Chapter 14: SWADESHI MOVEMENT
swadeshi movement was started as a response to the
partition decision taken by Lord Curzon. The
reason given was administrative but the truth was actual
reason was political. The British wanted to crush the
national movement at its nerve center “Calcutta”. The
partition would have divided Bengal and turned it into a
minority and prop up Muslim communalists as an alternative
to the congress.
Protests against the
the partition proposals became public there was a furor of
activity. 500 public meetings were held in east Bengal.
Pamphlets were distributed, strong press support was seen,
and numerous petitions were signed and sent to the British
the big zamindars, loyalist of the raj, turned towards
congress. The moderate thinking and style of leadership
was at its height i.e. petitioning, speeches, memorandums,
public meetings and purpose was to turn public opinion in
India and England against the British.
the government was unmoved and went ahead with partition
it became clear that moderate methods weren’t working.
At numerous meeting held in small towns it was decided to
boycott foreign cloth and swadeshi movement had started.
Processions, hartals, protests, fasts were common. Bande
Mataram became a cry for unity.
Women, who were traditionally home-centred, especially those of the urban
middle classes, took active part in processions and picketing. From now
onwards, they were to play a significant role in the national movement.
Congress and the Partition
movement spread outside Bengal too and the congress in its
session presided by GK Gokhale supported the swadeshi
extremist leaders Lal, Bal, Pal were interested in
extending the movement to all India with an objective to
get Swaraj. The moderates were not keen to do it.
the 1906 session the president Dadabhai Nauroji declared
that the goal of INC was self government on line of
colonies like Canada and Australia.
difference between the moderates and extremist regarding
pace and objectives finally led to a split in 1907 under
Congress President Rash bihari ghosh.
Rise of Extremism
the swadeshi movement now extremists had a greater sway
and politics of mendicancy was on a retreat. The purpose
was to now extend the swadeshi call into a fully fledged
non cooperation and passive resistance. The boycott call
extended to boycott of government schools, colleges, jobs
and titles. This period saw rise of swadeshi industries
and schools and colleges too.
base of the movement now extended to Zamindari sections
and lower middle class in schools and towns. Though
the movement failed to mobilize peasant in rural areas
but for first time the peasants were exposed to modern
Failures of the movement:
able to garner support of mass Muslims especially Muslim
peasantry. This was due to the British strategy of divide
and rule. All India Muslim league was propped up as a
competitor to the congress. The British used communalism
to turn Muslims against the congress.
the movement was a spent force. This was due to heavy
handed repression by the government. The internal
squabbles and the split within the congress also affected
the movement. The entire leadership was imprisoned in one
stroke making the movement leaderless.
an effective organization and a party structure.
very nature of mass movements is that they can’t be
endlessly sustained at the same pitch of militancy and
Most of the upper and middle class Muslims stayed away or,
led by Nawab Salimullah of Dacca, supported the partition on the plea
that it would give them a Muslim-majority East Bengal.
government interests, the All India Muslim League was propped up in 1907
as an anti-Congress front and reactionary elements like Nawab
Salimullah of Dacca were encouraged.
Aftermath of Partition
end of the movement saw a rise in revolutionary
terrorism as the youth who participated in swadeshi
movement weren’t ready to meekly settle down when the
movement was ebbing.
the movement wasn’t a failure it had successfully taken
the ideas of nationalism to several sections of the
people. The swadeshi influence on culture and ideas too
was unparallel in Indian history.
The partition of Bengal was annulled by King George in Delhi Durbar in 1911.
The capital was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi at the same
time. The decision to annul the partition of Bengal in 1911 mainly to curb
the menace of revolutionary terrorism. The annulment came as a rude
shock to the Muslim political elite. It was also decided to shift the
capital to Delhi as a sop to the Muslims, as it was associated with
Muslim glory, but the Muslims were not pleased. Bihar and Orissa were
taken out of Bengal and Assam was made a separate province.
PERSONALITIES ASSOCIATED WITH SPECIFIC MOVEMENTS
Lokmanya Tilak spread the message of swadeshi to Poona and Bombay and
organised Ganapati and Shivaji festivals to arouse patriotic feelings.
He stressed that the aim of swadeshi, boycott and national education was
attainment of swaraj. He opened cooperative stores and headed the
Swadeshi Wastu Pracharini Sabha.
Chidambaram Pillai spread the movement to Madras and organised the
strike of the Tuticorin Coral Mill. He founded the Swadeshi Steam
Navigation Company in Tuticorin on the east coast of the Madras
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