India from 1884-1915

Section Q: The Initial Indian Organizations

British India Society 1839-43

  • It took over a 100 years to the Indians to understand the true nature of the colonist British rule as an exploitative, alien rule.
  • The Nationalism in India certainly grew after the foundation of Indian national Congress in 1885, but prior to that there were some secular political organizations that came up with some primitive ideas about independence.
  • The first among them was British India Society.
  • In 1831, Dwarkanath Tagore had established the “Landholders Society” along with Prasanna Kumar Tagore, Radhakanta Deb, Ramkamal Sen and Bhabani Charan Mitra. The Landholders society was known as the first organization of Bengal with distinct political object. It was followed by British India Society in 1839.
  • British India Society was founded in 1839 in England with the efforts of William Adam, one of the friends of Raja Ram Mohan Roy. William Adam had come to India and got in touch with Raja Ram Mohan Roy and when he returned England, he took up India’s cause along with George Thompson, William Ednis, and Major General Briggs. The result was organizing meetings at several places and creating awareness about the conditions in India.
  • In 1841, this society started printing a newspaper “British Indian Advocate”.
  • In 1842, Dwarkanath Tagore went to England along with Chandramohan Chatterjee and Paramananda Maitra. He returned from England with George Thomson. With the efforts of George Thomson, Bengal British India Society was founded on 20 April 1843. The idea was to secure the welfare, and advance the interests of all classes, in pure loyalty to the government of the reigning sovereign of the British dominions.

British Indian Association 1851

  • British Indian Association was created after amalgamating the “Landholders Society” and “British India Society” on 31 October 1851. This was the first political organization that brought the Indian Together.
  • The President of the first committee of this organization was Raja Radhakanta Deb, while Debendranath Tagore was its secretary.
  • The newspaper of this society was “Hindu patriot” which adopted a strongly critical political tone.
  • Its editor Harish Chandra Mukherjee wrote in the Hindu Patriot on 14 January 1858, the following lines: “Can a revolution in the Indian government be authorized by Parliament without consulting the wishes of vast millions of men for whose benefit it is proposed to made? The reply must be in the negative. The time has nearly come when all Indian questions must be solved by Indians” In the wake of the upcoming charter act (of 1853) in 1852, this organization sent a delegation to England, pleading for separation of Judiciary with executive, higher posts and pays for Indians, abolition of salt duty and inclusion of Indians in the legislative councils. But all expectations were negated by the Charter Act of 1853.


Bombay Association (1852) & Madras Native Association (1852)

  • In Bombay and Madras, there were two important first political organizations. The first political organization of the Bombay Presidency was the Bombay Association which was started on 26 August 1852, to vent public grievances to the British.
  • The first organization in the Madras Presidency to vent for the rights of Indians was the Madras Native Association which was established by Gazulu Lakshminarasu Chetty in 1849. However, both of them were essentially local in character and so got disbanded in a few years.

East Indian Association 1867

  • The “Grand Old Man of India” Dadabhai Naoroji initiated establishment of East India Association, at London.
  • It was one of the predecessor organizations of the Indian National Congress in 1867. The idea was to present the correct information about India to the British Public and voice Indian Grievances. In 1869, this organization opened branches in Bombay, Kolkata and Madras. It became defunct in 1880s.

National Indian Association 1870 (Mary Carpenter)

  • Mary Carpenter was an English educational and social reformer who came to India in 1866, to fulfill her long cherished desire to, after she met Raja Ram Mohan Roy in 1833.
  • During this visit she went to Calcutta, Madras and Bombay. She could see the pathetic condition of the female children in the country.
  • She met Keshab Chandra Sen, the leader of Brahmo Samaj, who asked her to form an organization in Britain to improve communication between British and Indian reformers. In 1870 she established National Indian Association.
  • It was different than the Indian National Association.

Indian National Association 1876 (Surendra Nath Banerjee and Anand Mohan Bose)


  • Indian National Association was the first declared Nationalist Organization founded in British India by Surendranath Banerjee and Anand Mohan Bose in 1876.
  • It was originally established as Bharat Sabha and held its first annual conference in Calcutta. It merged in INC in 1885.
  • Surendranath Banerjee
    • Surendranath Banerjee is also known as RastraGuru.
    • He was born in 1848 and in 1868, he competed in the Indian Civil Service Examination along with RC Dutt. He cleared the exam in 1869, but was debarred because of age dispute.
    • Later he cleared the exam in 1871 and got appointed as Assistant magistrate in Bengal.
    • Later he established the Indian national Association which was Pro-british. He remained the leader of the INC and in the evening of his life supported the British empire.
    • He was knighted by the Government and also served as minister for local self-government from 1921 to 1924.
    • He was an open critic of Mahatma Gandhi, who was then only in rising stage of his political career.

Section R: India under Lord Dufferin

Arrival of Lord Dufferin 1884

  • In 1884 Lord Dufferin came to India as Next Viceroy.
  • The main events of this period were:
    • Third Anglo Burmese war that led to annexation of Upper Burma.
    • Tenancy acts were passed in some provinces Congress took birth in 1885.
  • Lord Dufferin sought to pursue a middle path in contrast with the imperialism of Lord Lytton and overzealous policy of Internal administration reforms of Lord Ripon.
  • But this was the time for serious problems in the foreign relations. In North West Russia was renewing its policy of aggression, in east, in the Indo-China France had started upon an aggressive policy.

Birth of Durand Line 1884 – 1893

  • In Afghanistan, Abdur Rahaman was made the Amir in 1880. By this time, the British had accepted the policy of disintegrating the Afghans and accepted it as a Buffer State between the two countries.
  • The advocates of a British forward policy in Afghanistan and on the North West frontier of India regarded “Herat” as the gate of India. But British still retained the rights to handle the foreign relations of Afghanistan.
  • In 1885, a military skirmish occurred and the Russian encroached the Merv Oasis and an Afghan territory south of the Oxus River around an oasis at Panjdeh. (It is now in Turkmenistan). Thus the occupation of Merv placed Russia in a easy striking reach of Herat. So, this was a great alarm for the Russophobes. Immediately negotiations were opened between London and St. Petersburg.
  • A possible war was averted with diplomacy and Lord Dufferin managed to secure a settlement. As per this settlement Russia kept the Merv Oasis, but relinquished further territories taken in their advance, and promised to respect Afghan territorial integrity in the future.
  • Later, in 1893 during times of Lord Lansdowne, Abdul Rahman accepted to let a mission headed by the British India Foreign secretary, Sir Mortimer Durand, demarcate the territories as joint Afghan Frontier Commission.
  • This was the birth of Durand Line, which now defines the territories of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • Durand Line is also known to have established the “Great Game” buffer zone between British and Russian interests in that region.
  • The Durand line agreement carved out of a new province called North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) out of annexed areas from Afghanistan. They are currently part of Pakistan but Afghanistan did not recognize them. In 1895, Afghanistan’s northern Border was fixed and Guaranteed by Russia.

Third Anglo-Burmese War and Annexation of Burma

  • On the eastern front, there was an unrest caused by the French activities in Indo-China, which led the British to poke their nose in the affairs of independent Burma.
  • The Kind Thebau was alleged of persistent ill treatment with the British subjects.
  • There was a succession crisis and British resident was thrown out of Burma. The result was a war in which a force under General Harry North Dalrymple Prendergast invaded upper Burma. In two weeks, the King surrendered and was sent as a prisioner to Madras.
  • On January 1, 1886, the territories of Burma were annexed in British India and on September 25, 1886, Lower Burma was annexed as province of British India under Sir Charles Bernard as the first chief commissioner.
  • Thus this annexation was a result of Imperialism, rather than justice. But this annexation aroused the Burmese people. They started seeking independence by protracted guerrilla warfare. The series of expensive campaigns against these Guerilla warriors was led and they were suppressed brutally.
  • But this annexation was not even welcome in India. This was because of the increased expenses which were now to be at the Cost of Indian Subjects. So, Indians prayed to make the Burma a crown colony as Ceylon.

Section S: Birth of Indian National Congress

Birth of Congress 1885

  • Back home, the need for the formation of an all-India political organization had become an objective necessity. The pre-congress organizations were limited in scope and objectives. This led to development of some basic needs and objectives before the leaders. It was said that the Indians need to be welded together for their political advancements.
  • It was Allan Octavian Hume, who embarked on an endeavor to start an organization of select alumni of the University of Calcutta in 1883. By May 1885, he was able to secure the Viceroy’s approval to create an “Indian National Union”, which would be affiliated with the government and act as a platform to voice Indian public opinion.
  • In Britain, there was a general election in 1885. A. O. Hume et al published an “Appeal from the People of India” to the electors of Great Britain and Ireland.
  • This appeal asked the British Voters to support the candidates who were sympathetic to the Indian public opinions. However, there was no substantial result of this appeal.
  • The major issued raised by these people were:
    • Spending Indian taxpayer’s money on British Indian campaigns in Afghanistan
    • Legislative reforms on India for greater participation of the Indian people.
    • Increased pressure on India by annexation of Burma.
  • On 28 December 1885, the Indian National Congress was founded at Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit College in Bombay, with 72 delegates in attendance.
  • Please note that the first meeting was scheduled to be held in Pune, but due to a plague outbreak there, the meeting was later shifted to Mumbai.
  • The first Session of INC was held from 28-31 December 1885, and was attended by 72 delegates.
  • A O Hume assumed office as the General Secretary.
  • Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee of Calcutta was elected President. The additional British Members were William Wedderburn and Justice John Jardine.
  • All others were the Hindus from Calcutta and Madras Presidency.
  • Fact Box:
    • First session of Congress In the First session of the Congress, it adopted a resolution expressing the dissatisfaction on the current system of Governance and demanded reforms in the Councils.
    • After this resolution, Lord Dufferin had established a committee for the reforms in the councils and it was this act which introduced the principle of representation. This act authorized the universities, District Boards, Municipalities, Zamindars and Chambers of Commerce to send members to Provincial councils.
  • Indian Councils act 1892 was enacted partially due to efforts of Indian National Congress. For the first time, Indian Councils Act had authorized the universities, District Boards, Municipalities, Zamindars and Chambers of Commerce to send members to Provincial councils.
  • The Indian Councils act 1892 increased the number of the additional members in case of the council of the governor general to maximum of 16. In case of Bombay and Madras 8-20 and In case of the Bengal 20 and In case of North Western province and Oudh 15.

