Modern History of India
The Indian National Congress:
• Formed in 1885 by A.O.Hume, an Englishman and a retired civil servant.
• The first session in Bombay under W.C.Banerjee in 1885 (72 delegates attended it).
• In the first two decades (1885 – 1905), quite moderate in its approach and confided in British justice and generosity.
• But the repressive measures of the British gave rise to extremists within Congress like Bipin Chandra Pal, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Lala Lajpat Rai (Lal, Bal, Pal).
Read Also: Civil Disobedience Movement
Partition of Bengal:
• By Lord Curzon on Oct 16, 1905, through a royal Proclamation, reducing the old province of Bengal in size by creating East Bengal and Assam out of rest of Bengal.
• The objective was to set up a communal gulf between Hindus and Muslims.
• A mighty upsurge swept the country against the partition. The national movement found real expression in the movement against the partition of Bengal in 1905.
Swadeshi Movement (1905):
• Lal, Bal, Pal, and Aurobindo Ghosh played the important role.
• INC took the Swadeshi call first at the Banaras Session, 1905 presided over by G.K.Gokhale.
• Bonfires of foreign goods were conducted at various places.
Formation of Muslim League (1906):
• Setup in 1906 under the leadership of Aga Khan, Nawab Salimullah of Dhaka and Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk.
• It was a loyalist, communal and conservative political organization which supported the partition of Bengal, opposed the Swadeshi movement, demanded special safeguards to its community and a separate electorate for Muslims.
Demand for Swaraj:
• In Dec 1906 at Calcutta, the INC under Dadabhai Naoroji adopted ‘Swaraj’ (Self-govt) as the goal of Indian people.
Surat Session of Indian National Congress (1907):
• The INC split into two groups – The extremists and The moderates, at the Surat session in 1907. Extremists were led by Bal, Pal, Lal while the moderates by G.K.Gokhale.
Indian Councils Act or Minto-Morley Reforms (1909):
• Besides other constitutional measures, it envisaged a separate electorate for Muslims.
• Aimed at dividing the nationalist ranks and at rallying the Moderates and the Muslims to the Government’s side.
Ghadar Party (1913):
• Formed by Lala Hardayal, Taraknath Das, and Sohan Singh Bhakna.
• HQ was in San Francisco.
Home Rule Movement (1916):
• Started by B.G.Tilak(April, 1916) at Poona and Annie Besant and S.Subramania Iyer at Adyar, near Madras (Sept 1916).
• Objective: Self – government for India in the British Empire.
• Tilak linked up the question of Swaraj with the demand for the formation of the Linguistic States and education in vernacular language. He gave the slogan: Swaraj is my birth right and I will have it.
Lucknow Pact (1916):
• Happened following a war between Britain and Turkey leading to anti-British feelings among Muslims.
• Both INC and Muslim League concluded this (Congress accepted the separate electorates and both jointly demanded for a representative government and dominion status for the country).
August Declaration (1917):
• After the Lucknow Pact, a British policy was announced which aimed at “increasing association of Indians in every branch of the administration for the progressive realization of responsible government in India as an integral part of the British empire”. This came to be called the August Declaration.
Rowlatt Act (March 18, 1919):
• This gave unbridled powers to the govt. to arrest and imprison suspects without trial for two years maximum. This law enabled the Government to suspend the right of Habeas Corpus, which had been the foundation of civil liberties in Britain.
• Caused a wave of anger in all sections. It was the first country-wide agitation by Gandhiji and marked the foundation of the Non-Cooperation Movement.
Jallianwala Bagh Massacre (April 13, 1919):
• People were agitated over the arrest of Dr. Kitchlu and Dr. Satyapal on April 10, 1919.
• General O’ Dyer fires at people who assembled in the Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar.
• As a result hundreds of men, women and children were killed and thousands injured.
• Rabindranath Tagore returned his Knighthood in protest. Sir Shankaran Nair resigned from Viceroy’s Executive Council after this.
• Hunter Commission was appointed to enquire into it.
• On March 13, 1940, Sardar Udham Singh killed O’Dyer when the later was addressing a meeting in Caxton Hall, London.
Khilafat Movement (1920):
• Muslims were agitated by the treatment done with Turkey by the British in the treaty that followed the First World War.
• Two brothers, Mohd.Ali and Shaukat Ali started this movement.
Non-cooperation Movement (1920):
• It was the first mass-based political movement under Gandhiji.
• Congress passed the resolution in its Calcutta session in Sept 1920.
Chauri –Chaura Incident (1922):
• A mob of people at Chauri – Chaura (near Gorakhpur) clashed with police and burnt 22 policemen on February 5, 1922.
• This compelled Gandhiji to withdraw the Non-Cooperation movement on Feb.12, 1922.
