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Swaraj@ 75: How various Nationalist Organisations fought British Onslaught on Culture

WebdeskAug 22, 2021, 01:51 PM IST

Swaraj@ 75: How various Nationalist Organisations fought British Onslaught on Culture

Gandhiji leading Dandi March against imposition of salt tax by the British


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Various organisations in different parts of the country worked to rouse nationalist spirit among people and to counter the political and Cultural onslaught of the British 


To counter the cultural onslaught, patriots in different parts of the country organised several programmes and movements. Raj Narayan Bose issued a prospectus and established a “Society for the promotion of national feeling among educated natives of Bengal.” Its main objective would be to promote and foster national feelings which would lead to the formation of a national character and thereby to the eventual promotion of the prosperity of the nation.From 1867 to the 1880s, the Hindu Mela met in Calcutta to instil pride among the people for Swadeshi artifacts and practices. It included Swadeshi wrestling, art and recital performances, and poetry and songs.

The Abhinav Bharat Society emerged out of Mitr Mela, which was founded by Veer Savarkar and Ganesh Savarkar in 1899 in Nasik, with the purpose of armed revolution for the freedom of Bharat from British rule. Renamed Abhinav Bharat in 1904, before Savarkar left for London, it was involved in the assassination of William Curzon-Wyllie, by Madanlal Dhingra in 1909, in the Imperial Institute in London and in that of AMT Jackson, the district magistrate of Nasik, who was assassinated in Bharat by Anant Laxman Kanhare in 1909 in the historic "Nasik Conspiracy Case". For his involvement in the latter, Veer Savarkar was sentenced to the Cellular Jail in the Andamans.

In the later 1870s and early 1880s, a solid ground had been prepared for the establishment of an all-Bharat organisation. The final shape to this idea was given by a retired English civil servant, AO Hume, who mobilised leading intellectuals of the time and, with their cooperation, organised the first session of the Indian National Congress at Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit College in Bombay in December 1885. Formed on 24th March 1902, Anushilan Samiti was the first secret society formed in Bengal. Initially, the name of this society was Bharat Anushilan Samiti.Formed in 1906, Jugantar was a Nationalist organisation with an over-arching vision of armed insurrection against illegitimate British rule. Formed and led by leaders like Barin Ghosh, Aurobindo Ghosh, Surya Sen, Bagha Jatin, Raja Subodh Malik, and other fearless revolutionaries, it was the central player of the Alipore Bomb Conspiracy case, for which many of its leaders were sent to the Cellular Jail in the Andamans, and the Hindu-German conspiracy, in which arms were imported from Germany by the help of Bharatiya revolutionaries residing in Germany at that time.

Banga Bhang was the partition of Bengal, executed by the British in 1905, to neutralise the threat it posed to their domination due to its proliferating revolutionary movements and widespread unrest from exploitative British Governance. It was carried out by Lord Curzon and separated Bengal to deliver the Hindus as a more ineffective minority.

Tilak formed his Home Rule League in April 1916 and Annie Besant formed the Indian Home Rule League, in September 1916. They worked in sync to spread the message across the country for Home Rule or self-government (as a Dominion like Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, etc) after the War. The Home Rule movement of just around one year laid the foundation for Mahatma Gandhi’s future mass movements, as he was just emerging on the scene after arrival from South Africa. These Leagues ultimately merged with Congress in 1920. Tilak died in the same year.

Champaran Satyagraha (1917)

Gandhi was requested by Rajkumar Shukla, a local man, to look into the problems of the farmers in the context of indigo planters of Champaran in Bihar. The European planters had been forcing the peasants to grow indigo on 3/20 part of the total land (called the tinkathia system). When Gandhi, joined now by Rajendra Prasad, Mazharul- Haq, Mahadeo Desai, Narhari Parekh, and J.B. Kripalani, reached Champaran to probe into the matter, the authorities ordered him to leave the area at once. Gandhi defied the order and preferred to face the punishment.

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre (April 13, 1919)

Amritsar was the worst affected by violence. In the beginning, there was no violence by the protestors. Bharatiyas shut down their shops and normal trade and the empty streets showed the Bharatiyas’ displeasure at the British betrayal. On April 9, two nationalist leaders, Saifuddin Kitchlew and Dr. Satyapal were arrested by the British officials without any provocation except that they had addressed protest meetings, and taken to some unknown destination. This caused resentment among the Bharatiya protestors who came out in thousands on April 10 to show their solidarity with their leaders. Soon the protests turned violent because the police resorted to firing in which some of the protestors were killed.

Kakori Conspiracy is also known as Kakori Kand, Kakori Conspiracy Case, or The Kakori Train Robbery. It was an armed robbery that took place on August 9, 1925, on a train in central Uttar Pradesh. The robbery occurred at the town of Kakori, about 16 km from Lucknow which was where the train was headed. The raiders were known to be members of the newly formed Hindustan Republican Association, whose mission was to liberate India from British colonial rule through a revolution that included armed rebellion.

Gandhi accompanied by the Ali brothers undertook a nationwide tour. Thousands of students left government schools and colleges and joined around 800 national schools and colleges that cropped up during this time. These educational institutions were organized under the leadership of Acharya Narendra Dev, C R Das, Lala Lajpat Rai, Zakir Hussain, Subhash Bose (who became the principal of National College at Calcutta) and included Jamia Millia at Aligarh, Kashi Vidyapeeth, Gujarat Vidyapeeth, and Bihar Vidyapeeth. Many lawyers gave up their practice, some of whom were Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, C R. Das, C Rajagopalachari, Saifuddin Kitchlew, Vallabhbhai Patel, Asaf Ali, T Prakasam, and Rajendra Prasad.


Banga Bhang was the partition of Bengal, executed by the British in 1905, to neutralise the threat it posed to their domination due to its proliferating revolutionary movements 


Chauri-Chaura Incident

A small sleepy village named Chauri-Chaura (Gorakhpur district in United Provinces) has found a place in history books due to an incident of violence on February 5, 1922, which was to prompt Gandhi to withdraw the movement. The police here had beaten up the leader of a group of volunteers campaigning against liquor sale and high food prices and then opened fire on the crowd which had come to protest before the police station. The agitated crowd torched the police station with policemen inside who had taken shelter there; those who tried to flee were hacked to death and thrown back into the fire. Twenty-two policemen were killed in the violence. Gandhi, not happy with the increasingly violent trend of the movement, immediately announced the withdrawal of the movement.

The Indian National Army and Subhash Bose

Subhas Chandra Bose was an intrepid man. He had always shown a strong and reacted violently to any insult of Bharatiyas by the Europeans. He passed the Indian Civil Services examination securing the fourth position but resigned from the service in 1921 to join the struggle for freedom by becoming a member of the Congress. His political guru was Chittaranjan Das. He became mayor of Calcutta in 1923. He was jailed many times by the British. Once it became clear to Subhash Chandra Bose that he could not follow Gandhi’s way but that the Congress was determined to follow Gandhi, Bose decided to go his way to fight for independence.




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