The Indian Nat ional Congress took up the Swadeshi cal l and the Banaras Session, 1905, presided over by G.K. Gokhale, supported the Swadeshi and Boycot t Movement for Bengal . The mi l i tant nat ional i st s led by Ti lak, Bipin Chandra Pal , Lajpat Rai and Aurobindo Ghosh were, however, in favour of extending the movement to the rest of India and carrying i t beyond the programme of just Swadeshi and boycot t to a ful l fledged pol i t ical mass st ruggle. The aim was now Swaraj and the abrogat ion of part i t ion had become the ‘pet t iest and narrowest of al l pol i t ical object s.’ The Moderates, by and large, were not as yet wi l l ing to go that far. In 1906, however, the Indian Nat ional Congress at i t s Calcut ta Session, presided over by Dadabhai Naoroj i , took a major step forward. Naoroj i in hi s president ial address declared that the goal of the Indian Nat ional Congress was ‘sel f- government or Swaraj l ike that of the Uni ted Kingdom or the Colonies.’ The di fferences between the Moderates and the Ext remi st s, especial ly regarding the pace of the movement and the techniques of st ruggle to be adopted, came to a head in the 1907 Surat session of the Congress where the party spl i t wi th serious consequences for the Swadeshi Movement . The technique of ‘extended boycot t ’ was to include, apart from boycot t of foreign goods, boycot t of government school s and col leges, court s, t i t les and government services and even the organizat ion of st rikes. The aim was to ‘make the admini st rat ion under present condi t ions impossible by an organized refusal to do anything which shal l help ei ther the Bri t i sh Commerce in the exploi tat ion of the count ry or Bri t i sh officialdom in the admini st rat ion of i t . Corps of volunteers (or sami t i s as they were cal led) were another major form of mass mobi l izat ion widely used by the Swadeshi Movement . The Swadesh Bandhab Sami t i set up by Ashwini Kumar Dut t , a school teacher, in Bari sal was the most wel l -known volunteer organizat ion of them al l . The sami t i s took the Swadeshi message to the vi l lages through magic lantern lectures and swadeshi songs, gave physical and moral t raining to thei r members, did social work during famines and epidemics, organized school s, t raining in swadeshi craft and arbi t rat ion court s. Another important aspect of the Swadeshi Movement was the great emphasi s given to sel frel iance or ‘Atmasakt i ’ as a necessary part of the st ruggle against the Government . The Swadeshi period al so saw the creat ive use of t radi t ional popular fest ival s and melas as a means of reaching out to the masses. The Ganapat i and Shivaj i fest ival s, popularized by Ti lak, became a
medium for Swadeshi propaganda not only in Western India but al so in Bengal . Another important aspect of the Swadeshi Movement was the great emphasi s given to sel frel iance or ‘Atmasakt i ’ as a necessary part of the st ruggle against the Government . Taking a cue from Tagore’s Shant iniketan, the Bengal Nat ional Col lege was founded, wi th Aurobindo as the principal . Scores of nat ional school s sprang up al l over the count ry wi thin a short period. In August 1906, the Nat ional Counci l of Educat ion was establ i shed. The Counci l , consi st ing of vi rtual ly al l the di st ingui shed persons of the count ry at the t ime, defined i t s object ives in thi s way . . . ‘to organize a system of Educat ion Li terary, Scient i fic and Technical — on Nat ional l ines and under Nat ional cont rol ’from the primary to the universi ty level . The chiefmedium of inst ruct ion was to be the vernacular to enable the widest possible reach. For technical educat ion, the Bengal Technical Inst i tute was set up and funds were rai sed to send student s to Japan for advanced learning. some others such as Acharya P.C. Ray’s Bengal Chemical s Factory, became successful and famous. Nandalal Bose, who left a major imprint on Indian art , was the fi rst recipient of a scholarship offered by the Indian Society of Oriental Art founded in 1907. Rabindranath’s Amar Sonar Bangla, wri t ten at that t ime, was to later inspi re the l iberat ion st ruggle of Bangladesh and was adopted as the nat ional anthem of the count ry in 1971. The social base of the nat ional movement was now extended to include a certain zamindari sect ion, the lower middle class in the ci t ies and smal l towns and school and col lege student s on a massive scale. Women came out of thei r homes for the fi rst t ime and joined processions and picket ing. Thi s i s so because the peasant part icipat ion in the Swadeshi Movement marked the very beginnings of modern mass pol i t ics in India. The main drawback of the Swadeshi Movement was that i t was not able to garner the support of the mass of Musl ims and especial ly of the Musl im peasant ry. Thi s was the period when the Al l India Musl im League was set up wi th the act ive guidance and support of the Government . More speci fical ly, in Bengal , people l ike Nawab Sal imul lah of Dacca were propped up as cent res of opposi t ion to the Swadeshi Movement . Mul lahs and maulvi s were pressed into service and, unsurpri singly, at the height of the Swadeshi Movement communal riot s broke out in Bengal .
By mid-1908, the open movement wi th i t s popular mass character had al l but spent i t sel f. Thi s was
due to several reasons. Fi rst , the government , seeing the revolut ionary potent ial of the movement , came down wi th a heavy hand. Repression took the form of cont rol s and bans on publ ic meet ings, processions and the press.
Second, the internal squabbles, and especial ly, the spl i t , in 1907 in me Congress, the apex al l -India organizat ion, weakened the movement . Al so, though the Swadeshi Movement had spread out side Bengal , the rest of the count ry was not as yet ful ly prepared to adopt the new style and stage of pol i t ics. Both these factors st rengthened the hands of the Government . Between 1907 and 1908, nine major leaders in Bengal including Ashwini Kumar Dut t and Kri shna Kumar Mi t ra were deported, Ti lak was given a sentence of six years impri sonment , Aj i t Singh and Lajpat Rai of Punjab were deported and Chidambaram Pi l lai and Hari sarvot tam Rao from Madras and Andhra were arrested. Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh ret i red from act ive pol i t ics, a deci sion not unconnected wi th the repressive measures of the Government . Almost wi th one st roke the ent i re movement was rendered leaderless.
