The growth of Indian nationalism started in the nineteenth century. Political unification of India, fall of India’s old social and economic system, the beginning of modern trade and industry and the rise of new social classes laid the basis of nationalism.
The social and religious reform movements and popular anti-British revolts contributed to the growth of nationalism. The farmers were suffering under the new land tenure systems introduced by the British government. The Indian industrialists were sad because of the economic policy of the British government. All import duties on cotton textiles were removed in 1882, which harmed the textile industry.
The people of India became aware of the fact that the development of their country was not possible unless British rule was ended. There was a series of famines, which took a toll of millions of human lives, due to the indifference of the autocratic British administration.
The Indian Civil Service, which ran the administration of the country, also consisted mostly of Englishmen. It was difficult for the Indians to get selected in the I.A.S. The examinations were held in England and few could afford to appear for them. After the revolt, the feeling of racial superiority grew and every thing Indian appeared in terror to them. There were special clubs and railway coaches for Europeans where the entry of Indians was prohibited. The Ilbert Bill sought to bring Indians and Europeans at par as the criminal jurisdiction of courts was concerned and to withdraw the privilege enjoyed by Europeans of being tried by a judge of their own race only. The Europeans protested against it and at last it was withdrawn.
The vernacular Press Act of 1878 imposed severe restrictions on the freedom of the Press. The Arms Act of 1879 forbade the possession of arms by Indians. In the 20th century, the ideas of socialism and internationalism influenced India’s struggle for independence.