Chapter 2. Nationalism in India

• In India and in many other colonies, growth of modern nationalism is intimately connected to anti-colonial movement. People began discovering their unity in process of their struggle with colonialism.
• sense of being oppressed under colonialism provided a shared bond that tied many different groups together. But each class and group felt effects of colonialism differently, their experiences were varied and their notions of freedom were not always same.
• Congress under Mahatma Gandhi tried to forge these groups together within one movement, but unity did not emerge without conflict.

First World War, Khilafat & Non-Cooperation
• rise of contemporary nationalism in India is linked to anti-colonial movement. Many groups formed relationships as a result of colonialism, which were developed by Congress under Mahatma Gandhi.
• In years following 1919, war created a new economic and political scenario. Between 1913 and 1918, an income tax was enacted and prices of customs taxes were doubled, making life extremely difficult for ordinary people.
• Crop failure in India in 1918-19 and 1920-21 resulted in a food shortage and it was accompanied by an influenza epidemic. A new leader emerged at this point, proposing a new form of struggle.

Idea of Satyagraha
• Mahatma Gandhi returned to India from South Africa [where he had successfully fought racist with satyagraha, a novel method of mass agitation] in January 1915 and launched Satyagraha Movement. Satyagraha emphasised importance of seeking truth and power of truth. According to Mahatma Gandhi, non-violence may win a conflict and bring all Indians together.
• In 1917, Gandhiji went to Champaran, in state of Bihar, to encourage farmers to fight against unfair plantation system. In same year, he set up Satyagraha to help farmers in Gujarat’s Kheda district. In 1918, Mahatma Gandhi went to Ahmedabad to help cotton mill workers start a Satyagraha Movement.

Rowlatt Act
• Mahatma Gandhi organised a statewide Satyagraha in 1919 to protest planned Rowlatt Act. Act grants government broad powers to suppress political activities and allows political prisoners to be held for two years without charge or trial.
• British Government decided to clamp down on nationalists by witnessing outrage of people. On April 10th, police in Amritsar fired on a peaceful procession, which provoked widespread attacks on banks, post offices and railway stations. Martial law was imposed and General Dyer took command.
• On 13th April, Jallianwala Bagh incident took place. A large crowd gathered in Jallianwala Bagh where a few people came to protest against government’s new repressive measures, while some came to attend annual Baisakhi fair. General Dyer blocked all exit points and opened fire on crowd killing hundreds. After Jallianwala Bagh massacre, people grew furious and went on strikes, clashes with police and attacks on government buildings. Mahatma Gandhi had to call off movement as it was turning into a violent war.
• Mahatma Gandhi then took up Khilafat issue by bringing Hindus and Muslims together. defeat of Ottoman Turkey marked conclusion of First World War. A Khilafat Committee was created in Bombay in March 1919. Mahatma Gandhi persuaded other leaders in September 1920 for non-cooperation movement in support of Khilafat and swaraj that was necessary.

Why Non-cooperation?
• In his famous book Hind Swaraj [1909], Mahatma Gandhi declared that British rule was established in India with cooperation of Indians and had survived only because of this cooperation. If Indians refused to cooperate, British rule in India would collapse within a year and swaraj would come.
• Non-cooperation movement was proposed in stages. It should begin with surrender of titles that government awarded and a boycott of civil services, army, police, courts & legislative councils, schools & foreign goods. After many hurdles and campaigning between supporters and opponents of movement, finally in Congress session at Nagpur in December 1920, Non-Cooperation Movement was adopted.

Differing Strands within Movement
• Non-Cooperation-Khilafat Movement began in January 1921. Various social groups participated in this movement, each with its own specific aspiration.
• All of them responded to call of Swaraj, but term meant different things to different people.

