Beginning of Freedom Movement Class 8 History Notes Maharashtra State Board
English education had mixed effects on the Indian society. The seeds of nationalism were sown by the reforms of the newly educated society. Due to various movements in different parts of India a favourable situation was created to build a political organization on an all-India level which will bring together the various provincial political organizations, and different groups of politically aware people and express the aspiration of the nation by diverting the public attention towards the questions of the nation.
Centralization of Administration during British Rule:
The British administration and its implementation on India brought the nation under one roof in its true sense. Due to identical reforms all over the country and equality before the law, the feeling of nationalism developed among the people. For the convenience of administration and swift movement of the army, the British built a network of roads and railways. But these facilities benefited the Indians as well. People from different parts of India came in contact with each other, there was an increase in communication and the feeling of nationalism grew.
The Indian wealth was flowing towards England by all means. Due to the imperialist policy of England, there was a beginning of economic exploitation of India. Farmers were compelled to take cash crops, burden of land taxes, and continuous famines all this broke down the backbone of Indian agriculture. Traditional industries declined which led to a rise in unemployment. The Capitalists exploited the working class. Various new taxes were imposed on the middle class. This led to growth of discontent among the people.
Due to the spread of Western education, new ideas such as Justice, Liberty, Equality, Democracy, etc. were introduced to the Indians. Rationalism, Scientific attitude, humanity, and nationalism these principles were accepted by the Indians. Therefore there inculcated a feeling that we are capable of carrying out the work of the country and its progress is possible by following these principles. India is a country of diverse languages but with the introduction of the English language India got a new medium of communication.
Study of Ancient Indian History:
The ‘Asiatic Society’ was established at Bengal by the British. Many Indian and Western scholars started to study Indian culture. The manuscripts in Sanskrit, Persian, and other languages were examined and research was published. Dr.Bhau Daji Lad, and Dr. R.G. Bhandarkar Indian scholars made an intensive study of ancient Indian culture. After understanding that we are blessed with glorious ancient tradition, the Indians were awakened with a sense of Identity. The ‘Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute has been working for the last 100 years in Pune.
Contribution of Newspapers:
During this period, English and Vernacular newspapers and periodicals came to be published. Through these newspapers, political and social awakening took place. Newspapers like Darpan, Prabhakar, Hindu, Amrit Bazar Patrika, Kesari, and Maharatta started criticizing the Government.
Establishment of Indian National Congress:
On 28 December 1885, the first session of the Indian National Congress was held at Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit School in Mumbai. 72 delegates from different provinces of India participated in this session. Wyomesh Chandra Banerjee, a renowned lawyer from Kolkata, was the President of this session. In this session, they established the Indian National Congress. Allan Octavian Hume, a British officer, took the lead in the establishment of the Indian National Congress. Increased proportion of Indians in the administration, reduction of military expenses by the British government such statements were sent to the British.
Objectives of the Indian National Congress:
To make the people from different parts of India forget the differences in religion, race, caste, language, and geographical territories and bring them on a common platform, to understand each other’s problems and views, to increase the feeling of oneness among the people, to take efforts for the development of the country were the objectives of the Indian National Congress.
Moderate Phase (1885-1905):
The early ten years after establishment of Indian National Congress their contribution was very slow but consistent. The leaders of Indian National Congress were realistic and highly educated. They were aware that through organised work a strong foundation needs to be built up. Western thinker’s, philosophy of liberalism, freedom, equality, fraternity these values had an impact on them. They believed in constitutional methods. They had a hope that if we demand through constitutional methods then the British will give justice to our demands. Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Ferozshah Mehta, Surendranath Banerjee were all moderate leaders.
In the session of Indian National Congress different resolutions were put forward by them such as, to get representation in provincial legislature, jobs for educated Indians, cutting down the increasing expenses on military, Legislature and Judiciary should be seperated for safeguarding legal rights of Indians etc. To cause a split in the national movement the British implemented the policy of ‘Divide and rule’.
Extremist Phase (1905-1920):
All Indian leaders who were politically aware kept aside their differences of caste, religion, language, and province and gathered on a single platform of the Indian National Congress. There were unanimous decisions regarding the objectives of the Congress and taking forward the movement by constitutional means, but there were differences regarding the working system. These were ideological differences. From these differences, two main political groups were formed. The Moderates advocated peaceful and constitutional manners and the Extremists believed in a severe struggle for attainment of freedom. Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, and Bipin Chandra Pal were believed to be extremist leaders.
