Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Coming of age of Indian nationalism

¤ The Policies of British Government Leads To Dissatisfactions
In 1907 there was split in the Congress as those members who were unsatisfied with the scheme of affairs under the Moderates, including popular leaders like Lala Lajpat Rai and Bal Gangadhar Tilak, parted company with them. This hardly helped their cause because for the next eight years the Congress, for all contents and purposes, went into hibernation. This was the time when extreme nationalists came into the scene, especially after the controversial partition of Bengal into west and east Bengal in 1905 by the highly unpopular and obnoxiously highhanded Lord Curzon. The decision evoked sharp reactions from all over India and there was violent agitation against it.
October 16, 1905, the day on which the partition came into effect, was observed as a day of mourning and fasting throughout Bengal. Rabindranath Tagore, the famous Nobel-laureate and writer, spoke out against it through a passionate poem. This was the time when the Swadeshi movement was first launched; that is, Indians burnt foreign clothes, cigarettes, soap and anything made across the seas in huge bonfires and turned to Indian made articles instead. Many factories manufacturing indigenous clothes, textiles and whatever else was required were set up. Lots of earnest young leaders of Bengal took up the task of educating people.
On August 15, 1906, a national council of education was introduced under the educationist Aurobindo Ghose. The government came down heavily on the demonstrations, choosing to break up meetings, insult leaders and beat up peaceful protestors. In 1907, leaders Lala Lajpat Rai and Sardar Ajit Singh were deported from the Punjab. In 1908, Bal Gangadhar Tilak was arrested and sentenced to six years imprisonment. Aurobindo Ghose was arrested, prosecuted and though acquitted, chose to retire to Pondicherry. The agitation to oppose the partition of Bengal (although the partition was reverted in 1911) saw the coming of age of Indian nationalism. India was together like never before and the country was bristling with nationalistic fervor. However, the idea of independence from the British was still not an option that nationalists were considering.
¤ Home Rule Movement Started
When Great Britain was deeply enmeshed in the World War I, India's national movement though intermittent continued to throw up surprises. One of them was the Home Rule Movement. In December 1915, Tilak, who was one of the first nationalist leaders with a following and deep understanding of the grassroots of India, voiced the thought of Home Rule (instead of `swadeshi’, that being a word the British were wary about). It was for the first time that someone had mentioned the word Home Rule as being the goal for the Indian National Movement. On April 28, 1916, the Home Rule League was set up with its headquarters in Poona (Pune).
Tilak went on a whirlwind tour of the country, appealing to everybody to unite under the banner of Home Rule League. Anne Besant of the Theosophical Society fame also assisted him in this task. Under face of this attack, the government fell back to that old reliable – stricter laws. Laws were formulated to prevent agitations, to prevent `undesirable aliens’ from entering India, propaganda came under government control, and so on. The importance of the Home Rule movement was that for the first time the independence of India came to be clearly the goal of the Indian national movement.

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