Safety Valve Theory of Indian National Congress

  • Indian National Congress was founded by a Retired Civil Servant and not by any Indian. It was said that the INC was started by Viceroy Lord Dufferin with the help of an ex Civil Services member as a “Safety Valve” against the popular discontent. This is termed as “Safety Valve Theory”.
  • This theory says that A O Hume and other British thought that the educated Indians may become leaders of the Indian public and organize a rebellion against the government. So if the Government itself provides them a platform to raise their voice, it may be possible to stop such nuisance.
  • The concept of Safety Valve Theory says that the British had seen the political situation in the country leading to another rebellion on along the lines of the War of lndependence of 1857, and wished to avoid such a situation. So, they wanted to provide a platform to the people, where they could discuss their political problems. A O Hume was a retired British Civil Servant and had a series of meetings with Lord Dufferin, the Viceroy. He also lobbied with some other people such as Sir James Caird, Lord Ripon, John Bright etc. A large number of British in India such as Sir William Wedderburn, George Yule, Charles Bradlaugh etc, supported AO Hume. This theory has been discarded now.
  • But still, the contribution of British cannot be disregarded in creation of first all India political front in which majority of the people were Hindus. The Muslims took congress negatively in the beginning but there were leaders such as Badruddin Taybji who were active leaders.
  • The contribution of British in foundation of this organization was accepted and verbalized by Gopal Krishna Gokhle in 1913 as follows: “No Indian could have started the Indian National Congress…if an Indian had come forward to start such a movement embracing all Indians, the officials in India would not have allowed the movement to come into existence. If the founder of the Congress had not been an Englishman and a distinguished ex-official, such was the distrust of political agitation in those days that the authorities would have at once found some way or the other to suppress the movement”
  • The second session of Indian National Congress met at Calcutta in December 1886.
  • The president was Dadabhai Naoroji. Now the number was 436 and these delegates were elected by different local organizations and groups. Most of these were the educated class of India consisting of lawyers, journalists, traders, industrialists, teachers, and some of them were landlords. The success of second INC session led the leaders decide to meet every year in December in different parts of the country. By 1889, the number of the delegates rose to 2000.

Early Years of Congress: the Demands

  • During the early years, Congress passed the resolutions on the related to political, administrative and economic public grievances.
  • The main political demand was the reform in the legislative councils so that the Indians get wider powers such as discussion on Budget, so that they work as representatives of the people.
  • There was a demand of local self-government at a wider level.
  • They wanted reforms in the Civil services and through a simultaneous ICS examination at India as well as England, so that the administration becomes more responsive to the needs of the Indian People.
  • The other demand was separation of Judiciary with the executive.
  • The other demands were:
    • Repeal of the arms act Higher jobs in the army for the Indians Rising of an Indian volunteers force.
    • Similarly, the economic issues were based upon the drain of wealth from India to England.
    • It was documented and published by Dada Bhai Naoroji as “Poverty and un-British Rule in India”.
    • The Congress leaders wanted an inquiry into India’s growing poverty and famines, reduction in military expenditure and home expenditures
    • They wanted more funds for technical education to promote Indian industries.
    • Another demand was to put an end to unfair tariffs and excise duties imposed on Indian traders very discriminately. They wanted extension of permanent settlement to other areas.

Early Congress and British

  • The idea behind these reasonable demands was to put a national character to the British Government of India. The methodology of the early Congress leaders was limited to pass resolutions and prepare petitions to be sent to England.
  • The British Committee of INC was founded in 1889 and in 1890; this committee started a journal called India. Thus we see that initially the Indian National Congress wished to achieve the Indian Objectives within the British Empire.
  • But in the due course, Congress became the focus and fulcrum of Indian Nationalist aspirations and it was in 1929, when independence was kept above all the other goals.
  • Initially the objectives were limited and it worked with the constitutional limits. But still it was being looked with suspicion with the by the British.
  • When Congress was formed, the secretary of state for India was Earl of Kimberley, who served in this capacity from December 1882 to 9 June 1885. But when the Congress met for the first time on 28 December 1885, the Secretary of State for India was Lord Randolph Churchill, whose tenure was from 24 June 1885 28 January 1886, just 6 months. After that Earl of Kimberley again became secretary of state for India and served in this capacity from 6 February 1886 to 20 July 1886. {This question has been asked many times in examinations}.
  • The demands of the Congress were ridiculed in the British Media. But it was Earl of Kimberley, the Secretary of State for India who somewhat supported the reasonable demands.
  • Lord Dufferin initially did not take Congress much seriously.
  • Then, there was a blast and all of a sudden a Pamphlet appeared titled “The Rising Tide”. Another pamphlet appeared titled “An Old Man’s Home”.
  • These were agianst the British and Lord Dufferin took no time to react and express objection to these mischief.
  • He initially called Congress as representative of “microscopic minority of India” but later in the fourth session of Allahabad, the Government servants were disallowed to take part in the proceedings of the Congress.
  • Thus was the beginning of the movement of Independence in India.

Section T: India from 1888 to 1905

Arrival of Lord Lansdowne 1888

  • The Marquis of Lansdowne (Lord Lansdowne) succeeded Lord Dufferin in 1888 and ruled India till 1894.
  • This was the time when the North West frontier of India was strengthened and secured against the possible invasions.
  • The Durand line was demarcated which served as India-Afghanistan Border. This was the time of improving railroad communication between the frontier and the military base in India.
  • This time was used by the British in strengthening the select position by making strong fortifications of great cantonments.
  • For defense of the Khaibar, Rawalpindi was selected as the base for the defense, thus strong posts at Rawalpindi, Peshawar Attock defended the Indus.
  • During his time, Indian Councils Act 1892 was passed.

Indian Councils Act 1892

  • Indian Councils Act 1892 was the beginning of the parliamentary System in India.
  • Before this act was passed, the Indian National Congress had adopted some resolutions in its sessions in 1885 and 1889 and put its demand.
  • The major demands placed were as follows:
    • A simultaneous examination of ICS to be held in England and India
    • Reforms of the legislative council and adoption of the principle of election in place of nomination
    • Opposition to the annexation of Upper Burma Reduction in the Military expenditure.
  • The second demand mentioned above reflected the dissatisfaction of the Indian National Congress over the existing system of governance. The Indian leaders wanted admission of a considerable number of the elected members. They also wanted the creation of similar councils of North western Province and Oudh and also for Punjab
  • The Indian leaders also wanted a right to discussion on budget matters.
  • Viceroy Lord Dufferin set up a committee. The committee was given the responsibility to draw a plan for the enlargement of the provincial councils and enhancement of their status.
  • The plan was drawn, but when it was referred to the Secretary of State for India, he did not agree to introduction of the Principle of election.
  • The Indian Councils Act 1892 gave the members right to ask questions on Budget or matters of public Interest. But none of them was given right to ask supplementary questions.
  • The act of 1892 can be said to be a First step towards the beginning of the parliamentary system in India, where the members are authorized to ask questions. At least, they were enabled to indulge in a criticism of the Financial Policy of the Government.
  • The Indian Councils act 1892 can also be said to introduce the principle of representation. This act authorized the universities, District Boards, Municipalities, Zamindars and Chambers of Commerce to send members to Provincial councils.
  • The Indian Councils act 1892 increased the number of the additional members in case of the council of the governor general to maximum of 16. In case of Bombay and Madras 8-20 and In case of the Bengal 20 and In case of North Western province and Oudh 15.
  • Reaction to Indian Councils Act 1892
    • Contrary to the Congress faith in the policy of petition, prayer and protest, the Indian Councils Act did not satisfy the public demand.
    • The congress way of demand was seen as a weakness by the British Government.
    • This was evident from the following note by BG Tilak: “……political rights will have to be fought for. The moderates think that these can be won by persuasion. We Think that they can only be obtained by strong Pressure…” This was the beginning of the militant nationalism in India.

Arrival of Lord Elgin 1894

  • In January, 1894, Lord Elgin succeeded Lord Lansdowne.
  • By this time, the financial reforms and tax reductions by Lord Ripon’s administration had started creating problems for the revenue.
  • The Burma War cost Rs. 40 Lakh, the military campaigns in North West cost Rs. 20 Lakh and the increased army needed an expenditure of Rs. 15 Lakh per annum.
  • To meet these expenses, the income tax was revived in 1886 and Salt Tax was increased in 1888 and a 5% custom duty was imposed in 1894. When Lord Elgin came, the custom duty was imposed on Cotton Goods and was extended to Manchester Cotton Cloths of finer qualities.

Opium Commission 1893

  • In 1893 a royal commission was issued to inquire into the results of using opium in India, and the possibility of prohibiting it.
  • This commission examined many witnesses and finally reported in 1895.
  • The result was as follows:
    • The result of Opium use in India is much less harmful than it was supposed.
    • Opium rarely sends any criminal to the Jails, as Alcohol sends criminals to English Jails as a cause of crime and death in England. It is used by the holy saints of India.
    • Opium is not associated to any disease and it is widely used as a remedy in Malaria and Fever.
  • The result was that the Government happily accepted the recommendation of this commission and shelved the idea of imposing a ban on Opium.
  • A similar parliamentary commission was asked to inquire into the impact of Bhang, Ganja and other “desi” drugs and the commissions found that if Bhang and Ganja are prohibited, the consumption of alcohol will increase in India, and that would cause more problems for their subjects in India.
  • At that time, Opium was cultivated by only licensed cultivators and they were required to sell all of the produce to the Government, which used to “export” it. About 90 % of this Opium was sent to China and Government earned two third of the profit.
  • Opium was rarely smoked in India but the people of Burma were used to living in Opium Smoker’s paradise. But the commission’s reports were criticized by some parliamentarians of England like Henry Joseph Wilson, who did not approve the “studies” of the commissioners.

Bubonic Plague of Bombay Presidency 1896-97

  • The last five years of the 19th century were disastrous for India, which brought an array of misfortune and distress.
  • In October, 1896, the Bubonic plague, which was part of the Third Pandemic, was certified to exist in the Bombay presidency. It was endemic in some localities like Mesopotamia and some central Asian places but from there it spread to China causing 50 thousand deaths and then in Hong Kong causing 10 thousand deaths.
  • The Plague was studied at the Pasteur Institute in Paris and the studies were done by a Russian Bacteriologist Waldemar Haffkine. Waldemar Haffkine had also developed an anti-cholera vaccine which he tried out successfully in India. He was the first microbiologist who developed and used vaccines against cholera and bubonic plague. He tested the vaccines on himself and was acclaimed as “a savior of humanity”.
  • The plague spread rapidly in the Bombay Presidency and people started fleeing from Mumbai, Pune and other places. In 1897, the death started dancing in Pune and the government decided to take drastic steps against the killer disease. There were riots in various locations due opposition to government policy of sanitary measures. The government had decided to take drastic action against the Plague and as per the Special Plague Committee’s recommendations 893 officers and men both British and native were placed under the command of WC Rand and Lieutenant Ayerst.
  • The soldiers started house searching and the social taboos took it as a kind of oppression.
  • The people got irked and Tilak also opposed this way of the Government’s suppression of the disease. He wrote inflammatory articles in “Kesari” his newspaper.
  • The result was that these two officers were shot dead by some Pune youngsters.
  • After this, a series of trials began and some people including Tilak were charged of sedition. Tilak was sentenced to 18 months rigorous imprison.
  • In the court he declared: “Swaraj ha maza janmasidha adhikar aahe ani to mi milavinach” Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it.” This made Tilak a national Hero and when he returned from Jail, Mother India had found herself given birth to a true hero.
  • The opposition of the Government policy in the Indian Press that led to the series of sedition trials. The result was that a new Press Regulation was adopted in 1898.
  • The Bubonic Plague spread from Bombay Presidency to other parts of the country such as Punjab, Bengal, United Provinces and in 1905 its traces were seen in even By 1901, 4 Lakh people had died; the death toll reaches over 10 Lakh by 1905. It was on its height when in the last week of April 1905, fifty eight thousand people were reported to have killed. However, since then the number of deaths fell. But this was just a part of the misfortune for India. The same time was of severe famine attacks affecting several parts of India.

