Arora IAS Short Notes

India Struggle for Independence(1857-1947) Notes

Revision Notes or Short Notes



Emergence of the Indian National Congress:

  • Process of Political Awakening: Initiated in the 1860s and 1870s, gained momentum in the late 1870s and early 1880s.
  • Year 1885 as a Turning Point: Signified the culmination of nationalist efforts, marked by the emergence of the Indian National Congress (INC).
  • Role of Political Indians: Modern intellectuals shifted from narrow group interests to national representation, forming a ‘national party.’
  • Reaction of British Officialdom: Viewed nationalist activities with suspicion, apprehended disloyalty, sedition, and potential agitations.
  • Mild Demands with Subversive Implications: Indian demands for import duty preservation, Afghan and Burma policy, arms rights, press freedom, etc., seemed mild but undermined colonial hegemony.
  • Creation of Younger Nationalist Associations:
    • Bengal: Indian Association formed in 1876 under Surendranath Banerjea and Anand Mohan Bose.
    • Madras: Madras Mahajan Sabha established in 1884 by M. Viraraghavachariar, G. Subramaniya Iyer, P. Ananda Charlu, and others.
    • Bombay: Bombay Presidency Association founded in 1885 by K.T. Telang and Pherozeshah Mehta.
  • Role of Nationalist Newspapers: Major newspapers like The Hindu, Tribune, Bengalee, Mahraua, and Kesari emerged, shaping political discourse.
  • Calls for All-India Political Organization: Urgency increased post-1883, intensified political activity and campaigns.
  • Coordination and Agitations: Indian movements around cotton duties, Indianization of services, opposition to the Afghan war, press freedom, Arms Act, and other issues highlighted the need for coordinated efforts.
  • National Fund and International Appeal: Indians sought to raise funds and garner British support through coordinated efforts, including appeals to British voters and public speeches in Britain.

These developments underscored the necessity for an all-India political organization, leading to the founding of the Indian National Congress in 1885.



Founding of the Indian National Congress

  • December 28, 1885:A meeting was held in Bombay by Indian political workers.
  • Objective:To achieve certain basic political tasks for India. These tasks required a unified organization on an all-India basis.
  • Success of the Congress: Determined by the extent to which these objectives were achieved in the initial years.


The Making of an Indian Nation: The Role of the Indian National Congress

Challenges to National Unity

  • British View:India as a mere geographical expression, not a nation (diversity of races, creeds).

Indian National Congress and Nation-Building

  • Goal:Promote national unity and create an “Indian people.”
  • Recognized historical forces for unity, but needed to foster subjective awareness.
  • National unity as a major objective and achievement.

Examples of Nation-Building Efforts

  • 1891 Congress Session:Ananda Charlu called the Congress a “mighty nationalizer.”
  • First Congress President W.C. Bannerji:“Fuller development and consolidation of…sentiments of national unity” as a key aim.
  • Russian traveller I.P. Minayeff:Growth of national feeling and Indian unity as a key expectation from Congress leaders.
  • Indu Prakash (Bombay) on the first Congress session:Creating a national feeling and binding people together.

Addressing India’s Diversity

  • Rotating Congress sessions across regions.
  • Presidents from regions other than the session location.
  • 1888 rule:No resolutions opposed by an overwhelming majority of Hindu or Muslim delegates.
  • 1889 minority clause:Ensuring proportional representation for religious minorities in councils (recognized India’s heterogeneity).
  • Secular Congress:Building a secular nation.



The Early Indian National Congress: Building a Political Nation


Creating a Common Political Platform

  • Goal:Unite political workers across India under a common program.
  • Focus:Shared grievances against British rule, not social reforms.
  • Reason:Dadabhai Naoroji (1885 Congress President) argued a national congress should focus on issues impacting the entire nation.
  • New Political Landscape:Introduction of modern participatory politics to India.
  • Educating and Mobilizing the Public:Arousing, training, and organizing public opinion as a central task.
  • Initial Focus:Politicizing and unifying educated Indians first, then expanding to other groups.
  • Model:Anti-Corn Law League (British movement for free trade in grain).

