Chapter 1: The Advent of Europeans and Consolidation of British Power in India


Europeans came to India for trade, but they eventually gained political and administrative control of the country. As a result, Britain ruled India for more than two centuries.

The factors responsible for the arrival of European powers in India were India’s enormous wealth, high demand for Indian commodities such as spices, calicoes, silk, various precious stones, porcelain, and so on, and European advancement in shipbuilding and navigation in the 15th century. 

Voyage of Vasco Da Gama

Discovery of a Sea Route to India

  • Historians have noted that discovering an ocean route to India had become an obsession for Prince Henry of Portugal, known as the ‘Navigator,’ as well as a method to sidestep the Muslim dominance of the eastern Mediterranean and all the roads connecting India and Europe.
  • The kings of Portugal and Spain split the non-Christian world between them in 1497, under the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494), by an imaginary line in the Atlantic, about 1,300 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands.
  • Portugal could claim and occupy anything to the east of the line, while Spain could claim everything to the west, according to the pact.
  • As a result, the scene was set for Portuguese intrusions into the Indian Ocean seas.
  • Bartholomew Dias, a Portuguese navigator, crossed the Cape of Good Hope in Africa in 1487 and travelled along the eastern coast, believing that the long-sought maritime path to India had been discovered.
  • However, an expedition of Portuguese ships set off for India barely 10 years later (in 1497) and reached India in little less than 11 months, in May 1498.

Advent of Europeans – Background

  • The English East India Company defeated the Nawab of Bengal in the Battle of Plassey in 1757, marking the beginning of British rule in India.
  • However, Europeans had arrived in India by the early sixteenth century.
  • Their initial plan was to obtain pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and other spices for European markets while also participating in Indian Ocean trade.
  • The Portuguese were the first Europeans to colonize India.
  • At the end of the fifteenth century, Vasco da Gama discovered a direct sea route from Europe to India around the Cape of Good Hope.
  • In 1510, the Portuguese conquered Goa on India’s west coast.
  • Goa then became the Portuguese political headquarters in India, as well as further east in Malacca and Java.

Start of Trade by Portuguese

  • The Portuguese perfected a pattern of controlling the Indian Ocean trade through a combination of political aggressiveness and naval superiority.
  • Their forts at Daman and Diu allowed them to control shipping in the Arabian Sea with their well-armed ships.
  • Other European nations that arrived in India nearly a century later, particularly the Dutch and the English, followed the Portuguese model.
  • Thus, we must understand the arrival of European trading companies as an ongoing process of engagement with Indian political authorities, local merchants, and society, culminating in the British conquest of Bengal in 1757.
European Trading Centres in India

European Trading Centers in India

Advent of Europeans in India

The Portuguese (1505 – 1961)

Advent of Portuguese

  • Vasco da Gama discovered a direct sea route to India in 1498, making the Portuguese the first Europeans to visit India.
  • In Cannanore, he established a trading factory. Calicut, Cannanore, and Cochin gradually became important Portuguese trading centres.
  • Goa was captured in 1510 by Alfonso de Albuquerque, governor of the Portuguese possessions in India. By the end of the 16th century, they had taken control of Daman, Diu, and a vast coastal region.
  • Their monopoly on trade with India, however, did not last long because they were unable to compete with more powerful European powers—the Dutch and the British—who came with the same motive as the Portuguese.

Decline of Portuguese

  • By the 18th century, the Portuguese had lost their commercial influence in India, though some of them continued to trade on their own, and many turned to piracy and robbery.
  • In fact, some Portuguese used the Hooghly as a base for piracy in the Bay of Bengal. Several factors contributed to the Portuguese decline.
  • The Portuguese’s local advantages in India were eroded by the rise of powerful dynasties in Egypt, Persia, and North India, as well as the turbulent Marathas as their immediate neighbours. (The Marathas took Salsette and Bassein from the Portuguese in 1739.)
  • Political fears were raised by the Portuguese religious policies, such as the activities of the Jesuits.
  • Apart from their animosity toward Muslims, Hindus were also resentful of the Portuguese policy of conversion to Christianity. Their dishonest business practises elicited a strong reaction as well.
  • The Portuguese gained a reputation as sea pirates.
  • Their arrogance and violence earned them the ire of small-state rulers as well as the imperial Mughals.
  • The discovery of Brazil diverted Portugal’s colonial activities to the West.
  • The union of the two kingdoms of Spain and Portugal in 1580-81, which dragged the smaller kingdom into Spain’s wars with England and Holland, had a negative impact on the Portuguese trade monopoly in India.
  • The Portuguese’s earlier monopoly on knowledge of the sea route to India could not last forever; soon enough, the Dutch and English, who were learning ocean navigation skills, learned of it as well.
  • As new European trading communities arrived in India, a fierce rivalry developed. The Portuguese had to give way to more powerful and enterprising competitors in this struggle.
  • The Dutch and English had more resources and compulsions to expand overseas, and they overcame Portuguese opposition. The Portuguese possessions fell to its opponents one by one.
  • Goa, which remained in Portuguese hands, had lost its importance as a port after the fall of the Vijayanagara empire, and it soon didn’t matter who owned it.
  • The spice trade was taken over by the Dutch, and Goa was surpassed as the economic centre of Portugal’s overseas empire by Brazil. After two naval assaults, the Marathas invaded Goa in 1683.

The Dutch (1602 – 1759)

Advent of Dutch

  • In 1605, the Dutch (people from the Netherlands) arrived in India and established their first factory in Masaulipatam, Andhra Pradesh.
  • They not only threatened Portuguese possessions in India, but also the commercial interests of the British, who desired a trade monopoly over India.
  • A compromise between the British and the Dutch was reached in 1623. As a result, the Dutch withdrew their claim to India, while the British withdrew their claim to Indonesia.

Decline of Dutch

  • The Dutch became involved in the Malay Archipelago trade.
  • Furthermore, during the third Anglo-Dutch War (1672-74), communications between Surat and the new English settlement of Bombay were severed, resulting in the capture of three homebound English ships in the Bay of Bengal by Dutch forces.
  • The English retaliation resulted in the Dutch defeat at the Battle of Hooghly (November 1759), dealing a crushing blow to Dutch ambitions in India.
  • The Dutch were not interested in establishing an empire in India; their primary concern was trade.
  • In any case, their main commercial interest was in the Spice Islands of Indonesia, where they made a fortune through business.

The English (1599 – 1947)

Advent of English

  • In 1600 AD, Queen Elizabeth granted the East India Company, founded by a group of English merchants, exclusive trade rights in the East.
  • Jahangir granted the Company permission to establish factories along the western coast in 1608.
  • The Company was granted free trade throughout the Mughal Empire in 1615. The Company’s commercial activities were rapidly expanding.
  • However, its continuous rise was constantly challenged by the Portuguese and Dutch, and later by the French.
  • Over time, the Company gained a foothold in Western and Southern India, and later in Eastern India.
  • Taking advantage of political instability, the insecurity of Indian rulers, and the decline of the Mughal Empire, the East India Company transformed itself from a commercial to a political entity.

The French (1664 – 1760)

Anglo-French Struggle in South India

Advent of French

  • The French were the last to arrive in India looking for trade opportunities. The French East India Company established its first factory in Surat, Gujarat, in 1668.
  • The French Company gradually established factories in various parts of India, particularly along the coast.
  • The French East India Company’s important trading centres included Mahe, Karaikal, Balasor, Qasim Bazar, and others.
  • The French, like the English, began to seek political dominance in Southern India. As a result, the English East India Company and the French East India Company were constantly at odds.
  • The rivalry lasted many years, and three long battles were fought between the British and the French over a 20-year period (1744-1763) with the goal of gaining commercial and territorial control.
  • The French dream of political dominance over India was dashed in 1763 with their defeat at the Battle of Wandiwash. The English East India Company had no rivals in India after defeating the French.

Decline of French

  • Because of its trade superiority, the English East India Company was the wealthier of the two.
  • EIC possessed superior naval strength. They could bring in soldiers from Europe as well as supplies from Bengal. The French had no such means of replenishing resources.
  • Its possessions in India had been held for a longer period of time, and they were better fortified and more prosperous.
  • The French Company was heavily reliant on the French government.
  • Dupleix’s Mistakes: Dupleix did not pay attention to improving the company’s finances, did not concentrate his efforts in one place, and did not seek support from the French government to carry out his plans.
  • The English had three important ports, namely Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras, which gave them an advantage in almost every aspect, be it trade or naval power, whereas the French had only one port, namely Pondicherry.
  • The British gained access to a rich area, Bengal, after winning the Battle of Plassey.
  • The British army had many capable soldiers, including Robert Clive, Stringer Lawrence, and Sir Eyre Coote.

Reasons for Success of English against Other European Powers

Nature and Structure of Trading Companies

  • The English East India Company was governed by a board of directors, whose members were elected on an annual basis, and the company’s shareholders wielded considerable power.
  • France and Portugal’s trading companies were largely owned by the state, and their nature was feudalistic in many ways.

Naval Supremacy

  • The Royal Navy of the United Kingdom was not only the largest, but also the most advanced at the time.
  • Because of the strength and speed of their naval ships, the British were able to defeat the Portuguese and the French in India as well.
  • The English learned the importance of an efficient navy from the Portuguese and technologically improved their own fleet.

The Industrial Revolution

  • The Industrial Revolution began in England in the early 18th century, with the invention of new machines such as the spinning jenny, steam engine, power loom, and others.
  • These machines significantly increased productivity in textile, metallurgy, steam power, and agriculture.
  • The industrial revolution arrived late in other European nations, allowing England to maintain its hegemony.

Military Competence and Discipline

  • The British soldiers were disciplined and well-trained. The British commanders were strategists who experimented with new military tactics.
  • The military was well-equipped due to technological advancements.
  • All of this combined to allow smaller groups of English fighters to defeat larger armies.

Government Stability​

  • With the exception of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Britain experienced a stable government with efficient monarchs.
  • Other European nations, such as France, experienced a violent revolution in 1789, followed by the Napoleonic Wars.
  • Napoleon’s defeat in 1815 significantly weakened France’s position, and the Dutch and Spain were also involved in the 80-year war in the 17th century, which weakened Portuguese imperialism.

Less Religious Enthusiasm

  • When compared to Spain, Portugal, or the Dutch, Britain was less religiously zealous and less interested in spreading Christianity.
  • As a result, its rule was far more acceptable to the subjects than that of other colonial powers.

Using the Debt Market

  • One of the major and innovative reasons why Britain succeeded between the mid-eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries, while other European nations failed, was its use of debt markets to fund its wars.
  • The Bank of England, the world’s first central bank, was established to sell government debt to money markets in exchange for a decent return on Britain’s defeat of rival countries such as France and Spain.
  • As a result, Britain was able to spend far more on its military than its competitors.
  • Britain’s rival France could not match the English expenditure; between 1694 and 1812, France simply went bankrupt with its outdated methods of raising money, first under monarchs, then under revolutionary governments, and finally under Napoleon Bonaparte.


In India, a fierce national resistance against British imperialism arose in the second half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. This conflict arose from a misalignment of interests between the Indian people and the British rulers.

The nature of foreign control sparked nationalistic feelings among Indians, ripening the material, moral, intellectual, and political conditions for the emergence and development of a great national movement.

Chapter 2: The Arrival of English (1599-1947)


From 1599 to 1947, the British ruled over the Indian subcontinent under the name British Raj. In India, the rule is also known as Crown rule or direct rule. 

In contemporary use, the territory under British administration was known as India, and it encompassed regions directly managed by the United Kingdom, known as British India, as well as areas ruled by indigenous rulers but subject to British supremacy, known as the princely states. Although not formally, the territory was known as the Indian Empire. 

Timeline on the history of British East India Company | by Karthick Nambi |  World history in chunks | Medium

Rise of English

  • The English triumph over the Spanish Armada in 1588, as well as Francis Drake’s trip around the world in 1580, instilled a fresh feeling of adventure in the British, inspiring seamen to go to the East.
  • As word spread about the great profits made by the Portuguese in Eastern commerce, English businessmen sought a piece of the action.
  • As a result, in 1599, the ‘Merchant Adventurers,’ a group of English merchants, created a company.
  • As the Dutch began to focus more on the East Indies, the English moved to India in quest of textiles and other trading items.

English East India Company

  • In 1599, a group of merchants known as Merchant Adventurers created an English business to trade with the east.
  • In 1600, the queen granted it authorization and exclusive rights to trade with the east.
  • Captain Hawkins was given the royal farman by Mughal emperor Jahangir to establish industries on the western shore.
  • Sir Thomas Roe afterward gained the farman to develop factories across the Mughal empire.
  • It began as the “Governor and Company of Merchants of London dealing into the East Indies.” Its shares were owned by British nobility and wealthy businessmen.
  • Despite its origins as a commercial concern, it laid the ground for the establishment of the British Raj in India.
  • Cotton, indigo dye, silk, salt, saltpetre, opium, and tea were its principal commodities. Saltpetre was a component of gunpowder.
  • The earliest business factory in south India was established in 1610 at Machilipatnam (modern-day Andhra Pradesh) along the Coromandel Coast.
  • The Regulating Act of 1773 imposed significant administrative changes on the business and established Warren Hastings as the first Governor-General of Bengal, with authority over the other two presidencies.
  • Several further acts were issued in the years leading up to 1853 in order to control and administer the company’s holdings in India.
  • The Revolt of 1857 was largely caused by the company’s indifferent practices and corruption in India.
  • This also marked the end of the company’s reign over India, with control passing directly to the British government via the Government of India Act 1858.
  • All of the company’s assets, as well as its military and administrative functions, were given to the government.

Timeline of East India Company

1600The East India Company was founded
1609William Hawkins arrives at Jahangir’s court.
1611Captain Middleton gains permission from the Mughal governor of Surat to trade there.
1613The East India Company established a permanent factory in Surat.
1615Sir Thomas Roe, King James I’s ambassador, arrives to Jahangir’s court
1618The embassy had obtained two farmans (one from the emperor and one from Prince Khurram) affirming unfettered commerce and freedom from inland tolls.
1616The company opened its first plant in the south, in Masulipatnam.
1632The Company receives the golden farman from the Sultan of Golconda, assuring the safety and success of their commerce.
1633The Company opened its first plant in east India, in Hariharpur, Balasore (Odisha).
1639The Company obtains a lease on Madras from a native ruler
1651The Company is granted authorization to trade at Hooghly(Bengal).
1662Bombay is handed to the British King, Charles II, as a dowry for marrying a Portuguese lady (Catherine of Braganza).
1667Aurangzeb offers the English a farman for commerce in Bengal.
1691The Company receives an imperial order to continue trading in Bengal in exchange for a yearly payment of Rs 3,000.
1717The Mughal emperor Farrukhsiyar publishes a farman known as the Magna Carta of the Company, which grants the Company a slew of trade advantages.

From Traders to Rulers

  • The East India Company received a charter from England’s queen, Queen Elizabeth I, in 1600, allowing it exclusive rights to trade with the East. From then on, no other trade organisation in England could compete with the East India Company.
  • The royal charter, however, did not preclude other European nations from joining the Eastern markets.
  • The Portuguese had previously established a foothold on India’s western coast and had a stronghold while the Dutch were also investigating trading opportunities in the Indian Ocean. The French tradesmen soon came on the scene.
  • The issue was that all of the businesses wanted to buy the same goods. As a result, the only option for trade businesses to thrive was to eliminate other rivals.
  • As a result of the need to protect markets, trade businesses engaged in heated conflicts.
  • Arms were used in trade, and trading stations were fortified to defend them.
  • In 1651, the first English factory was established on the banks of the Hugli River.
  • By 1696, it had begun constructing a fort around the village near the factory, where merchants and dealers worked.
  • The corporation convinced Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb to issue a farman giving the company duty-free commerce.
  • Only the Company had been authorised duty-free trading by Aurangzeb’s farman. The Nawab of Bengal, Murshid Quli Khan, protested against this behaviour.
  • Following Aurangzeb’s death, the Bengal nawabs reaffirmed their sovereignty and autonomy, as did other regional authorities at the period.
  • The Nawabs refused to grant the Company concessions, demanding hefty payments for the Company’s ability to trade, denied the Company the right to issue money, and prevented it from expanding its defences.
  • The Company, for its part, stated that the trade could only thrive if the tariffs were abolished.
  • It was also convinced that in order to promote commerce, it needed to extend its colonies, purchase villages, and renovate its forts.
  • The tensions escalated into clashes, culminating in the legendary Battle of Plassey.

Battle of Plassey

  • The Battle of Plassey took place in Bengal’s Palashi area on June 23, 1757.
  • The arrival of Calcutta of a huge army from Madras, headed by Robert Clive, enhanced the English position in Bengal.
  • Robert Clive finally commanded the Company’s troops against Siraj Ud Daulah at Plassey in 1757.
  • Clive had enlisted the help of one of Siraj Ud Daulah’s commanders, Mir Jafar, by promising to crown him Nawab when Siraj Ud Daulah was defeated.
  • The Battle of Plassey became notable because it was the English East India Company’s first big victory in India.
  • The major goal of the East India Company has now shifted from trade to territorial expansion.
  • The Company was named Diwan of the Bengal region by the Mughal emperor in 1765. The Diwani provided the Company with access to Bengal’s substantial income streams.

Battle of Plassey : A Story of Treachery and Deception - Heritage Times

Battle of Buxar (1764)

  • The Battle of Buxar took place on October 22, 1764, between an united coalition of Indian kings from Bengal, Awadh, and the Mughal Empire and a British force headed by Hector Munro.
  • The British would dominate India for the next 183 years as a result of this important conflict.
  • In a tightly fought battle at Buxar on October 22, 1764, the united troops of Mir Kasim, the Nawab of Awadh, and Shah Alam II were destroyed by English forces led by Major Hector Munro.
  • The English counter-offensive against Mir Kasim was brief but effective.
  • The significance of this war rested in the fact that the English beat not only the Nawab of Bengal, but also the Mughal Emperor of India.
  • The victory established the English as a major force in northern India, with aspirations to rule the entire nation.

Administration of British

  • Warren Hastings (Governor-General 1773–1785) was a key figure in the Company’s rise to power.
  • By his time, the Company had consolidated authority not only in Bengal, but also in Bombay and Madras, which were referred to as Presidencies.
  • A Governor was in charge of each. The Governor-General was the highest-ranking official in the administration.
  • The first Governor-General, Warren Hastings, instituted a number of administrative changes, particularly in the area of justice.
  • The Regulating Act of 1773 established a new Supreme Court, as well as a court of appeal – the Sadar Nizamat Adalat – in Calcutta.
  • The Collector, who was responsible for collecting income and taxes as well as maintaining peace and order in his district with the support of judges, police officers, and other officials, was the most important individual in an Indian district.

Causes of British Success in India

  • It took about a century for the British to expand and consolidate their influence in India.
  • Over the course of a century and a half, the English utilised a variety of diplomatic and military strategies, as well as other processes, to eventually establish themselves as India’s rulers.
  • The English utilised both war and administrative methods to impose their dominance over several kingdoms and, eventually, to cement their own dominion over all of India.

Superior Arms, Military Strategy

  • The English armaments, which included muskets and cannons, were faster and had a longer range than the Indian weapons.
  • In the absence of creativity, Indian rulers’ military officers and armies became simply mimics of English officers and armies.

Military Discipline and Regular Salary

  • The English Company guaranteed the commanders and troops’ loyalty by establishing a regular system of salary payment and enforcing a severe code of discipline.

Civil Discipline and Fair Selection System

  • The Company leaders and men were awarded command based on their dependability and talent rather than on inherited, caste, or tribal relationships.
  • They were held to a stringent code of conduct and were well-informed about the goals of their campaigns.

Brilliant Leadership

  • Clive, Warren Hastings, Elphinstone, Munro, Marquess of Dalhousie, and others exemplified uncommon leadership skills.
  • The English also had a lengthy list of secondary leaders, such as Sir Eyre Coote, Lord Lake, and Arthur Wellesley, who fought for the cause and glory of their nation rather than for the leader.

Strong Financial Backup

  • The Company’s earnings were sufficient to provide substantial dividends to its stockholders as well as fund the English wars in India.
  • Furthermore, England’s commerce with the rest of the globe was bringing in huge riches.

Nationalist Pride

  • The ‘weak, divided-among-themselves Indians,’ devoid of a sense of cohesive political nationalism, met an economically prospering British people believing in material development and proud of their national pride.
  • The English Company’s success was also due to the absence of materialistic perspective among Indians.

Revolt of 1857

  • The Revolt of 1857 was a significant rebellion in India between 1857 and 1858 against the government of the British East India Company, which acted as a sovereign power on behalf of the British Crown.
  • The origins of the 1857 revolt, like those of previous uprisings, arose from all facts – sociocultural, economic, and political – of the Indian population’s everyday existence, cutting across all sectors and classes.
  • The incidence of greased cartridges finally sparked the Revolt of 1857.
  • There was a rumour that the new Enfield rifles’ cartridges were lubricated with cow and pig fat.
  • The sepoys had to nibble off the paper on the cartridges before loading these guns.
  • Lord Canning attempted to right the wrong by withdrawing the problematic cartridges, but the harm had already been done. There was rioting in a number of locations.
  • Despite the fact that the revolt failed to achieve its aim, it did sow the seeds of Indian nationalism.

Rise of Indian National Congress

  • By 1880, India had developed a new middle class that was dispersed across the country.
  • Furthermore, the combined stimulus of encouragement and anger fostered a rising sense of camaraderie among its members.
  • A.O. Hume, a retired English government official, gave the idea its ultimate shape by rallying notable thinkers of the time.
  • The Indian National Congress arose from the desire of politically aware Indians to establish a national entity to reflect their political and economic aspirations.
  • Its goals were to foster and strengthen a sense of national unity among all people, regardless of religion, caste, or province.
  • Indian nationhood must be carefully promoted and nurtured.
  • As a result, the INC would function as a buffer organisation, or in other words, as a safety valve.

Partition of Bengal (1950)

  • In the early 1900s, Indian nationalism was growing in power, and Bengal was the epicentre of Indian nationalism.
  • The Viceroy, Lord Curzon (1899-1905), intended to ‘dethrone Calcutta’ from its role as the hub from which the Congress Party dominated Bengal and India as a whole.
  • Since December 1903, the idea of dividing Bengal into two halves has been floating around.
  • From 1903 through 1905, the Congress party used moderate tactics such as petitions, memos, speeches, public gatherings, and press campaigns. The goal was to mobilise Indian and English public opinion against the split.
  • On July 19, 1905, Viceroy Curzon 1905 publicly declared the British Government’s decision to split Bengal. On October 16, 1905, the division went into force.
  • The split was intended to encourage a different sort of separation – one based on religion.
  • The goal was to pit Muslim communalists against the Congress. Curzon claimed that Dacca would become the new capital.
  • The Indians were extremely dissatisfied as a result of this. Many saw this as the British government’s ‘Divide and Rule’ programme.
  • This sparked the Swadeshi movement, which aimed to achieve self-sufficiency.

British Policy – Towards INC

  • The British had been wary of the National Congress since its founding, but they weren’t outright hostile.
  • Viceroy Dufferin mocked INC in 1888, calling it a “microscopic minority” that primarily represented the wealthy.
  • When the Swadeshi and Boycott Movements began, the British’s intimidating attitudes regarding INC began to shift. The British were frightened by the rise of a violent nationalist movement.
  • A new policy known as the carrot-and-stick policy was implemented. It was a three-pronged strategy. It was referred to as a repression – conciliation – suppression programme.
  • Extremists were suppressed, but only moderately at first. The goal is to scare the Moderates.
  • The British also attempted to appease Moderates by offering concessions and promises in exchange for their separation from the Extremists.
  • The British, on the other hand, have always tried to curb extremists.

Nationalist Movements in India

  • The Britishers’ inflexibility and, in certain cases, their violent responses to non-violent demonstrations triggered India’s independence movement in phases.
  • It was acknowledged that the British controlled India’s resources and the lives of its people, and that India could not be for Indians until this control was removed.
National MovementsLeadersSignificance
Gadar Movement (1914)Bhagwan Singh, Har Dayal
  • The Ghadar Movement was a worldwide political movement led by expatriate Indians that aimed to destabilise British authority in India.
  • The founding members were largely Punjabi Indians living and working on the West Coast of the United States and Canada..
  • The Ghadar militants went on a tour of mills and fields, where the majority of the Punjabi immigrant labourers worked. These political activists made the Yugantar Ashram their home, headquarters, and shelter.
Home rule Movement ( 1916-18)Annie Besant and Bal Gangadhar Tilak
  • Annie Besant, a Free Thought, Radicalism, Fabianism, and Theosophy proponent, arrived in India in 1893 to work for the Theosophical Society.
  • In 1914, she made the decision to broaden the scope of her work. She organised a Home Rule campaign similar to the Irish Home Rule League.
  • Tilak championed the Home Rule movement, which connected the demand for the creation of linguistic states and instruction in the vernacular language to the topic of Swaraj.
  • The British government issued the Montagu Declaration as a show of reconciliation. Home Rule or self-government movements were no longer seen as treasonous.
Rowlatt Satyagraha ( 1919 )Mahatma Gandhi
  • The Imperial Legislative Council in Delhi passed the Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act of 1919, also known as the Rowlatt Act.
  • On March 18, 1919, indefinitely extending the emergency measures of preventive indefinite detention, incarceration without trial, and judicial review enacted in the Defence of India Act 1915 during World War I.
  • The Sedition Committee, led by Sir Sidney Rowlatt, recommended that this legislation be approved.
  • Gandhiji began the Satyagraha movement to protest the inhumane Rowlatt Act.
  • The demonstrations were particularly fierce in Punjab, where Gandhiji was imprisoned.
Jallianwala bagh Massacre ( 1919)
  • The Rowlatt Act, which was passed in 1919, sparked widespread political turmoil across India.
  • The British Brigadier-General R. E. H. Dyer encircled the Bagh with his forces in reaction to the public assembly.
  • General Dyer ordered his men to open fire on the nationalist rally, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people. The atrocities in Jallianwala Bagh shocked the whole country.
  • Many moderate Indians abandoned their earlier devotion to the British and became nationalists suspicious of British authority as a result of this occurrence.
Non Cooperation movement (1920)Mahatma Gandhi
  • Gandhiji advocated for a “non-cooperation” campaign against British control. Indians who wanted colonialism to end were told they couldn’t go to school, college, or the courts.
  • They were told they wouldn’t have to pay any taxes. In summary, they were instructed to “renounce all voluntary relationships with the British Government.”
  • C.R. Das moved the primary motion on non-cooperation when the Congress convened in Nagpur for its annual session.
  • Many revolutionary terrorist groups, particularly in Bengal, have pledged their support to the campaign.
  • By this time, the Congress’s purpose had shifted from achieving self-government by constitutional means to achieving Swaraj through nonviolent means.
Khilafat Movement (1919-24)Shoukat Ali and Mohammad Ali
  • The Khilafat movement was a political protest movement initiated by Muslims in British India to reinstall the Ottoman Caliphate’s caliph, who was seen as the Muslim leader.
  • Gandhiji joined forces with the Khilafat Movement to extend the scope of the Indian liberation movement.
  • When Turkey established a more favourable diplomatic position and headed towards nationalism in late 1922, the movement came to an end. By 1924, Turkey had overthrown the caliphate.
Chauri Chaura incident (1922)Mahatma Gandhi
  • The protestors retaliated by attacking and torching a police station, murdering all of its inhabitants. Three civilians and 22 police officers were killed in the event.
  • As a direct result of the Chauri Chaura event, Mahatma Gandhi, who was a staunch opponent of violence, put an end to the national non-cooperation campaign on February 12, 1922.
  • Despite Gandhi’s decision, British colonial authorities condemned 19 detained protestors to death and 14 to life imprisonment.

Simon commission (1927)

  • An all-white Simon Commission was constituted on November 8, 1927, to determine whether India was ready for further constitutional reforms.
  • The Indian National Congress boycotted the Simon Commission because no Indians were represented on it. Protests were held in a number of locations.
  • Lala Lajpat Rai, the most famous leader of Punjab and a hero of the extreme days, was killed in Lahore.
  • In November 1928, he died as a result of his injuries.
  • Bhagat Singh and his companions wanted to avenge Lala Lajpat Rai’s killing. In December 1928, they assassinated Saunders, a white police officer.
  • During the boycott of the Simon Commission, Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Bose emerged as the movement’s leaders.

Nehru Report – Attempt to Draft Constitution

  • Motilal Nehru led the All Parties Conference committee that drafted the Constitution, with his son Jawaharlal Nehru serving as secretary. This committee had a total of nine members.
  • The Nehru Report, which was essentially a paper to plead for dominion status and a federal government for the constitution of India, was submitted by the committee in 1928.
  • The Nehru Report also rejected the notion of distinct communal electorates, which had been the foundation of earlier constitutional amendments.
  • Muslims would be given priority at the Centre and in provinces where they were a numerical minority, but not in provinces where they were the majority.

Civil disobedience Movement (1930)

  • Lord Irwin had disregarded Gandhi’s ultimatum, which stated the minimal demands in the form of 11 points, and there was now only one way out: civil disobedience. Gandhi’s principal instrument of civil disobedience was salt.
  • Gandhi launched the Civil Disobedience Movement on April 6, 1930, by scooping up a handful of salt – a struggle that would go on to become unrivalled in the history of the Indian national movement for the country-wide public engagement it sparked.
  • The Khudai Khidmatgars, also known as the Red Shirts, led by Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, were heavily involved in the Civil Disobedience Movement.

Quit India Movement (1942)

  • During World War II, Mahatma Gandhi started the Quit India Movement at the Bombay session of the All India Congress Committee, seeking an end to British rule in India.
  • The ordinary people of the land showed unrivalled gallantry and militancy during this conflict.
  • However, the repression they were subjected to was the most severe ever utilised against a national movement.
  • Gandhiji was adamant about total emancipation and no more British piecemeal approach during the momentous August conference at Gowalia Tank in Bombay.

Mountbatten Plan (1947)

  • Lord Mountbatten and officials from the Indian National Congress, the Muslim League, and the Sikh community reached an agreement on the 3 June Plan, often known as the Mountbatten Plan. This was the final strategy for achieving independence.
  • The British government agreed to the partition of British India on principle.
  • Successor governments would be granted control over the rest of the world.
  • Both countries have autonomy and sovereignty.
  • The subsequent administrations were able to write their own constitution.
  • The Princely States were offered the option of joining Pakistan or India based on two key factors: geographic proximity and popular desire.
  • The India Independence Act of 1947 was enacted as a result of the Mountbatten plan.

Indian Independence act (1947)

  • The United Kingdom’s Parliament approved the Indian Independence Act of 1947, which separated British India into two new sovereign dominions: the Dominion of India (later known as the Republic of India) and the Dominion of Pakistan (later to become the Islamic Republic of Pakistan).
  • The Royal Assent to this Act was given on July 18, 1947. On August 15, 1947, India and Pakistan gained independence.
  • As per their cabinet decisions, India continues to commemorate August 15th as Independence Day, whereas Pakistan celebrates August 14th as Independence Day.

Impacts of British in India

  • The British introduced new job opportunities that benefited the lower castes in particular. They had a higher likelihood of upward social mobility with these chances.
  • The emergence of India’s contemporary middle class: During British control, an important middle class emerged, which would later become pioneers of Indian industry in the post-independence era.
  • Infrastructure Development: The British government constructed several vital infrastructures, including hospitals, schools, and, most importantly, railways. Of course, everything was done to enable the exploitation of the indigenous Indians, not to improve their life.
  • Regardless, these infrastructures provided the groundwork for India’s rise to global economic supremacy.
  • The advent of new technology and concepts, such as steamships, telegraphs, and railroads, drastically transformed the Indian subcontinent’s economic environment.
  • In terms of culture, the British put an end to societal ills like Sati (the Bengal Sati Regulation Act was passed on December 4, 1829) and undermined the caste system to some extent.
  • India was considered as the “jewel in the crown of the British Empire” for its defence against foreign adversaries.
  • As a result, the British offered defence against Persia and Afghanistan. Other western countries, like France, were discouraged from becoming too engaged in India.
  • Though initially beneficial, it eventually proved to be a disadvantage since it rendered India overly reliant on the British.

Consequences of British rule

  • Destruction of Indian Industry: After Britain acquired control, the governments were compelled to buy commodities from the British Isles rather than produce their own.
  • The local fabric, metal, and carpentry businesses were thrown into turmoil as a result.
  • It effectively rendered India a virtual slave to Britain’s economic manoeuvrings, implying that breaking away would be disastrous for India’s economy.
  • Famines resulted from British mismanagement: the British placed a greater priority on the production of cash crops than on the development of foods that would feed India’s massive population.
  • To feed the empire’s population, they imported food from various areas of the empire.
  • Between 1850 and 1899, this approach, along with uneven food distribution, resulted in 24 famines, killing millions of people.
  • The British realised that they could never control a big country like India without dividing up powerful kingdoms into tiny, easily conquerable portions.
  • The British Empire also made it a priority to pay religious leaders to speak out against one another, damaging ties between faiths over time.
  • This strategy is directly responsible for the tense relationship between India and Pakistan.
  • Britain plunders the Indian economy: It is believed that Britain stole trillions of dollars due in part to the East India Company’s corrupt commercial practices.
  • These actions ruined Indian industry and ensured that money pouring through the Indian economy ended up in London’s hands.


In contemporary use, the territory under British administration was referred to as India, and it encompassed both regions directly managed by the United Kingdom, known as British India, and areas ruled by indigenous rulers but subject to British supremacy, known as princely states.

The Indian Empire was a term used to describe the region. With the establishment of British administration in India, significant changes occurred in the socioeconomic and political areas of Indian society.

Chapter 3: British Vs Mysore


The British vs Mysore conflict is about a series of wars fought between the Kingdom of Mysore and the British East India Company, Maratha Empire, Kingdom of Travancore, and Nizam of Hyderabad in the latter three decades of the 18th century.

The British invaded from the west, south, and east, while the Nizam’s men assaulted from the north. Hyder Ali and his successor Tipu Sultan waged a war on four fronts. 

Mysore Dynasty

  • The Mysore Dynasty is also known as Wodeyar Dynasty.
  • Many tiny kingdoms sprang from the ruins of the ancient empire of Vijayanagara after the battle of Talikota (1565) dealt a fatal blow to it.
  • In 1612, the Wodeyars established a Hindu state in the Mysore area. From 1734 until 1766, Chikka Krishnaraja Wodeyar II governed.
  • Under the leadership of Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan in the second half of the 18th century, Mysore grew into a powerful state.
  • Mysore’s proximity to the French and Haidar Ali and Tipu’s dominance over the lucrative Malabar Coast trade, the English thought their political and commercial interests in South India were jeopardised.
  • The strength of Mysore was also considered as a danger to the English authority over Madras.
  • The Anglo-Mysore Conflicts were a series of four wars fought in Southern India in the second part of the 18th century between the British and the Kingdom of Mysore.
Mysore dynasty

Mysore dynasty

First Anglo-Mysore War (1767-69)


Anglo-Mysore Wars – Shiksha IAS Academy: Call @9986102277Background of the war

  • In 1612, the Wodeyars established a Hindu state in the Mysore area. From 1734 until 1766, Chikka Krishnaraja Wodeyar II governed.
  • With his tremendous administrative abilities and military tactics, Haider Ali, a soldier in the army of the Wodeyars, became the de-facto king of Mysore.


  • The English political and commercial interests, as well as their influence over Madras, were jeopardised by Mysore’s proximity to the French and Haidar Ali’s dominance over the lucrative Malabar coast trade.
  • After defeating the nawab of Bengal in the Battle of Buxar, the British persuaded the Nizam of Hyderabad to sign a contract giving them the Northern Circars in exchange for safeguarding the Nizam against Haidar Ali, who was already embroiled in a feud with the Marathas.

The course of the war

  • The British launched a war against Mysore, allied with the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad.
  • With clever diplomacy, Hyder Ali was able to win over the Marathas and the Nizam.
  • He bribed the Marathas to neutralize them.
  • The war dragged on for another year and a half with no end in sight.
  • Haidar shifted his approach and came to the Madras gates.

Result of the war

  • Following full chaos and fear in Madras, the English were compelled to sign a humiliating settlement with Haidar on April 4, 1769, known as the Treaty of Madras, which ended the war.
  • The seized regions were returned to their rightful owners, and it was decided that they would aid one another in the event of a foreign assault.

Haider Ali (1721-1782)

  • Haider Ali, a horseman in the Mysore army under the ministers of king Chikka Krishnaraja Wodeyar, began his career as a horseman in the Mysore army.
  • He was illiterate, yet he was intelligent, diplomatically and militarily capable.
  • With the support of the French army, he became the de facto king of Mysore in 1761 and incorporated western techniques of training into his army.
  • In 1761-63, he took over the Nizami army and the Marathas and seized Dod Ballapur, Sera, Bednur, and Hoskote, as well as bringing the troublesome Poligars of South India to surrender (Tamil Nadu).
  • They also took money from the growers in the form of taxes.
  • Haidar Ali had to pay them significant sums of money to purchase peace, but after Madhavrao’s death in 1772.
  • Haidar Ali invaded the Marathas many times between 1774 and 1776, recovering all of the lands he had previously lost as well as seizing new territory.

Second Anglo-Mysore War (1780–84)


  • When the Maratha army attacked Mysore in 1771, the British failed to follow the treaty of Madras.
  • Haider Ali accused them of betraying their trust.
  • Furthermore, Haider Ali found the French to be more inventive in meeting the army’s needs for firearms, saltpetre, and lead.
  • As a result, he began bringing French military supplies to Mysore via Mahe, a French territory on the Malabar Coast.
  • The British were concerned about the growing relationship between the two.
  • As a result, the British attempted to seize Mahe, which was protected by Haider Ali.
  • In 1771, the Marathas attacked Mysore. The British, on the other hand, refused to honor the Treaty of Madras and refused to help Hyder Ali.
  • As a consequence, the Marathas seized Hyder Ali’s territory. For a price of Rs.36 lakh and another annual tribute, he had to buy peace with the Marathas.
  • This enraged Hyder Ali, who began to despise the British.
  • Hyder Ali waged war on the English in 1780 after the English assaulted Mahe, a French colony under his authority.

The course of the war

  • Hyder Ali formed an alliance with the Nizam and the Marathas and beat the British forces in Arcot.
  • Hyder Ali died in 1782, and his son Tipu Sultan continued the war.
  • The Treaty of Mangalore concluded the war inconclusively.

Result of the war

Both sides negotiated peace after an inconclusive war, concluding the Treaty of Mangalore (March, 1784) in which both parties returned the areas they had acquired from each other.

Tipu Sultan (1750 -1799 )

  • Tipu Sultan was Haidar Ali’s son and a legendary warrior known as the Tiger of Mysore. He was born in November 1750.
  • He was a well-educated individual who spoke Arabic, Persian, Kanarese, and Urdu fluently.
  • Tipu, like his father Haider Ali, placed great emphasis on the development and upkeep of a capable military force.
  • With Persian words of command, he organized his army on the European model.
  • Despite the fact that he enlisted the assistance of French commanders to teach his troops, he never permitted them (the French) to become a pressure group.
  • Tipu understood the significance of a naval force.
  • He established a Board of Admiralty in 1796 and envisioned a force of 22 battleships and 20 big frigates.
  • At Mangalore, Wajedabad, and Molidabad, he developed three dockyards. His ideas, however, did not come to fruition.
  • He was also a supporter of science and technology, and he is acknowledged as India’s “pioneer of rocket technology.”
  • He created a military guidebook that explains how rockets work.
  • He was also a forerunner in bringing sericulture to the state of Mysore.
  • Tipu was a staunch supporter of democracy and a skilled negotiator who helped the French soldiers in Seringapatam establish a Jacobin Club in 1797.

Third Anglo-Mysore War ( 1790 – 1792 )


  • The Treaty of Mangalore proved insufficient to address Tipu Sultan’s issues with the British.
  • Both were attempting to achieve political dominance in the Deccan.
  • The Third Anglo-Mysore War began when Tipu Sultan attacked Travancore, an English ally and the East India Company’s main supplier of pepper.
  • Tipu viewed Travancore’s acquisition of Jalkottal and Cannanore from the Dutch in the Cochin state, which was a feudatory of his, to be an infringement of his sovereign powers.
  • With the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Marathas, the British began to improve their ties.
  • Tipu Sultan, who took control of Mysore after Hyder Ali’s death, benefited from French assistance in improving his military capabilities.
  • In accordance with the Treaty of Mangalore, he also refused to release English captives seized during the second Anglo-Mysore war.

The course of the war

  • In 1789, Tipu launched a war on Travancore. Travancore was a British-friendly state.
  • Lord Cornwallis, the Governor-General of Bengal, declared war on Tipu in 1790.
  • Tipu’s men were forced to retire after being beaten in the first phase of the conflict.
  • Later, the English marched on Tipu’s capital of Seringapatam, forcing Tipu to make a peace deal.

Result of the war

  • The Treaty of Seringapatam, signed in 1792, put an end to the conflict.
  • Tipu had to hand over half of his empire to the English under the terms of the treaty, which included the provinces of Malabar, Dindigul, Coorg, and Baramahal.
  • He also had to pay the British Rs.3 crore in war indemnity.
  • Tipu also had to provide the British with two of his sons as sureties until he fulfilled his debt.

Fourth Anglo-Mysore War ( 1799 )


  • Both the British and Tipu Sultan utilized the years 1792-1799 to make up for their losses.
  • When the Wodeyar dynasty’s Hindu king died in 1796, Tipu declared himself Sultan and resolved to avenge his humiliating defeat in the previous battle.
  • Lord Wellesley, a staunch imperialist, succeeded Sir John Shore as Governor-General in 1798.
  • Wellesley was concerned about Tipu’s burgeoning ties with the French.
  • Tipu was accused of sending treasonous messengers to Arabia, Afghanistan, the Isle of France (Mauritius), and Versailles to conspire against the British. Wellesley was not satisfied with Tipu’s answer, and the fourth Anglo-Mysore war started.
  • The Treaty of Seringapatam failed to bring Tipu and the English together in peace.
  • Tipu also declined to join Lord Wellesley’s Subsidiary Alliance.
  • The British considered Tipu’s alliance with the French as a danger.

The course of the war

  • From all four directions, Mysore was assaulted.
  • From the north, the Marathas and Nizams invaded.
  • Tipu’s army was outmanned 4:1.
  • In 1799, the British won a decisive victory in the Battle of Seringapatam.
  • Tipu perished in the process of protecting the city.

Result of the war

  • The British and the Nizam of Hyderabad were in charge of Tipu’s domains.
  • The Wodeyar dynasty, which had ruled Mysore before Hyder Ali became the de-facto monarch, was restored to the main territory surrounding Seringapatam and Mysore.
  • The British formed a Subsidiary Alliance with Mysore, and a British resident was appointed to the Mysore Court.
  • Until 1947, when it elected to join the Indian Union, the Kingdom of Mysore was a princely state not directly under British rule.

Subsidiary Alliance

  • Lord Wellesley established the Subsidiary Alliance system in India in 1798, under which the ruler of an allying Indian state was forced to pay a subsidy for the upkeep of the British troops in exchange for British protection against their opponents.
  • It stipulated the establishment of a British Resident at the ruler’s court, as well as the ruler’s prohibition on engaging any European in his service without British sanction.
  • Instead of paying an annual stipend, the monarch would sometimes relinquish a portion of his realm.
  • The Nizam of Hyderabad was the first Indian king to sign the Subsidiary Alliance.
  • Those native princes or monarchs who joined the Subsidiary Alliance were not allowed to wage war on any other state or negotiate without the British’s permission.
  • The princes who were relatively strong and powerful were allowed to keep their forces, but they were commanded by British generals.
  • The Subsidiary Alliance was a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of allies, however the British rarely followed through on this commitment.
  • The British, on the other hand, could now afford to keep a huge army at the expense of the Indian kingdoms.
  • They had a large army stationed in the heart of the protected ally’s country, and they controlled his defence and foreign affairs.


The British invaded from the west, south, and east, while the Nizam’s men assaulted from the north. Hyder Ali and his successor Tipu Sultan waged a war on four fronts. The family of Hyder Ali and Tipu (who was murdered in the fourth war, in 1799) were overthrown, and Mysore was dismantled for the advantage of the East India Company, which gained control of most of the Indian subcontinent.

Chapter 4: British Vs Marathas


The Anglo-Maratha Wars were three territorial wars fought in India between the Maratha Empire and the British East India Company.

Between the late 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century, the British and the Marathas fought three Anglo-Maratha wars (or Maratha Wars). 