Chhappania Akal 1899-1900

  • In 1896, the rainfall was less than the normal rainfalls. This was an El Niño year, the years in which the monsoon rainfall was considerably less than average, because of the El Niño.
  • In 1897 the rains were sufficient but in the next year 1897-98, the rains were profuse, but again 1899 was an El Niño year. This was the worst year in which rainfall fell to 60-65%. (Normal rain 45 Inch, this year rains 33 Inches, deficiency 11 Inches). The result of these two El Niño Years 1896 & 1899 was that in October 1897
  • Three Lakh square miles of the population of the Agra, Oudh, Bengal and the Central Provinces got affected.
  • In November 1900, the Bombay Presidency, Central Provinces, Rajputana, etc. got caught in the grip of the famine. This was three and half times of the area affected previously.
  • The famine claimed 90-100 Lakh lives, most severely affected were Bombay Presidency as per the official figures and Rajputana as per the unofficial figures.
  • Since the famine of 1899-1900 was in the Vikrami Samvat 1956, it is known as Chhappania Akal or Chhappania Kal.
  • The El Niño year follow by El Niño+1 year in which the normal rainfalls are higher.
  • The result was the famine was followed by epidemic , malaria & cholera and the severity of the famine was so bad that the tribals of Rajputana, Madhya Pradesh (central Provinces) , Gujarat (Bombay Presidency), Hissar and other places died in thousands. The tragedy is still sung in the folk songs of these areas.
  • The famine relief in the British Provinces was organized by the Government of Lord Curzon and around 25% of the affected people were relieved as per the official figures, but the native princes of Rajputana and Gujarat who were autonomous failed to curb the death toll. The Government spent Rs. 170 Lakh and Rs. 130 Lakh in the famines of 1897 and 1900. This Chhappania Akal is the most widespread recorded in Indian history. Though, it was not as acute as the Orissa famine of 1866 or as fatal as the terrible Bengal famine of 1770, yet the progress of the media, invention and spread of Photography and the means of communication made it the most popular famine of India.

Arrival of Lord Curzon 1899

  • Viceroy of this famine torn India was Lord Curzon who had come to take office in 1899. He remained India’s viceroy till 1905.
  • The British records claim that the efforts of Lord Curzon were able to feed 3-5 million people in the British Indian provinces. Lord Curzon Said: “If any man is in any doubt as to whether he should subscribe, I would gladly give him a railway Ticket to a famine district….He might go with a hard heart, but he would come back with a broken one”.
  • But, this calculative person wanted to spend as little money as he could do. It is evident from the following statements he made : “any government which imperiled the financial position of India in the interests of prodigal philanthropy would be open to serious criticism; but any government which by indiscriminate alms-giving weakened the fibre and demoralized the self-reliance of the population, would be guilty of a public crime” The British initiatives were inadequate grossly — The authorities did not do anything to do an intervention in the market to control the grain prices.
  • The Famine Relief Commission received millions of Pounds of money and Grain from the private sources but the efforts reached too late.
  • The Government policy was devoid of any humanitarian consideration. India owed an enormous debt to her Colonial masters and this led Curzon to remain stringent in his economics. Thus was the fate of the Indian subjects under the colonial power. There was another famine of such kind in 1943 too.

Inauguration of North West Frontier Provinces 1901

  • In 1897-98, there was a uprising in the North West.
  • After long consideration it was decided, at the close of 1901, to create a Northwest Frontier Province under a chief commissioner directly subordinate to the government of India. Thus a policy of conciliation was mingled with forceful suppression.
  • Now, the new province contained the territories lying between the newly defined frontier of Afghanistan and the upper course of the River Indus. The military bases were connected with the frontier posts by a system of light railroads.

Irrigation Commission 1901

  • After the disastrous famine period of 1896-1900, there was an emphasis on pushing for more internal administration reforms with greater vigor.
  • In this context, construction of irrigation works in accordance with the broad plans was outlined by an Irrigation Commission under Sir Colin Scott-Moncrieff.
  • This commission was appointed by Lord Curzon.
  • The most important part of these undertakings was Punjab, which comprised of 2714 miles of main canal. A project to cover all the areas was developed, which would construct smaller canals and link them with the main canal thus practically completing the possible development of irrigation in the Punjab. However, this work was later authorized in 1905 and it took more than 2 decades to get completed.

Punjab Land Alienation Act 1900

  • One of the most important events that had a greater impact on the people was the Punjab Land Alienation Act of 1900. By this act, there was a 15 years limitation was placed on all land purchases and mortgages. Thus this bill cancelled the Zamindar’s right to sell or mortgage a land.
  • The basic objective of this bill was to impose a check on the alienation of land from Agriculture to nonagricultural class, thus discouraging the moneylenders.
  • The idea was to protect the Zamindars.
  • These Zamindars borrowed money from the Money Landers and then either sold or mortgaged their lands. This also stopped the Urban Professionals and traders to enter into any kind of land transaction with the peasants. The peasants were on the brink of the agitation due to economic oppression and the Government wanted to give some “relief” to them.
  • The Bill was opposed by the Indian Leaders and the Press. They said that this bill has nothing serious measures to ameliorate the socio-economic conditions of the peasantry. The Indian National Congress passed a resolution against this act in 1899 Lucknow Session.
  • This act made the moneylenders, shopkeepers, professionals and the trader class against the Government.
  • The act was called as an intrusion to private property and the moneylenders thought that they shall be made the scapegoat. This was a point when the trader class of Punjab (Including Punjab in Pakistan) to come close to Congress.

Cooperative Credit Societies Act, 1904

  • One impact of the Punjab Land Alienation Act of 1900 was that the Money Landers started not giving any loans to the Agriculturalists, because now they could not keep their land as mortgage. So now there was a need to establish agriculture and rural Banks.
  • The earliest act regarding the rural credit was the Land Improvements Loans Act of 1883. But this act had many defects in its functioning.
  • In 1892, the Government appointed a committee under Fredrick Nicholson to advise the government on the starting of Agricultural banks and land Banks in Madras Presidency. The committee submitted its report in 1895 and 1899. The committee made strong recommendation of introduction of the rural banks on cooperative lines.
  • Prior to that in state of Baroda, an ‘Anyonya Sahakari Mandali’ was organized in 1889, which is said to be India’s first cooperative arrangement.
  • In 1904, Cooperative Credit Societies Act, was enacted.
  • This act gave the impetus to the Cooperative Movement in India. Soon after India’s first “urban cooperative credit society” was registered in Kanjivaram in the Madras Presidency in October, 1904.
  • The others that followed were as follows:
    • Pioneer Urban Cooperative Society in Bombay (1905)
    • 1 Military Accounts Mutual Help Co-operative Credit Society in Poona (1906).
    • Cosmos Cooperative Society Pune (1906).
  • The act was later amended in 1912 and in 1915, the Maclagan Committee was appointed to review their performance and suggest measures for strengthening them.
  • Some more important step taken by Lord Curzon were as follows:
    • He established a Agriculture Research Institute in Pusa (Bihar – Bengal Presidency)
    • He passed the ancient Monuments Protection Act and established an Archeological department in 1901.
    • He also established a Police Commission under the chairmanship of Andrew Frazer in 1902.
    • In each province, a criminal investigation department was set up. In
    • 1901, Imperial Cadet Corps was launched.
    • A University Commission was set up under the chairmanship of Sir Thomas Raleigh.
    • Indian Universities Act 1904 was passed.
    • The most important bombshell was the partition of Bengal in 1905.

Section U: India Between 1905-1915

Partition of Bengal 1905

  • Lord Curzon was unpopular despite of some of his popularity works. His tenure was termed “Curzonshahi” which was compared to the “Nadirshahi“.
  • The large number of Nationalists- in and outside Congress had learnt the art of protests and agitation and now the Curzon’s unpopularity gave them an opportunity to initiate mass movements for the first time.
  • The question in Bengal was of effective administrative control. In 1874, Bengal had become too large unit to be administered as a single unit. Initially some districts were set off under the Chief commissioner of Assam, but this aroused a public outcry. But the government wanted to solve the problem permanently. It was thought that Assam should be extended and it should include some eastern districts of Bengal.
  • The question was under consideration for several months and finally on October 16, 1905, the Bengal was partitioned and the Province of Eastern Bengal and Assam came officially into existence.
  • Eastern Bengal and Assam Rest of Bengal (Western Part)
  • The partition was opposed by Henry John Stedman Cotton, Chief Commissioner of Assam 1896-1902.
  • The Chief Commissioner of Assam, J. B. Fuller, became lieutenant-governor of the enlarged province. But, Curzon thought as if he was dividing an American county for better administration.
  • The Lord Curzon, who had once written to the Secretary of State for India that: “I would dig the grave of the Indian National Congress before leaving office……One of my greatest ambitions in India is to assist it (Congress) to a peaceful demise…”
  • The over intelligent Viceroy could not understand that Congress would cash it as a “political opportunity” and would lay the foundation of the tomb of the British Empire.
  • The eastern part was thought to be under governed.
  • The Government had the idea that by splitting Bengal, the eastern districts would be governed effectively, however the politico-economic motive behind this was something different which created a havoc.
  • The Eastern Bengal roughly comprised of Manipur, Assam, Chittagong. Dhaka, Rajshahi (Now Bangladesh) with its capital at Dhaka. The administration was left under a lieutenant-governor with a legislative council and board of revenue, but the jurisdiction was under the high court of Calcutta.
  • The two provinces had no racial or linguistic difference but the only difference was that western part was dominated by the Hindus and Eastern Part by the Muslims.
  • But still there was a loud outburst of Bengali patriotism against the partition of their “country”. Why they must split Bengali from Bengali? Every Bengal asked…..Government have its own reasons but this was explained by the Bengali Leaders and Congress to the masses. They insisted that the main political motivation of the British was that Government wanted to deprive Calcutta of its position. Chittagong was a harbor much smaller but at almost same locational advantage as Calcutta. So now, Chittagong would prosper at the cost of Calcutta, because the trade of the eastern part would pass on to Chittagong.
  • So, this was a golden opportunity for Congress to take the matter effectively which it did. Congress insisted that the Government could separate the Non Bengali speaking areas (Bihar or Orissa) rather than splitting the Bengali speaking area.
  • The new Western Bengal made the Bengali people minority in their own country because now the population of Hindi and Oriya speaking people was 37 Million while the population of Bengali Speaking people was only 17 Million!
  • The educated Indians and the Indian National Congress made an effort to create the waves at all India level and they were successful in that. The partition of Bengal was now dubbed a “political intrigue” of Lord Curzon to break India in pieces. This was the most notable manifestation of the political activity in India.
  • Vang Bhang (Partition of Bengal) was seen as an intrigue to divide Hindus and Muslims.
  • It was seen as dividing the Bengalis from Bengalis. It was not acceptable.
  • The result of this political wave was “Boycott” and “Swadeshi Movement”. The agitation had started months before the Government formally announced the partition. In July 1905, the Government had shown intention of dividing Bengal.
  • The Bengali patriots carrying flags of “United Bengal” and slogans of “Unity is strength” marched through the streets of Calcutta and they reached Town hall.
  • On 7 August 1905, the huge meeting was organized in the Town Hall in Calcutta. In this meeting the partition was denounced as arbitrary. The resolution was passed criticizing the manner of partition. A principle of “Boycott” of the British goods was adopted. The resolution said that until the Government annuls the partition, agitation shall continue.
  • The Vande Mataram, which is now our national song became the symbol of this agitation.
  • The India was on the right path of national awakening.
  • On the date of partition, Gurudev Rabindranath declared that it should be observed as a day of unity, people should tie threads (Rakhi) to each other’s wrists. On that particular day, every Bengali kept a fast and took bath on the holy river of Ganges.
  • The streets of Calcutta echoed Bande Mataram and Amar Sonar Bangla Amey Tomay Bhalobashi.
  • The Boycott of British Goods was urged by all the newspapers.