Thi rd, the Swadeshi Movement lacked an effect ive organizat ion and party st ructure. The movement had thrown up programmat ical ly almost the ent i re gamut of Gandhian techniques such as passive resi stance, non-violent non-cooperat ion, the cal l to fi l l the Bri t i sh jai l s, social reform, const ruct ive work, etc. It was, however, unable to give these techniques a cent ral ized, di scipl ined focus, carry the bulk of pol i t ical India, and convert these techniques into actual , pract ical pol i t ical pract ice, as Gandhi j i was able to do later.
However, the decl ine of the open movement by mid-1908 engendered yet another t rend in the Swadeshi phase i .e., the ri se of revolut ionary terrori sm.
The movement made a major cont ribut ion in taking the idea of nat ional i sm, in a t ruely creat ive fashion, to many sect ions of the people, hi therto untouched by i t .
The Split in the Congress and the Rise of Revolutionary Terrorism
The Indian Nat ional Congress spl i t in December 1907. Almost at the same t ime revolut ionary terrori sm made i t s appearance in Bengal . The two event s were not unconnected. The new pol icy, known as the pol icy of the carrot and the st ick, was to be a three pronged one. It may be described as a pol icy of repression-conci l iat ion-suppression. The Ext remi st s, as we shal l refer to the mi l i tant nat ional i st s from now on, were to be repressed, though mi ldly in the fi rst stage, the purpose being to frighten the Moderates. The Moderates were then to be placated through some concessions and promi ses and hint s were to be given that further concessions would be forthcoming i f they di sassociated themselves from the Ext remi st s. The ent i re object ive of the new pol icy was to i solate the Ext remi st s. Once the Moderates fel l into the t rap, the Ext remi st s could be suppressed through the use of the ful l might of the state. The Moderates, in turn, could then he ignored. Unfortunately for the nat ional movement , nei ther the Moderates nor the Ext remi st s were able to understand the official st rategy and consequent ly suffered a number of reverses. ⋆ The Government of India, headed by Lord Minto as Viceroy and John Morley as the Secretary of State, offered a bai t of fresh reforms in the Legi slat ive Counci l s and in the beginning of 1906 began di scussing them wi th the Moderate leadership of the Congress. The Moderates agreed to cooperate wi th the Government and di scuss reforms even whi le a vigorous popular movement , which the Government was t rying to suppress, was going on in the count ry. The resul t was a total spl i t in the nat ional i st ranks. Before we take up thi s spl i t at some length, i t i s of some interest to note that the Bri t i sh were to fol low thi s tact ic of dividing the Moderates from the mi l i tant s in later years al so — for example in 1924, vi s-a-vi s Swaraj i st s, in 1936, vi s-a-vi s Nehru and the left i st s, and so on. The Ext remi st s wanted to extend the Swadeshi and the Boycot t Movement from Bengal to the rest of the count ry. They al so wanted to gradual ly extend the boycot t from foreign goods to every form of associat ion or cooperat ion wi th the colonial Government . The Moderates wanted to confine the boycot t part of the movement to Bengal and were total ly opposed to i t s extension to the Government . Mat ters nearly came to a head at the Calcut ta Congress in 1906 over the quest ion of i t s President ship. A spl i t was avoided by choosing Dadabhai Naoroj i , who was respected by al l the nat ional i st s as a great pat riot . Four compromi se resolut ions on the Swadeshi , Boycot t , Nat ional
Educat ion, and Sel f-Government demands were passed. Throughout 1907 the two sides fought over di ffering interpretat ions of the four resolut ions. By the end of 1907, they were looking upon each other as the main pol i t ical enemy. The Ext remi st s were convinced that the bat t le for freedom had begun as the people had been roused. They fel t i t was t ime for the big push and in thei r view the Moderates were a big drag on the movement . The Congress session was held on 26 December, 1907 at Surat , on the banks of the river Tapt i . The Ext remi st s were exci ted by the rumours that the Moderates wanted to scut t le the four Calcut ta resolut ions. The Ext remi st s wanted a guarantee that the four resolut ions would be passed. To force the Moderates to do so they decided to object to the duly elected President for the year, Rash Behari Ghose. The Government immediately launched a massive at tack on the Ext remi st s. Ext remi st newspapers were suppressed. Ti lak, thei r main leader, was sent to Mandalay jai l for six years. Aurobindo Ghose, thei r ideologue, was involved in a revolut ionary conspi racy case and immediately after being judged innocent gave up pol i t ics and escaped to Pondicherry to take up rel igion. B.C. Pal temporari ly ret i red from pol i t ics and Lajpat Rai , who had been a helpless onlooker at Surat , left for Bri tain in 1908 to come back in 1909 and then to gooff to the Uni ted States for an extended stay. The Ext remi st s were not able to organize an effect ive al ternat ive party or to sustain the movement . In 1914, Ti lak was released and he picked up the threads of the movement . The Moderates and the count ry as a whole were di sappointed by the ‘const i tut ional ’ reforms of 1909. The Indian Counci l s Act of 1909 increased the number of elected members in the Imperial Legi slat ive Counci l and the provincial legi slat ive counci l s. Most of the elected members were st i l l elected indi rect ly. An Indian was to be appointed a member of the Governor-General ’s Execut ive Counci l . Of the sixty-eight members of the Imperial Legi slat ive Counci l , thi rty-six were official s and five were nominated non-official s. Out of twenty-seven elected members, six were elected by big landlords and two by Bri t i sh capi tal i st s. The Act permi t ted members to int roduce resolut ions; i t al so increased thei r power to ask quest ions. Vot ing on separate budget i tems was al lowed. But the reformed counci l s st i l l enjoyed no real power and remained mere advi sory bodies. They al so did not int roduce an element of democracy or sel f-government . The undemocrat ic, foreign and exploi tat ive character of Bri t i sh rule remained unchanged.
