Indian History The Indian National Term Paper

Length: 11 pages Sources: 4 Subject: History - Asian Type: Term Paper Paper: #30426316 Related Topics: British Empire, Cholera, Civil Disobedience, Self Reliance
Excerpt from Term Paper :

It was also discovered that the Moderates did not have sufficient representation in Congress. The Moderates were aware of Tilak's loyalty to the Congress but did not appreciate it. They even thoroughly resisted his entry and that of his friends to it. Tilak then cooperated with Annie Besant in forming two home rule leagues, one in Maharashtra and the other in Madras. Their Lucknow Congress in 1916 healed the division. Both sides wanted to restore the old and honorable conditions. After agreeing on some membership conditions, the Moderates accepted the extremists. The Lucknow Congress honored and recognized Tilak as a the sole political hero of the time. The Moderates could have offered Tilak the presidency of the Congress but Tilak was known to have a pledge of self-denial. He withdrew his name from the 1907 Nagpur Congress and suggested that it be replaced by the name of Lala Laipat Rai. From 1916 to 1917, Tilak was the most prominent figure in the annual Congress and the special session in Bombay. In the evening of his departure for England, he was elected president of the Congress but would be unable to enforce the office for lack of time for the Chirol case. He resigned from the position, yet he took with him the presidency of the Tilak Home Rule League. One more record was the collection of rupees by Mahatma Gandhi for the Tilak Swaraj Fund, which was supposedly spent on activities not approved by Titak, such as non-cooperation and Ahinsa as a political weapon (National Indian Congress).

In December 1915, Tilak established his Home Rule Movement in Poona and would aim at home rule or self-government within the British Empire (Indian National Congress 2004). It would pursue this aim through all constitutional means and through the education and the fostering of public opinion towards this goal. Its proponents opposed violence and revolutionary agitation. They did not want to embarrass the British government, which then fought against Germany and Austria-Hungary. They were even willing to cooperate with the British government in order to win that war. In 1917, Titak and Annie Besant worked together for the same goal. Titak concentrated on his Bombay presidency, while Annie took charge of the rest of India. Tilak toured the country in 1916 and campaigned for the unification of the people under the Home Rule League. He aimed at the bureaucracy in India rather than the British Empire or the Emperor of India. He emphasized that the Home Rule alone would solve India's political problems and that liberty was the birthright and essence of every man. He said that a small group of outsiders should not be allowed to rule the whole country. Annie, for her part, also toured and publicized their cause. She also produced an impact through her written and spoken words. The British government tried to stop their activities by tightening its laws. An ordinance already prevented the entry of undesirable aliens into India. The Defense of India Act of 1915 amended the Indian Press Act of 1910 as the criminal law in the country. It prohibited students from participating in the Home Rule movement. In July 1916, Tilak was prosecuted for his seditious speeches and banished from New Delhi and Punjab. Annie Besant and her companions were also penalized and interned. Indignation rallies and protest meetings were held following her internment (National Indian Congress).

The policy of the British government became more and more repressive in the last years of the war (National Indian Congress 2004). It severely enforced the Press Act. In addition to the prosecution of Tilak and Annie Besant, thousands of young Indians were interned. Great hardship and discontent reigned, especially in Punjab as a consequence of recruiting and war fund activities conducted by the British government. The Delhi Congress convened in 1918 under Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviva as president. Its initiative had succeeded and its principle of self-determination declared by its statesmen. The Congress re-examined its stand on the Montague-Chelmsford demand for dominion status and representation at the peace conference. It also urged the abolition of all repressive laws. But not only were its demands un-heeded. The British government was then free and victorious enough to deal with all the agitation and rebellion in India after winning the war and to do so its own way. It introduced Rowlatt bills in February 1919 in the Supreme Legislative Council for the severe curtailment of civil liberties (National Indian Congress).

On March 18, 1919, Gandhi entered and became active in Indian politics (National Indian...


