The Swadeshi movement marked the rise of the extremist faction within the Indian National Congress, led by prominent leaders such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Lala Lajpat Rai. This group introduced a novel dimension to the Indian freedom struggle by advocating for ‘swaraj,’ or self-rule.

Moderates not recognizing the true nature of British rule:

  • The moderate nationalists believed in the possibility of reforming British rule from within, relying on constitutional agitation and political connections with Britain.
  • They were of the view that the British government wanted to be fair to Indians, but lacked awareness of the ground realities.
  • The moderates employed methods of ‘prayer and petition’ to present public demands to the government, hoping for gradual concessions.

Moderates recognizing the true nature of British rule:

  • Early nationalists like Dadabhai Naoroji played a crucial role in revealing the exploitative nature of British rule. Naoroji’s book, ‘Poverty and Un-British Rule in India,’ exposed how Indian wealth was drained to England.
  • Newspapers and magazines served as platforms for early nationalists to criticize unjust British policies and raise awareness among the masses.
  • Surendranath Banerjee initiated agitations against oppressive acts like the License Act, Arms Act, and Vernacular Press Act, making people aware of the colonial mindset of the British.

True nature of British rule as exposed by extremists:

  • Disillusionment and loss of hope: Militant nationalists realized that the British government was not conceding significant demands, leading them to seek more effective modes of political action.
  • Emphasis on confidence and self-respect: Leaders like B. G. Tilak, Aurobindo Ghosh and Bipin Chandra Pal encouraged Indians to rely on their own capabilities and involve the masses in the struggle for freedom.
  • Economic leadership: Extremists recognized that India’s economic progress depended on replacing British imperialism with an Indian-run government that would protect and promote Indian industries.
  • Advocacy for self-rule: Extremists believed that self-government was essential for India’s progress, and they made India’s independence the central goal of their political movement.

The moderate nationalists sought to educate and raise political consciousness through peaceful means, while laying the groundwork for future, more robust mass movements.

The extremists, on the other hand, exposed the limitations of moderate approaches and emphasized the necessity of self-rule and direct political action. Both factions played crucial roles in shaping India’s freedom struggle and setting the stage for the eventual attainment of independence.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish February 20, 2024