In the early period, the Extremist leaders, to bring political awakening among the Indians used methods like newspapers, national festivals, and national education. ‘Kesari’ and ‘Maratha’ were the newspapers through which Lokmanya Tilak made severe criticism of the suppressive policy of the British. In Bengal province, ‘Amrit Bazar Patrika’ was a mouthpiece of extremist ideology. By forgetting the internal differences people should come together and exchange their ideas, and common people should get inspiration from the contributions of national personalities, with these objectives Tilak started organizing of Shiv Jayanti and Ganesh Utsav. For political reasons, if people come together then the government will ban them, but for religious reasons, if people come together the government will not ban them was his opinion.
In the Mandalay prison, Tilak wrote ‘Geetarahasya’. Its core was the philosophy of karma yoga which stressed that people should always be in action. The extremist leaders established educational institutions to create a generation concerned about their language and tradition. The extremist leaders thought that if lakhs of people took part in the freedom movement and challenged the British government by struggling against them only then success will be achieved. They unanimously believed that the movement should be made more severe. They did not adopt the means of armed revolution but rather insisted on an extensive public agitation. The moderates laid the foundation of the freedom movement and the extremists carried forward the movement.
In 1897, in Pune, the epidemic of the Plague had spread on a large scale. Hundreds of people died due to it. An officer named Rand was appointed. The plague patients were searched out and oppressive measures were adopted. As revenge, the Chapekar brothers assassinated Rand. The government tried to connect the relation of Lokmanya Tilak with this conspiracy. After being unsuccessful the government imprisoned Tilak with revenge.
Partition of Bengal:
The British decided to use the policy of ‘Divide and Rule’ to create a rift between the Hindu-Muslim community. The then Viceroy Lord Curzon contributed to it. Bengal was a very large province. To carry out the work of this province was difficult from an administrative point of view. By putting up this reason, in 1905, he declared the partition of Bengal province. With this partition, the arrangement was made such that the majority of Muslims would remain in East Bengal and West Bengal for majority of Hindus. The hidden strategy of the British was, if the Hindu-Muslims were divided, due to partition, then the freedom movement would be weakened.
There was a public awakening against partition not only in Bengal but all over India. 16 October, the day of partition was observed as National Mourning Day. All over India, there were protest meetings to condemn the Government’s decision. ‘Vande Mataram’ came to be sung everywhere. As a symbol of unity, ‘Raksha Bandhan’ programs were held. Students in large numbers boycotted government schools and colleges and participated in the movement. The leadership of this movement was in the hands of Surendranath Banerjee, Anand Mohan Bose, Rabindranath Tagore, and other leaders. The extent of the Indian National Congress increased due to the anti-partition movement. It became a national movement. Owing to the severity of dissatisfaction, the British annulled the partition of Bengal.
Four Point Programme of Indian National Congress:
Gopal Krishna Gokhale was the President of the Indian National Congress session of 1905. He supported the anti-partition movement. Dadabhai Nowrojee was the President of the 1906 session. For the first time he pronounced the word ‘Swaraj’ from the stage. In his Presidential speech, he gave the message that remain united, try sincerely, and fulfill the aim of Swaraj so that today we will be able to save lakhs of people suffering from poverty, hunger, and diseases and India will get a respectable position among developed countries.
In the same session Swaraj, Swadeshi, National Education, and Boycott, this 4-point program was unanimously accepted by the Indian National Congress. Due to the Swadeshi movement, we will be self-sufficient. To follow the path of Swadeshi we need to bring together capital, resources, manpower, and other forces and from this, the benefit of the country could be achieved. It was decided that boycotting of foreign goods is the first step and boycotting foreign rule will be the next step. Due to the boycott, we will be able to attack the roots of British imperialism, was the opinion of some of the leaders.
Gopal Krishna Gokhale founded the ‘Servants of India Society in 1905. To create a love for the country, teach them the sacrifice of self-interest, differences between religion and Do you know ? caste should be destroyed and to create social harmony, the spread of education was the main objective of the servants of Indian society.
Differences between Moderates and Extremists:
The differences between the ideologies of the Indian National Congress rose to a great extent in the Surat session in 1907. The moderates were trying to keep aside the resolution of Swadeshi and boycott. The extremists trying that this opposition should not be successful. Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Surendranath Banerjee, and Ferozshah Mehta such moderate leaders blamed the extremist leaders are trying to capture the Indian National Congress. Lala Lajpat Rai tried to act as a mediator. As per Tilak’s opinion, the Indian National Congress was a national platform, hence it should not be divided. During the session, the tension increased and since no compromise was possible finally there was a split in the Indian National Congress.
