Swadeshi Movement :The phase between 1885–1905 is known as the period of the moderates. In 1905 Lord Curzon, the then Governor general announced the partition of Bengal. The province of Bengal at that time comprised of the present states of West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand, Orissa and Assam. It also included the present country of Bangladesh, it was indeed a very large administrative unit. However the way the partition was done clearly showed the divisive policies of the British.
- Firstly, it was on the lines of religion, where the areas where Hindus were in a majority, were separated from Muslim majority areas.
- Moreover the urban bases of the resurgent intelligentsia (English educated upper caste Indian), were separated from the mainly cultivating areas, (most significantly the jute producing areas), was also an attempt to reduce the significance of Calcutta where the intelligentia from all over Bengal met and inspired each other.
- There were widespread protests following this announcement. Initially the protest was on the lines of the ‘prayer and petition’ tactics of the moderates whereby petitions and memoranda were addressed to the colonial government, and speeches, public meetings and press campaigns were held.
- This was an attempt to influence the public opinion in India and in England. In spite of these attempts the partition of Bengal was announced in July 1905.
- As soon as the final announcement was made Bengal broke out in protest. Protest meetings were held all over Bengal and most significantly not only in Calcutta but also in the smaller towns in the interiors of Bengal e.g. Dinajpur, Pabna, Faridpur, Dacca, Barisal etc. The decision to ‘boycott’ British goods was taken up for the first time in one of these meetings.
- Formal proclamation of the Swadeshi movement was made on August 7 1905 with the passing of the ‘Boycott’ resolution in a meeting at the Calcutta townhall which brought about the unification of the hitherto dispersed leadership.
- On the day the partition was put into effect i.e. October 16, 1905, a hartal was called in Calcutta and a day of mourning was declared.
- People fasted and no fire was lit in the cooking hearth. People paraded the streets singing Bande Mataram. The people of Bengal tied rakhis on each others’ wrist as a symbol of solidarity.
- This peculiar form of mass protest of ‘swadeshi and boycott’ attained popularity among the new members of the Congress who were more impatient than the moderates to see a positive response to their efforts.
- Lokmanya Tilak took the message of swadeshi and the boycott of foreign goods to Bombay and Pune; Ajit Singh and Lajpat Rai to Punjab and other parts of Northan India: Syed Haider Raza to Delhi and Chidambaram Pillai to Madras presidency which was also motivated by Bipin Chandra Pal’s extensive lecture tours.
- The INC formally took up the swadeshi call in its Benaras session of 1905 presided over by GK Gokhale. Although the Congress supported the swadeshi movement in Bengal it did not envisage the further intensification of the movement throughout India or the extention of the cause to total independence.
- The extremist leadership of Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai, Aurobindo Ghosh etc wanted just that. This extremist pressure promoted Dada Bhai Naoroji in his presidential address in Calcutta session of the Congress to say that the ultimate goal of the INC was ‘self-government or swaraj’. The contribution of the swadeshi movement was the initiation of new forms of protest.
- Some of these terms of protest anticipated many of the methods adopted by Mahatma Gandhi during his satyagraha. These new forms of protest were mass meetings, processions, boycott of foreign goods (later extended to boycott of government schools, colleges, courts, titles and government services), and organization of strikes, burning of foreign goods in public, picketing of shops selling foreign goods.
- Attempts were made to achieve mass mobilization and ‘samitis’ were formed which penetrated deep into the interiors of Bengal spreading the swadeshi message.
- For the first time in the national movement there was the use of traditional and popular festivals to reach the people. The Ganapati and Shivaji festivals in Maharashtra were employed by Tilak to draw the masses to the movement and educate them about it.
- In Bengal the use of swadeshi songs was made to inspire the people. The popular theatre form known as jatra was also used to spread nationalist feeling. This movement was accompanied by a great out-burst of cultural activities.
- Finally the colonial government was compelled to withdraw the partition in the form in which they had envisaged it. However they did try to decrease the importance of Calcutta and hence the intellectuals of Bengal by shifting the capital to Delhi in 1911.
Components of the swadeshi Movement
Various sections participated in the swadeshi agitation for different reasons, and these differences got reflected in the movement. For instance, Hindu Zamindars of East Bengal, who were opposed to the partition , so as not to became a religious minority in a situation of increasing peasant unrest, e,mployed openly communal propaganda throughout their agitation-promoting Shivaji utsavs, image-worship, Hindu ceremonies and so on.
- This propaganda infected the entire movement, and weakened it considerably as communal riots broke out in Mymensingh in 1907-19.8. But many Muslims still joined the movement.
- Among the noted swadeshi agitators were men like Ghaznavi, Rasul Din Mohammed, Dedar Bux, Moniruzzaman, Ismail Hussain siraji, Abul Hussain, Abul Gafer, and Liakat Husain.
- The 10,000-strong joint Hindu-Muslim student procession in Kolkata on 23 September 1905, also testified the potential for communal solidarity on the swadeshi issue.
