Term Paper: Indian History

Pages: 11 (3378 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  Topic: History - Asian  ·  Buy This Paper

Indian History

The Indian National Congress was probably the oldest and the biggest democratic organization in the world (Indian National Congress 2004). It was the initiative of Allan Octavian Hume, which he shared during the 1884 annual convention of the Theosophical Society at Adyar in Madras. A committee was organized to conduct the necessary preparations for a session in Poona the following year. An outbreak of cholera moved the venue of the first session from Poona to Bombay. It was a gathering of 72 delegates, leaders from all parts of India. The Congress was to promote personal intimacy and friendship among all the earnest workers for the country's cause of independence from the British Empire. After the 1887 session in Madras, an aggressive propaganda was begun among the masses. Hume published a pamphlet through which he appealed to the people of England. The 1889 Congress session in Bombay was under the leadership of Sir William Wedderburn as president. He was succeeded by Dadabhai Naoroji as president at the 1893 Congress in Lahore (Indian National Congress 2004).

The early congressmen who dominated the Congress from 1885 to 1905 were called the Moderates (Indian National Congress 2004). They were Indian by birth but British in taste, opinion, morals and intellect. They supported British institutions and believed in the British concept and sense of justice and fair play. They believed that India needed a balanced and lucid presentation of its needs before the British and the Parliament. The Moderates believed in orderly progress, constitutional agitation, patience, steadfastness, conciliation and union. They believed that constitutional agitation should be resorted to within the limits of the law. They also perceived that their main task to educate the people, to arouse national political consciousness and elicit a shared political position and opinion on political issues. They expressed opposition through the media, submitted positions and petitions to the government and the British Parliament. They asserted influence and opinion towards the British Parliament and the British public. Their memorials and petitions aimed at enlightening the British public and British leaders about the prevailing conditions in India (Indian National Congress).

The Moderates wanted to employ Indians on a massive scale in higher offices of the public services and to establish representative institutions (Indian National Congress 2004). With the intention of unifying the Indian people, the Moderates set up a common political program and waged an agitation campaign against those who failed to pay tariff duties on imports and cotton excise. The agitation made the Indian people realize the true goal and motive of the British rule in India. In response, they demanded cheap credit to the peasantry through agricultural banks and available irrigation facilities on a large scale. They also urged for changes in the working conditions of plantation laborers and the then pattern of taxation and expenditure. The latter system moved the heavy burden from the rich, especially foreigners, to the poor of India. For their part, the Moderates blamed the growing poverty and economic backwardness of India to the policies of the British government. They also deplored the prevailing administrative measures and tried to reform the administrative system. They strongly opposed the government resistance to freedom of speech and the press. In 1897, as a consequence, Tilak and other leaders were arrested and imprisoned for sowing disenchantment among the people against the government through their speeches and writing. The Natu brothers of Poona were deported without the benefit of due process and trial. The arrest of Tilak ignited the start of a new phase of a nationalist movement (Indian National Congress).

The influence of the Moderates, however, was limited to the urban community (Indian National Congress 2004). Knowing this, they could not challenge foreign rule. Their programs and policies fought for the cause of the Indian population and represented their interests against colonial exploitation. Their aim was to institute reform the prevailing system of government through peaceful, gradual and constitutional means. Their influence gradually diminished with the entry of militants who believed in extreme measures and blamed the Moderates for their faith in Britain and British political institutions. At that time, the Moderates attempted to make the provincial legislatures more representative. They also wanted to increase Indian representation in the civil services, despite knowing the long process and slow progress. At center stage were the unsympathetic position of the bureaucracy and the unpopular policies of the Viceroy, Lord Curzon, specifically on the partition of Bengal. In a gradual response to developments, the youth of India protested against this partition in October 1905 by boycotting British goods. In 1907, Bibin Pal ironically remarked about Lord Curzon's policy as causing enough discontentment among Indians as to stir up and strengthen a national feeling against it. The increasing disillusionment among the extremists led to a policy of boycott, swadeshi, and national education in January 1907. Titak declared that they expressed opposition without arms, nor needed arms to do so. They resorted to swadeshi, or a political weapon, a stronger one, by boycotting foreign goods. He, Aurbindo and Pal asked the people not to cooperate with the government. They theorized that the existence of government depended on the cooperation of the people. Without that cooperation, the government would cease to function and exist. This concept was to be eventually implemented by Mahatma Gandhi on a massive scale (Indian National Congress).

The Moderates wanted to establish self-government under the British rule while the extremists wanted complete autonomy and elimination of all foreign control (Indian National Congress 2004). Tilak and his group advocated for a policy of direct act and resistance and opposed the political mendicancy pushed by the Moderates. Tilak announced that the need for self-government had come during the anti-partition agitation in the first decade of the 20th century. Another extremist leader, Bipin Pal, saw swaraj as likewise a moral concept of self-subjection. The swarajists and other extremists believed that India should rely on her own strength rather than on Britain's help. They felt that improvement or liberalization of the British rule would never be as good to the Indians as self-rule. The swarajists considered freedom their birthright (Indian National Congress).

In 1907, the Moderates and the extremists parted ways in congress (Indian National Congress 2004). One cause was that the Moderates were losing control of Congress. The younger minds did not find their ways and speed acceptable in leading India. The split, which occurred in 1907, started in the Calcutta session of the preceding year. At that time, the Moderates had accepted resolutions on swaraj, national education, boycott and swadeshi in response to pressure. They were not sincere in accepting these. But they feared a probable national struggle and state of trouble. This could give the British a reason to deny the reforms the Moderates advocated and also to crush political activity. They did not and could not believe that sustained and dignified national struggle could occur or was desirable. They viewed the extremists as irresponsible and putting the future of the country in danger. The British government put its support behind the Moderates against the extremists whom it rebuffed and disfavored. It deported the major leaders of Bengal. The split between the Moderates and the national parties during the Surat Congress wreaked havoc not only in Maharashtra but in all of India. An open and bloody fight ensued among the delegates to the point that the Indian National Congress as a name had to be temporarily replaced by a Convention. The National Congress held elections without much ceremony, had no conditions of membership, no sessions for delegates to attend. No competition existed as there was no fixed numerical requirement for a province. Titak and his companions were removed from the Convention when they refused to sign the creed of political faith. The Convention and the extremists' Nationalist party convened in two separate venues at Surat. Despite the split, both parties swore their allegiance and love for the Congress, which they considered the true national assembly for India. Both parties hoped for the restoration of a united Congress (Indian National Congress).

The British government viewed the split as an open challenge to decree a policy of constitution agitation (Indian National Congress 2004). After Tilak's conviction, the extremists turned quiet and went almost completely underground. From 1908 to 1912, the Nationalist party could not decide how to rejoin Congress. It formed and called for a meeting of an opposition Congress at Nagpure. The British government banned this rival Congress' sessions. There was inherent trouble among the extremists' party itself in the lack of unanimity in starting this opposition Congress, deemed to render the split permanent. Some members saw that a lack of unity would make it function poorly. Some extremist members tried to negotiate with leaders of the Moderate for the re-entry of the Nationalist party without the restriction of a creed and under the old policy of free election of delegates. But the other negotiators wanted Tilak to return from Mandalay first. On his return, Tilak expressed opposition to the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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