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Factors leading to the birth of Indian Nationalism

The British exploitation of Indian masses for a century created hatred and animosity against them. The introduction of western education was an eye-opener for the Indians towards the colonial rule of the British raj. Besides, several other factors contributed for the growth of nationalism in India.

Political and Administrative unity:

Political and Administrative unity India became politically unified under British rule. British rule also brought administrative unity inside the country. Less than one rule, one administrative framework, one set of law, judicial court, administrative officers, etc.became same everywhere inside the country. It created awareness among Indians that this vast united India belongs to them and by the way, created nationalism within them.

Development in the means of communication and transport:

Lord Dalhousie made a lasting contribution for Indians by introducing railways, telegraph and new mode of postal system. Roads were connected with India from one end to the other. Though, all these were meant to serve imperial interest, the people of India capitalised it. The railway compartment reflected a united India. It narrowed down gap among them and gave them the feeling that they all belonged to this vast India which was under the grip the British raj.

Impact of Western Education:

The introduction of English education in 1835 was a milestone in the British administration. It was primarily meant to create an educated Indian mass who would be faithful servants to the British raj. However, with the gradual march of time, the English educated Indians became the pioneers in the socio-politico-economical and religious reforms in India. Raja Rammohan Roy, Swami Vivekananda, Feroz Shah Mehta, Dadabhai Nairobi, Surrender Nat Banerjee championed the cause of liberty, equality humanitarianism etc. Gradually, the English educated Indians became the torch-bearers of Indian nationalism and aroused national consciousness in the minds of millions of Indians.

Rediscovery of India's glorious past:

Lord Dalhousie The nineteenth century Indian Renaissance created several avenues in the field of oriental studies. Western scholars like Max Muller, Sir William Jones, Alexander Cunningham, etc. translated several ancient Sanskrit texts of this land and established before the people the glorious cultural heritage of India. Inspired by them, the Indian scholars like R.D - Banerjee, R.G. Bhandarkar. Mahan Mahopadhyaya Hara Prasad Astir, Ball Gangadhar Tikal etc. rediscovered India's past glory from the history of this land. This encouraged the people of India who felt that they were the ancestors of grand monarchs of this country and ruled by foreigners. This flared up the fire of nationalism.

Socio-religious reform movements:

The national awakening in the nineteenth century was largely due to the socio-religious movements launched by Raja Rammohan Roy, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Vivekananda, Slayed Ahmad Khan, Annie Besant etc. These reformers championed the causes of human equality, individual liberty, abolition of social disparity and so on. This reformed the minds of Indians and awoke them from centuries of thralldom.

Growth of vernacular literature:

The influence of western education prompted the educated Indians to reflect the idea of liberty, freedom and nationalism through the vernacular literature. They aimed at arousing the mass to oppose British rule being surcharged by the spirit of nationalism. Bunkum Chandra Chatterer’s Anand Math (which contained the song Vanda Mata ram) and Dinabandhu Metra's play Nil Darlan extorted tremendous influence upon the people and created anti-British feelings among them. Bharatendu Harish Chandra's play Baraga Purdahs reflected the miserable condition of Indian mass under British rule. Besides several eminent poets and writers in different languages, e.g. Rabindranath Tagore in Bengali, Vishnu Shari Chipulunkar in Marathi, Laminate Bazbarua in Assamese, Mohammad Husain Azad and Altar Husain Ali in Urdu etc. contributed a lot to rouse nationalism among the local people through their writings.

Press and newspapers:

Press and magazines played a dominant role in injecting national feelings in the minds of Indians. Raja Rammohan Roy was the pioneer of Indian press and journalism. He edited Sambaed Kumauni in Bengali and MiratuI Akbar in Persian. Gradually, several newspapers were edited in different parts of the country in several languages. To mention a few notable ones, The Amritbazar Patria, Hindu Patriot, Indian Mirror, Bengalese, Sanjivani, Saharan, in Bengali, the Maratha Kesari, Native Opinion, Indus Prakash in Maharashtra; The Hindu, Kerala Patria, Andhra Prakashiks in Madras; The Tribune, Akbar-i-Am, Koh-i-Noor in Punjab etc. were the important publications that reflected the colonial rule of the Bruisers and aroused nationalism in the minds of Indian people.

Economic exploitation of the Britishers:

Economic exploitation of the Britishers A nation of shop-keepers, the Britishers, paralyzed Indian economy by draining wealth from this country. The industrial revolution in England helped in the productive process and she needed markets all over the world for selling its products and also needed raw-materials for its factories.