Rebellion in Countryside
• In several sections of India, Non-Cooperation Movement expanded to countryside, where peasants and tribals were flourishing. peasant movement began as a response to talukdars and landowners who wanted exorbitant rents and other concessions. movement known as for a reduction in taxation, abolition of beggars and a social boycott of tyrannical landlords.
• Jawaharlal Nehru in June 1920, started going around villages in Awadh to understand their grievances. In October, he along with few others set up Oudh Kisan Sabha and within a month 300 branches had been set up. In 1921, peasant movement spread rapidly and houses of talukdars and merchants were attacked, bazaars were looted and grain boards were taken over.
• In early 1920s, a militant guerrilla movement started in Gudem Hills of Andhra Pradesh. As government started closing down forest areas, due to which their livelihood was affected. As a result hill people revolted, it was led by Alluri Sitaram Raju who claimed that he had a variety of special powers.

Movement in Towns
• middle-class started movement and thousands of students, teachers, headmasters left government-controlled schools and colleges, lawyers gave up their legal practices. In economic front, effects of non-cooperation were more dramatic.
• When people began boycotting foreign items, it resulted in fruitful way, as production of Indian textile factories and handlooms increased. But trend, however, stalled due to a multitude of factors, including high cost of Khadi clothing, a lack of Indian institutions for students and teachers to choose from, so they had no choice than to return to government schools and attorneys returned to government courts.

Swaraj in Plantations
• For plantation workers in Assam, freedom meant right to move freely in and out and retaining a link with village from where they had come.
• Under Inland Emigration Act of 1859, plantation workers were not permitted to leave tea gardens without permission. When they heard of NonCooperation Movement, thousands of workers left plantations and headed towards their home. But, unfortunately, they never reached their destination and were caught by police and brutally beaten up. They interpreted term swaraj in their own ways.

Towards Civil Disobedience
• In February 1922, Non-Cooperation Movement was withdrawn because Mahatma Gandhi felt that it was turning violent. Some of leaders wanted to participate in elections for Provincial Councils. Swaraj Party was formed by CR Das and Motilal Nehru, but Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose pressed for more radical mass agitation and for full independence.
• In late 1920s, two causes once again affected Indian politics. first, it was a result of global economic downturn and second was a fall in agricultural prices. Statutory Commission was established to examine functioning of India’s Constitutional system and to provide recommendations for changes.
• In 1928, Simon Commission arrived in India and it was greeted by slogan ‘Go back Simon’. All parties, including Congress and Muslim League, participated in demonstrations, whereas to calm down demonstrations and an effort to win them over, viceroy, Lord Irwin announced an offer of dominion status and a Round Table Conference to discuss a future constitution in October 1929. But, it did not satisfy leaders of Congress. In December 1929, under presidency of Jawaharlal Nehru, Lahore Congress formalised demand of ‘Purna Swaraj’ or full independence for India. It was declared that 26 January 1930 would be celebrated as Independence Day.

Salt March and Civil Disobedience Movement
• On 31 January 1930, Mahatma Gandhi sent a letter to Viceroy Irwin stating eleven demands. Among demands, most stirring of all was to abolish salt tax which is consumed by rich and poor equally.
• demands had to be met by March 11th, else Congress would begin a campaign of Civil Disobedience. Mahatma Gandhi began legendary salt march with help of 78 of his loyal volunteers.
• From Gandhiji’s ashram at Sabarmati to Gujarati seaside town of Dandi, march covered nearly 240 km. On April 6, he along with others arrived at Dandi and ceremonially broke law by boiling seawater to make salt. Civil Disobedience Movement began with this event.
• movement gained traction around world and salt ban was repealed in various sections of country. foreign textiles were boycotted, peasants refused to pay taxes and forest laws were broken in numerous locations.
• In April 1930, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a devout disciple of Mahatma Gandhi was arrested and Mahatma Gandhi was arrested a month later, which led attacks to all structures that symbolised British rule.
• After seeing how bad things were, Mahatma Gandhi decided to stop fighting and signed a deal with Irwin on March 5, 1931. As part of Gandhi-Irwin Pact, Gandhiji agreed to go to London to take part in a Round Table Conference. Mahatma Gandhi was unhappy when conference fell apart, so he started up Civil Disobedience Movement in India again. It went on for almost a year, but by 1934, it was no longer moving forward.