Maratha empire | History, Geography, Trivia, & Facts | Britannica

Maratha kingdom

Rise of Marathas

  • As the Mughal Empire fell, one of the empire’s most tenacious foes, the Marathas, had an opportunity to climb to dominance.
  • They ruled over a huge chunk of the land and received tributes from territories not immediately under their authority.
  • By the middle of the 18th century, they were in Lahore contemplating becoming rulers of the North Indian empire and acting as kingmakers at the court of the Mughals.
  • Though the Third Battle of Panipat (1761), in which they were beaten by Ahmad Shah Abdali, changed the situation, they reorganized, restored their strength, and established a position of dominance in India within a decade.
  • Bajirao I (1720–40), regarded as the greatest of all Peshwas, established a confederacy of notable Maratha chiefs to govern the rapidly rising Maratha authority and, to some degree, pacify the Kshatriya element of the Marathas (Peshwas were brahmins) led by Senapati Dabodi.
  • According to the Maratha confederacy’s organization, each notable family under a chief was allotted a zone of influence that he was meant to conquer and control in the name of the then Maratha king, Shahu.
  • The confederacy operated well under Bajirao I through Madhavrao I, but the Third Battle of Panipat (1761) changed everything.
  • The defeat at Panipat, followed by the death of the young Peshwa, Madhavrao I, in 1772, reduced the Peshwas’ hold over the confederacy.
  • Though the leaders of the confederacy banded together on occasion, such as against the British (1775–82), they frequently quarreled among themselves.

Peshwa Bajirao I (1720–40)

  • The 7th Peshwa, Shrimant Peshwa Baji Rao I, popularly known as Bajirao Ballal, enlarged the Maratha Empire to cover much of modern-day India.
  • Balaji Vishwanath and his wife Radhabhai Barve gave birth to Baji Rao on August 18, 1700.
  • Instead of Deccan, Baji Rao I directed the Maratha’s attention to the north.
  • He is credited as being the first Indian to detect the Mughals’ fragility and fading empire. He was well aware of the Mughal rulers’ weaknesses in Delhi.
  • The well-known phrase “Attock to Cuttack” alludes to the Maratha Kingdom as visualized by Baji Rao-I, who wished to plant the Saffron Flag atop the walls of Attock.
  • Baji Rao-I fought 41 wars and never lost a single one of them.
  • This capable Maratha Prime Minister was able to form a confederacy of Marathas who had dispersed following Shivaji’s death.
  • The confederacy includes the Scindias which were led by Ranoji Shinde of Gwalior, the Holkars by Malharrao of Indore, the Gaekwads by Pilaji of Baroda, and the Pawars by Udaiji of Dhar.
  • After Maharaja Chhattrasal’s death, he was able to get one-third of Bundelkhand.
  • He had a half-Muslim girlfriend from Bundelkhand named Mastani, who was never welcomed into Maratha culture.
  • Baji Rao, I relocated the Marathas’ administrative headquarters from Satara to Pune.
  • Baji Rao-I died of an illness in 1740 and was succeeded by his son Balaji Baji Rao.

British vs Marathas

  • Between the last quarter of the 18th century and the first quarter of the 19th century, the Marathas and the English clashed three times for political supremacy, with the English ultimately triumphing.
  • The cause of these clashes was the English’s excessive desire, as well as the split house of the Marathas, which encouraged the English to expect success in their attempt.
  • The English in Bombay intended to build a government along the lines of Clive’s organization in Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa.
  • When the Marathas were split over succession, it was a long-awaited chance for the English.

Reasons for the Battles

  • The three battles fought in India between the British East India Company and the Maratha confederacy or the Maratha Empire, are known as the Great Maratha Wars or the Anglo-Maratha Wars.
  • The wars began in 1777 and ended in 1818 with the British triumph and the annihilation of the Maratha Empire in India.
  • When the Marathas were defeated at the battle of Panipat, the third Peshwa, Balaji Baji Rao, died on June 23, 1761.
  • His son Madhav Rao succeeded him after his death.
  • He was a capable and competent commander who maintained unity among his nobles and chiefs and was quickly successful in restoring the Marathas’ lost authority and dignity.
  • The British became increasingly wary of the Marathas as their power grew, and they sought to undermine their re-establishment.
  • When Madhav Rao died in 1772, the British were free to attack the Marathas.

First Anglo-Maratha War (1775–82)

  • The main cause of the first Maratha war was the British’s growing meddling in the Marathas‘ internal and foreign affairs, as well as the power struggle between Madhav Rao and Raghunath Rao.
  • After Peshwa Madhav Rao died, his younger brother, Narain Rao, took over as Peshwa, but it was his uncle, Raghunath Rao, who wished to be Peshwa.
  • So he enlisted the assistance of the English to assassinate him and make him Peshwa in exchange for Salsette and Bessien, as well as earnings from Surat and Bharuch regions.
  • The British promised Raghunath Rao assistance and furnished him with 2,500 men.
  • The English and Raghunath Rao’s united army invaded and defeated the Peshwa.
  • The Pact of Surat was signed on March 6, 1775, but it was not authorised by the British Calcutta Council, and the treaty was cancelled at Pune by Colonel Upton, who abandoned Raghunath’s sovereignty and guaranteed him merely a pension.
  • The Bombay government denied this, and Raghunath was granted asylum.
  • In violation of the pact with the Calcutta Council, Nana Phadnis granted the French a port on the west coast in 1777.
  • As a consequence, the British and Maratha troops clashed on the outskirts of Pune at Wadgaon.

Result of First Anglo-Maratha War

  • Salsette and Bessien were held by the East India Company.
  • It also got a promise from the Marathas that they would regain their Deccan lands from Hyder Ali of Mysore.
  • The Marathas also vowed that they would not cede the French any further provinces.
  • Raghunathrao was to get an Rs.3 lakh pension each year.
  • After the Treaty of Purandar, the British relinquished all lands captured by them to the Marathas.
  • The English recognised Madhavrao II (Narayanrao’s son) as the Peshwa.

Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803–05)

  • The Second Anglo-Maratha War was fought in Central India in 1803 and 1805 between the British East India Company and the Maratha Empire.
  • The defeat of Peshwa Baji Rao II by the Holkars, one of the key Maratha clans, was the main cause of the second Maratha war.
  • As a result Peshwa Baji Rao II requested British protection by signing the Treaty of Bassein in December 1802.
  • Other Maratha kings, such as the Scindia rulers of Gwalior and the Bhonsle rulers of Nagpur and Berar, would not accept this and sought to battle the British.
  • As a result, the second Anglo-Maratha war in Central India erupted in 1803.

Result of Second Anglo-Maratha War

  • The British defeated all of the Maratha army in these conflicts.
  • In 1803 the Scindias signed the Treaty of Surji-Anjangaon, which granted the British the lands of Rohtak, Ganga-Yamuna Doab, Gurgaon, Delhi Agra area, Broach, various districts in Gujarat, sections of Bundelkhand, and the Ahmednagar fort.
  • In 1803 the Bhonsles signed the Treaty of Deogaon, by which the English obtained Cuttack, Balasore, and the region west of the Wardha River.
  • The Holkars signed the Treaty of Rajghat in 1805, giving away Tonk, Bundi, and Rampura to the British.
  • As a result of the conflict, the British gained control over significant swaths of central India.

Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817–19)

  • The two primary causes of the third and last struggle between the British and the Marathas were the Marathas’ rising desire to reclaim their lost territory and the British’s overbearing control over Maratha nobles and chiefs.
  • Another reason for the conflict was the British fight with the Pindaris, whom the British believed was being protected by the Marathas.
  • The fight took place in Maharashtra and surrounding territories during 1817 and 1818.
  • When the Peshwa invaded the British Residency in November 1817, the Maratha leaders were defeated in areas including Ashti, Nagpur, and Mahidpur.
  • The Treaty of Gwalior was signed on November 5, 1817, and Sindia was reduced to the status of a bystander in the conflict.
  • The Treaty of Mandsaur was signed on January 6, 1818, between Malhar Rao Holkar and the British, which resulted in the dethronement of the Peshwa and the pensioning of the Peshwa.
  • More of his holdings were taken by the British, and the British consolidated their dominance in India.

Result of Third Anglo-Maratha War

  • Sindia and the British signed the Treaty of Gwalior in 1817, despite the fact that he had not been part of the war.
  • Sindia surrendered Rajasthan to the British under the terms of this treaty.
  • After accepting British control, the Rajas of Rajputana maintained the Princely States until 1947.
  • In 1818, the British and the Holkar rulers signed the Treaty of Mandsaur. Under British tutelage, an infant was placed on the throne.
  • In 1818, the Peshwa surrendered.
  • He was deposed and retired to a modest estate in Bithur (near Kanpur). The majority of his area was absorbed into the Bombay Presidency.
  • Nana Saheb, his adopted son, was a leader of the Kanpur Revolt of 1857.
  • The lands seized from the Pindaris became British India’s Central Provinces.
  • The Maratha Empire was destroyed as a result of this conflict. The British captured all of the Maratha kingdoms.
  • At Satara, an unknown descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji was installed as the ceremonial ruler of the Maratha Confederacy.

Reasons for Marathas Lost

  • This was one of the last great wars that the British fought and won.
  • With this, the British gained direct or indirect control of most of India, with the exception of Punjab and Sindh.

Incompetent Leadership

  • The Maratha state had a dictatorial aspect to it. The personality and character of the state’s leader had a significant impact on the state’s affairs.
  • Bajirao II, Daulatrao Scindia, and Jaswantrao Holkar, however, were later Maratha leaders who were worthless and egotistical.
  • They couldn’t stand a chance against English officials like Elphinstone, John Malcolm, and Arthur Wellesley (who eventually led the English to victory against Napoleon).

Defective Nature of Maratha State

  • The Maratha state’s people’s cohesiveness was not organic, but manufactured and accidental, and so insecure.
  • From the time of Shivaji, there was no attempt to organise a well-thought-out community betterment, dissemination of knowledge, or unification of the people.
  • The religio-national movement fueled the emergence of the Maratha state.
  • When the Maratha state was pitted against a European force organised on the finest Western model, this flaw became apparent.

Loose Political Structure

  • The Maratha empire was a loose confederation led by the Chhatrapati and subsequently by the Peshwa.
  • Powerful chiefs like the Gaikwad, Holkar, Scindia, and Bhonsle carved established semi-independent kingdoms for themselves while paying lip respect to the Peshwa’s authority.
  • Furthermore, there was implacable antagonism among the confederacy’s various components.
  • The Maratha chief frequently supported one side or the other.
  • The lack of cooperation among Maratha leaders was damaging to the Maratha kingdom.

Inferior Military System

  • Despite their strength and gallantry, the Marathas lagged behind the English in terms of troop organisation, war weaponry, disciplined action, and efficient leadership.
  • The centrifugal tendencies of divided leadership were responsible for many of the Maratha setbacks.
  • Treason among the ranks had a role in weakening the Maratha army.
  • The Marathas’ use of contemporary military methods proved insufficient.
  • The Marathas overlooked the critical necessity of artillery. The Poona administration established an artillery department, but it was ineffective.

Unstable Economic Policy

  • The Maratha leadership was unable to develop a solid economic policy to meet the shifting demands of the period.
  • There were no industries or opportunities for overseas trade.
  • As a result, the Maratha economy was not favourable to a stable political setup.

English Diplomacy and Espionage

  • The English were superior at winning friends and isolating the adversary through diplomacy.
  • The English’s work was made easier by the Maratha leaders’ dissension.
  • Due to their diplomatic dominance, the English were able to launch an immediate onslaught against the objective.
  • In contrast to the Marathas’ ignorance and lack of information about their adversary, the English maintained a well-oiled espionage network to obtain information about their adversaries’ potentialities, strengths, weaknesses, and military tactics.

Progressive English Outlook

  • The powers of the Renaissance resurrected the English, freeing them from the clutches of the Church.
  • They devoted their efforts to scientific discoveries, long ocean journeys, and colonial conquest.
  • Indians, on the other hand, were still mired in medievalism, which was characterised by archaic dogmas and beliefs.
  • The Maratha leaders were unconcerned about the day-to-day running of the state.
  • The insistence on maintaining existing social stratification based on the influence of the priestly elite made imperial merger impossible.


The first, second, and third Anglo-Maratha wars were all key events in Indian history. At the time, the British had already taken control of the Mughal Empire. The British, however, were still unable to gain control of lands in the south, which were ruled by Maratha chieftains.

The British acquired large holdings and territory in India as a result of treaties with princely states, and India was undoubtedly a jewel in the crown of the British Empire.

Following these conflicts, the Maratha Empire came to an end. India was totally under British rule. In reality, following the wars, India became British property, with the British mapping and defining India entirely on their terms and conditions, in the Orientalist manner.

Chapter 5: The British Conquest of Punjab


Maharaja Ranjit Singh developed and cemented the Sikh kingdom of Punjab in the early nineteenth century, about the same time as British-controlled lands were pushed closer to Punjab’s frontiers by conquest or annexation. 

Ranjit Singh pursued a cautious alliance with the British, giving some land south of the Sutlej River. The Conflicts between the Sikh and the British led to a series of wars. It resulted in the British invasion and annexation of Punjab in northwestern India. 

Anglo-Sikh Wars (1845-1849): Causes, Events, Aftermath | UPSC Notes

Consolidation of Punjab

  • During the reign of Bahadur Shah, a group of Sikhs led by Banda Bahadur rose against the Mughals after the assassination of Guru Gobind Singh, the last Sikh guru.
  • Farrukhsiyar defeated Banda Bahadur in 1715, and he was executed in 1716.
  • As a result, the Sikh polity became leaderless once more and was eventually divided into two groups: Bandai (Liberal) and Tat Khalsa (Orthodox).
  • Under the influence of Bhai Mani Singh, this schism among the disciples was healed in 1721.
  • Later, in 1784, Kapur Singh Faizullapuria organized the Sikhs under the Dal Khalsa, with the goal of politically, culturally, and economically integrating Sikhs.
  • Budha Dal, the army of the veterans, and Taruna Dal, the army of the young, were established from the Khalsa’s whole body.
  • The Mughals’ weakening and Ahmad Shah Abdali’s assaults caused considerable turmoil and instability in Punjab.
  • These political circumstances aided the organized Dal Khalsa in consolidating further.
  • The Sikhs banded together in misls, which were military brotherhoods with a democratic structure. Misl is an Arabic word that means “equal” or “similar.”
  • Misl can also mean “state”. Many misls began to control the Punjab area under Sikh chieftains from Saharanpur in the east to Attock in the west, from the mountainous regions of the north to Multan in the south, from 1763 to 1773.

Ranjit Singh

  • Maharaja Ranjit Singh, also known as Sher-e-Punjab or “Lion of Punjab,” was the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, which ruled the northwest Indian subcontinent in the early half of the nineteenth century.
  • In Pakistani Punjab, he was born in 1780 to the chief of the Sukerchakia misl of the Sikh confederacies.
  • In 1801 he unified 12 Sikh misls and conquered several small kingdoms to become the “Maharaja of Punjab.”
  • Many Afghan attacks were successfully repelled, and areas including Lahore, Peshawar, and Multan were conquered.
  • Lahore became his capital when he captured it in 1799.
  • His Sikh Empire stretched north of the Sutlej River and south of the Himalayas in the northwest. Lahore, Multan, Srinagar (Kashmir), Attock, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Jammu, Sialkot, Amritsar, and Kangra were all part of his empire.
  • With the British, he maintained cordial relations.
  • Ranjit Singh’s rule was marked by reforms, modernization, infrastructure investment, and overall prosperity. Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, and Europeans served in his Khalsa army and government.
  • His legacy encompasses a time of Sikh cultural and artistic rebirth, including the reconstruction of the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar as well as other significant gurudwaras, including Takht Sri Patna Sahib in Bihar and Hazur Sahib Nanded in Maharashtra.
  • In his army, he had troops of many ethnicities and beliefs.
  • His army was very efficient in terms of fighting, logistics, and infrastructure.
  • There was a fight for succession among his numerous relatives after his death in 1839. This signified the beginning of the Empire’s demise.
  • Ranjit Singh died in June 1839, and the process of his empire’s downfall began with his death.
  • Kharak Singh, his eldest legitimate son, succeeded him.
15 Facts About Maharaja Ranjit Singh - Founder Of Sikh Empire Who Was Born  On This Day In 1780

Maharaja Ranjith singh


  • There were 12 significant misls during the time of Ranjit Singh’s birth (November 2, 1780): Ahluwaliya, Bhangi, Dallewalia, Faizullapuria, Kanhaiya, Krorasinghia, Nakkai, Nishaniya, Phulakiya, Ramgarhiya Sukharchakiya, and Shaheed.
  • Gurumatta Sangh, which was primarily a political, social, and economic structure, served as the misl’s central administration.
  • Ranjit Singh was the son of Sukerchakia misl chieftain Mahan Singh. Ranjit Singh was just 12 years old when Mahan Singh died.
  • However, Ranjit Singh showed early political savvy. By the end of the 18th century, all of the great misls (save Sukarchakia) had disintegrated.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the English

  • The English were concerned about the possibility of a joint Franco-Russian invasion of India via the land route.
  • Lord Minto dispatched Charles Metcalfe to Lahore in 1807.
  • Ranjit Singh agreed to Metcalfe’s proposal for an offensive and defensive alliance on the condition that the English remain neutral in the event of a Sikh-Afghan conflict and recognize Ranjit Singh as the ruler of the whole Punjab, including the Malwa (cis-Sutlej) provinces.
  • However, the talks fell through. Ranjit Singh decided to sign the Treaty of Amritsar (April 25, 1809) with the Company amid a new political context in which the Napoleonic threat had diminished and the English had become more dominant.

Treaty of Amritsar (1809)

  • The Treaty of Amritsar was noteworthy for both its immediate and potential consequences.
  • It thwarted one of Ranjit Singh’s most treasured aspirations of extending his control over the whole Sikh people by adopting the Sutlej River as the borderline for his and the Company’s dominions.
  • He redirected his efforts to the west, capturing Multan (1818), Kashmir (1819), and Peshawar (1834).
  • Ranjit Singh was forced by political forces to sign the Tripartite Treaty with the English in June 1838; nevertheless, he refused to allow the British troops access through his lands to invade Dost Mohammad, the Afghan Amir.
  • Raja Ranjit Singh’s interactions with the Company from 1809 to 1839 plainly demonstrate the former’s weak position.
  • Despite being aware of his precarious situation, he took no steps to form a coalition of other Indian rulers or to preserve a balance of power.

Punjab After Ranjit Singh

  • Kharak Singh, Ranjit Singh’s sole legitimate son and heir, was ineffective, and court divisions emerged during his brief rule.
  • Kharak Singh’s untimely death in 1839, along with the unintentional murder of his son, Prince Nau Nihal Singh, resulted in anarchy throughout Punjab.
  • The intentions and counter-plans of numerous organizations to seize the crown of Lahore presented a chance for the English to take decisive action.
  • The Lahore administration, following its policy of friendliness with the English firm, allowed British forces to cross through its territory twice: first on their way out of Afghanistan and again on their way back to avenge their defeat.
  • These marches caused upheaval and economic disruption in Punjab.
  • Sher Singh, another son of Ranjit Singh, succeeded after Nau Nihal Singh died, but he was assassinated in late 1843.
  • Soon after, Daleep Singh, Ranjit Singh’s minor son, was declared Maharaja, with Rani Jindan as regent and Hira Singh Dogra as wazir.
  • Hira Singh himself was assassinated in 1844 as a result of royal intrigue.
  • The new wazir, Jawahar Singh, Rani Jindan’s brother, quickly enraged the troops and was overthrown and executed in 1845.
  • In the same year, Lal Singh, a lover of Rani Jindan, won over the army to his side and was made wazir, while Teja Singh was appointed commander of the soldiers.

History Of The First Anglo-Sikh War - Our Real Sikh Heros

First Anglo-Sikh War (1845–46)

  • The action of the Sikh army crossing the Sutlej River on December 11, 1845, has been ascribed to the start of the first Anglo-Sikh war.
  • This was viewed as an aggressive maneuver that gave the English cause to declare war.
  • The turmoil that erupted in the Lahore kingdom upon the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, culminated in a power struggle for dominance between the Lahore court and the ever-powerful and more local army
  • Mistrust within the Sikh army was a result of the English military efforts to capture Gwalior and Sindh in 1841 and the battle in Afghanistan in 1842.
  • An increase in the number of English troops stationed near the Lahore kingdom’s border

Course of the war

  • The British side had 20,000 to 30,000 troops when the conflict began in December 1845, while the Sikhs had roughly 50,000 men under the general direction of Lal Singh.
  • However, the Sikhs were defeated five times in a row due to the treachery of Lal Singh and Teja Singh at Mudki (December 18, 1845), Ferozeshah (December 21–22, 1845), Buddelwal, Aliwal (January 28, 1846), and Sobraon (February 10, 1846).
  • Lahore surrendered to British soldiers without a struggle on February 20, 1846.

Result of the war

  • Treaty of Lahore – On March 8, 1846, the Sikhs were compelled to accept a humiliating peace at the conclusion of the First Anglo-Sikh War.
  • The English were to be given a war indemnity of more than one crore rupees.
  • The Jalandhar Doab (between the Beas and the Sutlej) was to be annexed to the Company’s dominions.
  • A British resident was to be established at Lahore under Henry Lawrence. The strength of the Sikh army was reduced.
  • Daleep Singh was recognized as the ruler, with Rani Jindan as regent and Lal Singh as wazir.
  • Since the Sikhs were unable to pay the whole war indemnity, Kashmir, including Jammu, was sold to Gulab Singh, who was compelled to pay the Company 75 lakh rupees as the purchase price.
  • On March 16, 1846, a second treaty formalized the surrender of Kashmir to Gulab Singh.
  • Bhairowal Treaty – the Sikhs were dissatisfied with the Treaty of Lahore on the question of Kashmir, they revolted.
  • The Treaty of Bhairowal was signed in December 1846. According to the terms of the treaty, Rani Jindan was deposed as regent, and a council of regency for Punjab was established.
  • The council was headed over by the English Resident, Henry Lawrence, and was made up of eight Sikh sardars.

Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848–49)

  • The Sikhs were severely humiliated by their defeat in the First Anglo-Sikh War and the conditions of the treaties of Lahore and Bhairowal.
  • The inhuman treatment meted out to Rani Jindan, who was transported to Benares as a pensioner, fueled Sikh fury.
  • Mulraj, Multan’s governor, was replaced by a new Sikh governor due to an increase in annual revenue.
  • Mulraj rebelled and assassinated two English officers who were accompanying the new governor.
  • Sher Singh was dispatched to put down the rebellion, but he himself joined Mulraj, sparking a general insurrection throughout Multan.
  • This might be seen as the direct cause of the conflict.
  • Lord Dalhousie, the then-Governor General of India and a staunch expansionist, was given the justification to entirely occupy Punjab.

Course of the war

  • Lord Dalhousie traveled to Punjab on his own. Before the eventual conquest of Punjab, three major wars were fought.
  • These three fights were as follows:
  • The Battle of Ramnagar, conducted by Sir Hugh Gough, the commander-in-chief of the Company, took place in January 1849.
  • Battle of Chillianwala, January 1849
  • Battle of Gujarat, February 21, 1849, The Sikh army surrendered at Rawalpindi on February 21, 1849, and their Afghan allies were forced out of India.

Result of the war

  • The surrender of the Sikh army and Sher Singh in 1849
  • Annexation of Punjab; and for his services, the Earl of Dalhousie was given the thanks of the British Parliament and promotion in the peerage, as Marquess
  • And the establishment of a three-member board to govern Punjab, consisting of the Lawrence brothers (Henry and John) and Charles Mansel.
  • The board was abolished in 1853, and Punjab was given to a chief commissioner.
  • John Lawrence was appointed as the first Chief Commissioner.

Lord Dalhousie

  • Lord Dalhousie (actual name James Andrew Ramsay) served as Governor-General of India from 1848 until 1856.
  • During this time, the Sikhs were crushed once more in the Second Anglo-Sikh War (1849), and Dalhousie was successful in annexing the whole Punjab under British authority.
  • He is most known for his Doctrine of Lapse, which many believe was directly responsible for the 1857 Indian Revolt.
  • Despite the Doctrine, Lord Dalhousie is often regarded as the “Maker of Modern India.”
  • In India, Lord Dalhousie established a number of Anglo-vernacular schools. He also instituted social changes, such as the prohibition on female infanticide.
  • He was a fervent believer in western administrative changes, believing that they were both essential and preferable to Indian methods.
  • He also built engineering institutions to supply resources for each presidency’s newly constituted public works department.
  • During his term, the first railway line between Bombay and Thane was opened in 1853 and in the same year, Calcutta and Agra were connected by telegraph.
  • Other changes he enacted include the establishment of P.W.D. and the passage of the Widow Remarriage Act (1856).
  • Dalhousie, a highland station in Himachal Pradesh, was named for him. It began as a summer resort for English civil and military authorities in 1854.
  • Lord Dalhousie died on December 19, 1860, at the age of 48.
Lord Dalhousie
Lord Dalhousie


Punjab, along with the rest of British India, fell under the direct sovereignty of the British crown in 1858, according to Queen Victoria’s Queen’s Proclamation. Sapta Sindhu, the Vedic country of the seven rivers flowing into the ocean, was the ancient name of the region.

The East India Company seized much of the Punjab region in 1849, making it one of the last sections of the Indian subcontinent to fall under British rule. Punjab, along with the rest of British India, was placed under direct British authority in 1858.

The Anglo-Sikh battles instilled mutual respect for each other’s combat abilities. The Sikhs were to fight on the British side in the Revolt of 1857, as well as in several more operations and wars until Indian independence in 1947.

Chapter 6: French Conquests in India


French India, formally the French Settlements in India, was a French colony in the Indian Subcontinent that consisted of five geographically dispersed enclaves that were formerly French East India Company establishments. In the 17th century, France was the last of the major European naval nations to engage in the East India trade.

The French conquest of India began in 1673 with the acquisition of territory from the Mughal Governor of Bengal at Chandernagore. The next year, they purchased Pondicherry from the Sultan of Bijapur. Both became hubs for the French’s maritime economic interests in India. 

If French had won the Carnatic Wars of 1747-1763 : r/AlternateHistory

Rise of the French

  • Although the French had a desire to engage in East Indian trade from the early 16th century, their arrival on the Indian ports was delayed.
  • Indeed, the French were the last Europeans to arrive in India for commerce purposes.
  • During Louis XIV’s reign, the king’s famed minister Colbert set the groundwork for the Compagnie des Indes Orientales (French East India Company) in 1664, in which the king also had a vested stake.
  • A 50-year monopoly on French commerce in the Indian and Pacific Oceans was granted to the French East India Company.
  • The French king also awarded the corporation a perpetual concession over the island of Madagascar, as well as any additional countries it may capture.
  • The Company invested a lot of money and energy attempting to resurrect the Madagascar colonies, but with little result.
  • Then, in 1667, Francois Caron led an expedition to India, where he established a factory in Surat.
  • After securing a patent from the Sultan of Golconda, Mercara, a Persian who followed Caron, established another French workshop at Masulipatnam in 1669.
  • Shaista Khan, the Mughal subahdar of Bengal, granted the French permission to develop a colony at Chandernagore near Calcutta in 1673.

Pondicherry – Centre of French

  • Sher Khan Lodi, the ruler of Valikandapuram (under the Bijapur Sultan), awarded Francois Martin, the director of the Masulipatnam factory, a colony site in 1673.
  • Pondicherry was established in 1674. Francois Martin took over as French governor the next year, succeeding Caron.
  • The French corporation also constructed plants in various sections of India, notably around the coast.
  • The French East India Company had key commercial centres at Mahe, Karaikal, Balasore, and Qasim Bazar.
  • Francois Martin established Pondicherry as a significant location after assuming command of it in 1674. It was, indeed, the French stronghold in India.

Struggle for Supremacy

  • However the British and French arrived in India for trade, they were eventually dragged into Indian politics. Both had ambitions to wield political influence in the region.
  • The Anglo-French competition in India mirrored the customary rivalry between England and France throughout their histories; it began with the commencement of the Austrian War of Succession and culminated with the Seven Years’ War.
  • In India, the competition, which took the shape of three Carnatic wars, determined once and for all that the English, not the French, would be the lords of India.
  • South India’s political status was unsettled and perplexing in 1740.
  • Nizam Asaf Jah of Hyderabad was old and busy fighting the Marathas in the western Deccan, while his subordinates speculated about the ramifications of his death.
  • To the south of his dominion was the Coromandel Coast, which lacked a strong monarch to preserve power balance.
  • Instead, there was the remainder of the former Vijayanagara empire in inner Mysore, Cochin, and Travancore on the Malabar Coast, and minor realms of Madura (Madurai), Tanjore (Thanjavur), and Trichinopoly in the east (Thiruchirapally).
  • The loss of Hyderabad signalled the end of Muslim expansionism, and the English adventurers prepared their plans accordingly.
  • In particular, in India, the rivalry, which took the shape of three Carnatic wars, determined once and for all that the English, rather than the French, were the better candidates to establish their control over India.

Carnatic Wars

First Carnatic War (1740–48)

  • The First Carnatic War was a European extension of the Anglo-French War triggered by the Austrian War of Succession.
  • The First Carnatic War is famous for the Battle of St. Thome (in Madras), which took place between French forces and the forces of Anwar-ud-din, the Nawab of Carnatic, to whom the English called for assistance.
  • Although France, aware of its more inferior position in India, did not favour extending hostilities to India, the English navy, led by Commodore Curtis Bennett, captured some French ships in order to irritate France.
  • The French Governor General, Marquis Joseph-François Dupleix, requested assistance from Anwar-ud-Din, Nawab of Carnatic, who warned the British that his province was neutral territory and that no attack on French territories would be permitted.
  • In 1746, France reacted by taking Madras with the assistance of a fleet from Mauritius, the Isle of France, led by Admiral La Bourdonnais, the French ruler of Mauritius.
  • The seizure of Madras sparked a heated debate between Dupleix and La Bourdonnais.
  • This conflict continued on until October, when Anwar-ud-Din decided to step in. He dispatched an army of 10,000 soldiers, led by his son Mahfuzz Khan, to besiege the French at Madras.

Result of the First Carnatic war

  • At St.Thome on the banks of the Adyar River, a small French force led by Captain Paradise destroyed a large Indian army led by Mahfuz Khan.
  • The First Carnatic War concluded in 1748 with the signing of the Treaty of Aix-La Chapelle, which ended the Austrian War of Succession.
  • Madras was returned to the English under the provisions of this treaty, while the French received territory in North America in exchange.
  • Furthermore, this fight demonstrated the significance of naval might in the Anglo-French conflict in the Deccan.

Second Carnatic War (1749–54)

  • The Anglo-French rivalry in India formed the backdrop for the Second Carnatic War.
  • Dupleix, the French governor who led the French soldiers to victory in the First Carnatic War, aimed to enhance his power and French political influence in southern India by meddling in local dynastic rivalries in order to beat the English.
  • The British strengthened their grip in southern India during the Second Carnatic War, which lasted from 1749 to 1754.
  • The death of Nizam-ul-Mulk, the founder of the independent kingdom of Hyderabad, in 1748, and the release of Chanda Sahib, the son-in-law of Dost Ali, the Nawab of Carnatic, by the Marathas in the same year, offered the chance.
  • In Hyderabad, Muzaffar Jang, the grandson of the Nawab, challenged Nasir Jang, the son of the Nizam, to the throne of Hyderabad, claiming that the Mughal Emperor had chosen him as governor of Hyderabad.
  • Muzaffar Jang was appointed Nizam of Hyderabad and Subahdar of Deccan, while Dupleix was made administrator of all Mughal provinces south of the Krishna River.
  • Muzaffar Jung, however, was assassinated a few months later, and the French placed Muzaffar’s uncle Salabat Jung as the new Nizam.
  • After failing to give meaningful support to Muhammad Ali at Trichinopoly, the English company’s Robert Clive proposed a diversionary attack against Governor Saunders of Madras.
  • After numerous fights, Muhammad Ali, who was ultimately established as the Nawab of Carnatic, executed Chanda Sahib.

Result of the Second Carnatic war

  • The French government, irritated by the large financial losses caused by Dupleix’s policies, decided to recall him in 1754.
  • Dupleix was replaced as French Governor-General in India by Charles Robert Godeheu.
  • Godeheu pursued a strategy of conciliation with the English, signing the Treaty of Pondicherry with them, in which the English and French promised not to intervene in the disputes of native kings.

Third Carnatic War (1758–63)

  • When Austria sought to reclaim Silesia in 1756, the Seven Years’ War (1756–63) erupted throughout Europe.
  • Britain and France were once again at odds.
  • The French army, led by Count Thomas Arthur de Lally, conquered the English forts of St. David and Vizianagaram in 1758.
  • The English won the crucial battle of the Third Carnatic War on January 22, 1760 at Wandiwash (or Vandavasi) in Tamil Nadu.
  • The English army, led by General Eyre Coote, completely destroyed the French army led by Count de Lally and imprisoned Marquis de Bussy.

Result of the Third Carnatic War

  • The Third Carnatic War turned out to be pivotal.
  • The third war ended with the Treaty of Paris (1763), which restored Pondicherry and Chandannagar to France but limited them to commercial operations.
  • Following that, the French, like their Portuguese and Dutch rivals in India, restricted themselves to tiny enclaves and commerce.
  • The English rose to become the dominant European force in the Indian subcontinent.

Battle of Wandiwash

  • The Battle of Wandiwash took place in 1760 in India between the French and the British.
  • The battle took place as part of the Third Carnatic War, which was fought between the French and British colonial empires and was part of the worldwide Seven Years’ War.
  • It happened at Vandavasi, Tamil Nadu. After making significant advances in Bengal and Hyderabad, the British were well-equipped to meet the French at Wandiwash, whom they destroyed.
  • The English won the crucial battle of the Third Carnatic War on January 22, 1760 at Wandiwash (or Vandavasi) in Tamil Nadu.
  • The French, led by Comte de Lally, were hampered by a lack of naval support and finances, so they sought to retake Vandavasi, now in Tamil Nadu.
  • While attempting to do so, they were assaulted by British forces led by Sir Eyre Coote, and the French were decisively destroyed in the subsequent fight.
  • As a result of the fight, the French in South India were confined to Pondicherry, where they surrendered on 22 January 1761, under the command of commander Marquis de Bussy-Castelnau.
  • One of the factors that prompted France to sign the Treaty of Paris was the collapse of the French position in India, which reduced the French to nothing more than traders in that nation and ultimately ended further French imperial ambitions in that country.
  • Britain, on the other hand, consolidated its dominance over other European nations in India during this conflict.

Reasons for French Failure

  • The British have greater naval strength. They might bring warriors from Europe as well as supplies from Bengal. The French had no such option for replenishing supplies.
  • The French Army had 300 European Cavalry, 2,250 European Infantry, 1,300 sepoys (soldiers), 3,000 Mahrattas, and 16 pieces of artillery, whereas the English had 80 European Horses, 250 Native Horses, 1,900 European Infantry, and 2,100 sepoys.
  • Britain possessed three significant posts: Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta.
  • The French, on the other hand, only possessed one strong station, Pondicherry.
  • This meant that if Pondicherry was taken, the French had little chance of regaining control. However, if one of the bases is seized, Britain may rely on either of the other two.
  • The British gained access to a wealthy territory, Bengal, as a result of their victory in the Battle of Plassey.
  • The British army had numerous skilled soldiers, including Robert Clive, Stringer Lawrence, and Sir Eyre Coote.

Significance of Carnatic Wars

  • Although the First Carnatic War had nothing to do with Indian politics, its influence on India could not be overlooked.
  • The European countries were made aware of the hollowness of Indian politics and military impotence throughout this conflict.
  • The Carnatic Nawab was unable to prevent a commercial business from going to war.
  • In terms of outcomes, the second carnatic war proved to be more crucial than the first.
  • The British were now in a stronger position than they had been previously.
  • This conflict exposed the native rulers’ political hollowness to outsiders for the first time, allowing them to openly participate in Indian politics.
  • Following the third Carnatic war, the British have really become India’s fortune-tellers.
  • Although there were several skirmishes between the French and the British until 1818 AD, the British consolidated their dominance by conquering the French in 1763.


  • In 1741, Joseph Francois Dupleix began to have ambitions for a French Empire in India, but he was unable to persuade his superiors to support the concept.
  • When the British and French clashed in India, a series of skirmishes ensued.
  • Robert Clive landed in India in 1744. This rogue British officer dashed Dupleix’s aspirations of establishing a French colony in India.
  • Pondicherry was seized by the British in 1761, and the French possessions in India have remained marginalised ever since.
  • The analysis of the first two Carnatic wars demonstrates Dupleix’s diplomacy as a leader who envisioned the course of European invasion of India.
  • Dupleix utilised the Nawab of Carnatic to prevent the English from fighting in his territory, allowing the French colonists in Pondicherry to be protected until the French soldiers gained sufficient strength.
  • Dupleix was the first European to meddle in the domestic affairs of the Indian monarchs.
  • He supported Muzzaffar Jang for Hyderabad and Chanda Sahib for Carnatic, and his candidates were elected, and in exchange, he made significant concessions to Dupleix.
  • From 1742 until 1754, he was governor-general of the French territories in India. Dupleix died destitute and impoverished in Paris in 1764.
Joseph François Dupleix - Wikipedia



In 1673, the French colony in India was established with the purchase of property at Chandannagar from the Mughal Governor of Bengal. The next year, the Sultan of Bijapur sold them to Pondicherry.

However, the victory at Wandiwash against the Frenchlargely ended the European competition of the English East India Company in India.

As a consequence, they were ready to take over the entire country. During the Battle of Wandiwash, natives acted as sepoys on both sides. It gives the impression that no matter who won, the fall of India to European invaders was inescapable.

Chapter 7: The Decline of the Mughals


The Mughal Empire collapsed apart in the 1750s, and the Successor States arose in its place. Until 1707, the Mughals had direct control over practically all of India. After Aurangzeb’s death in 1707 CE, the Mughal Empire began to fall apart quickly.

This year is usually used to distinguish the reign of the Great Mughals from the reign of the smaller Mughals, commonly known as the Later Mughals. 

READ: Mughal Empire (article) | Khan Academy

Mughal Empire

  • The Mughal Empire, sometimes known as the Mogul Empire, was a South Asian early modern empire.
  • The empire spanned two centuries, from the western outskirts of the Indus basin, northern Afghanistan in the northwest, and Kashmir in the north, to the highlands of modern-day Assam and Bangladesh in the east, and the Deccan plateau uplands in south India.
  • Babur founded the Mughal empire in 1526 after defeating Ibrahim Lodi in the first battle of Panipat.
  • Thus started a new age and empire in India, which lasted over three centuries, from 1526 to 1857.
  • The “Great Mughals,” Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb, were six prominent rulers of this dynasty who made their mark on Indian history.
  • The Mughal courts grew even wealthier as the European presence in the Indian Ocean grew, as did the demand for Indian raw and finished goods.
  • The Mughal aristocracy engaged in more ostentatious expenditure, resulting in increased sponsorship of painting, literary forms, textiles, and architecture, particularly during Shah Jahan’s rule.
  • After Aurangzeb’s death in 1707, the empire began to crumble.

Challenges before the Mughals

  • In the absence of internal strength, the Mughals were unable to mount a strong defence against external threats, which included multiple invasions from the north-west.
  • The northern frontiers were disregarded by the later Mughals, and little effort was invested to preserve them.
  • The Persian ruler Nadir Shah invaded India in 1738–39, conquering Lahore and defeating the Mughal army at Karnal on February 13, 1739.
  • Muhammad Shah was later apprehended, and Delhi was plundered and destroyed.
  • Apart from the Peacock Throne and the Kohinoor diamond, an estimated seventy crore rupees were gathered from the government treasury and the safes of the wealthy nobility.
  • Nadir Shah took control of the strategically crucial Mughal area west of the Indus, including Kabul.
  • As a result, India became exposed to assaults from the north-west once more.
  • Between 1748 and 1767, Ahmad Shah Abdali (or Ahmad Shah Durrani), who was elected as Nadir Shah’s successor following the latter’s death in 1747, invaded India many times.
  • He relentlessly pursued the Mughals, who attempted to purchase peace in 1751–52 by giving Punjab to him. In 1757, Abdali seized Delhi and left an Afghan caretaker to keep an eye on the Mughal emperor.
  • Before his return, Abdali had recognised Alamgir II as Mughal emperor and the Rohilla commander, Najib-ud-Daula, as the empire’s Mir Bakhshi.

Later Mughals

  • The era from 1707 CE and 1761 CE saw the return of regional identities and revealed a sad state of affairs for the once-mighty Mughals.
  • The Mughal court became a hotbed of feuds amongst nobility.
  • In c. 1739 CE, Nadir Shah imprisoned the Mughal Emperor and ravaged Delhi, exposing the empire’s fragility.
  • Aurangzeb was the Mughal Empire’s final great monarch.
  • Later Mughals were the Mughal rulers who succeeded him.
  • Despite the fact that the Mughals were still the undisputed rulers of the region, their influence was diminishing, especially following the death of Aurangazeb.
Later Mughals

Later Mughals

Bahadur shah (ruled 1707–12)

  • At the age of 63, Muazzam ascended the throne and acquired the title of Bahadur Shah.
  • He had a liberal approach toward the nobles, granting them their preferred domains and promoting them.
  • As a result, the state’s finances have deteriorated. The true authority, according to legend, was held by the wazir, Zulfiqar Khan.
  • He was accommodating of Hindus, however he never eliminated the jizya tax.
  • The independence of Marwar was recognised during his rule.
  • The settlement, however, was unable to return these nations to their former status as completely devoted combatants for the Mughal cause.
  • He had a half-hearted reconciliation programme with the Marathas as well. He didn’t see Shahu (whom he freed) as the legitimate Maratha monarch.
  • He gave Maratha the Deccan sardeshmukhi, but not the Chauth, and hence could not completely please them.
  • As a result, the Marathas continued to battle one other as well as the Mughals.
  • In his war against the Sikhs, he was assisted by Jat chief Charuman and Bundella chief Chattrasal.
  • Guru Gobind Singh, the eleventh Sikh Guru, was given high mansab.
  • He did, however, have to deal with Banda Bahadur’s insurrection, and it was during his war against Banda Bahadur that he died (in c. 1712 CE).
  • Mughal historians such as Khafi Khan gave him the title “Shah-i-Bekhabar.”

Jahandar Shah (ruled 1712–13)

  • Following Bahadur Shah’s death, a new type of politics evolved in the Mughals’ political arena, in which nobles were ‘king makers,’ and monarchs were only ‘puppets’ in their hands.
  • Jahandar Shah was Mughal India’s first puppet king. Zulfiqar Khan (wazir), who had the executive reins in his hands, backed him up.
  • Zulfiqar Khan developed cordial relationships with the Marathas, Rajputs, and various Hindu chieftains.
  • He abolished jizya and bestowed the titles of “Maharaja” and “Mirza Raja Sawai” on Ajit Singh (Marwar) and Jai Singh of Amber, respectively.
  • Shahu was also given the Deccan Chauth and Sardeshmukhi by him. However, Banda Bahadur and the Sikhs were subjected to the same oppressive policies as before.
  • Zulfiqar also attempted to improve the empire’s financial status by scrutinising rash jagir and office allocations. He also required mansabdars to maintain the official army quota.
  • However, he is remembered for instituting the heinous practice of Ijarah (revenue farming).
  • The court was ruled by Jahandar Shah’s favourite woman, Lal Kanwar (a dancing girl).

Farruk Siyar (ruled 1713–1719)

  • In 1713 CE, Farrukh Siyar defeated his brother Jahandar Shah in Agra.
  • With the help of the Sayyid brothers (kingmakers) – Saiyyad Abdullah Khan (Wazir) and Hussain Ali Khan (Mir Bakshi) – he came to the throne .
  • The Sayyid brothers assassinated Zulfiqar Khan and ascended to positions of power.
  • The Sayyid brothers attempted to make peace with the Marathas, Jats, and Rajputs, as well as crushing the Sikh rebellion. Banda Bahadur, the Sikh leader, was assassinated during this period.
  • Farrukh Siyar granted the East India Company several commercial rights and waived customs charges for its trade via Bengal in 1717 CE.
  • Jizya was abolished altogether by the Sayyid brothers, as was pilgrimage tax in a number of areas.
  • Farukh Siyar and the Sayyid brothers drifted apart as a result of the Sayyid brothers’ overwhelming authority. The emperor planned against the brothers three times but was unable to defeat them.
  • The Sayyid brothers formed an alliance with Balaji Vishwanath (the Maratha emperor) in 1719 CE, and with the support of Maratha forces, assassinated Farrukh Siyar.

