INDIAN FREEDOM STRUGGLE BY BIPIN CHANDRA PDF

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 next half a decade saw the emergence of almost all the major political trends of the Indian national movement. From conservative moderation to political extremism, from terrorism to incipient socialism, from petitioning and public speeches to passive resistance and boycott, all had their origins in the movement. The richness of the movement was not confined to politics alone. The period saw a breakthrough in Indian a1 literature, music, science, and industry.

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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 next half a decade saw the emergence of almost all the major political trends of the Indian national movement. From conservative moderation to political extremism, from terrorism to incipient socialism, from petitioning and public speeches to passive resistance and boycott, all had their origins in the movement.

The richness of the movement was not confined to politics alone. The period saw a breakthrough in Indian a1 literature, music, science, and industry. Equally, there was no escaping the fact that the real motive or partitioning Bengal was political.

Indian nationalism was gaining in strength and partition expected to weaken what was perceived as the nerve centre of Indian nationalism at that time. That is what the Congress leaders feel: their apprehensions are perfectly correct and they form one of the great merits of the scheme…in this scheme… one of our main objects is to split up and thereby weaken a solid body of opponents to our rule. The partition of the state intended to curb Bengali influence by not only placing Bengalis under two administrations but by reducing them to a minority in Bengal itself as in the new proposal Bengal proper was to have seventeen million Bengali and thirty-seven million Oriya and Hindi speaking people!

Also, the partition was meant to foster another kind of division— this time on the basis of religion. The policy of propping up Muslim communalists as a counter to the Congress and the national movement, which was getting increasingly crystallized in the last quarter of the 19th century. The Indian nationalists clearly saw the design behind the partition and condemned it unanimously.

The anti-partition and Swadeshi Movement had begun. In December , the partition proposals became publicly known, immediate and spontaneous protest followed. The strength of this protest can be gauged from the fact that in the first two months following the announcement protest meetings were held in East Bengal alone, especially m Dacca, Mymensingh, and Chittagong.

Nearly fifty thousand copies of pamphlets giving a detailed critique of the partition proposals were distributed all over Bengal. Surendranath Banerjea, Krishna Kumar Mitra, Prithwishchandra Ray, and other leaders launched a powerful press campaign against the partition proposals through journals and newspapers like the Bengalee, Hitabadi, and Sanjibani.

Vast protest meetings were held in the town hall of Calcutta in March and January , and numerous petitions sixty-nine memoranda from the Dacca division alone , some of them signed by as many as 70, people — a very large number keeping n view the level of politicization in those days — were sent to the Government of India and the Secretary of State.

Even, the big zamindars who had hitherto been loyal to the Raj joined forces with the Congress leaders who were mostly intellectuals and political workers drawn from journalism, law and other liberal professions. This was the phase, to mid when moderate techniques of petitions, memoranda, speeches, public meetings, and press campaigns held full sway.

The objective was to turn to public opinion in India and England against the partition proposals by preparing a foolproof case against them. The hope was that this would yield sufficient pressure to prevent this injustice from occurring.

The Government of India, however, remained unmoved. Despite the widespread protest, voiced against the partition proposals, the decision to partition Bengal was announced on 19 July It was obvious to the nationalists that their moderate methods were not working and that a different kind of strategy as needed.

Within days of the government announcement numerous spontaneous protest meetings were held in mofussil towns such as Dinajpur, Pabna, Faridpur, Tangail, Jessore, Dacca, Birbhum, and Barisal. It was in these meetings that the pledge to boycott foreign goods was first taken In Calcutta; students organized a number of meetings against partition and for Swadeshi. The formal proclamation of the Swadeshi Movement was, made on the 7 August , in meeting held at the Calcutta to hall.

The movement; hitherto sporadic and spontaneous, now had a focus and a leadership that was coming together. At the 7 August meeting, the famous Boycott Resolution was passed. Even Moderate leaders like Surendranath Banerjea toured the country urging the boycott of Manchester cloth and Liverpool salt.

On September 1, the Government announced that partition was to be effected on. The following weeks saw protest meetings being held almost every day all over Bengal; some of these meetings, like the one in Barisal, drew crowds of ten to twelve thousand.

That the message of boycott went home is evident from the fact that the value of British cloth sold in some of the mofussil districts fell by five to fifteen times between September and September The day partition took effect — 16 October — was declared a day of mourning throughout Bengal. People fasted and no fires were lit at the cooking hearth.

People took out processions and band after band walked barefoot, bathed in the Ganges in morning and then paraded the streets singing Bande Mataram which, almost spontaneously, became the theme song of the movement.

Later in the day Anandamohan Bose and Surendranath Banerjea addressed two huge mass meetings which drew crowds of 50, to 75, people. These were, perhaps, the largest mass meetings ever to be held under the nationalist banner this far. Within a few hours of the meetings, a sum of Rs. It was apparent that the character of the movement in terms both its goals and social base had begun to expand rapidly.

Its fruits have been the great national movement known as the Swadeshi movement. Gokhale, supporter the Swadeshi and Boycott Movement for Bengal. In Bengal, however, after , the Extremists acquired a dominant influence over the Swadeshi Movement. Several new forms of mobilization and techniques of struggle now began to emerge at the popular level. The Militant. Political independence was to be achieved by converting the movement into a mass movement through the extension of boycott into a full-scale movement of non-cooperation and passive resistance.

Among the several forms of struggle thrown up by the movement, it was the boycott of foreign goods which met with the greatest visible success at the practical and popular level. Boycott and public burning of foreign cloth, picketing of shops selling foreign goods, all became common in remote corners of Bengal as well as in many important towns and cities throughout the country.

