Nationalism In India - Content Outline
Category : 10th Class
Nationalism in India
In India, the growth of modem nationalism is intimately connected with anti-colonial movement. The sense of being oppressed under colonial rule provided a shared bond and united people of different groups together. The Congress under Mahatma Gandhi forged these groups together within one movement.
Indian nationalism which made its beginning in the later half of 19th century was strengthened in the first decade of 20th century and grew into the national movement with the Non-Cooperation and Civil Disobedience Movements.
The First World War, Khilafat and Non-Cooperation Movement
The First World War which was fought between the allied powers and central powers between 1914 to 1918 had affected the people of all colonies adversely. Price rise due to war, caused extreme hardship to common people. People from villages were compelled to join the army to fight in the war; shortage of food, influenza epidemic resulted in famines and misery. The Indian people supported the war efforts hoping that their miseries would end once the war was over. But their hopes were belied.
Emergence of Gandhiji and ideas of Satyagraha
Mahatma Gandhi, who successfully fought against the racist regime in South Africa came back to India in 1915. He advocated a unique method of Satyagraha which was a method of resistance based on truth and non-violence. He successfully involved the masses in Satyagraha movement and organised agitation in Champaran in Bihar in 1917 against the Indigo planters. Similar peasants/worker movements were organised in Kheda in Gujarat and Ahmedabad Mill respectively.
A nationwide agitation was organised against oppressive Rowlatt Act, which authorised the government to arrest and imprison political activists without trial. Arrest of two popular leaders resulted in widespread demonstration and arrest in various cities. On 13th April the infamous Jallianwalla Bagh incident took place. The government resorted to unprecedented repression. Mahatma Gandhi now felt the need of a broad-based movement. As he was keen to unite both the Hindus and Muslims into one movement, he first started the Khilafat movement to protest against the humiliation of the Khalifa or the Turkish ruler by the British. The young generation of Muslim leaders supported Gandhiji in Khilafat movement which was to protect the Khalifa, the temporal and spiritual head of the Muslims. In this movement Gandhiji saw the opportunity of larger movement uniting the Hindus and Muslims to protest against the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre and also to demand Swaraj.
Gandhiji realised that if the Indians refused to cooperate with the British government the government would collapse and Swaraj would come very soon. Hence he began the Non-Cooperation Movement which was to be organised in three stages. Being a firm believer in nonviolent agitation, Gandhiji wanted the movement to be peaceful involving renunciation of titles, defiance of laws, boycott of government institutions and at the end non-payment of taxes.
People from various sections participated in it in their own ways. Many Indian institutions were set up. Tribal and peasant movements.
Were also organised. Many Kissan Sabhas were set up. Thousands of planation workers defied government authorities and left the plantation.
However in February 1922, Gandhiji had to withdraw the Non-Cooperation Movement as a result of the violent incidents in Chauri Chaura and other places. Gandhiji felt the masses were not yet ready for a nonviolent resistance movement. Some of the young leaders like Subhas Chandra Bose and Jawarharlal Nehru were not happy at the sudden withdrawal of the movement.
Under Gandhiji's leadership, the Congress withdrew itself from political activities. Some leaders such as Motilal Nehru and C.R. Das formed Swaraj Party to contest elections and enter Legislative Council to work for reforms.
By 1930, the people in countryside were in turmoil due to world-wide economic depression. Fall of prices of agricultural goods and decline in exports increased the hardships of the peasants. The British government paid no heed to the nationalistic aspirations of the Indian people. Against this background the Simon Commission was sent to India which was boycotted by the Indian leaders. Negotiations between the Congress and the government failed and in 1929 Lahore Session of Indian National Congress, under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose the Congress formalised the demand of 'Purna Swaraj' or Complete Independence which also became the goal of Indian National Movement since then. It also declared that the Congress would observe 26th January every year as the Independence Day.
The Salt March and Civil Disobedience Movement
The nationalist aspiration expressed in the Lahore Session was strengthened further next year in the Salt March and Civil Disobedience Movement. The Civil Disobedience Movement began with Gandhiji's historic march of over 240 miles from Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad to Gujarat coastal town of Dandi. Gandhiji ceremonially broke the salt law by making salt by boiling sea water. People from all walks of life participated in the salt satyagraha and defied laws peacefully without resorting to violence. They courted arrest and very soon nearly 100,000 people were arrested. The government resorted to ruthless oppression. Finally on 5th March 1931 Viceroy Lord Irwin signed an agreement with Gandhiji. The Viceroy agreed to release most of the political prisoners on condition that Gandhiji would call off the movement and go to London to attend the 2nd Round Table Conference to solve constitutional deadlock.
Though Gandhiji attended the conference no agreement was reached. Movement was revived and continued for another four years till the Government of India Act was passed in 1935.
Other important aspects of this movement
(a) Large-scale participation of women in this movement was an important factor. Thousands of women left the comfort of their homes and joined the mass movement both in urban and rural areas.
(b) The Indian merchants and industrialists who made huge profits during the First World War emerged as a powerful class. They organised Indian Industrial and Commercial Congress in 1920 and the Federation of the Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industries was set up in 1927. Industrialists opposed colonial control over Indian economy and supported Civil Disobedience Movement. Their enthusiasm got a setback after the failure of the Round Table Conference.
(c) This period also saw the movement of the depressed classes. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar organised the 'dalits' into the Depressed Classes Association in 1930 and demanded separate electorate for them. The British agreed to this demand pursuing their policy of divide and rule. Finally the danger of further division of the society was prevented by Gandhiji by the Poona Pact signed by Gandhiji and Dr. Ambedkar in 1932.
(d) Emergence of Hindu and Muslim communal organisations like Hindu Mahasabha and Muslim League and their communal activities posed a threat to rising tide of Indian nationalism.
However nationalism in India was strengthened by national literature popularizing national flag, national icons like Bharatmata, etc. Poets, authors, painters began to inspire people through their work.
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