The real purpose of the Morley-Minto Reforms was to divide the nat ional i st ranks and to check the growing uni ty among Indians by encouraging the growth of Musl im communal i sm. To achieve the lat ter object ive, the Reforms int roduced the system of separate electorates under which Musl ims could only vote for Musl im candidates in const i tuencies special ly reserved for them. Thi s was done to encourage the not ion that the pol i t ical , economic and cul tural interest s of Hindus and Musl ims were separate and not common. The inst i tut ion of separate electorates was one of the poi sonous t rees which was to yield a bi t ter harvest in later years. The Yugantar, a newspaper echoing thi s feel ing of di saffect ion, wrote in Apri l 1906, after the pol ice assaul t on the peaceful Bari sal Conference: ‘The thi rty crores of people inhabi t ing India must rai se thei r sixty crores of hands to stop thi s curse of oppression. Force must be stopped by force.’ In 1904, V.D. Sarvarkar organized Abhinav Bharat as a secret society of revolut ionaries. After 1905 several newspapers openly (and a few leaders secret ly) began to advocate revolut ionary terrori sm. In 1907, an unsuccessful at tempt was made on the l i fe of the Lieutenant -Governor of Bengal . In Apri l 1908, Praful la Chaki and Khudi ram Bose threw a bomb at a carriage which they bel ieved was occupied by Kingsford, the unpopular judge at Muzzafarpur. Very soon secret societ ies of revolut ionaries came up al l over the count ry, the most famous and long last ing being Anushi lan Sami ty, and Jugantar. Thei r act ivi t ies took two forms — the assassinat ion of oppressive official s and informers and t rai tors from thei r own ranks and dacqi t ies to rai se funds for purchase of arms, etc. The lat ter came to be popularly known as Swadeshi dacoi t ies! Two of the most spectacular revolut ionary terrori st act ions of the period were the unsuccessful at tempt under the leadership of Rash Behari Bose and Sachin Sanyal to ki l l the Viceroy, Lord Hardinge who was wounded by the bomb thrown at him whi le he was riding an elephant in a state procession — and the assassinat ion of CurzonWyl ie in London by Madan Lal Dhingra. The revolut ionary terrori st s al so establ i shed cent res abroad. The more famous of them were Shyamj i Kri shnavarma, V.D. Savarkar and Har Dayal in London and Madame Cama and Aj i t Singh in Europe.
1 2 World War I and Indian Nationalism: The Ghadar
The outbreak of the Fi rst World War in 1914 gave a new lease of l i fe to the nat ional i st movement which had been dormant since the heady days of the Swadeshi Movement . Bri tain’s di fficul ty was India’s ‘opportuni ty.’ Thi s opportuni ty was seized, in di fferent ways and wi th varying success, by theGhadar revolut ionaries based in North America and by Lokamanya Ti lak, Annie Besant and thei r Home Rule Leagues in India. The Ghadari tes at tempted a violent overthrow of Bri t i sh rule, whi le the Home Rule Leaguers launched a nat ion-wide agi tat ion for securing Home Rule or Swaraj . The combined pressure resul ted in an effect ive rest rict ion on Indian immigrat ion into Canada in 1908. Tarak Nath Das, an Indian student , and one of the fi rst leaders of the Indian communi ty in North America to start a paper (cal led Free Hindustan) real ized that whi le the Bri t i sh government was keen on Indians going to Fi j i to work as labourers forBri t i sh planters, i t did not want them to go to North America where they might be infected by ideas ofl iberty. The di scriminatory pol icies of the host count ries soon resul ted in a flurry of pol i t ical act ivi ty among Indian nat ional i st s. As early as 1907, Ramnath Puri , a pol i t ical exi le on the West Coast , i ssued a Ci rcular-e-Azadi (Ci rcular of Liberty) in which he al so pledged support to the Swadeshi Movement ; Tarak Nath Das in Vancouver started the Free Hindustan and adopted a very mi l i tant nat ional i st tone; G.D. Kumar set up a Swadesh Sevak Home in Vancouver on the l ines of the India House in London and al so began to bring out a Gurmukhi paper cal led Swadesh Sevak which advocated social reform and al so asked Indian t roops to ri se in revol t against the Bri t i sh. In 1910, Tarak Nath Das and G.D. Kumar, by now forced out of Vancouver, set up the Uni ted India House in Seat t le in the US, where every Saturday they lectured to a group of twenty-five Indian labourers. Close l inks al so developed between the Uni ted India House group, consi st ing mainly of radical nat ional i st student s, and the Khal sa Diwan Society, and in 1913 they decided to send a deputat ion to meet the Colonial Secretary in London and the Viceroy and other official s in India. The Colonial Secretary in London could not find the t ime to see them even though they wai ted for a whole month, but in India they succeeded in meet ing the Viceroy and the Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab. But , more important , thei r vi si t
