THE SWADESHI MOVEMENT AND THE PARTITION OF BENGAL
The rise of a new self-reliant and defiant nationalism from 1905 onwards was a consequence of several factors:
- The callousness and repression of the Anglo-lndian bureaucracy,
- Frustration and disillusionment among the nationalists at the British attitude in initiating political reforms,
- The rising aspirations of the educated class,
- The growth of discontent in industrial sectors, and
- A great political idealism, generated by the teachings of Vivekanand, Dayananda, Bankim Chandra, Tilak, Pal, Aurobindo and other leaders and writers.
- With the start of the Swadeshi movement, the Indian National movement took a major leap forward.
- Women, students and a large section of the urban and rural population of Bengal and other parts of India became actively involved in politics for the first time.
- The day partition took effect on 16 October 1905 and was declared a day of mourning throughout Bengal. In Calcutta a hartal was declared.
- People took out processions and bathed in the Ganges in the morning and then paraded the streets singing Bande Mataram.
- People tied rakhis on each other’s hands as a symbol of unity of the two halves of Bengal. Later in the day Ananda Mohan Bose and S.N. Banerjee addressed two huge mass meetings .
- The message of Swadeshi and the boycott of foreign goods soon spread to the rest of the country.
- The INC took up the Swadeshi call and the Banaras Session, 1905, presided by Gokhale, supported the Swadeshi and boycott movement for Bengal .
- The militant nationalists led by Tilak, Pal and Lajpat Rai were, however, in favour of extending the movement to the rest of India and carrying it beyond the programme of just Swadeshi and boycott to a full-fledged political mass struggle.
- The aim was now Swaraj and the abrogation of partition had become the ‘pettiest and narrowest of all political objects.
The Political demands of the Moderate leaders included:
- Increase in the employment of Indians to civil services.
- Separation of judicial and executive functions.
- Extension of trial by jury.
- Expansion of membership of legislative bodies.
- Repeal of the Sedition Act of 1898.
- Expansion of education, especially technical education.
- Grant of commissions in the army and military training to the people.
- Simultaneous examination for the ICS in England and India.
- The political techniques of the Moderate leaders can be thus summarized as:
- Articulation of political consciousness in the literate classes.
- Petitioning to the authorities and holding meetings.
- Demanding administrative reforms and the termination of anti-popular legislation like the one effectuating the partition of Bengal.
- Using the electoral machinery to get into the Legislative Council
- Sending deputation to England to prevent the Indian point of view before the members of Parliament and the bar of the British public opinion.
The Political demands of the Moderate leaders included:
- Equitable apportionment of military expenditure between India and Britain. Reduction of military expenditure.
- Reduction of Home charges.
- Adoption of measures for relief of agricultural indebtedness.
- Encouragement of technical education and promotion of Indian industries by subsidies and protection.
- Abolition of Salt Tax.
- Reduction of land revenue and income tax.
- Setting up of agricultural banks and extension of irrigational facilities.
- Loan for agriculturists.
- Measures to remove poverty.
- Revision of Abkari and Excise policy to encourage temperance.
- With the death of Gokhale on February 19, 1915, of Pherozeshah on November 5, 1915, and the Dadabhai, the grand old man of Indian politics, on June 30, 1917, Moderatism ceased to be an effective political force.
- Since extremism was an attitude of mind, no definite date can be fixed for its beginning.
- The Extremist trend began in 1890s and its creed crystallized by 1905.
- After the famine of 1896 Tilak asked the distressed people not to pay taxes.
- British Govt. considered his teachings and editorials responsible for creating an atmosphere which led to the murders of Rand and Ayerst in June 1897.
- Bipin Chandra Pal (1858-1932) and Aurobindo were another important Extremist leaders.
- The Extremists formulated the fourfold techniques (the Chatusutri as Tilak called them) of the New Party:
- Boycott of foreign goods
- National education
- Arbitration in place of seeking justice in courts established by the foreign rulers.
- The methods and tactics used by the Extremists can be summed up as:
- Use of self-reliant methods.
- Need for making sacrifices for the country.