Swadeshi and Boycott

  • Please not that these are two faces of the same coin. When we say Swadeshi, it means adopting indigenous products. When we say Boycott, it means we reject foreign made products. The initial protest was as Boycott and later it became Swadeshi.
  • It was actually a tool of political purpose for Congress to turn the wave into a popular agitation.
  • The British Government had no problem with Swadeshi but Boycott was something which must be denounced!
  • The tool of Boycott was first of used in 1870s when the Manchester cloth was boycotted widely. But it was made a political tool only after partition of Bengal.
  • The Extremist Nationalism also swung up after this event.
  • It was announced as a Boycott in August 1905 in the Town hall of Calcutta but the same thing was given a new term Swadeshi in the 1906 Banaras session of the Indian National Congress under Gopal Krishna Gokhale.
  • The result was that the British cloth, sugar, and other goods were boycotted.
  • Those using these things were socially boycotted. The shopkeepers who sold the imported items were picketed. Public burning of the foreign cloths started.
  • The new blood- school and college students were proactive in this amazing movement.
  • The boycott soon started in other parts of the country. Tilak spread the movement in Bombay presidency and Lala Lajpat Rai took it to Punjab.
  • Syed Haidar Raza took the movement in western parts.
  • There was an active participation of the people in Delhi, Lahore, Rawal Pindi, Kangra, Jammu, Multan, Peshawar, Pune, and Bombay and all of a sudden a nationwide wave was seen in India.

Rise of Extremists

  • The first activity of militant nationalism was seen in Pune during the Bubonic plague of Bombay presidency when the Chapekar brothers shot two officials Mr. Rand and Lt. Ayerst dead in 1897. This group of people hated the British due to their apathy, discrimination and irresponsible administration during the famine and plague.
  • Lord Curzon, who wanted to make England’s stronghold more strong in India actually did some political blunders as follows:
    • In 1899 the political powers of Calcutta Corporation was curtailed down.
    • The University act of 1904 reduced the number of Indian elected members.
    • The Official secrets act 1904 tightened the security and
    • The police reforms increased the power and expense of the Police Force.
    • There was considerable unemployment in the country and these unemployed youths started getting attracted towards the anti-Government radical politics.
    • These youths were aware of the Russophobia of British.
    • They could understand what was happening in Japan.
    • They knew about the Chinese boycott of American goods.
    • They knew about the struggle of British in the Boer war.
    • These news that came from across the border was enough to boost their self confidence and slowly the inferiority complex of Indians was getting washed away. Around 1 million people were reading newspapers now.
    • The Bengal, the Punjab and the Presidency of Bombay were ripe for rise of the militant nationalism. These youngsters did not like the congress mendicancy.
    • They had the Atma shakti and wanted to fight for their rights.
    • The father of this extremism was Bal Gangadhar Tilak who started Ganapati festival from 1894 and developed this religious method of mass contact into a patriotic and historic cult and a symbol of nationalism.
    • In 1896 he started organizing Shivaji festival. For him, the congress was a frog that croaked once a year. He believed in Swaraj and not in administration reforms.
    • He was a Lion who was able create mass unrest by writing articles in his Kesari in Marathi and Mahratta in English.

Resignation of Curzon and Arrival of Lord Minto 1905

  • Meanwhile Lord Curzon became sick. When he was on the sickbed, on August 12, 1905 he telegraphed his resignation to London.
  • The news of his resignation was published in newspapers in a few days and this gave new zeal to the agitators. But the new Viceroy and Governor-General of India Lord Minto, and the new secretary of state for India, John Morley upheld Lord Curzon’s measure. Bengal partition was now in operation.
  • Lord Minto remained Viceroy till 1910. The first thing for the new Viceroy was to crackdown on the people who made the hue and cry.
  • The victims were the school and college boys. They were asked whether they wanted grants, scholarships and affiliation or not? The students were fined, expelled, arrested, beaten and repressed. Now, one could listen the Vandemataram in every street. The government went crazy when it started pulling down the houses on which Bande mataram was written! Police was now more open to use the lathicharge to dismiss the public meetings !

Calcutta session 1906 and Resolution of Swaraj

  • The extremists wanted to extend the boycott to all over India and refuse cooperation so that task of administration becomes impossible.
  • The main extremist leaders were Lala Lajpat Ray, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal. They were called Lal Bal Pal. They had become so popular that British got alarmed. The slogan was “Swaraj is my Birthright” They wanted to disobey the unjust laws; they wanted to kick the loyalists out of the society. They wanted all that Gandhi would take up in future minus non-violence.
  • This was the first phase of the passive resistance.
  • The moderates were moderates. They did not like these new techniques of struggle. They even thought of using the Boycott in only special circumstances. The extremists were far more popular than the moderates.
  • Before this session, the extremists would have taken over congress had they elected a leader among them. But it was not done. The moderates were politically intelligent.
  • In 1906, the session at Calcutta was presided by Dada Bhai Naoroji. The moderates chose Dada Bhai Naoroji to preside the Congress. Dada Bhai Naoroji, the Grand Oldman of India was respected by the moderates and extremists alike.
  • But, in this session, the congress was compelled by the extremists to adopt following resolutions which were accepted by the moderates with half heart. These were as follows:
    • Resolution on Partition of Bengal Resolution of Self Government (Swaraj)
    • Resolution on Swadeshi Resolution on Boycott.
    • Thus in Calcutta session of 1906, under the leadership of Dadabhai Naoroji, Congress adopted Swaraj as the Goal of Indian people.
    • But here a bit of politics was played by the Moderates. They, by no means wanted to be tagged as radical.
    • The toned down the resolution in a compromised state and made it “self government means that obtaining the self governing British Colonies”.
    • Thus the whole meaning of Swaraj of the extremists was changed. The extremists were defeated in this politics and the difference became apparent. Congress was now bound to split.

Surat session and Split in Congress 1907

  • The Congress was on the brink of split. The 1907 session was to be held at Nagpur. But Nagpur was the stronghold of Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
  • The moderates were aware that the local delegates would raise the issues in favor of the extremists.
  • So, Gopal Krishna Gokhle got the venue changed and the new venue was Surat which was a stronghold of the Congress.
  • The 1907 Surat session was held at the bank of the Tapti river in Surat.
  • The Extremist camp was led by Lal Bal and Pal and the moderate camp was led by Gopal Krishna Gokhle.
  • The president of the Surat session was presided by Dr. Rash Behari Ghosh.
  • The congress met in an atmosphere of anger and resentment in this session.
  • Rash Behari Ghosh was elected but the extremists had an objection to this election. Initially the extremists dominated the session but soon they accepted Dr. Rash Behari Ghosh as president and offered to cooperate. But the session was suspended. Congress got split.
  • By the time, the next session of Congress was held in Madras in 1908 under Dr. Rash Behari Ghosh, it was the extremist camp that was facing the Lathis and arrest by the British Government who was now in its comfortable position as Congress was divided.

Suppression of Extremists

  • By this time (1907-08), not less than 7 acts were passed by the British Government in a hurry. The objectives of these acts are evident from their titles. Some of these were:
    • Prevention of Seditious Meetings act : it was passed in 1907
    • Explosive Substance Act : it was passed in 1908
    • The Newspaper (Incitement to Offences) Act 1908: This act was passed and provided to confiscate the press if it published anything against the Government and incited the public outrage.
  • The result was that the Extremists were suppressed. They were not in position to organize a strong political party in that time.
  • Arubindo Ghosh, one of the extremists left the ground and went to Pondicherry.
  • Bipin Chandra Pal also left the politics temporarily.
  • Lala Lajpat Rai went to England. The idea of extremist nationalism was put down temporarily. It later rose as Militant Nationalism.

