[Solved] Why did the ‘moderates’ fail to carry conviction with the national about their proclaimed ideology and political goals by the end of the nineteenth century? ( UPSC GS -1 Mains 2017)
Congress politics during the first twenty years of its history is known as moderate politics. They did demand equality. They equated liberty with class privilege and wanted gradual or piecemeal reforms. British rule for most of them seemed to be an act of providence destined to bring in modernisation. Indians needed some time to prepare themselves for self-government.
Their politics was very limited in terms of goals and methods. They believed in peaceful and constitutional agitation as opposed to popular means of agitation.
• They had a two-pronged methodology
– to create a strong public opinion to arouse consciousness and spirit and to unite and educate people on common political questions
– Persuade the British to introduce reforms in India on the lines laid out by nationalists.
• Their immediate demand was not for full self-government or democracy. They demanded democratic rights for the educated members of the Indian society,
Why did they fail?
• They did not understand the true nature of the British rule.
• The social composition of the moderate politicians resulted in social orthodoxy as social questions were not to be raised in the congress sessions till 1906.
• Narrow social base and did not penetrate down to the masses as the leaders also did not have faith in them.
• They failed to realise that the masses could prove to be the real driving force in the movement. The contradictions in moderate politics made it more limited and alienated from the greater mass of the Indian population. This was related to the social background of the mostly belonged to propertied classes. So, congress could not take a logical stand on peasant questions.
• Pray, petition and protest type of politics could not turn to be effective • Bengal was divided against the will and wish of people.
• Rise of extremist leaders like Tilak appealed more to the masses than moderates Despite the failures, their contribution was enormous in legislative councils even though they had no real official power till 1920.They played significant role in the Indianisation of civil services, demanding that military expenditure should evenly be shared by the British, economic critique of imperialism, defence of civil rights
he moderates sought reformation of British rule in India. They adopted prayer, petition and protests as their methodology. This yielded little results.
The Indian Councils Act of 1892 proved to be nothing more than a mere eyewash. Moreover, Lord Curzon’s racial, conservative and imperialistic policies such as partition of Bengal ignited the Indian passion against British.
The moderates had belief upon the British constitution. They were driven with the expectation that real change could be brought by making the administration aware of the plight of the people. But the British response proved that they were neither unaware nor in favor of any real change in the way India was administered.
The ‘Moderates’ failed to carry conviction of the nation about their proclaimed ideology and political goals by the end of the nineteenth century because: The political education of masses started by the early moderates had increased awareness. People could understand how the drain of wealth was done to advance British imperial interests. The Grand Durbar of Delhi in 1903 amidst the unprecedented famine made clear what the British priorities were.
Social awakening through religious reforms too enlightened the masses. Swami Vivekananda said, “Weakness was a sin”. Swami Dayananda Saraswati declared Swaraj as the best form of government.
Moreover, the defeat of Italy by Ethiopia in 1896 and Russia by Japan in 1905 had shattered the myth of European supremacy.
Charismatic and visionary leaders such as Bipan Chandra Pal and Arobindo Ghosh of Bengal, Bal Gangadhar Tilak of Maharashtra and Lala Lajpat Rai of Punjab appealed and captivated the masses.
A new stream of ‘extremist’ ideology comprising passive resistance and direct action with the goal of attaining complete independence (Swaraj) appealed to the masses.
Thus, the moderates failed to carry conviction of the nation about their proclaimed ideology of reform and people had become disillusioned with their methods of struggle and political goals. This led to the emergence of more vigorous and rejuvenated phase in Indian anti-colonial struggle.
Moderates believed that India lacked some of the
essential elements which constituted a nation and it was the British
rule that was keeping India together.
As such Moderate leaders did not see any alternative to British rule In the foreseeable future. Their patriotism therefore demanded that they should be loyal to the British raj for any termination of
British rule was likely to be detrimental to Indian national interest. Moderate leaders desired all round progress and modernisation of India – social reform, modern education , industrial and economic development of India. They earnestly wished the betterment of Indian society and worked to lessen he harshness of British rule.
The congress of the nineteenth century suffered from some inherent weaknesses , the most significant of them being uneven representation and total exclusion of the non-elite groups of Indian society. Geographically also it was the three presidencies that were dominating the membership of Congress .
In its political behaviour INC in its early career was never a radical organisation as the culture of open opposition to the government had not yet taken roots. They were cautious reformers seeking to alleviate certain unpleasant aspects of British rule
Moderates met limited success in later stages due to various reasons– /national/
- The political jargons used by the moderates were alien to uneducated masses. There was also lack of political faith in the masses. Thus people largely remained aloof.
- It was gradually realised that the British didn’t concede to any of the major demands of the moderates.
- Indian Council Act 1892 was criticised. Moves such as further amplification of repressive laws under IPC and reduction in number of members in Calcutta Corporation didn’t go down well with progressive elements in INC.
- Political ideologies of the moderates were blamed to be inefficient. Methods followed by moderates were described as political mendicancy. The result was emergence of a more militant school of thought.
However, the role of moderates can also not be negated. They were first to create national awakening among Indians and prepared a solid ground for mass oriented national movement at later stages that followed.
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