First World War and The Freedom Movement UPSC Notes | EduRev

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UPSC : First World War and The Freedom Movement UPSC Notes | EduRev

The document First World War and The Freedom Movement UPSC Notes | EduRev is a part of the UPSC Course History for UPSC (Civil Services) Prelims.
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  • At the time of the outbreak of the Great War, in 1914, the national movement was at a low ebb because of the repression of the Extremists and the apathy of the Moderates.
  • Under the Defence of India Act, between 1915 and 1918, over 1200 persons from Bengal and numerous others from other provinces were arrested. But during the war, Tilak and Mrs. Beasant carried on their Home Rule League propaganda.
  • The Home Rule League had been founded by Tilak on April 23, 1916. Annie Beasant founded the Home Rule League of India on September 1, 1916. The word Home Rule was borrowed from the Irish political experience.
  • Tilak wanted to convey the notion of Home Rule to the Indian populace by the word, Swarajya. Vigorous speeches in support of Home Rule were made by Tilak and Annie Beasant.First World War and The Freedom Movement UPSC Notes | EduRevFig: Annie Beasant and B.G.Tilak respectively
  • Tilak’s forceful support of Home Rule led to the institution of a third sedition case against him for two Home Rule speeches delivered at Belgaun and Ahmadnagar in 1916 but the Bombay High Court released him.
  • In December 1916 the Congress-League Scheme, devised in November, was accepted both by the Congress and the Muslim League. According to this Scheme or the Lucknow Pact as it was called, separate electorates and weightage for elections to councils were accepted for Muslims.
  • It was also provided that any resolution concerning a community could be passed only when 3/4 of the total members of that community in a council supported that.
  • Annie Beasant’s popularity shot up very high due to her internment and she was elected the President of the Calcutta Congress in 1917. At the Calcutta Congress of 1917, the question of a national flag was raised. After some time the Congress adopted the tricolour flag of the Home Rule League. Later, the Charkha was added to that. In 1931, the red colour was substituted by Kesaria (yellow).
  • The war years saw the growth of some industries in the country which, in their turn, created a proletariat class. During the War, the cotton mills of Bombay and the Jute mills of Calcutta yielded between 100% to 200% dividends.
  • The huge profits were either sent to England or accumulated by the Indian capitalists. The wage-earners had, however, to live in slums. In 1922, the total number of labour personnel was 2 crores although only 13 lacs of them were covered by the provisions of the Factory Act.
  • For financing the huge expenditure incurred in the war, there was heavier taxation. Prices of essential commodities rose and, hence, the consumers were hard hit. Compared to the rise in prices, the rise in wages was small. During the war, there had been shortage of cloth, salt, oil etc. The price rise also led to the rise in the rent to be paid to the landlords. In Oudh, the condition of the peasants after the war was specially hard.
  • The miseries of the peasants were increased and, hence, since 1921, peasant agitations grew intensive. Furthermore, there was increasing unemployment among the educated middle classes. Hence, in the years after the war the economic condition was producing great distress and resentment among the people.First World War and The Freedom Movement UPSC Notes | EduRevFig: Gandhiji
  • A large number of Indian soldiers were recruited during the war. Even Gandhiji actively supported recruitment to the army in 1918. More than 10 lacs of Indian soldiers were on active duty in Mesopotamia, East Africa, Belgium and France rendering creditable military service and 10% of them were either killed or injured.
  • The method of forced recruiting for the army and the labour corps in Punjab was very much resented by the people there. More than 146 million pounds or 155 crores of rupees were spent by the Government of India in the conduct of the war plus an annual burden in the shape of interest of Rs. 10 crores.
  • This led to an increase of 30% of the national debt. More than 20 crores of rupees were realized from the people as ‘gift’. The economic extortions generated hostility and resentment. Thus the situation during and immediately after the War was surcharged with tension, anxiety, frustration and bitterness. In this environmental and psychological context, have to be seen the events of 1919 and the later years.
  • During 1918, however, various factors combined to diffuse the energies that had concentrated in the agitation for Home Rule. The movement, instead of going forward after its great advance in 1917., gradually dissolved. For one, the Moderates who had joined the movement after Beasant’s arrest were pacified by the promise of reforms and by Beasant’s release.
  • They were also put off by the talk of civil disobedience and did not attend the Congress from September 1918 onwards. The publication of the scheme of Government reforms in July 1918 further divided the nationalist ranks.
  • Some wanted to accept it outright and others to reject it outright, while many felt that, though inadequate, they should be given a trial. With Annie Besant unable to give a firm lead, and Tilak away in England, the Home Rule movement was left leaderless.
  • The tremendous achievement of the Home Rule movement and its legacy was that it created a generation of ardent nationalists who formed the backbone of the national movement in the coming years when, under the leadership of the Mahatma, it entered its truly mass phase.
  • The Home Rule Leagues also created organizational links between town and country which were to prove invaluable in later years. And further, by popularizing the idea of Home Rule or self-government, and making it a common-place thing, it generated a widespread pro-nationalist atmosphere in the country.
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