Rise of National Movement and Indian National Congress-For RAS RTS Mains Exam and Ras Rts Prelims Examination

Why did national movement arise?

  • Indian nationalism rose to meet the challenges of foreign domination
  • The British rule and its direct and indirect consequences provided the material and the moral and intellectual conditions for the development of a national movement in India.
  • Clash of interest between the interests of the Indian people with British interests in India
  • Increasingly, the British rule became the major cause of India’s economic backwardness
  • Every class gradually discovered that their interests were suffering at the hands of the British
    • Peasant: Govt took a large part of produce away as land revenue. Laws favoured the Zamindars
    • Artisans: Foreign competition ruined the industry
    • Workers: The government sided with the capitalists
    • Intelligentsia: They found that the British policies were guided by the interests of British capitalists and were keeping the country economically backward. Politically, the British had no commitment of guiding India towards self-government.
    • Indian capitalists: the growth of Indian industries was constrained by the unfavourable trade, tariff, taxation and transport policies of the government.
    • Zamindars, landlords and princes were the only ones whose interests coincided with those of the British. Hence they remained loyal to them.
  • Hence, it was the intrinsic nature of foreign imperialism and its harmful effect on the lives of the Indian people that led to the rise of the national movement. This movement could be called the national movement because it united people from different parts of the country as never before for a single cause.


What factors strengthened and facilitated the national movement?

  • Administration and Economic Unification of the country
    • Introduction of modern trade and industries on all-India scale had increasingly made India’s economic life a single whole and interlinked the economic fate of people living in different parts of the country.
    • Introduction of railways, telegraph and unified postal system brought together different parts of the country and promoted contact among people like never before.
    • This unification led to the emergence of the Indian nation
  • Western Thought and Education
    • A large number of Indians imbibed a modern rational, secular, democratic and nationalist political outlook
    • They began to study, admire and emulate the contemporary nationalist movements of European nations
    • The western education per se did not create the national movement. It only enabled the educated Indians to imbibe western thought and thus to assume the leadership of the national movement and to give it a democratic and modern direction
    • Modern education created a certain uniformity and community of outlook and interests among the education Indians.
  • Role of Press and Literature
    • Large number of nationalist newspapers appeared in the second half of the 19th century
    • They criticized the policies of the British government and put forth the Indian point of view
    • National literature in form of essays, novels and poetry also played an important role. Bamkin Chandra, Tagore: Bengali; Bhartendu Harishchandra: Hindi; Lakshmikanth Bezbarua: Assamese; Vishnu Shastri Chiplunkar: Marathi; Subramanya Bharti: Tamil; Altaf Husain Hali: Urdu
  • Rediscovery of India’s past
    • The British had lowered the self confidence of the Indian through the propaganda that Indians are incapable of self-government
    • Nationalist leaders referred to the cultural heritage of India to counter this propaganda. They referred to political achievements of rulers like Ashoka, Chandragupta Vikramaditya and Akbar.
    • However, some nationalists went to the extent of glorifying the past uncritically. They emphasized on the achievements of ancient India and not medieval India. This encouraged the growth of communal sentiments.
  • Racial arrogance of the rulers
    • Englishmen adopted a tone of racial superiority in their dealings with the Indians
    • Failure of justice whenever an Englishman was involved in a dispute with an Indian.
    • Indians kept out of European clubs and often were not permitted to travel in same compartment as Englishmen


Rise of Indian National Congress


Predecessors of INC

  • East India Association
    • By Dadabhai Naoroji in 1866 in London
    • To discuss the Indian question and to influence the British public men to discuss Indian welfare
    • Branches of the association in prominent Indian cities
  • Indian Association
    • Surendranath Banerjee and Ananda Mohan Bose in 1876, Calcutta
    • The aim of creating strong public opinion in the country on political questions and the unification of the Indian people on a common political programme
  • Poona Sarvajanik Sabha
    • Justice Ranade, 1870
  • Madras Mahajan Sabha
    • Viraraghavachari, Anand Charloo, G Subramanian Aiyer, 1884
  • Bombay Presidency Association
    • Pherozshah Mehta, K T Telang, Badruddin Tyabji, 1885
  • These organizations were narrow in their scope and functioning. They dealt mostly with local questions and their membership were confined to a few people belonging to a single city or province


Indian National Congress

  • Indian National Congress was founded on 28 December 1885 by 72 political workers. A O Hume was the first secretary and was instrumental in establishing the Congress
  • First session in Bombay. President: W C Bonnerjee
  • With the formation of INC, the Indian National Movement was launched in a small but organized manner
  • The Congress itself was to serve not as a party but as a movement
  • Congress was democratic. The delegates to INC were elected by different local organizations and groups
  • Sovereignty of the people
  • In 1890, Kadambini Ganguli, the first woman graduate of Calcutta University addressed the Congress session
  • Safety Valve Theory
    • The INC was started under the official direction, guidance and advice of Lord Dufferin, the Viceroy, to provide a safe, mild, peaceful and constitutional outlet or safety valve for the rising discontent among the masses, which was inevitably leading towards a popular and violent revolution.

Does the safety valve theory explain the formation of Congress?

  • The safety valve theory is inadequate and misleading
  • INC represented the urge of the Indian educated class to set up a national organization to work for their political and economic development
  • A number of organizations, as mentioned above, had already been started by the Indians towards that end
  • Hume’s presence in Congress was used to allay official suspicions



Why was there a need for an All-India organization?

  • Vernacular Press Act, 1878
  • Ilbert Bill (1883) which would allow Indian judges to try Europeans was opposed by the European community and was finally enacted in a highly compromised state in 1884.
  • The Indians realized that they could not get the Ilbert bill passed because they were not united on all India level. Hence need for INC was felt.
  • In order to give birth to the national movement
    • Creation of national leadership was important
    • Collective identification was created


Aims of INC

  • Promotion of friendly relations between nationalist political workers from different parts of the country
  • Development and consolidation of the feeling of national unity irrespective of caste, religion or province
  • Formulation of popular demands and their presentation before the government
  • Training and organization of public opinion in the country


  • The first major objective of the Indian national movement was to promote weld Indians into a nation, to create an  Indian identity
  • Fuller development and consolidation of sentiments of national unity
    • Efforts for unity: In an effort to reach all regions, it was decided to rotate the congress session among different parts of the country. The President was to belong to a region other than where the congress session was being held.
    • To reach out to the followers of all religions and to remove the fears of the minorities, a rule was made at the 1888 session that no resolution was to be passed to which an overwhelming majority of Hindu or Muslim delegates objected.
    • In 1889, a minority clause was adopted in the resolution demanding reform of legislative councils. According to the clause, wherever Parsis, Christians, Muslims or Hindus were a minority their number elected to the councils would not be less than their proportion in the population.
    • To build a secular nation, the congress itself had to be intensely secular
  • The second major objective of the early congress was to create a common political platform or programme around which political workers in different parts of the country could gather and conduct their political activities.
    • Due to its focus solely on political issues congress did not take up the question of social reform.
  • Since this form of political participation was new to India, the arousal, training, organization and consolidation of public opinion was seen as a major task by the congress leaders.
    • Going beyond the redressal of immediate grievances and organize sustained political activity.

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