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The Third Anglo-Burmese War ended in less than a month with the loss of hardly 20 lives, and on January 1, , Upper Burma, a kingdom having a greater area than Britain and a population of some 4,,, was annexed by proclamation to British India. Thus, just as the British Indian empire approached its outermost limits of expansion, the institutional seed of the largest of its national successors was sown. Provincial roots of Indian nationalism, however, may be traced to the beginning of the era of crown rule in Bombay, Bengal, and Madras.
Nationalism emerged in 19th-century British India both in emulation of and as a reaction against the consolidation of British rule and the spread of Western civilization. There were, moreover, two turbulent national mainstreams flowing beneath the deceptively placid official surface of British administration: the larger, headed by the Indian National Congress, which led eventually to the birth of India, and the smaller Muslim one, which acquired its organizational skeleton with the founding of the Muslim League in and led to the creation of Pakistan.
Many English-educated young Indians of the post-mutiny period emulated their British mentors by seeking employment in the ICS, the legal services, journalism, and education. At the beginning of crown rule, the first graduates of those universities, reared on the works and ideas of Jeremy Bentham , John Stuart Mill , and Thomas Macaulay , sought positions that would help them improve themselves and society at the same time. They were convinced that, with the education they had received and the proper apprenticeship of hard work, they would eventually inherit the machinery of British Indian government.
Few Indians, however, were admitted to the ICS, and, among the first handful who were, one of the brightest, Surendranath Banerjea — , was dismissed dishonourably at the earliest pretext and turned from loyal participation within the government to active nationalist agitation against it. Banerjea became a Calcutta college teacher and then editor of The Bengalee and founder of the Indian Association in Calcutta. In he convened the first Indian National Conference in Bengal, anticipating by two years the birth of the Congress Party on the opposite side of India.
During the s young leaders in Bombay also established a number of provincial political associations, such as the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha Poona Public Society , founded by Mahadev Govind Ranade — , who had graduated at the top of the first bachelor of arts class at the University of Bombay now University of Mumbai in Gokhale , an editor and social reformer, taught at Fergusson College in Poona Pune and in was elected president of the Congress Party. Tilak called on his compatriots to take keener interest and pride in the religious, cultural, martial, and political glories of pre-British Hindu India; in Poona, former capital of the Maratha Hindu glory, he helped found and publicize the popular Ganesha Ganapati and Shivaji festivals in the s.
After retiring from the ICS in , Hume, a mystic reformer and ornithologist, lived in Simla, where he studied birds and theosophy. Hume had joined the Theosophical Society in , as had many young Indians, who found in theosophy a movement most flattering to Indian civilization. The first Congress Party session, convened in Bombay city on December 28, , was attended by 73 representatives, as well as 10 more unofficial delegates; virtually every province of British India was represented.
Fifty-four of the delegates were Hindu, only two were Muslim, and the remainder were mostly Parsi and Jain. Practically all the Hindu delegates were Brahman s. All of them spoke English. More than half were lawyers, and the remainder consisted of journalists, businessmen, landowners, and professors. Such was the first gathering of the new India, an emerging elite of middle-class intellectuals devoted to peaceful political action and protest on behalf of their nation in the making.
On its last day, the Congress passed resolutions, embodying the political and economic demands of its members, that served thereafter as public petitions to government for the redress of grievances. Among those initial resolutions were calls for the addition of elected nonofficial representatives to the supreme and provincial legislative councils and for real equality of opportunity for Indians to enter the ICS by the immediate introduction of simultaneous examinations in India and Britain. Other resolutions called for the reduction of military expenditure, condemned the Third Anglo-Burmese War, demanded retrenchment of administrative expenses, and urged reimposition of import duties on British manufactures.
