Essay on Congress and the Government of India



The Extremists felt dissatisfied with the Minto-Morely Reforms of 1909 but the Moderates wanted to give a trial of these. There was co-operation between the Congress and the Government between 1909 and 1916 due to several factors. Firstly, the Moderates were in charge of the Congress. Secondly, Lord Harding followed a sympathetic policy towards the Congress. Thirdly, the Partition of Bengal was canceled in 1911 fourthly, the most important leader of the Extremists, B.G. Tilak, was in prison from 1908 to 1914. The Congress helped the Government a lot during the First World War.

Home rule movement

The Indians began to feel by 1916 that the British Government was not going to make a declaration of granting home rule to the Indians. Hence Mrs. Annie Besant and B.G. Tilak started Home Rule Movement in 1916.

It was not a revolutionary movement. She wanted to awaken the people of India to demand their rights. She said, "I am an Indian Tom Tom waking up all the sleepers so that they may wake and work for their Motherland." She declared that Home Rule was the birth right of the British. The movement reached its climax in 1917.

The Government took strong action. Mrs. Annie Besant was interned. Tilak threatened to start passive resistance. Then came the August Declaration of the Secretary of State for India in 1917 promising self-Government by gradual stages. Then the Home Rule movement gradually came to an end.

Militancy phase

While the Indian National Movement was progressing by stages, some persons turned terrorists to achieve independence. Terrorism may be called the militant phase of Indian Nationalism. The terrorists believed that it would not be possible to end foreign rule without the use of force. They were exasperated by the reactionary and repressive policy of the Government.

They believed in violent action to demoralise the British administration in India and its Indian collaborators. They smuggled arms and manufactured them for using these against the British. Funds were collected even by dacoities. The earliest storm centre of terrorist movement was Maharashtra. Shyamji Krishan Verma, V.D.Savarkar and Ganesh Savarkar were its important leaders. The revolutionary movement became strong in Bengal after its partition in 1905. Its leaders were B.K. Ghose and B.N. Dutt. Pondicherry was another centre. There were revolutionaries in Punjab also and some of them were associated with the attempt on the life of Lord Hardinge in 1912.

The revolutionary movement greatly weakened after 1916 due to several factors. Firstly, the movement was confined to a small circle of youngmen; it did not have the backing of the general public. Secondly, the terrorist movement had not central organisation to direct its activities. Thirdly, the emergence of Mahatma Gandhi as a leader of the National Movement greatly weekend revolutionary movement. The Gandhian method of non co-operation, civil disobedience and non-violence appealed more to the people than the methods of the terrorists.