Beginning of Modern Nationalism in India
Factors in the Growth of Modern Nationalism-
- Worldwide upsurge of the concepts of nationalism and right of self-determination initiated by the French Revolution.
- Indian Renaissance.
- Offshoot of modernisation initiated by the British in India.
- Strong reaction to British imperialist policies in India.
Understanding of Contradictions in Indian and Colonial Interests
- colonial rule was the major cause of India’s economic backwardness and that the interests of the Indians involved the interests of all sections and classes.
- The nationalist movement arose to take up the challenge of these contradictions.
Political, Administrative and Economic Unification of the Country
- The British rule in the Indian subcontinent extended from the Himalayas in the north to the Cape Comorin in the south and from Assam in the east to Khyber Pass in the west.
- While Indian provinces were under ‘direct’ British rule, the princely states were under ‘indirect’ British rule.
- The necessities of administrative convenience, considerations of military defence and the urge for economic penetration and commercial exploitation (all in British interests) were the driving forces behind the planned development of modern means of transport and communication
- This process of unification had a two-fold effect:
- The economic fate of the people of different regions got linked together; for instance, failure of crops in one region affected the prices and supply in another region.
- Modern means of transport and communication brought people, especially the leaders, from different regions together. This was important for the exchange of political ideas and for mobilisation and organisation of public opinion on political and economic issues.
Western Thought and Education-
- The introduction of a modern system of education afforded opportunities for assimilation of modern Western ideas.
- The liberal and radical thought of European writers like Milton, Shelley, John Stuart Mill, Rousseau, Paine, Spencer and Voltaire helped many Indians imbibe modern rational, secular, democratic and nationalist ideas.
Role of Press and Literature
- In 1877, there were about 169 newspapers published in vernacular languages and their circulation reached the neighbourhood of 1,00,000.
- The press while criticising official policies, on the one hand, urged the people to unite, on the other.
Rediscovery of India’s Past
The historical researches by European scholars, such as Max Mueller, Monier Williams, Roth and Sassoon, and by Indian scholars such as R.G. Bhandarkar, R.L. Mitra and later Swami Vivekananda, created an entirely new picture of India’s past.
Progressive Character of Socio-religious Reform Movements
These reform movements sought to remove social evils which divided the Indian society
Rise of Middle Class Intelligentsia
- According to Percival Spear, “The new middle class was a well-integrated all-India class with varied background but a common foreground of knowledge, ideas and values…. It was a minority of Indian society, but a dynamic minority…. It had a sense of unity of purpose and of hope.”
Impact of Contemporary Movements in the World
- Rise of a number of nations in particular deeply influenced the nationalist ranks.
Reactionary Policies and Racial Arrogance of Rulers
- Lytton’s reactionary policies such as reduction of maximum age limit for the I.C.S. examination from 21 years to 19 years (1876), the grand Delhi Durbar of 1877 when the country was in the severe grip of famine, the Vernacular Press Act (1878) and the Arms Act (1878) provoked a storm of opposition in the country.
- Ripon had to modify the bill, thus almost defeating the original purpose, because of the stiff opposition from the European community.
Political Associations Before the Indian National Congress
- Through long petitions to the British Parliament most of them demanded—administrative reforms,association of Indians with the administration, and spread of education.
Political Associations in Bengal
- The Bangabhasha Prakasika Sabha was formed in 1836 by associates of Raja Rammohan Roy.
- The Zamindari Association, more popularly known as the ‘Landholders’ Society’, was founded to safeguard the interests of the landlords.
- The Bengal British India Society was founded in 1843 In 1851, both the Landholders’ Society and the Bengal British India Society merged into the British Indian Association.
- The East India Association was organised by Dadabhai Naoroji in 1866 in London
- The Indian League was started in 1875 by Sisir Kumar Ghosh
- The Indian Association of Calcutta (also known as the Indian National Association) superseded the Indian League and was founded in 1876 by younger nationalists of Bengal led by Surendranath Banerjea and Ananda Mohan Bose It protested against the reduction of age limit in 1877 for candidates of the Indian Civil Service examination.
- The association sponsored an all India conference which first took place in Calcutta on December 28 to 30, 1883. It later merged with the Indian National Congress in 1886.
Political Associations in Bombay
- The Poona Sarvajanik Sabha was founded in 1867 by Mahadeo Govind Ranade
- The Bombay Presidency Association was started by Badruddin Tyabji, Pherozshah Mehta and K.T. Telang in 1885.
Political Associations in Madras
- The Madras Mahajan Sabha was founded in 1884 by M. Viraraghavachari, B. Subramaniya Aiyer and P. Anandacharlu.
- for imposition of import duty on cotton (1875)
- for Indianisation of government service (1878-79)
- against Lytton’s Afghan adventure
- against Arms Act (1878)
- against Vernacular Press Act (1878)
- for right to join volunteer corps
- against plantation labour and against Inland Emigration Act
- in support of Ilbert Bill
- for an All India Fund for Political Agitation
- campaign in Britain to vote for pro-India party
- against reduction in maximum age for appearing in Indian Civil Service