became the occasion for a series of publ ic meet ings in Lahore, Ludhiana, Ambala, Ferozepore, Jul lundur, Amri t sar, Lyal lpur, Guj ranwala, Sialkot and Simla and they received enthusiast ic support from the Press and the general publ ic. The fi rst fi l l ip to the revolut ionary movement was provided by the vi si t to Vancouver, in early 1913, of Bhagwan Singh, a Sikh priest who had worked in Hong Kong and the Malay States. He openly preached the gospel of violent overthrow of Bri t i sh rule and urged the people to adopt Bande Mataram as a revolut ionary salute. Bhagwan Singh was externed from Canada after a stay of three months. The cent re of revolut ionary act ivi ty soon shi fted to the US, which provided a relat ively free pol i t ical atmosphere. The crucial role was now played by Lala Har Dayal , a pol i t ical exi le from India. Har Dayal arrived in Cal i fornia in Apri l 1911, taught briefly at Stanford Universi ty, and soon immersed himsel f in pol i t ical act ivi ty. Hi s fai th in the possibi l i ty of a revolut ionary overthrow of the Bri t i sh regime in India was renewed, and he i ssued a Yugantar Ci rcular prai sing the at tack on the Viceroy. Soon the Hindi Associat ion was set up in Port land in May 1913. Har Dayal set forth hi s plan of act ion: ‘Do not fight the Americans, but use the freedom that i s avai lable in the US to fight the Bri t i sh; you wi l l never be t reated as equal s by the Americans unt i l you are free in your own land; the root cause of Indian poverty and degradat ion i s Bri t i sh rule and i t must be overthrown, not by pet i t ions but by armed revol t ; carry thi s message to the masses and to the soldiers in the Indian Army; go to India in large numbers and enl i st thei r support .’ Har Dayal ’s ideas found immediate acceptance. A Working Commi t tee was set up and the deci sion was taken to start a weekly paper, The Ghadar, for free ci rculat ion, and to set up a headquarters cal led Yugantar Ashram in San Franci sco. A series of meet ings held in di fferent towns and cent res and final ly a representat ives’ meet ing in Astoria confi rmed and approved the deci sions of the fi rst meet ing at Port land. The Ghadar Movement had begun. On 1 November 1913, the fi rst i ssue of Ghadar, in Urdu, was publ i shed and on 9 December, the Gurmukhi edi t ion. The name of the paper left no doubt s as to i t s aim. Ghadar meant Revol t . And i f any doubt remained, they were to be di spel led by the capt ions on the masthead. Angrezi Raj ka Dushman or ‘An Enemy of Bri t i sh Rule.’ On the front page of each i ssue was a feature t i t led Angrezi Raj Ka Kacha Chi t tha or ‘An Expose of Bri t i sh Rule.’ Thi s Chi t tha consi sted of fourteen point s enumerat ing the harmful effect s of Bri t i sh rule, including the drain of weal th, the low per capi ta income of Indians, the high land tax, the cont rast between the low expendi ture on heal th and the high
expendi ture on the mi l i tary, the dest ruct ion of Indian art s and indust ries, the recurrence of famines and plague that ki l led mi l l ions of Indians, the use of Indian tax payers’ money for wars in Afghani stan, Burma, Egypt , Persia and China, the Bri t i sh pol icy of promot ing di scord in the Indian States to extend thei r own influence, the di scriminatory lenient t reatment given to Engl i shmen who were gui l ty of ki l l ing Indians or di shonouring Indian women, the pol icy of helping Chri st ian mi ssionaries wi th money rai sed from Hindus and Musl ims, the effort to foment di scord between Hindus and Musl ims: in sum, the ent i re cri t ique of Bri t i sh rule that had been formulated by the Indian nat ional movement was summarized and presented every week to Ghadar readers. The last two point s of the Chi t tha suggested the solut ion: (1) The Indian populat ion numbers seven crores in the Indian States and 24 crores in Bri t i sh India, whi le there are only 79,614 officers and soldiers and 38,948 volunteers who are Engl i shmen. (2) Fi fty-six years have lapsed since the Revol t of 1857; now there i s urgent need for a second one. Besides the powerful simpl ici ty of the Chi t tha, the message was al so conveyed by serial izing Savarkar’s The Indian War of Independence — 1857. The Ghadar al so contained references to the cont ribut ions of Lokamanya Ti lak, Sri Aurobindo, V.D. Savarkar, Madame Cama, Shyamj i Kri shna Varma, Aj i t Singh and Sufi Amba Prasad, as wel l as highl ight s of the daring deeds of the Anushi lan Sami t i , the Yugantar group and the Russian secret societ ies. But , perhaps, the most powerful impact was made by the poems that appeared in The Ghadar, soon col lected and publ i shed as Ghadar di Goonj and di st ributed free of cost . These poems were marked as much by thei r secular tone as by thei r revolut ionary zeal ,
Final ly, in 1914, three event s influenced the course of the Ghadar movement : the arrest and escape of Har Dayal , the Komagata Mart i incident , and the outbreak of the Fi rst World War
Har Dayal was arrested on 25 March 1914 on the stated ground of hi s anarchi st act ivi t ies though everybody suspected that the Bri t i sh Government had much to do wi th i t . Released on bai l , he used the opportuni ty to sl ip out of the count ry. Wi th that , hi s act ive associat ion wi th the Ghadar Movement came to an abrupt end.
