Partition of Bengal & Swadeshi Movement

« Previous
Next »

The Partition of Bengal (1905) and Boycott and Swadeshi Movement (1905-08)

» The Partition of Bengal came into effect on Oct. 16, 1905, through a Royal Proclamation, reducing the old province of Bengal in size by creating a new province of East Benga1 which later on became East Pakistan and present day Bangladesh.
» The government explained that it was done to stimulate growth of under-developed Eastern region of the Bengal. But, actually, the main objective was to Divide and Rule' the most advanced region of the country at that time. The main reason for partition of Bengal was to destroy the political influence of the educated middle class among whom the Bengali intelligentsia were the most prominent. It also set up a communal gulf between Hindus and Muslims. The INC unanimously condemned the partition of Bengal.
» The Boycott and Swadeshi movement had its genesis in the antipartition movement which was started to oppose the British decision to divide Bengal.
» With the start of the Swadeshi movement at the turn of the country, the Indian National Movement took a major leap forward.
» The INC took up the Swadeshi call in Benaras Session, 1905 presided over by G.K. Gokhle and supported the Swadeshi and Boycott Movement of Bengal. Militant nationalism spearheaded by Trio of Lal-Bal-Pal (Lala Lajpat Raj, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal) and Aurobindo Ghosh was however, in favour of extending the movement to the rest of India and carrying it beyond the programme of just Swadeshi and Boycott of goods to full-fledged political mass struggle.
» On August 7, 1905, a resolution to boycott British goods were adopted at a meeting of the INC held in Calcutta. It was started as a purely economic measure for the development of Indian industry.
» Bone fire of foreign goods was launched on a large scale in all the major cities. Tilak took the movement to different parts of India esp. in Pune and Mumbai. Ajit singh and Lala Lajpat Ray spread the Swadeshi message in Punjab and other parts of Northern India. Syed Haidar Raza set up the agenda in Delhi. Rawalpindi, Kangra, Jammu, Multan and Hard war witnessed active public participation in Swadeshi Movement. Chidambram Pillai took the movement to Madras Presidency which was also galvanised by Bipin Chandra pal s extensive lecture tour.

Muslim League (1906)

In Dec., 1906, All India Muslim League was set up by Nawab Salimullah of Dacca (Dhaka) at Dacca (Dhaka). The League supported the partition of Bengal, opposed the Swadeshi movement, and demanded special safeguards for its community and a separate electorate of Muslims. This led to communal differences between Hindus and Muslims.

Calcutta session of INC (1906)-Swaraj

In Dec. 1906 at Calcutta, the INC under the leadership of Dada Bhai Naoroji adopted 'Swaraj' as the goal of Indian people. Naoroji in his presidential address declared that the goal of the INC was ‘Self government of Swaraj like that of United Kingdom'. The differences between the moderates and the extremists, esp. regarding the pace of the movement and the techniques of the struggle to be adopted, came to head in 1907 at the Surat Session | of the congress where the party split with serious consequences for the Swadeshi movement.

Surat Split (1907)

The INC split into two groups—the extremists and the moderates, at the Surat session in 1907 held on the banks of the river Tapi. The extremists were led by Tilak, Lajpat Rai and Bipin Chandra Pal and the moderates were led by GopalKrishna Gokhle. At the Surat session, the moderate and extremist delegates of congress met in an atmosphere surcharged with excitement and anger.
The suddenness of the Surat fiasco took the extremist leaders by surprise and they offered their cooperation to the working committee of the congress by accepting presidentship of Ras Bihari Ghose. But the moderates would not relent as they found themselves on firm ground. The government observing the opportunity launched a massive attack on the extremists by suppressing the newspaper and arresting their main leader, Tilakf and sending him to Mandalay Jail (Burma) for 6 years. The extremists were not able to organise an effective alternative party or to sustain the movement. Aurbindo Ghosh gave up politics and left for Pondicherry. Bipin Chandra Pal also left politics temporarily. Lajpat Rai left for Britain. After 1908, the national movement as a whole declined.

Morley-Minto Reforms (1909)

Morley-Minto Reforms were introduced in 1909 during the period when Lord Minto was the Viceroy of India. The reforms envisaged a separate electorate for Muslims besides other constitutional measures. The government thereby sought to create a rift within the Congress by winning the support of the moderates on the one hand, and favour of Muslims against Hindus on the other. To achieve the latter objective, the reforms introduced the system of separate electorates under which Muslims could only vote for Muslim candidates. This was done to encourage the notion that the political, economic and cultural interests of Hindus and Muslims were separate and not common. Indian political leaders were however dissatisfied by these reforms.

Home Rule Movement (1915-16)

B.G. Tilak founded Indian Home Rule League at Pune on 28 April, 1916. Annie Besantf inspired by the Irish rebellion, started Home Rule Movement in India in September, 1916. The movement spread rapidly and branches of the Home Rule League were established all over India. B.G. Tilak wholeheartedly supported this movement. He joined forces with Annie Besant and persuaded the Muslim League to support this programme.

Lucknow Pact-Congress-League Pact (1916)

An important step forward in achieving Hindu-Muslim unity was the Lucknow pact (1916). Anti-British feelings were generated among the Muslims following a war between Britain and Turkey which opened the way for the Congress and Muslim League unity. Both the Congress and the Muslim League held session at Lucknow in 1916 and concluded the famous Lucknow pact. The congress accepted the separate electorate and both organisations jointly demanded 'dominion status' for the country
Hindu-Muslim unity alarmed the British and forced the government to announce its future policy. In 1916, a British policy was announced whereby association of Indians was in government increased and there was to be a gradual development of local self-governing institutions.

Montagu Declaration / August Declaration of 1917

The control over the Indian government would be transferred gradually to the Indian people. This was the result of Hindu-Muslim unity exhibited in Lucknow pact.

« Previous
Next »