Rise of Nationalism in India
The rise of nationalism in India was the cumulative result of a number of factors. According to S.L. Sikri, “Some of these factors sowed its seed; some natured its growth; some molded its form; and some influenced its ideology and techniques”.
Objectives of Rise of Nationalism in India
The rise of Indian nationalism had two objectives:
- One was to organize people’s opinion against British rule and
- the other was to establish political organization. I
In between 1856 A.D. to 1885 A.D. many formal organizations came up in Bengal, Bombay and Madras.
Zaminder sabha was established in Calcutta before this period (1837 A.D.). This was later known as Landholders’ Society. Bengal British India Society was formed in 1843 A.D. In 1851 A.D. British Indian Association was formed. The Hindu Mela was founded by Rajnarain Basu and Nabagopal Mitra. Peoples Association (1872 A.D.) and India League (1875 A.D.) were established to propagate nationalism among all section of the mass. Student’s Association was formed under the leadership of Ananda Mohan Basu and Surendranath Bannerjee in 1857 A.D.
Causes of Rise of Nationalism in India
The caused of Nationalism in India are summarized below:
1. Impact of western culture:
The British rule brought the Indians in contact with West. The liberal ideas and nationalistic spirit came to be known to the educated mass. The young Indians came to know how Italy and Germany were unities as independent states. According to Lord Ronaldshay “the young Indians drank deep the new wine of western learning and became steeped in ideas of liberty and nationalism”.
2. Economic exploitation of the British:
The only aim of the economic policy of the British Government was to promote the interest of the British industry and commerce. They wanted to make India a good market for British manufactured goods and a source of supply for raw materials to meet the need of industries in England. The British trade policy was suicidal for the Indian industries. The land policy antagonized the peasants. The discriminatory and exploitive economic policy of the British disappointed the Indians so much so that they decided to unite together for independence.
3. Role of Indian Press:
The press focused the attention of the people on the defects of the British rule and made people conscious of their rights. Towards the close of the 19th century, about 650 newspapers and magazines exercised profound influence in molding the public opinion on the nationalistic line. Papers and magazines like Amrit Bazar Patrika, Bangalee, Hindu Patriot, Keshari, Hindu etc. stirred a feeling of nationalism.
4. Repressive Policy of Lord Lytton:
The repressive policy of Lord Lytton (1876-’80) encouraged the Indians to be united together for national cause. Lytton reduced the minimum age limit for I.C.S. examination from 21 years to 19 years, which was opposite to the Indian’s demand. By Vernacular Press Act of 1878 strict restrictions were imposed on papers in Indian languages. Accordingly, the Arms Act of 1878 imposed restrictions on the wearing of arms by the Indians. All these acts united the Indians against the foreign rule. So, the period of Lytton has been described as “the seeding time of Indian nationalism”.
Socio-culture reform movement in the 19th century hastened the process of nationalism in India. Raja Rammohan Roy, Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, Swami Dayananda, Vivekananda and such others severely condemned the prevailing social evils like Sati, Polygamy, infanticide, caste distinction and in the process acquainted the Indian with their glorious past and rich cultural heritage. This created a sense of self-respect among the Indians and prepared the ground for the growth of national movement.
6. Discontent among middle-class people:
It is true that middle-class people at one time welcomed British rule. But once they got the Western education, they saw the world before them. The movement for freedom in other countries broke their dream and they became anti-British. It was evident to them that Britishers were making their country rich with Indian wealth. The leaders’ particularly political leaders explained to the people about this economic exploitation.
In 1876 A.D. the Indian Association (Bharat Sabha) was established in Calcutta. Probably that was the first political organization of India. Though the Association did not demand political freedom of any kind, they put forward many demands and Surendranath preached the ideal of the Association all over India.
Movement against Ilbert Bill:
Ilbert Bill was introduced by Lord Ripon in 1883 A.D. This was a discriminatory bill and the whole India stood against this controversial bill. It can be said that it was the first instance when the country got a unified look.
Indian National Conference:
In 1883 A.D. the Indian National Conference was held in Calcutta. In these conferences, representatives of Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Ahmedabad, Cuttack and Bhagalpur participated. They voiced many demands. In 1885 A.D. when the second conference started in Calcutta, the Indian National Congress was having its session in Bombay. Later on, they merged to form Indian National Congress.
By Amit Agarwal