Meanwhi le, in March 1914, the ship, Komagatu Maru had begun i t s fateful voyage to Canada. Canada had for some years imposed very st rict rest rict ions on Indian immigrat ion by means of a law that forbade ent ry to al l , except those who made a cont inuous journey from India. Thi s measure had proved effect ive because there were no shipping l ines that offered such a route. But in November 1913, the Canadian Supreme Court al lowed ent ry to thi rty-five Indians who had not made a cont inuous journey. Encouraged by thi s judgement , Gurdi t Singh, an Indian cont ractor l iving in Singapore, decided to charter a ship and carry to Vancouver, Indians who were l iving in various places in East and South-East Asia. Carrying a total of 376 Indian passengers, the ship began i t s journey to Vancouver. Ghadar act ivi st s vi si ted the ship at Yokohama in Japan, gave lectures and di st ributed l i terature. The Press in Punjab warned of serious consequences i f the Indians were not al lowed ent ry into Canada. The Press in Canada took a di fferent view and some newspapers in Vancouver alerted the people to the ‘Mount ing Oriental Invasion.’ The Government of Canada had, meanwhi le, plugged the legal loopholes that had resul ted in the November Supreme Court judgement . The bat t le l ines were clearly drawn. When the ship arrived in Vancouver, i t was not al lowed into the port and was cordoned off by the pol ice. To fight for the right s of the passengers, a ‘Shore Commi t tee’ was set up under the leadership of Husain Rahim, Sohan Lal Pathak and Balwant Singh, funds were rai sed, and protest meet ings organized. Rebel l ion against the Bri t i sh in India was threatened. In the Uni ted States, under the leadership of Bhagwan Singh, Barkatul lah, Ram Chandra and Sohan Singh Bhakna, a powerful campaign was organized and the people were advi sed to prepare for rebel l ion. Soon the Komagata Maru was forced out of Canadian waters. Before i t reached Yokohama, World War I broke out , and the Bri t i sh Government passed orders that no passenger be al lowed to di sembark anywhere on the way — not even at the places from where they had joined the ship — but only at Calcut ta. At every port that the ship touched, i t t riggered off a wave of resentment and anger among
the Indian communi ty and became the occasion for ant i -Bri t i sh mobi l izat ion. On landing at Budge Budge near Calcut ta, the harassed and i rate passengers, provoked by the host i le at t i tude of the authori t ies, resi sted the pol ice and thi s led to a clash in which eighteen passengers were ki l led, and 202 arrested. A few of them succeeded in escaping. The thi rd and most important development that made the Ghadar revolut ion imminent was the outbreak of the World War I. The Ai lan-e-Jung or Proclamat ion of War of the Ghadar Party was i ssued and ci rculated widely. Mohammed Barkatul lah, Ram Chandra and Bhagwan Singh organized and addressed a series of publ ic meet ings to exhort Indians to go back to India and organize an armed revol t . But Punjab in 1914 was very di fferent from what the Ghadari tes had been led to expect — they found the Punjabi s were in no mood to join the romant ic adventure of the Ghadar. The mi l i tant s from abroad t ried thei r best , they toured the vi l lages, addressed gatherings at melas and test ival s, al l to no avai l . The Chief Khal sa Diwan proclaiming i t s loyal ty to the sovereign, declared them to be ‘fal len’ Sikhs and criminal s, and helped the Government to t rack them down. Frust rated and di si l lusioned wi th the at t i tude of the civi l ian populat ion, the Ghadari tes turned thei r at tent ion to the army and made a number of naive at tempt s in November 1914 to get the army uni t s to mut iny. But the lack of an organized leadership and cent ral command frust rated al l the Ghadar’s effort s. Frant ical ly, the Ghadar made an at tempt to find a leader; Bengal i revolut ionaries were contacted and through the effort s of Sachindranath Sanyal and Vi shnu Ganesh Pingley, Rash Behari Bose, the Bengal i revolut ionary who had become famous by hi s daring at tack on Hardinge, the Viceroy, final ly arrived in Punjab in mid-January 1915 to assume leadership of the revol t . But the Criminal Invest igat ion Department (CID) had succeeded in penet rat ing the organizat ion, from the very highest level down, and the Government succeeded in taking effect ive pre-empt ive measures. Most of the leaders were arrested, though Bose escaped. For al l pract ical purposes, the Ghadar Movement was crushed. Some Indian revolut ionaries who were operat ing from Berl in, and who had l inks wi th the Ghadar
leader Ram Chandra in America, cont inued, wi th German help, to make at tempt s to organize a mut iny among Indian t roops stat ioned abroad. Raja Mahendra Pratap and Barkatul lah t ried to enl i st the help of the Ami r of Afghani stan and even, hopeful ly, set up a Provi sional Government in Kabul , but these and other at tempt s fai led to record any signi ficant success. It appeared that violent opposi t ion to Bri t i sh rule was fated to fai l .
1 3 The Home Rule Movement and Its Fallout On 16 June 1914, Bal Gangadhar Ti lak was released after serving a pri son sentence of six years, most of which he had spent in Mandalay in Burma. He further assured the Government of hi s loyal ty to the Crown and urged al l Indians to assi st the Bri t i sh Government in i t s hour of cri si s. Further, they were under considerable pressure from Mrs. Annie Besant , who had just joined the Indian Nat ional Congress and was keen to arouse nat ional i st pol i t ical act ivi ty, to admi t the Ext remi st s. In 1914, she decided to enlarge the sphere of her act ivi t ies to include the bui lding of a movement for Home Rule on the l ines of the Iri sh Home Rule League. For thi s, she real ized i t was necessary both to get the sanct ion of the Congress, as wel l as the act ive cooperat ion of the Ext remi st s. She devoted her energies, therefore, to persuading the Moderate leaders to open the doors of the Congress to Ti lak and hi s fel low-Ext remi st s. But the annual Congress session in December 1914 was to prove a di sappointment — Pherozeshah Mehta and hi s Bombay Moderate group succeeded, by winning over Gokhale and the Bengal Moderates, in keeping out the Ext remi st s. Ti lak and Besant thereupon decided to revive pol i t ical act ivi ty on thei r own, whi le maintaining thei r pressure on the Congress to re-admi t the Ext remi st group. In early 1915, Annie Besant launched a campaign through her two papers, New India and Commonweal , and organized publ ic meet ings and conferences to demand that India be granted sel fgovernment on the l ines of the Whi te colonies after the War. Hi s effort s and those of Annie Besant were soon to meet wi th success, and at the annual session of
