a. Annie Besant and the Home Rule Movement:
Annie Besant, one of the important leaders of the Theosophical Movement, began the Home Rule movement in 1916.
She founded the organization ‘All India Home Rule League’, and it was through this organization that Annie Basant had popularized the movement.
This organization had established various branches spread all over the country. Even it had a branch in England through which public opinion was sought to be moulded in favour of the Home Rule for the Indians.
Annie Besant adopted two-fold method to popularize the movement: a. through personal contact and b.through the newspaper New India’ edited by her.
b. Tilak and the Home Rule Movement:
Bal Gangadhar Tilak, a celebrated leader of the Indian national movement, also started Home Rule movement at about the same time Mrs. Annie Besant had begun her own.
Being released from the prison Tilak founded the ‘Home Rule for India League’ in 1916. Tilak’s vigorous movement in favour of the demand for Home Rule attained much popularity.
It was during this period of his political career that Tilak was given the honorific title ‘Lokmanya’ by the people in recognition of his bold leadership.
c. Objectives of the Home Rule Movement:
The term ‘Home Rule’ means self-government. The object of the Home Rule movement was to attain Home Rule or self-government within the British Empire.
Another object was to educate and organize public opinion in the country towards the attainment of the same. Mrs. Besant and Tilak were in close contact with each other.
The Home Rule movement earned so much of popularity that thousands of adherents gathered round the two Home Rule leaders.
d. Repressive measures of the British:
The popularity of the Home Rule movement alarmed the British government. Repressive measures were taken against the Home Rule agitators.
Even Mrs. Besant and Tilak were not spared. Mrs. Besant was kept under home confinement and Tilak was imprisoned. But the governmental repression instead of demoralizing the people created great public enthusiasm.
Branches of the Home Rule League were established all over the country.
e. Significance of the Movement:
Though the Home Rule ended in a failure it constituted an important chapter in the history of the national movement.
Firstly, it was owing to the pressure of the Home Rule movement that the British government had to concede the demand for self-government at least in certain levels of administration.
Secondly, the demand for Swaraj raised in the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress (1906) turned out to be an all-India slogan through the Home Rule Leagues.
Thirdly, it was for the first time that womenfolk participated in the national movement in large number. Thousands of women courted arrest violating the laws enforced by the British govt.
fourthly, it has been pointed out by some that the Home Rule movement by way of imparting a sense of impatience to the national movement ‘precipitated the demand for independence’.