the split of 1931.

By 1934, the communists re-entered the mainstream nationalist politics.

The working class of Bombay held an anti-war strike on 2 October, 1939.

With the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union in 1941, the communists changed their policy and asked the people to support the allied forces instead of holding anti-war strikes.

The communists dissociated themselves from the Quit India movement launched in 1942.

The last years of colonial rule also saw a remarkably sharp increase in strikes on economic issues all over the country — the all India strike of the post and telegraph department employees being the most well known among them.


The Akali movement

The movement arose with the objective of freeing the Gurudwaras from the control of ignorant and corrupt priests (mahants).

Apart from the mahants, after the British annexation of Punjab in 1849, some control over the Gurudwaras was exercised by Government-nominated managers and custodians, who often collaborated with mahants.

The government gave full support to the mahants. It used them to preach loyalism to the Sikhs and to keep them away from the rising nationalist movement.

The agitation for the reform of Gurudwaras developed during 1920 when the reformers organized groups of volunteers known as jathas to compel the mahants and the government appointed managers to hand over control of the Gurudwaras to the local devotees.

Tens of Gurudwaras were liberated within an year.

To manage the control of Golden Temple and other Gurudwaras the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee was formed in November 1920.

Feeling the need to give the reform movement a structure, the Shiromani Akali Dal was established in December 1920.

The SGPC and Akali Dal accepted complete non-violence as their creed.

There was a clash between the mahant and the Akalis over surrendering the gurudwara at Nanakana. This led to killing of about 100 akalis.

The Nankana tragedy led to the involvement of Sikhs on a large scale in the national movement.

Keys Affair: In October 1921, the government refused to surrender the possession for the keys of the Toshakhana of the golden temple of the Akalis. This led to protests. Leaders like Baba Kharak Singh and Master Tara Singh were arrested. Later, the government surrendered the keys to keep the Sikhs from revolting.

Guru ka Bagh gurudwara in Ghokewala was under dispute as the mahant there claimed that the land attached to it was his personal possession. When few akalis cut down a tree on that land they were arrested on the complain of the mahant. Seeing this thousands of akalis came and started cutting down the trees. About 4000 akalis were arrested. Later, the government didn’t arrest but started beating them up severly. But the akalis kept turning up. Ultimately the government had to surrender.

The akali movement made a huge contribution to the national awakening of Punjab.

However, the movement encouraged a certain religiosity which would be later utilized by communalism.

In 1923, the Congress decided to take active steps towards the eradication of untouchability.

The basic strategy it adopted was to educate and mobilize opinion among caste hindus.

Immediately after the Kakinada session, the Kerala Provincial Congress Committee (KPCC) took up the eradication of untouchability as an urgent issue.

KPCC decided to organize an procession on the temple roads in Vaikom, a village in Travancore, on 30 March 1924.

During the processions, the satyagrahis were arrested and sentenced to imprisonment.

On the death of Maharaja in August 1924, the Maharani released the Satyagrahis.

Gandhiji visited Kerala to discuss the opening of temple with Maharani. A compromise was reached whereby all roads except for the ones in the Sankethan of the temple were opened to the harijans.

In his Kerala tour, Gandhi didn’t visit a single temple because avarnas were kept out of them.

The weakness of the anti-caste movement was that through it aroused people against untouchability it lacked a strategy of ending the caste system itself.


Gandhiji was arrested in 1922 and sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment. The result was the spread of disintegration, disorganization and demoralization in the nationalist ranks.

After a defeat of their resolution of ‘either mending or ending’ in the Congress, CR Das and Motilal Nehru resigned and formed the Congress-Khilafat Swaraj Party in December 1922.

It was to function as a group within the congress

How to carry on political work in the movements’ non-active phases. The swarajists said that work in the council was necessary to fill the temporary political void. The no-changers believed otherwise.

Major no-changers: Sardar Patel, Dr Ansari, Rajendra Prasad

The no-changers opposed council-entry mainly on the ground that parliamentary work would lead to the neglect of constructive and other work among the masses , the loss of revolutionary zeal and political corruption.

Despite the differences, he two groups had a lot in common.

The need for unity was very strongly felt by all the Congressmen after the 1907


Both realized that the real sanctions which would compel the government to accept the national demands would be forged only by a mass movement.

Both groups fully accepted the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.

In the session held in 1923, the congressmen were permitted to stand as candidates and exercise their franchise in the forthcoming elections.

Gandhiji was released on February 5, 1924. He did not agree with the Swarajists. However, slowly he moved towards an accommodation with the swarajists.

On 6 November 1924, Gandhiji brought the strife between the Swarajists and no-changers to an end, by signing a joint statement with Das and Motilal that the Swarajists Party would carry on work in the legislatures on behalf of the Congress and as an integral part of the Congress. This decision was endorsed in Belgaum.