Rafi-us-Darajat (ruled 1719)

  • Rafi-us-Darajat was crowned by the Sayyid brothers. In fact, the Sayyid brothers elevated three young princes to the throne in less than eight months.
  • He died four months later as a result of his excessive drinking.
  • Nikusiyar, Aurangzeb’s grandson, revolted during his reign and seized the throne of Agra with the help of Mitrasen (a Nagar Brahmin).

Rafi-us-Daula (ruled 1719)

  • Nikusiyar was imprisoned at Agra by Hussain Ali Khan (the Saiyyad brother).
  • Rafi-us- Shah Jahan II was the title given to Daula.
  • He was only in power for a brief time before succumbing to consumption of opium (Tuberculosis).

Muhammad Shah (ruled 1719–48)

  • Jahan Shah has a brother who loved to dance and was an accomplished Kathak dancer.
  • With the support of Nizam-ul-Mulk, Chin Qilich Khan, and his father’s cousin Muhammad Amin Khan, he successfully removed the Saiyyad brothers in 1720.
  • Under the title of Itmad-ud-Daula, he named Muhammad Amir Khan, the man who assassinated Hussain Ali Khan, as wazir.
  • During his reign, however, autonomous nations emerged: Nizam-ul-Mulk ruled the Deccan, Saadat Khan ruled Awadh, and Murshid Quli Khan ruled Bihar, Bengal, and Orissa.
  • In 1739 CE, Nadir Shah invaded India, Battle of Karnal, imprisoned the Mughal emperor, and devastated Delhi, exposing the Mughal empire’s fragility.

Ahamad shah (ruled 1748–1754)

  • Ahmad Shah was an inept emperor who delegated state matters to Udham Bai, the ‘Queen Mother.’
  • Udham Bai, given the title Qibla-i-Alam, was a poor-intellectual lady who governed with the assistance of her paramour, Javid Khan (a infamous eunuch).
  • Ahmad Shah Abdali (ruler of Afghanistan) repeatedly assaulted Delhi, and Punjab, along with Multan, were given to him.
  • Malwa and Bundelkhand were taken over by the Marathas.
  • Imad-ul-Mulk, his wazir, blinded him and imprisoned him in Salimgarh.

Alamgir II (ruled 1754–59)

  • Alamgir II was Emperor Jahandar Shah’s son. In January 1757, the Iranian invader Ahmed Shah Abdali arrived in Delhi.
  • In June 1757, under his rule, the Battle of Plassey was fought. Alamgir II was murdered.
  • He was Jahandar Shah’s second son, and he was elevated to the throne by Imad-ul-Mulk when he toppled Ahmad Shah.
  • Ahmad Shah Abdali’s recurrent invasions had to be faced. Imad-ul-Mulk, his wazir, also assassinated him.

Shah Jahan III (ruled 1759–60)

  • Also known as Muhiul-millat, he ascended to the throne as a consequence of Delhi intrigues, but was ousted later by Maratha interference.
  • During his reign, Mughal authority was so diminished that a Persian proverb arose: “Sultanat-e-Shah Alam, Az Dili ta Palam,” which means “The kingdom of Shah Alam is from Delhi to Palam,” Palam being a Delhi suburb.

Shah Alam II (ruled 1760-1788; 1788-806)

  • During his reign, two significant conflicts occurred: the Third Battle of Panipat (1761) and the Battle of Buxar (1762).
  • He escaped to Awadh (1761 – 1764 CE) as a result of his struggle with the wazir. When the Marathas re-established their authority over Delhi and welcomed him to the capital, he returned.
  • According to the stipulations of the Treaty of Allahabad (August 1765), he was brought under the protection of the East India Company and stayed in Allahabad in 1765.
  • He also issued a farman awarding the Company the Diwani (right to collect income) of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa in perpetuity.
  • The Marathas transported him to Delhi in 1772, where he remained until 1803. After the defeat of Daulat Rao Scindia by the English in 1803, he embraced the English’s protection once more.
  • Following it, the Mughal emperor became an English pensioner.

Akbar Shah II (ruled 1806–37)

  • Rammohan Roy was given the title of ‘Raja’ by him.
  • During his reign, in 1835, the East India Company stopped referring to itself as a subject of the Mughal emperor and stopped striking coinage in his honour.
  • He was a brilliant poet who is credited with establishing the Hindu-Muslim unification festival Phool Walon Ki Sair.

Bahadur Shah II (ruled 1837–57)

  • Bahadur Shah II, often known as Bahadur Shah Zafar (his surname was Zafar), was the final Mughal emperor.
  • The Revolt of 1857 had failed in its effort to crown him Emperor of India.
  • He was apprehended by the English and sent to Rangoon, where he died in 1862.
  • The Mughal Empire officially ended on November 1, 1858, with Queen Victoria’s pronouncement.

Cause of Decline

Religious Policies of Aurangzeb

  • Aurangzeb’s religious and Deccan policies contributed to the empire’s downfall.
  • The endeavour to extend the Mughal government over Golconda, Bijapur, and Karnataka strained the Mughal administration to its limits.
  • It also left Mughal lines of communication vulnerable to Maratha raids, making it difficult for Mughal nobility in the area to collect their dues from the jagirs entrusted to them and forcing them to make secret pacts with the Marathas.
  • His failure to respect the sensitivities of his non-Muslim subjects on numerous occasions, his enunciation of a policy that resulted in the destruction of many temples and the re-imposition of jizya.
  • This alienated the Hindus and strengthened the hands of those who were opposed to the Mughal Empire for political or other reasons, alienated the Hindus and strengthened the hands of those who were opposed to the Mughal Empire for political or other reasons.
  • Aurangzeb’s successors were weak and unable to properly retain the administration.

Influence of Nobles

  • The majority of them were pawns in the hands of strong nobility. The succession struggle that afflicted Delhi from 1707 to 1719 CE eventually damaged the empire.
  • Following Aurangzeb’s death, the nobles took a great deal of authority, and the path of politics and governmental activity was led by their own interests.
  • The Turanis, Iranis, Afghans, and Indian-born Muslims comprised the Mughal court’s four aristocratic groups.
  • These factions were continuously fighting for more power, jagirs, and high posts, which finally contributed to the empire’s demise.
  • The formation of several autonomous nations reduced tax resources, and the ongoing battles further impoverished the treasury.

Ineffective army

  • In addition, the foreign invasions of Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali were costly to the royal budget.
  • After losing multiple wars, the Mughal army progressively grew ineffective and unmotivated.
  • The Mughals’ disregard of naval power also paid them dearly.
  • The entry of British and other European colonial powers in India was the final nail in the coffin of the Mughal empire’s chances of survival.
  • Western colonial powers were militarily and financially superior, as well as politically aware of Indian realities.

Rise of Regional Aspirations

  • Regional groups like the Jats, Sikhs, and Marathas revolted under Aurangzeb’s rule.
  • They challenged the Mughal state’s authority in order to establish their own kingdoms.
  • They did not succeed, but they had an impact on the future course of political events in their respective regions.
  • Their constant fight for political dominance against the later mughals, damaged the empire significantly.
  • By seeking to control the Rajputs, Aurangzeb, and later Bahadur Shah I, incited them to fight the Mughals.
  • Later Mughals attempted to pursue a policy of reconciliation with the Rajputs, but it was too late: the Rajputs no longer trusted the Mughals enough to cooperate with them for the sake of the empire.
  • The Marathas were also proving to be a tough foe.
  • Their goal was first restricted to reclaiming control of the Maharashtra area, but it quickly expanded to encompass obtaining legal permission from the Mughal emperor to collect sardeshmukhi and chauth across India.
  • They pushed northward and, by 1740, had established control over the provinces of Gujarat, Malwa, and Bundelkhand.
  • The Rajput battle against the empire, as well as the Marathas’ rising ambition and might, harmed the Mughal might.

Economic and Administrative Problems

  • The number of amirs and their ranks, or mansabs, had grown dramatically over time, and there was little territory remaining to be dispersed among them as jagirs.
  • Aurangzeb attempted to alleviate the acute shortage of jagirs or bejagiri by demonstrating increased revenue from the jagirs on record.
  • However, this was a short-sighted solution since the amirs attempted to retrieve the reported revenue from their jagirs by putting pressure on the peasantry.
  • As a result, both the amirs and the peasants were at odds.
  • Then there were the battles, the emperors’ and amirs’ lavish lives, and the loss in khalisa land, all of which weighed heavily on the state.
  • As a result, the state’s expenditure much outweighed its revenue.
  • Furthermore, there was no big scientific or technical advancement that may have helped a stagnant economy.
  • Even when European traders made advances along with coastal India, the once-thriving commerce did not enhance the empire’s coffers.
  • Following Aurangzeb’s death, these economic and administrative issues only grew worse.
  • When the emperors were weak and inept, the empire had become too large to be successfully controlled by a centralised administration.

Jagirdari Crisis

  • The nobility consisted of those who were either allotted huge jagirs and mansabs or appointed subahdars of Mughal subas and tasked with preserving these.
  • Many Rajput kings, subahdars, and mansabdars belonged to this class.
  • Mughal reign has been referred to as “the rule of the aristocracy” because nobility played an important part in empire administration.
  • Although Akbar had supplied them with a well-knit organisation, there remained division among the nobles based on religion, country, and tribe, and each category created its own group.
  • Mutual competition, envy, and power struggles among the numerous parties during the rule of the later Mughals (in the lack of a strong central leadership) not only lowered the emperor’s reputation but also led to the empire’s demise.

Rise of Regional States

  • The states that arose as a result of the Mughal Empire’s fall may be divided into three basic categories:
    • Successor States
    • Independent Kingdoms
    • The New States
  • Successor States – These were the Mughal provinces that became states after seceding from the empire.
  • Though they did not dispute the Mughal ruler’s sovereignty, their governors’ installation of essentially independent and hereditary power demonstrated the rise of autonomous polity in these provinces. Awadh, Bengal, and Hyderabad are a few instances.
  • Independent Kingdoms – These nations arose mostly as a result of the destabilisation of Mughal sovereignty over the provinces, with Mysore and the Rajput states serving as examples.
  • The New States – These were the states established by rebels against the Mughal empire, such as the Maratha, Sikh, and Jat states.


After Aurangzeb’s death in c. 1707 CE, the Mughal Empire began to fall apart quickly. This year is usually used to distinguish the reign of the Great Mughals from the reign of the smaller Mughals, commonly known as the Later Mughals.

Social, economic, political, and institutional issues all had a role in the collapse of the Mughal Empire. By 1813, the British government had stripped the East India Company of its monopolistic authority, and the company began to operate on behalf of the government.

The Indian Rebellion took place in 1857, prompting the British colonial administration to exile the last monarch, Bahadur Shah II, and seize control of the Indian subcontinent.

Chapter 8: The Rise of Autonomous States


The Rise of Autonomous states like the Jats, Sikhs, and Marathas revolted under Aurangzeb’s rule. They challenged the Mughal state’s authority in order to establish their own kingdoms.

They did not succeed, but they had an impact on the future course of political events in their respective regions. Their constant fight for political dominance against the empire damaged the empire significantly. 

Rise of Autonomous States

  • The states that arose as a result of the Mughal Empire’s fall may be divided into three basic categories:
    • Successor States
    • Independent Kingdoms
    • The New States
  • Successor States – These were the Mughal provinces that became states after seceding from the empire.
  • Though they did not dispute the Mughal ruler’s sovereignty, their governors’ installation of essentially independent and hereditary power demonstrated the rise of autonomous polity in these provinces. Awadh, Bengal, and Hyderabad are a few instances.
  • Independent Kingdoms – These nations arose mostly as a result of the destabilisation of Mughal sovereignty over the provinces, with Mysore and the Rajput states serving as examples.
  • The New States – These were the states established by rebels against the Mughal empire, such as the Maratha, Sikh, and Jat states.

Autonomous States

StateDynasty/Founder/ LeaderSignificance
HyderabadNizam-ul-Mulk, was the founder of the Hyderabad Asaf-Jah dynasty.
  • Disgusted with the Mughal emperor for appointing Mubariz Khan as a full-fledged viceroy of the Deccan, Nizam-ul-Mulk determined to confront Mubariz Khan.
  • In the Battle of Shaker-Kheda, he defeated and later killed Mubariz Khan (1724).
  • He was now in command of the Deccan.
  • In 1725, he was appointed viceroy and given the title Asaf-Jah.
AwadhSaadat Khan, also known as Burhan-ul-Mulk, founded the autonomous principality of Awadh.
  • Saadat Khan had participated in a plot against the Sayyid brothers, which resulted in his receiving an enhanced mansab.
  • After being pushed out of the court, he was inspired to establish a new independent state.
  • Saadat Khan committed himself as a result of pressure from Nadir Shah, who demanded a large bounty from him.
  • Safdar Jang succeeded him as Nawab of Awadh.
BengalMurshid Kuli Khan established the independent state of Bengal.
  • Murshid Kuli Khan was a skilled monarch who led Bengal to prosperity.
  • In 1727, he was succeeded by his son Shujaud-din.
  • Sarfaraz Khan, his successor, was assassinated in 1740 by Alivardi Khan, the deputy governor of Bihar at Gheria, who seized control and declared independence from the Mughal emperor by paying yearly tribute.
The RajputsAjit Singh attempted to re-establish Rajput independence in the 18th century.
  • This compelled Bahadur Shah I, the Mughal emperor, to march against Ajit Singh (1708), who had forged an alliance with Jai Singh II and Durgadas Rathor.
  • The agreement, however, was shattered, and the situation was salvaged for the Mughals.
  • The Rajputs formerly ruled the whole country stretching from the south of Delhi to the western shore.
MysoreRuled by the Wodeyars
  • Various powers, all of which were interested in this land, transformed the area into a perpetual battleground.
  • Finally, the Mysore state was placed under the leadership of Haider Ali, who administered the state with difficulty.
  • He and his son Tipu Sultan were often at odds with the British.
KeralaMartanda Varma established Kerala
  • Kerala as an autonomous state, with Travancore as its capital.
  • Martanda Varma expanded his state’s borders from Kanyakumari to Cochin.
  • He worked hard to organise his army following Western lines and implemented a variety of policies to help his country grow.
The JatsChuraman and Badan Singh were successful in establishing the Jat kingdom of Bharatpur.
  • The agriculturist Jat settlers of Delhi, Mathura, and Agra revolted against Aurangzeb’s repressive policies.
  • Suraj Mal’s reign was the pinnacle of Jat power.
  • He not only established an effective administrative structure, but he also considerably expanded the state’s area.
  • His kingdom stretched from the Ganga in the east to the Chambal in the south, and it comprised the Subahs of Agra, Mathura, Meerut, and Aligarh.
  • However, with the death of Suraj Mal in 1763, the Jat kingdom began to crumble.
The SikhsBanda Bahadur, who subsequently became the Sikhs’ leader in 1708,
  • Following the invasions of Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali, the Sikhs asserted their dominance once more.
  • At this point, they had organised themselves into 12 misls or confederacies that controlled different portions of the country.
  • Ranjit Singh is credited with founding a powerful Punjab empire.
  • Ranjit Singh took control of the territory stretching from the Sutlej to the Jhelum.
  • In 1799, he captured Lahore, and in 1802, he seized Amritsar.
  • Ranjit Singh recognised the British claim over the Cis-Sutlej provinces in the Treaty of Amritsar with the British.
The MarathasUnder the skillful leadership of the Peshwas
  • The Marathas drove the Mughals out of Malwa and Gujarat and established their own dominion.
  • They formerly claimed to be the sole heirs of the Mughal empire, but their power was challenged by Ahmad Shah Abdali at the Third Battle of Panipat (1761).
  • The Marathas soon rebounded from defeat and posed the most dangerous opposition to the English East India Company in India’s quest for political power.
Rohilkhand and FarrukhabadThe Bangash Pathans’ kingdom
  • Ali Muhammad Khan used the collapse of authority in North India after Nadir Shah’s invasion to establish a tiny kingdom, Rohilakhand.
  • This was the Himalayan foothills region between Kumaon in the north and the Ganga in the south.
  • The Rohillas, as the people of Rohilkhand were known, suffered much at the hands of the area’s other powers, the Jats and Awadh monarchs, and subsequently, the Marathas and the British.
  • During the reigns of Farrukhsiyar and Muhammad Shah, Afghan Mohammad Khan Bangash established an autonomous kingdom to the east of Delhi in the territory surrounding Farrukhabad.

Significance of the Autonomous States

  • The territories’ distinct political systems maintained relations with the Mughal imperial power and accepted the emperor’s status as an umbrella.
  • Even rebel chieftains of the Marathas and Sikhs acknowledged the Mughal emperor as the supreme power.
  • The polity that arose in these nations was regional in nature and functioning, thanks to the combined backing of many local groups such as zamindars, merchants, local lords, and chieftains.
  • In order to survive, the provincial rulers had to take care of these varied local interests.
  • Of course, there were exceptions; for example, monarchs in Mysore did not recognise local chieftains.

Limitations of the Autonomous States

  • Certain limitations applied to the regional states. The provincial rulers were unable to create a system that was based on strong financial, administrative, and military organisation.
  • Though some strove to modernise, most notably Mysore, they were generally behind in science and technology.
  • Another disadvantage was the incessant conflict these governments engaged in with neighbouring regional powers – wars in which none could eventually prevail.
  • In truth, these republics were powerful enough to threaten Mughal dominance, but none were able to replace it with an all-India stable polity.
  • The jagirdari situation worsened as agricultural revenue fell and the number of contestants seeking a piece of the surplus increased.
  • Though commerce, both domestic and foreign, continued unaffected and even thrived, the rest of the economy stagnated.


The disintegration of the Mughal empire was a watershed moment in Indian history, ushering in the establishment of many regional powers as well as British control for nearly 200 years.

The strong authority of Aurangzeb may be traced back to the beginning of the dissolution of the Mughal empire.

Aurangzeb inherited a big empire, but he pursued a strategy of expanding it to the southernmost geographical boundaries at enormous cost in terms of men and materials.

Chapter 9: The British Expansion in India


The British, who came to India for trade, eventually became India’s political masters. The entire Indian subcontinent was brought under British control from the Battle of Plassey to the annexation of Punjab in 1849.

Aside from outright wars, they used methods such as the Subsidiary Alliance and the Doctrine of Lapse to expand and consolidate their empire in India. 

Expansion of British Rule in India - (1757 to 1857) - wbpscupsc

Growth of English East India Company

  • In 1599, a group of merchants known as Merchant Adventurers formed an English company to trade with the east. In 1600, the queen granted it permission and exclusive rights to trade with the east.
  • Captain Hawkins was given the royal farman by Mughal emperor Jahangir to establish factories on the western coast. Sir Thomas Roe later obtained the farman to establish factories throughout the Mughal empire.
  • Bombay was given to the British as dowry by the Portuguese. The British-Dutch conflict was settled by surrendering all claims to Indonesia.
  • The conditions in the south were ideal for the English. They began in Madras by constructing Fort St. George. The troubles began when the English sacked Hugli and declared war on the emperor.
  • They failed miserably. This was their first lesson. From then on, they relied on flattery and humble entreaties while waiting for their chance.
  • Fort William was built in 1698, and Calcutta was founded. Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta quickly developed into thriving trade centres.
  • The French, led by Dupleix, who had arrived in India by then, had already begun interfering in the affairs of the local princes with their well-equipped army. In 1742, France and England were at odds in Europe.
  • After the nizam died in 1748, his son Nasir Jung ascended to the throne. Muzaffar Jung, a nizam’s grandson, challenged him. Similar situations arose in Carnatic, where Chanda Sahib plotted against Nawab Anwarudeen.
  • The French sided with both rebels and won both of their claims for them, killing Anwarudeen and Nasir Jung. The English naturally sided with the fallen, led by Muhammad Ali, Anwarudeen’s son.
  • The wars were then won by the English under the capable generalship and cunning of Robert Clive. Finally, according to their treaty of 1754, the French recalled Dupleix from India.
  • Later, in 1760, the French were completely destroyed at the battle of Wandiwash. As a result, the English remained India’s sole masters.
  • The farman granted to the British by the Emperor allowed them to conduct free trade in Bengal. They were also not required to pay dastaks for the movement of such goods.
  • However, these were abused by the company’s employees, resulting in revenue loss for Bengal. When Siraj-ud-Daulah, Alivardi Khan’s grandson, ascended to the throne in 1756, he demanded that the English trade on the same terms as the Indian merchants.
  • When the English refused and strengthened their fortifications, the situation deteriorated.
  • This resulted in the Battle of Plassey in 1757, in which Siraj-ud-Daulah was treacherously defeated by the cheating of Mir Jaffar and Rai Durlabh. This brought the British enormous prestige and revenue.
  • When Mir Jaffar failed to pay the British tribute, they installed Mir Qasim on the throne. He was astute, realising that fighting the British required both revenue and an army.
  • Finally, he eliminated all internal trade duties. This enraged the British, who defeated Mir Qasim in the Battle of Buxar in 1764.

Subsidiary Alliance System

HISTORY Class VIII BY— MANJU BALA TGT-SST. - ppt video online download

  • Lord Wellesley, governor-general from 1798 to 1805, used the subsidiary alliance system to build an empire in India.
  • The ruler of an allying Indian state was compelled under the system to accept the permanent stationing of a British force within his territory and to pay a subsidy for its maintenance. In addition, the Indian ruler was required to consent to the posting of a British resident in his court.
  • Under the system, the Indian ruler could not hire any European without first obtaining permission from the British. He was also unable to negotiate with any other Indian ruler without first consulting the governor-general.
  • In exchange, the British would defend the ruler from his enemies and follow a policy of noninterference in the internal affairs of allied states.
  • Subsidiary alliances provided enormous benefits to the East India Company by expanding the areas under British control and bringing relative peace in terms of subsidies and/or territory.
  • Over 100 small and large Indian states signed the subsidiary treaty during Wellesley’s seven-year reign.

Doctrine of Lapse

PPT - HISTORY Class VIII PowerPoint Presentation, free download - ID:6986553

  • The final wave of annexations occurred during Lord Dalhousie’s tenure as Governor-General from 1848 to 1856, when he implemented the Doctrine of Lapse policy.
  • According to the doctrine, if an Indian ruler died without a male heir, his kingdom would “lapse,” or become part of Company territory.
  • Many kingdoms were simply annexed by using this doctrine: Satara (1848), Sambalpur (1850), Udaipur (1852), Nagpur (1853), and Jhansi (1854).
  • Finally, in 1856, the Company seized control of Awadh. Now, the British mentioned that they took over Awadh to free the people from the “misgovernment” of the Nawab, which enraged the deposed Nawab.
  • Later, the people of Awadh joined the great revolt that erupted in 1857.

Policy of Paramountcy

PPT - HISTORY Class VIII PowerPoint Presentation, free download - ID:6986553

  • Lord Hastings (Governor-General from 1813 to 1823) instituted a new policy of “paramountcy.”
  • The Company claimed that because its authority was paramount or supreme, it could annex or threaten to annex any Indian kingdom.
  • Later British policies were guided by this viewpoint.
  • Because of Russian invasion fears, the British shifted control to the north-west during these periods.
  • Between 1838 and 1842, the British fought a long war with Afghanistan, establishing indirect Company rule there. Sind had been taken over. Punjab was annexed in 1849.

Different Policies of British Rule

  • Policy of Ring Fence (1765 – 1813)
    • Warren Hastings’ wars against the Marathas and Mysore reflected this policy, which aimed to create buffer zones to defend the Company’s borders.
    • The main threat came from Marathas and Afghan invaders (the Company agreed to organise Awadh’s defence in order to ensure Bengal’s security).
    • The East India Company would send troops to bolster the defences of its allies, with the cost of their maintenance borne by the rulers of such a state. In this way, the local ruler’s defence would be dependent on the East India Company.
    • Wellesley’s subsidiary alliance policy was an extension of the ring fence policy, which sought to reduce states’ reliance on the British government in India.
    • Subsidiary alliances were accepted by major powers such as Hyderabad, Awadh, and the Marathas. As a result, British supremacy was established.
  • Policy of Subordinate Isolation (1813 – 1857)
    • The imperial concept developed, and the theory of paramountcy emerged—Indian states were expected to work in subordinate cooperation with the British government, acknowledging its supremacy.
    • The states gave up all forms of external sovereignty while retaining control over internal administration.
    • British residents were promoted from foreign diplomatic agents to executive and command officers of a superior government.
    • The Charter Act of 1833 effectively ended the Company’s commercial functions while maintaining its political functions.
    • It established a policy requiring prior approval/sanction for all succession matters.
    • In 1834, the Board of Directors issued guidelines directing the annexation of states whenever and wherever possible.
    • The annexation policy of Dalhousie resulted in the usurpation of eight states, including major ones like Satara and Nagpur.
  • Policy of Subordinate Union (1857 – 1935)
    • In 1858, the Crown took direct control.
    • The annexation policy was abandoned due to the states’ loyalty during the 1857 revolt and their potential use as breakwaters in future political storms.
    • Rather than annexing, the new policy was to punish or depose.
    • After 1858, the Mughal emperor’s fiction of authority ended; sanction for all matters of succession was required from the Crown, as the Crown stood forth as the unquestioned ruler and supreme power.
    • The ruler now inherited the gaddi as a gift from the supreme power, because the fiction of Indian states standing on equal footing with the Crown as independent, sovereign states ended with the Queen adopting the title of ‘Kaiser-i-Hind’ (Queen Empress of India).
  • Policy of Equal Federation (1935 – 1947)
    • Under its scheme of an all-India federation, the Government of India Act of 1935 proposed a Federal Assembly with 125 out of 375 seats for princes and the Council of States with 104 out of 160 seats for princes, subject to ratification by states representing more than half of the population and entitled to more than half of the seats in the Council of States.
    • This scheme never materialised, and it was abandoned after the outbreak of World War II (September 1939).
  • Policy of Masterly Inactivity
    • In response to the disasters of the First Afghan War, John Lawrence (1864–69) instituted a policy of masterly inactivity, which was the result of practical common sense, intimate knowledge of the frontier problem, and Afghan passion for independence.
    • There was no intervention in the succession war even after Dost Mohammed died in 1863.
    • Lawrence’s policy was based on two conditions: that the border remain peaceful, and that no candidate in a civil war seek foreign assistance.
    • Lawrence attempted to make friends with Sher Ali as he ascended to the throne.
    • Sir John Lawrence’s foreign policy was one of self-reliance and self-control, of defence rather than defiance, of waiting and watching so that when the time came, he could strike harder and in the right direction.
  • Policy of Proud Reserve
    • Lytton, a Conservative government nominee under Benjamin Disraeli (1874-80), was appointed Viceroy of India in 1876.
    • He initiated a new foreign policy of “proud reserve,” with the goal of establishing scientific frontiers and preserving “spheres of influence.”
    • According to Lytton, ambiguity in relations with Afghanistan could no longer be tolerated.


The expansion of the British empire in India was not the work of a company that had strayed from its proper purpose as a commercial firm, but was embedded in the transition from an early modern maritime and enclaved empire to a modern, territorial one.

Following the arrival of the British, many changes occurred in Indian society. Female infanticide, child marriage, sati, polygamy, and a rigid caste system became more common in the nineteenth century. These practises violated human dignity and values.

Chapter 10: Governor Generals, Viceroys and their contributions

Governor General, Viceroy -Their Contribution

Lord Warren Hastings

Lord Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of India (1774-1785), made several significant contributions during his tenure. Some of his key contributions and actions include:

Administrative Reforms:

Introduced a more efficient and organized system of administration in British India.

Established the Supreme Court of Calcutta in 1774, which marked a significant step towards the rule of law and the dispensation of justice.

Judicial Reforms:

Played a crucial role in the development of the Indian legal system.

Initiated the codification of laws and introduced a legal framework for British India.

Revenue Reforms:

Implemented a new system of revenue collection known as the “Permanent Settlement” in Bengal, which aimed to fix land revenue rates and provide stability to landowners.

Trade and Commerce:

Encouraged and promoted trade and commerce, both within India and with other countries.

Supported the expansion of British trade interests in India.

Educational Initiatives:

Promoted the study of Indian languages, culture, and history.

Contributed to the development of Oriental studies and the study of classical Indian texts.

Diplomacy and Foreign Policy:

Maintained diplomatic relations with various Indian rulers and princely states.

Successfully navigated and negotiated with different Indian powers to maintain peace and stability in British India.

Lord Warren Hastings’ contributions laid the foundation for the British colonial administration in India and played a crucial role in shaping the course of British rule in the subcontinent. His administrative and legal reforms, as well as his support for education and culture, left a lasting impact on the governance and society of colonial India.

Lord Cornwallis (1783-1793)

Lord Charles Cornwallis (1738-1805) was a British statesman and military officer who played a significant role in British colonial administration, particularly in India. Here are some key aspects of his role and contributions:

Governor-General of India (1786-1793):

Lord Cornwallis served as the Governor-General of India during a critical period of British colonial rule.

He is best known for introducing a series of administrative and judicial reforms, collectively known as the Cornwallis Code, which had a lasting impact on British India.

Cornwallis Code:

The Cornwallis Code of 1793 aimed to reform the Indian legal and administrative system.

It established the framework for a more efficient and organized system of governance in British India.

One of its significant provisions was the introduction of the permanent settlement system in Bengal, which aimed to establish a fixed land revenue system.

Permanent Settlement System:

The Permanent Settlement System, also known as the Zamindari System, was introduced by Cornwallis in Bengal.

It fixed land revenue obligations, allowing zamindars (landlords) to collect revenue directly from peasants while providing a share to the British East India Company.

This system had both positive and negative consequences, as it provided revenue stability but also entrenched the power of the zamindars and left peasants vulnerable to exploitation.

Judicial Reforms:

Cornwallis introduced significant judicial reforms, including the separation of the executive and judicial branches of government.

He established a hierarchy of courts, with district courts and courts of appeal.

These reforms aimed to provide a more efficient and just legal system in India.

Second Anglo-Mysore War (1790-1792):

Cornwallis was the British commander during the Second Anglo-Mysore War against Tipu Sultan of Mysore.

The war concluded with the Treaty of Seringapatam, which saw the British East India Company gain territory and impose conditions on Mysore.

Later Career:

After his service in India, Cornwallis returned to Britain and held various political and military positions.

He is also known for serving as a Member of Parliament and for his role in the British government.


Lord Cornwallis’s administrative and judicial reforms in India left a lasting impact on the colonial governance system.

The permanent settlement system and the separation of the judiciary from the executive continued to influence British colonial policies in India.

While Lord Cornwallis is often associated with the permanent settlement system, his contributions and reforms in India had a significant influence on the evolution of the colonial administration and the legal system in British India.


Lord Wellesley (1798-1805)

Lord Richard Colley Wellesley, also known as Marquess Wellesley, was a British statesman and colonial administrator who served as the Governor-General of India from 1798 to 1805. Here are some key aspects of his role and contributions during his tenure as Governor-General:

Subsidiary Alliance System:

Lord Wellesley is best known for his policy of the Subsidiary Alliance, which was a significant innovation in British Indian diplomacy.

Under this system, the Indian princely states entered into alliances with the British East India Company. In exchange for British protection, these states agreed to maintain British troops in their territories, pay a subsidy to the British, and accept a British Resident at their courts.

The Subsidiary Alliance System allowed the British to extend their influence and control over a significant portion of India without direct annexation.

Wars and Annexations:

During Lord Wellesley’s tenure, the British East India Company was involved in several military campaigns and annexations. Notable conflicts include the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War (1798-1799), the Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803-1805), and the capture of the French-controlled territories in India.

These campaigns resulted in the expansion of British territories and the subjugation of major Indian powers.

Establishment of Fort William College:

Lord Wellesley played a key role in the establishment of Fort William College in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1800.

The college was created to train British civil servants in the Indian languages, culture, and administration, which was essential for effective governance in India.

Mysore and Tipu Sultan:

Lord Wellesley’s administration witnessed the defeat of Tipu Sultan in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War (1798-1799).

Tipu Sultan’s capital, Seringapatam, was captured, and he was killed in the final assault. This marked the end of Mysore’s independence and the incorporation of the kingdom into the British Indian territories.

Napoleonic Wars and British Concerns:

Lord Wellesley’s policies were influenced by the global context of the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. He was concerned about the possibility of French interference in India.

To counter this threat, he pursued an aggressive policy of expanding British control and influence.

Later Career:

After his tenure as Governor-General, Lord Wellesley held various political and administrative positions in Britain.

He was known for his role in British politics and his contributions to the government.

Lord Wellesley’s policies, especially the Subsidiary Alliance System, had a significant and lasting impact on the Indian princely states and on the territorial expansion of British India. His tenure marked a crucial phase in the consolidation of British power on the Indian subcontinent.

Lord Minto I (1807-1813)

Gilbert Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound, the 1st Earl of Minto, served as the Governor-General of India during the period of 1807 to 1813. Here are some of the significant events and policies associated with Lord Minto I’s tenure:

Anglo-Maratha War (1817-1818): One of the major events during Lord Minto I’s tenure was the Anglo-Maratha War, which took place between the British East India Company and the Maratha Empire. The war ultimately led to the signing of the Treaty of Bassein in 1802, which brought the Maratha territories under British influence.

Napoleonic Wars: Lord Minto I’s time in India coincided with the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. The British government was concerned about the possibility of French interference in India, and Lord Minto adopted a policy of keeping a close watch on French activities in the Indian Ocean region.

Charter Act of 1813: During Lord Minto’s tenure, the Charter Act of 1813 was passed by the British Parliament. This act renewed the charter of the British East India Company for another 20 years. It also had provisions for allocating funds for promoting education and Christian missionary activities in India.

Relations with Nepal: Lord Minto I also dealt with the Gurkha War, also known as the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814-1816). The conflict arose over territorial disputes between the British East India Company and the Kingdom of Nepal. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Sugauli in 1815, which resulted in the cession of territories to the British.

Suppression of Pirates: Lord Minto I was involved in efforts to suppress piracy in the Indian Ocean. He took measures to combat pirates along the Malabar Coast, the Persian Gulf, and the Red Sea.

Cultural and Literary Interests: Lord Minto I had an interest in Indian culture and languages. He supported the study and preservation of ancient Indian texts and literature.

Famine Relief: Lord Minto I also had to deal with the consequences of the Great Famine of 1812, which affected large parts of India. He implemented relief measures to provide assistance to those affected by the famine.

Lord Minto I’s tenure as Governor-General was marked by significant geopolitical developments and conflicts, as well as efforts to promote British interests in India. His policies and actions had a lasting impact on British rule in India during the early 19th century.

Lord Hastings (1813-1823)

Lord Francis Rawdon-Hastings, 1st Marquess of Hastings, served as the Governor-General of India from 1813 to 1823. Here are some key aspects of his role and contributions during his tenure as Governor-General:

Anglo-Nepalese War (1814-1816):

One of the significant events during Lord Hastings’ tenure was the Anglo-Nepalese War.

The conflict arose due to territorial disputes between the British East India Company and the Kingdom of Nepal. It culminated in the Sugauli Treaty of 1815, which resulted in the cession of several Nepalese territories to the British, including parts of present-day Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Gurkha Recruitment:

Lord Hastings appreciated the bravery and military prowess of the Gurkhas (Nepalese soldiers) during the Anglo-Nepalese War.

He initiated the recruitment of Gurkhas into the British Indian Army, a tradition that continues to this day. Gurkha regiments are renowned for their loyalty and valor.

Maratha Campaigns:

Lord Hastings presided over the conclusion of the Maratha Wars, which were ongoing when he assumed office.

He is credited with achieving British dominance over the Maratha Confederacy. The Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817-1818) led to the defeat of the Marathas and the formal annexation of their territories.

Bhonsle Campaign:

Lord Hastings conducted a successful military campaign against the Maratha Bhonsle dynasty, which had resisted British authority.

The Bhonsle territories were annexed to the British dominions as a result.

Treaty of Amritsar (1846):

Lord Hastings played a role in shaping the Treaty of Amritsar (1846) with Maharaja Gulab Singh of Jammu and Kashmir.

The treaty allowed Gulab Singh to purchase the Kashmir Valley from the British for a sum of money. This marked the establishment of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir under Gulab Singh’s rule.

Educational Initiatives:

Lord Hastings supported educational initiatives and patronized oriental learning, including the translation of Indian texts into English.

He established the Sanskrit College in Calcutta, which aimed to promote the study of classical Indian languages and culture.

Promotion of Trade:

Lord Hastings encouraged trade and commerce in British India. He supported measures to stimulate economic growth, including infrastructure development.

Lord Hastings’ tenure as Governor-General witnessed significant territorial changes, particularly in relation to Nepal and the Maratha Empire. His policies and military campaigns played a crucial role in the expansion and consolidation of British power in India during the early 19th century.

Lord Amherst (1823-1828)

Lord William Pitt Amherst served as the Governor-General of India from 1823 to 1828. His tenure was marked by several important events and policies. Here are some key aspects of his role and contributions during his time as Governor-General:

First Anglo-Burmese War (1824-1826):

One of the major events during Lord Amherst’s tenure was the First Anglo-Burmese War.

The conflict arose due to disputes over the border between British India and the Burmese Kingdom. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Yandabo in 1826.

Under the treaty, the British gained control of Assam, Manipur, and Arakan (Rakhine) in Burma, thereby expanding British territorial influence.

Settlement of Border Disputes:

Lord Amherst played a role in the resolution of border disputes with the Kingdom of Nepal. The Treaty of Sugauli in 1815 had left some border issues unresolved, and during his tenure, efforts were made to clarify and settle these matters.

Renewal of the Charter Act (1823):

During Lord Amherst’s time as Governor-General, the British Parliament passed the Charter Act of 1823, which renewed the company’s charter for another twenty years.

The Act introduced some administrative reforms and allowed for the appointment of a Law Member to the Governor-General’s Executive Council.

Expansion of British Influence:

Lord Amherst’s administration contributed to the consolidation of British control in India.

He worked to extend British influence over various princely states and sought to strengthen British alliances with Indian rulers.

Cultural and Literary Patronage:

Lord Amherst was known for his patronage of Indian arts and literature.

He supported the translation of Indian texts into English and the preservation of indigenous cultural heritage.

Calcutta Medical College:

Under Lord Amherst’s leadership, the Calcutta Medical College was established in 1835. The college played a crucial role in training medical professionals in British India.

Reform of the Legal System:

Efforts were made during Lord Amherst’s administration to reform and improve the legal and judicial system in British India.

Reduction of Expenditure:

Lord Amherst aimed to reduce government expenditure and initiated cost-cutting measures during his term.

Lord Amherst’s tenure as Governor-General was significant for the expansion of British territorial holdings in Southeast Asia, as well as for his contributions to the cultural and educational development of British India. The First Anglo-Burmese War and the subsequent acquisition of new territories were among the most prominent events of his administration.

Lord William Bentinck (1828-1835):

Lord William Bentinck, who served as the Governor-General of India from 1828 to 1835, made several significant contributions during his tenure. His reforms and policies had a lasting impact on India. Here are some of his key contributions:

Abolition of Sati:

One of Lord Bentinck’s most notable achievements was the abolition of the practice of sati (suttee) in 1829. Sati was the practice of a widow self-immolating on her husband’s funeral pyre. Lord Bentinck’s decision to ban sati was a landmark reform that aimed to protect the rights and lives of women.

Suppression of Thuggee:

Lord Bentinck initiated a campaign to suppress the activities of the Thugs, a secret criminal fraternity that engaged in highway robberies and murders. This campaign resulted in the capture and prosecution of many Thugs.

Reforms in Education:

Promoted Western education and laid the foundation for the modern education system in India. He allocated funds for the promotion of education in English and the development of English-language schools.

Administrative Reforms:

Introduced several administrative reforms, including the separation of executive and judicial functions, and the appointment of Indian officers to various posts in the administration.

Financial Reforms:

Worked on improving the financial stability of the East India Company’s government in India, including measures to reduce extravagant expenditure.

Freedom of Press:

Lord Bentinck supported freedom of the press, allowing a greater degree of freedom for newspapers and publications.

Indian Civil Service:

Initiated reforms in the recruitment and training of civil servants, which laid the foundation for the Indian Civil Service (ICS).

Lord William Bentinck’s tenure as Governor-General marked a significant shift in British policy towards India, with a focus on social and administrative reforms. His efforts in promoting social reforms, education, and justice contributed to a more modern and inclusive India.

Lord Auckland (1836-1842)

Lord Auckland, whose full name was George Eden, served as the Governor-General of India from 1836 to 1842. His tenure was marked by various significant events and policies. Here are some key aspects of his role and contributions during his time as Governor-General:

First Anglo-Afghan War (1838-1842):

One of the major events during Lord Auckland’s tenure was the First Anglo-Afghan War.

The British government, under his leadership, aimed to extend its influence in Afghanistan and counter Russian expansion in the region. This led to the British intervention in Afghanistan.

The war, however, proved to be a disaster for the British, with the British army suffering significant losses during their retreat from Kabul in 1842.

Treaty of Amritsar (1846):

During Lord Auckland’s tenure, the Treaty of Amritsar was signed with Maharaja Gulab Singh of Jammu and Kashmir. This treaty established Gulab Singh as the independent ruler of Jammu and Kashmir by paying a sum of money to the British.

Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803-1805):

The Second Anglo-Maratha War, which had begun before Lord Auckland’s term, continued during his tenure. The war concluded with the Treaty of Rajghat in 1805, which resulted in significant territorial gains for the British.

Annexation of Sindh (1843):

Though the decision to annex Sindh was made after Lord Auckland’s tenure, his policies contributed to the eventual annexation of the region. Sindh was annexed by the British in 1843.

Administrative Reforms:

Lord Auckland worked on administrative reforms during his term. These included measures to improve the collection of land revenue and the administration of the territories under British control.

Famine Relief and Public Welfare:

Lord Auckland’s administration took steps to provide relief during famines and to improve public welfare. Efforts were made to address the issues of famine and public health.

Resignation and Legacy:

The failure of the First Anglo-Afghan War, with the loss of many British lives, led to Lord Auckland’s resignation in 1842.

His tenure is often remembered for the disastrous Afghan campaign and its impact on British policy in the region.

Lord Auckland’s time as Governor-General was marked by the ambitious but ultimately ill-fated Afghan policy, which had significant consequences for British India’s relations with Afghanistan and the region. The First Anglo-Afghan War remains a prominent and controversial aspect of his legacy.

Lord Hardinge I (1844-1848)

Lord Hardinge I, also known as Sir Henry Hardinge, served as the Governor-General of India from 1844 to 1848. His tenure was marked by important events and policies. Here are some of the significant aspects of his administration:

First Anglo-Sikh War (1845-1846): One of the most notable events during Lord Hardinge’s time in India was the First Anglo-Sikh War. The conflict arose from tensions between the Sikh Empire and the British East India Company. The war culminated in the Treaty of Lahore (1846), which resulted in the cession of territories to the British, including the Jullundur Doab.

Annexation of Sindh: Lord Hardinge was involved in the decision to annex Sindh in 1843. The annexation was prompted by concerns about Sindh’s stability and the potential threat it posed to British interests in India. Charles James Napier, under the direction of the Governor-General, led the campaign to annex Sindh.

Famine Relief and Public Works: During his tenure, Lord Hardinge was concerned with famine relief and initiated various public works projects aimed at improving infrastructure, such as roads and canals, to promote economic development.

Renewal of the East India Company’s Charter: The renewal of the East India Company’s charter was an important matter during Lord Hardinge’s administration. The Charter Act of 1833 was due to expire, and negotiations and discussions took place regarding the future of the East India Company’s governance.

Relations with Afghanistan: Lord Hardinge was also involved in discussions and diplomacy with Afghanistan. His administration sought to maintain friendly relations with Afghanistan, as the region held strategic importance in the context of British interests in Central Asia.

Reforms and Governance: Lord Hardinge was involved in various administrative and judicial reforms aimed at improving the efficiency and transparency of governance in British India.

Economic Policies: The administration focused on economic development and trade, with efforts to stimulate the Indian economy and promote trade with Britain.

Lord Hardinge I’s tenure was characterized by political and military events, including the First Anglo-Sikh War and the annexation of Sindh. He played a key role in shaping British policies in India during the mid-19th century.

Lord Dalhousie (1848-1856):

Lord Dalhousie, whose full name was James Andrew Broun-Ramsay, was the Governor-General of India from 1848 to 1856. His tenure was marked by significant administrative and territorial changes in British India. Here are some key highlights of Lord Dalhousie’s tenure:

Annexation of Punjab (1849): One of the most significant events during Lord Dalhousie’s rule was the annexation of the Punjab region in 1849 after the Second Anglo-Sikh War. The Punjab was incorporated into British India.

Annexation of Oudh (1856): Lord Dalhousie also annexed the Kingdom of Oudh (Awadh) in 1856, citing misrule and inefficiency as reasons for the takeover. This was a controversial move that led to the deposition of the last Nawab of Oudh.

