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The Indian national movement driven by the idea of self-governing state marked the beginning of a new era.
With many political ideologies on the rise, India had to reform or risk a civil war.
In this summary, we try to cover the events which shaped India’s inner fight for independence.
Who Should Read “India’s Struggle for Independence”? And Why?
Gandhi and other leaders comprised the Indian national movement as the single largest anti-apartheid organization in the 20th century.
The difficulties they faced under the British rule impelled the Indians to fight back and drive this mighty empire out of their land. However, it didn’t end here.
When it comes to the recommendation, we believe that “India’s Struggle for Independence” is a must for every Indian!
About Bipan Chandra
Bipan Chandra was a renowned Indian historian and specialist in economics. He was also hailed for his contribution to Indian society by divulging valuable info regarding different periods.
He wrote several books, almost all related to the political and social climate in India.
“India’s Struggle for Independence PDF Summary”
The end of World War II triggered a decisive blow to the British colonial rule. Their grip on power was slipping, and the powerful thrust delivered by the national movement compelled Britain to leave India, once and for all.
The first collective protest – 1857
The Indian Rebellion of 1857 was not a riot but an uprising triggered by the unlimited power and oppressive policies of the British East India Company. In Indian books, this rebellion can be associated with different names such as The Great Rebellion, The Indian Mutiny, the Revolt of 1857, etc.
It signified India’s first wave of independence which commenced on May 10th, 1857.
The rebellion began in the form of a small riot against a wide variety of repressive politics – northeast of Delhi. The rage spread like wildfire, and it quickly reached many parts of India. The British realized that the rise of nationalism posed a threat to their rule, and they managed to subside it by June 20th, 1858.
A few months later, the British officials tried to ease off the pressure swarming in the region by granting amnesty to those protestors who weren’t directly involved in any shooting. Nonetheless, the tension and hostilities remained a big issue.
Fed up with the destructive policies, heavy taxes on poor peasants and special treatment for princes and other landowners – the Indian bitterness continued. Not for a single moment that they were convinced in the British “modernization” of India.
Divide and conquer was a powerful blow for united India since many of them served in the British army or remained submissive to British influence. Indian independent fighters and leaders didn’t have the full support from the people, at least not yet.
At the time, hatred and crime became an integral part of everyday life. British officials and ordinary citizens faced the consequences of this riot. It backfired on the rioters since their supporters were injured during the process, as a result of British retaliation.
In Meerut, the protestors unleashed a reign of terror on the British authorities and appointed their 81-year old Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah Zafar, as the Emperor of Hindustan. They spearheaded a campaign and took control over a large portion of the North-Western Provinces and Awadh.
The East India Company surely wasn’t going to let the rebels wrest control over large areas. They responded fiercely and seized control of Kanpur soon after the reinforcements arrived. By the end of September 1857, Delhi was retaken, and rebellion put in control.
Other regions weren’t so inclined to help their Indian counterparts and remained relatively neutral throughout the conflict. In the Punjab area, the British mobilized Indian soldiers to support their campaign to the North.
The other provinces ruled by princes such as Hyderabad, Mysore, Travancore, and Kashmir, didn’t support the rebellion as well.
At the end of the conflict, Britain was urged to rearrange its structure and reform the army in India. The protestors demanded more rights, which inflicted a significant blow to the East India Company. Through the enforcement of India Act 1858 – the administration was revolutionized, and the East India Company dissolved.
Free Press and World War 1
From 1870 to 1918, the national movement was still on the rise, without a clear policy on how to continue its struggle. Active mobilization and awakening were critical to the “funding” of the fight against the oppressor.
The leaders wanted to stimulate national pride and enforce this nationalist ideology through the press. Propaganda became an essential asset, and scattering this information was easier said than done.
Many newspapers thrived under pressure led by fearless and just journalist. Let’s mention a few of those:
- The Hindu and Swadesamitran under the editorship of G. Subramaniya Iyer, Kesari
- Mahratta under B.G. Tilak
- Bengalee under Surendranath Banerjea
- Amrita Bazar Patrika under Sisir Kumar Ghosh and Motilal Ghosh
- Sudharak under G.K. Gokhale, Indian Mirror under N.N. Sen,
- Voice of India under Dadabhai Naoroji
At the time, newspapers and journals were something similar to public service. They were not private organizations which had the freedom to express their viewpoints.
Therefore, it wasn’t easy to publicly criticize one or several aspects related to the government. To continue their work, they’d often absorb the role of an adviser, or someone who warns the government of their wrongdoings in order to expose some radical and nationalist ideas. It was a good cover, for the time being.
Many Indian newspapers emerged in the 1870s with a strong narrative against Lord Lytton and its policies. In those days, the main topic was the famine in 1876, which was preventable but the authorities decided to do nothing in that regard.
To counter these allegations, the government initiated an act, according to which, the Indian language newspapers weren’t allowed to publish any more columns and stories. It was because of their rhetoric and penetrating terminology.
The act was enacted in secrecy to avoid potential riots and disagreements to sprout up.
As expected, the Indian nationalist movement voiced grave concerns about the act. The British attempted to silence their voice, and as a result, several demonstrations emerged. One of them was the journalist coup in 1905.