Hume, who is credited with organizing the Congress Party, attended the first session of the Congress as the only British delegate. Despite the combination of official disdain and hostility, the Congress quickly won substantial Indian support and within two years had grown to number more than delegates. The first partition of Bengal in brought that province to the brink of open rebellion. The British recognized that Bengal, with some 85 million people, was much too large for a single province and determined that it merited reorganization and intelligent division.
As a reaction against the partition, Bengali Hindus launched an effective boycott of British-made goods and dramatized their resolve to live without foreign cloth by igniting huge bonfires of Lancashire-made textiles.
Such bonfires, re-creating ancient Vedic sacrificial altars, aroused Hindus in Poona, Madras, and Bombay to light similar political pyres of protest. Instead of wearing foreign-made cloth, Indians vowed to use only domestic swadeshi cottons and other clothing made in India. Simple hand-spun and hand-woven sari s became high fashion, first in Calcutta and elsewhere in Bengal and then all across India, and displaced the finest Lancashire garments, which were now viewed as hateful imports.
The swadeshi movement soon stimulated indigenous enterprise in many fields, from Indian cotton mills to match factories, glassblowing shops, and iron and steel foundries. Increased demands for national education also swiftly followed partition. The movement for national education spread throughout Bengal, as well as to Varanasi Banaras , where Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya — founded his private Banaras Hindu University in The era of effective Mughal rule c.
In the last of the Mughal emperors had served as a rallying symbol for many mutineers, and in the wake of the mutiny most Britons placed the burden of blame for its inception on the Muslim community. Aligarh became the intellectual cradle of the Muslim League and Pakistan. Minto promised that any reforms enacted by his government would safeguard the separate interests of the Muslim community. Separate Muslim electorates, formally inaugurated by the Indian Councils Act of , were thus vouchsafed by viceregal fiat in Hampered though he was by the viceroy, Lord Minto, the new secretary of state for India, John Morley , was able to introduce several important innovations into the legislative and administrative machinery of the British Indian government.
Gupta, the senior Indian in the ICS. Sinha — , in He was elected president of the Congress Party in and became parliamentary undersecretary of state for India in and governor of Bihar and Orissa now Odisha in Though the initial electorate was a minuscule minority of Indians enfranchised by property ownership and education, in some elected Indian representatives took their seats as members of legislative councils throughout British India.
The act of also increased the maximum additional membership of the supreme council from 16 to which it had been raised by the Councils Act of to In the provincial councils of Bombay, Bengal, and Madras, which had been created in , the permissible total membership had been raised to 20 by the act of , and that number was increased in to 50, a majority of whom were to be nonofficial; the number of council members in other provinces was similarly increased.
In abolishing the official majorities of provincial legislatures, Morley was following the advice of Gokhale and other liberal Congress Party leaders, such as Romesh Chunder Dutt — , and overriding the bitter opposition of not only the ICS but also his own viceroy and council. Minto and his officials in Calcutta and Simla did succeed in watering down the reforms by writing stringent regulations for their implementation and insisting upon the retention of executive veto power over all legislation.
Elected members of the new councils were empowered, nevertheless, to engage in spontaneous supplementary questioning, as well as in formal debate with the executive concerning the annual budget.
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Members were also permitted to introduce legislative proposals of their own. Gokhale took immediate advantage of the vital new parliamentary procedures by introducing a measure for free and compulsory elementary education throughout British India. In the Congress Party held its annual meeting in Surat , but the assembly, plagued by conflict, never came to order long enough to hear the presidential address of its moderate president-elect, Rash Behari Ghose — The division of the Congress reflected broad tactical differences between the liberal evolutionary and militant revolutionary wings of the national organization and those aspiring to the presidency.
Harsher repression seemed only to breed more violent agitation. Before the end of , Minto finally returned home, and Morley appointed the liberal Lord Hardinge to succeed him as viceroy governed — Reunification of Bengal indeed served somewhat to mollify Bengali Hindus, but the downgrading of Calcutta from imperial to mere provincial capital status was simultaneously a blow to bhadralok egos and to Calcutta real estate values.
