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A) FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE GROWTH OF MODERN NATIONALISM IN INDIA
There are several factors responsible for the emergence of nationalism in India.
1) Economic Critique of Colonialism: An understanding that British rule in India is leading to the underdevelopment and impoverishment of the country was first articulated by Dadabhai Naoroji. He developed ‘Drain Theory’ in 1867 in which he argued that Britain is draining the wealth of India. He published Poverty and Un-British Rule in India which is a systematic critique of British colonial rule. R.C. Dutt in his Economic History of India under Early British Rule and Economic History of India in the Victorian Age made similar arguments about the exploitative character of British rule in India. M.G. Ranade published Essays on Indian Economics in 1898. Economic critique of colonialism laid foundation for nationalist movement in India.
2) Political, Administrative and Economic Unification of the Country: British rule introduced modern bureaucracy, professional civil service, unified judiciary and a uniform civil and criminal laws in India which resulted in the political unification of the country. British colonial state also introduced modern means of transport and communication such as railways, roads, electricity and telegraph which resulted in the unification of the country. Political, administrative and economic unification of the country gave a sense of unified ‘nation’ for the people of India.
3) Western Thought and Education: The spread of western ideas and English education in the nineteenth century resulted in the formation of country wide English educated Indian middle class intellectuals. They were exposed to western ideas of nationalism and nationalist movements and political systems.
4) Role of Press and Literature: The technology of printing press started to spread during the nineteenth century in India. Indians started to own printing presses and published newspapers, periodicals and literature. In 1877 there were 169 newspapers in India published in the vernacular languages. Indian owned press criticized the British colonial policies and urged people to unite. It helped in the dissemination of modern ideas of self-government, democracy, civil rights and industrialization. The press also helped in the exchange of political ideas among nationalist leaders from different regions.
5) Progressive Character of Socio-Religious Reform Movements: The social and religious reform movements of the nineteenth century contained positive elements that prepared ground for the emergence of modern Indian nation. Many of the social and religious reformers criticized the caste system, sati and other outmoded rituals and practices. They laid emphasis on modern education, rationality and freedom.
6) Rediscovery of India’s Past: The British Orientalists scholars studied the ancient Indian literature and translated them into the European languages. They discovered the ancient Indian civilization which gave a sense of pride to Indians. The rediscovery of India’s past by the Orientalist scholars also created a sense of cultural uniqueness and pride for Indians.
7) Impact of Contemporary Movements Worldwide: Irish nationalism and Italian nationalism provided inspiration for Indian nationalism.
8) Reactionary Policies and Racial Arrogance of British: British colonial state in India discriminated the Indians on the basis of colour and race. They reduced the maximum age limit for Indian Civil Services examination from 21 to 19 in 1876. The British colonial government in India celebrated Grand Delhi Durbar in 1877 during which Queen Victoria was crowned Empress of India in absentia. This event took place at a time when Indian people were suffering from famine. The Vernacular Press Act of 1878 targeted Indian newspapers and confiscated Indian Press, paper and other materials. Freedom of press and the right to free speech and expression was curtained by British through Vernacular Press Act of 1878. The British colonial state passed Arms Act in 1878 which prohibited Indians from carrying arms. On the other hand Europeans in India were given right to carry arms. Finally, the Ilbert Bill was introduced in 1883 and enacted in 1884 by Viceroy Ripon. According to Ilbert Bill, British offenders could be tried by Indian judges at district level. However this was severely criticized by the British residents in India which forced the state to dilute the Bill. A modified version of the Bill was introduced in 1884.
B) POLITICAL ASSOCIATIONS IN INDIA BEFORE THE INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS
1) East India Association: It was organized by Dadabhai Naoroji in 1866 in London to discuss Indian question and to influence British public opinion on Indian welfare. Later, branches were opened in Indian cities.
2) Indian Association of Calcutta: It was founded in 1876 by the younger nationalists of Bengal like Surendranath Banerjee and Ananda Mohan Bose. It aimed to create a strong public opinion in the country on political questions and unification of Indian people on a common political programme. It kept a low membership fee and set up branches in and out of Bengal.
3) Poona Sarvajanik Sabha: It was founded in 1867 by M.G. Ranade and others with the object of serving as a bridge between the government and people.
4) The Bombay Presidency Association: It was started by Badruddin Tyabji, Pherozshah Mehta and K.T. Telang in 1885.
5) The Madras Mahajana Sabha: It was founded in 1884 by M. Veeraraghavachari, Subramania Iyer and P. Ananda Charlu.
C) INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS AND THE MYTH OF SAFETY VALVE THEORY