the Congress in December 1915 i t was decided that the Ext remi st s be al lowed to rejoin the Congress But Annie Besant did not succeed in get t ing the Congress and the Musl im League to support her deci sion to set up Home Rule Leagues. She did manage, however, to persuade the Congress to commi t i t sel f to a programme of educat ive propaganda and to a revival of the local level Congress commi t tees. Knowing that the Congress, as const i tuted at the t ime, was unl ikely to implement thi s, she had inserted a condi t ion by which, i f the Congress did not start thi s act ivi ty by September 1916, she would be free to set up her own League. Ti lak, not bound by any such commi tment , and having gained the right of readmi ssion, now took the lead and set up the Home Rule League at the Bombay Provincial Conference held at Belgaum in Apri l 1916. Annie Besant ’s impat ient fol lowers, unhappy wi th her deci sion to wai t t i l l September, secured her permi ssion to start Home Rule groups. Jamnadas Dwarkadas, Shankerlal Banker and Indulal Yagnik set up a Bombay paper Young India and launched an Al l India Propaganda Fund to publ i sh pamphlet s in regional languages and in Engl i sh. In September 1916, as there were no signs of any Congress act ivi ty, Annie Besant announced the format ion of her Home Rule League, wi th George Arundale, her Theosophical fol lower, as the Organizing Secretary. The two Leagues avoided any frict ion by demarcat ing thei r area of act ivi ty: Ti lak’s League was to work in Maharasht ra, (excluding Bombay ci ty), Karnataka, the Cent ral Provinces and Berar, and Annie Besant ’s League was given charge of the rest of India. Ti lak declared: ‘If a God were to tolerate untouchabi l i ty, I would not recognize him as God at al l
Ti lak’s League was organized into six branches, one each in Cent ral Maharasht ra, Bombay ci ty, Karnataka, and Cent ral Provinces, and two in Berar. Ti lak was defended by a team of lawyers led by Mohammed Al i Jinnah. He lost the case in the Magi st rate’s Court but was exonerated by the High Court in November. The victory was hai led al l over the count ry. Gandhi j i ’s Young India summed up the popular feel ing: ‘Thus, a great victory has
been won for the cause of Home Rule which has, thus, been freed from the chains that were sought to be put upon i t . Meanwhi le, Annie Besant had gone ahead wi th the formal founding of her League in September 1916. The organizat ion of her League was much looser than that of Ti lak’s, and three members could form a branch whi le in the case of Ti lak’s League each of the six branches had a clearly defined area and act ivi t ies. Two hundred branches of Besant ’s League were establ i shed, some consi st ing of a town and others of groups of vi l lages. And though a formal Execut ive Counci l of seven members was elected for three years by thi rty-four ‘founding branches,’ most of the work was carried on by Annie Besant and her l ieutenant s — Arundale, C.P. Ramaswamy Aiyar, and B.P. Wadia — from her headquarters at Adyar. Nor was there any organized method for passing on inst ruct ions — these were conveyed through individual members and through Arundale’s column on Home Rule in New India. The membership of Annie Besant ’s League increased at a rate slower than that of Ti lak’s. By March 1917, her League had 7,000 members. Besides her exi st ing Theosophical fol lowers, many others including Jawaharlal Nehru in Al lahabad and B. Chakravart i and J. Banerjee in Calcut ta joined the Home Rule League. Many Moderate Congressmen, who were di ssat i sfied wi th the inact ivi ty into which the Congress had lapsed, joined the Home Rule agi tat ion. Members of Gokhale’s Servant s of India Society, though not permi t ted to become members of the League, were encouraged to add thei r weight to the demand for Home Rule by undertaking lecture tours and publ i shing pamphlet s. Ti lak’s Home Rule League establ i shed a t radi t ion that was to become an essent ial part of later Congress annual sessions — a special t rain, known variously as the ‘Congress Special ’ and the ‘Home Rule Special ,’ was organized to carrydelegates from Western India to Lucknow. Ti lak and hi s men were welcomed back into the Congress by the Moderate president , Ambika Charan Mazumdar
The Lucknow Congress was signi ficant al so for the famous Congress League Pact , popularly know
as the Lucknow Pact . Both Ti lak and Annie Besant had played a leading role in bringing about thi s agreement between the Congress and the League, much against the wi shes of many important leaders, including Madan Mohan Malaviya. The Lucknow Congress al so demanded a further dose of const i tut ional reforms as a step towards sel f-government . Though thi s did not go as far as the Home Rule Leaguers wi shed, they accepted i t in the interest s of Congress uni ty. Another very signi ficant proposal made by Ti lak — that the Congress should appoint a smal l and cohesive Working Commi t tee that would carry on the day to day affai rs of the Congress and be responsible for implement ing the resolut ions passed at the annual sessions, a proposal by which he hoped to t ransform the Congress from a del iberat ive body into one capable of leading a sustained movement — was unfortunately quashed by Moderate opposi t ion. Four years later, in 1920, when Mahatma Gandhi prepared a reformed const i tut ion for the Congress, thi s was one of the major changes considered necessary i f the Congress was to lead a sustained movement . The turning point in the movement came wi th the deci sion of the Government of Madras in June 1917 to place Mrs. Besant and her associates, B.P. Wadia and George Arundale, under arrest . Thei r internment became the occasion for nat ion-wide protest . In a dramat ic gesture, Si r S. Subramania Aiyar renounced hi s knighthood. Those who had stayed away, including many Moderate leaders l ike Madan Mohan Malaviya, Surendranath Banerjea and M.A. Jinnah now enl i sted as members of the Home Rule Leagues to record thei r sol idari ty wi th the internees and thei r condemnat ion of the Government ’s act ion. At a meet ing of the AICC on 28 July, 1917, Ti lak advocated the use of the weapon of passive resi stance or civi l di sobedience i f the Government refused to release the internees. At Gandhi j i ’s instance, Shankerlal Banker and Jamnadas Dwarkadas col lected signatures of one thousand men wi l l ing to defy the internment orders and march to Besant ’s place of detent ion. They al so began to col lect signatures of a mi l l ion peasant s and workers on a pet i t ion for Home Rule. The new Secretary of State, Montagu, made a hi storic declarat ion in the House of Commons, on 20 August , 1917 in which he stated: ‘The pol icy of Hi s Majesty’s Government . . . i s that of the increasing associat ion of Indians in every branch of the admini st rat ion, and the gradual development of sel f-governing inst i tut ions, wi th a view to the progressive real izat ion of responsible government in India as an integral part of the Bri t i sh Empi re.’ Thi s statement was in marked cont rast to that of