- The fact that it could be triumph has to be ascribed to British divide-and-rule policies and to Zamindars’ objectively furthering the designs of the British by heightening communal propaganda. The appeal of the swadeshi movement was its straightforward mass approach and its rejection of ’prayer petition’ politics.
- Along with this movement came enunciated and widely propagated theories for not simply a limited reform of British rule, but its complete overthrow.
Spread of the Swadeshi Movement
- The message of swadeshi and boycott soon spread to the rest of the country: Lokmanya Tilak took the movement to different parts of India, especially Poona and Mumbai.
- Ajit Singh and Lala Lajpat Rai 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 Hardwar witnessed active participation in the swadeshi Movement; Chidambaram Pillai took the movement to Chennai president, which was also galvanised by Bipin Chandra Pal’s extensive lecture tour.
The method of agitation
This movement has seen various methods and methods that have not been heard in the Indian national resistance movement. Initially, the movement adopted passive resistance, such as filling out petitions, organizing prayers, gatherings, peaceful strikes, and distributing brochures.
- Showing the solidarity between the two religions, many people fasted to show resistance; however, as the movement gained momentum, a more active form of resistance began to take place in the form of an organized and ruthless boycott of British fabrics and goods , Picket lines in shops, workers’ refusal to work for Europeans, labor strikes, especially in Bangladesh.
- By opening schools and universities, such as Bangladesh University, abandon Anglo education and promote vernacular literature. Promote local industries, such as PC Ray’s Bengal Chemicals, VO Chidambaram Pillai’s Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company, etc.
- He imaginatively used religion to arouse the spirit of justice, called Britain evil, and rebelled by holding Shivaji Mahotsav and Ganesh Utsav. It appears in many places in Bangladesh, such as Swadesh Bandhab Samiti, Dacca Anushilan Samitis, etc. It mobilizes people at the mass level by participating in various activities, such as social work during famine and festivals; promoting swadeshi information, organizing offices, setting up arbitration tribunals, etc. . Resistance can also be seen in the cultural realm in the literature and songs of Bankim Chandra Chatopadhyay’s leading figure, Rabindranath Tagore.
- Abindranath Tagore broke the dominance of Victorian art forms and adopted Indian painting style; JC Bose’s research in the field of biology filled Indians with a sense of pride and accomplishment. The Excited Method Movement saw various methods and methods that have not been heard of in the Indian National Resistance Movement.
- Initially the movement used passive resistance, such as filling out petitions, organizing prayers, meetings, and peaceful assemblies. For strikes, distribution of brochures, etc., Hindus and Muslims tied ropes together to show the unity of the two religions, and many people fasted to show their resistance.
- However, as the movement gained momentum, a more active form of resistance began to take place in an organized form. And the ruthless boycott of clothing, British goods, shop pickets, workers who refuse to work for Europeans, especially labor strikes in Bangladesh. By opening schools and universities, such as Bangladesh University, abandon Anglo education and promote vernacular literature.
- Promote local industries, such as PC Ray’s Bengal Chemicals, VO Chidambaram Pillai’s Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company, etc. He imaginatively used religion to arouse the spirit of justice, called Britain evil, and rebelled by holding Shivaji Mahotsav and Ganesh Utsav.
- It appears in many places in Bangladesh, such as Swadesh Bandhab Samiti, Dacca Anushilan Samitis, etc. It mobilizes people at the mass level by participating in various activities, such as social work during famine and festivals; promoting swadeshi information, organizing offices, setting up arbitration tribunals, etc .
- Resistance can also be seen in the cultural realm in the literature and songs of Bankim Chandra Chatopadhyay’s leading figure, Rabindranath Tagore.
Abindranath Tagore broke the dominance of Victorian art forms and adopted Indian painting style; JC Bose’s research in the field of biology has filled Indians with pride and accomplishment.
Impact of the movement
- People from all walks of life participated in the movement with the greatest contribution coming from students and women.
- It resulted in significant decline in the foreign imports during 1905-1908.
- It led to building of self-reliance or Atma Shakti asserting on national dignity, honor and confidence.
- The Swadeshi movement led the people to learn to challenge and disobey the British government explicitly without fearing the atrocities of the police and imprisonment.
- Movement received wide coverage through newspapers and got attention at national level highlighting the true nature of british rule.
- The movement however also set the undertones for communal disharmony by invoking religious sentiments, setting foundation for Muslim League.
- Movement resulted in growth of extreme nationalism amongst youth which took to violence and wanted to bring an instant end to British dominance.
- It forced British dispensation to offer some concession to Indians in forms of Morley-Minto reforms in 1909.
- Most of all its concept of constructive swadeshi and boycott was actively used by Gandhi in later nationalist movements.
Abolition of Bangladesh’s Participation In 1911, Lord Harding abolished the partition of Bangladesh, mainly to curb revolutionary terrorism. Bihar and Orissa withdrew from Bangladesh, and Assam became an independent province. Since the glory of Muslims is related to this place, the British moved the administrative capital from Kolkata to Delhi.
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