Wondering about the history of India and how the country came to be? The Indian movement for independence was a series of activities, which included protests, strikes, death of people, the foundation of committees, brutality over ordinary people, and partition of the nation, all to get freedom from the 90 years reign of British rule (1857-1947).
It all started with the East India Company, who came to India for their business venture but started invading the nation through treachery and with help of insatiate high class merchants. They started their business in centers like Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta and extended their fortification. After the battle of Plassey, it became clear that they were not just there for business. They were there to rule, which was the beginning of British colonization in India.
1. The Sepoy Mutiny
Sepoy Mutiny, or First War of Independence, was a major but ultimately unsuccessful rebellion against the East India Company. It started in Meerut by the Indian sepoys, and it spread on a large scale including Agra, Delhi, Lucknow, and Kanpur.
One of the slickest techniques of the Government to cease the throne of any Hindu ruler without any male heir is the Doctrine of Lapse, first executed by Lord Dalhousie; another topic that led to this mutiny was Westernization. Hindus and Muslims both couldn’t cope with this sudden change in society, an important moment in the history of India.
In the late March of 1857, Mangal Pandey, attacked the government officers in Barrackpore. He was executed in early April. Sepoys started attacking white skin irrespective of gender. The mutiny began properly in Meerut on 10th of May, 1857, when 85 members ran out of prison and covered nearby military stations and killed the Europeans. Common people and local kings also joined the troop, a mark of unity in the history of India. This chapter showed the unity of Indians irrespective of their religion and class
2. The Partition of Bengal
In the year 1899, Lord Curzon became the viceroy of India. At that period of time, there was a rise of nationalism in the eyes of every citizen and the heart of this was Bengal. In order to gain victory over the uprising nationalism, Lord Curzon in 1903 announced the partition of Bengal. At that time, Bengal was a blend of West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Orissa and parts of Chattisgarh and to make that decision seem fair, Lord Curzon on his announcement elucidated that it was hard for the British Government to maintain a state of 78 million people.
All India National Congress committee and other nationalists started spreading their words to unite the people of India and to let them know the master plan of British Government, that it was not the partition of Bengal but the partition of Hindu and Muslims. In the protest meetings which were held in Bengal, people decided to boycott British or foreign goods and this movement is known as Swadeshi or Boycott Movement because Indians were refusing the foreign goods and accepting Indian materials.
In order to unite maximum number of people in the Swadeshi Movement, Indian leaders took the help of occasions and festivals. Some renowned leaders of this movement were Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Aurobindo Ghosh, Bipin Chandra Pal and others. Finally, on 16th October, 1905 Bengal was partitioned. Here is a video that talks more about it.
3. The Khilafat Movement
On 28th July, 1914 World War I started between the allied powers (Britain, France, Japan, Russia and Italy) and central powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Ottoman Empire) and ended with the victory of allied powers in November, 1918. And the impact fell directly upon the Ottoman Empire, the Caliph was asked to sign the treaty of Sevres. Few countries started protesting supporting the Caliph. But the most prominent activities in support of Caliph were seen in India. Muhammad Ali and his brother Shaukat Ali united other Muslim communities and established All India Khilafat Committee in 1919.
And the first president in the history of India of All India Khilafat Committee was Mahatma Gandhi. They decided to boycott British goods and to not co-operate with the Government. Despite of all this protest in support of the Caliph, the allied powers signed the treaty of Sevres with the Ottoman Empire. In result, Ottoman Empire lost control over Non-Turkish places like Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, which had many Islamic holy places. After this treaty, Caliph remained the Sultan of Turkey.
4. The Rowlatt Act
Rowlatt Act or Black Act was a legislative act passed by the British Government on 21st of March, 1919. In order to prevent any sorts of violent action against the British Government during World War I, the Government enacted the Defence of India Act, 1915. The features of the Rowlatt Act, passed by Sir Sidney Rowlatt were: 1. Banned public gathering even on religious or cultural sort. 2. Banned peaceful protest. 3. Imprisonment of any suspected terrorist without any trial. 4.
Restrictions on the freedom of the press. 5. Searching of any place without a warrant. In response to the act all Indian members resigned the council in protest. Some of the important figures in the history of India are as below.
- Muhammad Ali Jinnah,
- Mazhar Ul Haq,
- BN Sharma and others.
Mahatma Gandhi decided that he will lead a peaceful protest. On the 24th of February, 1919 M.K. Gandhi started the campaign against Rowlatt bill and set up Satyagraha Sabha at Bombay. On the 6th of April, 1919 Gandhiji organized a mass protest and strike at all India level in the form of Satyagraha.
5. Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
Jallianwala Bagh or Amritsar massacre is one of the most brutal chapters in the history of India. During World War I, the British Government passed the Rowlatt Act in order to suppress the actions taken by the nationalist leaders. The act spread anger all over the nation, mainly in the Punjab region.
In order to calm the leaders down Gandhi summoned them in one-day general strike. At that time, the news spread that two of the prominent leaders of Amritsar had been arrested by the British police and in response to that action on the 10th of April people burned the British property, police fired upon people.