He started the satygraha movement in the country in protest against the Rowlatt bills. He declared these laws as "unjust, subversive of the principles of liberty and justice and destructive of every individual's elementary rights on which the safety of India and the State is based." He also affirmed for the people that they refused civilly to obey those laws and succeeding similar laws and that they would "follow the truth as well as refrain from violence to life, person or property." They held a day of fasting, penance and prayer, called hartal. Changed from March 30 to April 6, the day featured some fighting. The people's response stunned the British government. One exposed his chest for shooting by British soldiers. There were other heroic, glorious scenes like those of Hindu-Muslim fraternization, allowing preaching from the pulpit. The whole country grabbed the whole new concept of warfare. It was a whole new chapter in the national struggle (Indian National Congress, Leathem, BBC).

Punjab was the center of things at the time. The details of the atrocities are well-known and well-remembered. It was the center of British imperialism, the venue for recruiting the army of occupation and reaction. Government policy in Punjab was described as ruthless. In 1919, it was ruled by Sir Michael O'Dwyer, a sterling imperialist (National Indian Congress 2004, Leathem 199, BBC 2007). He was determined to save Punjab from political contamination. He sent popular leaders as representatives to the Amritsar Congress in 1919. These representatives disappeared. Crowds gathered the next day to inquire into their whereabouts. There were great agitation, destruction and mob killings. Martial law was declared in Punjab on that very day. Gandhi at first believed in the justice and fair play by the British government and gave it his cooperation during the First World War despite opposition from extremist leaders like Tilak. But the imposition of martial law in Punjab and the tragedy at Jallianwala Bagh decimated that trust, He decided to start the non-cooperation movement and believed that the old ways must be given up. He moved for the resolution on non-cooperation but was opposed by the president-elect and other strong personalities. But he ultimately won the day. Pandit Motilal Nehru joined him and gave his practice up. The resolution received 1855 votes against 873. It was finally discussed and ratified at Nagpur. It was attended by an unprecedented number of delegates. It established a new era of the Freedom movement. The old sense of powerlessness and weakness was replaced by a new sense of responsibility and self-reliance. This Congress made Gandhi the undisputed supreme authority there and outside Congress. It won prominent thinkers and leaders entirely. It also changed the very creed of Congress by eliminating the adherence to British connection and to constitutional methods of agitation (National Indian Congress, Leathe, BBC).

The program of the Non-Cooperation Movement demanded the surrender of titles and honorary offices and resignation from nominated positions in local bodies (National Indian Congress 2004, BBC 2007). It would not attend official and semi-official functions conducted by government officials or in their honor. They would withdraw their children gradually from schools and colleges and set up national schools and colleges. They would boycott gradually British courts and set up private arbitration courts, instead. They would not join the army as recruits for service. They would not join the election for legislatures and would ot vote. They would use swadeshi cloth. Gandhi promised that swaraj would occur within a year if his program were sincerely and whole-heartedly followed. He strictly imposed non-violence or ahimsa. Its followers would not give up the truth or satya under any circumstances. Gandhi was convinced that the only way to make the government see reason was to conduct a civil disobedience movement. The Congress Working Committee urged the people of India to cooperate with it. It advocated against aggression. But tragic events on November 17, 1921 in Bombay and on January 13, 1922 in Madras compelled Gandhi to suspend the movement. The government was not satisfied with this act. It feared that Gandhi would resort to bigger trouble. So he was arrested on March 13, 1922 and tried in Ahmedabad where he pleaded guilty. He took full responsibility for the occurrences in Madras, Bombay and Chauri Chaura and told the judge that he would "do it again" if set free. He was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment (National Indian…

Sources Used in Documents:


British Broadcasting Corporation. Mohandas Gandhi. Historic Figures. BBC.Co.Uk, 2007. Retrieved May 10, 2007 at

Edidin, Peter. 1947: the End of the Raj. New York Times Upfront: the Scholastic, Inc., January 30, 2006

Indian National Congress. The Congress and the Freedom Movement. AICC, 2004. Retrieved May 10, 2007 at

Leathem, Rebecca. Mahatma Gandhi. Business Asia: First Charlton Communications Pty, Ltd., February 15, 1999

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