Indian National Congress was founded in 1885 with the active involvement of A.O. Hume, a retired English Civil Servant. A.O. Hume’s involvement in the formation of Congress gave rise to a lot of controversy and suspicions regarding the origins of the Congress. A number of historians of all shades – imperial, nationalists and Marxists – believed in ‘Safety Valve Theory’ or ‘Conspiracy Theory’. According to this theory Congress was a creation of British. It was believed that the Congress was formed by the British which would serve as a Safety Valve by opening up a line of communication between the British rulers and elite Indians and would thus prevent a mass revolution against British rule in India. The first reference to the Safety Valve Theory emerges in William Wadderburn’s biography of A.O. Hume published in 1913. Wadderburn wrote that in 1878 Hume had come across seven volumes of secret reports which showed discontent and dissatisfaction among the lower classes of India and a conspiracy to overthrow British rule by force. Wadderburn futher argued that Hume who was disturbed by these developments met Viceroy Lord Dufferin and together they decided to establish an organization with the educated Indians. According to Wadderburn, the seven volumes of secret reports were received by A.O. Hume from religious gurus. However this theory of ‘Safety Valve’ was discredited in 1950s and 1960s.
What are the reasons for dismissing ‘Safety Valve Theory’?
1) The seven volumes of secret reports have not been traced in any archives or libraries in India or London.
2) Historians argue that given the structure of British information gathering system in the 1870s, it was highly unlikely that so many volumes of secret reports could have existed.
3) Except in Wadderburn’s biography of Hume, nowhere else any reference to the existence of such reports could be found. Wadderburn says that Hume secured those seven volumes from religious gurus and not from official sources.
4) Viceroy Lord Dufferin’s private papers were opened up in 1950s for historians to study. Though Dufferin met Hume in Shimla in May 1885, he remained critical of the formation of any all India organization. Dufferin criticized Congress after its formation as a microscopic minority. He even sent a telegram to the British officials in Bombay to remain vigilant of any such all India political meeting.
Then why Wadderburn portrayed Hume in such a way?
Historians now agree that the story of seven volumes of secret reports was a fiction created by a friendly biographer Wadderburn to portray Hume as a British patriot. The Safety Valve Theory is fictitious and insufficient to understand the formation of all India national organization called Indian National Congress.
Even if Hume had not taken any initiative in India of the 1870s and 1880s the formation of a national organization would have taken place. British officials dismissed Congress as ‘Disloyal Babus’, ‘Violent Villains’, ‘Seditious Brahmins’, ‘a Factory of Sedition’ and ‘Microscopic Minority’.
D) MODERATE NATIONALISM (1885-1905): METHODS OF POLITICAL WORK, CONTRIBUTION AND EVALUATION
Indian National Congress was founded in 1885. The first session of the Congress was held at Bombay attended by 72 delegates with W.C. Banerjee as President. From 1885 to 1905 the members of the Congress followed moderate methods of political struggle and hence they are called Moderates. Some of the prominent moderates were Dadabhai Naoroji, Badruddin Tyabji, Surendranath Banerjee and Gopal Krishna Gokhale.
Methods of Political Work of the Moderates:
• The moderate Congressmen were believers in ‘liberalism’ and ‘moderate’ politics.
• They were involved in constitutional agitation within the confines of law and showed a slow but orderly political progress.
• They mobilized public opinion and presented to the government, the sentiments of people through resolutions, petitions, and meetings and believed that the government would concede to their demands gradually.
• They educated and united people on common political questions.
• They persuaded the British government and British public opinion to introduce reforms in India. For this purpose a British Committee of the Indian National Congress was established in London in 1899 with a journal ‘India’.
• The moderates believed that the time was not ripe for a direct challenge to the British rule.
• They did not demand independence from the British rule for they believed that India is not yet a nation but a nation in the making.
Contributions of Moderate Nationalists:
1) Economic Critique of Colonialism: The three most prominent early nationalists who developed the economic critique of colonialism were Dadabhai Naoroji, R.C. Dutt and M.G. Ranade. Dadabhai Naoroji published Poverty and Un-British Rule in India in which he demonstrated the ‘drain’ of wealth and exploitation of the Indian resources by the British. The early nationalists demanded an end to the subordination of Indian economy to British economy and argued for the development of an independent economy through involvement of Indian capital and enterprise. They also demanded reduction in land revenue, abolition of salt tax, improvement in working conditions of plantation labour, reduction in military expenditure and encouragement to modern industry through tariff protection and direct government aid.
2) Constitutional Reforms and Propaganda in Legislature: The early nationalists demanded constitutional reforms and greater participation of Indians in councils. They further demanded more power to the council especially greater control over finances. The long term objective of early nationalists was democratic self-government. Their demands were partially addresses by the British colonial government when in 1892 Indian Councils Act was passed. However it remained ineffective with no real power for the Indians in the council.
3) Campaign for Administrative Reforms: The moderate nationalists demanded Indianization of government services. They also demanded the separation of judicial from executive functions. They criticized the aggressive foreign policy of the British colonial government in India. They demanded increase in the expenditure on welfare. They wanted the government to provide the better treatment of Indian labour abroad.
4) Defense of Civil Rights: The moderate nationalists were champions of civil rights. These rights included right to speech, right to association and right to free press. The campaign for the defense of civil rights became an integral part of the freedom struggle.

