In 1858, India officially became a British colony after the British Crown took India’s control in her own hands from the East India Company. It was the Sepoy Mutiny of 1858 that told the British Crown that the East India Company had proved to be incompetent as they failed to control the country.
Following this, there were many movements that took place to free the country. From the Swadeshi Movement to the Quit India Movement, the list is vast.
It is important to note that for India’s independence, it was the cumulative efforts of both the moderates and extremists that got the desired results in the end. Some extremist leaders were Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai (Bal Pal Lal) and the moderates were represented by DadabhaiNaoroji, Gopal Krishna Gokhale and W.C. Banerjee, to say the least.
After the formation of the Indian National Congress in 1885, India’s first major political party was formed. With an organised voice for India, the struggle for independence had started.
Here, we talk about 10 movements that were monumental in the struggle for India’s independence.
1. Swadeshi Movement
The Swadeshi Movement was a consequence of Lord Curzon’s announcement for the partition of Bengal. The partition was announced on the pretext that the population of Bengal as a whole is too tough to administer over. Swadeshi movement aimed at promoting the use of local goods and services while boycotting the British counterparts. This improved India’s economic status and sent a loud and clear message to the British that Indians can survive by themselves. This movement took a violent turn when British goods were publicly burned. The youth urged people not to send their children to British schools as well. To combat this problem, The British started arresting the agitators and finally, Bengal was divided. The Swadeshi Movement is a landmark movement because the unity of Indians was witnessed and people started realising that together, they can stand tall in front of the British.
2. Satyagraha Movement
The first Satyagraha was started in Champaran, Bihar in 1917. Satyagraha is a nonviolent method of protest. It can also be understood as passive resistance. The word ‘Satyagraha’ was first used during the Rowlatt Act protests. Some techniques used were civil disobedience, fasting, strike, non- cooperation, and Hijrat (voluntary exile).
3. Khilafat Movement
This movement took place between 1919 and 1924. The Indian Muslims were not happy with the way the British dethroned the Caliph in Turkey. This time period saw the unification of Congress and the Muslim League. Many political demonstrations took place with the joint effort of both these parties.
4. Non-Co-operation Movement
Mahatma Gandhi returned to India in 1915 and started organising peasants and labourers to protest against the atrocities that were being inflicted upon them. In 1921, Gandhi officially joined the Congress party and hence began the Gandhian era. The Non-Co-operation Movement was initiated by Gandhi in support of the Khilafat Movement.
5. Home Rule Movement
Started by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Annie Besant in 1916. This movement was targeting at achieving self-rule, without the interference of the British Government. The movement was started in Pune and Madras. With the aim of spreading political awareness and gathering a larger political representation for the country against the British Rule, the Home Rule Movement wanted to show the strength of India and its people.
6. Protests Against the Rowlatt Act
To curb the militant nationalist activities, Sir Rowlatt passed the Rowlatt Act, according to which, any person can be arrested even on the basis of the slightest suspicion. The Act came into force in 1919. In Punjab, people gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh and faced a violent massacre instead. General Dyer detained all the political leaders and launched an open fire on 13 April 1919 (Baisakhi Day). This incident was a great reason for Indians to struggle for India’s independence even harder.
7. Civil Disobedience Movement
It was started in 1930. This movement is Gandhi’s boldest protest against the British Rule. After the British put tax on the selling and collecting of salt, the Indians were agitated. Salt is being the basic ingredient in the diet, agitated many for it was being brought under the tax regime. The movement spread throughout the country and more than 60,000 people were arrested, including Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi was released in 1931 and he gave a nod to discussing the issue during the London Conference.
8. Indian Self Rule Movement
After the Congress came to power in 7 of the 11 provinces in the 1937 Provincial Elections, it was a strong message of the Indian people’s support for complete self-rule. When Viceroy Linlithgow declared that India is an ally of British in the Second World War. The entire Congress leadership resigned; as he had not consulted them for India to take part in the Second World War. The self-rule movement gave rise to three other movements- Kakori Conspiracy (9 August 1925), Azad Hind Movement (led by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose), and the protest against Cripps’ Mission (led by Lal Bahadur Shastri).
9. August Offer and Individual Satyagraha
The Second World War started in 1939. The British needed the Indian soldiers to fight their battles. In order to secure ties with India, the British government made the August Offer in 1940. They promised a new Constitution for India after the War would be over. Gandhi was not satisfied with this offer and hence, started Satyagraha, which lasted for more than a year. This situation put the British under immense pressure as well.
10. Quit India Movement
Launched in August 1942, Gandhi started this movement with the aim of forcing the Britishers to leave India. All the Indian freedom fighters announced a full-blown disobedience against the British Government. Popular as “Bharat Chhodo Andolan,” this movement forced the British rulers to think about leaving India.