On 13th of April, 1919 a huge crowd of about 10000 men, women and children gathered on their auspicious occasion of Baishakhi in the Jallianwala Bagh. Reginald Edward Harry Dyer along with his soldiers arrived there and without any sorts of warning started firing. According to reports the troops did not stop till they ran out of shots and about 379 people were killed and more than 1200 were wounded. In response to this brutal action Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore repudiate the knighthood, a moment in the history of India you can never forget.
6. The Non-Co-Operation Movement
Non-Co-operation movement was a plan of Mahatma Gandhi to show the British Government the unity of the people of India. Mahatma Gandhi along with other national leaders started the movement on 1st August, 1920 and the entire India was by his side, an important moment in the history of India.
1. Boycott of Government schools and colleges, law courts, and legislative council.
2. Boycott of foreign outfits and acceptance of Khadi clothes.
3. Giving away of received awards from the British Government.
4. Government banned public meetings, press and other than Gandhi rest of the Congress leaders were kept behind the bars.
In order to provide education to youth, national leaders decided to open national colleges and schools. Some of the schools and colleges which opened at that time were Jamia Milia in Delhi, Bengal National University, Gujarat Vidyapith, Bihar Vidyapith, Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapith and Kasi Vidyapith.
Here is a great video that talks about the movement and its relevance in the history of India.
7. Chauri Chaura Incident
On 5th of Februarye 1922, just after 4 days of the announcement of the Civil Disobedience Movement by Mahatma Gandhi, Chauri Chaura incident happened, where a mass of people burned 22 police men alive. Chauri Chaura is a small village in Gorakhpur.
It’s another important moment in the history of India. During the Non-Cooperation movement police lathi charged over a group of volunteers and in response to that people covered the police station and started their peaceful protest, it was even unable for the police to go out of the police station.
In order to clear out the mass, police started firing and in response to that action the mass burned the entire police station along with 22 policemen. Mahatma Gandhi was a follower of Ahinsa or non-violence, Chauri Chaura incident was not acceptable by him, in a way, in order to abolish non-violence from the mind of ordinary people he called off both the Non-Cooperation and Khilafat Movement, a milestone in the history of India.
8. Civil Disobedience Movement
On December, 1928 Nehru report was sent to British Government with an ultimatum to get it implemented within an year. But British Government had neither implemented the Nehru report nor did they send any sorts of response to the Congress leaders.
On December 1929 in the Lahore session of Congress party Jawaharlal Nehru was chosen as their president. In that session Nehru announced that from now on there will be only one goal of their party that was complete independence.
On 31st of December, 1929 Nehru declared that on 26th of January, 1930 India will celebrate Poorna Swaraj Day or Complete Independence Day. Gandhi had the responsibility to launch the Civil Disobedience Movement. Gandhi was looking for a central idea to construct the entire Civil Disobedience Movement.
In order to implement the movement Gandhi chose Salt tax bill which the British Government had passed in 1882. On 12th of March, 1930 Mahatma Gandhi along with his 78 followers walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi, a coastal area. Gandhi walked these 390 kilometres for 24 days and this is known as Dandi March. After that Gandhi decided to raid Dharasana salt works, and he even sent a letter to the Viceroy which was Lord Irwin.
Government arrested Gandhi, Nehru, Sardar Patel. The movement did not stop it continued with the help of Kasturba Gandhi and Abbas Tyabji, but the police arrested them as well. After that, Sarojini Naidu leaded the march and completed the 125 kilometres journey to Dharasana from Dandi.
- Not to pay land tax
- Boycott all government organization
- Peaceful picketing of shops that sold foreign goods
- Mass strikes and possessions.
9. The Quit India Movement
On 8th of August, 1942 during the World War II Mahatma Gandhi launched the Quit India or The August Movement at the Bombay session of the All-India National Congress Committee.
On 8th of August 1942, after the failure of Cripps Mission, Gandhi delivered a speech in Gowalia Tank Maidan, Bombay making a call of Do or Die. The very next day, Gandhi along with other members of the All India National Congress committee got arrested by the government. It was an important moment in the history of India.
According to the Criminal law amendment act the working committee, All India National Congress Committee and rest four provincial committees were declared illegal. They prevented the mass gathering by the law of Defence of India rules.
In protest to this brutal action, strikes were held in many places. Thousands of people were killed and more than 100,000 people were arrested. More than anything, this movement united the nation against the brutality of the British Government and is an important milestone in the history of India.
10. Partition and Independence
The last mechanism of the independence of India was the partition of British India into India and Pakistan. At that time, 75% of population was Hindu, and around 25% was Muslim minority. In 1945, by majority votes Muhammad Ali Jinnah won the All India Muslim League, and they got the power to speak up their perspective as well. In March 1940, Muslim league asked for separate states; they believed that Muslims should have their own nation.
On March 1947, Lord Mountbatten arrived in Delhi and announced independence of two different nations in August. Borders were drawn between Bengal-Bangladesh and Punjab-Pakistan. On 14th August both India and Pakistan celebrated their Independence.
The Indian history is incomplete without these facts. What’s your favorite moment in the history of India?