Lord Morley who, whi le int roducing the Const i tut ional Reforms in 1909, had stated categorical ly that these reforms were in no way intended to lead to sel f-government . The importance of Montagu’s Declarat ion was that after thi s the demand for Home Rule or sel f-government could no longer be t reated as sedi t ious. Annie Besant was at the height of her populari ty and, at Ti lak’s suggest ion, was elected President at the annual session of the Congress in December 1917. or one, the Moderates who had joined the movement after Besant ’s arrest were paci fied by the promi se of reforms and by Besant ’s release. They were al so put off by the talk of civi l di sobedience and did not at tend the Congress from September 1918 onwards. The publ icat ion of the scheme of Government reforms in July 1918 further divided the nat ional i st ranks. Some wanted to accept i t out right and others to reject i t out right , whi le many fel t that , though inadequate, they should be given a t rial . Annie Besant hersel f indulged in a lot of vaci l lat ion on thi s quest ion as wel l as on the quest ion of passive resi stance. At t imes she would di savow passive resi stance, and at other t imes, under pressure from her younger fol lowers, would advocate i t . Simi larly, she ini t ial ly, along wi th Ti lak, considered the reforms unworthy of Bri tain to offer and India to accept , but later argued in favour of acceptance. Ti lak was more consi stent in hi s approach, but given Besant ’s vaci l lat ions, and the change in the Moderate stance, there was l i t t le that he could do to sustain the movement on hi s own. Al so, towards the end of the year, he decided to go to England to pursue the l ibel case that he had fi led against Valent ine Chi rol , the author of Indian Unrest , and was away for many cri t ical months. Wi th Annie Besant unable to give a fi rm lead, and Ti lak away in England, the movement was left leaderless. The t remendous achievement of the Home Rule Movement and i t s legacy was that i t created a generat ion of ardent nat ional i st s who formed the backbone of the nat ional movement in the coming years when, under the leadership of the Mahatma, i t entered i t s t ruly mass phase. he stage was thus set for the ent ry of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi , a man who had al ready made a name for himsel f wi th hi s leadership of the st ruggle of Indians in South Africa and by leading the st ruggles of Indian peasant s and workers in Champaran, Ahmedabad and Kheda. And in March 1919, when he gave a cal l for a Satyagraha to protest against the obnoxious ‘Rowlat t ’ Act , he was the ral lying point for almost al l those who had been awakened to pol i t ics by the Home Rule Movement .
1 4 Gandhiji’s Early Career and Activism
When Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi cal led for a nat ion-wide Satyagraha against the Rowlat t Act in March 1919, hi s fi rst at tempt at leading an al l -India st ruggle, he was al ready in hi s fi ft ieth year. The young barri ster who landed at Durban in 1893 on a one-year cont ract to sort out the legal problems of Dada Abdul lah, a Gujarat i merchant , was to al l appearances an ordinary young man t rying to make a l iving. But he was the fi rst Indian barri ster, the fi rst highly-educated Indian, to have come to South Africa. But young Mohandas Gandhi was not used to swal lowing racial insul t s in order to carry on wi th the business of making a l iving. He was theson ofa Dewan (Mini ster) of an Indian state whose fami ly, though in st rai tened economic ci rcumstances, was widely respected in hi s nat ive Kathiawad. Gandhi j i prepared to leave for India. But on the eve of hi s departure from Durban, he rai sed the i ssue of the bi l l to di senfranchi se Indians which was in the process of being passed by the Natal legi slature. The Indians in South Africa begged Gandhi j i to stay on for a month and organize thei r protest as they could not do so on thei r own, not knowing even enough Engl i sh to draft pet i t ions, and so on. Gandhi j i agreed to stay on for a month and stayed for twenty years. He was then only twenty-five; when he left , he was forty-five. Gandhi j i ’s experience, the fi rst of a westernized Indian in South Africa, demonst rated clearly, to him and to them, that the real cause lay el sewhere, in the assumpt ion of racial superiori ty by the Whi te rulers. He bel ieved that i f al l the fact s of the case were presented to the Imperial Government , the Bri t i sh sense of just ice and fai r play would be aroused and the Imperial Government would intervene on behal f of Indians who were, after al l , Bri t i sh subject s. Hi s at tempt was to uni te the di fferent sect ions of Indians, and to give thei r demands wide publ ici ty. Thi s he t ried to do through the set t ing up of the Natal Indian Congress and by start ing a paper cal led Indian Opinion. Gandhi j i ’s abi l i t ies as an organizer, as a fund-rai ser, as a journal i st and as a propagandi st , al l came to the fore during thi s period. But , by 1906, Gandhi j i , having ful ly t ried the ‘Moderate’ methods of st ruggle, was becoming convinced that these would not lead anywhere. The second phase of the st ruggle in South Africa, which began in 1906, was characterized by the use of the method of passive resi stance or civi l di sobedience, which Gandhi j i named Satyagraha. It was fi rst used when the Government enacted legi slat ion making i t compul sory for Indians to take out cert i ficates of regi st rat ion which held thei r finger print s. It was essent ial to carry these on person at al l
t imes. The fear of jai l had di sappeared, and i t was popularly cal led King Edward’s Hotel . General Smut s cal led Gandhi j i for talks, and promi sed to wi thdraw the legi slat ion i f Indians voluntari ly agreed to regi ster themselves. Gandhi j i accepted and was the fi rst to regi ster. But Smut s had played a t rick; he ordered that the voluntary regi st rat ions be rat i fied under the law. The Indians under the leadership of Gandhi j i retal iated by publ icly burning thei r regi st rat ion cert i ficates. The funds for support ing the fami l ies of the Satyagrahi s and for running Indian Opinion were fast running out . Gandhi j i ’s own legal pract ice had vi rtual ly ceased since 1906, the year he had started devot ing al l hi s at tent ion to the st ruggle. At thi s point , Gandhi j i set up Tol stoy Farm, made possible through the generosi ty of hi s German archi tect friend, Kal lenbach, to house the fami l ies of the Satyagrahi s and give them a way to sustain themselves. Tol stoy Farm was the precursor of the later Gandhian ashrams that were to