India was robbed away in both the ways i.e. by providing market for the British goods and supplying raw materials for the factories of England. The creation of absentee landlords by the Britishers and in association with them the local money-lenders exploited the Indian mass and made them poorer and poorer. The adverse effects of British exploitation were reflected in Indian economy. Dadabhai Naoroji with his theory of agricultural decay; G. V. josh and Ranade with their charges against the ruin of Indian handicrafts brought before the people the exploitative policy of the Britishers which ruined the Indian economy, factory, handicrafts etc. and brought untold miseries to the people and made them poor. The hungry bellies became angry against the Britishers.

Racial antagonism: The Englishmen considered themselves as superior in all respects than the Indians. They never wanted to offer the Indians higher jobs even though they were qualified and intelligent. The age limit for Indian Civil Service examination was kept at twenty-one and the examination was held at England. Aurobindo Ghosh was declared disqualified in horse-riding and could not get through that examination, even he had qualified the written examination. Thus, the colonial rule was well apparent before the educated Indians who became the vanguard in spreading discontent against the British rule among the Indian mass.

The atrocities of Lord Lytton: The administration of Lord Lytton discharged venom in the minds of Indian people. He celebrated a ceremony at Delhi Durbar when Queen Victoria assumed the title Kaiser-e Hind (the Empress of India. when the country was famine-stricken. He imposed heavy tax on the people of India and spent a large chunk of money in the Afghan war.
During his time, the Arms Act was passed which prohibited the Indians from keeping arms without licence. His Vernacular Press Act infuriated Indians.

The Albert Bill controversy:

During the period of Lord Ripon as Viceroy, the Albert Bill was passed. It empowered the Indian judges to try the Europeans. It created hue and cry among the Europeans and their pressure led to reform the bill inserting a clause that an Indian would try a European in the presence of a European witness. This clearly exposed the malafide intention of the British authority and clearly projected their racial antagonism.

The memory of the Revolt of 1857:

When nationalism was flaring up in the minds of Indian people, the memory of the Great Revolt of 1857 flashed back before them. The heroic action of Nana Sahib, Tata Tope, Rani Lama Bay and other leaders of the Revolt became fresh in their mind. It inspired the people to cherish with their memory ant' to give a fight to the Britishers.

The birth of Indian National Congress:

The birth of Indian National Congress in 1885 gave a final spark to the growth of national consciousness among the Indians. Soon, the National Congress gained momentum in the nook and corner of India. It expressed the desires of the people before the British authorities. Through many mass movements and their important leaders the courses became able to give an ideological fight to the British raj and bring freedom to India.

The social composition of early Congress leadership

Indian National Congress was founded in 1885. Its founding members belonged to educated middle class. They had got English education and had firm faith in British providence. They wanted to improve the condition of Indian people under the guidance of British benevolence. They had no mass support. They wanted to keep their movement restricted to upper middle class as they were of opinion that people in general were not educated enough to understand the basic need of the hour. Its founding members proposed economic reforms and wanted a larger role in the making of British policy for India.

Early Congressmen who dominated the affairs of the Indian National Congress from 1885 to 1905 were known as the Moderates. They belonged to a class which was Indian in blood and color but British in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect. They were supporters of British institutions. They believed that what India needed was a balanced and lucid presentation of her needs before the Englishmen and their Parliament. They had faith in the British sense of justice. The Moderates believed in orderly progress and constitutional agitation. They believed in patience, steadiness, conciliation and union.

The Moderates believed in constitutional agitation within the four corners of law. They believed that their main task was to educate the people, to arouse national political consciousness and to create a united public opinion on political questions. For this purpose they held meetings. They criticized the Government through the press. They drafted and submitted memorials and petitions to the Government, to the officials of the Government of India and also to the British Parliament. They also worked to influence the British Parliament and British public opinion. The object of the memorials and petitions was to enlighten the British public and political leaders about the conditions prevailing in India. Delegations of leading Indian leaders were sent to Britain in 1889. The basic weakness of the Moderates lay in their narrow social base. Their movement did not have a wide appeal. The area of their influence was limited to the urban community. As they did not have the Support of the masses, they declared that the time was not ripe for throwing out a challenge to the foreign rulers.

By 1907, however, the Congress had split into a moderate group led by Gopal Krishna Gokhale, who sought dominion status for India, and a militant faction under Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who demanded self-rule

The Moderates and Extremists

The social base of moderates was zamindars and upper middle classes people in towns. They had ideological inspiration western liberal thought and European history. They believed in England's providential mission in India. They believed political connections with Britain to be in India’s social, political and cultural interests. They professed loyalty to the British Crown. They believed that the movement should be limited to middle class intelligentsia; masses not yet ready for participation in political work. They demanded constitutional reforms and share for Indians in services. They insisted on the use of constitutional methods only. They were patriots and did not play the role of a comprador class.