Indian Councils Act 1909 (Morley Minto reforms) & Communal Representation

  • In 1905, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman who is first man to be given official use of the title ‘Prime Minister’ became Prime Minister of England.
  • When he formed his cabinet he appointed John Morley as Secretary of State for Both the Viceroy and the Secretary of State for India decided to work out some scheme to reform the Legislative councils. This culminated as Indian Councils act 1909 or Minto-Morley reforms.
  • The idea was to give locals some more power in the legislative affairs. The act was passed in 1911.
  • A provision was made for the expansion of legislative councils at the both the levels viz. central as well as provincial.
  • It introduced separate and discriminatory electorate. This was for the first time that, electorate for returning to the representatives to the councils was decided on the basis of class & community.
  • For the provincial councils a provision of three categories was made viz. general, special and chambers of commerce.
  • For the central council, one more category Muslims was added.
  • This was for the first time that, the seats in the legislative bodies were reserved on the basis of religion for Muslims. This is called Communal representation.
  • The Minto Morley reforms are known to envisage a separate electorate for Muslims and this had a long lasting impact on India’s polity. This was for the first time that Muslim community was recognized as a completely separate section of the Indian nation and this triggered “A Cancer” in India called “Hindu-Muslim Disharmony” which later culminated in India and Pakistan.
  • Separate constituencies were marked for the Muslims and only Muslim community members were given the right to elect their representatives.
  • The number of members of the legislative councils at the center was increased from 16-60.
  • The number of the members of the provincial legislatures was also increased and it was fixed 50 for Bengal, madras and Bombay and 30 for rest of the provinces.
  • Some other features:
    • The act empowered the members to discuss the budget and move resolutions before it was approved finally
    • The members were given rights to ask supplementary questions and move resolutions to on matters related to loans to the local bodies.
    • The members given right to discuss matters of the public interest but please note that the House was not binding on the government.
  • In The Lahore Session of Indian National Congress, 1909, strong disapproval was expressed against the separate electorate formed on the basis of
  • Now, under the separate electorates, Muslims could vote exclusively for the Muslim candidates in constituencies specially reserved for them. The idea was to establish that the political, economic and cultural interests of the Hindus and Muslims were distinct. The unity between Hindus and Muslims is a illusion and this act sowed the seeds of the Muslim Communism.
  • The Congress which was now under moderates met once again in the Lahore Session, 1909 and expressed strong disapproval against the separate electorate formed on the basis of religion.
  • The period for 1900 to 1916 saw three important viceroys viz. Lord Curzon, Lord Minto and Lord Hardinge.
  • This period saw the rise of extremists and then in 1907 Surat session, the congress got split between the Moderates and Extremists. This followed a series of suppressive acts and trials; the extremists were suppressed and Congress was now dominated by the moderates.
  • Lord Curzon, whose period was tagged as Curzonshahi tried to make India a British stronghold, but his endeavors could not do any wonders. But this seasoned politician introduced reforms in almost all departments of the Government, though most of the efforts and reforms were based upon imperialistic designs and did not afford any self rule to Indians. This was 20th century and Indians could not accept such measures, the result was that Lord Curzon became very unpopular.

MacDonnell Commission 1901

  • The relief work organized for the Chhappania Kal tried to relive the people in the British provinces, but the way Government organized the relief was sufficient to make him unpopular. When the people were dying out of starvation and diseases, a MacDonnell Commission was appointed by Lord Curzon in 1901 which submitted its report in the same year.
  • This commission came out with a “Moral Strategy”, distribution of advances and loans to the peasants and setting up a Famine Commissioner in the famine affected provinces.
  • The MacDonnell Commission was the famine commission appointed by Lord Curzon, after a long period of 20 years, when Lord Lytton had tried to formulate the general principles of dealing with such famines.
  • During the period of Lord Lytton, a Strachey Commission of 1880 was created to develop a general strategy and principles to deal with the famines. The Strachey Commission came out with the recommendation on whose basis a Famine Code was developed. However, in due course of time, the Famine Code was forgotten and remained defunct till the next attack of famine occurred in India.
  • The MacDonnell Commission also stressed the better transport facility, opening of agricultural banks etc. But this was not adequate and timely measure.
  • The Punjab Land Alienation Act made him unpopular in North India.

Police Intelligence Reforms, Introduction of CID 1902-03

  • In 1902-03, a Police Commission was established for the Police reforms under Sir Andrew Frazer and Lord Curzon got much success in the Police intelligence.
  • It was the rule of Lord Curzon , in which the basic structure of Indian domestic intelligence got developed and remained so till 1947, when India Became independent.
  • He attached Department of Criminal Intelligence to the Government of India at the The result was that this DCI became the central domestic and foreign intelligence agency.
  • At the province level, the Criminal Investigation Departments (CIDs) were established in all provinces of British India.
  • In 1903, the “Thugee and Dakaiti Department” was abolished by the Police Commission, because it was now thought that Thugee no longer exists even in the princely states.
  • It is claimed that the CIDs were introduced by Lord Curzon, because he could foresee the growing nationalism in India. But it is not correct to say so. Lord Curzon saw Congress as an easy target and not a serious threat. It was only after 1905, when Congress became a mammoth organization. The Congress was not even mentioned in his deliberations of the Police Commission in 1902-03. At that time, it was thought that Congress is not involved in fomenting the violent opposition of the Government. The early nationalists were loyal to the Government.

Raleigh Commission

  • The Viceroy filled with imperialistic design was not in favor of giving any power to the Indians. He concluded the Indian Universities and the colleges were slowly becoming cradle of Propaganda against the Government.
  • So, with an idea to bring the Universities under control, Lord Curzon appointed Raleigh Commission under Sir Thomas Raleigh.
  • The Raleigh Commission had only one Indian member, Syed Hussain Belgrami. But when the Hindus protested about this, Justice Guru Das Banerjee was called from the High Court of Calcutta and made a member. This commission submitted its report in 1902 and this followed introduction of a Bill called Raleigh Bill.
  • The Raleigh Bill when became an act, it was called Indian Universities Act 1904.
  • Hunter Commission vs. Raleigh Commission
    • The Hunter Commission of 1882 which was appointed by Lord Ripon left the University education completely and emphasized upon the primary
    • On the contrary, the Raleigh Commission excluded the primary education completely and emphasized upon the Higher Education only.


Indian Universities Act 1904

  • The first provision of this act was that the governing bodies of the universities were to be reconstituted and the size of the Senates was reduced.
  • Now the number in the senate could be minimum 50 and maximum 100.
  • Each of them would hold the office for 6 years. For the Universities of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras, the elected fellows were to be 50 and for rest of the universities, the number was fixed 15. This act allowed the Government to appoint a majority of the fellows in a university.
  • The Governor General was now empowered to decide a University’s territorial limits and also affiliation between the universities and colleges.
  • The Indian Universities Act made the universities and colleges completely under the Government control.
  • However, for better education and research a grant of Rs. 5 Lakh per year for 5 years was also accepted. This was the beginning of university grants in India which later became a permanent feature in the structure of India education.

Ancient Monuments Preservation Act 1904

  • One of the most remarkable acts passed during the times of Lord Curzon was the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act of 1904.
  • This act made any injury to the protected monuments an offence punishable under the law.
  • This act also established the Archeological Department which was to collect the historical documents and importance, conduct excavations and bring the ancient historical information into light.

Imperial Cadet Corps 1904

  • In November 1904, the form of Commission for Imperial Cadet Corps was signed and approved by Secretary of State for India and thus Imperial Cadet Corps came into being for the first time under the direct surveillance of Lord Curzon.
  • Major D H Cameroon was made its commandant and Maharaja Pratap Singh of Idar was made its Honorary commandant.
  • The selected youths between 17-20 years were to be admitted as Imperial Cadets and thier education was to be at one of the Chief’s college at Rajkot, Indore, Lahore or Ajmer. The selected cadets had to join the corps at Dehradun.

India House

  • The Surat split of 1907 followed suppression of the extremists and the slow development of atma shakti lost its appeal.
  • But at the same in time in London, numerous informal nationalist organizations were working. The most important among them was the India House.
  • The India House was based in London and was established by Shyamji Krishna Verma to promote the nationalist views among the Indians of Britain.
  • It published a newspaper “The Indian Sociologist” which used its subtitle -An Organ of Freedom, and Political, Social, and Religious Reform. Several revolutionaries got associated with the India house and most important ones are V D Savarkar and Madan Lal Dheengra.
  • Others were V.N. Chatterjee, Lala Har Dayal, V. V. S. Aiyar, M.P.T. Acharya and P.M. Bapat.
  • All of them later laid the foundation of militant nationalism in India. The newspaper was later banned for sedition.
  • Sacrifice of Madan Lal Dhingra 1909
    • On July 1, 1909, the Indian National Association was observing its annual day function.
    • In London, many Indians and British had gathered to attend the function and here one of the early murders by the Indian Nationalists was carried out.
    • Sir Curzon Wyllie was shot dead by Madan Lal Dhingra, in order to give the British a clear message to free India. He wished to commit suicide but was arrested. He was trialled and hanged on 17 August 1909. The sacrifice of Dhingra not only inspired the Indians but also the Irish, who were struggling at that time for autonomy.

Anushilan Samiti 1902-1908

  • As early as 1902, the three societies came together under a single umbrella of Anushilan Samiti.
  • The Anushilan Samiti was established by Pramathanath Mitra, a barrister from Calcutta.
  • The people associated with this samiti were Sri Aurobindo , Deshabandhu Chittaranjan Das, Surendranath Tagore, Jatindranath Banerjee, Bagha Jatin, Bhupendra Natha Datta, Barindra Ghosh etc. Out of them Bhupendra Nath Datta was brother of Swami Vivekananda.
  • Barindra Ghosh was sent to Paris to learn the science of Bomb Making and here he came in touch were Madam Kama.
  • Madam Kama was already associated with the India House and the Paris India Society.

Alipore Bomb Case 1908

  • In 1908 a revolutionary conspiracy was intrigued to kill the Chief Presidency Magistrate D.H. Kingford of Muzaffarpur.
  • The task was entrusted to Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki.
  • They threw the bombs on a vehicle coming out of the magistrate’s home on April 30, 1908. The magistrate could not be killed as he was not in the vehicle, but two British ladies were killed in the attack. Prafulla Chaki committed suicide after cornered by the Police and Khudi Ram Bose was arrested.
  • The Indian policewalla Nandalal Bannerjee, who had arrested Khudi Ram Bose was later shot dead by Narendranath Bhattacharya.


Alipore Conspiracy Trial 1908-1909

  • Prior to this trial, there were raids on the members of the Anushilan Samiti. The documents such as letters were seized from the house of Arubindo Ghosh and he was arrested and lodged in Alipore Jail. Khudi Ram Bose was meanwhile arrested.
  • The trial continued two years and finally Khudi Ram was hanged.
  • Chitranjan Das, one of the prominent barristers of the day defended and saved Sri Arubindo.
  • Barindra Ghosh and Ullaskar Dutt were sentenced to rigorous imprison and they were released in 1920. The above series of bombing, shooting and trials had started the era of revolutionary terrorism in the country. The focus of these revolutionaries was to kill and send to hell to those British and Indian Officers who were oppressive.
  • For fund raising, they resorted to Dacoity, which was called Swadeshi Dacoity.

Nasik Conspiracy Case 1909

  • Abhinav Bharat Society was launched in 1904 by V D Savarkar.
  • One member of this organization Anant Lakshaman Karkare shot dead the district magistrate of Nasik.
  • On 21st of December, 1909 , A M T Jackson the magistrate at Nasik was enjoying a theater where a drama was staged in his honor on the eve of his transfer. A young man of Abhinav Bharat Society named Ananat Laxman Karkare shot this indologist and “pandit” Jackson dead, in the theatre. This sensational murder is known as Nasik Conspiracy Case.
  • 27 members of the Abhinav Bharat Society were convicted and punished. Ganesh Savarkar, brother of VD Savarkar was sent to Kala Pani

Arrival of Lord Hardinge 1910

  • From 1910 to 1916, Lord Hardinge served as India’s Viceroy.
  • He had entered the diplomatic service in 1880 and had served in Tehran as first secretary and Ambassador to Russia. But his administrative experiences were next to nothing. This young viceroy was sympathetic towards the Indians and wished to win their goodwill.
  • The important event during his tenure was the Delhi Durbar of 1911.