Doctrine of Lapse: Lord Dalhousie aggressively applied the Doctrine of Lapse, a policy that allowed the British East India Company to annex princely states if they lacked a male heir or were deemed to be misgoverned. This policy led to the annexation of several states, including Satara, Jhansi, and Nagpur.

Construction of Railways: Dalhousie is credited with promoting the construction of railways in India. The first railway line in India was laid between Bombay (Mumbai) and Thane during his tenure. The development of the railway system had a profound impact on India’s economic and administrative landscape.

Telegraph and Postal Services: Lord Dalhousie also played a significant role in the expansion of the telegraph and postal services, which greatly improved communication and administration in India.

Public Works: He promoted a range of public works projects, including roads, canals, and irrigation systems, which contributed to infrastructure development in British India.

Education: During his tenure, measures were taken to promote modern education, including the establishment of schools and colleges.

Indian Civil Services: The system of competitive examinations for the recruitment of civil servants was introduced during Lord Dalhousie’s time.

Legal Reforms: Several legal and administrative reforms were implemented during his tenure, including the codification of laws.

Durand Line: The demarcation of the Durand Line, which separated British India from Afghanistan, was also carried out during his rule.

Lord Dalhousie’s policies and actions, particularly the Doctrine of Lapse, were controversial and had a lasting impact on British India. While some of his administrative reforms and infrastructure projects were beneficial, his annexations and policies generated criticism and played a role in shaping the dynamics of Indian politics and governance in the decades that followed. His tenure set the stage for the Indian Rebellion of 1857, which was a significant turning point in India’s struggle for independence.

Lord Canning (1856-1862):

Lord Canning, who served as the Governor-General of India from 1856 to 1862, played a crucial role during a tumultuous period in India’s history. Some of his significant contributions and actions include:

The Indian Mutiny (1857-1858):

Lord Canning’s tenure was marked by the outbreak of the Indian Rebellion of 1857, often referred to as the Indian Mutiny or the Sepoy Mutiny.

He had to deal with the widespread revolt against British rule, which began with a mutiny among Indian sepoys (soldiers) in the British East India Company’s army.

Lord Canning took a firm stance in suppressing the rebellion, and the British eventually regained control. The rebellion had a profound impact on British policies in India.

The Doctrine of Lapse:

Lord Canning continued the policy of Doctrine of Lapse, which allowed the British to annex princely states if they lacked a male heir.

However, he modified the policy and applied it more judiciously, taking into consideration the legitimacy of the princely states’ rulers.

Abolition of the Doctrine of Lapse:

In 1858, Lord Canning officially ended the Doctrine of Lapse, which had been a source of discontent among Indian rulers. This decision was part of a conciliatory approach towards the princely states.

The Queen’s Proclamation (1858):

Lord Canning played a significant role in the issuance of Queen Victoria’s Proclamation in 1858, which declared the end of the rule of the East India Company and the beginning of direct British Crown rule in India.

Administrative Reforms:

Lord Canning implemented various administrative reforms during his tenure, aimed at improving governance and reducing inefficiencies.

Reconciliation and Amnesty:

After the suppression of the rebellion, Lord Canning advocated for a policy of reconciliation and amnesty. He sought to rebuild relations with the Indian populace.

Introduction of the Indian Councils Act (1861):

Lord Canning was involved in the passing of the Indian Councils Act of 1861, which expanded the legislative councils in India and allowed for more Indian representation.

Lord Canning’s leadership during a challenging period in India’s history, particularly his handling of the Indian Mutiny and the transition to direct British rule, had a significant impact on the course of British India. His policies reflected the changing dynamics of colonial rule and governance in India.

Lord John Lawrence (1864-1869)

Lord John Lawrence, 1st Baron Lawrence, served as the Viceroy of India from 1864 to 1869. His tenure was marked by several important developments and policies. Here are some key aspects of his role and contributions during his time as Viceroy:

The Abyssinian Expedition (1867-1868):

One of the significant events during Lord Lawrence’s tenure was the Abyssinian Expedition. In 1867, he approved and supported a military campaign to rescue British hostages and free other Europeans held captive in Abyssinia (modern-day Ethiopia). The expedition was successful, and the hostages were liberated.

Reconstruction of India’s Finances:

Lord Lawrence played a crucial role in addressing the financial issues of British India. He worked on the reconstruction of India’s finances and aimed to put them on a more stable footing.

Public Works and Railways:

Lord Lawrence promoted public works and infrastructure development during his tenure. He initiated several railway construction projects and worked on the expansion of the railway network.

Education and Civil Services:

Efforts were made to improve the education system in India. Lord Lawrence supported measures to enhance education and expand the reach of Western education.

He also worked on reforms in the civil services, emphasizing the recruitment and training of civil servants.

Expansion of Administrative Responsibilities:

Lord Lawrence’s administration extended British control over regions in North-East India, such as Assam and Manipur.

His policies aimed at consolidating and extending British influence and control.

Settlement of Land Revenue:

Land revenue policies were reviewed, and efforts were made to ensure fair land revenue assessments for Indian farmers.

Public Health and Sanitation:

Measures were taken to improve public health and sanitation. Initiatives were launched to combat epidemics and improve living conditions.

Appointment of an Indian Member in the Viceroy’s Executive Council:

During Lord Lawrence’s tenure, the first Indian member, Raja Sir Dinkar Rao, was appointed to the Viceroy’s Executive Council.

Relations with Afghanistan:

Lord Lawrence was involved in discussions and negotiations with Afghanistan. He aimed to maintain peaceful relations with Afghanistan, given the importance of this neighboring country.

Lord John Lawrence’s tenure as Viceroy of India was characterized by efforts to stabilize the financial situation, promote infrastructure development, and introduce administrative reforms. His policies had a significant impact on British India’s governance, education, and public works.

Lord Lytton (1876-1880)

Lord Robert Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Earl of Lytton, served as the Viceroy and Governor-General of India from 1876 to 1880. His tenure as Viceroy was marked by several significant events and policies:

Famine and Relief Efforts: Lord Lytton’s administration faced the devastating famine of 1876-1878, which affected large parts of India. The response to the famine remains a subject of historical debate. Some critics argue that his policies aggravated the suffering of the affected population. His government’s focus on financial restraint and revenue collection during the famine years was controversial.

Reduction of Expenditure: Lord Lytton initiated measures to reduce government expenditure and curtailed public works projects. His policies aimed at reducing the budget deficit and achieving fiscal restraint.

The Vernacular Press Act (1878): Lord Lytton’s government passed the Vernacular Press Act, which aimed to control the Indian-language press. The act required newspapers published in Indian languages to deposit security money with the government. It was widely criticized as an infringement on press freedom.

The Arms Act (1878): The Arms Act of 1878 was enacted during Lord Lytton’s administration. It aimed at regulating the possession and sale of arms and ammunition in India.

Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-1880): The Second Anglo-Afghan War, also known as the Second Afghan War, took place during Lord Lytton’s tenure. The conflict arose from disputes over the demarcation of the Afghan frontier. It ended with the signing of the Treaty of Gandamak in 1879, which recognized Afghanistan as a British protectorate.

Delhi Durbar of 1877: Lord Lytton organized the Imperial Durbar of 1877 in Delhi to proclaim Queen Victoria as the Empress of India. The event was attended by Indian princes and dignitaries and marked the formal assumption of the title of Empress of India by Queen Victoria.

Education and Public Works: Despite his financial constraints, Lord Lytton’s administration continued to support education and public works projects, including the construction of railways and telegraph lines.

Lord Lytton’s tenure as Viceroy was marked by controversies, particularly in relation to the response to the famine and the measures taken to address it. His policies, such as the Vernacular Press Act, generated significant opposition and criticism. The period also witnessed important political developments and diplomatic activities in Afghanistan.

Lord Ripon (1880-1884)

Lord Ripon, whose full name was George Frederick Samuel Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon, served as the Viceroy of India from 1880 to 1884. His tenure was marked by several significant reforms and policies. Here are some key aspects of Lord Ripon’s role and contributions during his time as Viceroy:

Local Self-Government and Decentralization:

Lord Ripon is best known for his efforts to promote local self-government and decentralization of power. He introduced the Local Self-Government (Local Bodies) Acts of 1882, which came to be known as the “Ripon Acts.”

These acts extended local self-government to rural areas and increased Indian participation in local administration. They allowed elected representatives to have a say in the management of local affairs.

First Factory Act (1881):

During Lord Ripon’s tenure, the First Factory Act of 1881 was passed. This legislation aimed at improving working conditions in factories and protecting the welfare of laborers, particularly women and children.

Freedom of the Press:

Lord Ripon supported freedom of the press and sought to remove restrictions on the Indian press. His government attempted to make it easier for newspapers to be published without undue censorship.

Civil Services and Competitive Exams:

Efforts were made to reform the civil services and promote the recruitment of Indians into higher administrative positions. Competitive exams for entry into the civil services were opened to a wider pool of candidates.

Agricultural and Irrigation Policies:

Lord Ripon’s administration took steps to address agricultural issues and promote irrigation projects. These policies aimed at improving agricultural productivity.

Relations with Native Princes:

Efforts were made to maintain good relations with native princely states. Lord Ripon’s government aimed to respect the rights and privileges of these states while acknowledging British paramountcy.

Support for Education:

Lord Ripon’s government supported educational reforms, including efforts to expand primary education and enhance the quality of education in India.

Legislative Councils:

His administration made some limited provisions for increased representation in legislative councils, although these efforts fell short of more extensive political reforms.

Lord Ripon’s tenure as Viceroy was characterized by a commitment to administrative and social reforms. His emphasis on local self-government and decentralization had a lasting impact on India’s political landscape and contributed to the growth of democratic institutions at the grassroots level. He is remembered for his progressive policies and support for civil liberties during his time as Viceroy.

Lord Dufferin (1884-1888)

Lord Dufferin, whose full name was Frederick Temple Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, served as the Viceroy of India from 1884 to 1888. His tenure as Viceroy was marked by several important developments and policies. Here are some key aspects of Lord Dufferin’s role and contributions during his time as Viceroy:

The Third Anglo-Burmese War (1885-1886):

One of the significant events during Lord Dufferin’s tenure was the Third Anglo-Burmese War. British forces under the command of General Prendergast captured Mandalay, the Burmese royal capital, in November 1885.

The war resulted in the formal annexation of Upper Burma (now Myanmar) by the British Empire. This expanded British influence in Southeast Asia.

Educational Reforms:

Lord Dufferin supported educational reforms in India, particularly in the area of primary and secondary education. Efforts were made to expand access to education and improve the quality of instruction.

Development of Railways and Infrastructure:

During Lord Dufferin’s tenure, the construction of railways and other infrastructure projects continued, contributing to the modernization and connectivity of different regions of India.

Famine Relief and Public Health:

Lord Dufferin’s administration worked on famine relief measures and public health initiatives. Efforts were made to alleviate the impact of famines through relief operations and better agricultural practices.

Relations with Native Princes:

The Viceroy maintained and developed relations with native princely states. He aimed to strengthen the British Empire’s ties with these states while respecting their internal autonomy.

Political Reforms:

While Lord Dufferin’s administration did not introduce major political reforms, there were discussions and debates about political representation and governance. He was aware of the need for political reforms but did not implement extensive changes during his tenure.

Freedom of the Press:

Lord Dufferin supported a free press and defended the freedom of the press in India. He opposed censorship and restrictions on newspapers and journalism.

Public Service Commission:

The need for a Public Service Commission was discussed during Lord Dufferin’s time, but the establishment of such a commission did not occur until later.

Lord Dufferin’s tenure was a period of transition and consolidation of British rule in India. While he did not oversee major political reforms, his administration continued to modernize India’s infrastructure, improve education, and address social and administrative issues. His support for educational reforms and press freedom left a lasting impact on India’s intellectual and political landscape.

Lord Lansdowne (1888-1894)

Lord Henry Charles Keith Petty-Fitzmaurice, 5th Marquess of Lansdowne, served as the Viceroy of India from 1888 to 1894. His tenure witnessed several important developments and policies in British India. Here are some key aspects of Lord Lansdowne’s role and contributions during his time as Viceroy:

Indian Councils Act of 1892:

One of the significant legislative developments during Lord Lansdowne’s time was the Indian Councils Act of 1892. This act expanded legislative councils, both central and provincial, and increased the number of elected members.

The Act also introduced the principle of communal representation, allowing separate electorates for different communities, which had far-reaching consequences for Indian politics.

Famine Relief and Public Works:

Lord Lansdowne’s administration faced the challenges of famines in India. Efforts were made to improve famine relief measures and develop public works projects, such as canals and irrigation systems, to enhance agricultural productivity.

Agricultural Reforms:

The Viceroy’s administration recognized the importance of agricultural reforms, including land revenue policies and irrigation projects, to address agricultural challenges and promote rural development.

Educational Initiatives:

Efforts were made to enhance educational opportunities for Indians. Some progress was made in the field of primary and secondary education, with a focus on improving literacy rates.

Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907:

Although the negotiations for the Anglo-Russian Convention took place after Lord Lansdowne’s tenure as Viceroy, the convention itself was a significant diplomatic achievement.

The convention defined spheres of influence in Central Asia and improved British-Russian relations in the region, reducing the chances of a conflict that could have involved India.

Social Reforms and Women’s Rights:

The period saw discussions and debates on social reforms and women’s rights in India. Some reform movements advocated for social change and women’s empowerment.

Infrastructure Development:

Infrastructure development, including the expansion of railways and telegraph services, continued under Lord Lansdowne’s administration. These developments played a crucial role in improving connectivity and communication in India.

Relations with Princely States:

The Viceroy worked to strengthen ties with native princely states and encourage cooperation with the British administration.

Introduction of Electricity:

Lord Lansdowne played a role in the introduction of electricity in India, particularly in major cities. This was a significant step in modernizing urban areas.

Lord Lansdowne’s tenure marked a period of administrative and legislative reforms in India. The Indian Councils Act of 1892 was a notable step toward expanding political participation, albeit with limitations, and the provisions regarding communal representation had a lasting impact on Indian politics. His administration also addressed critical issues such as famine relief, infrastructure development, and social reforms.

Lord Curzon (1899-1905):

Lord Curzon, who served as the Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905, was a prominent British statesman and colonial administrator. His tenure in India was marked by various significant actions and policies:

Partition of Bengal (1905):

One of the most controversial decisions during Lord Curzon’s tenure was the partition of the province of Bengal in 1905. The stated reason for this partition was administrative efficiency, but it had significant political and social implications.

The decision to divide Bengal into two separate provinces, West Bengal and East Bengal (now Bangladesh), was met with widespread opposition, protests, and agitation by Indian nationalists. It was seen as an attempt to divide and weaken the Bengali-speaking population, which was a hotbed of nationalist sentiment.

Due to the intense public outcry and boycott of British goods, the partition was eventually reversed in 1911.

Educational Reforms:

Lord Curzon made significant contributions to education during his time in India. He promoted modern education and established universities in various provinces. He was responsible for the founding of the University of Dhaka (now in Bangladesh) and the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.

Archaeological Survey:

Lord Curzon was interested in the preservation and restoration of historical monuments and archaeological sites. He initiated the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to document and protect India’s rich heritage.

Railway and Infrastructure Development:

He oversaw the expansion and development of the railway network and infrastructure in India.

Foreign Policy:

Lord Curzon was involved in foreign policy matters, particularly those related to India’s neighbors. He had a keen interest in strengthening British influence in Tibet and Persia.

Northwest Frontier Province:

He was responsible for administrative changes in the Northwest Frontier Province (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan) and introduced the “forward policy” aimed at establishing British control in tribal areas.

Imperial Durbar:

Lord Curzon organized the grand Durbar in Delhi in 1903 to celebrate the coronation of King Edward VII. This event was attended by various Indian rulers and dignitaries.

Lord Curzon’s tenure was marked by both significant achievements and controversies. His administrative reforms and interest in education left a lasting impact on India’s infrastructure and institutions. However, his decision to partition Bengal and certain foreign policy initiatives were met with criticism and opposition from Indian nationalists.

Lord Minto II (1905-1910)

Gilbert John Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound, 4th Earl of Minto, served as the Viceroy of India from 1905 to 1910. His tenure was a crucial period in the history of British India and marked several significant events and policies. Here are some key aspects of Lord Minto II’s role and contributions during his time as Viceroy:

Partition of Bengal (1905):

One of the most controversial and significant events during Lord Minto’s administration was the partition of the Bengal province in 1905. The decision to divide Bengal into two provinces, East Bengal and Assam and West Bengal, was met with widespread protests and opposition.

The partition was eventually reversed in 1911, primarily due to the intense public pressure and nationalist movements. The reunification of Bengal was seen as a significant victory for Indian nationalism.

Morley-Minto Reforms (1909):

The Morley-Minto Reforms of 1909, also known as the Minto-Morley Reforms, introduced constitutional changes. They expanded the Indian legislative councils, introduced separate electorates for religious communities, and increased Indian participation in government.

While these reforms were a limited step toward Indian representation, they were criticized for reinforcing communal divisions.

Suppression of Extremist Movements:

During Lord Minto’s tenure, there was a growing divide between moderate and extremist factions within the Indian National Congress. The Viceroy and the British authorities attempted to suppress the more radical elements of the nationalist movement.

Repressive Measures and the Sedition Act:

Lord Minto’s administration also saw the introduction of repressive measures, including the Sedition Act of 1908, aimed at curbing political dissent and freedom of speech.

Nationalist leaders such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak were arrested and tried under these acts.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s Prosecution:

Bal Gangadhar Tilak, a prominent nationalist leader, was tried and convicted for his speeches and writings. His imprisonment and subsequent release on bail were significant events during this period.

Role in India’s Entry into World War I:

Lord Minto’s administration played a role in India’s entry into World War I (1914-1918). India’s participation in the war, without prior consultation with Indian leaders, sparked protests and contributed to the growth of the nationalist movement.

Social Reforms and Education:

Some social reforms were initiated during this period, and efforts were made to improve educational opportunities for Indians.

Role in Indian Politics:

Lord Minto’s tenure coincided with a period of heightened political activity, with both moderates and extremists pushing for greater political reforms.

Legacy and Controversies:

Lord Minto’s tenure is associated with controversies due to the partition of Bengal, the Morley-Minto Reforms, and the government’s response to the growing nationalist movement.

Lord Minto II’s administration witnessed significant political developments and growing political awareness among Indians. The period was marked by both repressive measures and concessions, setting the stage for future political developments and demands for self-rule.

Lord Hardinge II (1910-1916)

Lord Charles Hardinge served as the Viceroy and Governor-General of India from 1910 to 1916. His tenure was marked by significant events, including the lead-up to and the early years of World War I. Here are some of the key aspects of his administration:

Delhi Durbar (1911): Lord Hardinge presided over the grand Delhi Durbar in 1911 to celebrate the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary. During this event, the capital of British India was officially shifted from Calcutta to Delhi, and the city of New Delhi was planned and constructed to serve as the new administrative center.

Partition of Bengal Reversed (1911): During Lord Hardinge’s tenure, the controversial partition of Bengal, implemented in 1905, was reversed. This decision was influenced by the extensive protests and opposition it had generated among Indians.

Morley-Minto Reforms (1909): The Morley-Minto Reforms, officially known as the Indian Councils Act of 1909, were implemented during Lord Hardinge’s administration. These reforms increased the number of elected Indian members in the legislative councils and expanded the franchise.

First Balkan War (1912-1913): The Balkan Wars took place during Lord Hardinge’s tenure. Although not directly related to India, these conflicts had repercussions on British interests in other parts of the world.

Early Years of World War I: World War I began in 1914, and during the early years of the war, Lord Hardinge had to manage the impact of the war on British India. The war effort strained India’s resources, and measures were taken to secure support for the British war effort, including financial and military contributions.

Recruitment and Resource Mobilization: Lord Hardinge’s administration focused on recruiting Indian soldiers for the war effort and mobilizing resources. The war had a profound impact on India’s economy and society.

Political Unrest: The period also witnessed political unrest and demands for greater political representation and self-governance. The war heightened political consciousness in India, and there were calls for constitutional reforms and an expanded role for Indians in the governance of their country.

Lord Hardinge’s viceroyalty was a critical period in India’s history, as it saw both political reforms and the impact of World War I. The reversal of the Bengal partition and the Morley-Minto Reforms marked significant steps toward political change, and the early years of the war had profound consequences for India’s economy and society.

Lord Chelmsford (1916-1921)

Lord Chelmsford served as the Viceroy of India from 1916 to 1921, a crucial period in India’s struggle for independence. His tenure witnessed several significant events and developments. Here are some key aspects of Lord Chelmsford’s role and contributions during his time as Viceroy:

World War I and India’s Contribution:

Lord Chelmsford’s administration coincided with World War I (1914-1918). India’s participation in the war on the side of the British Empire was a major event during his tenure.

The war led to increased demands for political concessions and greater self-government in exchange for India’s support. These demands contributed to the political ferment in the country.

Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms (1919):

Lord Chelmsford was instrumental in the formulation and implementation of the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms, also known as the Government of India Act 1919.

The Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms introduced significant constitutional changes, including the expansion of Indian representation in legislative councils, the separation of powers between the central and provincial governments, and the introduction of the principle of dyarchy in the provinces.

The reforms, while representing progress toward self-government, were seen as insufficient by many Indian leaders and failed to satisfy the demand for full responsible government.

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre (1919):

One of the darkest chapters during Lord Chelmsford’s administration was the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in Amritsar in April 1919.

Brigadier General Reginald Dyer ordered British troops to open fire on a peaceful gathering of Indian protesters, resulting in the killing of hundreds of innocent civilians. The massacre led to widespread outrage and condemnation.

Emergence of Mahatma Gandhi:

Lord Chelmsford’s tenure saw the emergence of Mahatma Gandhi as a prominent leader of the Indian independence movement. Gandhi’s non-cooperation and civil disobedience movements gained momentum during this period.

Repressive Measures:

In response to the growing nationalist movements and protests, the colonial government, under Lord Chelmsford’s administration, implemented repressive measures, including the Rowlatt Act of 1919, which authorized detention without trial.

Political Movements and Protests:

The period witnessed political unrest and protests across India, with leaders such as Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and others playing a prominent role in mobilizing the masses.

The non-cooperation movement and the Khilafat Movement gained momentum during this time.

Sedition Cases:

Several prominent Indian leaders, including Gandhi, were arrested and tried for sedition and other charges during Lord Chelmsford’s administration.


Lord Chelmsford’s tenure is associated with a complex legacy, marked by both political reforms and repressive measures.

The Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms represented a significant step toward constitutional reform, but they fell short of Indian aspirations for full self-rule.

The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre remains a dark chapter in British-Indian history, symbolizing the high-handedness of colonial rule.

Overall, Lord Chelmsford’s time as Viceroy was a period of political turbulence and significant developments that would shape the trajectory of India’s struggle for independence in the coming years.

Lord Reading (1921-1926)

Lord Reading served as the Viceroy of India from 1921 to 1926, a period that witnessed important political and constitutional developments. Here are some key aspects of Lord Reading’s role and contributions during his time as Viceroy:

Reforms and Constitutional Developments:

Lord Reading’s tenure was marked by significant constitutional reforms. The most notable reform during his time was the Government of India Act 1919, also known as the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms. These reforms aimed to introduce elements of self-government in India.

The Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms introduced the principle of dyarchy, which divided provincial subjects into two categories: reserved and transferred. It expanded Indian representation in legislative councils and aimed to promote local self-government at the provincial level.

The reforms also extended communal representation and introduced separate electorates for various communities.

Support for Political Reconciliation:

Lord Reading emphasized the importance of political reconciliation and sought to bridge differences between various Indian communities and political groups. His administration aimed to create a more inclusive political environment.

Non-Cooperation Movement:

The early years of Lord Reading’s tenure saw the Non-Cooperation Movement led by Mahatma Gandhi. The movement involved a widespread boycott of government institutions, schools, and foreign goods.

Though the movement aimed to be non-violent, it occasionally resulted in violent clashes and incidents.

Chauri Chaura Incident:

One of the significant events during Lord Reading’s tenure was the Chauri Chaura incident of 1922. In Chauri Chaura, a group of protesters clashed with the police, resulting in violence. In response, Mahatma Gandhi suspended the Non-Cooperation Movement.

Post-World War I Challenges:

Lord Reading’s administration had to address various challenges in the post-World War I period, including economic difficulties and growing demands for self-governance.

Communal Tensions:

Communal tensions between different religious communities remained a concern during his tenure. The introduction of separate electorates under the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms contributed to these tensions.

Resignation and Return:

Lord Reading resigned as Viceroy in 1926 and returned to the United Kingdom. His tenure was followed by that of Lord Irwin (1926-1931).

Overall, Lord Reading’s period as Viceroy of India was characterized by attempts to introduce constitutional reforms and reconcile political differences. The Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms laid the foundation for further constitutional developments in India’s journey toward self-government. However, the period also witnessed challenges, including communal tensions and the suspension of the Non-Cooperation Movement.

Lord Irwin (1926-1931)

Lord Edward Frederick Lindley Wood, later known as Lord Halifax, served as the Viceroy and Governor-General of India from 1926 to 1931, with his title being Lord Irwin during his viceroyalty. His tenure was marked by several significant events and developments. Here are some key aspects of his administration:

Simon Commission (1927): One of the most notable events during Lord Irwin’s tenure was the appointment of the Simon Commission in 1927. The commission was tasked with reviewing the functioning of the Government of India Act of 1919 and making recommendations for constitutional reforms. However, it faced strong opposition from Indian political leaders, as it consisted entirely of British members and had no Indian representation. The boycott of the Simon Commission marked a significant stage in India’s struggle for self-governance.

First Round Table Conference (1930-1931): In an attempt to address the growing demands for constitutional reforms and self-government, Lord Irwin’s administration convened the First Round Table Conference in London in 1930. The conference aimed to discuss constitutional reforms and included representatives from various Indian political groups, though it did not lead to any immediate agreements.

Gandhi-Irwin Pact (1931): Lord Irwin engaged in negotiations with Mahatma Gandhi, resulting in the signing of the Gandhi-Irwin Pact in 1931. As a result of the pact, civil disobedience movements were suspended, political prisoners were released, and discussions on constitutional reforms were initiated.

Economic Reforms: Lord Irwin’s administration focused on economic and financial matters. Steps were taken to address the economic challenges of the time, including the Great Depression.

Progress Toward Constitutional Reforms: The discussions initiated during Lord Irwin’s tenure paved the way for the Government of India Act of 1935, which provided a new framework for governance in British India. This act expanded the role of elected Indian representatives in the legislative bodies.

Challenging Political Climate: Lord Irwin’s viceroyalty occurred during a period of significant political turmoil and nationalist movements in India. The demands for self-governance and independence were growing, and his administration had to navigate the complex political landscape.

Role in Shaping Future Policies: While Lord Irwin’s tenure did not witness immediate and comprehensive constitutional reforms, it played a crucial role in shaping the direction of future policies and discussions on India’s political future.

His role in the negotiations with Mahatma Gandhi and the signing of the Gandhi-Irwin Pact was a significant step in addressing some of the tensions in British India. Lord Irwin’s administration laid the groundwork for subsequent developments in India’s struggle for independence.

Lord Willingdon (1931-1936)

Lord Willingdon served as the Viceroy of India from 1931 to 1936 during a crucial period of India’s struggle for independence and significant political developments. Here are some key aspects of Lord Willingdon’s role and contributions during his time as Viceroy:

Challenging Times:

Lord Willingdon’s tenure as Viceroy occurred during a period of political unrest and economic difficulties. India was grappling with the effects of the Great Depression, which had a severe impact on the country’s economy and led to social unrest.

Response to Civil Disobedience Movement:

Lord Willingdon had to address the Civil Disobedience Movement led by Mahatma Gandhi. The movement involved the non-violent non-cooperation with the British authorities and a widespread boycott of British goods and institutions.

To counter the Civil Disobedience Movement, Lord Willingdon’s administration took measures to suppress the protests and arrest political leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi.

Communal Tensions:

Communal tensions between Hindus and Muslims remained a significant concern during Lord Willingdon’s tenure. His administration had to deal with various communal incidents and tensions, including clashes in several regions.

Government of India Act 1935:

One of the major developments during Lord Willingdon’s time was the passage of the Government of India Act 1935. This act introduced provincial autonomy, expanded the role of elected Indian representatives, and provided a framework for a federal system.

The act allowed for the election of provincial governments and marked a significant step toward self-governance.

Economic Challenges:

The Great Depression and its economic consequences posed a considerable challenge during Lord Willingdon’s tenure. His administration worked on measures to address economic difficulties and promote economic development.

Repressive Measures:

Lord Willingdon’s administration was criticized for its repressive measures against the Civil Disobedience Movement. The arrests and suppression of protests led to tensions and strained relations between the government and Indian political leaders.

Role in Constitutional Reforms:

The Government of India Act 1935 laid the foundation for future constitutional developments in India. While Lord Willingdon was in office when the act was passed, its implementation and the subsequent political changes occurred under his successors.

Lord Willingdon’s time as Viceroy marked a challenging period for British rule in India due to the ongoing struggle for independence, economic difficulties, and communal tensions. The Government of India Act 1935 introduced significant constitutional changes, though its implementation and political developments unfolded in the years that followed his tenure.

Lord Linlithgow (1936-1944)

Lord Linlithgow, whose full name was Victor Alexander John Hope, served as the Viceroy and Governor-General of India from 1936 to 1944. His tenure coincided with a critical period in Indian history, marked by significant political developments and the outbreak of World War II. Here are some key aspects of his administration:

Government of India Act, 1935: The Government of India Act of 1935, which was passed during Lord Linlithgow’s viceroyalty, introduced substantial constitutional reforms in British India. The act expanded the role of elected Indian representatives in the central and provincial legislatures. It provided for provincial autonomy and established the framework for a federal system of government in India.

Provincial Autonomy: The act granted substantial powers to Indian provinces, allowing them to manage their own affairs in various areas, including education, health, and public works. Elected Indian leaders assumed key positions in provincial governments.

Outbreak of World War II: Lord Linlithgow’s tenure witnessed the outbreak of World War II in 1939. India was declared a belligerent without consultation with Indian leaders, which led to widespread protests and demands for India’s involvement in the war effort on a voluntary basis.

Quit India Movement (1942): The Quit India Movement, a mass protest against British rule, was launched in 1942 during Lord Linlithgow’s viceroyalty. The movement demanded an immediate end to British colonial rule. It was met with a harsh response from the British authorities, with many Indian leaders being arrested.

Cripps Mission (1942): In an attempt to address Indian demands for participation in the war effort and post-war constitutional arrangements, Lord Linlithgow invited Sir Stafford Cripps to India. The Cripps Mission proposed certain constitutional reforms, but it did not lead to an agreement with Indian political leaders.

Wartime Challenges: During World War II, India faced numerous challenges, including economic difficulties, famine, and the impact of the war on Indian society. The wartime period also led to further political mobilization and the emergence of new leadership.

Post-War Planning: Lord Linlithgow initiated discussions on post-war planning and the future of India. The post-war period saw a significant shift in the political landscape and a renewed push for independence.

Resignation and Successor: Lord Linlithgow resigned from the position of Viceroy in 1943 and was succeeded by Lord Wavell.

Lord Linlithgow’s viceroyalty was a crucial phase in India’s struggle for independence. His tenure witnessed the implementation of the Government of India Act of 1935, significant political mobilization, and the challenges posed by World War II. The Quit India Movement of 1942 was a watershed moment in India’s quest for self-rule.

Lord Wavell (1944-1947)

Lord Archibald Wavell served as the Viceroy of India from 1944 to 1947 during a critical period of India’s struggle for independence and in the lead-up to India’s partition and independence. Here are some key aspects of Lord Wavell’s role and contributions during his time as Viceroy:

World War II and India:

Lord Wavell’s tenure as Viceroy coincided with the final years of World War II. India played a significant role in the war effort, both in terms of military contributions and support for the Allied forces.

Simla Conference (1945):

Lord Wavell organized the Simla Conference in June 1945 with the aim of resolving the political deadlock between the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League over issues like power-sharing and the future of British India.

The conference failed to reach a consensus, and it became clear that the divisions between the two major political parties, the Congress and the Muslim League, were deep-seated.

Cabinet Mission Plan (1946):

The Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946 was introduced during Lord Wavell’s term as Viceroy. This plan proposed a framework for India’s post-war political structure and envisaged a federal system with significant provincial autonomy.

Lord Wavell played a role in facilitating the negotiations between the political parties, but the plan did not receive unanimous support.

Mountbatten Plan (1947):

In March 1947, Lord Wavell left India, and he was succeeded by Lord Louis Mountbatten as the last Viceroy of India. Mountbatten’s arrival marked a significant turning point in India’s political landscape.

Lord Wavell’s term ended before the actual partition of India, which took place in August 1947, and the subsequent independence of India.

Challenges and Political Complexities:

During Lord Wavell’s tenure, India was grappling with complex political, communal, and constitutional issues. The Muslim League, under Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s leadership, was pushing for a separate Muslim state, while the Congress was advocating a united India.

Transfer of Power:

While Lord Wavell’s term as Viceroy ended before India’s independence and partition, he played a role in navigating the complexities of India’s transition to self-rule.

He was involved in consultations with key political leaders and worked on several proposals aimed at resolving the political deadlock.

Assessment of His Term:

Lord Wavell’s term is often seen as a challenging period in India’s history, marked by political divisions and communal tensions. The failure to reach a consensus on political arrangements led to the eventual partition of India in 1947.

Later Life:

After leaving India, Lord Wavell continued his career in the British military and served as the Viceroy of Palestine. He also held other diplomatic and military positions.

Lord Wavell’s time as Viceroy was characterized by complex political negotiations and challenges as India moved toward independence and the eventual partition of the country into India and Pakistan. His term set the stage for the events that followed and the final transfer of power in August 1947.

Lord Mountbatten (1947):

Lord Louis Mountbatten, formally known as Admiral of the Fleet Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, served as the last Viceroy of India during a crucial period in India’s history. His tenure in India took place in 1947, a pivotal year in the Indian independence movement. Here are some key aspects of Lord Mountbatten’s role and contributions during his time as Viceroy:

Partition of India: Lord Mountbatten played a central role in overseeing the partition of India and the creation of two independent nations, India and Pakistan, in August 1947. The process of partition was complex and challenging, with significant communal tensions and violence. Mountbatten’s efforts were focused on ensuring a smooth transition and minimizing the potential for conflict.

Acceleration of Independence: Mountbatten expedited the process of India’s independence, and his tenure marked the beginning of the end of British colonial rule in the Indian subcontinent. The original plan was for India to gain independence by June 1948, but it was moved up to August 1947 under his leadership.

Boundary Demarcation: He played a key role in defining the boundaries of India and Pakistan. The Radcliffe Line, named after the chairman of the Boundary Commission, Sir Cyril Radcliffe, was established to demarcate the borders.

Transfer of Power: Mountbatten worked closely with Indian political leaders, including Jawaharlal Nehru, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and Sardar Patel, to ensure a peaceful transition of power. He also played a significant role in negotiating with the princely states, many of which had the option to join either India or Pakistan.

Supervision of Transition: As Viceroy, he supervised the transfer of power, including the division of the Indian Civil Service and the armed forces between India and Pakistan.

End of British Rule: On August 15, 1947, Lord Mountbatten attended the ceremonies marking India’s independence, and he continued to serve as Governor-General of India until June 1948.

Resignation: Lord Mountbatten resigned from his post as Governor-General in 1948, following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. He was succeeded by C. Rajagopalachari.

Later Career: After leaving India, Lord Mountbatten held various important positions, including First Sea Lord and Chief of the Defence Staff in the United Kingdom. He also served as the last Viceroy of India’s successor state, Burma (now Myanmar), before becoming the first Governor-General of independent India.

Lord Mountbatten’s role in the partition and transfer of power in India was significant, and his efforts, while praised for their efficiency, were also criticized for some of the challenges and conflicts that emerged during the process. His legacy remains a topic of historical discussion and debate.


Chapter 11: Contributions of Important Personalities in National Movement

Bhagat Singh (1907-1931):

Bhagat Singh was a prominent freedom fighter and revolutionary who played a significant role in the Indian independence movement. Here are some key aspects of his life and contributions:

Early Life and Radicalization:

Bhagat Singh was born in Banga, Punjab, British India, in 1907. He came from a family with a history of political activism.

He was deeply influenced by the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and the sacrifices of freedom fighters like Kartar Singh Sarabha, which radicalized him at a young age.

Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA):

Bhagat Singh joined the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association, a revolutionary organization that aimed to overthrow British colonial rule through armed struggle.

He believed in the use of violence as a means to achieve political change and was involved in various revolutionary activities.

Assembly Bombing and Death Sentence:

Bhagat Singh, along with his associates, was involved in throwing non-lethal bombs in the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi on April 8, 1929, to protest against repressive laws.

He courted arrest and, during the trial, made no attempt to evade responsibility for the bombing.

He and his associates, Rajguru and Sukhdev, were sentenced to death for their involvement in the bombing.

Hunger Strike in Jail:

Bhagat Singh and his fellow revolutionaries conducted a prolonged hunger strike in jail to demand better conditions for political prisoners.

Their strike garnered widespread public support and brought attention to the mistreatment of political prisoners.

Execution and Martyrdom:

Despite numerous appeals and protests by various leaders and organizations, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev were executed by hanging on March 23, 1931.

Their sacrifice and martyrdom deeply moved the Indian public and inspired a new wave of patriotism and anti-colonial sentiment.

Legacy and Ideals:

Bhagat Singh is remembered for his courage, patriotism, and commitment to the cause of India’s independence.

He became a symbol of revolutionary struggle and continues to be celebrated as a national hero.

His famous slogan, “Inquilab Zindabad” (Long Live the Revolution), remains a rallying cry for those seeking social and political change.

Impact on the Freedom Movement:

Bhagat Singh’s sacrifice and commitment to the cause of independence had a profound impact on the Indian freedom movement.

His actions and ideas inspired many young revolutionaries and galvanized the fight against British colonial rule.

Bhagat Singh’s legacy as a fearless and dedicated freedom fighter endures in India’s history. His uncompromising commitment to the cause of independence and his readiness to make the ultimate sacrifice have made him an iconic figure in the struggle for India’s freedom.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (1888-1958):

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was a prominent leader in the Indian national movement for independence. His contributions to the freedom struggle and post-independence India were significant. Here are some key aspects of his life and contributions:

Early Life and Education:

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was born on November 11, 1888, in Mecca, which is now in Saudi Arabia.

He received a traditional Islamic education but was also exposed to modern education and literature.

Role in the Indian National Congress:

Azad became associated with the Indian National Congress and was a staunch supporter of Mahatma Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement.

Non-Cooperation Movement:

He played a leading role in the non-cooperation movement and was arrested several times for his involvement in protests against British colonial rule.

Role in the Khilafat Movement:

Azad supported the Khilafat Movement, which aimed to protect the interests of Muslims and their religious sites in Turkey.

His involvement in the Khilafat Movement brought together the non-cooperation movement with the concerns of the Muslim community.

Journalism and Writing:

Azad was a prolific writer and editor, and he used his literary skills to mobilize public opinion against British rule.

He edited the Urdu newspaper “Al-Hilal,” which became a prominent platform for nationalist ideas.

President of the Indian National Congress:

Azad served as the President of the Indian National Congress from 1940 to 1946.

During his tenure, the Quit India Movement was launched in 1942.

Support for a United India:

Azad was a strong advocate for a united and secular India.

He opposed the idea of partition along religious lines and worked to promote Hindu-Muslim unity.

Contribution to Education:

After independence, Azad became the first Minister of Education in independent India.

He played a crucial role in shaping the education policy of the country and establishing institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the University Grants Commission (UGC).


Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s contributions to the freedom struggle, his advocacy for secularism and unity, and his efforts in the field of education continue to be celebrated in India.

His birthday, November 11, is observed as National Education Day in India to honor his contributions to education.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was not only a freedom fighter but also a visionary leader who left a lasting impact on India’s political and educational landscape. His commitment to the ideals of freedom, secularism, and education make him an enduring figure in Indian history.

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi, also known as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, played an instrumental role in the Indian National Movement for independence from British colonial rule. His leadership and ideology had a profound impact on the course of India’s struggle for freedom. Here are the key roles and contributions of Mahatma Gandhi in the Indian National Movement:

Nonviolent Resistance (Satyagraha): Gandhi is perhaps best known for his philosophy of nonviolent resistance, known as “Satyagraha.” He believed that passive resistance and civil disobedience could be powerful tools for achieving social and political change. His commitment to nonviolence inspired millions of Indians to join the struggle for independence without resorting to armed conflict.

Civil Disobedience Movement: Gandhi led several civil disobedience campaigns, including the Non-Cooperation Movement (1920-1922) and the Salt March (1930). During these movements, Indians protested British policies by refusing to cooperate with colonial authorities, boycotting British goods, and engaging in acts of civil disobedience. The Salt March, in particular, became a symbol of the struggle for independence.

Championing the Common People: Gandhi’s message resonated with the common people of India, especially the rural population. He advocated for their rights, improved economic conditions, and social justice. His emphasis on the upliftment of the poor and the marginalized made him a beloved leader among the masses.

Promotion of Self-Sufficiency: Gandhi encouraged the idea of self-sufficiency and the use of local resources. His promotion of Khadi (hand-spun and handwoven cloth) was part of his broader vision of empowering villagers and making India economically self-reliant.

Promotion of Hindu-Muslim Unity: Gandhi made significant efforts to bridge religious divides, particularly between Hindus and Muslims. He believed in religious pluralism and worked to promote interfaith harmony, even fasting unto death to end communal violence.

Leadership in the Quit India Movement: During World War II, Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement in 1942, demanding an immediate end to British rule. Although the movement was met with harsh repression, it contributed to a growing sentiment for Indian independence.

Influence on Indian National Congress: Gandhi was a prominent leader within the Indian National Congress (INC), and his presence significantly shaped the Congress’s ideology and strategies. He was a driving force behind many of the party’s decisions.

Negotiations for Independence: Gandhi played a key role in negotiations with the British government for India’s independence. His presence at the Round Table Conferences and discussions with British officials helped lay the groundwork for the country’s eventual freedom.

Moral and Ethical Leadership: Gandhi’s life and principles served as a moral compass for the Indian National Movement. He exemplified the values of truth, nonviolence, and simplicity in his personal life and political actions.

International Impact: Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence and civil disobedience had a global impact and influenced other movements for civil rights and social justice around the world, including the American civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King Jr.

Mahatma Gandhi’s role in India’s struggle for independence is immeasurable. His leadership and unwavering commitment to nonviolence continue to inspire people worldwide, and he is often referred to as the “Father of the Nation” in India. His legacy lives on as a symbol of peaceful resistance and the pursuit of justice.

Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964):

Jawaharlal Nehru, a prominent leader in the Indian independence movement and the first Prime Minister of independent India, played a multifaceted and influential role in the national movement. Here are some key aspects of his contributions:

Leadership within the Indian National Congress:

Nehru was a prominent member of the Indian National Congress (INC) and played a significant role in shaping the party’s policies and strategies during the independence movement.

He was a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi and supported Gandhi’s principles of nonviolence and civil disobedience. He became a leading figure in the nonviolent struggle against British colonial rule.

Promotion of Modern and Scientific Outlook:

Nehru was known for his deep interest in science and his commitment to modernity and secularism.

He played a pivotal role in advocating for a scientific and rational approach to governance and education. His vision was instrumental in the establishment of several institutions for scientific research and education in India.

Advocacy for Social Justice and Inclusivity:

Nehru was a staunch advocate for social justice, secularism, and inclusivity. He believed in building a just and equitable society where all communities and religions could coexist peacefully.

His commitment to inclusivity and secularism is reflected in the Indian Constitution, which he played a significant part in drafting.

International Diplomacy:

Nehru was a key player on the international stage. He was instrumental in shaping India’s foreign policy, emphasizing non-alignment and advocating for global peace.

His leadership and diplomacy helped India establish itself as a leading voice in the newly independent nations and played a pivotal role in the Non-Aligned Movement.

Prime Minister of India:

After India gained independence in 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru became the first Prime Minister of the country and served in this position until his death in 1964.

As Prime Minister, he focused on nation-building, economic development, and the establishment of democratic institutions.

Economic Planning:

Nehru was a proponent of planned economic development. He emphasized economic growth, industrialization, and the importance of self-reliance.

The government under Nehru implemented a series of Five-Year Plans to address economic and social challenges and promote economic development in various sectors.

Legacy in Nation-Building:

Nehru’s vision of a modern, secular, and democratic India has left a lasting impact on the country. Many of India’s premier institutions, including the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), and various scientific research organizations, were established under his leadership.

