RISE OF NATIONALISM IN INDIA
FACTORS IN THE GROWTH OF MODERN NATIONALISM
- Worldwide upsurge of the concepts of nationalism and right of self-determination initiated by the French Revolution
- Indian Renaissance
- Offshoot of modernization initiated by the British in India
- Strong reaction to British imperialist policies in India
Colonial rule was the major cause of India’s economic backwardness and that the interests of the Indians involved the interests of all sections and classes.
The nationalist movement arose to take up the challenge of these contradictions.
POLITICAL, ADMINISTRATIVE AND ECONOMIC UNIFICATION OF THE COUNTRY
- The British rule in the Indian subcontinent extended from the Himalayas in the north to the Cape Comorin in the south and from Assam in the east to Khyber Pass in the west.
- While Indian provinces were under ‘direct’ British rule, the princely states were under ‘indirect’ British rule.
- The necessities of administrative convenience, considerations of military defense and the urge for economic penetration and commercial exploitation (all in British interests) were the driving forces behind the planned development of modern means of transport and communication
This process of unification had a two-fold effect:
- The economic fate of the people of different regions got linked together; for instance, failure of crops in one region affected the prices and supply in another region.
- Modern means of transport and communication (Railways, postal system and telegraph) brought people, especially the leaders, from different regions together.
- This was important for the exchange of political ideas and for mobilisation and organisation of public opinion on political and economic issues.
WESTERN THOUGHT AND EDUCATION
- The introduction of a modern system of education afforded opportunities for assimilation of modern Western ideas.
- Macaulay’s minute of 1835 led to introduction of English education.
- The liberal and radical thought of European writers like Milton, Shelley, John Stuart Mill, Rousseau, Paine, Spencer and Voltairehelped many Indians imbibe modern rational, secular, democratic and nationalist ideas.
ROLE OF PRESS AND LITERATURE
- In 1877, there were about 169 newspapers published in vernacular languages and their circulation reached the neighborhood of 1,00,000.
- The press while criticizing official policies, on the one hand, urged the people to unite, on the other.
REDISCOVERY OF INDIA’S PAST
The historical researches by European scholars, such as Max Mueller, Monier Williams, Roth and Sassoon, and by Indian scholars such as R.G. Bhandarkar, R.L. Mitra and later Swami Vivekananda, created an entirely new picture of India’s past.
PROGRESSIVE CHARACTER OF SOCIO-RELIGIOUS REFORM MOVEMENTS: These reform movements sought to remove social evils which divided the Indian society
RISE OF MIDDLE-CLASS INTELLIGENTSIA
The new middle class was a well-integrated all-India class with varied background but a common foreground of knowledge, ideas and values.... It was a minority of Indian society, but a dynamic minority.... It had a sense of unity of purpose and of hope.
IMPACT OF CONTEMPORARY MOVEMENTS IN THE WORLD: Rise in number of nations in a particular deeply influenced the nationalist ranks (Italy, Greece, Ireland)
REACTIONARY POLICIES AND RACIAL ARROGANCE OF RULERS
- Lytton’s reactionary policies such as reduction of maximum age limit for theI.C.S. examination from 21 years to 19 years (1876), the grand Delhi Durbar of 1877 when the country was in the severe grip of famine, the Vernacular PressAct (1878) and the Arms Act (1878) provoked a storm of opposition in the country.
- 1883: Illbert Bill introduced by Ripon had to be modified, thus almost defeating the original purpose, because of the stiff opposition from the European community.
POLITICAL ASSOCIATIONS BEFORE THE INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS
Through long petitions to the British Parliament most of them demanded—administrative reforms, association of Indians with the administration, and spread of education.
POLITICAL ASSOCIATIONS IN BENGAL
- The Bangabhasha Prakasika Sabha was formed in 1836 by associates of Raja Rammohan Roy.
- The Zamindari Association, more popularly known as the ‘Landholders’ Society’, 1838 was founded to safeguard the interests of the landlords.
- The Bengal British India Society was founded in 1843
- In 1851, both the Landholders’ Society and the Bengal British India Society merged into the British Indian Association.
- The East India Association was organised by Dadabhai Naoroji in 1866 in London
- The Indian League was started in 1875 by Sisir Kumar Ghosh
- The Indian Association of Calcutta (also known as the Indian National Association) superseded the Indian League and was founded in 1876 by younger nationalists of Bengal led by Surendranath Banerjea and Ananda Mohan Bose
- It protested against the reduction of age limit in 1877 for candidates of the Indian Civil Service examination.
- The association sponsored an all-India conference which first took place in Calcutta on December 28 to 30, 1883. It later merged with the Indian National Congress in 1886.
POLITICAL ASSOCIATIONS IN BOMBAY
- The Poona Sarvajanik Sabha was founded in 1867 by Mahadeo Govind Ranade
- The Bombay Presidency Association was started by Badruddin Tyabji, Pherozshah Mehta and K.T. Telang in 1885.
POLITICAL ASSOCIATIONS IN MADRAS
The Madras Mahajan Sabha was founded in 1884 by M. Viraraghavachari, B. Subramaniya Aiyer and P. Anandacharlu.