Delhi Durbar of 1911

  • In 1910, there was a succession in England where King George V ascended the throne.
  • In 1911 he paid a visit to India.
  • Darbar was held to commemorate the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary as Emperor and Empress of India. The Darbar brought back the pomp and show of the Mughals once again in Delhi. The King and the Queen attired in the coronation robes with thousands of diamonds and precious gems appeared in the Jharokha of the red fort to give Darshan to 5 Lakh Indian people who gathered to greet the sovereign couple.
  • The Congress passed a resolution condemning the pomp and show of this Darbar at the cost of the poor Indians.
  • In this Darbar, the King declared that Capital of India will be transferred from Calcutta to Delhi.
  • In the same Darbar it was also declared the Partition of Bengal is cancelled. This was a striking change.
  • In the same year, another Census of India was carried out.

Delhi conspiracy case 1912

  • One of the outfits of Bengal on the lines of Anushilan Samiti was Yungantar, which had started in the guise of a fitness club.
  • It was also established by the revolutionaries like Arubindo Ghosh, his brother Barin Ghosh, Raja Subodh Mallik, Khudiram Bose Prafulla Chaki etc.
  • After the Alipore Bomb Case trials, many of the members were lodged in the Jails and sent to Kala Pani, from where they were released only under a general amnesty in 1920 after First World War.
  • One of the important members of this outfit was Ras Bihari Bose, who is best known for his association with the Indian National Army.
  • After the Alipore Bombay Case, he left Bengal and worked in Dehradun as a clerk in the Forest Research Institute. It is said that the Delhi Conspiracy was hatched by Ras Bihari Bose, but was never proved.
  • On 23 December 1912, a Bomb was thrown at the Viceroy Lord Hardinge when his procession was moving from Chandni Chowk. The Viceroy wounded in the attempt, but his Mahavat (driver and keeper of an elephant) was killed. The government strengthens its efforts to destroy the underground activities. Ras Bihari Bose went underground and successfully fled to Japan, where he lived till he died a few years before the conclusion of the Second World War.
  • Before fleeing to Japan, he involved in the Ghadar Conspiracy.
  • In the trial of this Delhi Conspiracy Case, Basant Kumar Biswas Amir Chand and Avadh Behari were convicted and executed.
  • Please note that Delhi Conspiracy Case is also known as Delhi Lahore Conspiracy Case or Hardinge Bomb Case.


Other Early Militant Revolutionaries

  • Ras Bihari Bose served as a link between the revolutionaries of Punjab and Bengal. He was not only a brain behind the Delhi Conspiracy Case but also planned an armed mutiny at Delhi. He fled to Japan and founded Indian Independence League out there.
  • Sakharama Ganesh Deshkar provided a Link between the revolutionaries of Bengal and Bombay Presidency.
  • In the Madras Province, Nilkantha Brahamchari and Vanchi Aiyer founded the secret Bharat Mata Association.
  • In Saharanpur, J M Chaterjee founded Bharat Mata Society
  • The Dacca Anushilan Samiti was established by Pulin Bihari Das. It was able to cerate 500 branches in East Bengal.
  • Bipin Bihari Ganguly founded Atmonnuti Samiti.

B.H.U. Act 1915

  • In 1915, under Lord Hardinge, BHU act was passed by which Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya established the Banaras Hindu University.
  • The idea of this university was mooted as early as 1904.
  • Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya was a barrister from Allahabad, but his Karmabhoomi was Varanasi.
  • In 1907, Annie Besant had also mooted as idea of establishing the “University of India” at Varanasi and she also submitted a memorandum for grant of Royal charter. In April 1911, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya and Annie Besant decided to unite their forces and work for a common Hindu University at Varanasi. This culminated in the “The Hindu University Society”.
  • Thus BHU started as a registered socirty in December 1911 and its president was Maharaja of Darbhanga Sir Rameshwar Singh Bahadur. However, to carry out the scheme, a sum of Rupees 50 Lakh was required. This target was achieved by 1915. The Central Hindu College was made the part of the University.
  • This was followed by a Bill in the Imperial Legislative Council in March, 1915 by Sir Harcourt Butler.
  • This Banaras Hindu University Bill was passed in October 1915 and on February 4, 1916, Lord Hardinge, laid the foundation stone of the University.

Foundation of Ghadar Party 1913

  • The founding president of Ghadar Party was Sohan Singh Bhakna and Lala Hardayal was the co-founder of this party.
  • It was after 1910, when the activities of India House had declined and the cradle of activities shifted from Europe to America.
  • Lala Hardayal was In India till 1909, when he moved to Paris and associated himself with a newspaper Vande Mataram over there.
  • In 1911 he settled in San Francisco and indulged in Industrial Unionism.
  • In 1912, when Basant Kumar Biswas threw Bomb on Lord Hardinge, he was in America and was very much impressed with this.
  • In 1913, Pacific Coast Hindustan Association was founded by Lala Hardayal with Sohan Singh Bhakna as its president, which was called Ghadar Party. The members of this party were the immigrant sikhs of US and Canada.
  • The first issue of The Ghadar, was published from San Francisco on November 1, 1913.
  • In 1914, after the Komagata Maru tragedy, Lala Hardayal fled to Europe following an arrest by the United States government for spreading anarchist literature.

The Komagata Maru Tragedy 1914

  • From 1900 onwards there was continuous flow of Sikhs from India to Canada and US.
  • The circumstances were not in favor of Indian / Sikh immigrants and they were subject to all kinds of racial / political / procedural discriminations. One of the main incidence was Komagata Maru Incidence, which was one of the first Indian challenge to colonist British beyond the pacific Coast.
  • Gurdit Singh, a Sikh from a small village in Punjab was a son of a small time farmer near Amritsar. The farmers were struggling with the problems and due to difficulty in getting their livelihood; father of Gurdit Singh left Punjab and went to Malaysia. He became a small time contractor over there. In 1885, Gurdit Singh joined him. Gurdit Singh established a steamship company in Malaysia and leased a Japanese steamship Komagata Maru.
  • This ship left Hong Kong in 1914 to Canada.
  • Those days the authorities in Canada had established a “Continuous Passage Act” to stop the immigrants particularly from India and they called them “brown Invasions”.
  • The continuous immigration of Indians, particularly Sikhs had already irked the Canadian natives and authorities. It was a fear that Indians would take their jobs. The “Continuous Passage Act” was a bizarre law, which required that the immigrants must travel Nonstop to their country of the birth. At that time there was no direct ship from India.
  • The journey of the Komagata Maru was set to circumvent this law.
  • Komagata Maru sailed from Hong Kong to Vancouver in 1914, aboard 376 passengers including 240 Sikhs, 24 Muslims and 12 Hindus. The ship arrived on 23 May 1914 at Vancouver. The Canadian authorities refused to allow the passengers to go ashore. Gurdit Singh was pressurized to pay the charter dues in one go. He said he would do so after selling the cargo but the ship was not allowed to unload its cargo. The Indians in Vancouver agitated for the release of the ship. There was no sympathy shown by the Viceroy of India. After a bit confrontation, finally 24 passengers were admitted and the ship was forced back to India.
  • Necessary arrangements were done by the Indian community over there for the return journey.
  • The Komagata Maru docked at Hooghly’s Budge Budge harbor.
  • The news of the Canadian adventures had already reached India and the British took the passengers as rebels. The ship was searched. The Sikhs were herded in a special train to send them to Punjab. Some of them refused and protested.
  • The police opened fire on the procession carrying the Holy book “Guru Granth Sahib” killing 18 people. 200 people were herded in jails. Gurdit Singh escaped the Police and he surrendered in 1921, after 7 years.

Rise of Separatist Trends and Origin of Muslim League

  • The seeds of Muslim communalism were sown by Syed Ahmed Khan, who remained loyal to the British in 1857 mutiny. He was suspicious of the Indian National Movement under Congress and called the Muslims to remain loyal to the British Raj. He was of the belief that the Muslim share in administrative posts and in various professions could be increased if Muslims are imparted modern education. For this purpose he needed protection of the British and so he projected the British loyalty as safeguards to the interests of the Indian Muslims. However, he did not create a political organization to counter the Indian National Congress and suggested the Indian Muslims to remain passive, politically.
  • It was Badruddin Tayyab Ji , third President of Congress, who brought many prominent Muslims of Bombay and Bengal under the banner of Congress. These leaders supported the idea of Swadeshi and Boycott.
  • But the movement was later colored in Hindu color and British and Pro-British started using anti-congress propaganda to poison the minds of the Muslims.
  • In 1906, the All-India Muslim League was founded at Dhaka by a lobby of big Zamindars, ex-bureaucrats, and upper class Muslims.
  • Aga Khan III was its first Honorary President. This party supported the partition of Bengal, because Muslims in East Bengal were in majority. Its Headquarters was later located at Lucknow.
  • The All-India Muslim League raised the slogan of separate Muslim interests, and demanded special protection for the Muslims in government services. Under Lord Minto, a branch of Muslim League was established at London by Amir Ali. Thus by 1910, this organization started convincing Muslim educated people to refrain from joining congress. They were against the congress and Hindus but not against the British. They provided a tool to the British to fight with the rising wave of Nationalism in India.
  • When the partition of Bengal in 1911 was annulled, the Muslim lobby got a rude shock. The declaration of Delhi as capital of British India was also a shock to them.
  • This disorientation was further added by British refusal to help Ottoman Empire in the Italian and Balkan War (1912).
  • The ruler of Turkey was the Caliph of all Muslims and all Muslim shrines were within the Ottoman Empire. Thus by 1912-13, the Muslims did not have a firm ground neither in support of British nor in Congress. A body of young Muslims arose during that time which somewhat continued its militia activities parallel to the Congress.
  • It was in 1913 when Mohammad Ali Jinnah joined the All India Muslim League and changed the course of History.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah 1875-1913

Early Career of Mohammad Ali Jinnah 1875-1913

  • Mohammad Ali Jinnah was born in Karachi in either 1875 or 1876. His ancestors were Hindu Rajputs from Kathiawar in Gujarat and his grandfather had converted to Islam. He was a Shiya Muslim. He was educated in Karachi and Bombay. In 1892 he was sent to England to get apprenticeship in the Graham’s Shipping and Trading Company, the company in which his father had dealings. He studied law and became youngest Indian ever to be invited to the Bar of England at the age of 19 years.
  • In 1896 he returned to India and settled at Bombay. Here he became Lawyer and practiced in the Bombay High Court.
  • Jinnah defended Bal Gangadhar Tilak in the sedition trial in 1908, but he could not win the case and Tilak was sent to Mandalay. He had close relations with Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Pherozeshah Mehta and Surendranath Banerjee since 1896.
  • He won a case representing Sir Pherozshah Mehta in Bombay High Court in 1905. This case is known as Caucus Case.
  • In 1906, he joined Indian National Congress. He also did not favor the outright independence.
  • Initially he avoided the All India Muslim League, because it was too much orthodox.
  • It was in 1913, when he joined the Muslim League and became its president in the Lucknow session of 1916.