Jawaharlal Nehru’s legacy continues to influence modern India, not only in terms of its political and economic policies but also in the country’s commitment to democracy, secularism, and social justice. His role in shaping the nation’s identity and vision for the future remains a significant part of India’s history and cultural heritage.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (1875-1950):

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, often referred to as the “Iron Man of India,” played a crucial role in the Indian National Movement and post-independence nation-building. Here are some key aspects of his role and contributions:

Integration of Princely States:

One of Sardar Patel’s most significant contributions was his role in integrating over 562 princely states into the newly independent India after the partition in 1947. His relentless efforts to persuade the princely rulers to accede to India helped unify the nation geographically.

Leadership within the Indian National Congress:

Patel was an active member of the Indian National Congress and played a vital role in the organization during the freedom struggle.

He held various positions within the party and was known for his pragmatism and organizational skills.

Civil Disobedience Movement:

Patel actively participated in various movements led by Mahatma Gandhi, including the Civil Disobedience Movement and the Quit India Movement.

His commitment to nonviolence and civil disobedience led to his imprisonment multiple times.

Role in the Constituent Assembly:

Sardar Patel was a key member of the Constituent Assembly of India, where he contributed to the drafting of the Indian Constitution.

He advocated for the rights of the provinces and played a vital role in shaping the administrative and political structure of the country.

First Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister:

After India gained independence, Patel became the country’s first Deputy Prime Minister and the Home Minister in the interim government led by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

As Home Minister, he played a significant role in maintaining law and order during the tumultuous period of partition and post-independence.

Reorganization of States:

Sardar Patel was instrumental in the reorganization of Indian states on linguistic lines, which aimed to create more manageable administrative units based on the linguistic and cultural diversity of the country.

Advocacy for Unity and Secularism:

Patel was a strong advocate for national unity and secularism. He worked to ensure that India remained a diverse yet united nation where people of all religions and backgrounds could coexist harmoniously.

Legacy as the “Iron Man of India”:

Sardar Patel’s unwavering commitment to the cause of unity earned him the title of the “Iron Man of India.” His contribution to the unification of India and the preservation of its territorial integrity is a testament to his vision and leadership.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s role in the Indian National Movement and the early years of independent India continues to be celebrated as a symbol of unity and nation-building. His contributions to the integration of princely states and the preservation of national integrity are foundational to the India we see today.

Subhash Chandra Bose

Subhas Chandra Bose, popularly known as Netaji, played a significant role in the Indian National Movement for independence from British colonial rule. His leadership and contributions had a profound impact on the struggle for freedom. Here are the key roles and contributions of Subhas Chandra Bose in the Indian National Movement:

Formation of the Forward Bloc: Subhas Chandra Bose founded the Forward Bloc in 1939 as a political party within the Indian National Congress. The Forward Bloc aimed to mobilize like-minded nationalists who were dissatisfied with the Congress’s approach and wanted a more aggressive stance against the British.

Escape from House Arrest: Subhas Chandra Bose’s disagreements with Mahatma Gandhi and other Congress leaders led to his house arrest by the British authorities. However, in a daring escape in 1941, he made his way to Germany and later to Japanese-occupied Southeast Asia, where he continued his efforts for India’s independence.

Formation of the Indian National Army (INA): In Southeast Asia, Subhas Chandra Bose played a pivotal role in the formation of the Indian National Army (INA). He sought support from the Axis powers during World War II and formed the INA with captured Indian prisoners of war. The INA aimed to liberate India from British rule through armed struggle.

Proclamation of Azad Hind: Bose proclaimed the formation of the Provisional Government of Free India (Azad Hind) in Singapore in 1943. He hoisted the Indian tricolor and declared war against British colonial rule. This event marked a significant turning point in the struggle for independence.

INA Trials: The activities of the INA and the subsequent INA trials in India, which included soldiers of the INA as defendants, had a major impact on public opinion. The trials led to widespread public sympathy and support for the INA and its cause.

International Diplomacy: Subhas Chandra Bose worked to garner international support for India’s independence, seeking assistance from countries like Germany, Japan, and Italy during World War II. He believed that the enemy of his enemy could be a potential ally for India’s cause.

Radio Broadcasts: Bose used radio broadcasts, known as the “Azad Hind Radio,” to communicate with the Indian masses and boost their morale. His speeches and broadcasts inspired Indians to continue the struggle for independence.

Emphasis on Youth: Netaji recognized the importance of youth in the independence movement and actively involved them in the struggle. He believed that they were the future of India and encouraged them to take up the cause of freedom.

Impact on Post-Independence India: Subhas Chandra Bose’s legacy continued to influence Indian politics and society even after independence. His contributions and leadership were celebrated by subsequent generations of Indians.

Subhas Chandra Bose’s dedication, leadership, and pursuit of an armed struggle for independence set him apart in the Indian National Movement. His legacy remains a source of inspiration for those who admire his unwavering commitment to the cause of a free India.

Rani Lakshmibai (1828-1858):

Rani Lakshmibai, also known as the “Rani of Jhansi,” was a prominent figure in the Indian Rebellion of 1857, which is often referred to as the First War of Independence. Her courageous and determined leadership made her a symbol of resistance against British colonial rule. Here is an overview of Rani Lakshmibai’s life and role in the Indian struggle for independence:

Early Life and Education: Rani Lakshmibai was born as Manikarnika Tambe in Varanasi in 1828. She received a solid education in various subjects, including martial arts, which prepared her for her future role as a warrior queen.

Marriage to the Raja of Jhansi: Manikarnika was married to the Raja of Jhansi, Raja Gangadhar Rao, and became Queen of the princely state of Jhansi. She was given the name Lakshmibai after her marriage.

Loss of Her Son and Adoption of a Son: The early years of her marriage were marked by tragedy as she lost her only son. In 1854, she adopted a young boy named Damodar Rao as her heir, who later became an important figure in her resistance.

The Indian Rebellion of 1857: The year 1857 saw the outbreak of the Indian Rebellion against British rule. Rani Lakshmibai played a pivotal role in the rebellion. She refused to accept the Doctrine of Lapse imposed by the British, which would have annexed Jhansi following her husband’s death.

The Siege of Jhansi: In 1857, Jhansi came under siege by British forces. Rani Lakshmibai displayed remarkable leadership during the siege and defended her kingdom with courage and determination. She was a skilled horseback rider and a formidable warrior.

Battles and Resistance: Rani Lakshmibai led her troops into battle, wearing a turban and armor, and fought valiantly to defend Jhansi. She played a key role in several battles, including the Battle of Jhansi, the Battle of Gwalior, and the Battle of Kalpi.

Martyrdom: Unfortunately, the British ultimately captured Gwalior, and Rani Lakshmibai was martyred in battle on June 17, 1858, during the Battle of Gwalior. Her fearless resistance and martyrdom left a lasting legacy in the fight against British colonial rule.

Symbol of Indian Resistance: Rani Lakshmibai’s heroism and defiance against the British made her a symbol of Indian resistance and the struggle for independence. She continues to be celebrated as a national hero and a source of inspiration for generations.

Rani Lakshmibai’s legacy is an enduring symbol of the spirit of sacrifice and determination in the quest for India’s freedom. Her story is an integral part of India’s history and is celebrated in various forms, including literature, art, and popular culture.

Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949):

Sarojini Naidu, often referred to as the “Nightingale of India,” was a prominent freedom fighter and a key figure in the Indian National Movement. She made significant contributions to India’s struggle for independence through her involvement in various aspects of the movement. Here is an overview of Sarojini Naidu’s role in the national movement:

Poet and Orator: Sarojini Naidu was a highly acclaimed poet and a powerful orator. Her poetry and speeches were instrumental in mobilizing public opinion and galvanizing support for the independence movement. She used her literary and oratorical skills to convey the message of freedom and inspire fellow Indians.

Participation in Civil Disobedience: Naidu actively participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement and other civil rights campaigns initiated by Mahatma Gandhi. She was known for her fearlessness and dedication to the cause, even enduring imprisonment for her involvement in nonviolent protests.

Leadership in the Non-Cooperation Movement: Sarojini Naidu played a key role in the Non-Cooperation Movement (1920-1922). She traveled across India to promote nonviolence and the boycott of British goods. Her efforts contributed to the success of the movement, which marked a significant phase in India’s struggle for independence.

Promotion of Women’s Rights: Naidu was a strong advocate for women’s rights and gender equality. She actively worked to empower women and encouraged their participation in the national movement. Her efforts paved the way for greater gender inclusivity in the fight for independence.

International Diplomacy: Naidu represented India at various international forums and conferences to garner support for the country’s independence. Her international diplomacy and eloquence raised awareness about the Indian freedom struggle on the global stage.

Becoming the First Woman President of the Indian National Congress: In 1925, Sarojini Naidu made history by becoming the first woman to preside over the Indian National Congress session. Her presidency marked a significant milestone for women in Indian politics and was a symbol of their growing role in the national movement.

Contribution to the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms: Naidu was one of the Indian leaders who provided input on the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms (1919). These reforms laid the foundation for constitutional changes in British India and paved the way for greater Indian representation in governance.

Promotion of Khadi: Like Mahatma Gandhi, Sarojini Naidu promoted the use of Khadi (handspun and handwoven cloth) as a symbol of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. She encouraged Indians to adopt Khadi as a means of boycotting British-made textiles.

Sarojini Naidu’s multifaceted contributions, including her poetic expressions, political leadership, and advocacy for women’s rights, made her a prominent and revered figure in the Indian National Movement. Her dedication to India’s freedom and her role in various movements contributed to the eventual achievement of independence in 1947.

Dr.B.R. Ambedkar (1891-1956):

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, also known as Babasaheb Ambedkar, was a prominent leader, jurist, social reformer, and the chief architect of the Indian Constitution. His role and contributions in the Indian national movement and post-independence era were significant. Here are some key aspects of his life and contributions:

Social Reforms and the Dalit Movement:

Dr. Ambedkar was born into a Dalit (formerly untouchable) family and faced social discrimination and exclusion throughout his life.

He dedicated himself to fighting for the rights and dignity of Dalits and other marginalized communities.

He worked to eradicate untouchability and caste-based discrimination and advocated for social equality.

Round Table Conferences:

Dr. Ambedkar represented the Depressed Classes at the Round Table Conferences in London in the 1930s.

He demanded separate electorates for Dalits, which later became one of the provisions in the Communal Award of 1932.

Poona Pact:

Dr. Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi reached a significant agreement known as the Poona Pact in 1932.

This agreement abandoned separate electorates for Dalits in favor of reserved seats in legislatures, ensuring political representation for Dalits within the general electorate.

Chairman of the Drafting Committee:

Dr. Ambedkar was appointed as the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly in 1947.

He played a pivotal role in drafting the Indian Constitution, which is celebrated for its commitment to justice, equality, and fundamental rights.

Champion of Minority Rights:

He advocated for the protection of the rights of religious and social minorities, including Dalits, Adivasis, and religious minorities.

He emphasized the importance of safeguards for these groups in the Constitution.

Education and Scholarly Contributions:

Dr. Ambedkar was a prolific scholar and earned multiple degrees, including a doctorate in economics from the London School of Economics.

He wrote extensively on various social, political, and economic issues, including “Annihilation of Caste.”

Conversion to Buddhism:

In 1956, Dr. Ambedkar led a mass conversion of Dalits to Buddhism as a protest against the caste system.

This event, known as the “Dhamma Chakra Pravartan,” was a significant step in his efforts to provide a new identity and spiritual path to Dalits.

Legacy and Impact:

Dr. Ambedkar’s contributions to social justice, constitutionalism, and human rights continue to influence Indian society.

He is considered the father of the Indian Constitution and remains an icon for Dalits and all those striving for social justice and equality.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s life and work had a profound and lasting impact on India’s social and political landscape. His tireless efforts to combat social discrimination, his role in the framing of the Indian Constitution, and his advocacy for the rights of marginalized communities make him a revered figure in Indian history.

Lala Lajpat rai:

Lala Lajpat Rai, often referred to as “Punjab Kesari,” was a prominent freedom fighter and leader in the Indian National Movement. His contributions and sacrifices played a significant role in the struggle for India’s independence. Here is an overview of Lala Lajpat Rai’s role in the national movement:

Leadership in the Punjab: Lala Lajpat Rai emerged as a prominent leader in the province of Punjab. He was actively involved in the social and political life of the region and became a vocal advocate for Indian self-rule.

Participation in the Non-Cooperation Movement: Lajpat Rai was a strong supporter of Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement (1920-1922). He actively participated in the movement, advocating for nonviolent protests, boycotts of British goods, and non-cooperation with the colonial administration.

Opposition to the Simon Commission: In 1928, when the British government appointed the Simon Commission to review the working of the Government of India Act 1919, Lajpat Rai led a protest against it. He opposed the commission’s all-British composition and led a nonviolent demonstration in Lahore. During the protest, he was severely injured when the police lathi-charged the demonstrators. His injuries later led to his death in 1928.

Advocacy for Educational and Social Reforms: Lajpat Rai was a strong proponent of education and social reform. He worked to promote modern education in Punjab and was instrumental in the establishment of D.A.V. College in Lahore. He believed that education was essential for the empowerment of the Indian masses.

Advocacy for Indian Languages: Lajpat Rai advocated for the use and promotion of Indian languages, especially Hindi and Punjabi. He believed that the preservation and promotion of these languages were integral to preserving Indian culture and identity.

Role in the Indian National Congress: Lala Lajpat Rai was a prominent leader within the Indian National Congress. He served as the Congress President in 1920 and played a crucial role in guiding the party’s policies and strategies during a critical phase of the freedom struggle.

Promotion of Swadeshi and Boycott: He actively promoted the Swadeshi movement, encouraging Indians to use locally produced goods and boycott British-made products. He believed that economic self-sufficiency was a key aspect of India’s struggle for independence.

Influence on Future Leaders: Lala Lajpat Rai’s dedication and leadership inspired future generations of freedom fighters, including Bhagat Singh and other revolutionary leaders who sought to end British rule through more radical means.

Lala Lajpat Rai’s contributions to the Indian National Movement and his commitment to the cause of independence made him a respected and influential figure in the struggle against British colonialism. His sacrifice and dedication continue to be remembered and celebrated in India’s history.


Chapter 12: The State of Judiciary before 1857


The development of the judicial system before 1857 can be traced back to the arrival and expansion of the British East India Company in India in the 17th century.

The East India Company established a Mayor’s Court in Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta in 1726, which marked the beginning of Indian codified common law. This was the first indication of the Company’s transformation from a trading company to a ruling power, with the added flavour of new Judiciary elements. 

Glass ceiling continues to hinder gender parity in judicial system: India  Justice Report - The Week

Judicial System Before 1857 – Background

  • The Crown established a judicial system in the Indian towns of Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta in the early seventeenth century through a series of Charters, primarily for the purposes of administering justice within the establishments of the British East India Company.
  • These judicial systems were developed independently by the Governor and the Council of these towns.
  • Admiralty Courts were established in Bombay and Madras, while Collector’s Courts were established in Calcutta.
  • These courts were vested with the authority to rule on both civil and criminal matters.
  • Surprisingly, the courts derived their authority from the East India Company rather than the Crown.

Reforms under Warren Hastings (1772-1785)

Two judicial setups were arranged by Warren Hastings for resolving disputes –civil disputes for District Diwani Adalat and criminal disputes for District Fauzdari Adalats.

District Diwani Adalat

  • It was formed in districts to adjudicate civil disputes that fell under the collector’s jurisdiction.
  • Hindu law applied to Hindus and Muslim law applied to Muslims at this court.
  • If people want more justice, they were to go to the Sadar Diwani Adalat, which was controlled by a president and two Supreme Council members.

District Fauzdari Adalats

  • It was established to deal with criminal matters that were referred to Indian officials who were aided by Qazis and Muftis.
  • The collector was responsible for the entire operation of this court. In this court, the Muslim law was enforced.
  • The Sadar Nizamat Adalat, which is led by a Deputy Nizam and assisted by the Chief Qazi and Chief Mufti, gave its consent for capital punishment and acquisition.
  • The original and appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Calcutta was established by the Regulating Act of 1773.

Reforms under Cornwallis (1786-1793)

  • The District Fauzdari Court was dissolved under Cornwallis, and Circuit Courts were established at Calcutta, Deccan, Murshidabad, and Patna.
  • It serves as a court of appeal for both civil and criminal cases, and it is presided over by European judges.
  • Sadar Nizamat Adalat was relocated to Calcutta and placed it under the control of the Governor-General and Supreme Council members, who were assisted by Chief Qazi and Chief Mufti.
  • The District Diwani Adalat was renamed the District, City, or Zila Court, and it was administered by a district judge.
  • The collector was now only in charge of revenue administration and had no magisterial powers.
  • He also established gradation in Hindu and Muslim civil courts, as well as the Munsiff Court, Registrar Court, District Court, Sadar Diwani Adalat, and King-in-Council.
  • He is well-known for establishing the idea of complete sovereignty of law.
  • Cornwallis code laid out was as under:
    • There was a division between revenue and justice administration.
    • European subjects were also subjected to jurisdiction.
    • Government officials were held accountable in civil courts for actions taken in their official capacity.
    • The principle of legal sovereignty was established.

Reforms under William Bentick (1828-33)

  • The four Circuit Courts were dissolved by William Bentinck, who transferred the powers of the disbanded court to the collectors, who were overseen by the commissioner of revenue and circuit.
  • A Sadar Diwani Adalat and a Sadar Nizamat Adalat were established in Allahabad for the benefit of the people of the Upper Provinces.
  • He designated Persian and a vernacular language as official languages for lower court proceedings and English as the official language for Supreme Court proceedings.
  • During his rule, Macaulay established a Law Commission to codify Indian laws.
  • This panel prepared the Civil Procedure Code of 1859, the Indian Penal Code of 1860, and the Criminal Procedure Code of 1861.

Evaluation of Judicial System

Positive Aspects

  • The rule of law was established.
  • Codified laws replaced the rulers’ religious and personal laws.
  • Even European subjects were brought under the jurisdiction, though criminal cases could only be tried by European judges.
  • Government servants were made answerable to civil courts.

Negative Aspects

  • The judicial system became increasingly complicated and costly. The wealthy have the ability to manipulate the system.
  • There was plenty of room for deception, deception, and chicanery.
  • Protracted litigation meant that justice was delayed.
  • Courts became overburdened as litigation increased.
  • Often, European judges were unfamiliar with Indian usage and traditions.


The British ruled India for over 190 years and yet the judicial system which they could provide for India was a poor copy of the British. However, with enough alterations and reforms made across the years, India now has a codified legal system.

Because the concept of justice was intricately associated with religion and was interwoven with the rules of socially stratified caste groups prior to British control, the Indian judicial system was unified, codified, and standardized.

Chapter 13: Economic Policies of the British


The economic policies of the British resulted in the rapid transformation of India’s economy into a colonial economy, the nature and structure of which were determined by the needs of the British economy.

The English East India Company set foot in India in the beginning of the seventeenth century as a trading company. However, gradually the Britishers raised their status quo in the foreign land, increased their political stronghold in phases and culminated in ruling the country for almost two centuries.

Their interventions with India at different stages had different implications and impacts. The economic policies adopted had different impacts at different stages and it has been identified as three different phases: Commercial Capitalism, Industrial capitalism and Finance Capitalism. 

Success and failure in British economic policy - Bennett Institute for  Public Policy

Economic Policies of the British – Background & Origin

  • The Battle of Plassey (June 23, 1757) was a watershed moment in British India’s economic history.
  • Following the war, the British began to intervene in the country’s economic policies.
  • The East India Company’s policies and the corrupt practices of its officials caused a severe jolt to the country’s trade and policies.
  • By the end of the 18th century, British rule had been established in large parts of the country, and the British desired India to be a profitable market for British goods.
  • Britain destroyed India’s medieval economic structure and laid the groundwork for the modern economy.
  • During their reign in India, they implemented a number of economic policies that had a significant impact on Indian society.

Difference between British Approach & Previous Foreign Conquests

  • The British conquest was unique among all previous foreign conquests.
  • Previous conquerors had deposed Indian political powers but made no fundamental changes to the country’s economic structure; they had gradually become a part of Indian life, both political and economic.
  • The peasant, the artisan, and the trader had continued to live their previous lives. The basic economic pattern of the self-sufficient village economy had been maintained.
  • A change in rulers had merely meant a change in the personnel of those who appropriated the surplus of the peasants.
  • The British conquerors, on the other hand, were a completely different storey. They completely upended India’s traditional economic structure. Furthermore, they never became a part of Indian life.
  • They were always foreigners in the country, exploiting Indian resources and carrying away India’s wealth as a form of tribute.
  • The consequences of subordinating the Indian economy to the interests of British trade and industry were numerous and diverse.

Phases of Economic Exploitation of India by British

Commercial Capitalism (1600-1800)

  • Commercial capitalism can be defined as a type of economic and political system which was essentially based on the concepts of capital, value, labour, and capitalization.
  • The period marked an economic transition that prioritized profit from what was earlier subsistence oriented.
  • The British East India Company strengthened its foothold in India during this period.
  • The primary function of the Company during this time period was to buy spices, cotton, and silk from India and sell them at huge profits to the large market these goods enjoyed in Britain.
  • The merchant entrepreneur controlled the entire production process. Production happened at a much smaller scale than in factories as access to factors of production were limited.
  • Demand for labour increased with the merchants’ increasing desire for profit and thus more workers were hired, who shifted from agriculture to industry.
  • The phase impacted India in multiple ways. Export of Indian goods increased during this period; so did production. It led to the development of towns.
  • Commercialization of agriculture and industries started to make significant changes in the economy and society.

Industrial Capitalism (1800-1860)

  • “Industrial capitalism” refers to the emergence of new modes of production and distribution as a result of the Industrial Revolution, particularly in the early 1800s in Britain.
  • Because of radical new developments in metal production during the nineteenth century, the nineteenth century is commonly referred to as the “machine age.”
  • Because trade is the mode of exploitation by the European powers, this stage is also known as Colonialism of Free Trade. It began with the Charter Act of 1813 and lasted until the 1860s.
  • In the European world, the period was characterized by a complex division of labour between and within work processes, as well as the routinization of work tasks.
  • Rapid expansion of industries coupled by intensive commercialization of agriculture for producing raw materials for the British industries was the main feature of industrial capitalism.
  • The British converted its colonies, particularly India, into mere markets for their machine made final products.
  • The indigenous artisans and weavers lost both the British and Indian markets owing to increased competition.

Financial Capitalism (1860-1947)

  • Financial capitalism is a type of capitalism in which the intermediation of savings to investment becomes a dominant function in the economy, with broader implications for the political process and social evolution.
  • This stage is often described as the Era of Foreign Investments and International Competition for Colonies.
  • It began around the 1860s in India owing to several changes in the world economy.
  • Expansion of British investment in India, the construction of railways, banking, post and telegraph services, and so on were developed.
  • Management agency system was adopted to maintain control over Indian capital.

Various Economic Policies of the British

Land Revenue Policies

The brunt of this economic development was majorly borne by the peasant class of Indian society. Profits of the company, administrative costs, expenses for British war efforts in India were all procured from the common people through taxation.

Permanent Settlement

  • Lord Conwallis introduced the Permanent Settlement as a reformed process of tax collection in 1793 in Bengal and Bihar.
  • Under the system, the traditional zamindars and other revenue collectors were made landlords with absolute ownership while the inhabitants became mere tenants.
  • This was facilitated so that the zamindars ensured that the exorbitant amount of tax was paid no matter what. Zamindar was supposed to pay 10/11th of what was collected.

Ryotwari System

  • In South India, mainly in the Madras province, a different system called the Ryotwari system was introduced.
  • It was introduced by Thomas Munroe in 1820.
  • The large number of zamindars were replaced by one giant proprietor – the state – under this system.
  • The tax rate was equally exorbitant and the peasant had to pay it regardless of what the condition of the yield was – even if partially or fully destroyed by floods.

Mahalwari Settlement

  • The Mahalwari system was introduced in the North-Western provinces, the main feature of which was the state’s right to revise the tax rate frequently.
  • The system was introduced by Holt Mackenzie in 1822.
  • It was later reformed by William Bentick in 1833. The land was divided into Mahals under this system.
  • Each Mahal is made up of one or more villages. For tax purposes, the entire village (Mahal) was treated as a single unit.
  • Tax collection was delegated to the village headman or village committee under this system. It incorporated features from both zamindari and ryotwari systems.

Other systems

  • Taluqdari system: Taluqdars are powerful landowners in Oudh and Bengal provinces.
  • The Taluqdari system were developed partly as a zamindari management strategy and partly as a fiscal policy measure to raise zamindari funds for specific purposes.
  • As a result of the Permanent Settlement, many zamindars established dependent taluqs known as pattani taluq, noabad taluq, and osat taluq.

System of Malguzari

  • The land tenure system that prevailed in the former Central Provinces was known as the Malguzari system, and the Malguzar was merely a revenue farmer under the Marathas.
  • The Malguzars were granted proprietary rights and were held accountable for revenue collection during British rule.

Commercialization of Agriculture

Indian economy during British rule - Vskills Blog

  • It arose in the latter half of the nineteenth century as a result of the introduction of new land relations and the revenue system.
  • Production for village use had been replaced by production for the market in this form.
  • Commercial considerations began to have an impact on agriculture.
  • The peasant produced solely for the market in order to maximise cash for paying land revenue and meeting moneylenders’ demands.
  • Farmers grew specialised crops for sale across national and international borders.
  • The lands in villages became solely used to cultivate a single crop based on the particular suitability.


Closely observed trains: Indian Railways and the families' memories |  Latest News India - Hindustan Times

  • Railways were an important auxiliary in the development of industries. Lord Dalhousie proposed a national railway network in 1853.
  • The British were uninterested in developing Indian industry and pursued railway policy for other reasons. In 1844, Lord Hardinge advocated for railway development in order to expedite the war’s prosecution and ensure the empire’s security.
  • The railways were built primarily for the benefit of the British people.
  • The exchange rates were manipulated to favour the import of British manufactured goods and the export of Indian raw materials.
  • The railways significantly aided in the development of national consciousness and external and internal trade.


  • Deindustrialisation is the phenomenon of phased reduction or degradation of a nation’s or region’s industrial capacity.
  • The term “Indian Economic Deindustrialisation” refers to a period of decline in industrial-based activities in the Indian economy that lasted from 1757 to 1947.
  • Traditional handicraft industries began to decline in the 18th century and continued to decline rapidly until the beginning of the 19th century.
  • The British Government systematically slaughtered the village economy’s internal balance.
  • Traditional handicraft industries slipped from their pre-eminence in the process, and their decline began with increased competition from British industries.

Drain of Wealth

  • The British exported a portion of India’s wealth and resources to Britain for which India received no adequate economic or material return.
  • This ‘economic drain’ was unusual under British rule. Britishers spent a large portion of their taxes and income in Britain rather than India.
  • With the acquisition of Diwani of Bengal in 1765, the direct organisation of the drain of wealth began.
  • The salaries and other earnings of English officials, as well as the trading fortunes of English merchants, made their way into England.
  • The drain of wealth stifled and slowed capital accumulation in India, stifling India’s industrialization.
  • The Indian products and treasure were drained to England with no return.
  • This was referred to as moral drainage by Dadabhai Naoroji in his book ‘Poverty and the Un-British rule in India’ because it excluded Indians from positions of trust and responsibility.
  • This theory emphasised the exploitative nature of British rule.

Impact of British Policy on Indian Economy

  • Destruction of Indian handicrafts: The British rule altered the nature and composition of India’s foreign trade.
    • Despite the lack of significant growth in the contemporary manufacturing industry, this resulted in the elimination of Indian handicrafts.
  • New Land Revenue System: The British rule ransformed the land revenue structures of the provinces. The new systems like the Permanent Settlement, the Ryotwari and Mahalwari systems imposed exorbitant tax rates on the people.
    • Increasing revenue to the maximum was the aim. This destroyed the natural fabric of the village communities.
  • Commercialization of agriculture: The British rule pushed the Indian farmers to produce for the market more than their own homes.
    • Indian agriculture was more subsistence based which changed during the period.
    • Cash crops like indigo, cotton, jute, sugarcane etc. were the preferred products for they were the raw materials for the British factories.
  • Famines: Indian economy faced intermittent occurence of famines during the British reign.
    • Commercialization of agriculture lead to shortage of food in the country.
    • The new land systems functioned as a built in depressor, as it stunted the growth of agriculture.

Economic Impact of British Policy

With the establishment of British rule and policies in India, several changes occurred and impacted the socioeconomic and political spheres of Indian society.

The main difference between the British colonists in India and previous invaders was that none of the previous invaders made structural changes in the Indian economy or drained away India’s wealth as tribute.

The British rule in India transformed India’s economy into a colonial economy, in which the structure and operation of the Indian economy were determined by the interests of the British economy.

Historians estimate that at the beginning of the 18th century, India accounted for roughly 23% of the global economy. When India gained independence, this share fell to around 3%. 

  1. Deindustrialisation

  • One Way Free Trade – After the Charter Act of 1813, which allowed one-way free trade for British citizens, cheap and machine-made imports flooded the Indian market.
    • On the other hand, Indian products found it increasingly difficult to enter European markets.
    • Tariffs of nearly 80% were imposed on Indian textiles, making Indian cloth no longer affordable.
    • After 1820, Indian exports were virtually barred from European markets. The Indian market was inundated with low-cost British-made clothing.
  • No Modern Industrialisation – The loss of traditional livelihoods in India was not accompanied by an industrialisation process, as it had been in other rapidly industrialising countries at the time.
    • This resulted in India’s deindustrialization at a time when Europe was experiencing a renewed Industrial Revolution.
  • Ruralisation – Another feature of deindustrialisation was the decline of many cities and a process of ruralisation of India.
    • Many artisans, faced with diminishing returns and repressive policies, abandoned their professions, moved to villages, and took to agriculture. This resulted in increased pressure on land.
    • An overburdened agriculture sector was a major cause of poverty during British rule and this upset the village economic set-up.
  1. Impoverishment of Peasantry

  • The government had imposed the Permanent Settlement system in large parts because it was only interested in maximising rents and securing its share of revenue.
  • The transferability of land was one feature of the new settlement that caused great insecurity among the tenants, who lost all of their traditional land rights.
  • The government spent very little on increasing land productivity.
  • With increased power, the zamindars resorted to summary evictions, demanded illegal dues, and ‘begar’ to maximise their share of the produce and had no incentive to invest in agricultural improvement.
  • Overburdened peasants were forced to turn to moneylenders in order to pay their zamindar dues.
  • To clear his debts, the moneylender, who was often also the village grain merchant, forced the farmer to sell his produce at low prices.
  • The powerful moneylender could also sway the judiciary and the law in his favour.
  1. Rise of Intermediaries, Absentee Landlordism, and Ruin of Old Zamindars

  • By 1815, half of Bengal’s total land had passed into new hands—merchants, moneylenders, and other wealthy urban dwellers.
  • With increased powers but few or no avenues for new investments, the new zamindars resorted to landgrabbing and sub-infeudation.
  • The increase in the number of intermediaries who had to be paid led to absentee landlordism and increased the burden on the peasant.
  • Because there was such a high demand for land, prices rose, as did the peasant’s liabilities.
  • The zamindar had no incentive to invest in agricultural improvement because he had no traditional or benevolent ties with the tenants.
  • The zamindars’ only interests were in the continuation of British rule and in opposing the national movement.
  1. Deterioration of Agriculture

  • The cultivator lacked both the means and the motivation to invest in agriculture.
  • The zamindar had no ties to the villages, and the government spent little money on agriculture, technology, or mass education.
  • All of this, combined with land fragmentation caused by sub-infeudation, made it difficult to introduce modern technology, resulting in a perpetually low level of productivity.
  1. Famine and Poverty

  • The recurrence of famines became a regular feature of daily life in India.
  • These famines were caused not only by a lack of foodgrains, but also by the poverty unleashed by colonial forces in India.
  • Famines killed approximately 2.8 crore people between 1850 and 1900.
  1. Commercialisation of Agriculture

  • Agriculture had previously been regarded as a way of life rather than a business venture. Commercial considerations began to have an impact on agriculture.
  • Certain specialised crops began to be grown for sale in national and even international markets, rather than for consumption in the village.
  • Cotton, jute, groundnut, oilseeds, sugarcane, tobacco, and other commercial crops were more profitable than foodgrains.
  • Perhaps the commercialisation trend reached its pinnacle in the plantation sector, i.e., tea, coffee, rubber, indigo, and so on, which was dominated by Europeans and the produce was for sale in wider market.
  • Commercialisation appeared to be a forced process to the Indian peasant.
  • Given his subsistence level, there was little surplus for him to invest in commercial crops, while commercialisation linked Indian agriculture to international market trends and fluctuations.
  • Cotton, for example, pushed up prices in the 1860s, but this mostly benefited the intermediaries, and when prices fell in 1866, it hit the cultivators the hardest, causing heavy indebtedness, famine, and agrarian riots in the Deccan in the 1870s.
  • As a result, the cultivator hardly fared any better as a result of the new commercialisation trend.
  1. Destruction of Industry

  • The destruction of India’s textile competition is a clear example of the country’s de-industrialization.
  • The British stopped paying for Indian textiles in pounds, instead paying with Bengal revenue at very low rates, further impoverishing the peasants.
  • A thriving shipbuilding industry was destroyed. Surat and Malabar on the western coast, as well as Bengal and Masulipatnam on the eastern coast, were well-known for their ship-building industries.
  • The Company granted a monopoly on trade routes to British ships, while Indian merchant ships plying along the coast were subjected to heavy duties.
  • The British stifled the growth of India’s steel industry.
  • Industries such as the Tatas, which began producing steel after much difficulty obtaining the necessary permissions, were hampered by the requirement to produce steel of a higher standard for British use.
  • Because the firms were unable to produce the lower quality steel at the same time, they were excluded from the larger market that demanded the lower quality steel.
  1. Late Development of Modern Industry

  • Modern machine-based industries did not emerge in India until the second half of the nineteenth century.
  • Cowasjee Nanabhoy established the first cotton textile mill in Bombay in 1853, and the first jute mill in Rishra (Bengal) in 1855.
  • However, the majority of modern industries were foreign-owned and managed by British companies.
  • In the nineteenth century, Indian-owned industries emerged in cotton textiles and jute, and in the twentieth century, in sugar, cement, and other industries.
  • Credit problems, no tariff protection from the government, unequal competition from foreign companies, and stiff opposition from British capitalist interests who were backed by strong financial and technical infrastructure at home were all disadvantages for Indian-owned industries.


The British economic policies had a long-lasting impact on the Indian economy and society. It is also important to note that the reforms made by the regime were not aimed at the welfare of the subjects, but the amassment of wealth.

The phase of intensive capitalism and commercialization is evidence enough to understand this. The drain theory throws light on the extent of harm done by the reign.

However, it is also important to notice the positive impacts it has done. The establishment of railways, the introduction of formal education, particularly under the missionaries, reform in the administrative structure and processes, and so on.

Chapter 14: Resistance to British Rule before 1857


People’s uprisings against the rulers and their officials were prevalent in pre-colonial India, with the State’s high land income demand, corrupt practices, and harsh attitude of the authorities being some of the motivating elements.

The creation of colonial power and its policies, on the other hand, had a considerably greater annihilative effect on Indians as a whole.

However, there were several instances of resistance to British rule before the 1857 revolt, indicating that all was not well and that there was growing dissatisfaction against the alien government. 

Rais Shaikh on Twitter: "Tributes to #RaniLaxmiBai of Jhansi, who led the  first ever Indian freedom fight the 1857 revolt and became the symbol of  resistance against the British rule. Her courage

Origin of the Resistance

  • In pre-colonial India, popular uprisings against rulers and officials were common, with the state’s high land income demand, corrupt activities, and harsh attitude of the authorities among the driving factors.
  • The creation of colonial power and its policies, on the other hand, had a considerably greater annihilative effect on Indians as a whole.
  • There was no one to listen to their complaints or to pay attention to their difficulties. The Company was just concerned with making money.
  • The colonial legal system and court protected the interests of the government and its collaborators – landlords, merchants, and moneylenders.
  • As a result, the people were left with no choice but to pick up guns and protect themselves.
  • The tribal people’s situations were no different from those on the mainland, but the incursion of strangers into their separate tribal government made them more disgruntled and hostile.

Causes of the Resistance

The following are the key causes of people’s discontent and uprisings against Company rules:

  • Colonial land revenue settlements, high weight of additional taxes, evictions of peasants from their farms, and encroachment on tribal territories.
  • Exploitation in rural life is being accompanied by an increase in the number of intermediary revenue collectors, tenants, and moneylenders.
  • Expansion of revenue administration over tribal territory, resulting in tribal people’s loss of control over agricultural and forest areas.
  • Promotion of British manufactured products, imposition of severe charges on Indian industries, particularly export duties, resulting in the annihilation of the Indian handloom and handicraft industries.
  • Destruction of indigenous industry causes employees to migrate from industry to agriculture, putting strain on land/agriculture.

Civil Uprising

  • The term ‘civil’ refers to anything that isn’t related to defense or military, but we’ve included here uprisings led by deposed native rulers or their descendants, former zamindars, landlords, poligars, ex retainers, and officials of conquered.
  • Although the power-wielding classes were at the heart of these upheavals, the majority of support came from rack-rented peasants, jobless craftsmen, and demobilized soldiers.

Causes of Civil Uprisings

  • Rapid changes in the economy, administration, and land revenue system occurred during Company rule, all of which were detrimental to the people.
  • Several zamindars and poligars, who had lost control of their lands and earnings as a result of colonial authority, held personal grudges against the new authorities.
  • Traditional zamindars and poligars’ egos were bruised when they were demoted in status by government officials and a new class of merchants and moneylenders emerged.
  • Millions of craftsmen were destitute as a result of colonial policies that destroyed Indian handicraft industries.
  • Their misery was worsened by the departure of their traditional supporters and buyers—princes, chieftains, and zamindars.
  • As religious preachers, priests, pundits, maulvis, and others were reliant on the traditional landed and bureaucratic elite, the priestly classes fostered hostility and resistance against alien control.
  • The priestly class was directly affected by the demise of zamindars and feudal rulers.
  • The British rulers’ foreign nature, which has always been alien to this region, and their disdainful attitude toward the native people harmed the latter’s pride.
  • In most cases, these revolutions reflected shared conditions, even though they occurred at different times and in different places.
  • The semi-feudal commanders of civil uprisings had a traditional worldview and were backward-minded.
  • Their main goal was to return to older systems of government and social ties.
  • These revolutions arose from local causes and concerns, and their repercussions were as localized.

Important Civil Uprisings

Civil UprisingsTime PeriodSignificance
Sanyasi Revolt1763–1800
  • The Sanyasi revolt was a late-eighteenth-century rebellion in Bengal, India, in the Murshidabad and Baikunthpur forests of Jalpaiguri under the leadership of Pandit Bhabani Charan Pathak.
  • In the 18th century, the Sanyasis who rose against the English were not always individuals who had given up the world.
  • The uprisings were marked by equal participation by Hindus and Muslims..
Revolt in Midnapore and Dhalbhum1766–74
  • In cases of dispute between the ryots and the English revenue collecting authorities, the zamindars of Midnapore sided with the ryots.
  • By the 1800s, the zamindars of Dhalbhum, Manbhum, Raipur, Panchet, Jhatibuni, Karnagarh, and Bagri, who lived in the huge Jungle Mahals of the west and north-west Midnapore, had lost their zamindaries.
  • Damodar Singh and Jagannath Dhal were key figures in the uprisings.
Revolt of Moamarias1769–99
  • The Moamaria insurrection of 1769 was a powerful threat to the authority of Assam’s Ahom monarchs.
  • The Moamarias were low-caste peasants who followed Aniruddhadeva’s (1553–1624) teachings, and their growth paralleled that of other North Indian low-caste communities.
  • Their uprisings weakened the Ahoms and allowed others to assault the territory.
  • Despite the fact that the Ahom kingdom survived the uprising, it was devastated by a Burmese invasion and eventually fell under British authority.
Civil Uprisings in Gorakhpur, Basti, and Bahraich1781
  • In order to pay for the war against the Marathas and Mysore, Warren Hastings devised a scheme to employ English officers as ijaradars (revenue farmers) in Awadh.
  • In 1781, the zamindars and farmers revolted against the oppressive taxes, and within weeks, all of Hannay’s subordinates were either slain or besieged by zamindari guerrilla troops.
Revolt of Raja of Vizianagaram1794
  • The English and Ananda Gajapatiraju, the monarch of Vizianagaram, signed a deal in 1758 to jointly expel the French from the Northern Circars.
  • The raja rose up in revolt, backed by his subjects.
  • In 1793, the English captured the raja and sentenced him to exile with a pension. The raja was adamant in his refusal.
  • In 1794, the raja was killed in a fight at Padmanabham (now in the Andhra Pradesh district of Visakhapatnam). The Company took control of Vizianagaram.
Civil Rebellion in Awadh1799
  • In Benares, Wazir Ali Khan was given a pension. However, in January 1799, he assassinated George Frederick Cherry, a British citizen who had invited him to lunch.
  • Wazir Ali’s soldiers also killed two other Europeans and assaulted the Benares Magistrate.
  • The entire episode became known as the Benares Massacre.
  • Wazir Ali was able to raise a force of many thousand soldiers, but General Erskine was able to beat them.
Kutch or Cutch Rebellion1816–32
  • The British meddled in the Kutch’s internal feuds, prompting Raja Bharmal II to gather Arab and African forces in 1819 with the goal of driving the British out of his realm.
  • In favour of his newborn son, the British defeated and removed Kutch monarch Rao Bharamal.
  • The regency council’s administrative innovations, along with excessive land valuation, sparked significant dissatisfaction.
Rising at Bareilly1816
  • When Mufti Muhammad Aiwaz, a revered old man, petitioned the town magistrate in March 1816, the dispute became religious.
  • The scenario became even worse when a lady was hurt by police while collecting taxes.
  • The Mufti’s supporters and the police got into a brutal brawl as a result of this incident.
  • Within two days following the incident, armed Muslims from Pilibhit, Shahjahanpur, and Rampur rose up in revolt to defend the faith and the Mufti.
  • The revolt could only be put down with the strong deployment of military troops, which resulted in the deaths of over 300 insurgents, as well as the wounding and imprisonment of many more.
Paika Rebellion1817
  • The Paiks of Odisha were the traditional landed militia (meaning “foot soldiers”) who had hereditary land tenures in exchange for their military duty and policing tasks.
  • Bakshi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar was the military commander of the Raja of Khurda’s army.
  • The Company took away Jagabandhu’s ancestral estate of Killa Rorang in 1814, leaving him destitute.
  • The entry of a group of Khonds from Gumsur into Khurda territory in March 1817 lit the fuse.
  • Paika Bidroh was the name given to the insurrection (rebellion).
  • For a time, the rebels’ early success galvanized the whole province of Odisha against the British administration.
  • The Paika Rebellion was successful in obtaining huge remissions of arrears, reductions in assessments, a moratorium on the sale of defaulters’ properties at will, a new settlement on permanent tenures, and other liberal governance adjuncts.
Waghera Rising1818–20
  • The Waghera leaders of Okha Mandal were forced to take up arms due to resentment of the alien authority, as well as the demands of the Gaekwad of Baroda, who were backed by the British administration.
  • During the years 1818–1819, the Wagheras made incursions into British territory.
  • In November 1820, a peace deal was concluded.
Ahom Revolt1828
  • After the First Burma War (1824–26), the British promised to leave Assam.
  • Instead of leaving after the conflict, the British tried to absorb the Ahoms’ regions under the Company’s rule.
  • This triggered a revolt in 1828, led by Gomdhar Konwar, an Ahom prince, and his countrymen, including Dhanjay Borgohain and Jairam Khargharia Phukan.
  • The rebels formally installed Gomdhar Konwar as king at Jorhat.
  • Finally, the Company adopted a conciliatory stance and gave up Upper Assam to Maharaja Purandar Singh Narendra, reuniting the Assamese ruler with a portion of his realm.
Surat Salt Agitations1840
  • In 1844, a strong anti-British feeling led to attacks against Europeans by the local Surat populace over the government’s decision to raise the salt levy from 50 paise to one rupee.
  • The administration dropped the extra salt fee in response to public outcry.
  • In 1848, the government was compelled to cancel its plan to implement Bengal Standard Weights and Measures in the face of a persistent campaign of boycotting and passive resistance by the people.
Wahabi Movement1830-61
  • Syed Ahmed of Rai Bareilly, influenced by the teachings of Saudi Arabia’s Abdul Wahab (1703–87) and Delhi’s Shah Waliullah, formed the Wahhabi Movement, which was primarily an Islamic revivalist movement.
  • Syed Ahmed denounced Western influence on Islam and called for a restoration to genuine Islam and society as it was in the Arabia of the Prophet’s day.