- Condemned political mendicancy.
- Intense hatred for foreign rule, which was held responsible for all evils of Indian society.
- Faith in mass political action.
- Boycott of British goods.
- Use of Swadeshi goods.
- National Education.
- Passive resistance.
- Stages of the Moderates-Extremists tussle can be traced as below:
- Banaras Congress Session in Dec. 1905: Extremists wanted a strong resolution on Boycott and Swadeshi. Moderates emphasised the use of constitutional methods only.
- Compromise: Mild resolution on Boycott and Swadeshi.
- Calcutta Congress Session in Dec. 1906: Extremists wanted Tilak or Lajpat Rai as President, Moderates proposed name of Dadabhai Nauroji, who was elected.
(i) Swaraj declared goal of Congress.
(ii) Resolution on Boycott, Swadeshi and National Education passed.
- Surat Congress Session in Dec. 1907: Extremists wanted
(i) The session at Nagpur
(ii) Lajpat Rai as Congress President, and
(iii) Reiteration of resolutions on Boycott, Swadeshi and National Education.
- Moderates wanted:-
(i) The session at Surat,
(ii) Rash Behari Ghosh as President, and
(iii) To drop the resolutions on Boycott, Swadeshi and National Education.
Outcome of the Surat split was:
- With Government encouragement Moderates adopted an uncompromising attitude.
- Pandemonium at Surat and session adjourned.
- Moderates captured the Congress in April, 1908 and adopted a loyalist constitution for the Congress.
- Extremists eclipsed from national forums.
- Even Moderates suffered disillusionment and lost popularity with the masses.
Morley-Minto Reforms, 1909
- Reasons due to which this Act was passed can be summed up as:
- Indian dissatisfaction with Act of 1892.
- Extremists in the Congress advocated the policy of pressure to win political rights. The Indian council Act, 1892 did not satisfy even the Moderates.
- Curzon’s reactionary policies and partition of Bengal awoke the latent national consciousness of Indians.
- Economic distress and famines alienated the people from British rule.
- Minto’s plan was to placate political unrest by a dose of political reforms.
Facts To Be Remembered
- Sisir Kumar Ghosh founded the Amrita Bazar Patrika.
- Bangadarsana was founded by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee in 1873.
- Robert Knight, one of the few English Journalists who had sympathy for Indian cause, was called the “Bayard of India” by the Indian Press.
- Sir Charles Metcalfe and Lord Macaulay are known as the ‘Liberators of the Indian Press’.
- Swami Dayanand was the first to use the word “Swaraj”.
- Dwarakanath Tagore was one of the founder-members of the Land holders society of Calcutta.
- In 1851 the “Landholders Society” and the “Bengal British India Society” merged themselves into a new one, named the “British Indian Association”.
- The “Bombay Association” founded in 1852 was the first political association in the Bombay presidency.
- In 1898 the British passed a law making it an offence to preach Nationalism.
- Valentine Chirol described Balgangadhar Tilak as the “Father of Indian Unrest”.
- Aurobindo Ghosh was the first propounder of the Doctrine of “Passive Resistance”.
- “The Congress movement was neither inspired by the people, nor devised or planned by them.”
- Government’s plan was to use political reforms as a device to drive a wedge between Hindus and Muslims through communal electorates.
- Important provisions can be summed up as:
- Legislative Councils both at the Centre and in the provinces were expanded.
- Total strength of Central Legislative Council was raised to 68 (Governor General + 7 Executive Councillors + 60 additional members). Term of ‘additional’ members was to be 3 years.
- Regulations provided qualifications both for candidates for election and for voters. Women, minors, persons below age of 25 years could not vote.
- Powers of Central Legislative Councils was enlarged. Members could discuss annual financial statement, propose resolutions, but Budgets as a whole was not subject to vote of Legislative Council. Members could ask questions and supplementary questions on matters of public interest.
- Non-officials were to be in majority in Provincial Legislatures.
- For the first time, system of class and communal electorates was introduced in Legislative Councils.
- Number of members of Provincial Executive Councils of Bengal, Madras and Bombay was raised to 4 each.