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Essay on “The Indian Independence Movement” Complete Essay for Class 9, Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

The Indian Independence Movement


Although more than merely a military mutiny, the Indian Mutiny of 1857 lacked all-India character and was neither grounded in a coherent conception of the Indian nation nor inspired by a desire for independence from colonial rule. The Indian National Congress, established in 1885, welcomed colonial rule and largely aimed to control its excesses.

The decades following the Sepoy Rebellion were a period of growing political awareness, manifestation of Indian public opinion, and emergence of Indian leadership at national and provincial levels. Inspired by the suggestion made by A.O. Hume, a retired British civil servant, seventy-three Indian delegates met in Bombay in 1885 and founded the Indian National Congress.

By 1900, although the Congress had emerged as an all-India political organization, its achievement was undermined by its singular failure to attract Muslims, who had by then begun to realize their inadequate education and under representation in governmentservice. Muslim leaders saw that their community had fallen behind the Hindus. Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817-98) launched a movement for Muslim regeneration that culminated in the founding in 1875 of the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh. Its objective was to educate wealthy students by emphasizing the compatibility of Islam with modern Western knowledge. Sir George Curzon, the governor-general (1899-1905), ordered the partition of Bengal in 1905. He wanted to improve administrative efficiency in that huge and populous region, where the Bengali Hindu intelligentsia exerted considerable influence on local and national politics.

The Congress-led boycott of British goods was so successful that it unleashed anti-British forces to an extent unknown since the Sepoy Rebellion. A cycle of violence, terrorism, and repression ensued in some parts of the country. In 1906 a Muslim deputation met with the viceroy, Gilbert John Elliot (1905-10), seeking concessions from the impending constitutional reforms, including special considerations in government service and electorates. The Muslim League insisted on its separateness from the Hindu-dominated Congress, as the voice of a “nation within a nation.”

In what the British saw as an additional goodwill gesture, in 1911 King-Emperor George V visited India for a durbar, during which he announced the reversal of the partition of Bengal and the transfer of the capital from Calcutta to a newly planned city to be built immediately south of Delhi, which became New Delhi.

World War I began with an unprecedented outpouring of loyalty and goodwill toward the British, contrary to initial British fears of an Indian revolt. India contributed generously to the British war effort, by providing men and resources.

In August 1917, Edwin Montagu was made the secretary of state for India. The means of achieving the proposed measure were later enshrined in the Government of India Act of 1919, which introduced the principle of a dual mode of administration, or dyarchy, in which both elected Indian legislators and appointed British officials shared power.

The Rowlatt Acts, also known as the Black Acts, vested the viceroy’s government with extraordinary powers to quell sedition by silencing the press, detaining political activists without trial, and arresting any suspected individuals without a warrant. No sooner had the acts come into force in March 1919—despite opposition by Indian members on the Imperial Legislative Council–than a nationwide cessation of work (hartal ) was called by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948). Others took up his call, marking the beginning of widespread—although not nationwide—popular discontent. The agitation unleashed by the acts culminated on April 13, 1919, in Amritsar, Punjab. The British military commander, Brigadier Reginald E.H. Dyer, ordered his soldiers to fire at point-blank range into an unarmed and unsuspecting crowd of some 10,000 men, women, and children.

Historically speaking, the Indian nationalist movement was unique in several respects. It was the first and the largest anticolonial movement in history. By and large it was free of much of the violence and chauvinism characteristic of nationalist movements elsewhere. Its leaders were acutely aware that political independence had only a limited value unless it was accompanied by a comprehensive programme of social regeneration, and made social and cultural reform an integral part of the struggle for independence. Although the Indian nationalist movement failed to win over some sections of Muslims, it was broadly based, carried all minorities, including a large body of Muslims, with it, and prepared the way for a secular and democratic India fully committed to the protection of its minorities.

In a country as diverse and vast as India, it was not easy to unite all Indians behind a single and comprehensive vision of India. By and large the Indian nationalist movement retained a heavily middle-class character, and the tribals, the ex-Untouchables, and lower castes remained marginal to its conception of the Indian nation.



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