12 July, 2021
First World War and Nationalist Response
In the First World War (1914-1919), Britain allied with France, Russia, USA, Italy and Japan against Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey.
The nationalist response to British participation in the First World War was three-fold:
Home Rule League Movement
A trend of aggressive politics in national movement; was pioneered by Tilak and Annie Besant on lines of a similar movement in Ireland.
Factors Favouring the Movement
Prominent leaders—Balgangadhar Tilak, Annie Besant, G.S. Khaparde, Sir S. Subramania Iyer, Joseph Baptista and Mohammad Ali Jinnah .
Aim of the Movement - To have a national alliance that would work throughout the year (unlike the Congress which had annual sessions) with the main objective of demanding self-government or home rule for all of India within the British commonwealth.
Tilak and Besant realised that the sanction of a Moderate-dominated Congress as well as full cooperation of the Extremists was essential for the movement to succeed.
Tilak’s League—Started in April 1916 and operated in Maharashtra(Poona was the headquarters of his league, excluding Bombay city), Karnataka, Central Provinces and Berar; had six branches. Demands included swarajya, formation of linguistic states and education in the vernacular.
Besant’s League—Started in September 1916 and operated in rest of India (including Bombay city); had 200 branches. She campaigned through her newspapers- New India and Commonweal.
Later, the leagues were joined by Moderate Congressmen Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Bhulabhai Desai, Chittaranjan Das, K.M. Munshi, B. Chakravarti, Saifuddin Kitchlew, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Tej Bahadur Sapru and Lala Lajpat Rai. Mohammad Ali Jinnah led the Bombay division.
Tilak advocated a programme of passive resistance. He was barred from entering the Punjab and Delhi. In June 1917, Annie Besant and her associates, B.P. Wadia and George Arundale, were arrested. Sir S. Subramaniya Aiyar renounced his knighthood in protest.
Methods used- Organising discussions, reading rooms, propaganda through public meetings, newspapers, pamphlets, posters, etc.
Why the Agitation Faded Out by 1919
[In 1920, Gandhi accepted the presidentship of the All India Home Rule League, and changed the organisation’s name to Swarajya Sabha. Within a year, however, the league joined the Indian National Congress.]
1916- Moderate-Extremist reunited at Lucknow.
Lucknow Session of INC—1916
The Secretary of State for India, Edwin Samuel Montagu, made a statement on August 20, 1917 in the British House of Commons in what has come to be known as the August Declaration of 1917. Attainment of self-government for Indians became a government policy hence the demand by nationalists for self-government or home rule could not be termed as seditious.
The objections of the Indian leaders to Montagu’s statement were two-fold—
Indians were resentful at the British would decide what was good and what was bad for Indians.
Lucknow Session of the Indian National Congress (1916)
a. Readmission of Extremists to Congress
Factors that facilitated this reunion:
b. Lucknow Pact between Congress and Muslim League
Source: Spectrum, Bipin chandra
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