Suppression of the British:
After anti partition movement, the government was disturbed looking at the influential public protest. To control this movement, the Government used the policy of suppression. The holding of public meetings was legally banned. Strict punishments were given to those who broke the law. Schoolchildren were also beaten up. Many restrictions were imposed on newspapers. Many printing presses were confiscated on grounds of blame for criticizing the government. Writers and editors were imprisoned. Strict actions were taken against the extremist leaders. This led to a severe reaction in Bengal. The revolutionaries adopted, the means of firing, bomb blasts, etc. These bomb attacks were advocated through Kesari newspaper by Lokmanya Tilak. The charge of sedition was put on Lokmanya Tilak for which he was sent to Mandalay jail at Myanmar for 6 years imprisonment. Bipin Chandra Pal was sentenced to jail and Lala Lajpat Rai was deported from Punjab.
Establishment of Muslim League:
The British became very disturbed looking at the overwhelming response to the Indian National Congress in the anti-partition movement. The British once again followed the policy of ‘divide and rule’. They started using propaganda that to safeguard the interest of Muslims they should have a separate political organisation. Due to the motivation of the British government, a committee of upper-class Muslims under the leadership of Aga Khan met Governor General Lord Minto. Due to the motivation from Lord Minto and other British officers, the Muslim League was established in 1906.
There was dissatisfaction among the Indians regarding the work of the British government. The Indians felt that the reason for poverty in India was the economic policy of the British. The oppressive policy of Lord Curzon, the exclusion of educated Indians in government services, and unjust behavior towards Indians in Africa, all added to the dissatisfaction of the Indian people. As a temporary remedy for the discontent among Indians, the Morley Minto Reform Act of 1909 was passed. This act, it increased the number of Indian members in the Legislative Assembly and the provision of the inclusion of some elected Indian representatives in the Legislative Assembly was made. In the same act, separate electorates were provided to the Indian Muslims. Due to this conspiracy of the British, the seeds of division in India were sown.
In the Lucknow session of the Indian National Congress in 1916, under the leadership of Lokmanya Tilak, an attempt was made to resolve the dispute in the Indian National Congress. In the same year, there was an agreement between Indian National Congress and Muslim League known as the ‘Lucknow Pact’. According to this pact, the Indian National Congress agreed to separate electorates to Muslims and the Muslim League agreed to support the Indian National Congress in its work for getting political rights to India.
Home Rule Movement:
In 1914, when Lokmanya Tilak was released from the Mandalay Jail, the First World War had begun in Europe. The direct consequences of this war had to be borne by India as well. The rates of basic necessary commodities increased. Many restrictions were put up on the Indians by the British government. This led to increased dissatisfaction in the minds of Indians. In these circumstances, Dr. Annie Besant and Lokmanya Tilak started the Home Rule movement. Home Rule means self-government. Such a movement also began in Ireland against Colonialism. Along similar lines, the Home Rule movement demanded the right of self-government in India. Annie Besant and Lokmanya Tilak made extensive tours in different parts of the country and the demand for self-government reached the common people. Tilak firmly stated that ‘Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it’.
First World War and India:
With the war atmosphere in Europe, growing dissatisfaction in the minds of Indians, popularity of the Home Rule movement; in such conditions the British needed to get cooperation from the Indians. The British government decided to provide some political rights to the Indians. In 1917, Montague, Secretary of State for India, declared that step by step Indians would be given the right to self-government and a responsible political system. Tilak also declared that if the government is going to show sympathy and considerable attitude towards the demands of the Indians, only then Indian public is ready to cooperate with the British. This policy of Lokmanya Tilak is known as ‘ Responsive Cooperation’.
Montague Chelmsford Reform Act:
In 1919, the British Parliament passed another act to bring constitutional reforms to India. This act is known as the ‘Montague Chelmsford Reform Act’. According to this Act, less important departments were transferred to the Indian ministers, whereas the important departments like Finance, Home Affairs, and Revenue were under the control of the Governor. The 1919 Act did not give much exposure to the demand for a Responsible Government of Indians. Everybody was disappointed due to this act. Tilak criticized the act in the following words, ‘This is neither Swaraj nor its foundation’. The Indians understood that if they had to subdue the British government then the agitation needed to be more rigorous. India got prepared for a new movement.
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