Tuesday, 2 February 2016


The reactionary policy of the British developed a deep hatred towards them among a section of the younger generation of India. They believed that India could achieve
independence only by an organized revolutionary movement. As a result, they organized secret groups to launch revolutionary activities against the British. Youths were trained in aggressive methods of violence as a means of strength against the British. They attempted killing of unpopular British officials, committed dacoities to finance their activities and looted arms. Many of them, therefore, chose the path of violence to gain independence for India. They were called the revolutionaries. 

The centres of their activities were Punjab, Maharashtra, Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa. Prominent among these revolutionaries were Khudiram Bose, Prafulla Chaki, Bhupendra Nath Dutt, V. D. Savarkar, Sardar Ajit Singh, Lala Hardayal and his Gadar Party, Sardar Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru, Sukh Deo, Chandra Shekhar Azad, etc. 

These revolutionaries organized secret societies, murdered many British officers, disrupted railway traffic, engaged in organized attack on British wealth. In order to overturn the British Rule through arms, Kakori Conspiracy was planned by Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan and other team members of the Hindustan Republican Association in 1925.

 In 1928, Hindustan Socialist Republican Association was formed by Chandrasekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Batukeshwar Dutt and others. Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt threw a bomb inside the Central Legislative Assembly on 8thApril, 1929 protesting against the passage of the Public Safety Bill and the Trade Disputes Bill while raising slogans of Inquilab Zindabad (long live the revolution), though no one was killed or injured in the bomb incident. Following the trial in court of this and other cases, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were hanged in 1931. Their sacrifice provided an incentive to the people. They were regarded martyrs and became the symbol of national unity and aspirations.

A significant feature of the twentieth century was the development of Socialist ideas in Congress and outside it. Peasants now started asking for land reforms, abolition of zamindari system and reduction in the revenue and debt relief. The All India Trade Union Congress which was founded in 1920 worked towards improvement in the workers’ working and living condition. It mobilized the workers to the cause of complete independence which helped the movement to be broad based. Some of the prominent socialist and communist leaders were M.N. Roy, S.A. Dange, Abani Mukhopadhyaya, Nalini Gupta, Muzaffar Ahmed, Shaukat Usmani, Gulam Hussain, Singaravelu Chettair, G.M. Adhikari and P.C. Joshi. 

They outlined the course of the revolution through transformation of individual strike into a general political strike, the development of spontaneous peasant movements, a nationwide movement for complete independence, as well as the spread of revolutionary propaganda amongst the police and the army. Struggle against imperialism was the rallying slogan. In 1936, when Nehru was the President of the Congress, he declared at the Lucknow Session
that the solution to India’s problems lay in the adoption of socialist ideas. Nehru was
deeply influenced by Karl Marx. Even Subhash Chandra Bose was influenced by
socialist ideas. Because of differences with Gandhi, Bose resigned from the Congress
and formed his own ‘Forward Bloc’.

The policy of divide and rule was inaugurated right in the days of East India Company when the Britishers were establishing themselves as rulers of India. You have read how the Company set one Indian ruler against the other and ultimately it became the undisputable ruler. You have seen that, in the latter half of the 19th Century, Nationalism started growing. Now the British government found it prudent to vitalize their policies of divide and rule and drive a wedge between the Hindus and Muslims. The British had looked upon the Muslims with disfavor and suspicion since the revolt of 1857. But now they realized that in order to counteract the growing Nationalism, time had come to appease the Muslims. The Government seized every opportunity to set the Indians against one another on the basis of religion and creating hostility between them. Ultimately, in accordance with this policy, separate electorates for Muslims were established. You have read about the formation of the Muslims League which sowed the seeds of communalism. You will remember that the league had been formed on the encouragement of British officials.

The Communal Award of 1932 was a continuance of this policy, because it allowed
separate electorates and reservation of seats to the depressed classes also. Separate
electorates were first demanded by the Muslims in 1906 and introduced for them under the Morley-Minto Reforms of 1907. This was done with a view to building up Muslim communalism as a counterpoise against Indian Nationalism. Under the Montford Reforms (1919) they were extended for Sikhs, Europeans, Anglo-Indians, Indian Christians, etc. Under the Act of 1935 seventeen separate electorates were constituted. In reality, communal electorates were an unmixed evil. They hampered the growth of national unity. The two-nation theory appeared in 1938 and was clearly communicated by Jinnah in 1940. Once, the demand for Pakistan was made, it received direct and indirect encouragement from British authorities. The immediate cause of the emergence of the demand for Pakistan was the refusal of the Congress to form coalition ministries after the elections of 1937. The county seemed to be drifting towards anarchy and ruin. Under the circumstances, partition was accepted as a ‘necessary evil’, the only way of getting rid of British rule and preventing a complete breakdown of law and order.

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