Begin of World War I June 1914

  • On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand , the prince of Austria and the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, was assassinated by a Yugoslav nationalist and this triggered the First World War.
  • This was the immediate reason; the long term reasons were the imperialistic policies of the great powers of Europe viz. the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Empire, the British Empire, France, and Italy.
  • On the one side were the belligerents were such as France, British Empire, Russian Empire, United States, Italy, Japan, Belgium etc and on the other side were the central powers viz. German Empire, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria.
  • On 4 August 1914, England declared war against Germany. India naturally became a belligerent in the war. The Viceroy Lord Hardinge announced: The war was none of our seeking, but it has been thrust upon us as a wicked and wanton manner……. The British Government sought support of the Indians and most sections of the Indian society were with the empire. The moderates supported the war because, who knows their demands of self Government may be fulfilled after the war.


Indian Indenture System

  • Indenture literally means “a contract binding one party into the service of another for a specified term”.
  • During the British Era, a new kind of slavery started in the early 19th century, in which Indians were exported to various parts of the world as ‘forced’ laborers.
  • The Slavery ended in 1833 and this news kind of slavery started from that year and continued till 1920 when thousands of Indians were transported to various colonies of European powers to provide labor. Most of the labor was used for sugar plantations.
  • The system started in 1826 when the Government of the French Indian Ocean island of Réunion, laid down terms for the introduction on Indian laborers to this colony. Every person was required to appear before a magistrate and declare that he was going voluntarily. Thus the person would enter into a 5 year contract and would be given 8 rupees monthly plus ration. So, the first laborers started moving from Pondicherry and Karaikal which were under the French.
  • From 1826 to 1830 more than 3 thousand Indian laborers were transported from Pondicherry and Karaikal to Reunion.
  • Then there was an attempt to send Indian Laborers to Mauritius, in 1829, but this attempt was unsuccessful. But after 1834, Indian labor export to Mauritius got pace.
  • From 1833 to 1920 around 12 Lakh Indians were sent to work in different parts of the world. Out of them maximum 4.53 Lakh were sent to Mauritius, followed by 2.39 Lakh to British Guiana, 1. 44 Lakh to Trinidad and 1.52 Lakh to South Africa.
  • On January 11, 2011, a Memorial plaque in honor of Indian Indentured Laborers was unveiled at Kidderpore Dock, Kolkata Port , which is the first ever Memorial established in India in honor of Indian Indentured Laborers that travelled from India in the 19th & 20th centuries. The Kolkata Memorial recognizes and honors the indomitable spirit and heroism of all Indians who left the shores of their motherland from 1833 to 1920 to embark long and hazardous journeys to faraway lands and begin a new life there.
  • This has resulted in huge number of Indian diaspora in countries like Trinidad, Mauritius, British Guiana, South Africa.


Section V: The Rise of Mahatma Gandhi


Early Years of Mahatma Gandhi

  • Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in Porbandar Town of the Bombay Presidency on 2 October 1869, the year in which Lord Mayo took office as Governor General of India.
  • His father Karamchand Gandhi was a Diwan of the Porbandar State, which was a small princely state under the Kathiawar Agency.
  • His mother Putli Bai was the fourth wife of his father, the earlier three died during child birth. The impression of stories of Raja Harishchandra gave this young boy, the first introduction to truth.
  • At the age of 13 year, he was married to 14 year old Kasturbai. At the age of 15 years this couple gave birth to first child, who died in a few days. He passed Metric from the Samaldas College of Bhavnagar, with difficulty because he was not so good in education, but his family wanted him to become a Barrister. His father died in 1885 and in 1888, the year in which his eldest son Harilal was born, he went to London to study law and get training as a barrister.
  • Before this journey to “vilayat” he had given a pledge to his mother to not indulge in meat, alcohol and promiscuousness.
  • He enrolled in the Inner Temple London in the same year (1888) and in kept fasting due to non availability of Vegetarian eateries around till he joined the London Vegetarian Society. In 1891 he was called to Bar at the age of 22 years and in the same year he returned to India. But he was not a good lawyer at all and thus, could not establish himself in the court.
  • In 1893, when got a one year contract with the Dada Abdulah & Company in South Africa, he left for the job in the Colony of Natal, South Africa, part of British Empire. The young man of 24 years when was in South Africa saw the discrimination with the Black South Africans and Indians. The Indian Indenture Act was in place and the Indians were indentured to South Africa. Most of the Indians were of low castes. In months of arriving to South Africa, Gandhi was sent by his firm to handle a case at Pretoria. On this train ride, while still new to South Africa, he encountered the brutal reality of racial prejudice. It was in May 1893, while Gandhi was on his way to Pretoria, a white man objected to Gandhi’s presence in a first-class carriage, and he was ordered to move to the van compartment at the end of the train. Gandhi, had a first-class ticket, refused, and was thrown off the train at Pietermaritzburg. Shivering through the winter, during that long, bitterly cold night in the maritzburg station he came to a decision that set the course of his life. He writes: ” The hardship to which I was subjected was superficial—–only a symptom of hate deep disease of colour prejudice. I should try, if possible, to root out the disease ….suffer hardships in this process. Redress for wrongs I should seek only to the extent that would be necessary for the removal of the colour prejudice ” Gandhi was on a one year contract, but the events in South Africa inspired and strengthened his resolve to fight the degrading racism. He stayed not one but twenty-one-years——-from 1893 through 1914.
  • Shortly afterwards he called upon a general meeting of the Indians to discuss the prejudice. He pledged them to help him to overcome it. He was shy but he was able to deliver a powerful speech in this meeting and tried to admonish the audience to improve themselves as much as possible by practicing truthfulness and fairness in their business dealings, transcending caste and religious differences, learning English, and maintaining cleanliness. He urged them to replace passivity with self-esteem, industriousness and visible civic practices. We should also know that in South Africa, whether it was a rich or poor, educated or illiterate, laborer or professional Indian, he was considered a coolly. They were not allowed to vote. They had to keep a pass after dark and the Whites could push them off a sidewalk to make way. He was asked to remove his hat while in the court, a common practice prevalent. The Blacks had to pay an annual tax to stay there. They used to live in separate, segregated neighborhoods. They were not entitled to have any property out there. In the speeches he was able to charm the Indian audiences and was able to clearly define the situation as well as ways to deal with the situations.

Mahatma Gandhi and Franchise Law Amendment Bill

  • The lawsuit of Dada Abdulla and Company was anyhow settled and Gandhi returned to Durban where he started preparing for coming back to India. Dada Abdulla, who was probably the richest Indian in South Africa, gave a farewell party to Gandhi, but in this party, by chance, Gandhi had a glance over a newspaper titled “Natal Mercury”. The headline of the news that attracted him was “Indian Franchise”. The news was related to a bill named Franchise Law Amendment Bill that was tabled before the Natal legislature.
  • The idea of this bill was to deprive of voting who then enjoyed “limited Franchise” then based upon the wealth criterion. Anybody with some other requirements had to keep a property of 50 Pounds in South Africa to exercise a voting right. The right was ceded to the Indians by the Royal Charter of 1850. So, the new bill was contradictory to what this Royal chart says. It was also against the letter and spirit of Royal Proclamation of 1858, which said: ……We hold ourselves bound to the natives of our Indian Territories by the same obligations of duty which bind us to all other subjects……a it is our further will that, so far may be, our subjects, of whatever race or creed, be freely and impartially admitted to offices in our services, the duties of which they may be qualified by their education, ability and integrity…. But the said bill was based upon the assumption that the Indians who came to Natal from India had never exercised franchise in their motherland. Another assumption of this bill was that they were “Not fit for the exercise of franchise”.
  • This naked violation of the human right gave a shock to Gandhi and in the same farewell party, he explained the Indian Guests about the result and consequence of the bill if it becomes an act – It was the first nail in the coffin of the Indian interests and strikes at the roots of their self respect. The Indians realized the danger of the bill. The result was that this farewell party turned out to become a working committee. To chalk out the future plan, a meeting was arranged next day under the chairmanship of Seth Haji Adam, another rich Indian merchant in Natal. This was followed by a telegram in the name of Seth Haji Adam to be sent to the speaker of the Natal legislative assembly, Prime Minister and Attorney General of Natal. The consideration of the bill was deferred for two days. This was followed by a petition by Gandhi signed by five hundred Indians opposing the Franchise Law Amendment Bill.
  • In this petition, Gandhi presented Indians as humble subjects of the British and docilely opposed the said bill. He highlighted the ancient Panchayati system of India and quoted example of Mysore assembly which was a model of British parliament. He also gave reference of the existing municipal system of India. He tried to convince the honorable members of the assembly of Natal that Indians know their duty and responsibility with regard to the Franchise. At the same time (Around July 1894) Gandhi wrote a letter to Dada Bhai Naoroji in London to raise the question of their problems in South Africa. But the above efforts proved fruitless. The bill got passed in the assembly and it was sent to the Legislative council for approval.
  • On July 6, 1894, Gandhi presented a second petition, which was too rejected. The bill was sent to the Governor for assent on July 10, 1894. Gandhi wrote a letter to the Governor. He again wrote a letter to Dada Bhai Naoroji about the affairs .
  • On July 17, 1894, he submitted a mass petition with signs of ten thousand Indians to Lord Ripon, who was Secretary of State for Colonies at that time. This third petition was having the full faith in the British Empire and it represented Indians as “subjects” of the British Empire, gave the historical background and current condition elaborately. Thus was the first political mission of Gandhi. After submitting the petition to Lord Ripon, Gandhi convinced that his work his almost done sought permission of the Indians in South Africa to return India. But the merchant colleagues did not permit him. He had witnessed their enthusiasm and the community over there wanted him to lead them for their cause. Gandhi saw the logic and settled in Natal. He registered himself in the Supreme Court to practice at Bars and started earning his livelihood from legal practice.

Mahatma Gandhi & Indian Natal Congress

  • On 22 August 1894 Gandhi founded Natal Indian Congress.
  • In 1895, he brought out a Pamphlet; The Indian Franchise: An appeal to Every Briton in South Africa.
  • Seth Haji Adam became its president and Gandhi became its secretary. But the Europeans had the natural hatred for Indians and Blacks.
  • In May 1895, the Natal Legislative Assembly introduced a new anti Indian Bill called the Indian Immigration Law Amendment Bill. This Bill was related to the Indian indentured laborers. The bill intended to raise the period of Indenture from 5 years to an indefinite period. Further, it also made the return of the Indian Indentured laborers to India just after their period of indenture is finished.
  • But if they wished to love in Natal, they had to fulfill the following conditions:
    • They should enter another indenture agreement
    • They should pay an annual tax of 25 Pounds
  • Gandhi again rose against this bill. He sent a petition that the bill will only further the prejudice on the basis of the color. He pointed out the bill was unjust and contradicts the fundamentals of British Constitution. The bill also followed the same course and Gandhi sent 3 petitions at different points of time. But the bill became an act. However, the tax was reduced from 25 Pounds to 3 Pounds. This was in 1895.
  • The previous Indian Franchise Amendment Bill was refused the Royal Assent and this brought jubilation among the Indians. This jubilation was short lived and another similar bill was passed later on.

