Short note on rise of nationalism in India | Factors responsible for rise of nationalism in India | Indian National Movement | Rise of nationalism in India class 10 | Briefly discuss on the rise of nationalism in India | Explain the causes of rise of nationalism in India |

Indian National Movement


Rise of Nationalism


India has been a victim of foreign invasions since the dawn of human history. The fertile plains of India have been attracting hordes of marauding tribes from Central Asia invaded India and settled down permanently in this beautiful land where food and fodder were available in plenty. After a chain of invasions from the bordering countries through land routes, the European nations, including the British, took the sea route and came to India with the dual purpose of trade and territorial aggrandisement.


In 1600 A.D. the East India Company came in India for business and trade. The richness of India attracted a host of European traders in India. Some English merchants approached to the Queen for a charter to have to allow them to trade in India. The charter was given on December 31, 1600 which granted exclusive right to East India Company to carry on trades in India. India became the “brightest jewel” in British diadem. Their idea to civilise India was an euphemism for exploration. Neither the imperialist might nor the treachery of some of her sons, nor the nerve-racking exploitation could curb the indomitable urge for “freedom of the people who bid defiance to time”. They fought and fought heroically. They never submitted. Their struggle for independence is an inspiring and exhilarating story. It is a story not only of firm determination and will, but also a story of heroism and courage, the basic stuff of all revolutions.


But the Indian revolution was unique, a revolution without hate, without treachery, violence, arson and assassination. It was not only a political revolution, but also a social and moral revolution. It was a fight against alien political domination and at the same time, a revolution “radiant with a light which is not of this world”. Yet it was essentially a modern revolution. It gave birth to a new India, resurgent with fresh ideas on different fronts.


The past glory, the great scriptures, the ancient civilisation and culture, and the inherent desire for freedom and liberation inspired the people to fight against foreign domination and liberate their motherland. Every community made its own distinctive contribution. The nation rose as one man in this great task. Yet certain factors like uneven economic and political developments, dying feudal economy, backward social structure, religious dominance, imposition of a modern capitalist economy in a backward social system and the presence of foreign rulers to exploit this imbalance, paved the way for partition.


It was a sage of struggle between servility and freedom, imperialism and nationalism, feudalism and capitalism, religion and secularism, obscurantism and enlightenment, backwardness and modernism. It needs to be written yet. Passions and emotions blur vision and dim the historical perspective. The time will not be far off when we look back at this great drama in a scientific spirits and without apportioning blame.



Growth of National Movement


The Indian National Movement was the political expression of intellectual and spiritual ferment as well as social and economic development. The factors that gave rise to the national movement came in the trail of British conquest. It was the result of social and economic changes initiated by the British rule itself.

The British rule had two consequences: one destructive and the other regenerative. The old feudal economy was decomposing and a new capitalist society was taking root. The British rule helped the pace of this process. It provided the material base for the rise of nationalist forces. On the one hand, the British rule spread poverty and destruction and, on the other, it generated the will to fight for a free and democratic India. While the British pursued the policy of “Divide-and-rule”, they also unified Indi administratively. They established a “bureaucratic” system, provided English education, established the rule of law and introduced liberal reforms. A middle class was born. Liberal ideas gripped the minds of the intelligentsia. The National Movement was a liberal movement, to start with.


Following may be considered as some of the important factors for the rise of nationalism:-


The Great Revolt-

The Great Revolt of 1857 has been described as the First War of Indian Independence. It exercised formative influence on the evolution of nationalist thought. It was the first expression of the people’s urge for freedom and liberty. Muslims and Hindus, princes and people, soldiers and commoners joined hands to shake off the shackles of the British rule. In spite of its failure, its memory remained ever fresh in the minds of the Indians and it provided an inspiration for the future struggle for freedom.


Though colonialist described the Revolt of 1857, as “Sepoy mutiny”, but it was the ‘first war of Indian Independence’. It was a protest against the foreign rule in Indian soil. It exposed the irresponsible character of government prevailing in India. In 1857, the Revolt which started from northern part of India was able to gather support from almost all the Indians.



Queen’s Proclamation- Magna Carta of Rights-

After the Revolt was over, Queen Victoria made a proclamation on the assumption of sovereignty in 1858 promising equality of opportunity to the Indians and security and dignity to princes. It was described as “Magna Carta” of their rights. This proclamation, however, reminded only on paper since it was never translated into practice. At the same time, it became the anchor sheet of nationalism in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The Indian educated middle classes pleaded for its application and demanded equality with Englishmen in services. They invoked this proclamation to seek active association in the administration of India.