Peasant Movements

Peasant Organisations and Movements during 20th Century

  • Peasant uprisings were demonstrations against evictions, increases in land rents, and the greedy tactics of moneylenders, with the goal of granting peasants occupation rights, among other things.
  • They were peasant revolts and rebellions, however many of them were led by local leaders.
  • The following is a list of peasant movements in India up until the commencement of the 1857 Revolt (and its immediate aftermath).

Causes of Peasant Movements

  • Peasant Atrocities: In Zamindari districts, peasants faced excessive rents, illegal levies, arbitrary evictions, and unpaid labor.
  • The government charged a high land tax.
  • Massive Losses for Indian Industries: The movements arose as a result of British economic policies that resulted in the demise of traditional handicrafts and other small industries, resulting in the transfer of ownership and overburdening of agrarian land, as well as massive debt and impoverishment of the peasantry.
  • Unfavourable Policies: The British government’s economic policies are utilized to protect landlords and moneylenders while exploiting peasants.
  • On several instances, the peasants rose in protest against this injustice.

Important Peasant Movements

Peasants MovementsTime PeriodSignificance
Narkelberia Uprising1782–1831
  • The Muslim tenants of West Bengal were encouraged by Mir Nithar Ali (1782–1831), also known as Titu Mir, to rise up against landlords, mostly Hindus, who imposed a beard-tax on the Faraizis and British indigo planters.
  • This revolution, which is often regarded as the first armed peasant movement against the British, quickly took on a religious overtone.
  • The uprising ultimately became known as the Wahabi Movement.
The Pagal Panthis1825
  • Karam Shah formed the Pagal Panthi, a semi-religious organisation made up primarily of the Hajong and Garo tribes of Mymensingh district (formerly Bengal).
  • However, the tribal peasants banded together under Karam Shah’s son, Tipu, to combat the zamindars’ persecution.
  • From 1825 through 1835, the Pagal Panthis raided zamindars’ homes because they refused to pay rent over a set amount.
  • To safeguard these peasants, the government established an equitable arrangement, but the movement was severely quashed.
Faraizi Revolt1838-57
  • The Faraizis were followers of Haji Shariatullah of Faridpur in Eastern Bengal, who created a Muslim sect.
  • They campaigned for fundamental reforms in religion, society, and politics.
  • Shariatullah and his son Mohsin Uddin Ahmad, also known as Dudu Miyan (1819–62), gathered their supporters with the goal of driving the English out of Bengal.
  • The tenants’ fight against the zamindars was also backed by the sect.
  • The Faraizi uprisings lasted from 1838 to 1857. The majority of Faraizis embraced the Wahhabi movement.
Moplah Uprisings1921
  • Increased income demands and field size reductions, along with state harassment, culminated in widespread peasant revolt among the Moplahs of Malabar.
  • Between 1836 and 1854, there were twenty-two rebellions. None of them, however, were successful.
  • The second Moplah rebellion happened when the Congress and Khilafat supporters began organising Moplahs during the Non-Cooperation Movement.
  • However, the Congress and the Moplahs were separated by Hindu-Muslim divisions. The Moplahs had been defeated by 1921.

Tribal Revolt

When Did The Santhal Rebellion Take Place

Tribal movements were the most common, militant, and violent of all movements during British rule.

Causes of Tribal Revolts

  • Shifting agriculture, hunting, fishing, and the usage of forest products were the tribals’ mainstays.
  • The practice of settled agriculture was established with the inflow of non-tribals into the tribals’ customary territories.
  • The tribal population lost land as a result of this.
  • The tribals were confined to working as agricultural laborers without land.
  • Money lenders were introduced by the British into tribal communities, resulting in serious exploitation of the native tribes.
  • Under the new economic structure, they were forced to work as bonded labourers.
  • The concept of joint ownership of land was supplanted by the concept of private property in tribal communities.
  • Forest products, changing agriculture, and hunting techniques were all subject to limitations. For the tribals, this resulted in a loss of livelihood.
  • In contrast to mainstream culture, which was characterised by caste and class divisions, tribal life was typically egalitarian. The arrival of non-tribals or outsiders pushed the tribals to the bottom of society’s ladder.
  • The government established a Forest Department in 1864, primarily to manage the vast riches of Indian forests.
  • The Government Forest Act of 1865 and the Indian Forest Act of 1878 gave the government total control over wooded territory.
  • The Christian missionaries’ activity also caused social instability in tribal civilization, which the tribes hated.

Important Tribal Revolts

Tribal RevoltsSignificance
Paharias Rebellion (1778)
  • Due to their geographical isolation, the Paharias had always preserved their independence before the British arrived.
  • The Paharias invaded the plains populated by settled agriculturists frequently because their means of existence were insufficient, especially during times of famine.
  • These attacks also served as a means of establishing control over the established populations.
  • The British launched a savage onslaught on the Pahariyas in the 1770s, with the goal of tracking them out and murdering them.
  • The Pahariyas uprising, headed by Raja Jagganath in 1778, is noteworthy. The British began a pacification campaign in the 1780s.
Chuar Uprising (1776)
  • The Chuar uprising was a series of peasant rebellions against the East India Company that took place between 1771 and 1809 in the area around the West Bengali villages of Midnapore, Bankura, and Manbhum.
  • Chuar uprising erupted in response to the jungle zamindars’ increased earnings. The money was difficult to generate because the forest region produced little.
  • The East India Company’s tax and administrative policies (including the Permanent Settlement) as well as the police restrictions enforced in rural Bengal rendered the practise of employing local paiks obsolete, since they were eventually replaced by professional police.
  • In 1799, the British violently repressed the insurrection
Kol Mutiny (1831)
  • The Kols were a tribe that lived in the Chotanagpur region.
  • Moneylenders and merchants arrived alongside the British.
  • The Kols were forced to sell their holdings to outside farmers and pay exorbitant taxes as a result.
  • As a result, many people became bound labourers.
  • The Kols were especially irritated by British judicial policies.
  • In 1831-1832, the Kols organised themselves and revolted against the British and moneylenders, resulting in an insurgency.
Ho and Munda Uprisings (1820–37)
  • The revolt lasted until the Ho tribes were forced to succumb in 1827.
  • However, in 1831, they staged another insurrection, this time with the help of the Mundas of Chotanagpur, to oppose the newly implemented farming tax policy and the influx of Bengalis into their district.
  • Despite the fact that the uprising ended in 1832, the Ho activities continued until 1837.
  • The Mundas were not going to remain silent for long.
The Santhal Rebellions (1833; 1855–56)
  • The landlords exploited the Santhals ruthlessly, charging excessive interest rates (often as high as 500 percent) that insured the tribals would never be able to repay their loans.
  • They were stripped of their land and forced to work as bonded labourers.
  • Extortion, forcible deprivation of property, abuse and violence, deceit in business agreements, willful trampling of their crops, and so on were all things they had to cope with.
  • They assassinated a large number of moneylenders and Company agents. The uprising was ferocious and huge in scope.
  • The British brutally quashed the insurrection, killing around 20000 Santhals, including the two leaders.
Khond Uprisings (1837–56)
  • Between 1837 and 1856, the Khonds of the mountainous areas spanning from Odisha to the Andhra Pradesh districts of Srikakulam and Visakhapatnam revolted against Company control.
  • Chakra Bisoi, a youthful raja, led the Khonds, who were supported by the Ghumsar, Kalahandi, and other tribes, in their opposition to the abolition of human sacrifice, increased taxes, and the arrival of zamindars into their territories.
  • The insurrection came to an end with Chakra Bisoi’s disappearance.
Koya Revolts
  • The Koyas of the eastern Godavari track (now Andhra) revolted in 1803, 1840, 1845, 1858, 1861, and 1862, aided by Khonda Sara leaders.
  • Under Tomma Sora, they climbed once again in 1879–80.
  • Their grievances included police and moneylender persecution, new restrictions, and rejection of their traditional rights to forest regions.
  • After Tomma Sora’s death, Raja Anantayyar organised another revolt in 1886.
Bhil Revolts
  • The Bhils of the Western Ghats controlled the mountain routes that connected the north with the Deccan.
  • They rose against Company control in 1817–19 due to starvation, economic suffering, and misgovernment.
  • To quell the insurrection, the British utilised both force and conciliatory measures.
  • The Bhils, however, revolted again in 1825, 1831, and 1846.
  • Later, a reformer named Govind Guru assisted the Bhils of south Rajasthan (Banswara and Sunth states) in organising to fight for a Bhil Raj by 1913.
Koli Risings
  • The Kolis of Bhils rose up in revolt against the Company’s control in 1829, 1839, and again in 1844–48.
  • They opposed the imposition of Company’s control, which resulted in widespread unemployment and the removal of their fortifications.
Ramosi Risings
  • The Ramosis, or Western Ghats hill tribes, had not accepted British control or the British system of administration.
  • They emerged in 1822 under Chittur Singh and devastated the land around Satara.
  • There were other eruptions in 1825–26 under Umaji Naik of Poona and his follower Bapu Trimbakji Sawant, and the unrest lasted until 1829.
  • The commotion flared again in 1839 at the deposition and exile of Raja Pratap Singh of Satara, and it exploded again in 1840–41.
  • Finally, a stronger British force was able to restore order in the region.

Tribal Revolts in North East

Khasi Uprising
  • After occupying the steep terrain between the Garo and Jaintia Hills, the East India Company desired to construct a route connecting the Brahmaputra Valley with Sylhet.
  • A considerable number of outsiders, including Englishmen, Bengalis, and plains labourers, were imported to these regions for this purpose.
  • The Khasis, Garos, Khamptis, and Singphos banded together under Tirath Singh to drive the outsiders out of the plains.
  • The movement grew into a widespread revolution against British administration in the region.
  • By 1833, the overwhelming English armed force had put down the rebellion.
Singphos Rebellion
  • The Singphos movement in Assam in early 1830 was quickly put down, but they continued to organise revolts.
  • The British political agent was killed in an insurrection in 1839.
  • In 1843, Chief Nirang Phidu organized a rebellion that resulted in an attack on the British garrison and the deaths of numerous troops.

Sepoy Mutinies

Before the Great Revolt of 1857, a number of intermittent military uprisings occurred in various sections of the kingdom.

Causes of Sepoy Mutinies

  • Discrimination in pay and promotions.
  • Mistreatment of the sepoys by British officials.
  • The government’s refusal to pay foreign service allowance while fighting in remote regions.
  • Religious objections of the high-caste Hindu sepoys to Lord Canning’s General Service Enlistment Act (1856) ordering all recruits to be ready for service.
  • Furthermore, the sepoys shared all of the civilian population’s anger and grievances – social, religious, and economic.
  • Over time, the upper caste sepoys’ religious convictions had come into conflict with their service circumstances.
  • In 1806, for example, the replacement of the turban with a leather cockade sparked a revolt at Vellore.
  • Similarly, in 1844, the Bengal army sepoys revolted about being deployed to distant Sind, and in 1824, the sepoys at Barrackpore revolted when they were requested to move to Burma since crossing the sea would mean losing caste.

Important Sepoy Mutinies

The following are the most significant mutinies that occurred before 1857:

  • The Bengal Sepoy Mutiny of 1764.
  • The Vellore Mutiny of 1806; when the sepoys revolted against interference in their social and religious traditions and raised a banner of revolt, unfurling the flag of the monarch of Mysore.
  • The sepoys of the 47th Native Infantry Unit mutiny in 1824.
  • The insurrection of the Grenadier Company in Assam in 1825.
  • The mutiny of an Indian regiment at Sholapur in 1838.
  • Mutinies in the 34th Native Infantry (N.I), 22nd Native Infantry (N.I), 66th Native Infantry (N.I), and 37th Native Infantry (N.I) in 1844, 1849, 1850, and 1852, respectively.
  • All of these mutinies, however, did not extend beyond their immediate vicinity and were brutally suppressed by the British Indian administration, often inflicting severe violence, killing commanders, and disbanding battalions.
  • However, the impact of these revolts proved to be enormously significant later on.

Significance of the Uprisings

  • The rebels’ actions demonstrate that they were clear about their goals and foes.
  • Peasant and tribal protest movements have several characteristics that indicate a certain amount of political and social consciousness among them.
  • Local factors might have sparked the uprising in several cases. However, as the movement progressed, the movement’s goal was enlarged.
  • The tyranny of local landowners may have been the immediate background of a movement, but once it began, it became a protest against the British Raj.
  • Religious convictionsethnic ties, and traditions all helped to mobilize the peasants and cement their bonds.
  • Rebels were frequently driven by their idealized pasts to reclaim their lost pasts.
  • To the rebels in the past, the past symbolized freedom from exploitation and injustice.
  • The ruling class attempted to characterize the uprisings as a crisis of law and order and a criminal act.
  • This is an outright rejection of the peasants’ comprehension of their concerns and right to demonstrate.
  • However, the rebels did not have a future strategy beyond the restoration of the old order, which is why it is vital to comprehend the area of peasant and tribal activity on its own terms.
  • Despite their restricted objectives and limited worldview, the rebels successfully highlighted the colonial rule’s unpopularity.

Weaknesses of the Uprisings

  • These uprisings gathered a considerable number of people, although they were localized and took place at various times in different places.
  • They originated mostly as a result of local complaints.
  • The opposition was semi-feudal in naturebackward-looking, and conventional in viewpoint, and it offered no alternatives to the current social setup.
  • If many of these revolts appeared to be similar in their desire to expel foreign control, it was not due to any ‘national’ drive or collective effort, but because they were rebelling against conditions that were common to them.
  • In terms of form and ideological/cultural substance, these rebellions dated back centuries.
  • Those who were not as difficult or obstructive were pacified by concessions made by the government.
  • The techniques and weaponry utilized by the warriors in these revolutions were essentially archaic in comparison to the armaments, strategy, deceit, and chicanery deployed by their opponents.


There were several uprisings and rebellions in India during the early years of the English East India Company’s administration. As we have seen, the English East India Company used different tactics to turn India into a colony during a 100-year period, from the 1750s to the 1850s.

Various British policies implemented in India during this time period were largely in the interests of the British. A variety of land revenue experiments were conducted, which harmed cultivators. The local government failed to give aid and natural justice to the rural poor.

Chapter 15: The Revolt of 1857


The Revolt of 1857 was a significant rebellion in India between 1857 and 1858 against the government of the British East India Company, which acted as a sovereign power on behalf of the British Crown.

The uprising began on May 10, 1857, with a mutiny of Company army sepoys at the garrison town of Meerut, 40 miles northeast of Delhi. It eventually burst into further mutinies and civilian rebellions, primarily in the upper Gangetic plain and central India, though there were also incidents of insurrection in the north and east. 


Revolt of 1857 – Background

  • Following the Battle of Plassey in 1757, the British took the first step toward gaining control of northern India.
  • And in 1857, there was a great ‘Revolt,’ which was a result of the character and practices of colonial administration after 1757, and which resulted in significant changes in British policy toward India.
  • Over time, the cumulative effect of British expansionist tactics, economic exploitation, and administrative innovations had harmed all—rulers of Indian states, sepoys, zamindars, peasants, traders, craftsmen, gurus, maulvis, and so on.
  • In 1857, the simmering anger erupted in a violent storm that rocked the British empire in India to its very core.
  • However, there were intermittent public eruptions in the form of religiopolitical violencetribal movements, peasant uprisings, agrarian riots, and civil rebellions between 1757 and 1857.
  • Even in famine years, increased revenue expectations sparked resentment.
  • Because the moneylenders had the protection of the police, many protests against local moneylenders escalated into rebellions against the Company’s control.
  • Interference by the British in native religious/traditional rituals sparked discontent and led to rebellions.
  • Rebellions and uprisings happened almost from the beginning of the East India Company‘s reign, for various reasons in various places.
  • Even after the 1857 Revolt, some of the movements persisted.
  • Major revolts broke out in the south, east, west, and north-eastern districts, which the Company brutally repressed.

Revolt of 1857 – Causes

The origins of the 1857 revolt, like those of previous uprisings, arose from all facts – sociocultural, economic, and political – of the Indian population’s everyday existence, cutting across all sectors and classes.

Economic Causes

  • The East India Company‘s colonial practices shattered Indian society’s conventional economic foundation.
  • Due to severe taxes, peasants were forced to take out loans from moneylenders/traders at exorbitant interest rates, with the latter frequently evicting the former from their property for non-payment of debt dues.
  • While the issue of landless peasants and rural indebtedness has plagued Indian society to this day, these moneylenders and businessmen emerged as the new landlords.
  • The zamindari system, which had been in place for a long time, had to be dismantled.
  • The artists and handicrafts people suffered during the British administration as well.
  • Furthermore, British policies discouraged Indian handicrafts while emphasizing British items.
  • At the same time, imports of British products into India were subject to cheap duties, which encouraged their admission.
  • Cotton and silk textile exports from India had virtually ceased by the mid-nineteenth century.
  • With the frequent use of a status quo by the state, Zamindars, the traditional landed nobility, had their property rights confiscated.
  • The sepoy revolution provided a chance for these dispossessed taluqdars to confront the British and reclaim what they had lost.
  • The collapse of Indian industry exacerbated the burden on agriculture and land, which could no longer sustain all of the country’s inhabitants; the country’s uneven development led to pauperization in general.

Political Causes

  • Through policies like ‘Effective Control,’ ‘Subsidiary Alliance,‘ and ‘Doctrine of Lapse,’ the East India Company‘s greedy policy of aggrandizement accompanied by broken pledges and promises resulted in contempt for the Company
  • And the loss of political prestige, as well as caused suspicion in the minds of almost all the ruling princes in India.
  • Hindu princes were denied the right of succession.
  • The Mughals were mortified when, following Prince Faqiruddin’s death in 1856, Lord Canning declared that, in addition to the renunciations agreed to by Prince Faqiruddin, the next prince on succession would have to surrender the royal title and the ancestral Mughal palaces.
  • The fall of rulers – the old aristocracy – had a negative impact on those sectors of Indian society that relied on cultural and religious pursuits for their livelihood.

Administrative Causes

  • Corruption was rampant in the Company’s administration, particularly among the police, minor officials, and subordinate courts, which was a major source of dissatisfaction.
  • Many historians believe that the current levels of corruption in India are a result of the Company’s control.
  • Furthermore, the nature of British rule gave it a distant and alien appearance in the view of Indians: a form of absentee sovereignty.

Socio-Religious Causes

  • The British administration’s attitude toward the native Indian population had racial overtones and a superiority mentality.
  • Indians viewed the activity of Christian missionaries in India who flew the British flag with distrust.
  • considerable segment of the populace saw initiatives at socio-religious change, such as the elimination of sati, support for widow-marriage, and women’s education, as outsiders interfering in the social and religious spheres of Indian culture.
  • These fears were exacerbated by the government’s decision to tax mosque and temple lands and the passage of laws like the Religious Disabilities Act of 1856, which altered Hindu customs by declaring, for example, that a change of religion did not prevent a son from inheriting his ‘heathen’ father’s property.

Influence of Outside Events

  • The revolt of 1857 occurred during the First Afghan War (1838–42), the Punjab Wars (1845–49), and the Crimean Wars (1854–56), all of which cost the British a lot of money.
  • These have clear psychological ramifications. The British were perceived as being weak, and it was thought that they might be vanquished.

Dissatisfaction Among the Sepoys

10 Facts to know about Mangal Pandey, the man who started Sepoy Mutiny in  India | Life News – India TV

  • The sepoys’ religious views and biases increasingly clashed with the circumstances of duty in the Company’s Army and cantonments.
  • Indian sepoys, who were generally conservative by nature, interpreted restrictions on wearing caste and sectarian marks, as well as secret rumors of chaplains’ proselytizing activities (often maintained at the Company’s expense, which meant at Indian expense) as interference in their religious affairs.
  • Crossing the seas meant losing one’s caste to the devout Hindus of the period.
  • The General Service Enlistment Act, passed by Lord Canning’s administration in 1856, compelled all future recruits to the Bengal Army to submit a promise to serve wherever the government wanted their services.
  • There was animosity as a result of this.
  • In comparison to his British colleague, the Indian sepoy was equally dissatisfied with his pay.
  • The edict that they would not be awarded the foreign service allowance (Bhatta) when serving in Sindh or Punjab was a more immediate source of displeasure for the sepoys.
  • The acquisition of Awadh, the home of numerous sepoys, aggravated their emotions even more.
  • At every turn, the Indian sepoy was treated as a second-class citizen, discriminated against ethnically and in issues of advancement and privileges.
  • The sepoys’ unhappiness was not restricted to military problems; it expressed a broader dissatisfaction with and hostility to British authority.
  • In truth, the sepoy was a “peasant in uniform” whose mindset was not separated from that of the rural populace.

The Revolt

  • The incidence of greased cartridges finally sparked the Revolt of 1857.
  • There was a rumor that the new Enfield rifles’ cartridges were lubricated with cow and pig fat.
  • The sepoys had to nibble off the paper on the cartridges before loading these guns.
  • They were rebuffed by both Hindu and Muslim sepoys.
  • Lord Canning attempted to right the wrong by withdrawing the problematic cartridges, but the harm had already been done. There was rioting in several locations.
  • The revolt began on May 10, 1857, at Meerut, 58 kilometers from Delhi, and quickly spread across a large territory, encompassing Punjab in the north and the Narmada in the south, as well Bihar in the east and Rajputana in the west.
  • There were rumblings of dissatisfaction in many cantonments even before the Meerut tragedy.
  • In February 1857, the 19th Native Infantry at Berhampore (West Bengal), which refused to use the newly imported Enfield rifle and mutinied, was dissolved.
  • Mangal Pande, a young sepoy in the 34th Native Infantry, went a step further and shot at his unit’s sergeant major at Barrackpore.
  • On April 8, he was overcome and hanged, and his unit was dissolved in May.
  • Then there was the blast in Meerut. The lubricated cartridges were declined by 90 troops of the 3rd Native Cavalry on April 24.
  • On May 9, 85 of them were found guilty, condemned to ten years in jail, and placed in shackles.
  • The Indian soldiers stationed at Meerut erupted in a widespread mutiny as a result of this.
  • They liberated their imprisoned friends the next day, May 10, executed their superiors, and raised the insurrection flag. After sunset, they left for Delhi.
  • The greased cartridges did not establish a new source of dissatisfaction in the Army; rather, they provided the catalyst for long-simmering resentment to surface.

Bahadur Shah – Head of the Revolt

  • The Great Revolt’s epicenter would soon be Delhi, and Bahadur Shah would be its emblem.
  • This spontaneous elevation of the last Mughal ruler to the throne of India was a recognition that the Mughal dynasty’s lengthy reign had become the traditional emblem of India’s political unity.
  • The sepoys had turned a military mutiny into a revolutionary war with this one deed, and all Indian chiefs who took part in the insurrection rushed to declare their allegiance to the Mughal emperor.
  • It also implied that the insurgents were acting for political reasons
  • Though religion had a role, the rebels’ overall worldview was shaped more by their image of the British as the common enemy than by their religious identity.

Leaders of the Revolt and Storm Centres

  • The uprising expanded over the whole region, from Patna’s outskirts to Rajasthan’s borders.
  • Kanpur, Lucknow, Bareilly, Jhansi, Gwalior, and Arrah in Bihar are the primary centers of insurrection in these areas.
  • Lucknow was the capital of the Awadh state. Begum Hazrat Mahal, one of the ex-king of Awadh’s Begum, assumed command of the insurrection.
  • Nana Saheb, the adopted son of Peshwa Baji Rao II, led the mutiny at Kanpur.
  • He joined the insurrection largely because the British had taken away his pension.
  • The victory was fleeting. After further forces came, the British were able to regain Kanpur. The uprising was put down with fury.
  • Nana Saheb managed to flee, but his superb leader Tantia Tope fought on. Tantia Tope was defeated, jailed, and hung in the end.
  • When the British refused to acknowledge her adopted son’s claim to the kingdom of Jhansi, the twenty-two-year-old Rani Lakshmi Bai commanded the rebels.
    • She battled valiantly against the British army, but the English eventually overpowered her.
  • After Rani Lakshmi Bai fled, she was joined by Tantia Tope, and the two marched to Gwalior, where they were arrested.
  • There was a fierce battle, and the Rani of Jhansi fought like a tigress till she perished, battling until the last.
  • The British were able to retake Gwalior.
  • Kunwar Singh, a member of a royal family from Jagdispur, Bihar, spearheaded the insurrection.
Place of the RevoltLeadersBritish officials
DelhiBahadur ShahJohn Nicolson
LucknowBegum Hazart MahalHenry Lawrance
KanpurNana SahibSir Colin Camphel
JhansiLakshmi Bai and Tantia TopeGeneral Hugh Rose
BareillyKhan Bahadur KhanSir Colin Camphel
Allahabad and BanarasMaulavi Likayat AliColonel Oncell
BiharKunwar SinghWilliam Taylor

Contributions of Civilians

  • The sepoy revolt was accompanied by a civil populace uprising, mainly in the north-western regions and Awadh.
  • Their long-held complaints were quickly expressed, and they rose in force to voice their resistance to British authority.
  • The farmers, craftsmen, shopkeepers, day laborers, zamindars, religious mendicants, priests, and public servants all participated in the insurrection, giving it actual power and the appearance of a popular uprising.
  • Peasants and petty zamindars vented their frustrations here by assaulting the moneylenders and zamindars who had evicted them from their land.
  • They took advantage of the uprising to destroy the accounts and debt records of the moneylenders.
  • They also targeted law courts, revenue offices (tehsils), tax records, and police stations, all of which were founded by the British.
  • Within a month after the rebels captured Delhi, the uprising had spread to other regions of the country.

Suppression of the Revolt

  • After a lengthy and bloody battle, the British finally took Delhi on September 20, 1857, and the uprising was eventually put down.
  • The siege’s commander, John Nicholson, was severely wounded and died as a result of his injuries.
  • Bahadur Shah was apprehended and imprisoned.
  • The royal princes were apprehended and killed on the spot by Lieutenant Hudson, who shot them at point-blank range.
  • In 1862, the emperor was banished to Rangoon, where he died. As a result, the mighty Mughal dynasty was ultimately and totally destroyed.
  • All of the revolt’s major leaders fell one by one.
  • The military operations to retake Kanpur were intertwined with those to reclaim Lucknow.
  • British control over India was largely restored by the end of 1859.
  • The British government had to send massive amounts of soldiers, money, and guns into the nation, albeit the Indians had to pay for it all afterward by suppressing themselves.

Causes of Failure of the Revolt

  • All-India participation was absent – One cause was the revolt’s limited geographical extension.
  • It lacked an all-India veneer; India’s eastern, southern, and western regions were mostly unharmed.
  • This was most likely due to the Company’s harsh suppression of previous uprisings in those areas.
  • All classes did not join – Even Awadh taluqdars backed off after pledges of land restoration were spelled out, and big zamindars served as storm breakers.’
  • Moneylenders and merchants were particularly vulnerable to the mutineers’ rage, and their interests were better safeguarded under British patronage.
  • Educated Indians saw the insurrection as backward-looking, pro-feudal, and a backlash to modernity by old conservative forces; these individuals had great hopes that the British would usher in a period of modernization.
  • The majority of Indian kings declined to join and frequently aided the British.
  • Poor Arms and Equipment – The Indian forces were inadequately armed, fighting mostly with swords and spears, with few cannons and muskets.
  • European soldiers, on the other hand, were armed with cutting-edge weaponry such as the Enfield rifle.
  • The electric telegraph kept the commander-in-chief up to date on the rebels’ movements and plans.
  • Uncoordinated and Poorly Organised – The uprising was poorly organized, with no central leadership or coordination.
  • In terms of generalship, the main rebel commanders – Nana Saheb, Tantia Tope, Kunwar Singh, and Laxmibai – were no match for their British opponents.
  • The East India Company, on the other hand, was lucky to have persons of remarkable ability such as the Lawrence brothers, John Nicholson, James Outram, Henry Havelock, and others.
  • No Unified Ideology – The mutineers lacked a thorough knowledge of colonial control, as well as a future-oriented agenda, a cohesive philosophy, a political vision, and a sociological alternative.
  • The insurgents represented a variety of forces with varying grievances and political ideologies.
  • At this point in Indian history, a lack of unity among Indians was probably inescapable.
  • In India, modern nationalism was unheard of. In reality, the insurrection of 1857 was essential in drawing the Indian people together and instilling in them a sense of belonging to a single country.

Nature and Consequences of the Revolt

  • The uprising of 1857 was a watershed moment in Indian history.
  • It resulted in significant changes in the British government’s administrative system and policy.
  • The revolt was described by British historians as a sepoy mutiny.
  • The British historians believed that the sepoys, as well as some landholders and princes with vested interests, organized the insurrection, ignoring the local people’s concerns and involvement in the movement.
  • Self-interested reasons, according to a recent study in 1857, did not play a significant role prior to the concerted opposition to the unpopular British administration.
  • The Revolt of 1857 is considered by some historians to be the first struggle for Indian independence.
  • Those who disagree with this perspective say that the rebel leaders did not try to create a new social order.
  • The dissatisfied devotion and intentions were shattered, and they frequently looked back to society and policies that were no longer feasible.” As a result, it was a restoration rather than a revolution.
  • Rural peasants, in addition to sepoys and Taluqdars, took part in the revolution in considerable numbers.
  • In the instance of Awadh, it has been shown that the attack was undertaken jointly by taluqdars and peasants.
  • Peasants continued to relocate even after taluqdars made peace with the British in several locations.
  • The sepoys had ties to their kinsmen in the countryside, and their insurrection inspired the civilian populace to air their concerns against British authority.
  • As a result, the 1857 Revolt took on the appearance of a popular revolt.

Significance of the Revolt

  • Even though the British were able to put down the uprising, they were aware of the intensity of the people’s discontent.
  • The events of 1857 forced the British to reconsider their stance toward India in the aftermath of the uprising; as a result, they devised a plan to prevent future revolts.
  • The British issued a pledge that they would not extend their existing geographical conquests in order to regain the trust of local princes.
  • The loyal princes received special honors. To check troops’ cohesion, community, caste, tribal, and regional loyalty were fostered during army recruiting.
  • By subtly exploiting the caste, religious, and regional identities of Indians, the British used the ‘divide and rule strategy.
  • The proclamation of Royal Proclamation in 1858 was another key result of the Revolt of 1857.
  • The British Crown took complete control of India’s government with this proclamation, thereby ending the East India Company’s dominion.
  • Even though the rebels were defeated, their valiant fight against the British Raj made a lasting impact on the public.
  • This Revolt had a significant impact on the spirit of Indian nationalism during its formative years in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Hindu – Muslim Unity

  • At all levels of the revolt – people, troops, and leaders – there was the perfect collaboration between Hindus and Muslims.
  • All rebels recognized Bahadur Shah Zafar, a Muslim, as emperor, and the Hindu sepoys in Meerut immediately began marching to Delhi, the Mughal imperial capital.
  • “Two things stand out plainly in the middle of the complex tale of the Rising of 1857,” Maulana Azad writes.
    • The first is the incredible sense of oneness that existed in India during this time between Hindus and Muslims.
    • The other is the people’s great devotion to the Mughal Crown.” Both Hindus and Muslims, rebels and sepoys acknowledged each other’s feelings.
  • Once the insurrection was successful in a given location, an immediate ban on cow slaughter was imposed.
  • Both Hindus and Muslims were well-represented in the leadership; for example, Nana Saheb had Azimullah, a Muslim who specialized in political advertising, as an advisor, while Laxmibai had Afghan warriors on her side.
  • Thus, the events of 1857 revealed that, prior to 1858, India’s people and politics were not fundamentally communal or sectarian.


For the first time in 1857, peasant dissatisfaction, along with protests from other areas of society, united disparate elements of society together in a coherent campaign against the British takeover.

Many parts of Indian society were brought together for a similar purpose, although in a limited fashion. Despite the fact that the revolution failed to achieve its aim, it did sow the seeds of Indian nationalism. Many historians see the events of 1857 as an early indication of nationalism.

Chapter 16: The Rise of Socio-Religious Reforms in Modern India


There are various factors which gave rise to socio-religious reforms as the Indian society was caste-ridden, decadent, and rigid in the early nineteenth century. Certain practises were carried out despite the fact that they were incompatible with humanitarian attitudes or beliefs.

They were carried out in the name of religion. A number of leaders emerged to help reshape Indian society. They intended to instil modern values in Indian society first and foremost.

Some enlightened Indians, such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chand Vidyasagar, Dayanand Saraswati, and others, attempted to change society in order to prepare it to face the challenges of the West.

Socio Religious Movements1 | PDF | Religious Faiths | Religion And Belief

What are Socio-Religious Reforms?

  • These movements became popular during the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Various changes associated with rising modernization such as modern education resulted in many social and religious reform movements in India.
  • Different types of socio-religious movements can be classified such as Hindu reform movements, Muslim reform movements, Sikh reform movements, Parsi reform movements, etc.
  • Based on the location of their occurrence they can be further sub-classified based as East India, West India, South India and North India.

Types of Reform

  • Reformist movements: These movements arose in reaction to the time and scientific attitude of the modern period.
  • Revivalist movements: Began with the revival of traditional Indian rituals and philosophies, feeling that western thinking had harmed Indian culture and ethics.
  • The primary distinction between reform movements was whether they relied more on tradition or reason and conscience.

Causes of Social Awakening

  • The first and most important cause was British rule and its profound impact on India’s political, economic, social, and cultural life. It established an environment that was conducive to intellectual development.
  • The second effort was that of European Orientalists, who worked to bring India’s rich history to light. Sir William Jones, James Princep, Charles Wilkins, Max Muller, and others have all contributed to this.
  • Many Indian historians, including Raja Rammohan Roy, Radhakanta Deb, Rajendralal Mitra, and MG Ranade, contributed to the reinterpretation of India’s history.
  • There was the negative impact of Christian missionaries who believed that spreading Christianity in India would benefit Britain’s imperial interests and ensure the empire’s security.
    • It was interpreted by the Indians as an attack on their religion and social customs. They wished to alter it in order to rid society of harmful social behaviours.

Factors that Influenced Socio-Religious Reforms

Impact of British Rule

  • The presence of a colonial government on Indian soil played a complicated, yet decisive role in this pivotal period of modern Indian history.
  • The impact of British rule on Indian society and culture was vastly different from that which India had previously known.
  • Most earlier invaders who came to India settled within its borders and were either absorbed by its superior culture or interacted positively with it, becoming a part of the land and its people.
  • The British conquest, on the other hand, was unique. It arrived at a time when, in contrast to an enlightened Europe of the 18th century, which was influenced in every aspect by science and scientific outlook.
  • India presented the picture of a stagnant civilisation and a static and decadent society.

Social Conditions

  • Religious and Social Ills – In the nineteenth century, Indian society was entangled in a vicious web of religious superstitions and social obscurantism.
    • Hinduism had become engulfed in superstition and magic. The priests had a powerful and, in some ways, unhealthy influence on the people’s minds.
    • Idolatry and polytheism helped to strengthen their position, and their monopoly on scriptural knowledge gave all religious systems a deceptive character.
    • Nothing was beyond the power of religious ideology to persuade people to do.
  • Depressing Position of Women – The position of women was the most upsetting. Attempted murder of female infants at birth was not uncommon.
    • Another societal blight was child marriage.
    • Polygamy was common, and under Kulinism, even old men took very young girls as wives in Bengal.
    • Several women had barely had a married life to speak of, yet when their husbands died, they were expected to commit sati, which Raja Rammohan Roy described as “murder according to every shastra.
    • They were sentenced to a life of misery and humiliation if they escaped this social coercion.
  • Caste Problem – Caste was another debilitating factor. This entailed a system of segregation based on ritual status, which was hierarchically ordained.
    • The untouchables, or scheduled castes as they were later referred to, were at the bottom of the social hierarchy.
    • The untouchables were subjected to a variety of severe disabilities and restrictions. People were divided into numerous groups as a result of the system.
    • In modern times, it has become a major impediment to the development of a strong national identity and the spread of democracy.
    • It should also be noted that caste consciousness, particularly with regard to marriage, prevailed among Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs, all of whom practised untouchability, albeit in a milder form.
    • A rigid caste system stifled social mobility, widened social divisions, and stifled individual initiative.
  • Above all, the humiliation of untouchability, which was so ingrained in the caste system, worked against human dignity.

Opposition to Western Culture

  • Following the establishment of colonial rule in India, a concerted effort was made to disseminate colonial culture and ideology as the dominant cultural current.
  • Faced with the challenge of colonial culture and ideology, an attempt to revitalise traditional institutions and realise the potential of traditional culture emerged during the nineteenth century.

Awareness among Enlightened Indians

  • The impact of modern Western culture, as well as the awareness of defeat at the hands of a foreign power, gave birth to a new awakening.
  • There was an understanding that a vast country like India had been colonised by a small group of foreigners due to flaws in the Indian social structure and culture.
  • For a time, it appeared that India had fallen behind in the race to civilisation. This elicited a variety of reactions.
  • Some English-educated Bengali youth developed a dislike for Hindu religion and culture; they abandoned old religious ideas and traditions and purposefully adopted practises that were offensive to Hindu sentiments, such as drinking wine and eating beef.
  • The responses were varied, but the need to reform social and religious life was a widely held belief.
  • During the last decades of the nineteenth century, the rising tide of nationalism and democracy found expression in movements to reform and democratise the Indian people’s social institutions and religious outlook.
  • Factors such as the rise of nationalist sentiments, the emergence of new economic forces, the spread of education, the impact of modern Western ideas and culture, and increased global awareness strengthened the resolve to reform.


Socio-religious upheavals in the nineteenth century offered fertile ground for the formation of Indian nationalism. As a result of the social and religious injustices encountered by various sectors of the population, many leaders and reforms evolved in Indian society.

People became increasingly aware of the world as nationalist impulses got stronger, new economic forces formed, education spread, and the impact of contemporary Western ideas and culture grew greater. The socio-religious reform movements were not exactly religious in character.

These reforms were humanist in aspiration and rejected salvation and other worldliness as the agenda mentioned in various religions. The socio religious aspirations in 19th century were influenced by the colonial state but were not created by it.

Chapter 17: The Beginning of Modern Indian Nationalism


The beginning of modern nationalism in India has traditionally been explained in terms of the Indian response to the stimulus generated by the British Raj through the establishment of new institutions, opportunities, and resources, among other things.

In other words, Indian nationalism grew as a result of colonial policies and as a reaction to colonial policies. In fact, it would be more accurate to view Indian nationalism as the result of a confluence of factors

Development of Indian Nationalism and Independence - ppt download

What is Nationalism?

  • Nationalism is an idea and movement that holds that the nation and the state should be congruent.
  • Nationalism, as a movement, tends to promote the interests of a specific nation, particularly in terms of gaining and retaining sovereignty over one’s homeland in order to establish a nation state.
  • Nationalism holds that each nation should govern itself, free of outside interference (self-determination), that a nation is the natural and ideal foundation for a polity, and that the nation is the only legitimate source of political power.
  • It also aims to promote national unity or solidarity by establishing and maintaining a single national identity based on shared social characteristics such as culture, ethnicity, geographic location, language, politics (or the government), religion, traditions, and belief in a shared singular history.
Nationalism in India

Features of Modern Nationalism in India

  • Modern nationalism became associated with the formation of nation-states. It also meant that people’s perceptions of who they were and what defined their identity and sense of belonging shifted.
  • New symbols and icons, new songs and ideas forged new connections and redefined community boundaries. In most countries, the process of developing a new national identity took a long time.
  • The rise of modern nationalism in India, as in many other colonies, is inextricably linked to the anti-colonial movement.
  • People began to realize their unity as a result of their struggle against colonialism. The sense of oppression under colonialism provided a common bond that united many disparate groups.
  • However, each class and group felt the effects of colonialism differently, their experiences varied, and their ideas about freedom were not always the same.
  • The Congress, led by Mahatma Gandhi, attempted to unite these disparate groups into a single movement. However, the unity did not come without conflict.

Factors Responsible for Growth of Modern Nationalism

Understanding Contradictions in Indian and Colonial Interests

  • People realized that colonial rule was a major cause of India’s economic backwardness and that the interests of Indians included the interests of all sections and classes.
  • The nationalist movement arose to confront the contradictions inherent in colonial rule’s character and policies.

Unification of the country’s politics, administration, and economy

  • A professional civil service, a unified judiciary, and codified civil and criminal laws across the country added a new dimension of political unity to the previously unbroken cultural unity that had existed in India for centuries.
  • Administrative convenience, military defense considerations, and the desire for economic penetration and commercial exploitation (all in British interests) were the driving forces behind the planned development of modern modes of transportation and communication such as railways, roads, electricity, and telegraph.
  • According to nationalists, the process of unification had two effects:
    • the economic fate of people from different regions became intertwined.
    • this was significant for the exchange of political ideas, as well as for mobilizing and organizing public opinion on political and economic issues.

Western Education and Thought

  • Modern educational systems provided opportunities for assimilation of modern Western ideas while also allowing nationalist leaders from various linguistic regions to communicate with one another.
  • The English educated class comprised the middle class intelligentsia, which served as the nucleus for the newly arising political unrest.

The Press and Literature’s Role

  • On the one hand, the press criticized official policies and, on the other, urged people to unite.
  • It also aided in the spread of modern concepts such as self-government, democracy, civil rights, and industrialization.
  • Newspapers, journals, pamphlets, and nationalist literature facilitated the exchange of political ideas between nationalist leaders from various regions.

Historical Past

  • Historical research by European scholars such as Max Mueller, Monier Williams, Roth, and Sassoon, as well as Indian scholars such as R.G. Bhandarkar, R.L. Mitra, and later Swami Vivekananda, produced a completely different picture of India’s past.
  • This picture was defined by well-developed political, economic, and social institutions, thriving trade with the rest of the world, a rich heritage in arts and culture, and a plethora of cities.

Socio-religious Reform Movements

  • These reform movements sought to eliminate social ills that divided Indian society.
  • It also had the effect of bringing different sections of Indian society together and proved to be an important factor in the growth of Indian nationalism.

Rise of Middle Class Intelligentsia

  • Administrative and economic innovations in the United Kingdom gave rise to a new urban middle class in towns.
  • The new middle class was an all-India class with diverse backgrounds but a common foreground of knowledge, ideas, and values.
  • This class rose to prominence as a result of its education, new position, and close ties with the ruling class.
  • This class provided leadership to the Indian National Congress at all stages of its development.

Global Impact of Contemporary Movements

  • The rise of a number of nations in South America on the ruins of the Spanish and Portuguese empires, as well as the national liberation movements of Greece and Italy in general, and Ireland in particular, profoundly influenced the nationalist.

Reactionary Policies and Racial Arrogance

  • The British sought to perpetuate racial myths of white superiority through a deliberate policy of discrimination and segregation. This caused a great deal of pain among Indians.
  • Lytton’s reactionary policies, such as lowering the maximum age limit for the I.C.S. examination from 21 to 19 years (1876), holding the grand Delhi Durbar in 1877 while the country was in the grip of famine, passing the Vernacular Press Act (1878), and passing the Arms Act (1878), sparked outrage in the country.
  • It became clear to the nationalists that when the interests of the European community were at stake, justice and fair play could not be expected.
  • The organized agitation by Europeans to repeal the Ilbert Bill, on the other hand, taught nationalists how to agitate for their rights and demands.

Evaluation of Early Nationalists

Even though they were unable to attract the masses, the early nationalists dida lot to awaken national sentiment.

  • They represented the most progressive forces in the country at the time.
  • They were able to create a widespread national awakening of all Indians who shared common interests and the need to unite behind a common cause against a common foe, and above all, a sense of belonging to one nation.
  • They educated people about politics and popularized modern ideas.
  • They exposed colonial rule’s fundamentally exploitative nature, undermining its moral foundations.
  • Their political work was founded on hard realities rather than shallow sentiments, religion, and so on.
  • They were successful in establishing the fundamental political truth that India should be governed in the interests of Indians.
  • They laid the groundwork for a more vigorous, militant, mass-based national movement to emerge in the years that followed.
  • They did not, however, broaden their democratic base or the scope of their demands.

Political Associations Before Indian National Congress

In the early half of the nineteenth century, wealthy and aristocratic elements dominated most political associations. Most of them demanded administrative reforms, Indians’ inclusion in administration, and the expansion of education through lengthy petitions to the British Parliament. The educated middle class—lawyers, journalists, doctors, teachers, and so on—became increasingly dominant in the political associations of the second half of the nineteenth century, and they had a broader perspective and a larger agenda.