Evaluation of the Moderate Nationalism:
• The moderate nationalists mobilized only the Indian public opinion and not the public. They lacked faith in the capacity of the masses to participate in political struggle.
• The moderate nationalists were Anglicized class who maintained ambivalent attitude towards British rule.
• The moderate nationalists were highly successful men in their professions and their success in private life resulted in complacency in public life.
• The moderate nationalists were elitist in their class composition. The elite attitude led to feelings of mingled contempt and fear of ‘lower’ orders of society and dependence on British rule for law and order.
• The moderate nationalists were gradualist and their method was criticized by the extremists as politics of ‘mendicancy’.

E) RISE OF EXTREMISM, 1905-1918

Why did extremism in Indian National Congress emerge? The extremist trend was present in Congress in the 1890s but took a concrete shape by 1905. The reasons for the emergence of extremism within the Congress are broadly the following:

1) Recognition of the true nature of British rule: The militant among the Congress got disillusioned after realizing that the government is not conceding to any of the demands of the Congress. Indian Councils Act of 1892 was condemned by Congress every year. Further, British colonial state in India passed such repressive acts like Official Secrets Act (1904), Indian Universities Act (1904), and Calcutta Corporation Act (1899) which created dissatisfaction among the younger generation of nationalists within the Congress. They began to realize the true nature of the British rule in India.

2) Dissatisfaction with the method of politics and achievements of moderates: The younger members of the Congress were critical of the method of politics employed by moderates namely – prayer, petition and protest – and criticized the method as ‘politics of mendicancy’.
3) Growth of education and unemployment: The English educated group kept growing in India but the younger generation of English educated class remained unemployed. Rampant unemployment created dissatisfaction with the British rule.

4) Growth of confidence, self-respect and belief in the masses: The militant nationalists like B.G. Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo believed in the character and capacities of Indian people. A belief that the participation of masses is necessary to win the freedom gained currency among the younger members of the Congress.

5) International influences: The defeat of Russia by Japan in Russo-Japanese war of 1905 symbolized the rise of Asian power in world history. Similarly in the second Anglo-Boer war in South Africa British troops suffered military defeat at the hands of Boers from 1899 to 1902. The rise of Asia and Africa in world history provided great inspiration to the younger generation of nationalists in India.

6) Reactionary policies of Lord Curzon: In 1899 Lord Curzon became the new Viceroy of India. Under his viceroyalty many repressive measures were adopted which created dissatisfaction among the younger generation of nationalists. Repressive laws like Official Secrets Act (1904), Indian Universities Act (1904), and Calcutta Corporation Act (1899) were passed with approval from Lord Curzon. The most infamous of Curzon’s policy was his decision of partition Bengal in 1905.

7) Existence of militant school of thought: There existed within Congress a militant group of nationalists who wanted far reaching changes to be introduced in India. Raj Narain Bose, Ashwini Kumar Dutta, Aurobindo Ghosh and Bipin Chandra Pal from Bengal, B.G. Tilak from Maharashtra and Lala Lajpat Rai from Punjab were some of the leading militant nationalists within the Congress. They shared common views like hatred for foreign rule, swaraj to be the goal of national movement, direct political action, belief in the capacity of masses and personal sacrifice.

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