Surendranath Banerjee was given the “honor” of becoming the first Indian journalist who was imprisoned. He was also one of the founders of the Indian national movement.
The onset of World War I, back in 1914, was seen as an opportunity by the Indians. They believed that while Britain is engaged in defending their own shores, they could seize this opportunity and gain independence.
The Ghadarites advocated for putting an end to British rule in a violent manner, but that didn’t pan out as hoped.
Gandhi’s Rise as a Political Figure and the Movement
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is not only Indian but a global figure whose actions helped the establishment of a free Indian state. In March 1919 he called upon his countrymen to start or should we say launch Satyagraha (non-violent resistance) against the Rowlatt Act.
Although this moment has had a massive influence on his political career, we ought to get back in order to get a bird’s eye view of his life. As a 24-year-old barrister, he was shocked by the racial tensions and discrimination in South Africa.
He even declared that while in London, the racial topic wasn’t as heated as it was in South Africa. Upon its arrival there, he immediately engaged himself with the Indian community. During those meetings, he offered his services as an English teacher, because he believed that knowing the oppressor is a vital tool one can possess.
Just so there’s no confusion, we are not criticizing the British people, who had very little influence on the policies enforced by the elite. However, the system was wrong, and thus Gandhi managed to convince his people to inveigh against colonial despotism targeting the Free Press.
In the 1930s, there was a huge awakening among the poor Indian peasants, who even to this day struggle to make a living. They advocated for a better working environment to feed their children and protect them.
Many political parties arrived on the scene, claiming to be the voice of the people.
The Bolshevik revolution in 1917 somehow contributed to the creation of two left-wing parties: The Communist Party of India, and the Indian National Congress.
The political diversity striving for independence was also enriched with political and right-wing activists. They joined the Congress and added fuel to the national movement. Incarceration, arrests, and riots were common.
During the anti-imperialist campaign, the political parties also opposed the autocratic society, which was built on exploitation and hardship. The political solidarity united the nation, which will prove to be crucial to the establishment of India a bit later.
Post War Structure
After the defeat of Nazi Germany, the world found itself on the edge once more, divided between two ideologies. For India, this was seen as a way out; a real opportunity to end the political saga. In 1947 that actually started to take place.
The Congress had to acknowledge the fact that the country must integrate various political opinions and secure independence. During that time, the Congress endeavored in uniting the leaders against a common threat and raise nationalist consciousness.
Britain was out, but that didn’t solve the Muslim issue in the country. It became evident that the Muslims led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948) wanted to break away from India and form their own country – a modern-day Pakistan.
The British dominance collapsed in the region, but they won against Hitler. That was some kind of a consolation prize for them.
30th of June 1948 remained the official date when the British would pack their bags and leave India. The Congress announced the date to urge the political figures into finding an acceptable solution and thwart an escalating institutional crisis.
The Congress received British confirmation for leaving the country and allowing the Indian people to self-govern themselves. This news was greeted with enthusiasm among the Indian public, as things started to move to the desired direction.
The Constituent Assembly faced some obstacles from the start. It was decided that if Muslim provinces don’t join the proceedings, then the power will automatically be transferred to more than one central Government.
Between 3rd of June to 15th of August 1947, there was a heated political debate about the transfer of power. The Congress discreetly allowed Jinnah to violate the sovereignty of the Constituent Assembly. Probably, the Pakistanis would disagree on this one, but we are not here to judge.
The Muslim League was driven by communalism (allegiance to an ethnic group rather than on the broader society), and that was something neither Nehru nor Gandhi could have stopped. Nehru, on one occasion, stated that he doesn’t want to be blackmailed, and abide by someone else’s rules.
He also didn’t want his people to be in any danger due to riots that plagued the nation.
It came to the conclusion that once Pakistan is established, there will be nothing left to fight for. He assumed that the Partition would signify the peaceful resolution of the issue.
It’s needless to say that the Muslims weren’t very fond of neither Gandhi nor Nehru. According to Bipan, Mahatma Gandhi should have done better at communicating with its people, because as it turns out, Jinnah was not his greatest adversary.
The stalemate was over, and on August 15th, 1947 people danced on the streets. Even though their nation was split into two (India and Pakistan), they were overwhelmed with joy and excitement.
Note: We don’t take sides with either country, nor we support violence.
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“India’s Struggle for Independence Quotes”There was a greater truth — that of a glorious struggle, hard-fought and hard-won, in which many fell martyrs and countless others made sacrifices, dreaming of the day India would be free. That day had come. The people of India saw that… Click To Tweet If today we fail, tomorrow we will try and if tomorrow we fail, we will try again. Click To Tweet Kings are made for the people, not peoples for their Kings. Click To Tweet The deceiver loses when there is correct response from the deceived. Click To Tweet Would go to the length of giving the whole Congress organization a decent burial, rather than put up with the corruption that is rampant. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
To sum up, the Indian national movement manifested the will of the people, which wasn’t on the same wavelength as the colonial interest of Britain.
It will be inaccurate to say that the fight is over. India still faces a lot of problems, such as poverty and social class differences but continues to recover.
As well as, external issues with its closest neighbors.