Political unrest continued, now attracting Muslim as well as Hindu acts of terrorist violence, and Lord Hardinge himself was nearly assassinated by a bomb thrown into his howdah on top of his viceregal elephant as he entered Delhi in The would-be assassin escaped in the crowd. In many ways—politically, economically, and socially—the impact of the conflict was as pervasive as that of the mutiny of — Indian princes volunteered their men, money, and personal service, while leaders of the Congress Party—from Tilak, who had just been released from Mandalay and had wired the king-emperor vowing his patriotic support, to Gandhi, who toured Indian villages urging peasants to join the British army—were allied in backing the war effort.
Support from the Congress Party was primarily offered on the assumption that Britain would repay such loyal assistance with substantial political concessions—if not immediate independence or at least dominion status following the war, then surely its promise soon after the Allies achieved victory.
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They were shipped directly to France and moved up to the battered Belgian line just in time for the First Battle of Ypres. The Indian Corps sustained extraordinarily heavy losses during the winter campaigns of —15 on the Western Front. The myth of Indian racial inferiority, especially with respect to courage in battle, was thus dissolved in sepoy blood on Flanders fields.
In Indians were at last admitted to the final bastion of British Indian racial discrimination—the ranks of royal commissioned officers. In the early months of the war, Indian troops also were rushed to eastern Africa and Egypt, and by the end of more than , officers and men of the British Indian Army had been shipped to overseas garrisons and battlefronts. The prize of Baghdad seemed within reach of British arms, but, less than two weeks after Gen. During his tour, Montagu conferred with his new viceroy, Lord Chelmsford governed —21 , and their lengthy deliberations bore fruit in the Montagu-Chelmsford Report of , the theoretical basis for the Government of India Act of Anti-British terrorist activity started soon after the war began, sparked by the return to India of hundreds of embittered Sikh s who had sought to emigrate from their Punjab homes to Canada but who were denied permission to disembark in that country because of their colour.
As British subjects, the Sikhs had assumed they would gain entry to underpopulated Canada, but, after wretched months aboard an old Japanese freighter the Komagata Maru in cramped and unsanitary conditions with inadequate food supplies, they returned to India as confirmed revolutionaries. Muslim disaffection also grew and acquired revolutionary dimensions as the Mesopotamian campaign dragged on. Many Indian Muslims appealed to Afghanistan for aid and urged the emir to start a holy war against the British and in defense of the caliphate.
After the war the Khilafat movement , an offspring of growing pan-Islamic consciousness in India, was started by two fiery orator-journalists, the brothers Shaukat and Muhammad Ali. The Lucknow Pact called first of all for the creation of expanded provincial legislative councils, four-fifths of whose members should be elected directly by the people on as broad a franchise as possible.
Thanks to such generous concessions of political power by the Congress, Muslim leaders, including Mohammad Ali Jinnah — , agreed to set aside doctrinal differences and work with the Congress toward the attainment of national freedom from British rule. Tilak and Annie Besant each campaigned for different home-rule leagues, while Muslims worried more about pan-Islamic problems than all-India questions of unity.
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By Armistice Day , November 11, , more than a million Indian troops had been shipped overseas to fight or serve as noncombatants behind the Allied lines on every major front from France to Gallipoli in European Turkey. Nearly , Indian battle casualties, more than 36, of them fatal, were sustained during the war. The Tata Iron and Steel Company received Indian government support once the war started and by was producing , tons of steel per year. British officials, who in the first flush of patriotism had abandoned their ICS posts to rush to the front, returned to oust the Indian subordinates acting in their stead and carried on their prewar jobs as though nothing had changed in British India.
It is thus hardly surprising that the flash point of postwar violence that shook India in the spring of was Punjab province. Mohandas Mahatma Gandhi , the Gujarati barrister who had returned from living for many years in South Africa shortly after the war started, was recognized throughout India as one of the most-promising leaders of the Congress Party.