Current Affairs

Indian National Freedom Movement


Indian National Movement— National freedom movement and attainment of independence-contribution of national leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Gopalakrishna Gokhale, Dada Bhai Naorji, M.K. Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and others-role of  Tamil Nadu in freedom movement, Bharathiyar,  V.O.C., Subramaniya Siva, Rajaji and others.

The National Movement or the movement for Independence from the British Rule nearly started in 1857 which the British historians have called  “Sepoy Mutiny”  and the Indian historians, as the  “First War of Independence”. Previously Indian soldiers have broken out in open mutiny against British Officers at Vellore in 1806, in 1842 in Bengal, in 1844 in Sind, then in Bihar and Punjab. The immediate cause which precipitated the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 was due to the introduction of cartridges greased into cow’s and pig’s fat.  
The revolt started from Meerut and the first sepoy who refused to use the greased cartridge was Mangal Pandey. Mangal Pandey was killed by the British  Army.   The Indian soldiers have massacred the British personnel marched to Delhi in May 1857. The revolt of 1857 started from Meerut. The Indian Soldiers proclaimed the Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah II  as the Emperor of India. The heroine of this first war of Independence for India was Rani Lakshmi Bai  of Jhansi, one of the most courageous and capable leaders of the mutiny. She fought the British forces strongly but fell. Among others who fell fighting were Nana Saheb and  Tantya  Tope, the brave commander of Nana Saheb’s forces.  
The leaders lost the war mainly because of lack of unity of purpose effective organisation, and a unified system of leadership. One of the immediate results of the mutiny was that it led to the assumption of direct responsibility for administration of India by the British Crown.  Queen Victoria’s Proclamation was issued in 1858. Queen Victoria was proclaimed the Empress of India and the Governor – General was designated the  Viceroy and the Governor-General Lord Canning became the first  Viceroy of India.
The birth of Indian National Congress was a great achievement  for the unity of India. The Indian National Congress was founded by A.O.Hume in 1885, during the Governor-General ship of Lord Dufferin. The first session of the Indian National Congress was the training and organisation of public opinion in the country.  The outbreak of the First  World  War in 1914 gave a new lease of life to the nationalist movement. On the outbreak of  World  War I, some of the Indian revolutionaries thought of alliance into Germany against England.  A  young  Tamil named Champakraman Pillai, President of a body in Zurich, called the International Pro-India Committee, went to Berlin to work under the German Foreign Office. He started the  Indian National Party  which was attached to the German General Staff. In early 1915,  Mrs.Annie Besant  launched a campaign through her two papers. New India and  Commonweal  and organised public meetings and conferences to demand that India be granted self-government. In April 1916, Tilak set up the  Home Rule League. Annie Besant announced the formation of her Home Rule League, with George Arundale, as the organising secretary. She also organised  Theosophical Society at  Adyar. The two leagues worked in co-operation demarcating their area of activity, at belgaum meeting, Tilak declared  “Swaraj is my birthright and I will have it”.

At another meeting he told the people : 
“Do not ask for crumbs; ask for the whole bread”.  Jawaharlal Nehru joined both the Home Rule Leagues, but worked mostly for Annie Besant’s Home Rule League. Tilak joined the Lucknow Session of the Congress in 1916 and with the co-operation of Annie Besant and Bipin Chandra Paul secured control of the Congress.

During the war years, 1914-1918, Nationalism gathered its forces, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869 at Porbandar in Saurashtra. He proceeded to England in 1888 and returned to India as Barrister-at-Law. He proceeded to Natal in South Africa and fought for the Indian Congress and also a newspaper called “Indian Opinion” with a view to educating Indians in political matters. Gandhiji returned to India in January 1915, and was warmly welcomed. His first involvement was in Champaaran in Bihar and the second in  Kheda  (Kaira). Gandhiji organised Satyagraha and asked the cultivators not to pay the land revenue. The Government yielded and a compromise was reached.
The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre :
On the afternoon of April 13, 1919  a  public meeting  was  held   in  Jallianwala Bagh in  Amristsar, despite a ban on meetings. Sir Michael O Dyer, the Lt. Governor took command of the troops and ordered fire. Many innocent people died on the spot. Rabindranath Tagore renounced his ‘Knighthood’ as a measure of protest. Gandhiji returned  the  ‘Kaiser-i-Hind’ medal given to him for his work during the Boer  War.
Non-Co-operation Movement :
The Non Co-operation Movement was launched by Gandhiji on August 1920. Tilak died on the same day.   Tilak’s  last  message to the nation was  ‘Unless Swaraj is achieved, India shall not prosper. It is required for our existence’. Gandhiji withdrew the Non Co-operation Movement when an angry crowd burnt the police station at Chauri Chaura (U.P.).
Lahore Congress “Purna Swaraj” :
The Congress assembled at Lahore towards the end of December 1929. The Lahore Congress declared that the agreement to Dominion Status in the Nehru Report had lapsed and committed the Congress to full Swaraj. At midnight on December 31, 1929. Jawaharlal Nehru unfurled the tri-colour national flag on the banks of the Ravi.
Civil Disobedience Movement :
The Civil Disobedience Movement of 1930-31 marked a critically important stage in the progress of the anti-imperialist struggle. Gandhi launched Civil Disobedience  Movement by organising the Dandi March with a view to break the salt law. Organisation of country-wide demonstrations and hartals, boycott of the foreign goods and refusal to pay taxes were stages of Civil Disobedience Movement. As a result of Gandhi- Irwin Pact of 1931, Congress agreed to withdraw the Civil Disobedience Movement and took part in the Round Table  Conference.

Bardoli Satyagraha :
In Gujarat, a conflict developed between the peasantry and the Government. The Government attempted to increase revenue,  Vallabhbhai Patel took up the cause of the peasants and the struggle was known as the Bardoli Satyagraha. The Struggle met with success and  Vallabhbhai Patel came to be called Sardar.

Quit India Movement :
In 1942, the Congress decided to launch the Quit India Movement with a view to compel the British Government to offer more favourable terms.

Cabinet Mission :
The Cabinet Mission came to India to evolve a consensus on the constitutional question. In 1945, when Mr.  Atlee of the Labour Party became the Prime Minister  of Britain,  he took a realistic view for the fulfilment of India’s dream for freedom.

Mountbatten Plan :
The Mountbatten Plan of June 3, 1947 contained a solution for the political and constitutional deadlock created by teh refusal for the Muslim League to join the Constituent  Assembly, formed to frame the Constitution of India. It laid down detailed principles for the partition of India and the speedy transfer of political power in the form of Dominion Status to the newly born Dominions of India and Pakistan. A Bill containing the main provisions of the Mountbatten Plan of June 3, 1947 was introduced in the British Parliament and passed as the  Indian Independence Act of 1947. Lord Atlee was  the  Prime  Minister  of  England when India got Independence.  India thus obtained Independence on the 15th of August 1947 and became a Sovereign, Secular, Democratic and Republic State on the 26th January 1950.

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