How Participants saw Movement
• Patidars of Gujarat and Jats of Uttar Pradesh [producer of commercial crops] were active in movement. They became enthusiastic supporters of Civil Disobedience Movement. But they were deeply disappointed when movement was known as off in 1931. So, when movement was restarted in 1932, many of them refused to participate. poorer peasants joined a variety of radical movements, often led by Socialists and Communists.
• Indian Industrial and Commercial Congress was founded in 1920 and Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industries [FICCI] was founded in 1927 to organise corporate interests. When Civil Disobedience Movement was first formed, businessmen opposed British control over Indian economy. Civil Disobedience Movement drew participation of certain industrial workers. Railway and dock employees went on strike in 1930 and 1932.
• large-scale participation of women was another major characteristic of Civil Disobedience Movement. For a long time, however, Congress was adamant about not allowing women to take any position of power within organisation.

Limits of Civil Disobedience
• concept of Swaraj did not sway Dalits, or oppressed class who were referred to as ‘untouchables.’ Mahatma Gandhi referred to them as Harijans or God’s offspring, without whom swaraj would be impossible to attain. He organised Satyagraha for untouchables, but they preferred a political solution to community’s concerns. They requested a separate electorate and special seats in educational institutions.
• Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, who organised oppressed class into Depressed Classes Association in 1930, clashed with Mahatma Gandhi at second Round Table Conference by demanding separate electorates for them.
• Poona Pact of September 1932 gave Depressed Classes [later to be called Scheduled Castes] reserved seats in Provincial and Central Legislative Councils. After decline of Non-CooperationKhilafat Movement, Muslims felt alienated from Congress due to which relations between Hindus and Muslims worsened.
• If Muslims were guaranteed reserved seats in Central Assembly and representation in proportion to population in Muslim-dominated regions, Muhammad Ali Jinnah was willing to give up his demand for separate electorates.
• Despite this, hopes of resolving problem during 1928, All Parties Conference were dashed when M.R. Jayakar of Hindu Mahasabha vehemently resisted any attempts at compromise.

Sense of Collective Belonging
• Nationalism spreads when people begin to believe that they are all part of same nation. Nationalism was shaped by history and fiction, folklore & songs, popular prints and symbols and so on. Finally, in twentieth century, image of Bharat Mata visually identified with India’s identity.
• image was first produced by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, who penned song ‘Vande Mataram’ in 1870s.
• Abanindranath Tagore painted famous image of Bharat Mata, portrayed as an ascetic figure; she is calm, composed, divine & spiritual. In late-nineteenthcentury India, nationalists began recording folk tales sung by bards and they toured villages to gather folk songs and legends.
• A tricolour flag [red, green & yellow] was designed during Swadeshi Movement in Bengal, with eight lotuses representing eight regions of British India and a crescent moon signifying Hindus and Muslims. By 1921, Gandhiji had developed Swaraj flag, which was a tricolour [red, green & white] with a spinning wheel in centre, symbolising Gandhi’s self-help concept.

• In first half of twentieth century, various groups and classes of Indians came together for struggle of independence. Congress under leadership of Mahatma Gandhi attempted to resolve differences and ensured that demands of one group did not alienate another.
• In other words, nation with many voices demanding independence from colonial domination was forming.

1918-19 : UP peasants organised by Baba Ramchandra April

1919 : Gandhian hartal against Rowlatt Act; Jallianwala Bagh massacre January

1921 : Non-Cooperation and Khilafat movement launched February

1922 : Chauri Chaura and withdrawal of NonCooperation by Gandhiji May

1924 : Alluri Sitarama Raju arrested ending a twoyear armed tribal struggle December

1929 : Lahore Congress Session – Purna Swaraj

1930 : B.R. Ambedkar established Depressed Classes Association March

1930 : Gandhiji begins Civil Disobedience Movement by breaking salt law at Dandi March

1931 : End of Civil Disobedience Movement December

1931 : Second Round Table Conference

1932 : Civil Disobedience re-launched

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