Political Associations in Bengal

  • Bangabhasha Prakasika Sabha founded in 1836.
  • Zamindari Association, also known as the Landholders’ Society was founded in 1838.
  • Bengal British India Society (1843) – Founded for the purpose of collecting and disseminating information about the actual condition of the people of British India.
  • British Indian Association (1851) – demanded that some of its suggestions, such as the establishment of a separate legislature of a popular character, the separation of executive and judicial functions, the reduction of higher officer salaries, and the abolition of salt, abkari, and stamp duties, be included in the Company’s renewed Charter.
    • These were partially accepted in the 1853 Charter Act.
  • Dadabhai Naoroji founded the East India Association in London in 1866 to discuss the Indian question and persuade public men in England to promote Indian welfare.
  • Sisir Kumar Ghosh founded the Indian League in 1875 with the goal of “stimulating the sense of nationalism among the people.”
  • Surendranath Banerjee and Ananda Mohan Bose founded the Indian Association of Calcutta or Indian National Association in 1876.

Political Associations in Bombay

  • Poona Sarvajanik Sabha (1870) – Acted as a link between the government and the people.
  • Bombay Presidency Association (1885) was founded by Badruddin Tyabji, Pherozshah Mehta, and K.T. Telang.

Political Associations in Madras

Madras Mahajan Sabha (1884) was founded by M.Viraraghavachari, B.Subramania Aiyer, and P. Anandacharlu.

*For detailed notes of this topic, check this link Political Association before Indian National Congress

Pre Congress Campaigns

Before the Indian National Congress arrived on the scene, the associations organized various campaigns. These campaigns were:

  • for the imposition of import duty on cotton (1875)
  • for the Indianisation of government service (1878-79)
  • against Lytton’s Afghan adventure, against the Arms Act (1878)
  • against the Vernacular Press Act (1878)
  • for the right to join volunteer corps
  • against plantation labor
  • against the Inland Emigration Act
  • in support of the Ilbert Bill
  • for an All India Fund for Political Agitation
  • for the right to vote for a pro-India party
  • The Indian Association took up the issue of lowering the maximum age for appearing in the Indian Civil Service and organized an all-India agitation against it, popularly known as the Indian Civil Service agitation.


In the first half of the twentieth century, growing resentment of the Colonial Government united various groups and classes of Indians in a common struggle for freedom. However, the varying expectations of various groups pose a constant threat to unity.

The Congress, led by Mahatma Gandhi, attempted to channel people’s sufferings into an organized and united movement for independence.

Chapter 18: Political Associations before Congress


The Indian National Congress (INC) was founded in December 1885. However, before INC, many political organizations were established in different parts of India and abroad. The political institutions that were established in India in the first half of the 19th century were mainly led by the rich and influential class. The nature of these institutions was local or regional. Through various petitions and applications, they placed the following demands before the British government:

  • Administrative reforms
  • Promote the participation of Indians in administration
  • Spread of education
  • Social reforms

Although, the political institutions that were formed in the country in the second half of the 19th century were mainly led by the Upper class, over time middle class also became part of it.

Various people of this class such as lawyers, doctors, journalists, teachers, etc. provided strong leadership to these political organizations, all of them gave fulfillment and relevance to the demands of these institutions by delivering competent leadership.

Political Associations in India before the Indian National Congress -  Current Affairs

Objectives of Political Association Before INC

  • They advocated for the spread of education amongst the masses.
  • To increase Indian representation in the executive and legislative councils.
  • Opposing the discriminatory steps taken by British Administration towards Indians.
  • Bringing about reforms in the administration.
  • Ensuring the freedom of the press.

Various Political Association Before INC

1. Bangabhasha Prakasika Sabha

  • Bangabhasha Prakasika Sabha was founded in 1836 by the associates of Raja Rammohan Roy.
  • It came into being before the existence of the Indian National Congress (INC).
  • It worked for administrative reforms, the association of Indians with the administration, and spread of education and helped in arousing general will and laying down a path towards modern nationalism among the masses.

2. Zamindari Association (Bengal Landholders Society)

  • The Zamindari Association, also known as the ‘Landholders’ Society,’ was established in 1838 to protect the landlords’ interests.
  • This organization was formed by Prasanna Kumar Tagore, Dwarkanath Tagore and Radhakant Deb in 1836.
  • Despite its limited objectives, the Landholders’ Society marked the beginning of organized political activity and the use of constitutional agitation methods for the redressal of grievances.
  • It believed in safeguarding the interests of landlords and used constitutional methods so as to fulfill their objectives.
  • The political organizations worked through long petitions to the British Parliament demanding administrative reforms, association of Indians with the administration, and the spread of education, etc.

3. Bengal British India Society

  • It was formed by William Adam, a friend of Raja Ram Mohan Roy in 1843 in England.
  • It advocated improving the situation of Indians by letting the world know about the extreme circumstances in which the British were keeping the Indians.
  • They used constitutional and legal means to achieve their objectives.

4. British India Association

  • This organization was formed by merging the Bengal Landholders Society and British India Society together in 1851.
  • This organization used to submit petitions addressing the grievances of common people.
  • For instance, they submitted a petition to the British Parliament and provided suggestions for the new Charter Law of the company.
  • This led to the acceptance of one such suggestion in the Charter Act of 1853 and the Governor General’s Council for Legislative purposes was expanded by the addition of 6 new members.
  • Due to the absence of a constructive political policy this organization could not operate pan-India.

5. East India Association

  • It was started by Dadabhai Nawrojee in London in 1867.
  • It advocated for generating awareness among people of the UK about the conditions in India and generate popular support among British People for Indian well being.
  • It is also known as the predecessor association to the Indian National Congress.
  • It challenged the notion of Asians being inferior to the Europeans by the Ethnological Society of London in 1866.
  • It had presence in Bombay, Madras and Calcutta in 1869.

6. Indian League

  • The Indian League was founded in 1875 by Sisir Kumar Ghosh with the goal of “stimulating a sense of nationalism among the people” and encouraging political education.
  • This organization was associated with nationalist leaders such as Ananda Mohan Bose, Durgamohan Das, Nabagopal Mitra, Surendranath Banerjee, and others.

7. Indian National Association (Indian Association of Calcutta)

  • This organization was formed by Bengali Nationalists such as Anand Mohan Bose and Surendranath Banerjee in 1876.
  • Pro landlord policies and conservative outlook by the British India Association led to unrest amongst the young Bengali nationalists.
  • Their objectives included reforming civil services examinations, generating and unifying a public opinion on political issues of national importance.
  • They had presence in various Indian cities and therefore were able to expand their membership amongst the masses.
  • It later merged with the Indian National Congress.

8. Poona Sarvajanik Sabha

  • Poona Sarvajanik Sabha was established in 1870 by M.G. Ranade, G.V. Joshi, S.H. Chiplankar and his associates.
  • It was a sociopolitical organization in British India which worked as a mediating body between the government and people of India in order to popularize the peasants’ legal rights.

9. Bombay Presidency Association

  • The Bombay Presidency Association was established by Pherozshah Mehta, K.T Telang, and Badruddin Tyabji in 1885.
  • It was founded in response to Lytton’s reactionary policies and the Ilbert Bill controversy.
  • The Bombay Presidency or Bombay Province, also known as Bombay and Sind (1843–1936), was an administrative subdivision (province) of British India, with its capital in Bombay, the first mainland territory acquired in the Konkan region with the Treaty of Bassein (1802).

10. Madras Mahajan Sabha

  • Madras Mahajan Sabha was a Madras Presidency-based Indian nationalist organization.
  • It is regarded as a forerunner of the Indian National Congress, along with the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, the Bombay Presidency Association, and the Indian Association.
  • M. Veeraraghavachariar, G. Subramania Iyer, and P. Ananda Charlu founded the Madras Mahajana Sabha in May 1884.

11. Bombay Association (Bombay Native Association)

  • It was started in 1852 by Jaggannath Shankersheth along with Sir Jamshedji Jejibhai, Jagannath Shankarshet, Naoroji Fursungi, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad, Dadabhai Naoroji and Vinayak Shankarshet.
  • It is also known as the first political party/organization of Bombay Province.
  • They advocated to address public grievances through Legal agitational means.

12. Madras Native Association

  • This organization was formed by Gazulu Lakshminarasu Chetty in 1849 in the Madras Presidency.
  • It was the first political organization in Madras.

Limitations of Political Association Before INC

  • These associations helped in the generation of nationalism, political will and demands of the Indian public, however their activities were limited.
  • They were concerned mostly with resolving the local issues.
  • The members and leaders of these organizations were also limited to one or adjoining provinces.
  • There was absence of national unity in the case of political association which only emerged after the formation of Indian National Congress.


Before the Indian National Congress came into being in 1885, there existed various political organizations across the length and breadth of the country. These associations brought about various structural changes in the Indian society and the masses as a whole.

They helped in generating awareness about the restrictive policies, in spread of education, in protesting against evil social practices such as polygamy, etc.

Chapter 19: Formation of Indian National Congress


Retired British Indian Civil Service (ICS) officer Allan Octavian Hume founded the Indian National Congress in order to form a platform for civil and political dialogue among educated Indians.

After the Indian Rebellion of 1857, control of India was transferred from the East India Company to the British Empire. British-controlled India, known as the British Raj, or just the Raj, worked to try to support and justify its governance of India with the aid of English-educated Indians, who tended to be more familiar with and friendly to British culture and political thinking.

Ironically, a few of the reasons that the Congress grew and survived, particularly in the 19th century era of undisputed British dominance or hegemony, was through the patronage of British authorities and the rising class of Indians and Anglo-Indians educated in the English language-based British tradition.

Hume embarked on an endeavor to get an organization started. He began by reaching-out to selected alumni of the University of Calcutta.

Formation of INC

Indian National Congress (INC) was formed by A.O Hume in the year 1885. It was originally known as the Indian Nation Union. The formation of the Indian National Congress in 1885 was not a coincidental occurrence.

It was the culmination of a process of political awakening that began in the 1860s and 1870s and reached a tipping point in the late 1870s and early 1880s. The year 1885 was a watershed moment in this process.

Modern intellectuals interested in politics, who saw themselves as representatives of national interests rather than narrow group interests, saw their efforts bear fruit. The all-India nationalist body that they established was to serve as the platform, organizer, headquarters, and symbol of the new national spirit and politics.


A.O Hume

A.O Hume

Foundation of INC – Background

  • The groundwork for the establishment of an all-India organization had been laid in the late 1870s and early 1880s.
  • A retired English civil servant, A.O. Hume gave this idea a final shape by mobilizing leading intellectuals of the time.
  • Hume obtained permission from the then-Viceroy of India, Lord Dufferin, for the first session. It was supposed to be held in Poona, but it was moved to Bombay due to a cholera outbreak in Poona.
  • Hume had written an open letter to Calcutta University graduates in 1883, expressing his desire to establish a body for educated Indians to demand greater participation in government and to provide a platform for dialogue.
  • In 1890, Kadambini Ganguly, the first woman graduate of Calcutta University, addressed the Congress session, symbolizing the freedom struggle’s commitment to granting women in India their due status in national life.

Foundation of INC – Features

  • The INC was India’s first national political movement, with the initial goal of involving more Indians in the country’s governance.
  • Its purpose was later upgraded to complete independence. After independence, it grew into a major political party in the country.
  • The INC was a moderate organization in its early years, limiting its methods to constitutional methods and dialogue.
  • Its demands were restricted to increasing the number of Indians in the civil service and armed forces. It never mentioned independence.
  • After a few years, the party’s demands and approach became more radical.
  • By 1905, there was a clear schism in the party, which was now split between old moderates and the newer group, the extremists – so named because of their radical methods.
  • The Nationalist activity was carried out through provincial conferences and associations, newspapers, and literature in addition to the Indian National Congress.

Objectives of INC

  • To promote friendly relations between nationalist political workers from various parts of the country.
  • To develop and consolidate a sense of national unity regardless of caste, religion, or province.
  • To formulate popular demands and present them to the government.
  • To train and organize public opinion in the country.
  • To provide an outlet—“a safety valve”—for the growing popular discontent with British rule.
  • Through a pan-India organization, establish a democratic, nationalist movement.
  • To raise awareness about colonial exploitative policies and Indian political rights. To that end, Congress focused on increasing representation in councils, Indianization of civil services, and other issues.

Role of A.O Hume

  • The idea for an all-India Congress is said to have originated in a private meeting of seventeen men following the Theosophical Convention in Madras in December 1884.
  • Hume’s Indian union, which he founded after retiring from the Civil Service, is also said to have played a role in convening the Congress.
  • Whatever the origin, and whoever the originator of the idea, we can conclude that there was a need for such an organization, and A.O Hume took the initiative.
  • Hume was the son of Joseph Hume, a British radical leader. He inherited his father’s political views and was initially interested in European revolutionary organizations.
  • In 1849, he joined the East India Company’s civil service and served in the Northwestern Provinces.
  • He became involved in projects such as spreading education, combating social evils, and encouraging agricultural progress. Hume even started a newspaper in 1861 to educate the people of Etawah on political and social issues.
  • Hume’s pro-Indian stance and efforts to promote Indian welfare did not go down well with his fellow British officers.
  • In 1870, Hume was appointed Secretary to the Government of India. Viceroy Northbrook threatened Hume with dismissal for his opinions.
  • He also did not get along with Lord Lytton and was demoted in 1879 before retiring from the army in 1882. Hume settled in Shimla and became interested in Indian politics.
  • He sympathized with the Bombay and Poona groups more than with Calcutta leaders such as Surendranath Banerjee and Narendra Nath Sen.
  • Hume also met Viceroy Lord Ripon and became interested in the latter’s scheme of local self-government.

First Session of INC in 1885

  • With the cooperation of leading intellectuals of the time, A.O. Hume organized the first session of the Indian National Congress in December 1885 at Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit College in Bombay.
  • As a prelude to this, the Indian National Conference held two sessions in 1883 and 1885, with representatives from all major towns in India.
  • The Indian National Conference was founded by Surendranath Banerjea and Ananda Mohan Bose.
  • The first session drew 72 delegates from all Indian provinces. There were 54 Hindus, 2 Muslims, and the remaining members were Jain and Parsi.
  • Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee presided over the first session.
  • Following that, the Congress met in December every year, in a different part of the country each time.
  • Dadabhai Naoroji (thrice president), Badruddin Tyabji, Pherozeshah Mehta, P.Anandacharlu, Surendranath Banerjea, Romesh Chandra Dutt, Ananda Mohan Bose, and Gopal Krishna Gokhale were some of the great Congress presidents during this early period.
  • Mahadev Govind Ranade, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Sisir Kumar Ghosh, Motilal Ghosh, Madan Mohan Malaviya, G. Subramania Aiyar, C. Vijayaraghavachariar, and Dinshaw E. Wacha were among the other prominent leaders.

Foundational Theories of INC

Safety Valve Theory (Lala Lajpat Rai)

  • The fact that the INC was founded by a retired English civil servant, A.O.Hume, rather than an Indian, has led to speculation that Hume founded the INC to provide a “safety value” to the growing discontent with British rule.
  • It is also reported that Hume received the idea for an annual conference of educated Indians for political discussions from Viceroy Dufferin.
  • This may be true in part, but there is no reliable evidence that Dufferin suggested the formation of the INC or that the INC was intended as a “safety value.”

Conspiracy Theory (R P Dutt)

  • The Marxist historian’s conspiracy theory arose from the ‘safety valve’ concept.
  • According to R.P. Dutt, the Indian National Congress arose from a conspiracy to suppress a popular uprising in India, and the bourgeois leaders were complicit in it.

Lightning Conductor Theory (G.K Gokhale)

  • The Indian National Congress represented the desire of politically conscious Indians to establish a national body to express Indian political and economic demands.
  • If the Indians had formed such a body on their own, the officials would have been vehemently opposed; such an organization would not have been allowed to form.
  • The early Congress leaders used Hume as a ‘lightning conductor,’ i.e., a catalyst to bring together nationalistic forces, even if under the guise of a’safety valve.’


With the establishment of the National Congress in 1885, the struggle for India’s independence from foreign rule was launched in a small but organized way. The national movement would grow, and the country and its people would not be able to rest until freedom was achieved.

Chapter 20: Moderate Phase (1885-1905)


The period from 1885 to 1905 is known as the Moderate Phase and moderates were the leaders of this phase. The national leaders who dominated the Congress policies during this period, such as Dadabhai Naoroji, Pherozshah Mehta, D.E. Wacha, W.C. Bonnerjea, and S.N. Banerjea, were staunch believers in ‘liberalism’ and moderate politics and came to be referred to as Moderates to distinguish them from the neo-nationalists of the early twentieth century who were called extremists.

Indian nationalism emerged in the latter half of the nineteenth century as a result of a variety of factors such as western education, socio-religious reforms, British policies, and so on. 

Moderate Phase – Features

  • Between 1885 and 1905, the Early Nationalists, also known as the Moderates, were a group of political leaders in India whose appearance signaled the beginning of India’s organized national movement.
  • Pherozeshah Mehta and Dadabhai Naoroji were two important moderate leaders.
  • Members of the group were drawn from educated middle-class professionals such as lawyers, teachers, and government officials, with many of them having received their education in England.
  • The moderate political activity involved constitutional agitation within the bounds of the law and demonstrated a slow but orderly political progression.
  • The moderates believed that the British essentially wanted to be fair to the Indians but were unaware of the actual circumstances.
  • As a result, if public opinion could be formed in the country and public demands presented to the government through resolutions, petitions, meetings, and so on, the authorities would gradually concede these demands.
  • To accomplish these goals, they used a two-pronged strategy:
    • First, they created a strong public opinion to arouse consciousness and national spirit, and then they educated and united people on common political issues;
    • Second, they persuaded the British Government and British public opinion to implement reforms in India along the lines laid out by the nationalists.
  • In order to accomplish this, a British committee of the Indian National Congress was formed in London in 1899, with India serving as its organ.
  • Dadabhai Naoroji devoted a significant portion of his life and fortune to advocating for India’s cause abroad.
  • It was decided in 1890 to hold a session of the Indian National Congress in London in 1892, but due to the British elections in 1891, the proposal was postponed and never revived.

Moderate Phase – Objectives

  • To establish a democratic, nationalist movement.
  • Politicize and politically educate people.
  • Establish a movement’s headquarters.
  • To promote friendly relations among nationalist political workers from various parts of the country.
  • To create and spread an anti-colonial nationalist ideology.
  • Formulate and present popular demands to the government in order to unite the people around a common economic and political program.
  • Develop and consolidate a sense of national unity among people of all religions, castes, and provinces.
  • To promote and cultivate Indian nationhood with care.

Moderate Phase – Important Leaders

Dadabhai Naoroji

  • He was dubbed the “Grand Old Man of India.”
  • He was the first Indian to be elected to the British House of Commons.
  • Authored the book ‘Poverty and Un-British Rule in India,’ which focused on India’s economic drain as a result of British policies.

Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee

  • The first president of the Indian National Congress (INC).
  • Lawyer by profession and the first Indian to serve as Standing Counsel.

G.Subramania Aiyer

  • He founded the newspaper ‘The Hindu,’ in which he criticized British imperialism.
  • In addition, he founded the Tamil newspaper ‘Swadesamitran.’
  • Madras Mahajana Sabha was co-founded by him.

Gopal Krishna Gokhale

  • He was known as Mahatma Gandhi’s political mentor.
  • The Servants of India Society was founded by him.

Surendranath Banerjee

  • Also known as ‘Rashtraguru’ and ‘Indian Burke.’
  • The Indian National Association was founded by him and it later merged with the INC.
  • Banerjee was cleared for the Indian Civil Service but was fired due to racial discrimination.
  • The Bengalee newspaper was founded by him.

Rash Behari Ghosh, R C Dutt, M G Ranade, Pherozeshah Mehta, P R Naidu, Madan Mohan Malaviya, P. Ananda Charlu, and William Wedderburn were among the other moderate leaders.

Method used by the Moderates

  • In order to achieve their goal, they made a number of reform demands and criticized government policies.
  • They valued patience and reconciliation over violence and confrontation.
  • They relied on constitutional and peaceful means to achieve their goal.
  • They concentrate on educating people, raising their political consciousness, and forming public opinion.
  • The Moderates organized lectures in various parts of England in order to create public opinion. In England, a weekly journal called India was published for distribution among the British people.
  • Moderates used various types of newspapers and chronicles to criticize government policies, including the Bengali newspaper, the Bombay Chronicle, the Hindustan Times, Induprakash, Rast Goftar, and the weekly journal India.
  • They also asked the government to conduct an investigation and find ways and means to solve the problems that people were experiencing.
  • They got together and talked about social, economic, and cultural issues.
  • Meetings were held in England, Mumbai, Allahabad, Pune, and Calcutta, among other places.

Contributions of Moderate Nationalists

Economic Critique of British Imperialism

  • Early nationalists such as Dadabhai Naoroji, R.C. Dutt, Dinshaw Wacha, and others carefully examined the political economy of British rule in India and proposed the “drain theory” to explain British exploitation of India.
  • They were opposed to the conversion of a largely self-sufficient Indian economy into a colonial economy.
  • As a result, the Moderates were able to create an all-India public opinion that British rule was the primary cause of India’s poverty and economic backwardness.
  • To alleviate the deprivation that pervades Indian life, early nationalists advocated for the end of India’s economic dependence on Britain and the development of an independent economy through the involvement of Indian capital and enterprise.
  • The early nationalists demanded a reduction in inland revenue, the abolition of the salt tax, better working conditions for plantation laborers, a reduction in military spending, and so on.

Constitutional Reforms

  • Until 1920, India’s legislative councils had no real official power. Nonetheless, the work done in them by nationalists aided the growth of the national movement.
  • The Imperial Legislative Council, established by the Indian Councils Act (1861), was an impotent body created to pass official measures as if they had been passed by a representative body.
  • From 1862 to 1892, only forty-five Indians were nominated to it, with the majority of them “being wealthy, landed, and with loyalist interests.”
  • Only a few political figures and independent intellectuals were nominated, including Syed Ahmed Khan, Kristodas Pal, V.N. Mandlik, K.L. Nulkar, and Rashbehari Ghosh.
  • From 1885 to 1892, nationalist demands for constitutional reform centered on:
    • council expansion—that is, greater participation of Indians in councils; and
    • council reform—that is, more powers to councils, particularly greater control over finances.

Campaign for General Administrative Reform

The moderates campaigned on the following grounds:

  • Indianisation of government service on :
    • on economic grounds, because British civil servants received very high emoluments while including Indians would be more economical;
    • on political grounds, because salaries of British bureaucrats were remitted back home and pensions paid in England (all drawn from Indian revenue), this amounted to an economic drain of national resources; and
    • on moral grounds, because Indians were being discriminated against by being kept away from positions of power.
  • Separation of judicial and executive powers.
  • An oppressive and tyrannical bureaucracy, as well as an expensive and time-consuming judicial system, have been criticized.
  • Criticism of an aggressive foreign policy that resulted in the annexation of Burma, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the suppression of tribals in the North West.
  • Increased spending on welfare (i.e., health, sanitation), education (especially elementary and technical), irrigation works and agricultural improvement, agricultural banks for cultivators, and so on.
  • Better treatment for Indian laborers in other British colonies, where they faced oppression and racial discrimination.

Protection of Civil Rights

  • These rights included the freedom of expression, thought, association, and the press.
  • The nationalists were able to spread modern democratic ideas through an unending campaign, and soon the defense of civil rights became an integral part of the freedom struggle.
  • The arrest of Tilak and several other leaders and journalists in 1897, as well as the arrest and deportation of the Natu brothers without a trial, sparked widespread public outrage.

Contribution of Nationalists during the Moderates

  • Economic critique of British Imperialism during the Moderate Phase
  • The reduction in the high military expenditure of the Government of India. The Congress made a declaration stating that British rule had resulted in poverty and famines.
  • They attributed the impoverishment of peasants and zamindars to the increased land revenue, and food shortages were blamed on the export of grains to Europe.
  • Through the Drain Theory, they effectively conveyed a powerful symbol of foreign exploitation of India, which deeply resonated with the public.
  • Numerous resolutions were passed at the INC session concerning the salt tax, the treatment of overseas Indian labourers, and the hardships faced by forest dwellers due to intervention by the forest administration.
  • They emphasised the need for fundamental changes in the existing economic relations between India and England.
  • They strongly resisted the efforts of foreign rulers to transform India into a mere supplier of raw materials and a market for British manufacturers. 
  • They expressed criticism towards the official policies concerning tariff, trade, transport, and taxation, as these were seen as hindering rather than supporting the growth of the indigenous industry.
  • Dadabhai characterised British rule as a perpetual and steadily intensifying foreign invasion that was gradually causing the country’s destruction.
  • This indicates that despite comprising an educated elite, Congress did not solely advocate for professional groups, zamindars, or industrialists.
  • Constitutional reforms and propaganda in the legislature
  • Expansion of Legislative Councils: Between 1885 and 1892, their primary demand persisted in the expansion and reform of the Legislative Councils. 
  • The early nationalists sought greater participation in the governance of their own country and appealed to democratic principles, but they refrained from demanding immediate fulfilment of their goal.
  • Indian Council Act of 1892: As a result of their agitation, the British Government was compelled to pass the Indian Councils Act of 1892. However, the nationalists expressed complete dissatisfaction with the Act and deemed it a deception.
  • Campaign for general administrative reform
  • The Indianization of the administration was a part of the movement against racism, as the majority of crucial positions during that time were dominated by white officials.
  • Protection of civil rights
  • They acknowledged the utmost importance of freedom of the press and speech, vehemently opposing any efforts to limit them. In fact, the movement to eliminate press restrictions became an integral part of the nationalist struggle for freedom.
  • Welfare activities: The Moderate Phase leaders placed significant emphasis on promoting primary education among the masses.
  • Agricultural development: They advocated for the establishment of agricultural banks to rescue the peasants from the grip of money lenders.

Limitations of the Moderates

  • The educated elites dominated this stage of the national movement.
  • They never sought or felt compelled to involve the masses in the way Gandhi did.
  • Their attachment to Western political thought further distanced them from the people.
  • They never sought complete independence from the British and were content with dominion status with increased autonomy and self-rule.

Evaluation of Early Nationalist

  • They represented the most progressive forces in the country at the time.
  • They were able to create a widespread national awakening of all Indians who shared common interests and the need to unite behind a common cause against a common foe, and above all, a sense of belonging to one nation.
  • They educated people about politics and popularized modern ideas.
  • They exposed colonial rule’s fundamentally exploitative nature, undermining its moral foundations.
  • Their political work was founded on hard realities rather than shallow sentiments, religion, and so on.
  • They were successful in establishing the fundamental political truth that India should be governed in the interests of Indians.
  • They laid the groundwork for a more vigorous, militant, mass-based national movement in the years that followed.
  • They did not, however, broaden their democratic base or the scope of their demands.


The Moderate leaders believed that political ties with Britain were in India’s best interests at the time and that the time had not come for a direct challenge to British rule. As a result, it was thought appropriate to attempt to transform colonial rule into something resembling national rule.

The Moderates were unable to take significant political positions against the authorities due to a lack of mass participation. On this point, the later nationalists differed from the Moderates. Nonetheless, early nationalists fought for the emerging Indian nation against colonial interests.

Chapter 21: Partition of Bengal


The first Partition of Bengal (1905) was a territorial reorganization of the Bengal Presidency implemented by the authorities of the British Raj. The reorganization separated the largely Muslim eastern areas from the largely Hindu western areas.

Announced on 20 July 1905 by Lord Curzon, then Viceroy of India, and implemented on 16 October 1905, it was undone a mere six years later. The nationalists saw the partition as a challenge to Indian nationalism and as a deliberate attempt to divide the Bengal Presidency on religious grounds, with a Muslim majority in the east and a Hindu majority in the west. 

The Hindus of West Bengal complained that the division would make them a minority in a province that would incorporate the province of Bihar and Orissa. Hindus were outraged at what they saw as a “divide and rule” policy, even though Curzon stressed it would produce administrative efficiency.

The partition animated the Muslims to form their own national organization along communal lines. To appease Bengali sentiment, Bengal was reunited by Lord Hardinge in 1911, in response to the Swadeshi movement’s riots in protest against the policy.

In news: 1947 Partition of Bengal - Civilsdaily

Partition of Bengal – Background

  • The Bengal Presidency included the states of Bengal, Bihar, and parts of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, and Assam. It was British India’s largest province, with a population of 78.5 million people.
  • For decades, British officials claimed that the massive size made effective management difficult and resulted in neglect of the poorer eastern region. The partition had been proposed solely for administrative purposes.
  • As a result, Curzon intended to divide Orissa and Bihar and unite fifteen eastern districts of Bengal with Assam.
  • The eastern province had a population of 31 million people, the majority of whom were Muslims, and its capital was Dhaka. Curzon stated after the Partition that he considered the new province to be Muslim.
  • Lord Curzon’s intention was not to separate Hindus and Muslims, but rather to separate Bengalis.
  • The Western districts, along with Orissa and Bihar, formed the other province.
  • The union of western Bengal with Orissa and Bihar reduced Bengali speakers to a minority.
  • Muslims, led by Dhaka’s Nawab Sallimullah, supported partition, while Hindus opposed it.

What were the reasons for the partition of Bengal? - Quora

Partition of Bengal – Features

  • The British Government decided to partition Bengal in December 1903. Lord Curzon was the viceroy of India at that time who made this decision.
  • Bengal was divided into two provinces:
    • First was Bengal comprising of Western Bengal as well as the provinces of Bihar and Orissa.
    • The second was Eastern Bengal and Assam.
  • Bengal retained Calcutta as its capital while Dacca was chosen as the capital for Eastern Bengal.
  • The real motive of partition was the desire to weaken Bengal which was at the center of Indian Nationalism in the early 20th century.
  • The official reason given for the decision of partition was that Bengal with a population of 78 million had become difficult to administer.
  • The administrative division was on the basis of:
    • Linguistic Basis: Reducing the Bengalis to a minority in Bengal itself. The new proposal of Bengal was provisioned to have 17 million Bengalis and 37 million Hindi and Oriya speakers.
    • Religion Basis: The western Bengal was to be a Hindu majority area and the Eastern Bengal was to be a Muslim majority area.
  • Lord Curzon was trying to woo Muslims. He argues that Dacca could become the capital of the new Muslim majority province which would provide them with unity.
  • Thus, the British wanted to create Muslim communalists to counter the Congress and national movement.

Partition of Bengal – Impact

  • After Curzon announced the partition, there was widespread political unrest in the province. Many Bengalis saw the partition as an insult to their motherland. There was a huge outpouring of support for Bengal’s unity.
  • Rabindranath Tagore wrote the famous song ‘Amar Sonar Bangla,’ which later became Bangladesh’s national anthem.
  • The Indian National Congress objected to the move to divide the province along communal lines.
  • The majority of Bengalis in the western part of the province protested this move, which would also make them a linguistic minority in their own province. There would be more people speaking Odia and Hindi than Bengalis.
  • Many Muslims in the Bengali Muslim community welcomed the move, believing that becoming the majority in the new province would advance their educational, economic, and political interests.
  • The rest of the country was united in its opposition to this partition. The British authorities’ ‘divide and rule’ policy was exposed by the people.
  • The main goal of such a partition was to create a schism between the two communities, thereby undermining the country’s unity and nationalism.
  • The agitation had begun long before the date of the partition. People observed a day of mourning on the anniversary of the partition. Tagore asked Hindus and Muslims to protest by tying rakhis to each other.
  • As a result of the partition, the Swadeshi and Boycott movements in the national struggle began.
  • People began boycotting British goods, which had flooded the Indian market and harmed indigenous industry.
  • The partition succeeded in causing a communal schism in the country and even aided in the formation of the Muslim League in 1906.

Partition of Bengal – Annulment

  • The partition was declared unconstitutional in 1911 as a result of widespread political protests.
  • New provinces were established along linguistic rather than religious lines. Bengal was divided into the provinces of Bihar and Orissa. Assam was separated into its own province.
  • The authorities, unable to put an end to the protests, agreed to reverse the partition.
  • On December 12, 1911, King George V announced at the Delhi Durbar that eastern Bengal would be absorbed into the Bengal Presidency.
  • Districts where Bengali was spoken were reunited, while Assam, Bihar, and Orissa were divided.
  • Lord Hardinge annulled the partition of Bengal in 1911. It was done in response to the Swadeshi movement’s riots against the policy.
  • The capital was moved to New Delhi, clearly to provide a stronger base for the British colonial government.
  • Bengal’s Muslims were shocked because they had seen the Muslim majority East Bengal as a sign of the government’s eagerness to protect Muslim interests.
  • They saw this as the government sacrificing Muslim interests in order to appease Hindus and make administrative life easier.
  • Muslim leaders were initially opposed to the partition. After the creation of the Muslim-majority provinces of Eastern Bengal and Assam, prominent Muslims began to see it as advantageous.
  • During the United Bengal period, Muslims, particularly in Eastern Bengal, were backward. The Hindu protest against partition was interpreted as meddling in a Muslim province.
  • The British attempted to appease Bengali Muslims who were dissatisfied with the loss of eastern Bengal by relocating the capital to a Mughal site.
  • Despite the annulment, the partition did not create a communal divide between Bengal’s Hindus and Muslims.


The uproar caused by Curzon’s controversial decision to split Bengal, as well as the emergence of the ‘Extremist’ faction in the Congress, became the final impetus for separatist Muslim politics. Separate elections for Muslims and Hindus were established in 1909.

Previously, many members of both communities had advocated for national unity among all Bengalis. With separate electorates, distinct political communities emerged, each with its own set of political goals.

Muslims, too, dominated the Legislature, owing to their overall population of approximately 22 to 28 million people. Muslims began to demand the establishment of independent Muslim states in which their interests would be protected.

Chapter 22: The First Phase of Revolutionary Activities (1907-1917)


Revolutionary activities began as a by-product of the growth of ultranationalism. After the slowing down of the Swadeshi and Boycott movement, the first phase of revolutionary activities, which continued till 19174, developed rapidly.

After the failure of the movement led by the liberals, the young nationalists were disillusioned. The youth, who had actively participated in the movement, became disheartened and started looking for a suitable platform to express their nationalist energy.

The fierce attitude of the extremists also helped in the revolutionary activities. Their activities encouraged such young nationalists. Although the extremists involved a large number of youth in their campaign and inspired them to sacrifice, they failed to build an effective organization or use the revolutionary sentiments of the youth for the freedom movement.

Ultimately, the youth found independence and found the then means unsuitable and concluded that if colonial rule is to be ended, it is necessary to adopt violent methods

The First Phase of Revolutionary Nationalism - Modern Indian History

Reasons for Surge in Revolutionary Activities

  • After the open movements demise, the younger nationalists who had been a part of it found it impossible to drop out and fade into the background.
  • They looked for ways to express their patriotic energies, but were disillusioned by the failure of the leadership, including the Extremists, to find new forms of struggle to put the new militant trends into practise.
  • Although the extremist leaders called on the youth to make sacrifices, they were unable to establish an effective organisation or find new forms of political work to channel these revolutionary energies.
  • Because all avenues of peaceful political protest were closed to them due to government repression, the youth believed that if nationalist goals of independence were to be met, the British had to be expelled by force.

Revolutionary Programme

  • The revolutionaries considered, but did not find it practical to implement, the options of launching a violent mass revolution across the country or attempting to undermine the Army’s loyalties.
  • Rather, they chose to follow in the footsteps of Russian nihilists or Irish nationalists.
  • Individual heroic actions included organising assassinations of unpopular officials as well as traitors and informers among the revolutionaries themselves.
  • They conducted swadeshi dacoities to raise funds for revolutionary activities; and (during the First World War) organized military conspiracies with the expectation of assistance from Britain’s enemies.
  • The plan was to instill fear in the hearts of the rulers, arouse the people, and remove their fear of authority.
  • The revolutionaries hoped to inspire the people by appealing to patriotism, particularly among the idealistic youth who would eventually drive the British out.
  • Extremist leaders failed to ideologically counter the revolutionaries because they failed to distinguish between a revolution based on mass activity and one based on individual violent activity, allowing individualistic violent activities to take root.

Revolutionary Activities During First Phase

The First Phase of Revolutionary Nationalism - Modern Indian History

  • India’s struggle for independence was accompanied by many revolutionary activities that had been raised from different parts of the country.
  • Revolutionaries are those people who believed in overthrowing the British Government by means of mass movements. Several internal and external influences worked on the minds of the youth in India during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, resulting in the emergence of revolutionary ideology.
  • The revolutionary movement in India began in Bengal, Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, and Madras provinces, but it was primarily active in Bengal, Maharashtra, and Punjab because these regions were more politically active than the rest of the country.
  • The activities, writings, and speeches of this period’s revolutionaries reveal a strong religious bias, romanticism, and emotionalism.
  • Many of them were convinced that “pure political propaganda would not suffice for the country, and that people needed to be spiritually prepared to face dangers.”
  • The first revolutionary organizations were formed in 1902 in Midnapore (under Jnanendra Nath Basu) and Calcutta (under Promotha Mitter and including Jatindranath Banerjee, Barindra Kumar Ghosh, and others).
  • The first of the revolutionary activities in Maharashtra was the organization of the Ramosi Peasant Force by Vasudev Balwant Phadke in 1879, which aimed to rid the country of the British by instigating an armed revolt by disrupting the communication lines.
  • Extremism in Punjab was fueled by issues such as frequent famines combined with an increase in land revenue and irrigation tax, zamindars’ practise of ‘begar,’ and events in Bengal.

Revolutionary Activities Abroad

  • Revolutionary activities continued unabated even abroad.
  • The need for shelter, the possibility of publishing revolutionary literature that would be exempt from the Press Acts, and the desire for arms drove Indian revolutionaries to travel abroad.
  • Following the assassination of District Magistrate Rand, Shyamji Krishna Verma of Kathiawar travelled to London and established the Home Rule Society – ‘India House’ – in London in 1905 as a center for Indian students, a scholarship scheme to bring radical youth from India, and a journal called ‘The Indian Sociologist.’
  • The Indian Home Rule Society was an informal Indian Nationalist movement that started in London.
  • V.D. Savarkar went to London in 1906 and joined the ‘Indian Society.’ It advocated for revolutionary terrorism.
  • The role of the Gadar Party in revolutionary activities around the world cannot be overstated.
  • The Ghadar Movement was a pivotal event in the history of the Indian freedom struggle. The Ghadar Party was a political revolutionary organization founded in the United States of America by migrated Indians.
  • The formation of the Ghadar Party was primarily the work of Sikhs.
  • Lala Hardayal, a revolutionary young man from Punjab, founded the Gadar Party and also published The Gadar, a weekly newspaper. Its goal was to spark a revolution in India that would liberate the country from British rule.
  • The Komagata Maru incident involved the Japanese steamship Komagata Maru, on which a group of British Raj citizens attempted to emigrate to Canada in 1914 but were denied entry.
  • The 1915 Singapore Mutiny, also known as the 1915 Sepoy Mutiny or the Mutiny of the 5th Light Infantry, was a mutiny against the British in Singapore by up to half of a regiment of 850 Indian Muslim sepoys during World War I.

Decline of Revolutionary Activities

After 1918, the Revolutionary Activities came to a temporary halt due to several reasons:

  • Stern Government repression along with a series of draconian laws.
  • Lack of popular response.
  • The World War-I ended and the government released all political prisoners arrested under the Defense of India Act.
  • Discussion began on the new Constitutional Reforms (Government of India Act 1919) which generated an atmosphere of compromise.
  • Gandhi arrived on the national scene and emphasized non-violent means which also halted the place of revolutionary activities.


Revolutionary activities emerged as the most significant legacy of Swadeshi Bengal, having an impact on educated youth for a generation or more. The revolutionary activities spread throughout the country. Maharashtra, Bengal, Punjab, and Madras were transformed into revolutionary hotspots. Revolutionary activities continued unabated even abroad.

The lack of mass participation, combined with the movement’s narrow upper-caste social base in Bengal, severely limited the scope of revolutionary activity. In the end, it crumbled under the weight of state repression.

Chapter 23: Fight To Secure Press Freedom During National Movemnt

Fight to secure press freedom during Indian national movement

1.Role of Newspapers:

Newspapers played a pivotal role in the fight to secure press freedom during the Indian national movement. They served as powerful tools for disseminating information, mobilizing public opinion, and advocating for the rights and freedoms of the press. Here are some key roles newspapers played during this struggle:

Advocacy for Press Freedom: Indian newspapers used their columns to advocate for press freedom. Editorials, articles, and commentaries emphasized the importance of an independent and free press as a cornerstone of democracy.

Exposing Repressive Measures: Newspapers actively reported on and exposed the repressive measures imposed by the British government, including the Vernacular Press Act of 1878. They highlighted instances of censorship, confiscation of publications, and punitive actions against journalists.

Raising Awareness: Newspapers raised awareness among the Indian population about the threats to press freedom. They informed the public about the implications of press acts and the need to resist them.

Mobilizing Public Opinion: Newspapers played a crucial role in mobilizing public opinion against press restrictions. They called on readers to voice their concerns, organize protests, and participate in movements aimed at protecting press freedom.

Supporting National Leaders: Newspapers were strong supporters of national leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Dadabhai Naoroji, and Gopal Krishna Gokhale, who were themselves involved in the fight for press freedom. These leaders often used newspapers to communicate their messages and rally support.

Promoting Civil Disobedience: During periods of civil disobedience and protest, newspapers published articles and statements advocating non-cooperation with repressive measures. They encouraged acts of civil disobedience as a form of resistance.

Covering Important Events: Newspapers provided extensive coverage of significant events in the Indian national movement, such as the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. Their reporting of such events helped galvanize public outrage and international condemnation.

Resisting Self-Censorship: Newspapers resisted self-censorship and continued to report on sensitive topics, even when faced with the threat of government reprisals. This commitment to reporting the truth was a powerful symbol of journalistic integrity.

Nationalistic and Patriotic Tone: Many newspapers adopted a nationalistic and patriotic tone in their reporting. They emphasized India’s struggle for freedom and the role of a free press in achieving this goal.

International Solidarity: Indian newspapers also sought to build international solidarity by reporting on their struggles for press freedom. They highlighted their cause on the global stage, seeking support from international media outlets.

Newspapers, through their unwavering commitment to the principles of a free press, played a significant part in the eventual repeal of repressive press acts and the achievement of press freedom in independent India. Their dedication to truth, freedom, and justice helped shape the trajectory of the Indian national movement.

2.Press Acts

During the Indian national movement, several repressive press acts were promulgated by the British colonial government to suppress freedom of the press. These acts aimed to curb the publication and dissemination of information that could be seen as critical of British rule or that could mobilize public opinion against colonial policies. Here are some of the notable press acts that played a role in the fight to secure press freedom:

Vernacular Press Act of 1878:

Provisions: This act primarily targeted vernacular newspapers and gave the colonial government the authority to prosecute editors and publishers for seditious writing.

Impact: The act was seen as a direct attack on the Indian press. It led to self-censorship among vernacular newspapers and stifled criticism of colonial rule.

Indian Press Act of 1910:

Provisions: This act extended the scope of the Vernacular Press Act. It gave the government the power to seize printing presses, arrest editors, and prohibit the publication of certain content.

Impact: The act was met with strong opposition from Indian newspapers and freedom fighters, who viewed it as a violation of press freedom.

Rowlatt Act of 1919:

Provisions: The Rowlatt Act allowed for the detention of individuals without trial, and it also contained provisions related to the censorship of the press.

Impact: The press censorship provisions were particularly controversial and were seen as an assault on civil liberties. It led to widespread protests and agitations, including the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre.

Defence of India Act (1915):

Provisions: This act granted the government sweeping powers to suppress dissent and censor publications during World War I.

Impact: It was used to detain and silence prominent nationalist leaders and curtail press freedom.

Press Act of 1931:

Provisions: This act was aimed at regulating and controlling the press during the Civil Disobedience Movement. It gave the government extensive powers to censor and control publications.

Impact: It hindered the ability of newspapers to cover and promote the Civil Disobedience Movement.

Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1940:

Provisions: Enacted during World War II, this act conferred significant powers on the government to curtail civil liberties, including press censorship.

Impact: It allowed the government to suppress any information it deemed detrimental to the war effort.

These press acts sparked strong resistance from Indian newspapers, journalists, and political leaders. They were widely criticized as instruments of oppression and censorship. Journalists and freedom fighters, like Mahatma Gandhi, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, and others, actively opposed these acts and campaigned for press freedom as an essential component of India’s struggle for independence. Ultimately, the fight to secure press freedom was a significant part of the broader movement for India’s independence and self-governance.

3.Leaders’ Advocacy

During the Indian national movement, several leaders, activists, and organizations advocated for and actively participated in the fight to secure press freedom. They recognized the critical role of a free press in disseminating information, mobilizing public opinion, and challenging colonial rule. Here are some of the leaders and their advocacy for press freedom:

Mahatma Gandhi:

Gandhi was a strong advocate for a free press and considered it an essential tool in the fight for India’s independence.

