Modern India

Early Phase of National Movement ( Episode 2)

History Notes On Early Phase of National Movement. Read more about List Of Indian National Movements like Growth of Political Awareness, Vernacular Press Act, Ilbert Bill Partition of Bengal (1905-1914), Indian National Congress, Swadeshi Movement, Swaraj, Calcutta Session (1906), Surat Session (1907), Lucknow Session (1916), Morley-Minto Reforms (1909), Revolutionary Terrorism, Muslim League, Nationalists and the First World War and Home Rule League.

Calcutta Session (1906)

From 1885 to 1947 the sessions of the Congress were held every year at different stations. One of its important sessions was the Calcutta Session which was held in 1906.When the movement against the partition of Bengal was at its height the annual session of the Congress was held at Calcutta in 1906 under the president ship of Dadabhai Naoroji.

This session is very important because of the following things. It tired to effect conciliation between the Moderates and Extremists.Dadabahi Naoroji’s address formed a remarkable departure from the conventional type of Congress addresses. Here he sponsored the new programme of the Congress which had so far been advocated by the extremists. For the first time Calcutta Session (1906) was declared as the aim of the Congress. In his own words, “We want self-government or Calcutta Session (1906) like that of the United Kingdom or dominions. The Swadeshi and the Boycott were accorded full support by the Congress. For the first time Boycott was authorised to be used as a political weapon. The Congress condemned the Partition of Bengal. In the words of DadaBhai Naoroji it is a bad blunder of England. Promotion of education was declared as the aim of the Congress.

Surat Session (1907)

The 23rd Session of the Congress was held at Surat.It very important from points of view. There was an open clash between the Moderates and the Extremists and ultimately it led to a split in the Congress. The Extremists wanted to hold the session at Nagpur as was decided at the Calcutta Session of the Congress but the Moderates wanted to hold the session at Surat. The Extremists wanted to make either Tilak or Lala Lajpat Rai as the President of the session while the Moderates wanted to make Sh Ras Bihari Ghosh as the President. The Moderates wanted to recede from the policy laid down in the Calcutta Congress and tried to exclude the resolutions on Swadeshi, Boycott and National Education as were passed by the Calcutta Congress. But the Extremists were not prepared to do so. While the leadership of the Congress remained in the hands of the Moderates for some time more the Extremists worked separately till 1916.

Lucknow Session (1916)

The 31st Session of the Congress was held at Lucknow in 1916.It was presided over by the Ambica charan Majumdar who was a prominent lawyer and was actively associated with the Congress since its birth. After a lapse of about 10 years both the Moderates and Extremists were united again which was a good sign for the national movement. In his address the President declared ‘If the United Congress was buried at Sutra it is reborn at Lucknow in the garden of Wajid Ali Shah. After nearly 10 years of painful separation and wanderings through the wilderness of misunderstandings the brother had at first met brothers’. In this session the Congress and the Muslim League came closer to each other and they signed the historic Lucknow Pact.

Morley-Minto Reforms (1909)

The British govt played the game of Divide and Rule and tried to win over moderate nationalist opinion so that the militant nationalist could be isolated and suppressed. To placate the moderate nationalists it announced constitutional concessions through the Indian Council Act of 1909 known as Morley-Minto Reforms.

A joint Reform Scheme was sent to the Viceroy. They decided to make a united demand for self-government. They were to join their hands in asking the Government that a majority of the members of the Legislative Councils to be elected. They were to ask the Government that the Legislative Councils be invested with wider powers than before. They would make a common demand that at least half the seats in the Viceroy’s Executive Council be filled with Indians. Thus this session of 1916 cemented the friendship between the Congress and the Muslim League and promoted goodwill between the Hindus and the Muslims. Resolution condemning the Arms Act and Press Act were passed which had virtually reduced the people and the press to a condition of absolute helplessness.

Revolutionary Terrorism

Some nationalists frustrated by the failure of political struggle turned to revolutionary terrorism. They felt that the British must be physically expelled from India. They resorted to use violence against unpopular British officials, governors and viceroys. Certain newspapers like Sandhya and the Yugantar in Bengal and Kal in Maharashtra began to advocate revolutionary terrorism after 1905. Soon many secret societies of terrorist youth came into existence. The most famous of these was in Anushilan Samiti whose Dacca section alone had 500 branches. The terrorists also established centres of activity abroad. The Ghadar party was constituted in 1913 by revolutionaries in USA and Canada. They aimed at the overthrow of the British through an armed revolt. Prominent revolutionaries were Prafulla Chaki,Khudiram Bose.V Savarkar,Har Dayal and Ajit Singh.

Muslim League

In 1906 the Muslim League was formed. The lead in its formation was taken by the Agha Khan and Nawab Salimulla of Dacca. They were encouraged by Viceroy Minto.The Muslim League declared that its aims were to promote loyalty to the government ,to protect and advance the interests of Muslims and to ensure that Muslims did not develop feelings of hostility towards other communities in India. However in spite of the efforts of the British govt the Muslim masses were drawn into the nationalist movement.

The reason was the contempt that the Muslim felt for the British govt for waging war against the Sultan of Turkey who was regarded as the Caliph of the Muslim world. Two prominent Muslim leaders Maulana Mohammad Ali and Abul Kalam Azad carried on nationalist propaganda among the people and brought them into the struggle for freedom. The Muslim League itself was influenced by the spread of anti-imperialist ideas. In 1913 it adopted the attainment of self-govt as its aim.

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