Struggle for Independence – I Phase(1885-1918 AD)

Struggle for Independence - I Phase

The rise of Indian nationalism can only explained in terms of Indian response to the British Raj through the creation of new institutions, new opportunities, resources, etc. In fact, it would be more correct to say that it was a product of various factors- Indian Renaissance, Offshoot of Modern education, and development of press and right of self-determination by French Revolution. The seed of formal struggle were started with evolution of institution which is discussed below:

Indian National Congress

A.O Hume (retired Indian Civil Servant) founded Indian National Union in 1884 which later called Indian National Congress in 1885.The aim and Objectives of the Congress are as follows:

  • Promotion of the friendship among the countrymen.
  • Development and consolidation of feeling of national unity irrespective of race, caste, religion and provinces.
  • Formation of popular demands and presentation before the Government through petitions.
  • Training and organisation of public opinion.
  • Consolidation of sentiments of national unity.
  • Recording of the opinions of educated classes on pressing problems.
  • Laying down lines for future course of action in public interest.

The Moderate (1885-1905 AD)

The leader of the first phase of the National Movement were A.O. Hume, W.C. Banerjee, Surendra Nath Banerjee, Dadabhai Naoroji, Feroze Shah Mehta, Gopalakrishna Gokhale, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, Badruddin Tyabji, Justice Ranade, G.Subramanya Aiyar etc. They were called moderates because they appeal through petitions, speeches and articles loudly professing loyalty to the British raj.

Demands of Moderates

  • They plea for the extension of legislative council that leads to the popular control of administration.
  • Removal of restriction on freedom of the press and the speech.
  • Abolition of arms act which breaches the freedom of people
  • Separation of judiciary from executive
  • Supporter of democracy and nationalism
  • Exploitative relation of British could be exempted.

The Extremist (1905-1918 AD)

The important extremist leaders were Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh. They were called extremist because they believed that success could be achieved only through bold means.

Reason for the Rise of Extremism

1. The failure of the Moderates to win any notable success other than the expansion of the legislative councils by the Indian Councils Act (1892).

2. The famine and plague of 1896-97 was not eye opening for the exploitative policy for British which degraded the economic condition of people

3. Colour discrimination Indians in South Africa.

4. The Russo-Japanese war of 1904 – 05 events play important role in national awakening.

Prominent Extremists

  • Bal Gangadhar Tilak: He is also called ‘Lokamanya’. His weeklies ‘The Mahratta’ and ‘the Kesari’ was revolutionary weapon to attack the rule of British. In 1916, he set up Home Rule League at Poona and given slogan- “Swaraj is my birth-right and I will have it”.
  • Lala Lajpat Rai: He is also called the ‘Lion of Punjab’. He played an important role in the Swadeshi Movement and founded the Indian Home Rule League in the US in 1916. His famous slogan- ‘Go back Simon’.
  • Bipan Chandra Pal: He was turned extremist from moderate. He played an important role in the Swadeshi Movement. He spread his ideas of nationalism through the nook and corner of Indian by his powerful speeches and writings.
  • Aurobinda Ghosh: He was another extremist leader and took active participation in the Swadeshi Movement.

Partition of Bengal

It was carried out by the British viceroy of India, Lord Curzon in AD 1905. It was partitioned due to following reason:

  • To break the growing strength of Bengali nationalism since Bengal was the base of Indian nationalism.
  • To divide the Hindus and Muslims in Bengal.
  • To show the enormous power of the British Government in doing whatever it liked.

But the partition get vibrant colour of real awakening in freedom struggle mass movement which led the foundation of Boycott and Swadeshi movement.

Swadeshi Movement

It was against partition and got formal proclamation of the Swadeshi movement was made on August 7, 1905 at a meeting held at the Calcutta Town hall. It was suggested by Krishan Kumar Mitra’s journal Sanjivani in AD 1905. In this movement, Swadeshi leaders appeal to Indian for boycotting of government service, courts, schools and colleges and of foreign goods, promotion of Swadeshi goods, Promotion of National Education through the establishment of national schools and colleges. Hence, it was not only political but economic movement as well.

The Swadeshi Movement was a great success. In Bengal, even the landlords joined the movement. The women and students took to picketing. Students refused using books made of foreign paper. Many leaders were imprisoned and deported like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh. Many Indian lost their job and student who took part in movement were not allowed to enter college and school premises. During the movement, singing Vande Mataram was meant to sedition. This was the first instance in which use of Indigenous goods were taken an account.

Formation of the Muslim League (1906 AD)

It was established on December 30, 1906 under the leadership of Aga Khan, the Nawab of Dhaka and Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk. The main objectives of the formation of league are given below:

  • To promote loyalty of Indian Muslims towards the British government.
  • To protect the political and other rights of the Indian Muslims and to place their needs and aspirations before the Government.

Lucknow Pact (1916 AD)

It was effort to bring the congress and the Muslim League at single stage on the scheme of political reforms in India. Both met at Bombay in 1915 for the joint plan of post-war constitutional reforms. In 1916, there were simultaneous sessions of both the Congress and the league at Lucknow where the joint session of political reforms was put forward and adopted by both parties in 1916. This agreement so signed by them came to known as the Lucknow Pact.

Provision of Lucknow Pact

  • There shall be self-government in India and separate electorate for all the communities, until a community demanded joint electorates. Muslim should given 1/3rd representation in the Central Government.
  • Number of members at Imperial Legislative Council was to be 150, out of which 4/5th were to be elected and 1/5th nominated.1/3rd of the elected members were to be Muslims.
  • 4/5th of the members of the Legislative Council should be elected on the basis of adult franchise and 1/5th nominated at the Provincial level.


Hence, this was considered as the first phase of National Movement because in this phase masses of India get awake of colonial rule and striving to get self-rule (Swaraj) and also not only confined to the political sphere alone, but encompasses art, literature, science and industries.

Struggle for Independence Phase 2 (1919-1927) 

 Struggle for Independence Phase 3 (1928-1939)

Struggle for Independence Phase 4 (1940-1947)

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