Simon Commission (1927):
• Constituted under John Simon, to review the political situation in India and to introduce further reforms and extension of parliamentary democracy.
• Indian leaders opposed the commission, as there were no Indians in it.
• The Government used brutal repression and police attacks to break the popular opposition. At Lahore, Lala Lajpat Rai was severely beaten in a lathi-charge. He succumbed to his injuries on Oct.30, 1928.
Lahore Session (1929):
• On Dec.19, 1929 under the President ship of J.L.Nehru, the INC, at its Lahore Session, declared Poorna Swaraj (Complete independence) as its ultimate goal.
• On Dec.31, 1929, the newly adopted tri-colour flag was unfurled and an.26, 1930 was fixed as the First Independence Day, was to be celebrated every year.
• The first political murder of a European was committed in 1897 at Poona by the Chapekar brothers, Damodar, and Balkishan. Their target was Mr.Rand, President of the Plague Commission, but Lt.Ayerst was accidentally shot.
• In 1907, Madam Bhikaiji Cama, a Parsi revolutionary unfurled the flag of India at Stuttgart Congress (of Second international).
• In 1908, Khudiram Bose and Prafulla chaki threw a bomb on the carriage of Kingsford, the unpopular judge of Muzaffarpur. Khudiram, Kanhaiyalal Dutt, and Satyendranath Bose were hanged. (Alipur Case).
• In 1909, M L Dhingra shot dead Col.William Curzon Wyllie, the political advisor of “India Office” in London.
• In 1912, Rasbihari Bose and Sachindra Nath Sanyal threw a bomb and Lord Hardinge at Delhi. (Delhi Conspiracy Case).
• In Oct 1924, a meeting of revolutionaries from all parts of India was called at Kanpur. They set up Hindustan Socialist Republic Association/Army (HSRA).
• They carried out a dacoity on the Kakori bound train on the Saharanpur-Lucknow railway line on Aug. 9, 1925.
• Bhagat Singh, with his colleagues, shot dead Saunders (Asst. S.P. of Lahore, who ordered lathi charge on Lala Lajpat Rai) on Dec.17, 1928.
• Then Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt threw a bomb in the Central Assembly on Apr 8, 1929. Thus, he, Rajguru and Sukhdev was hanged on March. 23,1931 at Lahore Jail (Lahore Conspiracy Case) and their bodies cremated at Hussainiwala near Ferozepur.
• In 1929 only Jatin Das died in Lahore jail after 63 days fast to protest against horrible conditions in jail.
• Surya Sen, a revolutionary of Bengal, formed the Indian Republic Army in Bengal. In 1930, he masterminded the raid on Chittagong armory. He was hanged in 1933.
• In 1931, Chandrashekhar Azad shot himself at Alfred Park in Allahabad.
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Dandi March (1930):
• Also called the Salt Satyagraha.
• Along with 78 followers, Gandhiji started his march from Sabarmati Ashram on March 12, 1930, for the small village Dandi to break the salt law.
• He reached the seashore on Apr.6, 1930.
• He picked a handful of salt and inaugurated the Civil Disobedience Movement.
First Round Table conference (1930):
• It was the first conference arranged between the British and Indians as equals. It was held on Nov.12, 1930 in London to discuss Simon commission.
• Boycotted by INC, Muslim League, Hindu Mahasabha, Liberals and some others were there.
Gandhi-Irwin Pact (1931):
• Moderate Statesman, Sapru, Jaikar and Srinivas Shastri initiated efforts to break the ice between Gandhiji and the government.
• The two (government represented by Irwin and INC by Gandhiji) signed a pact on March 5, 1931.
• In this, the INC called off the civil disobedience movement and agreed to join the second round table conference.
• The government on its part released the political prisoners and conceded the right to make salt for consumption for villages along the coast.
Second Round Table Conference (1931):
• Gandhiji represented the INC and went to London to meet British P.M. Ramsay Macdonald.
• However, the session was soon deadlocked on the minorities issue and this time, separate electorates were demanded not only by Muslims but also by Depressed Classes, Indian Christians and Anglo – Indians.
The Communal Award (Aug 16,1932):
• Announced by Ramsay McDonald. It showed divide and rule policy of the British.
• Envisaged representation of Muslims, Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians, women and even Backward classes.
• Gandhiji, who was in Yeravada jail at that time, started a fast unto death against it.
Poona Pact (September 25, 1932):
• After the announcement of the communal award and the subsequent fast of Gandhiji, the mass meeting took place almost everywhere.
• Political leaders like Madan Mohan Malviya, B.R.Ambedkar and M.C.Rajah became active.
• Eventually, Poona pact was reached and Gandhiji broke his fact on the sixth day (Sept 25, 1932).
• In this, the idea of separate electorate for the depressed classes was abandoned, but seats reserved to them in the provincial legislature were increased.
