The Nationalist Movement (1858-1905)- 3 Notes | Study History for UPSC CSE - UPSC

UPSC: The Nationalist Movement (1858-1905)- 3 Notes | Study History for UPSC CSE - UPSC

The document The Nationalist Movement (1858-1905)- 3 Notes | Study History for UPSC CSE - UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course History for UPSC CSE.
All you need of UPSC at this link: UPSC

The Programme and Activities of the Early Nationalists

  • Early nationalist leadership believed that a direct struggle for the political emancipation of the country was not yet on the agenda of history. What was on the agenda was the arousal of national feeling, consolidation of this feeling, the bringing of a large number of the Indian people into the vortex of nationalist politics, and their training in politics and political agitation. 
  • The first important task in this respect was the creation of public interest in political questions and the organisation of public opinion in the country. Second, popular demands had to be formulated on a country-wide basis so that the emerging public opinion might have an all-India focus. Most important of all, national unity had to be created, in the first instance, among the politically conscious Indians and political workers and leaders. 
  • The early national leaders were fully aware of the fact that India had just entered the process of becoming a nation—in other words, India was a nation-in-the-making. Indian nationhood had to be carefully promoted. Indians had to be carefully welded into a nation. 
  • Politically conscious Indians had to constantly work for the development and consolidation of the feeling of national unity irrespective of region, caste or religion. The economic and political demands of the early nationalists were formulated with a view to unifying the Indian people on the basis of a common economic and political programme.

Economic Critique of Imperialism 

  • Perhaps the most important part of the early nationalists’ political work was their economic critique of imperialism. They took note of all three forms of contemporary colonial economic exploitation, namely, through trade, industry and finance. They clearly grasped that the essence of British economic imperialism lay in the subordination of the Indian economy to the British economy. 
  • They vehemently opposed the British attempt to develop in India the basic characteristics of a colonial economy, namely, the transformation of India into a supplier of raw materials, a market for British manu­factures, and a field of investment for foreign capital. They organised a powerful agitation against nearly all important official economic policies based on this colonial structure. 
  • The early nationalists complained of India’s growing poverty and economic backwardness and the failure of modern industry and agriculture to grow; and they put the blame on British economic exploitation of India. Thus Dadabhai Naoroji declared as early as 1881 that the British rule was “an everlasting, increasing, and every day increasing foreign invasion” that was “utterly, though gradually, destroying the country”. 
  • The nationalists criticised the official economic policies for bringing about the ruin of India’s traditional handicraft industries and for obstructing the development of modern industries. 
  • Most of them opposed the large-scale investment of foreign capital in the Indian railways, plantations and industries on the grounds that it would lead to the suppression of Indian capitalists and the further strengthening of the British hold on India’s economy and polity. 
  • They believed that the employment of foreign capital posed a serious economic and political danger not only to the present generation but also to generations to come. The chief remedy they suggested for the removal of India’s poverty was the rapid development of modern industries. 
  • They wanted the government to promote modern industries through tariff protection and direct government aid. They popularized the idea of swadeshi or the use of Indian goods, and the boycott of British goods as a means of promoting Indian industries. For example, students in Poona and in other towns of Maharashtra publicly burnt foreign clothes in 1896 as part of the larger swadeshi campaign. 
  • The nationalists complained that India’s wealth was being drained to England, and demanded that this drain be stopped. They carried on a persistent agitation for the reduction of land revenue in order to lighten the burden of taxation on the peasant. Some of them also criticised the semi-feudal agrarian relations that the British sought to maintain. 
  • The nationalists also agitated for improvement in the conditions of work of the plantation labourers. They declared high taxation to be one of the causes of India’s poverty and demanded the abolition of the salt tax and the reduction of land revenue. They condemned the high military expenditure of the Government of India and demanded its reduction. 
  • As time passed more and more nationalists came to the conclusion that economic exploitation, impoverishment of the country and the perpetuation of its economic backwardness by foreign imperialism more than outweighed some of the beneficial aspects of the alien rule. Thus, regarding the benefits of security of life and property, Dadabhai Naoroji remarked: 
  • The romance is that there is security of life and property in India; the reality is that there is no such thing. There is security of life and property in one sense or way—i.e. the people are secure from any violence from each other or from Native despots…. But from England’s own grasp there is no security of property at all and, as a consequence, no security for life. 
  • India’s property is not secure. What is secure, and well secure, is that England is perfectly safe and secure, and does so with perfect security, to carry away from India, and to eat up in India, her property at the present rate of £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 a year…. I therefore venture to submit that India does not enjoy security of her property and life … To millions in India life is simply ‘half- feeding’, or starvation, or famine and disease.

With regard to law and order, Dadabhai said

  • There is an Indian saying: ‘Pray strike on the back, but don’t strike on the belly’. Under the native despot the people keep and enjoy what they produce, though at times they suffer some violence on the back. Under the British Indian despot the man is at peace, there is no violence; his substance is drained away, unseen, peaceably and subtly—he starves in peace and perishes in peace, with law and order! 
  • Nationalist agitation on economic issues led to the growth of an all-India opinion that British rule was based on the exploitation of India; leading to India’s impoverishment and producing economic backwardness and under-development. These disadvantages far outweighed any indirect advantages that might have followed British rule.