In order to minimise the discontent of people and to get their confidence, the Queen Victoria after assuming power declared “Queen’s Proclamation.” According to this:


To give due honour dignity, rights should be shown to native rulers:

No further extension of territorial possessions:

No interference in religious matters;

Grant of amnesty to the Indian rebels;

Equal treatment for Indian likes the people of other British colonies;

Efforts for the development and upliftment of Indians.


But all these promises remained mere promises only. They were not practised. British administration continued exploitation of native people. This led to growth of nationalism in India, which led to the freedom movement.



Racial Discrimination-

After the suppression of the Revolt and consequent transfer of power to the British Crown, the bureaucracy became more arrogant. According to Garrat, the Revolt created a feeling of “active hatred” against Indians in the minds of the British officers. The Indians could not travel in the same compartment in which an Englishman travelled. The Indians were often assaulted by the Europeans. The administration of justice had become a “scandal”. According to Garrat, the murders and brutalities committed by Europeans went either unpunished or were punished lightly.


 Economic Exploitation-


During the British rule, the country’s economy was paralysed. As India was under British colonial rule, colonial rulers drained all the economic benefits from India to their country. Its industry came to a standstill, irrigation was neglected, unemployment became widespread; exchange policy favoured British industries at the cost of Indians and a heavy drain of wealth was taking place by way of trade. This led to famines and outbreak of epidemics. It was more the lack of money to purchase food than the scarcity of food. Hundreds of thousands of people died of starvation. The years 1873, 1875, 1877 and 1897 are sad landmarks in the modern history of India; they are landmarks not of progress and prosperity but of desolation and disasters. People were not only impoverished, but also embittered. They drained Indian resources for their benefits. India became a puppet in the hands of Britishers.




Western Education–Infusion of Liberalism-

The introduction of English education infused liberal ideas of Bentham, Mill, Mazzini and Milton. The educated Indians imbibed the ideas of “liberty”, “representation”, “self-government”, “nationalism” and “parliamentarianism”. The English language helped people from different parts of the country to communicate and transact their business and bring them together. The National Movement in the beginning was, therefore, led by middle class businessmen and professionals like doctors and lawyers educated in English liberal ideas.   


Social Consequences-


From the ancient times, India is having a rich culture, tradition, values. The colonial rule also affected India society as a whole. Some such important effects are-


Due to the colonial rule, the village communities were divided and collective life in villages were destroyed.

They destroyed the old, traditional educational system in India and introduced western education. This type of education created Indian middle class who worked in clerical posts under British administration.

Colonial rulers introduced various social reforms in India. These reforms helped to remove misconception and superstitions from the society, which was not appreciated by the Indians.

They propagated Christianity. They changed Hindu’s inheritance law to favour Christianity.

Another consequence of British rule was the decline of Hindu joint family system and emergence of nuclear family. It affected Indian tradition.

The colonial rulers aggravated the communal tension between the Hindus and the Muslims by introducing the policy of “Divide of Rule”.      



Discrimination in Services-


In the higher services, Indians were discriminated against. The Charter Act of 1833 and the Queen’s Proclamation of 1858 had promised equality of opportunity in employment. But these promises were seldom kept. On the country, Indians were debarred from the covenanted service and other higher jobs. All positions of trust and responsibility were occupied by Englishmen. The Indian people were mocked at as “drawers of water and hewers of wood”. The educated young men of Indian origin were considered to be inferior to Englishmen in respect of intellectual ability and physical personality. The demand for equality in admitting Indians into service became the starting point of Indian National Movement.


Reformation Movements and New Awakening-


The end of the nineteenth century was a period of spiritual revivalism and reformation. The Ramakrishna Mission, the Theosophical Society, the Brahmo Samaj, the Arya Samaj and the Wahabi Movement not only marked the beginning of the Indian renaissance and religious and social reform movements, but also produced vital political consequences. These movements not only fought against the prevailing social evils, but also gave a new confidence and pride to the people who became politically anti-British. They infused the spirit of liberty and an urge for freedom.




The formation of Indian National Congress:

Until and unless any organisation is formed, it is difficult to express the views of a group of people. In 1885, with the formation of Indian National Congress, Indians got a common platform to express their views and grievances. Before the birth of Congress, other organisations like Indian Association in Bengal, Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, Bombay Presidency Association also helped the people to express their opinions.



As a result of the cumulative effect of all these factors, a strong and effective national movement took shape.


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