The Swarajists did well in the elections and won 42 out of 101 seats in the Central Legislative Assembly.

In March 1925, Vithalbhai J Patel was elected as the President (speaker) of the Central Legislative Assembly.

The achievement of the Swarajists lay in filling the political void at a time when the national movement was recouping its strength.

They also exposed the hollowness of the reforms of 1919

After the petering out of the Non Cooperation Movement communalism took stronghold

 Even within the Congress, a group known as ‘responsivists’, including Madan Mohan Malviya, Lala Lajpat Rai and NC Kelkar, offered cooperation to the government so that the so-called Hindu interests might be safeguarded.


The sudden suspension of the non-cooperation movement led many young people to question the very basis strategy of non-violence and began to look for alternatives.

All the major new revolutionary leaders had been enthusiastic participants in the non-violent noncooperation movement.

Two separate strands of revolutionary terrorism developed — one in Punjab, UP and Bihar and the other in Bengal.

Ramprasad Bismil, Jogesh Chatterjea and Sachindranath Sanyal met in Kanpur in October 1924 and founded the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) to organize armed revolution.

In order to carry out their activities the HRA required funding. The most important action of the HRA did the Kakori Robbery.

On August 9, 1925, ten men held up the 8-Down train from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow at Kakori and looted its official railway cash.

The government arrested a large number of young men and tried them in the Kakori Conspiracy Case.

Ashfaqulla Khan, Ramprasadn Bismil, Roshan Singh and Rajendra Lahiri were hanged, four others were sent to Andaman while seventeen others were sentenced to long term imprisonment.

New revolutionaries joined the HRA. They met at Ferozshah Kotla Ground at Delhi on 9 and 10 September 1928, created a new collective leadership, adopted socialism as their official goal and changed the name of the party to the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association.

Lala Lajpat Rai dies in a lathi-charge when he was leading an anti-Simon Commission demonstration at Lahore on 30 October 1928.

On 17 December 1928, Bhagat Singh, Azad and Rajguru assassinated, at Lahore, Saunders, a police official involved in the lathi-charge on Lala Lajpat Rai.

In order to let the people know about HSRA’s changed objectives Bhagat Singh and BK Dutt were asked to throw a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly on 8 April 1929 against the passage of the Public Safety Bill and the Trade Disputes Bill.

Their aim was not to kill but to let people know of their objectives through the leaflet they threw.

They were later arrested and tried.

The country was also stirred by the hunger strike the revolutionaries took as a protest against the horrible conditions in jails.

On 13th September, the 64 day of the epic fast, Jatin Das died.

 Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were sentenced to be hanged. He sentence was carried out on 23 March, 1931.

Bhagat Singh was fully secular.

The Punjab Naujawan Bharat Sabha organized by him acted on secular lines.

In Bengal, after the death of C R Das, the Congress leadership in Bengal got divided into two wings:

One led by S C Bose and the other by J M Sengupta. The Yugantar group joined forces with the first while the Anushilan with the second.

Surya Sen had actively participated in the non-cooperation movement. He gathered around him a large band of revolutionary youth including Anant Singh, Ganesh Ghosh and Lokenath Baul.

Chittagong Armoury Raid

Emergence of socialism in the 1920s in the nationalist ranks

Jawahar Lal Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose

Raised the question of internal class oppression by capitalists and landlords

M N Roy became the first Indian to be elected to the leadership of the Communist International

Muzaffer Ahmed and SA Dange were tried in the Kanpur Conspiracy Case

1925: Communist Party of India was formed

All India Trade Union Congress

Various Strikes: Bombay textile mills, Jamshedpur, Kharagpur

Bardoli Satyagraha (1928)

Peasants under the leadership of Sardar Patel organized no tax campaign

Indian Youth were becoming active

First All Bengal Conference of Students held in 1928 presided by JL Nehru

Hindustan Republican Association: 1924

Kakori Conspiracy Case (1925)

Four, including Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqulla Khan were hanged.

Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (1928)

On 17th December 1928, Bhagat Singh, Azad and Rajguru assassinated Saunders   Bhagat Singh and BK Dutt threw bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly on 8 April 1929 to let the people know of their changed political objectives

Chittagong Armoury Raid: 1930, Surya Sen

Participation of young women

Simon Commission (1927)

Indian Statutory Commission chaired by Simon to go into the question of further constitutional reform

All its seven members were Englishmen. Clement Attlee was one of the members.