Women refused to wear foreign bangles and use foreign utensils, washermen refused to wash foreign clothes and even priests declined offerings which contained foreign sugar. The movement also innovated with considerable success different forms of mass mobilization. Public meetings and processions emerged as major methods of mass mobilization and simultaneously as forms of popular expression.

Numerous meetings and processions organized at the district, taluka and village levels, in cities and towns, both testified to the depth of Swadeshi sentiment and acted as vehicles for its further spread.

These forms were to retain their pre-eminence in later phases of the national movement. Corps of volunteers or samitis as they were called were another major form of mass mobilization widely used by the Swadeshi Movement.

The Swadesh Bandhab Samiti set up by Ashwini Kumar Dutt, a school teacher, in Barisal was the most well-known volunteer organization of them all. Through the activities of this Samiti, whose branches reached out to the remotest corners of the district, Dutt was able to generate an unparalleled mass following among the predominantly Muslim Peasantry of the region.

The samitis took the Swadeshi message to the villages through magic lantern lectures and Swadeshi songs, gave physical and moral training to the members, did social work during famines and epidemics, organized schools, training in Swadeshi craft and arbitrtj courts. By August the Barisal Samiti reportedly settled disputes through eighty-nine arbitration committees.

Though the samitis stuck their deepest roots in Barisal, they had expanded to other parts of Bengal as well. British officialdom was genuinely alarmed by their activities, their growing popularity with the rural masses. The Swadeshi period also saw the creative use of traditional popular festivals and melas as a means of reaching out to the masses. The Ganapati arid Shivaji festivals, popularized by Tilak, became a medium for Swadeshi propaganda not only in Western India but also in Bengal.

Traditional folk theatre forms such as jatras i. Self-reliance in various fields meant the re-asserting of national dignity, honor, and confidence. Further, self-help and constructive work at the village level was envisaged as a means of bringing about the social and economic regeneration of the villages and of reaching the rural masses.

In actual terms, this meant social reform and campaigns against evils such as caste oppression, early marriage, the dowry system, consumption of alcohol, etc. Scores of national schools sprang up all over the country within a short period.

In August , the National Council of Education was established. The Council, consisting of virtually all the distinguished persons of the country at the time, defined its objectives in this way. The chief medium of instruction was to be the vernacular to enable the widest possible reach. For technical education, the Bengal Technical Institute was set and funds were raise to send students to Japan for advanced learning.

Self-reliance also meant an effort to set up Swadeshi or indigenous enterprises. The period saw a mushrooming of Swadeshi textile mills, soap and match factories; — tanneries, banks, insurance companies, shops, etc. While many of these enterprises, whose promoters were more endowed with patriotic zeal than with business acumen were unable to survive for long, some others such as Acharya P.

It was, perhaps, in the cultural sphere that the impact of the Swadeshi Movement was most marked. In art, this was the period when Abanindranath Tagore broke the domination of Victorian naturalism over Indian art and sought inspiration from the rich indigenous traditions of Mughal, Rajput and Ajanta paintings.

Nandalal Bose, who left a major imprint on Indian art, was the first recipient of a scholarship offered by the Indian Society of Oriental Art founded in In science, Jagdish Chandra Bose, Prafulla Chandra Ray, and others pioneered original research that was praised the world over. In sum, the Swadeshi Movement with its multi-faceted program and activity was able to draw for the first time large sections of society into active participation in modern nationalist into the ambit of modern political ideas.

The social base of the national movements now extended to include a certain zamindari section, the lower middle class in the cities and small towns and school and college students on a massive scale. Women came out of their homes for the first time and joined processions and picketing. This period saw, again for the first time, an attempt being made to give a political direction to the economic grievances of the working class.

Efforts were Swadeshi leaders, some of whom were influenced by International socialist currents such as those in Germany and Russia, to organize strikes in foreign managed concerns such as Eastern India Railway and Clive Jute Mills, etc. While it is argued that the movement was unable to make much headway in mobilizing the peasantry especially its lower rungs except in certain areas, such as the district of Barisal, there can be no gainsaying the fact that even if the movement was able to mobilize the peasantry only in a limited area that alone would count for a lot.

This is so peasant participation in the Swadeshi Movement marked the very beginnings of modem mass politics in India. After all, even in the later, post-Swadeshi movements, intense political mobilization and activity among the peasantry largely remained concentrated in specific pockets. Also, while it is true that during the Swadeshi phase the peasantry was not organized. The main drawback of the Swadeshi Movement was that it was not able to gamer the support of the mass of Muslims and especially of the Muslim peasantry.

The British policy of consciously attempting to use communalism to turn the Muslims against the Swadeshi Movement was to a large extent responsible for this. The Government was helped in its designs by the peculiar situation obtaining in large parts of Bengal where Hindus and Muslims were divided along class lines with the former being the landlords and the latter constituting the peasantry.

This was the period when the All India Muslim League was set up with the active guidance and support of the Government. More specifically, in Bengal, people like Nawab Salimullah of Dacca were propped up so centres of opposition to the Swadeshi Movement. Mullahs and maulvis were pressed into service and, unsurprisingly, at the height of the Swadeshi Movement communal riots broke out in Bengal.

Given this background, some of the forms of mobilization adopted by the Swadeshi Movement had certain unintended negative consequences. The use of traditional popular customs, festivals and institutions for mobilizing the masses—a technique used widely in most parts of world to generate mass movements, especially in the initial stages —was misinterpreted and distorted by communalists backed by the state. By mid, the open movement with its popular mass character had all but spent itself.

This was due to several reasons. First, the government, seeing the revolutionary potential of the movement, came down with a heavy hand.

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