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Emergence of Nationalism

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Emergence of Nationalism - Lesson Summary

By the 1850s, Indians from all walks of life were beginning to realize their loss of identity and wanted to end the British rule.

In the 1870s and 1880s the dissatisfaction was intensified with new laws imposed by the British. The Arms Act of 1878 was passed that stopped Indians from owning arms. This was followed by the Vernacular Press Act, which allowed the British to confiscate the assets of any newspaper that wrote against them. The final straw came when the British opposed the Ilbert Bill, which allowed Europeans to be tried by Indians in court.

This led to the setting up of organizations like the Indian National Congress, the Indian Association, the Bombay Presidency Association and the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha. The Indian National Congress was formed in December 1885.

The Congress, in its initial years, adopted a moderate outlook in its demands. It demanded more Indians in high positions in the government, the abolishment of the Arms Act, the separation of the executive from the judiciary, and the freedom of speech and expression for the Indians.

The Congress passed resolutions on issues like forest laws, the salt tax, and the welfare of Indian labourers working abroad.

By the 1890s, the moderate rationale of the Congress was questioned by many radically thinking Indians like Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal. These leaders believed in self-reliance rather waiting for the British government to understand the needs of the Indians.
In 1905, the British partitioned Bengal which enraged Indians leading to the Swadeshi Movement. It advocated national education, self-help, Swadeshi enterprise and the use of Indian languages. The partition of Bengal was supported by the All India Muslim League, an organization formed in Dacca, in 1906.

The Congress split in 1907, and was now led by the moderates, while the radical group led by Tilak worked separately. In 1915, both the groups united again and signed the historic Lucknow Pact in 1916 with the All India Muslim League.

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