It is important for Civil Services aspirants to be well acquainted with the various factors that contributed to the rise in Extremism, which in turn had an impact on the Indian Freedom struggle.
In this write-up, we briefly outline these factors. We also briefly outline some of the internal politics in Maharashtra during this phase.
There were various internal and external factors that contributed towards rise in Extremism in India.
- External/International Factors:
a) Ethiopia, had defeated Italy.
b) In 1904, Japan defeated Russia.
These two defeats broke the invincibility of the west and at the same time, it greatly encouraged Indians to overthrow British rule.
- Internal Factors:
1. Role of Arya Samajists: a) The entry of Arya Samajists into the INC and the Indian National Movement, created a huge uproar in terms of the cultural nationalism.
- b) The Arya Samajists were the first to give the notion of Swaraj, the Arya Samajists were the first to give the notion of Swadeshi, they believed in the cultural nostalgia of the past, they laid down the theory of ‘India for Indians’.
- c) Thus, the inclusion of the Arya Samajists created a wave of radical nationalism in the Indian National Movement. Most of the extremist leaders had an ‘Arya Samajist’ background.
- Internal Politics of Maharashtra:
- It was Gokhale Vs. Tilak. Both Gokhale and Tilak were members of the ‘Poona Sarvajanik Sabha’, before becoming members of the INC. Gokhale was a renowned nationalist at the time.
- There were many admirers of Gokhale in England as well. Many of his friends were British Members of Parliament. Thus, Gokhale had an established political routine. However, Tilak, believed in the Arya Samajist notion, and believed in the idea of ‘India for Indians’. Thus, Gokhale and Tilak represented different streams.
- Tilak used to publish two newspapers, ‘Kesari’, and Mahratta. Kesari was in Marathi, and Mahratta was in English. In these newspapers, Tilak criticized British policies in India, and highlighted issues concerning Indian Nationalism.
- During the Poona plague, which Tilak had criticized vehemently, he accused some of the British officers involved in inhuman treatment of the plague victims. But, he failed to provide evidence, on which Gokhale charged by referring to his reports as ‘Irresponsible Journalism’.
- So, the differences between Gokhale and Tilak had a deep impact on the Indian National Congress, and thus the INC was divided into ‘moderates’, and ‘extremists’.
Indian Council Act, 1892:
Background: With the rising trends, and the gravity of demands, the British wanted to subjectively address this demand through the Indian Council Act, 1892. This was a good step towards representative Government in India.
- a) In this Act, it was laid down that there would be a system of indirect elections to the central legislative assembly, and provincial legislative assembly. That is, more Indians could be involved in the legislative process.
b) But, these were limited rights given to the Indian representatives. There was no provision of voting as well, thus it was a concession, but a limited concession. But, the Indian Council Act, 1892, became a major factor for the rift between moderates and extremists.
c) Moderates were highly jubilant with this development because they felt that this was a concession they received for their long-standing demands, but the extremists were critical of this.
d) Thus there was a difference of opinion between the moderates and extremists with the passing of the India Council Act, 1892. This further increased the gap between the moderates and the extremists.
4) ‘Aggressive Policy of Divide and Rule’:
In the closing decade of the 19th Century, the mass-base of Indian nationalism, was the biggest pain to the British. The British also developed the policy of ‘Aggressive Policy of Divide and Rule’, and in this regard the period of Lord Curzon and Lord Minto can be cited as an ‘aggressive’ period for the policy of ‘divide and rule’.
1. Lord Curzon passed the ‘Calcutta Corporation Act’, in this act, the British wanted to take control over the municipal activities, by nominating more and more British people to the corporation.
2. The ‘Indian Universities Act’ was passed. Senates were created in Universities, with a majority constituted by British nationals. The Senates were created to govern the administrative functions of the universities, but basically the Senates were created to know whether the Universities had become grounds for nationalist activities or not. Thus the efforts of Curzon created a rift between the Indian public and among the Indian masses.
- Curzon wanted to create feelings of communalism, minority consciousness, which could be triggered easily against the majority. This was the divide and rule policy which had aggressively worked during the time of Curzon.
4. Curzon’s act of ‘Partition of Bengal’ was expressed with deep resentment amongst the extremists. The extremists held the moderates responsible for encouraging the British to the extent that they went ahead with the ‘Partition of Bengal’. Thus the ‘Partition of Bengal’ indicated the climax between the rift that grew between the moderates and extremists.
Likewise, there were many internal and external factors that began in the closing year of the 19th Century, and spilled over to the 1st decade of the 20th Centuries, in which extremism developed very strongly in the Indian National Movement.
a) Although the extremists had a very limited mass-base. They had no economic programs for the masses that included the artisans, and peasants, and they even lacked clear objectives, but their aggression resulted in the theory of boycott.
b) By the beginning of the 20th Century, the INC became very strong in terms of their wider mass-base.