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Nationalist Movements in India: Wikis


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The Indian Nationalist Movements were organised mass movements emphasising and raising questions concerning the interests of the people of India. In most of these movements, people were themselves encouraged to take Action. However due to several Factors these Movements couldn't get Independence for India. However they did promote the Sense of Nationalism and Pride among the People of the country. The Failure of these movements made many people Poor, uneducated and Illiterate due to withdrawal from Government Offices, schools, Factories and services.Though they did manage to get a few concessions such as the Salt March in 1930, they did not help India much from the point of view of their objective.


Early influences

The void arising from the precipitous decline of the Mughal Empire from the early decades of 18th century allowed emerging powers to grow in the Indian subcontinent. These included the Sikh Confederacy, the Maratha Confederacy, Nizamiyat, the local nawabs of Oudh and Bengal and other smaller powers. Each was a strong regional power influenced by its religious and ethnic identity. However, the East India Company ultimately emerged as the predominant power. One of the results of the social, economic and political changes instituted in the country throughout the greater part of 18th century was the growth of the Indian middle class. Although from different backgrounds and different parts of India, this middle class and its varied political leaderships contributed to a growing "Indian" identity".[1] The realisation and refinement of this concept of national identity fed a rising tide of nationalism in India in the last decades of the 1800s.[2][3][4]

Revolutionary nationalist movements

The Coming of Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi returned to India in 1915 from South Africa after being a part of the Apartheid. After his return he faced similar conditions in India. His aim was clear : To gain Independence. But his method of Satyagraha was a little complicated from the common man's point of view. As he went on giving speeches about the power of Ahinsa or Non-Violence, he was criticised for his weakness. His reply was, "Ahimsa is not the weapon of the weak. It is the weapon of the strong. Weak cannot practice Ahimsa. It involves active participation and presence of Mind." He also said that, "Non Violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our very being." Though his views were met with praise, he did not achieve immediate national co-operation.

The Non Co-operation Movement

The Non Cooperation Movement in India was the first of the three major movements carried out by Gandhi. The movement was started with the thought in mind that the British rule had lasted in India only because of the cooperation by Indians. If Indians refused to cooperate then India would gain Independence. The Movement soon caught National attention and Millions joined the movement. People left their offices, jobs, factories or any other Business which Cooperated the British. People forced their Children out of the Government schools and Colleges. The name of Mahatma began spreading around. People started following him in all parts of the country. However, the movement could not continue as anticipated by Mahatma. He had hoped for a Nationwide peaceful and Non-Violent movement. But soon in the rallies and protests being carried out Nationwide, Violence crept in. This was mainly due to the anger of people nationwide at the British government due to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. People started using force. Due to such an incident, known as the Chauri-Chaura incident, the people burnt down a police station. This forced Gandhiji to withdraw the movement. Though he withdrew the movement and stopped an agitating nation from protesting, he was arrested for starting the movement in the first place. The withdrawal of the movement had nationwide effects. People who quit their jobs earlier became jobless. Several children who quit their education had to remain illiterate even though the efforts of leaders like Lala Lajpat Rai.Due to this Gandhi's popularity deteriorated in the public eyes since he had withdrwn the movement. On his part gandhi argued that the people needed to be better trained for Satyagrah than they were. This set the foundation for future Revolutionary groups who believed that Non Violence will not get Independence for India.

The Dandi March or the Salt Satyagraha

The Salt Satyagrah was started by Mahatma Gandhi on 11 March 1930 from Sabarmati Ashram to 5 April till Dandi where he manufactured Salt, broke the Salt Law and started a nationwide Civil disobedience Campaign. Though the government did grant some concessions after the Salt March, not any major changes could be achieved. However, this March helped India in another important aspect. The March brought millions of Indians together. It also increased public support for Mahatma Gandhi. Also, due to large amount of Worldwide publicity it got, India's domestic situation was exposed worldwide.

The Quit India Movement

The Quit India movement was the final of the Three major Nationalist movements in India. It was started in August 1942 by MK Gandhi. This movement was not as successful as the Non-Cooperation Movement and the Salt Satyagraha because of a number of reasons :-

1. Since the earlier two movements had not been able to achieve anything major, people had lost faith in Movements.

2. Mahatma Gandhi when called for a peace movement, withdrew it immediately on seeing any violence. This discouraged people from joining another movement of his organisation.

3. Quit India movement was also a Non - Cooperation movement. Afraid of becoming illiterate and jobless, many people withdrew their support.

4. Many prominent Congress leaders were arrested in these movements which made people lose faith in Congress and Gandhi.

Due to these reasons, Quit India movement faded in 1943.


Though the Nationalist movements in India did not play a big part in bringing independence to the country. They did bring a sense of Nationalism among the people. It was because of this Nationalism and Unity among Indians that the British had to finally leave the country leaving behind a Muslim Pakistan and a Secular Democracy of India.


  1. ^ Mitra 2006, p. 63
  2. ^ Desai 2005, p. 30
  3. ^ Desai 2005, p. 125
  4. ^ Desai 2005, p. 154


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