FOUNDATION OF INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS
- The final shape to the establishment of an all-India organisation idea was given by A.O. Hume, who organised the first session of the Indian National Congress at Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit College in Bombay in December 1885.
- Two sessions of the Indian National Conference had been held in 1883 and 1885, Surendranath Banerjea and Ananda Mohan Bose were the main architects of the Indian National Conference.
- The first session of the Indian National Congress was attended by 72 delegates and presided over by Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee.
- Kadambini Ganguly, the first woman graduate of Calcutta University, addressed the Congress session.
INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS: MODERATE PHASE
WAS IT A SAFETY VALVE?
- Hume formed the Congress with the idea that it would prove to be a ‘safety valve’ for releasing the growing discontent of the Indians.
- R.P. Dutt opined that the Indian National Congress was born out of a conspiracy to abort a popular uprising in India and the bourgeois leaderswere a party to it.
- Bipan Chandra observes, the early Congress leaders used Hume as a ‘lightning conductor to bring together the nationalistic forces even if under the guise of a ‘safety valve’.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE CONGRESS-
- start a democratic, nationalist movement
- politicize and politically educate people
- establish the headquarters for a movement
- promote friendly relations among nationalist political workers from different parts of the country
- develop and propagate an anti-colonial nationalist ideology
- formulate and present popular demands before the government with a view to unifying the people over a common economic and political programme
- develop and consolidate a feeling of national unity among people irrespective of religion, caste or province
- carefully promote and nurture Indian nationhood.
ERA OF MODERATES (1885-1905)
Important Leaders-The national leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji, Pherozshah Mehta, D.E. Wacha, W.C. Bonnerjea, S.N. Banerjea
- They worked on a two-pronged methodology—one, create a strong public opinion to arouse consciousness and national spirit and then educate and unite people on common political questions; and two, persuade the British Government and British public opinion to introduce reforms in India on the lines laid out by the nationalists.
- A British committee of the Indian National Congress was established in London in 1899 which had India as its organ.
CONTRIBUTIONS OF MODERATE NATIONALISTS
ECONOMIC CRITIQUE OF BRITISH IMPERIALISM
The early nationalists, led by Dadabhai Naoroji, R.C. Dutt, Dinshaw Wacha and others, carefully analysed the political economy of British rule in India, and put forward the “drain theory” to explain British exploitation of India.
DEMANDS OF MODERATES
From 1885 to 1892, the nationalist demands for constitutional reforms were centred around:
- expansion of councils—i.e., greater participation of Indians in councils; and
- reform of councils—i.e., more powers to councils, especially greater control over finances.
- They gave the slogan—“No taxation without representation”.
- Indianization of government service
- Call for separation of judicial from executive functions.
- Criticism of an oppressive and tyrannical bureaucracy and an expensive and time- consuming judicial system.
- Criticism of an aggressive foreign policy which resulted in annexation of Burma, attack on Afghanistan and suppression of tribals in the North-West—all costing heavily for the Indian treasury.
- Call for increase in expenditure on welfare (i.e., health, sanitation), education— especially elementary and technical—irrigation works and improvement of agriculture, agricultural banks for cultivators, etc.
- Demand for better treatment for Indian labour abroad in other British colonies, where they faced oppression and racial discrimination.
- Protection of Civil Rights- Through an incessant campaign, the nationalists were able to spread modern democratic ideas, and soon the defense of civil rights became an integral part of the freedom struggle.
AN EVALUATION OF THE EARLY NATIONALISTS
- They represented the most progressive forces of the time.
- They were able to create a wide national awakening of all Indians having common interests and the need to rally around a common programme against a common enemy, and above all, the feeling of belonging to one nation.
- They trained people in political work and popularized modern ideas.
- They exposed the basically exploitative character of colonial rule, thus undermining its moral foundations.
- They were able to establish the basic political truth that India should be ruled in the interest of Indians.
- They created a solid base for a more vigorous, militant, mass-based national movement in the years that followed.
- Aitchison Public Service Commission, 1886: Increase age limit for ICS exam to 23
- Enactment of Indian Councils Act of 1892 (did not modify basic constitution but led to representation of Indians in Legislative councils)
- The resolution of House of Commons, 1893 which spoke about simultaneous conductment of ICS exam in London & India was (Did not happen till 1922)
- Welby Commission on Indian Expenditure, 1895
SHORTCOMINGS OF MODERATES
- The moderate phase of the national movement had a narrow social base and the masses played a passive role.
- This was because the early nationalists lacked political faith in the masses; they felt that there were numerous divisions and subdivisions in the Indian society, and the masses were generally ignorant and had conservative ideas and thoughts.
- Moreover, their policy of gradualism and being fully faithful to the British did not yield strong results.
ATTITUDE OF THE GOVERNMENT
- The government resorted to open condemnation of the Congress, calling the nationalists “seditious brahmins”, “disloyal babus”, etc.
- Dufferin called the Congress “a factory of sedition”.
- Later, the government adopted a ‘divide and rule’ policy towards the Congress.
- They encouraged reactionary elements such as Sir Syed Ahmed Khan to counter INC and keep Muslims away.