Extremists: The social base of extremist was educated middle and lower middle classes in towns. Their ideological inspiration came from Indian history, cultural heritage and Hindu traditional symbols. They rejected ‘providential mission theory' as an illusion. They believed that political connections with Britain would perpetuate British exploitation of India. They believed that the British Crown was unworthy of claiming Indian loyalty. They had immense faith in the capacity of masses to parti­cipate and to make sacrifices. They demanded Swaraj as the panacea for Indian ills. They did not hesitate to use extra- constitutional methods like boycott and passive resistance to achieve their objectives. They were patriots who made sacrifices for the sake of the country.

Partition of Bengal (1905)

Partition of Bengal in 1905 was carried out by the British viceroy, Lord Curzon. Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa had formed a single province of British India since 1765. By 1900 the province had grown too large to handle under a single administration. East Bengal, because of isolation and poor communications, had been neglected in favor of west Bengal and Bihar. The Hindus of west Bengal, who controlled most of Bengal’s commerce and professional and rural life opposed Partition. They regarded the partition as an attempt to strangle nationalism in Bengal, where it was more developed than elsewhere. This began a transformation of the Indian National Congress from a middle-class pressure group into a nationwide mass movement. In 1911, the year that the capital was shifted from Calcutta (now Kolkata) to Delhi, east and west Bengal were reunited. The aim was to combine appeasement of Bengali sentiment with administrative convenience.

The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal

The Swadeshi Movement had its genesis in the anti-partition movement of Bengal. The decision escalated the protest meeting, leading to the passage of Boycott resolution in a massive meeting held in Calcutta town hall, and the formal proclamation of Swadeshi Movement was made.

The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal was dominated by the extremist. They put forward new forms of struggle. The movement mainly introduced boycott of foreign goods, and used public meetings and procession for mass mobilization. Self reliance or ‘Atma Shakti’, Swadeshi educations and enterprises, were emphasized on.

Several samities remained active to ensure mass participation and in the cultural sphere songs written by Rabindranath Tagore, Rajanikanta Sen, Dwijendralal Ray, Mukunda Das and others inspired the masses.

Soon the movement spread to other parts of the country; in Pune and Bombay under Tilak, in Punjab under Lala Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh, in Delhi under Syed Haider Raza and in Madras under Chaidamabaram Pillai.

The economic and political aspects of Swadeshi Movement

The Swadeshi movement was a turning point in modern Indian history. It proved to be a “leap forward” in more ways than one. Hitherto untouched sections; students, women, some sections of urban and rural population participated in the movement. All major trends of the national movement, from conservative moderation to political extremism, from revolutionary terrorism to incipient socialism, from petitions and prayers to passive resistance and non-cooperation, emerged during the Swadeshi Movement. The richness of the movement was not confined to the political sphere alone, but encompassed economics, art, literature, science and industry also. The Swadeshi campaign undermined the hegemony of colonial ideas and institutions. The future struggle was to draw heavily from the experience gained. Thus, with the coming of Swadeshi and boycott Movement, it became clear that the Moderates had outlived their utility and their politics of petitions and speeches had become obsolete. They had not succeeded in keeping pace with time, and this was highlighted by their failure to get the support of the younger generation for their style of politics. Their failure to work among the masses had meant that their ideas did not take root among the masses.

The beginning of revolutionary extremism in India

The Extremists acquired a dominant influence over the Swadeshi Movement in Bengal. This was because the Moderate-led movement had failed to yield results. The divisive tactics of the Governments of both the Bengals had embittered the nationalists. The Government had resorted to suppressive measures.

The Extremists gave a call for passive resistance in addition to swadeshi and boycott which would include a boycott of government schools and colleges, government service, courts, legislative councils, municipalities, government titles, etc.

The militant nationalists put forward several fresh ideas at the theoretical, propaganda and program levels. Among the several forms of struggle thrown up by the movement were: boycott of foreign goods, public meetings and processions, Corps of volunteers or ‘samitis’, imaginative use of traditional popular festivals and melas, emphasis given to self-reliance or ‘Atma Shakti’, program of Swadeshi or national education, swadeshi or indigenous enterprises etc.

The militant nationalists tried to transform the anti- partition and Swadeshi Movement into a mass struggle and gave the slogan of India’s independence from foreign rule. The Extremists gave the idea of India’s independence the central place in India’s politics. The goal of independence was to be achieved through self-sacrifice