play so important a role in the Indian nat ional movement . Funds al so came from India — Si r Ratan Tata sent Rs. 25,000 and the Congress and the Musl im League, as wel l as the Nizam of Hyderabad, made thei r cont ribut ions. In 1911, to coincide wi th the coronat ion of King George V, an agreement was reached between the Government and the Indians which, however, lasted only t i l l the end of 1912. Meanwhi le, Gokhale paid a vi si t to South Africa, was t reated as a guest of the Government and was made a promi se that al l di scriminatory laws against Indians would be removed. The promi se was never kept , and Satyagraha was resumed in 1913. Thi s t ime the movement was widened further to include resi stance to the pol l tax of three pounds that was imposed on al l ex-indentured Indians. The inclusion of the demand for the abol i t ion of thi s tax, a part icularly heavy charge on poor labourers whose wages hardly averaged ten shi l l ings a month, immediately drew the indentured and ex-indentured labourers into the st ruggle, and Satyagraha could now take on a t ruly mass character. Further fuel was added to the al ready raging fi re by a judgement
of the Supreme Court which inval idated al l marriages not conducted according to Chri st ian ri tes and regi stered by the Regi st rar of Marriages. By impl icat ion, Hindu, Musl im and Parsi marriages were i l legal and the chi ldren born through these marriages i l legi t imate. The Indians t reated thi s judgement as an insul t to the honour of thei r women and many women were drawn into the movement because of thi s indigni ty. Gandhi j i decided that the t ime had now come for the final st ruggle into which al l the resi sters’ resources should be channel led. The campaign was launched by the i l legal crossing of the border by a group of sixteen Satyagrahi s, including Kasturba, Gandhi j i ’s wi fe, who marched from Phoenix Set t lement in Natal to Transvaal , and were immediately arrested. Eventual ly, through a series of negot iat ions involving Gandhi j i , the Viceroy, Lord Hardinge, C.F. Andrews and General Smut s, an agreement was reached by which the Government of South Africa conceded the major Indian demands relat ing to the pol l tax, the regi st rat ion cert i ficates and marriages solemnized according to Indian ri tes, and promi sed to t reat the quest ion of Indian immigrat ion in a sympathet ic manner. Gandhi j i returned to India, in January 1915, and was warmly welcomed. Hi s work in South Africa was wel l -known, not only to educated Indians, but , as he di scovered on hi s vi si t to the Kumbh Mela at Hardwar, even to the masses who flocked to him for hi s ‘darshan.’ Gokhale had al ready hai led him as being ‘wi thout doubt made of the stuff of which heroes and martyrs are made.’ The veteran Indian leader not iced in Gandhi j i an even more important qual i ty: ‘He has in him the marvel lous spi ri tual power to turn ordinary men around him into heroes and martyrs. On Gokhale’s advice, and in keeping wi th hi s own style of never intervening in a si tuat ion wi thout fi rst studying i t wi th great care, Gandhi j i decided that for the fi rst year he would not take a publ ic stand on any pol i t ical i ssue. He spent the year t ravel l ing around the count ry, seeing things for himsel f, and in organizing hi s ashram in Ahmedabad where he, and hi s devoted band of fol lowers who had come wi th him from South Africa, would lead a communi ty l i fe. The next year as wel l , he cont inued to maintain hi s di stance from pol i t ical affai rs, including the Home Rule Movement that was gathering momentum at thi s t ime. Hi s own pol i t ical understanding did not coincide wi th any of the pol i t ical current s that were act ive in India then. Hi s fai th in ‘Moderate’ methods was long eroded, nor did he agree wi th the Home
Rulers that the best t ime to agi tate for Home Rule was when the Bri t i sh were in di fficul ty because of the Fi rst World War.
During the course of 1917 and early 1918, he was involved in three signi ficant st ruggles — in Champaran in Bihar, in Ahmedabad and in Kheda in Gujarat . The common feature of these st ruggles was that they related to speci fic local i ssues and that they were fought for the economic demands of the masses. Two of these st ruggles, Champaran and Kheda, involved the peasant s and the one in Ahmedabad involved indust rial workers. CHAMAPARAN The story of Champaran begins in the early nineteenth century when European planters had involved the cul t ivators in agreement s that forced them to cul t ivate indigo on 3/20th of thei r holdings (known as the t inkathia system). Towards the end of the nineteenth century, German synthet ic dyes forced indigo out of the market and the European planters of Champaran, keen to release the cul t ivators from the obl igat ion of cul t ivat ing indigo, t ried to turn thei r necessi ty to thei r advantage by securing enhancement s in rent and other i l legal dues as a price for the release. Resi stance had surfaced in 1908 as wel l , but the exact ions of the planters cont inued t i l l Raj Kumar Shukla, a local man, decided to fol low Gandhi j i al l over the count ry to persuade him to come to Champaran to invest igate the problem. Raj Kumar Shukla’s deci sion to get Gandhi j i to Champaran i s indicat ive of the image he had acqui red as one who fought for the right s of the exploi ted and the poor. The Government of India, not wi l l ing to make an i ssue of i t and not yet used to t reat ing Gandhi j i as a rebel , ordered the local Government to ret reat and al low Gandhi j i to proceed wi th hi s enqui ry. He and hi s col leagues, who now included Bri j Ki shore, Rajendra Prasad and other members of the Bihar intel l igent sia, Mahadev Desai and Narhari Parikh, two young men from Gujarat who had thrown in thei r lot wi th Gandhi j i , and J.B. Kripalani , toured the vi l lages and from dawn to dusk recorded the statement s of peasant s, interrogat ing them to make sure that they were giving correct informat ion. Meanwhi le, the Government appointed a Commi ssion of Inqui ry to go into the whole i ssue, and
nominated Gandhi j i as one of i t s members. Armed wi th evidence col lected from 8,000 peasant s, he had l i t t le di fficul ty in convincing the Commi ssion that the t inkathia system needed to be abol i shed and that the peasant s should be compensated for the i l legal enhancement of thei r dues. As a compromi se wi th the planters, he agreed that they refund only twenty-five per cent of the money they had taken i l legal ly from the peasant s. Answering cri t ics who asked why he did not ask for a ful l refund, Gandhi j i explained that even thi s refund had done enough damage to the planters’ prest ige and posi t ion. As was often the case, Gandhi j i ’s assessment was correct and, wi thin a decade, the planters left the di st rict al together.