Constitutional Reforms

  • From the beginning the early nationalists believed that India should eventually move towards democratic self-government. But they did not ask for the immediate fulfillment of their goal. Their immediate demands were extremely moderate. 
  • They hoped to win freedom through gradual steps. They were also extremely cautious, lest the government suppress their activities. From 1885 to 1892 they demanded the expansion and reform of the Legislative Councils. 
  • The British government was forced by their agitation to pass the Indian Councils Act of 1892. By this Act the number of members of the Imperial Legislative Council as well as the provincial councils was increased. Some of these members could be elected indirectly by Indians, but the officials’ majority remained. 
  • The nationalists were totally dissatisfied with the Act of 1892 and declared it to be a hoax. They demanded a larger share for Indians in the councils as also wider powers for them. 
  • In particular, they demanded Indian control over the public purse and raised the slogan that had earlier become the national cry of the American people during their War of Independence: 
  • ‘No taxation without representation’. At the same time, they failed to broaden the base of their democratic demands; they did not demand the right to vote for the masses or for women. 
  • By the beginning of the twentieth century, the nationalist leaders advanced further and put forward the claim for swarajya or self-government within the British empire on the model of self-governing colonies like Australia and Canada. This demand was made from the Congress platform by Gokhnle in 1905 and by Dadabhai Naoroji in 1906.

Administrative and other Reforms 

  • The early nationalists were fearless critics of individual administrative measures and worked incessantly for the reform of an administrative system ridden with corruption, inefficiency and oppression. The most important administrative reform they desired was the Indianisation of the higher grades of the administrative services. They put forward this demand on economic, political and moral grounds. 
  • Economically, the European monopoly of the higher services was harmful on two grounds: Europeans were paid at very high rates and this made Indian administration very costly—Indians of similar qualifications could be employed at lower salaries, and, Europeans sent out of India a large part of their salaries and their pensions were paid in England. 
  • This added to the drain of wealth from India. Politically, the nationalists hoped that the Indianisation of these services would make the administration more responsive to Indian needs. The moral aspect of the question was stated by Gopal Krishna Gokhale in 1897: 
  • The excessive costliness of the foreign agency is not, however, its only evil. There is a moral evil which, if anything, is even greater. A kind of dwarfing or stunting of the Indian race is going on under the present system. 
  • We must live all the days of our life in an atmosphere of inferiority, and the tallest of us must bend…. The full height of which our manhood is capable of rising can never be reached by us under the present system. 
  • The moral elevation which every self-governing people feel cannot be felt by us. Our administrative and military talents must gradually disappear, owing to sheer disuse, till at last our lot, as hewers of wood and drawers of water in our own country, is stereotyped. 
  • The nationalists demanded the separation of the judicial from executive powers so that the people might get some protection from the arbitrary acts of the police and the bureaucracy. They agitated against the oppressive and tyrannical behaviour of the police and other government agents towards the common people. 
  • They criticised the delays of the law and the high cost of judicial process. They opposed the aggressive foreign policy against India’s neighbours. They protested against the policy of the annexation of Burma, the attack upon Afghanistan and the suppression of the tribal people in North-Western India. 
  • They urged the government to undertake and develop welfare activities of the state. They laid a great deal of emphasis on the spread of primary education among the masses. They also demanded greater facilities for technical and higher education. 
  • They urged the development of agricultural banks to save the peasant from the clutches of the moneylender. They wanted the government to undertake a large-scale programme of extension of irrigation for the development of agriculture and to save the country from famines. They demanded extension of medical and health facilities and improvement of the police system to make it honest, efficient and popular. 
  • The nationalist leaders also spoke up in defence of Indian workers who had been compelled by poverty to migrate to foreign countries such as South Africa, Malaya, Mauritius, the West Indies and British Guyana in search of employment. 
  • In many of these foreign lands they were subjected to severe oppression and racial discrimination. This was particularly true of South Africa where Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was leading a popular struggle in defence of the basic human rights of Indians.
The document The Nationalist Movement (1858-1905)- 3 Notes | Study History for UPSC CSE - UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course History for UPSC CSE.
All you need of UPSC at this link: UPSC
156 videos|548 docs|345 tests

How to Prepare for UPSC

Read our guide to prepare for UPSC which is created by Toppers & the best Teachers

Download free EduRev App

Track your progress, build streaks, highlight & save important lessons and more!

Related Searches

Important questions

,

Summary

,

study material

,

Objective type Questions

,

The Nationalist Movement (1858-1905)- 3 Notes | Study History for UPSC CSE - UPSC

,

Viva Questions

,

Previous Year Questions with Solutions

,

video lectures

,

Extra Questions

,

practice quizzes

,

past year papers

,

The Nationalist Movement (1858-1905)- 3 Notes | Study History for UPSC CSE - UPSC

,

pdf

,

Semester Notes

,

shortcuts and tricks

,

Sample Paper

,

ppt

,

MCQs

,

mock tests for examination

,

The Nationalist Movement (1858-1905)- 3 Notes | Study History for UPSC CSE - UPSC

,

Free

,

Exam

;