Lord Birkinhead was the secretary of state at that time

At its Madras session in 1927 INC decided to boycott the commission “at every stage and in every form”

Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha supported Congress

Nehru Report, 1928

Dominion status

Contained Bill of Rights

No state religion

Federal form

Linguistically determined provinces

No separate electorates

All Party Convention, held at Calcutta in 1928, failed to pass the report

Muslim league rejected the proposals of the report

Jinnah drafted his fourteen points

Hindu Mahasabha and Sikh League also objected

Poorna Swaraj

Resolution passed at the Lahore session in 1929

On 31 December 1929, the tri-color flag was hoisted

On 26 January 1930, Independence Day was celebrated


 Started by Gandhi on 12th March 1930 with the Dandi March. Reached Dandi on April 6.

Defiance of forest laws in Maharashtra, Central Province and Karnataka. Refusal to pay chaukidari tax in Eastern India.

Wide participation of women

Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan organized Khudai Khidmatgars (aka Red Shirts)

Nagaland: Rani Gaidilieu

First Round Table Conference, 1930

Congress boycotted

Gandhi-Irwin Pact, 1931

Government agreed to release the political prisoners who had remained non-violent

Right to make salt for consumption

Right to peaceful picketing of liquor and foreign cloth shops

Congress suspended the Civil Disobedience Movement

Agreed to take part in the second RTC

August Offer (1940)

After the WWII began, British sought cooperation from India. August Offer offered three proposals.

Firstly, it called for an immediate expansion of Viceroy’s Executive Council with the inclusion of India representatives; secondly, an advisory body with the members from British India and Indian princely states which were supposed to meet at consequent intervals was established and thirdly, two practical steps were decided to be taken in which it was to come at an agreement with the Indians on the form of the post representatives body should take and the methods by which it should come to a conclusion.

 It further planned to draw out the principles and outlines of the Constitution itself. Congress did not accept the offer.

CR Formula

C. Rajagopalachari’s formula (or C. R. formula or Rajaji formula) was a proposal formulated by Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari to solve the political deadlock between the All India Muslim League and Indian National Congress on independence of India from the British. C. Rajagopalachari, a Congress leader from Madras, devised a proposal for the Congress to offer the League the

Muslim Pakistan based on plebiscite of all the peoples in the regions where Muslims made a majority.

Although the formula was opposed even within the Congress party, Gandhiji used it as his proposal in his talks with Jinnah in 1944. However, Jinnah rejected the proposal and the talks failed.

The CR formula entailed

i. The League was to endorse the Indian demand for independence and to co-operate with the Congress in formation of Provisional Interim Government for a transitional period.

ii. At the end of the War, a commission would be appointed to demarcate the districts having a Muslim population in absolute majority and in those areas plebiscite to be conducted on all inhabitants (including the non-Muslims) on basis of adult suffrage.

iii. All parties would be allowed to express their stance on the partition and their views before the plebiscite.

iv. In the event of separation, a mutual agreement would be entered into for safeguarding essential matters such as defence, communication and commerce and for other essential services.

v. The transfer of population, if any would be absolutely on a voluntary basis.

vi. The terms of the binding will be applicable only in case of full transfer of power by Britain to Government of India.

Wavell Plan & Shimla Conference

In May 1945, Lord Wavell, the Viceroy of India, went to London and discussed his ideas about the future of India with the British administration. The talks resulted in the formulation of a plan of action that was made public in June 1945. The plan is known as Wavell Plan.

The Plan suggested reconstitution of the Viceroy’s Executive Council in which the Viceroy was to select persons nominated by the political parties. Different communities were also to get their due share in the  Council and parity was reserved for Cast-Hindus and Muslims. While declaring the plan, the Secretary of State for Indian Affairs made it clear that the British Government wanted to listen to the ideas of all major Indian communities. Yet he said that it was only possible if the leadership of the leading Indian political parties agreed with the suggestions of the British Government.

To discuss these proposals with the leadership of major Indian parties, Wavell called for a conference at Simla on June 25, 1945. Leaders of both the Congress and the Muslim League attended the conference, which is known as the Simla Conference. However, differences arose between the leadership of the two parties on the issue of representation of the Muslim community. The Muslim League claimed that it was the only representative party of the Muslims in India and thus all the Muslim representatives in the Viceroy’s Executive Council should be the nominees of the party. Congress, which had sent Maulana Azad as the leader of their delegation, tried to prove that their party represented all the communities living in India and thus should be allowed to nominate Muslim representative as well. Congress also opposed the idea of parity between the Cast-Hindus and the Muslims. All this resulted in a deadlock. Finally, Wavell announced the failure of his efforts on July 14. Thus the Simla Conference couldn’t provide any hope of proceeding further.

[1] Chauth was comprised of 1/4 of the revenue assessment paid as a fee for non-molestation. Sardeshmukhi was an additional levy of 10% of revenue which  Shivaji claimed on being the Sardeshmukh (overlord).