NCERT / CBSE NOTES | Class 8th (VIII) : Chapter Summary

The Making of the National Movement: 1870s to 1947

Emergence of Nationalism

By the 1850s, Indians from all walks of life were beginning to realize their loss of identity and wanted to end the British rule.
In the 1870s and 1880s the dissatisfaction was intensified with new laws imposed by the British. The Arms Act of 1878 was passed that stopped Indians from owning arms. This was followed by the Vernacular Press Act, which allowed the British to confiscate the assets of any newspaper that wrote against them. The final straw came when the British opposed the Ilbert Bill, which allowed Europeans to be tried by Indians in court.

This led to the setting up of organizations like the Indian National Congress, the Indian Association, the Bombay Presidency Association and the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha. The Indian National Congress was formed in December 1885.

The Congress, in its initial years, adopted a moderate outlook in its demands. It demanded more Indians in high positions in the government, the abolishment of the Arms Act, the separation of the executive from the judiciary, and the freedom of speech and expression for the Indians.

The Congress passed resolutions on issues like forest laws, the salt tax, and the welfare of Indian labourers working abroad.

By the 1890s, the moderate rationale of the Congress was questioned by many radically thinking Indians like Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal. These leaders believed in self-reliance rather waiting for the British government to understand the needs of the Indians.
In 1905, the British partitioned Bengal which enraged Indians leading to the Swadeshi Movement. It advocated national education, self-help, Swadeshi enterprise and the use of Indian languages. The partition of Bengal was supported by the All India Muslim League, an organization formed in Dacca, in 1906.

The Congress split in 1907, and was now led by the moderates, while the radical group led by Tilak worked separately. In 1915, both the groups united again and signed the historic Lucknow Pact in 1916 with the All India Muslim League.

People's Initiatives in Nationalism

Mahatma Gandhi followed non-violence in all his actions and practices and his ideals were adopted by many during the protests and satyagrahas across India during the freedom struggle.

In Kheda district of Gujarat, poor farmers and peasants protested, through non-violent demonstrations, against the high taxes imposed by the British.

In the interiors of Tamil Nadu and in coastal Andhra Pradesh, protests were held outside liquor shops preventing people from entering it. Such protests are referred to as picketing.

While in Guntur District of Andhra Pradesh, forest satyagrahas were held against the unjust forest laws of the British. In Sind and Bengal, the Khilafat Non-Cooperation Movement found the support of many peasants and traders.

In Punjab, the Sikhs started a movement to remove corrupt priests in gurudwaras supported by the British, whereas in Assam, tea plantation workers boycotted the plantations and declared that it was the wish of Gandhiji to do so.

The peasants of Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh stopped the practice of unlawfully removing tenants from the land they rented, and credited Gandhiji for their own efforts. Gandhiji was considered a messiah, who would help Indians sort all their problems. 

Growth of Mass Nationalism

By the 18th century, Mahatma Gandhi recognized global recognition for his non-violent marches against racist discrimination in South Africa. After coming to India in 1916, he travelled around trying to understand the problems faced by people.

The First World War started and this changed the economic and political situation of India. As the war expenses increased, the British increased taxes in India. This resulted in an increase in food prices and many villagers were forced to join the British Army. The soldiers returned to India with a desire to end the colonial rule.

Indians were also influenced by the ideas of socialism being propagated in the Russian Revolution of 1917. In 1917, Gandhiji initiated the Champaran Movement and the Kheda Satyagraha and led a movement for the mill workers in Ahmedabad, in 1918.

These movements were followed by the Rowlatt Satyagraha against the Rowlatt Act. Both Gandhiji and Mohammad Ali Jinnah opposed the Rowlatt Act and called to observe the 6th April, 1919, as a day of non-violent opposition. This became the first all-India fight against the British rule.

The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and the Khilafat Movement triggered the next step towards mass nationalism, The Non-Cooperation Movement. It was led by the Mahatma Gandhi and the leaders of the Khilafat agitation, Jinnah and Shaukat Ali.

The Non-Cooperation Movement gained momentum between the years 1921 and 1922. All these events through the years 1915 to 1922 saw the growth of mass nationalism in India.
Important National Events Between 1922 – 1939

On the 4th February, 1922, the peasants of Chauri Chaura, set fire to a police station, killing 22 policemen. Gandhiji, saddened by this incident, called off the Non-Cooperation Movement as this was against his ideals of non-violence and satyagraha.

With the end of the Non-Cooperation Movement, the Congress called upon its supporters to take up constructive work in villages. A group of radical leaders like Chitta Ranjan Das and Motilal Nehru wanted to fight the elections and make their presence known to the government.

Gandhi’s managed to gather huge support of the masses in the mid-1920s. Two prominent organizations, the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were formed during this period.

Bhagat Singh and his comrades formed the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) in 1928 to fight against the colonial rule. In 1929, the Congress, under Jawaharlal Nehru, vowed to fight for complete independence or Purna Swaraj, and observed 26th January, 1930, as Independence Day.

On the 12th March, 1930, Gandhiji led a non-violent march from the Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi to protest against the salt tax imposed by the colonial government. On reaching Dandi, Gandhiji collected sea water and boiled it to produce salt, thereby breaking the salt law.

The government declared provincial autonomy in many provinces and declared elections in these provinces in 1937. The Congress formed governments in 7 out of the 11 provinces.

Two years after the Congress formed the government, the Second World War broke out in 1939. The Congress was ready to support the colonial government in the war in return for complete independence at the end of the war. The British government didn’t give in, leading many Congress leaders to resign from the ministries in protest.

Indian Independence and Partition

In August 1942, Mahatma Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement, advocating non-violence. While Congress leaders were in jail, Muslim League leaders mobilized the Muslims. The demand for an ‘independent Muslim state’ became vociferous; owing to the Hindu-Muslim communal tensions of the 1920s. The Muslims passed a resolution for the same in 1940s.

The Muslims were annoyed with the Congress for rejecting their demand to form a joint Congress-League government in the United Provinces after the 1937 elections. The Muslims gathered a huge support during the Quit India Movement, a time when most of the Congress leaders were in Jail.

Elections were held again in the provinces in 1946. The Congress was though successful in all the general constituencies, the Muslim League performed exceptionally well on the seats reserved for Muslims.

Talks between the Muslim League and the Congress failed twice, even with the mediation of the British. The Muslim League persisted in their demand for a new independent state, Pakistan, which the Congress rejected.

To protest, the Muslim League declared the 16th August, 1946, as Direct Action Day in Calcutta, which resulted in riots.

Though India became independent on August 15, 1947, it was partitioned into two countries, namely India and Pakistan. During the partition, thousands of homes were looted and burnt, many people were killed.
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