Mahtma Gandhi & Green Pamphlet

  • By 1896, Gandhi had two partial victories to his credit: One was the Indian Franchise Amendment Bill, which was not approved in its prior condition and another was the Immigration bill, which though got passed, but the 25 Pound Poll Tax was reduced to 3 Pound. Thus now Gandhi was established as a leader of the Indians in South Africa.
  • In 1896, he wished to come back to India to see his family. He came to India via Calcutta.
  • At Rajkot he wrote and issued a “Green Pamphlet”.
  • In this Green Pamphlet, he exposed the conditions of Indian Indentured laborers and Coolies in South Africa. He also made some speeches in India, regarding the human rights and their condition. The Green Pamphlet was taken by the British as an anti-government publication.
  • When Gandhi again reached Durban, his ship was not allowed to dock for three days. When he finally got himself dislodged, he was beaten by the “whites”. But despite this humiliation, he continued to work for Indian Natal Congress.

Mahatma Gandhi and Boer Wars

  • Boer Wars 1880-1902 Boer is an Afrikaans word for Farmer.
  • The Southern African Kingdoms of Orange Free State, Transvaal (Now South Africa) and to some extent Natal were known as Boer Republics.
  • The two Boer wars were fought between the British Empire and the two independent Boer republics, the Orange Free State and the South African Republic (Transvaal Republic) during the 1880 to 1902 period.
  • In the First Boer War, the British lost the Transvaal and the Boers of Transvaal got freedom, but in the second Boer war which lasted from 1899 to 1902, converted these republics into British Colonies. These colonies later became part of Union of South Africa.
  • Gandhi and the Second Boer War 1899
    • Gandhi abhorred the mistreatments of the Indians in South Africa. But he was not anti-British Empire and had the faith over the British Constitution and empire.
    • In his views, the empire was not responsible for the individual problems of the colonies whose vast conglomeration was under the Government in London. In his view, it was the local problems.
    • The First Boer war resulted in the British defeat in 1881. In 1899, the war again started.
    • Gandhi wished to support the British in a hope that the conditions of Indians would improve later. He set up by organizing 1100 volunteers and served in the Indian Ambulance Corps. This ambulance did not continue throughout the war.
    • In 1901 his family returned to India. Gandhi established a legal practice in Mumbai and started taking interest in the Indian National Movement. But
    • In 1902, he received a Telegram from Durban and returned there.

Mahatma Gandhi & Indian Opinion

  • With the support of the Natal Indian Congress and the other well-wishers in Natal and by the Madanjit Viyavaharik International Printing Press, he released the first issue of “Indian Opinion” on June 6, 1903.
  • The newspaper was published in Gujarat, Hindi, Tamil and English and its editor was Mansukhlal Nazar.
  • 1904 its publication office was relocated in Phoenix, close to Durban.
  • In the Indian Opinion, Gandhi highlighted the poor conditions in which the indentured workers worked. The cases of harsh treatments were exposed. Regarding this newspaper Gandhi writes famously: “Satyagraha would have been impossible without Indian Opinion.”
  • Indian Opinion was the First newspaper brought out by Gandhi. Later, he published Young India, Navjivan and Gujarat Samachar.

Impact of “Unto This Last” on Mahatma Gandhi

  • During a long train journey in South Africa, Gandhi was given a book of John Ruskin (Unto This Last) by one of his friends. About this book, he has written that it brought an instantaneous change in his life. Gandhi derived the following 3 messages from this book: “The good of the individual is contained in the good of all”. The concept of “Sarvodaya” and “Antyodaya” were the products of this influence of Ruskin on Gandhi.
  • Here we note the following talisman of Gandhi, which is inspired from the ideal of Antyodaya: Whenever you are in doubt or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test: ‘Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to Swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?’ then you will find your doubts and yourself melting away.
  • Thus for Gandhi, ‘Unto The Last’ would mean only the uplift of the last (Antyodaya). Ruskin’s Unto The Last had directly or indirectly had a profound influence on Gandhi in adopting the ideal of Sarvodaya as his life’s mission Gandhi derived from this book that a “Lawyer’s work has the same value as the barber’s as all have the same right of earning their livelihood from their work”.
  • The third message Gandhi derived from this book was that a life of the tiller of the soil and that of handicraftsman / farmer / laborer is the life worth living. This message gave him a teaching that he would live a life of labor. Inspired young Gandhi established the Phoenix Farm in 40 hectares of land near Durban and started publishing Indian Opinion from there.

Impact of Leo Tolstoy on Mahatma Gandhi

  • Impact of Leo Tolstoy Gandhi was greatly influenced by Leo Tolstoy, through his book ‘The Kingdom of God is Within You’ and his essay on ‘Christianity and Patriotism’.
  • Tolstoy’s ideal of “simplicity of life and purity of purpose” influenced Gandhi deeply. The “love as law of life” and principles of non-violence, that is based on love for the entire mankind, were deeply embedded in the writings of Tolstoy. Both Gandhi and Tolstoy adopted the idea of love to solve problems of life. Gandhi has written that reading the ‘The Kingdom of God is Within You’ had cured him of skepticism and made him a firm believer of Ahimsa. For both of them, non-violence could cure all social maladies, eradicate political ills and establish peace on earth. In summary, it was Tolstoy’s ‘The Kingdom Of God Is Within You’ which made Gandhi speak of his “inner voice” and live a life of “simplicity”.


Celibacy and the Controversial side of Sex Life

  • Gandhi’s life of celibacy and brahamcharya has many aspects and includes some controversial, abnormal and unusual facets also. Gandhi has constantly spoken of sex and chastity. Most of the material regarding this side of his life has been distorted and suppressed in the course of elevating him to the “Father of the Nation”. Gandhi is famous and often controversial for his famed chastity that also included sleeping naked next to nubile, naked women to test his restraint.
  • It has been said that his was the personal vision of the Indian Brahamcharya in which mind dominates the body. Since, self control is paramount, his testing to see whether that control is truly in place or not was his logic, that made him having a bizarre sexual history.


Satyagraha & Tolstoy Farm

  • Against the Asiatic Law Amendment Ordinance, or Black law, Gandhi started using Non-violent way of protest known as Satyagraha, which really means Truth Force but mistaken as Passive Resistance.
  • They started breaking laws and the Government started arresting the law breakers.
  • In 1908, Gandhi was given two months imprisonment.


Tolstoy Farm

  • In 1910, the provinces of Southern Africa joined and created the Union of South Africa with Louis Botha its prime Minister. In 1910, Gandhi established another cooperative colony near Johannesburg, called Tolstoy Farm, having been inspired by Tolstoy’s ideas. Tolstoy Farm became Gandhi’s cradle of the Satyagraha activities.
  • In the Tolstoy Farm and Phoenix Farm the disciplined cadres were trained about the peaceful violation of the specific laws, mass courting of arrests and occasional strike offs.
  • In 1914, Gandhi was awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind Gold Medal by the government for raising the Indian ambulance unit during the second Boer war.

Impact of Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience on Mahatma Gandhi

  • Henry David Thoreau was an American author, poet, and philosopher, who is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state.
  • Thoreau’s philosophy of civil disobedience influenced the political thoughts and actions of such later figures as Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Thoreau is called a pacifist.
  • He is known to be a champion of the free spirit. He was grossed out by the established political and economic routine of time. However, Gandhi did not derive his idea of ‘civil disobedience’ from the writings of Thoreau.
  • He has started his resistance to authorities in South Africa much before he got the essay of “civil disobedience” by Thoreau. Gandhi called it “passive resistance”. Gandhi did not prefer to use the term “Civil Disobedience” and instead he used another term “Civil Resistance”.
  • In South Africa, Gandhi organized the Indians to resist the move. He set up the Passive Resistance Association to run the campaign.

Passive Resistance and Active Resistance


Passive Resistance and Arubindo Ghosh

  • The concept of passive resistance was highlighted by Arubindo Ghosh. Arubindo was against the Moderates’ theory of “politics of petition” and along with Tilak belonged to the Extremist section.
  • In place of prayer, petition, protest and “please”, he advocated the more radical policy of boycott. Arubindo visualized that other nations had won the precious prize of liberty by ‘intense suffering, humiliations and martyrdom’, than ‘merely by spending the ink of the journalist and petition-framer and the breath of the orator’. In view of Arubindo, the politics of petitioning was “the dream of timid inexperience, the teaching of false friends who hope to keep us in perpetual subjection, foolish to reason, false to experience”. In view of Arubindo, the Moderates displayed only sentimental enthusiasm.


Difference between Passive Resistance & Active Resistance

  • The essential difference between passive or defensive and active or aggressive resistance is that, while the later is to do something by which one can bring about positive harm to the government, but the former is to abstain from doing something by which he would be helping the government. The concept of passive resistance was suitable to India because – British government had depended mainly for their continuance of administration with the help and acquiescence of the local people.
  • The idea of adopting passive resistance was to jam the administration machinery without doing any harm to it, so that the conditions may be created that the Government accepts the demands. Thus, the core principle of passive resistance was to put pressure on government.
  • Please note that the moderates believed that Passive Resistance was either impractical or injurious political weapon.

Satyagraha and Passive Resistance

  • The term satyagraha was coined by Gandhi in south Africa to indicate the movement which was originally described, even by Gandhi himself, as passive resistance.
  • The word satyagraha was deliberately substituted for “Passive Resistance” because Gandhi, probably felt ashamed to use an English word. However, he also believed that Satyagraha had a wider meaning that the Passive Resistance.
  • For him, Passive Resistance is a weapon of the weak, and does not exclude the use of physical force or violence for the purpose of gaining one’s end, but satyagraha has been conceived as a weapon of the strongest and excludes the use of violence in any shape or form.”
  • So, the motive behind Satyagraha was not to destroy or harass the opponent, but convert him or win him over sympathy, patience, and self- suffering.


Mahatma Gandhi & Sabarmati Ashram

  • On 8 January 1915, Gandhi returned to India.
  • In May 1915, he laid the foundation of Sabarmati Ashram at Ahmadabad.
  • 200 people lived in Sabarmati Ashram in a typical Indian village style. To demonstrate the rejection of mechanized industry of Britain, these men at Ashram took the pledge to wear only Khadi.
  • To explain his ideas, he started travelling in IIIrd class railway carriages. He started getting concerned about the poor and untouchables of the country.
  • Till 1917, Gandhi had no official leadership or role or agenda and British could easily tolerate his presence.
January 2, 2018

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