Challenges and Long-Term Strategy

  • Building Confidence:Leaders and people needed to believe in their ability to oppose British rule.
  • Gradual Politicization:A long period of educating and mobilizing the public was necessary.
  • Focus on Process:Critics missed the point that early methods (petitions, memorials) aimed to politicize the people, not just address grievances.
  • Ranade’s Perspective (1891):These efforts, though seemingly passive, were educating the public in new political thinking.

Key Figures

  • Dadabhai Naoroji (1885 Congress President)
  • G. Ranade (Political leader)
  • Gokhale (Politician)



Building a National Movement in India: The Importance of Leadership and Democracy (1885)


Founding the Indian National Congress (March 1885):

  • Goal:Create a common all-India national-political leadership (Gramsci’s “headquarters”)
  • Reasoning:Organization is key for effective political action. Leaders need to be unified and share a common vision.

Objectives of the Congress (as per circular and W.C. Bonnerji):

  • Enable national leaders to meet and overcome prejudices (race, creed, province).
  • Promote personal connections and friendships among leaders.

Key Points:

  • National leadership is essential for a national movement (regardless of its social-ideological makeup).
  • Early nationalists aimed to internalize and indigenize political democracy.
  • The Congress was modeled after a Parliament:
    • Sovereignty of the people (Dadabhai Naoroji).
    • Democratic proceedings (debate, discussion, voting).

The Congress and Democracy:

  • It, not the colonial state, indigenized and popularized parliamentary democracy in India.

The Congress and Civil Liberties:

  • Maintained and fought to extend civil liberties (freedom of press, speech).
  • Opposed restrictions on these freedoms.
  • Fought for separation of judicial and executive powers.
  • Opposed racial discrimination.


Developing India’s Anti-Colonial Ideology (1870s-1880s)



  • No pre-existing anti-colonial ideology available.
  • Needed to understand colonialism and create a response.

The Role of Early Nationalists:

  • Learners and Teachers: Developed their own ideology through experience and study.
  • Key Questions:
    • Are British interests aligned with India’s?
    • Who is the enemy: British bureaucrats, government, or the colonial system itself?
    • Can India fight the British Empire?
    • How should the fight be waged?

Learning Through Mistakes:

  • Early 20th century: Misunderstood the nature of the colonial state (a common mistake).
  • Importance of independent thinking: “Cut and dried” formulas are unhelpful.

Focus on Ideology:

  • No mass movements, but a strong ideological struggle against British rule.
  • Importance of understanding colonialism before actively resisting it.
  • Success:Early Congress leaders effectively built an “anti-colonial struggle about colonialism.”



The Early National Movement in India: Goals and Achievements

 Foundational Objectives (1880s):

  • Establish a secular and democratic national movement (key concept)
  • Politicize and educate the Indian people
  • Form an all-India leadership group (headquarters for the movement)
  • Develop and spread an anti-colonial nationalist ideology

Success of the Early National Movement:

  • Grew from a small organization in the 1880s to a significant mass movement by the 20th century (achievement)

Leaders’ quotes:

    • Dadabhai Naoroji (January 1905): Highlighted the positive aspects of growing discontent within the movement, suggesting it is a sign of progress and evolution. Left open the question of whether the revolution would be peaceful or violent, depending on British actions.
    • Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1907): Acknowledged the limitations of their time and the challenges they faced. Emphasized the role of future generations in achieving success and viewed present failures as a necessary step towards future accomplishments.

Key Figures:

  • Dadabhai Naoroji (leader)
  • E. Wacha (leader)
  • Gopal Krishna Gokhale (leader)



Role of A.O. Hume in the Formation of Congress

  • Hume served as the chief organizer of the Congress.
  • Founders included Dadabhai Naoroji, Justice Ranade, Pherozeshah Mehta, G. Subramaniya Iyer, and Surendranath Banerjea.
  • Limited political figures in the 1880s; tradition of open opposition not established.
  • Cooperation with Hume to avoid early official hostility.
  • Hume’s status as a retired British civil servant less likely to provoke suspicion.
  • Gokhale acknowledged Hume’s role as crucial in Congress’s inception.
  • Hume acted as a lightning conductor, deflecting suspicion away from the movement.
  • Congress leaders’ strategy proved successful, allowing the organization to flourish.


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