Third Round Table Conference (1932):
• Proved fruitless as most of the national leaders were in prison. The discussions led to the passing of the Government of India Act, 1935.
Demand For Pakistan:
• In 1930, Iqbal suggested that the Frontier Province, Baluchistan, Sindh and Kashmir be made the Muslim State within the federation.
• Chaudhary Rehmat Ali gave the term Pakistan in 1923.
• Mohd. Ali Jinnah of Bombay gave it practicality.
• Muslim League first passed the proposal of separate Pakistan in its Lahore session in 1940.
The Cripps Mission – 1942:
• In Dec. 1941, Japan entered the World War – II and advanced towards Indian borders. By March 7, 1942, Rangoon fell and Japan occupied the entire S-E Asia.
• The British govt. with a view to getting co-operation from Indians sent Sir Stafford Cripps, leader of the House of Commons to settle terms with the Indian leaders.
• He offered a draft which proposed dominion status to be granted after the war.
• Rejected by the Congress as it didn’t want to rely upon future promises.
• Gandhiji termed it as a post dated cheque in a crashing bank.
Also. Read: Quit India Movement
The Revolt of 1942 & The Quit India Movement:
• Called the Vardha Proposal and Leaderless Revolt.
• The resolution was passed on Aug.8, 1942, at Bombay. Gandhiji gave the slogan ‘Do or Die’.
• On Aug 9, the Congress was banned and its important leaders were arrested.
• The arrests provoked indignation among the masses and, there being no program of action, the movement became spontaneous and violent. Violence spread throughout the country.
• The movement was however crushed.
The Indian National Army:
• Founded by Rasbehari Bose with Captain Mohan Singh.
• S.C.Bose secretly escaped from India in Jain 1941 and reached Berlin. In July 1943, he joined the INA in Singapore. There, Rasbehari Bose handed over the leadership to him.
• The soldiers were mostly raised from Indian soldiers of the British army who had been taken prisoners by the Japanese after they conquered S.E.Asia.
• Two INA headquarters were Rangoon and Singapore (formed in Singapore).
• INA had three fighting brigades named after Gandhiji, Azad and Nehru. Rani Jhansi Brigade was an exclusive women force.
The Cabinet Mission Plan (1946):
• The struggle for freedom entered a decisive phase in the year 1945-46. The new Labour Party PM.Lord Attlee, made a declaration on March 15, 1946, that British Cabinet Mission (comprising of Lord Pethick-Lawrence as Chairman, Sir Stafford Cripps, and A.V.Alexander) will visit India.
• The mission held talks with the INC and ML to bring about acceptance of their proposals.
• On May 16, 1946, the mission put towards its proposals. It rejected the demand for separate Pakistan and instead a federal union consisting of British India and the Princely States was suggested.
• Both Congress and Muslims League accepted it.
Formation of Interim Government (Sept 2, 1946):
• Based on Cabinet Mission Plan, an interim government consisting of Congress nominees was formed on Sept.2, 1946. J.L.Nehru was its Vice-President and the Governor-General remained as its President.Jinnah’s Direct
Action Resolution (Aug 16, 1946):
• Jinnah was alarmed at the results of the elections because the Muslim League was in danger of being totally eclipsed in the constituent assembly.
• Therefore, Muslim League withdrew its acceptance of the Cabinet Mission Plan on July 29, 1946.
• It passed a ‘Direct action’ resolution, which condemned both the British Government and the Congress (Aug 16, 1946). It resulted in heavy communal riots.
• Jinnah celebrated Pakistan Day on Mar 27, 1947.
Formation of Constituent Assembly (Dec 9, 1946):
• The Constituent assembly met on Dec 9, 1946, and Dr.Rajendra Prasad was elected as its president.
Mountbatten Plan (June 3, 1947):
• On June 3, 1947, Lord Mountbatten put forward his plan which outlined the steps for the solution of India’s political problem. The outlines of the Plan were:
• India to be divided into India and Pakistan.
• Bengal and Punjab will be partitioned and a referendum in NEFP and Sylhet district of Assam would be held.
• There would be a separate constitutional assembly for Pakistan to frame its constitution.
• The Princely states would enjoy the liberty to join either India or Pakistan or even remain independent.
• Aug.15, 1947 was the date fixed for handing over power to India and Pakistan.
• The British govt. passed the Indian Independence Act of 1947 in July 1947, which contained the major provisions put forward by the Mountbatten plan.
Partition and Independence (Aug 1947):
• All political parties accepted the Mountbatten plan.
• At the time of independence, there were 562 small and the big Princely States in India.
• Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, the first home minister, used an iron hand in this regard. By August 15, 1947, all the States, with a few exceptions like Kashmir, Hyderabad and Junagarh had signed the Instrument of Accession. Goa was with the Portuguese and Pondicherry with the French.