He started and edited several publications, including “Young India” and “Navjivan,” to convey the message of non-violent resistance and civil disobedience.

Gandhi’s emphasis on truthful reporting, non-violence, and the power of satyagraha in his newspapers influenced the broader Indian press.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak:

Tilak, a prominent nationalist leader, was a staunch supporter of press freedom. He used his newspaper, “Kesari,” to mobilize public opinion against colonial rule and promote Swaraj (self-rule).

His strong writings and speeches played a pivotal role in the fight against repressive press acts.

Annie Besant:

Annie Besant, a British theosophist, supported India’s struggle for independence. She edited “New India,” a newspaper that actively advocated for self-rule and social reform.

Her newspaper contributed to the growing nationalist movement and the fight for civil liberties.

Bipin Chandra Pal:

Bipin Chandra Pal was a prominent nationalist leader and one of the leaders of the extremist faction within the Indian National Congress.

He used his writings in newspapers like “Vande Mataram” to promote the idea of complete independence from British rule and civil liberties, including press freedom.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad:

Azad was a prominent freedom fighter and a strong advocate for press freedom.

He played a vital role in the publication of the “Al-Hilal” newspaper, which carried the message of India’s independence and was critical of colonial policies.

Indian National Congress:

The Indian National Congress, as a political organization, recognized the importance of a free press in the struggle for independence.

It supported various newspapers and journals that conveyed the message of independence and civil liberties.

Provincial and Local Leaders:

Several regional and local leaders and organizations also played a significant role in advocating for press freedom.

They often started or supported local newspapers to mobilize public opinion and raise awareness about colonial policies.

These leaders and organizations used their newspapers and publications to raise awareness, expose colonial injustices, and promote the ideals of the freedom movement. They faced challenges, including censorship, legal actions, and the seizure of printing presses, but their commitment to a free press remained unwavering. The advocacy for press freedom was an integral part of the broader struggle for India’s independence, culminating in the eventual realization of a free and independent India in 1947.

4.Public Protests: during fight for press freedom

The fight for press freedom during the Indian national movement involved various public protests and demonstrations. These protests aimed to challenge repressive press laws, censorship, and the colonial government’s attempts to stifle the voices of newspapers and journalists. Public protests played a crucial role in raising awareness and mobilizing public support for the cause of press freedom. Here are some examples of public protests during this period:

Protest Meetings and Rallies:

Public meetings and rallies were organized to protest against press restrictions and censorship.

Nationalist leaders and activists addressed large gatherings, emphasizing the importance of a free press in the struggle for independence.

These gatherings served as platforms for expressing solidarity with newspapers and journalists facing government action.

Boycott Campaigns:

Boycotts were organized against government-sponsored newspapers and publications that were seen as instruments of British propaganda.

People were encouraged to stop subscribing to or buying these newspapers and, instead, support independent publications.

Publication of Banned Materials:

Newspapers and pamphlets often published articles and materials that had been banned by the government.

This act of civil disobedience demonstrated the newspapers’ commitment to free expression and defiance of oppressive laws.

Press Satyagraha:

Nonviolent protests, known as “Press Satyagraha,” were organized in response to the seizure or censorship of newspapers.

Journalists, printers, and supporters of press freedom would resist the authorities and the confiscation of printing equipment, often resulting in arrests and imprisonment.

Solidarity Demonstrations:

Demonstrations and processions expressing solidarity with journalists and newspapers facing government action were common.

Supporters would march to the offices of targeted newspapers or in front of government buildings to protest against censorship.

Petitions and Agitations:

Petitions and agitations were organized to call for the repeal of repressive press laws.

Public pressure and agitation aimed at influencing lawmakers and colonial officials to change or amend laws curtailing press freedom.

International Awareness Campaigns:

Some protests sought to raise international awareness about the suppression of the Indian press.

Activists reached out to international organizations and foreign governments to garner support for press freedom in India.

Civil Disobedience Movements:

The fight for press freedom was closely linked to broader civil disobedience movements and campaigns.

Acts of civil disobedience, including non-cooperation with the authorities and refusal to adhere to oppressive laws, were often part of these protests.

These public protests were instrumental in highlighting the importance of a free press in the struggle for independence. They not only challenged colonial censorship but also galvanized public support for the cause. The fight for press freedom was an integral part of the larger movement for Indian independence and the establishment of a democratic and free society.

5.Role of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre:

The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, which occurred on April 13, 1919, in Amritsar, Punjab, played a significant role in the fight for press freedom during the Indian national movement. While the massacre itself was a brutal incident in which hundreds of unarmed Indian civilians were killed by British troops, its aftermath had a profound impact on the press and media’s role in advocating for justice, accountability, and the struggle for independence. Here’s how the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre influenced the fight for press freedom:

Exposure of Atrocities: The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre was extensively covered by Indian and international newspapers. Journalists and reporters provided vivid and detailed accounts of the brutal incident, including the indiscriminate firing on a peaceful gathering.

Public Outrage: The media reports of the massacre triggered widespread outrage and condemnation. People across India were horrified by the brutality of the British forces. Newspapers played a crucial role in disseminating information, images, and eyewitness testimonies that fueled public anger.

Mobilization of Public Opinion: Newspapers and publications acted as platforms for mobilizing public opinion against the massacre. Editorials, articles, and letters to the editor encouraged readers to demand justice and accountability.

Promotion of Non-Cooperation: Newspapers, particularly those aligned with the Indian National Congress and other nationalist organizations, used the massacre as a call to action. They advocated for non-cooperation with the British government and the boycott of British goods and institutions.

Advocacy for an Inquiry: The media, including nationalist newspapers, demanded a formal inquiry into the massacre and called for the punishment of those responsible. Journalists actively lobbied for a fair and impartial investigation.

International Attention: The coverage of the massacre in international newspapers and journals brought global attention to the Indian independence movement. It exposed the British colonial government’s repressive measures to the international community.

Censorship and Suppression: In response to the adverse publicity, the colonial authorities attempted to censor and suppress publications that were critical of the British government. This led to further protests and resistance from the press.

Press as a Voice of Dissent: The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre underscored the press’s role as a powerful voice of dissent and a medium for holding the government accountable. Newspapers continued to defy censorship and report on government actions.

Long-term Impact: The massacre and the subsequent press coverage had a lasting impact on the Indian national movement. It galvanized public sentiment and contributed to the broader struggle for independence.

The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre demonstrated the resilience and determination of the Indian press in the face of government attempts to curtail press freedom. It became a symbol of the struggle for justice, human rights, and the right to free expression, which were central to the fight for India’s independence. The press played a pivotal role in keeping the memory of the massacre alive and advocating for its historical significance.

6.Role of Indian National Congress:

The Indian National Congress (INC) played a pivotal role in the fight to secure press freedom during the Indian national movement. Here are some of the key contributions and actions taken by the INC in this regard:

Advocacy for Press Freedom: The INC, as the leading political party in the Indian national movement, was a strong advocate for press freedom. It recognized the importance of a free and independent press in conveying the message of the freedom struggle to the masses and holding the British colonial government accountable.

Support for Nationalist Newspapers: The INC extended its support to nationalist newspapers and publications that championed the cause of independence. Many prominent leaders of the INC, including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Bal Gangadhar Tilak, were associated with or contributed to these newspapers.

Non-Cooperation Movement: During the Non-Cooperation Movement, which began in the early 1920s, the INC called for the boycott of British institutions, including British-controlled newspapers. This led to a surge in the popularity of indigenous publications that supported the freedom struggle.

Civil Disobedience Movement: The Civil Disobedience Movement, initiated in 1930, involved widespread acts of civil disobedience against the British government’s repressive laws, including those related to the press. The INC played a central role in mobilizing the masses and ensuring that the movement was widely covered by the press.

Voicing Concerns: The INC used its platforms and sessions to voice its concerns about press censorship, restrictions on free speech, and other violations of civil liberties by the colonial government. These concerns were conveyed through resolutions, speeches, and public statements.

All-India Newspaper Editors’ Conference: The INC facilitated interactions between newspaper editors, publishers, and leaders of the freedom movement. The All-India Newspaper Editors’ Conference, held in various sessions, provided a platform for discussing issues related to press freedom and censorship.

Promoting Indigenous Media: The INC encouraged the growth of indigenous media and publications, which served as platforms for articulating the aspirations of the Indian people. Several nationalist newspapers received support and patronage from the INC.

Legal Support: The INC provided legal support to journalists and publications facing charges or legal action from the colonial government due to their nationalist views or reporting. Legal defense for press freedom cases was often coordinated with the party’s support.

International Advocacy: The INC leveraged its international connections and the Indian diaspora to raise awareness about press freedom issues in India. Leaders of the INC sought international support for the Indian freedom movement, including its quest for press freedom.

The Indian National Congress, with its wide reach and mass support, played an integral role in ensuring that press freedom remained a critical component of the struggle for India’s independence. Its efforts contributed to the broader movement for civil liberties and self-determination, which eventually led to India gaining its freedom from British colonial rule in 1947.

7.Press Act Repeal:

The “Press Act Repeal” refers to the repeal or abolishment of laws and regulations that restricted freedom of the press during the colonial period in India. The Indian press faced various oppressive measures and censorship under British colonial rule, aimed at curbing dissent and preventing the spread of nationalist sentiments. The demand for the repeal of these repressive press acts was a significant aspect of the Indian freedom movement.

Key Developments in Press Act Repeal:

Calcutta HC Judgment (1942): One of the notable milestones in the movement for press freedom was the judgment by the Calcutta High Court in 1942. The court declared Section 5(1)(d) of the Press (Emergency Powers) Act, 1931 unconstitutional. This section gave the government the authority to confiscate newspapers. The judgment was a significant victory for press freedom and encouraged the broader movement.

Role of Indian National Congress: The Indian National Congress (INC) and its leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, consistently advocated for the repeal of oppressive press acts. They viewed press freedom as essential for the freedom struggle and democracy.

Non-Cooperation and Civil Disobedience Movements: During the Non-Cooperation Movement (1920-1922) and the Civil Disobedience Movement (1930-1934), the INC called for non-cooperation with the British government’s repressive laws, including those that curtailed press freedom. The boycott of British-controlled newspapers was part of this strategy.

Press Acts Repealed: As the Indian freedom movement gained momentum, several repressive press acts were repealed or modified. For example, the Press Act of 1910, which allowed for the forfeiture of newspapers, was modified to make it less stringent. Other acts were also either repealed or amended.

Press and Publication (Objectionable Matter) Act, 1951: After independence, India passed the Press and Publication (Objectionable Matter) Act in 1951. While this act aimed to regulate objectionable content, it was less restrictive than the colonial-era laws. It continued to be a subject of debate and review, reflecting the tension between freedom of expression and concerns about maintaining public order.

Constitutional Provisions: The framers of the Indian Constitution recognized the importance of a free press in a democratic society. Fundamental rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution, such as the right to freedom of speech and expression (Article 19), provided a strong foundation for press freedom.

Ongoing Advocacy: Press freedom remains a critical issue in India. Journalists, media organizations, and civil society continue to advocate for press freedom and freedom of expression. They also work to address contemporary challenges, including issues related to media ownership, access to information, and safety for journalists.

The repeal of oppressive press acts was a significant achievement in the struggle for press freedom in India. It allowed the press to serve as a powerful medium for conveying the message of the freedom movement and holding the government accountable. It also laid the foundation for a vibrant and diverse media landscape in independent India.


Chapter 24: Indian Capitalist and their role in National Movement

Indian Capitalist and their role in national movement

During the Indian national movement for independence, Indian capitalists played various roles, and their contributions and actions varied widely. Here are some key aspects of the roles played by Indian capitalists in the national movement:

Financial Support: Indian capitalists provided financial support to the Indian National Congress (INC) and other nationalist organizations. They contributed funds to support various initiatives, including organizing mass movements, running publications, and holding conferences and sessions.

Newspaper and Media Ownership: Some Indian capitalists owned and controlled newspapers, journals, and other media outlets that played a vital role in disseminating nationalist ideas and promoting the cause of independence. Prominent figures like G.D. Birla and Raja Rammohan Roy were associated with newspapers that supported the nationalist movement.

Boycott of Foreign Goods: Indian business leaders actively supported the Swadeshi Movement and the boycott of foreign goods. They encouraged the use of indigenous products and raw materials, promoting economic self-reliance and self-sufficiency.

Provision of Public Platforms: Indian industrialists and businessmen provided a platform for nationalist leaders to address the public. They allowed their industrial and business premises to be used for organizing meetings, gatherings, and events related to the freedom struggle.

Political Engagement: Some Indian capitalists, like G.D. Birla, C. Rajagopalachari, and Lala Lajpat Rai, also participated in politics and served as members of legislative bodies. They used these positions to advocate for nationalist causes.

Support for Social and Educational Reforms: Many Indian capitalists contributed to social and educational reforms. They established and funded schools, colleges, and research institutions that played a significant role in the intellectual and cultural resurgence of India.

Leadership Roles: A few Indian capitalists assumed leadership roles in the INC and other nationalist organizations. For instance, G.D. Birla served as the treasurer of the INC and played a pivotal role in shaping its financial policies.

Resistance to British Economic Policies: Indian capitalists often resisted and opposed exploitative economic policies imposed by the British colonial administration. They advocated for economic policies that would benefit Indian industries and businesses.

Nationalist Symbols: Some Indian industrialists and entrepreneurs adopted nationalist symbols and slogans in their businesses and trade practices. For example, they used the “Vande Mataram” slogan or images of the spinning wheel (charkha) in their products.

Support for Boycotts and Strikes: Indian capitalists supported and participated in various forms of protest, including strikes, hartals (shutdowns), and boycotts. These actions were part of the wider civil disobedience movements.

It is important to note that the role of Indian capitalists was complex, and their interests were not always aligned with the broader goals of the nationalist movement. While some were ardent supporters of independence, others were more focused on economic growth and development. Moreover, some industrialists collaborated with the British administration due to their business interests. The relationship between Indian capitalism and the national movement was marked by both cooperation and tension, reflecting the diversity of economic interests within the Indian business community.

Financial Support: by Indian Capitalist during national movement

During the Indian national movement for independence, Indian capitalists provided significant financial support to various initiatives and organizations involved in the struggle for freedom. Their contributions were instrumental in sustaining the movement. Here are some key aspects of the financial support provided by Indian capitalists:

Funding Nationalist Organizations: Indian capitalists, especially prominent industrialists and businessmen offered financial contributions to nationalist organizations like the Indian National Congress (INC), All India Congress Committee (AICC), and other regional and local branches. These funds were used to cover organizational expenses, support political activities, and mobilize the masses.

Support for Newspapers and Publications: Many Indian capitalists owned or funded newspapers, journals, and other publications that played a pivotal role in disseminating nationalist ideas, reporting on the freedom struggle, and countering British propaganda. These publications included prominent newspapers like “The Hindustan Times” (founded by G.D. Birla) and “The Free Press Journal” (founded by Swaminathan Sadanand).

Contribution to Swadeshi Movements: Indian capitalists actively supported the Swadeshi Movement, which called for the boycott of foreign goods and the promotion of indigenous products. They provided funds to set up Swadeshi enterprises and encouraged people to buy products made in India.

Funding Mass Campaigns: Capitalists contributed to the financing of mass campaigns, civil disobedience movements, and non-cooperation initiatives. These campaigns required resources for organizing rallies, processions, and protests across the country.

Sponsoring Conferences and Meetings: Indian industrialists often sponsored conferences, meetings, and sessions where leaders and activists discussed strategies and charted the course of the national movement. They offered financial support for the logistics and arrangements required for such gatherings.

Educational and Cultural Initiatives: Some capitalists established educational institutions and cultural centers aimed at nurturing patriotic values and fostering a sense of Indian identity. They provided funds for schools, colleges, and cultural programs that supported the nationalist cause.

Legal Defense Funds: Indian capitalists set up legal defense funds to assist freedom fighters and political activists facing legal charges. These funds were used to engage lawyers and provide legal support to those arrested or persecuted by the colonial authorities.

Travel and Communication Expenses: Industrialists like J.R.D. Tata and G.D. Birla often covered the travel and communication expenses of nationalist leaders. This assistance helped leaders coordinate their activities and mobilize support across the country.

Publication of Nationalist Literature: Capitalists supported the publication of nationalist literature, pamphlets, and books that disseminated the ideas of the freedom movement. They financed printing and distribution.

The financial support provided by Indian capitalists was critical in sustaining the momentum of the national movement, particularly during the challenging periods of civil disobedience, boycotts, and strikes. It allowed the movement to maintain a broad base of support and reach various segments of society. While the contributions of individual capitalists varied, their collective efforts significantly strengthened the resources available to the freedom struggle.

Role of Newspaper and Media Ownership: by Indian capitalist during freedom movement

During India’s struggle for freedom from British colonial rule, the ownership and role of newspapers and media by Indian capitalists played a significant and multifaceted role. Indian-owned newspapers and media outlets played a crucial part in shaping public opinion, mobilizing support for the independence movement, and providing a platform for nationalist leaders to convey their messages. Here are some key aspects of the role of Indian capitalists in newspaper and media ownership during the freedom movement:

Dissemination of Nationalist Ideals: Indian-owned newspapers and media outlets were instrumental in disseminating nationalist ideals, promoting the cause of freedom, and advocating for self-rule. They provided a platform for nationalist leaders and writers to express their views and share their vision for an independent India.

Mobilization of Masses: Indian capitalists who owned newspapers recognized the power of the press in mobilizing the masses. They used their media outlets to galvanize public support for various movements and campaigns, such as the Non-Cooperation Movement and the Civil Disobedience Movement.

Championing the Cause: Many Indian-owned newspapers openly championed the cause of independence. They reported on the injustices of British colonial rule, covered protests and demonstrations, and highlighted the sacrifices made by freedom fighters. These publications played a crucial role in raising awareness about the need for self-governance.

Building National Identity: Indian newspapers and media outlets contributed to the building of a national identity by fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose among diverse communities and regions. They emphasized the common goal of achieving freedom from colonial rule.

Counteracting British Propaganda: Indian-owned media outlets often served as a counter to British propaganda and misinformation. They provided alternative narratives and perspectives on important issues, countering the colonial government’s attempts to control the narrative.

Support for Social and Political Reform: Indian capitalists who owned newspapers often used their platforms to advocate for social and political reform, such as women’s rights, education, and the upliftment of marginalized communities. They saw these issues as integral to the larger struggle for independence.

Financial Support: Many Indian industrialists and capitalists provided financial support to nationalist newspapers and media outlets. This support was crucial for the survival and growth of these publications.

Resilience and Perseverance: Despite facing challenges, including censorship, fines, and arrests of journalists and publishers, Indian-owned newspapers and media outlets demonstrated resilience and perseverance in their commitment to the cause of freedom.

Prominent Indian-owned newspapers and media outlets during this period included publications like “The Hindustan Times,” “The Statesman,” “The Tribune,” and “The National Herald.” Owners and editors of these newspapers, such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Lala Lajpat Rai, and Jawaharlal Nehru, played vital roles in shaping public opinion and advancing the cause of independence.

The contributions of Indian capitalists in newspaper and media ownership were pivotal in galvanizing public support and fostering a sense of national identity, ultimately leading to India’s independence in 1947.

Boycott of Foreign Goods: by Indian capitalist during national movement

The boycott of foreign goods was a significant aspect of the Indian national movement for independence. While Indian capitalists and business leaders were generally seen as supporters of the Swadeshi (self-reliance) movement, their involvement in the boycott of foreign goods varied. Here’s a more detailed overview:

Support for Swadeshi Movement: Many Indian capitalists actively supported the Swadeshi Movement and endorsed the boycott of foreign goods. They saw this as a way to promote Indian industries and reduce economic dependence on British manufacturers. Prominent industrialists like G.D. Birla, J.R.D. Tata, and Walchand Hirachand were vocal proponents of Swadeshi and played an active role in promoting Indian-made products.

Investment in Indigenous Industries: Some Indian capitalists made investments in or initiated their own Swadeshi enterprises. They contributed to the establishment of industries that could produce goods to replace foreign-made products. For instance, G.D. Birla invested in cotton mills and J.R.D. Tata promoted the production of steel.

Promotion of Swadeshi Products: Indian business leaders encouraged the consumption of Swadeshi goods among the Indian population. They advertised and marketed Indian-made products, including textiles, salt, soap, and various household items, to encourage people to buy locally produced items.

Financial Contributions: Indian capitalists provided financial support to nationalist organizations like the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Swadeshi movement. These funds were used to support various activities related to the boycott of foreign goods, such as organizing protests, public awareness campaigns, and Swadeshi exhibitions.

Boycott of British Goods: Some Indian capitalists personally boycotted foreign goods and encouraged their employees and associates to do the same. They made conscious efforts to replace British-made products with Indian alternatives.

Participation in Swadeshi Campaigns: Business leaders participated in Swadeshi campaigns, marches, and protests. They stood in solidarity with the common people and led by example, reinforcing the message of self-reliance.

Response to Economic Policies: The Swadeshi and boycott movements were responses to economic policies that Indian business leaders perceived as detrimental to Indian industries. They protested against British policies that favored imported goods over Indian products.

While many Indian capitalists were supportive of the Swadeshi and boycott movements, it’s important to note that their involvement varied. Some business leaders were more actively engaged in promoting Swadeshi and boycotting foreign goods, while others may have taken a more cautious approach due to their economic interests. Nonetheless, the collective efforts of Indian business leaders played a crucial role in advancing the cause of self-reliance and promoting the use of indigenous products during the Indian national movement.

Provision of Public Platforms: by Indian capitalist during freedom movement

Indian capitalists played a crucial role in providing public platforms and venues for nationalist leaders and the general public during the freedom movement. These platforms served as spaces for meetings, gatherings, and public speeches, allowing leaders to communicate their message of independence and mobilize support for the cause. Indian capitalists often offered financial support and infrastructure for these events. Here are some ways in which Indian capitalists provided public platforms during the freedom movement:

Donation of Halls and Venues: Indian capitalists frequently donated or offered the use of their halls and venues for public meetings, rallies, and gatherings. These spaces were used for political discussions, speeches, and gatherings of various nationalist organizations.

Financial Support: Many Indian industrialists and business leaders provided financial support to nationalist organizations and movements. This financial assistance helped in organizing public events, printing pamphlets, and spreading the message of independence.

Hosting Public Meetings: Indian capitalists hosted and presided over public meetings and gatherings, often sharing the stage with prominent nationalist leaders. Their participation added credibility and support to the cause.

Sponsoring Events: Some Indian capitalists sponsored specific events or conferences related to the freedom movement. They covered the expenses associated with organizing and conducting these events.

Facilitating Communication: Indian capitalists who owned or had connections in the media industry used their influence to ensure that the messages and activities of nationalist leaders were covered in newspapers and magazines. They helped in disseminating information to a wider audience.

Supporting Educational Initiatives: Some Indian capitalists were actively involved in educational initiatives and institutions that promoted nationalist ideas. They contributed to the establishment of schools, colleges, and libraries that encouraged discussions on freedom and self-governance.

Promoting Cultural Events: Indian capitalists also supported cultural events, including music and drama performances, which were used as mediums to convey nationalist sentiments and inspire the masses.

Hosting Dignitaries: Prominent Indian capitalists often hosted visiting foreign dignitaries and leaders who supported India’s struggle for independence. These interactions fostered international support for the cause.

Providing Organizational Leadership: Some Indian capitalists took on leadership roles in nationalist organizations and associations. They played key roles in coordinating and organizing public events and campaigns.

Creating a Platform for Intellectual Exchange: Indian capitalists sometimes organized forums and gatherings that provided opportunities for intellectuals, writers, and thinkers to discuss and debate the ideas and principles of the freedom movement.

Indian capitalists such as Jamnalal Bajaj, G.D. Birla, and Motilal Nehru were among those who actively supported and provided public platforms for nationalist leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and others. Their contributions helped in building public support for the freedom movement and played a crucial role in India’s eventual independence in 1947.

Political Engagement by Indian Capitalist during national movement

During the Indian national movement for independence, Indian capitalists and business leaders engaged politically in various ways. Their involvement in politics was influenced by their desire to advance the cause of independence and to protect their economic interests. Here are some of the ways in which Indian capitalists engaged politically during the national movement:

Support for the Indian National Congress (INC): Many Indian capitalists and industrialists were actively involved in the Indian National Congress, which was the principal political organization leading the fight for independence. They provided financial support to the INC and participated in its activities. Prominent industrialists like G.D. Birla and Jamnalal Bajaj were associated with the INC.

Representation in Legislative Bodies: Some Indian capitalists were elected as members of legislative bodies at the provincial and central levels. They used these platforms to raise issues related to economic policies, industrial development, and self-reliance. For example, J.R.D. Tata was a member of the Central Legislative Assembly.

Advocacy for Indian Economic Interests: Indian business leaders actively advocated for policies that would promote Indian industries and protect them from unfair competition with British goods. They lobbied for tariff reforms, incentives for indigenous industries, and protection of Indian economic interests.

Political Agitation: Business leaders participated in various forms of political agitation and protests against British policies. They voiced their concerns about economic exploitation, trade policies, and taxation. They were an integral part of movements like the Swadeshi Movement and the Civil Disobedience Movement.

Promotion of Swadeshi Ideals: Indian capitalists were ardent supporters of the Swadeshi (self-reliance) movement. They actively promoted the use of Indian-made products and encouraged consumers to buy indigenous goods. This was both a political and economic statement against British colonialism.

Financial Support for Political Movements: Indian industrialists provided financial support to various political movements and leaders. Their contributions were vital in sustaining the activities of nationalist organizations and leaders.

Leadership in Trade Associations: Many business leaders held leadership positions in trade and industrial associations. These organizations were instrumental in coordinating economic and political efforts to advance Indian interests.

Participation in Advisory Bodies: Some industrialists were members of advisory bodies and committees established by the British government. They used these platforms to influence policies and advocate for pro-Indian economic measures.

Advocacy for Labor Rights: Some Indian business leaders, including J.R.D. Tata, were known for their support of labor rights and welfare. They advocated for workers’ rights, better working conditions, and social justice.

It’s important to note that while many Indian capitalists were politically active in support of the national movement, there was a diversity of views and approaches within the business community. Some capitalists were more radical in their political engagement, while others may have taken a more moderate stance. Nonetheless, their political involvement was a crucial component of the broader struggle for India’s independence.

Political Engagement by Indian Capitalist during national movement

During the Indian national movement for independence, Indian capitalists and business leaders engaged politically in various ways. Their involvement in politics was influenced by their desire to advance the cause of independence and to protect their economic interests. Here are some of the ways in which Indian capitalists engaged politically during the national movement:

Support for the Indian National Congress (INC): Many Indian capitalists and industrialists were actively involved in the Indian National Congress, which was the principal political organization leading the fight for independence. They provided financial support to the INC and participated in its activities. Prominent industrialists like G.D. Birla and Jamnalal Bajaj were associated with the INC.

Representation in Legislative Bodies: Some Indian capitalists were elected as members of legislative bodies at the provincial and central levels. They used these platforms to raise issues related to economic policies, industrial development, and self-reliance. For example, J.R.D. Tata was a member of the Central Legislative Assembly.

Advocacy for Indian Economic Interests: Indian business leaders actively advocated for policies that would promote Indian industries and protect them from unfair competition with British goods. They lobbied for tariff reforms, incentives for indigenous industries, and protection of Indian economic interests.

Political Agitation: Business leaders participated in various forms of political agitation and protests against British policies. They voiced their concerns about economic exploitation, trade policies, and taxation. They were an integral part of movements like the Swadeshi Movement and the Civil Disobedience Movement.

Promotion of Swadeshi Ideals: Indian capitalists were ardent supporters of the Swadeshi (self-reliance) movement. They actively promoted the use of Indian-made products and encouraged consumers to buy indigenous goods. This was both a political and economic statement against British colonialism.

Financial Support for Political Movements: Indian industrialists provided financial support to various political movements and leaders. Their contributions were vital in sustaining the activities of nationalist organizations and leaders.

Leadership in Trade Associations: Many business leaders held leadership positions in trade and industrial associations. These organizations were instrumental in coordinating economic and political efforts to advance Indian interests.

Participation in Advisory Bodies: Some industrialists were members of advisory bodies and committees established by the British government. They used these platforms to influence policies and advocate for pro-Indian economic measures.

Advocacy for Labor Rights: Some Indian business leaders, including J.R.D. Tata, were known for their support of labor rights and welfare. They advocated for workers’ rights, better working conditions, and social justice.

It’s important to note that while many Indian capitalists were politically active in support of the national movement, there was a diversity of views and approaches within the business community. Some capitalists were more radical in their political engagement, while others may have taken a more moderate stance. Nonetheless, their political involvement was a crucial component of the broader struggle for India’s independence.

Resistance to British Economic Policies by Indian capitalist in national movement

During the Indian national movement for independence, Indian capitalists and business leaders strongly resisted several economic policies and practices imposed by the British colonial government. These policies were seen as exploitative and detrimental to Indian industries and economic interests. The resistance to British economic policies by Indian capitalists took various forms:

Opposition to High Tariffs on Indian Goods: British colonial policies imposed high tariffs on Indian goods, making it difficult for Indian industries to compete with British manufactured products. Indian industrialists and business leaders vehemently opposed these tariffs and advocated for a more favorable trade environment.

Promotion of Swadeshi Movement: Indian capitalists actively supported the Swadeshi Movement, which aimed at promoting indigenous industries and boycotting British-made goods. They encouraged consumers to buy Indian products, thus challenging British economic dominance.

Advocacy for Protection of Indian Industries: Indian business leaders lobbied for the protection of Indian industries against unfair competition from British products. They called for safeguarding the interests of indigenous manufacturers and traders.

Resistance to Colonial Monopolies: British colonial rule established monopolies in various sectors, such as the salt industry and the opium trade. Indian capitalists opposed these monopolies, which limited their economic opportunities and profits.

Championing Indigenous Banking and Finance: Indian capitalists played a key role in the development of indigenous banking and financial institutions. This helped reduce dependence on British-controlled banks and financial systems.

Participation in Civil Disobedience Movements: Business leaders actively participated in civil disobedience movements and protests, which included boycotts of British goods, non-payment of taxes, and non-cooperation with the British government’s economic policies.

Support for Nationalist Policies: Many Indian capitalists supported the economic policies and ideologies of prominent nationalist leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. These leaders advocated for self-reliance and economic independence.

Financial Support for the Nationalist Cause: Indian industrialists and capitalists provided financial support to nationalist organizations and leaders. Their contributions were essential for sustaining the national movement.

Involvement in Trade Unions: Some industrialists supported and encouraged the formation of trade unions to protect the rights of laborers and ensure fair wages and working conditions.

Promotion of Cottage and Village Industries: Indian business leaders actively promoted the development of cottage and village industries, emphasizing the importance of decentralized, small-scale production.

These efforts by Indian capitalists and business leaders were instrumental in challenging British economic dominance and advancing the cause of economic self-sufficiency. Their resistance to exploitative economic policies was a crucial aspect of the broader struggle for India’s independence.


Chapter 25: National Movement in Princely States

National Movement in princely states

The Indian national movement was not confined to British India but also had a significant impact on the princely states (also known as native states or Indian states). These princely states were territories ruled by local monarchs, often with a degree of autonomy under the suzerainty of the British Crown. The national movement in princely states had several distinctive features:

Diversity of Responses: The response to the national movement in princely states varied widely. Some princes were sympathetic to the Indian National Congress (INC) and supported the demand for self-rule, while others were aligned with the British and resisted the nationalist movement.

Role of Princely States’ Subjects: The subjects of princely states played a crucial role in shaping the course of the national movement. They, too, sought greater participation in governance, political rights, and economic improvements.

Integration with the INC: The INC often extended its influence to princely states by setting up local branches and working in coordination with local leaders. This helped in spreading the message of the national movement and strengthening demands for self-rule.

Prajamandals: In many princely states, local organizations called “prajamandals” were formed to articulate the demands and grievances of the people. These organizations played a significant role in the struggle for political and economic rights.

Agitations and Movements: Like in British India, princely states also witnessed agitations, protests, and movements for political reform. These included demands for constitutional reforms, representation, and an end to oppressive practices.

Support from National Leaders: Prominent national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru actively engaged with leaders from princely states. They promoted the idea of a united and independent India and sought the support of princely state leaders.

Instrument of Accession: As India moved closer to independence, the issue of princely states’ accession to India or Pakistan became significant. Many princely states chose to accede to either India or Pakistan based on factors such as geographical contiguity, the preferences of their subjects, or the political inclinations of their rulers.

Role of Sardar Patel: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, as India’s first Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of States, played a pivotal role in persuading princely states to accede to the newly independent India. His efforts in integrating the princely states were a critical aspect of the post-independence consolidation.

Independent India’s Relations with Princely States: Following independence, the Government of India recognized the autonomy and identity of princely states, which were gradually integrated into the Indian union.

The role of princely states in the Indian national movement was complex, and their experiences and responses were diverse. While some were proactive in aligning with the national movement, others sought to maintain their independence or side with the British. The eventual integration of princely states into independent India was a significant achievement of the post-independence period.

  1. Responses of different princely states to national movement

The responses of different princely states to the Indian national movement were diverse and influenced by various factors, including the rulers’ political inclinations, the sentiments of their subjects, geographical locations, and historical ties with the British. Here are some examples of different princely states and their responses to the national movement:

Baroda (Vadodara):

Response: The state of Baroda was known for its progressive policies. Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III was a visionary ruler who implemented social and economic reforms and supported the national movement. He extended financial aid to the Congress and allowed its activities within his state.

Mysore (Mysuru):

Response: The Kingdom of Mysore, under the leadership of Maharaja Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV, supported the national movement. The Maharaja introduced several welfare measures and granted his subjects a responsible government in 1881, a decade before the Morley-Minto Reforms in British India.

Kerala (Travancore and Cochin):

Response: The princely states of Travancore and Cochin, located in present-day Kerala, saw different responses. Travancore was initially resistant to the national movement, while Cochin supported it. However, both states later witnessed political and social reforms.


Response: The Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan, maintained an independent stance during the national movement. The state was not directly affected by the British until after independence when it eventually merged with India.


Response: The state of Jodhpur, under Maharaja Umaid Singh, was supportive of the national movement. The Maharaja implemented social and economic reforms, introduced responsible government, and facilitated the participation of people in state administration.


Response: The state of Jammu and Kashmir, under Maharaja Hari Singh, initially chose to remain independent after India’s partition. It later acceded to India in 1947, leading to conflicts and the ongoing issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

Travancore-Cochin (Unified State):

Response: After India’s independence, the princely states of Travancore and Cochin merged to form a unified state and chose to join the Indian Union in 1949.


Response: The state of Bikaner, under Maharaja Sadul Singh, was supportive of the national movement. The Maharaja implemented progressive reforms and supported the Quit India Movement.

Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU):

Response: The union of princely states in the Punjab region, known as PEPSU, chose to accede to India after independence.

These examples illustrate the wide range of responses by different princely states to the national movement. While some rulers supported the movement and initiated reforms, others remained aloof or initially chose independence before eventually merging with India. The eventual integration of princely states into independent India was a complex and multifaceted process.

  1. Role of Princely States’ Subjects in national movement

The role of the subjects of the Princely States in the Indian national movement was multifaceted and varied across different regions and time periods. While the Princely States were semi-autonomous entities ruled by local monarchs, the actions and contributions of their subjects towards the broader struggle for Indian independence cannot be underestimated. Here are some of the ways in which the subjects of Princely States participated in the national movement:

Participation in Mass Movements: The subjects of Princely States actively participated in mass movements and protests organized by national leaders. They joined demonstrations, boycotts, and strikes, contributing to the non-cooperation and civil disobedience movements.

Spread of Nationalist Ideals: Many individuals from Princely States were influenced by the nationalist ideals and leaders of the Indian National Congress, the All India Muslim League, and other organizations. They played a crucial role in spreading the message of independence and mobilizing support in their regions.

Formation of Local Committees: Subjects of Princely States formed local committees and organizations dedicated to the nationalist cause. These committees worked on issues such as social reform, education, and relief work during times of unrest.

Participation in Non-violent Resistance: Subjects of Princely States embraced non-violent forms of protest advocated by Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders. They engaged in activities such as the Salt March, non-cooperation, and the Quit India Movement.

Political Representation: Some individuals from Princely States actively participated in the political process by running for and winning seats in provincial legislatures. They used these platforms to advocate for the demands of their regions.

Support for Local Leaders: Subjects of Princely States supported local leaders and organizations that championed the cause of self-governance and social justice. These leaders often worked in close collaboration with national figures.

Cultural and Literary Contributions: Many subjects of Princely States made significant cultural and literary contributions to the nationalist movement. They used literature, music, and the arts to promote nationalist ideals and cultural pride.

Role in Social Reform: Subjects from Princely States were often involved in social reform movements, including efforts to eradicate caste-based discrimination, promote women’s rights, and improve the status of marginalized communities.

Support for Indian National Army (INA): During World War II, many subjects from Princely States supported the INA led by Subhas Chandra Bose. They saw the INA as a force fighting for India’s liberation from British colonial rule.

Solidarity with Nationalist Leaders: Subjects of Princely States expressed solidarity with national leaders and figures, even when it meant facing repression from the princely rulers or British authorities.

It is important to note that the level of participation and the nature of contributions varied from one Princely State to another, depending on factors such as the ruler’s policies, the presence of local leaders, and the socio-political environment. The role of the subjects of Princely States in the national movement underscores the widespread and diverse nature of the struggle for Indian independence, reflecting the unity of purpose among people from all walks of life across the subcontinent.

  1. Integration of princely states with the INC during national movement

The integration of princely states with the Indian National Congress (INC) during the national movement was a complex and region-specific process. The INC, under the leadership of figures like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, played a crucial role in negotiating with princely states and their rulers to encourage their accession to independent India. However, it is important to note that the approach and success varied from state to state. Here is an overview of the integration of princely states with the INC during the national movement:

Instrument of Accession: The primary legal mechanism for princely states to join either India or Pakistan was the Instrument of Accession. This instrument was a legal document that allowed a princely state to transfer control over certain subjects (such as defense, foreign affairs, and communications) to either India or Pakistan. The choice of whether to accede to India or Pakistan was typically based on geographical contiguity and the wishes of the state’s population.

Sardar Patel’s Role: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs of independent India, played a pivotal role in negotiating with princely states. He used a combination of diplomacy and persuasion to encourage the rulers to accede to India. His efforts were instrumental in the integration of more than 500 princely states into the Indian Union.

Negotiations and Agreements: The negotiations with princely states involved discussions on the terms and conditions of accession. While some rulers willingly acceded to India, others sought specific guarantees related to issues such as maintaining their titles, privy purses, and local autonomy in governance.

People’s Movements: In several princely states, there were mass movements and public pressure from the people to accede to India. The INC actively supported and organized these movements. For example, in the case of Junagadh, the people’s movement played a significant role in ensuring its accession to India.

Hyderabad and Junagadh: Hyderabad and Junagadh were two of the most notable princely states where the INC was involved in the integration process. In the case of Hyderabad, Operation Polo was launched to ensure its integration with India. In Junagadh, the INC played a crucial role in supporting the people’s movement and securing accession.

Referendums: In some princely states, referendums were held to determine the wishes of the people regarding accession. The INC played a role in organizing and supporting these referendums to ensure a democratic process.

Integration Challenges: The integration process was not without challenges. Some princely rulers, such as the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, initially resisted accession. These challenges required diplomatic efforts and, in the case of Jammu and Kashmir, led to the issue being taken to the United Nations.

Successes and Outcomes: The integration of princely states with the INC-led Indian Union was a significant achievement for the newly independent nation. It helped consolidate the geographical and political boundaries of India.

It is important to recognize that while the INC played a key role in the integration of princely states, the process involved various stakeholders, including the rulers, the local populations, and the government of India. The successful integration of princely states was a testament to India’s commitment to maintaining its territorial integrity and ensuring a unified nation.

  1. Role of Prajamandals from Pricely states during national movement

The Prajamandals were people’s organizations and political movements in several princely states of India during the national movement against British colonial rule. They played a significant role in advocating for political reforms, civil rights, and greater participation in the administration of their princely states. The specific roles and activities of Prajamandals varied from state to state, but some common objectives and functions included:

Advocacy for Civil Rights: Prajamandals sought to secure fundamental civil rights and liberties for the people of princely states. These rights included freedom of speech, assembly, and the right to petition the ruler or state administration.

Demands for Responsible Government: In many cases, Prajamandals demanded the establishment of responsible and representative governments in their princely states. They pushed for constitutional reforms that would grant people a greater say in state affairs.

Public Awareness and Mobilization: Prajamandals conducted public awareness campaigns and organized rallies, meetings, and demonstrations to mobilize public support for their demands. They played a crucial role in educating the masses about their rights and the need for political reforms.

Negotiations and Petitions: Many Prajamandals engaged in negotiations with the rulers and state authorities. They submitted memoranda, petitions, and proposals outlining their demands for reforms and greater political participation.

Nonviolent Protest: While advocating for their demands, Prajamandals typically adhered to nonviolent methods of protest, inspired by the Gandhian principles of non-cooperation and civil disobedience.

Unity and Alliances: In some princely states, Prajamandals formed alliances and coordinated efforts with the Indian National Congress and other national-level organizations. These collaborations helped amplify their voices and strengthen their movements.

Political Representation: In some instances, Prajamandals also sought to secure political representation in the state’s legislative bodies, councils, and assemblies. They aimed to ensure that elected representatives had the authority to make decisions on behalf of the people.

Land Reforms and Economic Justice: Some Prajamandals advocated for land reforms, seeking to address issues related to landownership, tenancy, and agrarian rights. They aimed to improve the economic conditions of the rural population.

Successes and Challenges: The successes and challenges faced by Prajamandals varied by state. While some achieved significant reforms, others encountered resistance from conservative rulers and authorities. The level of autonomy enjoyed by princely states also influenced the outcomes of these movements.

Overall, Prajamandals played a vital role in the political awakening of people in princely states, ultimately contributing to the broader movement for independence and the integration of these states into the newly independent India.

  1. Agitations and Movements by princely states during national movemnts

During the Indian national movement, several princely states witnessed agitations and movements as people in these regions also aspired for greater political participation and independence from British colonial rule. These agitations and movements in princely states had diverse objectives, and some of the notable ones are as follows:

Hyderabad State Agitation (Telangana Rebellion): The Hyderabad State, ruled by the Nizam, saw a significant agitation led by the Communist Party of India (CPI). Known as the Telangana Rebellion (1946-1951), it aimed to address issues of feudalism, land reforms, and civil rights. The movement eventually led to the integration of Hyderabad into India.

Travancore State Congress: In the princely state of Travancore (part of modern-day Kerala), the State Congress played a vital role in demanding responsible government and greater political participation. The “Kayyur Strike” and other agitations in the 1940s were significant events.

Mysore State Congress: In the princely state of Mysore (now Karnataka), the Mysore State Congress, under leaders like K. Hanumanthaiah and Kadidal Manjappa, advocated for constitutional reforms and responsible government.

Prajamandal Movements: The Prajamandals in various princely states, such as Rajasthan, sought political reforms and the abolition of feudal practices. They organized protests, strikes, and rallies to press their demands.

Jaswant Singh of Bharatpur: In the princely state of Bharatpur, Maharaja Jaswant Singh led a mass movement in the 1930s against the state’s oppressive policies and sought responsible government.

Jat-Pat-Todak Mandal: The Jat-Pat-Todak Mandal was a social reform movement led by B. R. Ambedkar in the princely state of Baroda (now in Gujarat). It aimed to challenge the caste-based discrimination prevalent in society.

Bhopal State Movement: In the princely state of Bhopal, citizens participated in the Bhopal State Congress’s demand for greater representation and responsible government.

Junagadh and Manavadar Movements: The princely states of Junagadh and Manavadar, located in present-day Gujarat, witnessed public movements to assert their choice of accession to India, rejecting the rulers’ pro-Pakistan stance.

Kutch Satyagraha: Kutch, a princely state in Gujarat, saw a Satyagraha movement under leaders like Manubhai Pancholi and Uka Bha Desai. It aimed to secure democratic rights and social justice.

Travancore Temple Entry Movement: The movement for the entry of lower-caste Hindus into temples in the princely state of Travancore was led by social reformers like Sree Narayana Guru and resulted in significant social changes.

These movements in princely states contributed to the larger narrative of India’s struggle for independence, and they played a crucial role in shaping the political landscape of these regions. The efforts of leaders and activists in princely states helped pave the way for political reforms and the eventual integration of these states into the newly independent India.

  1. Role of Instrument of Accession with pricely states during last phase of national movemnt

During the last phase of the national movement in India, the “Instrument of Accession” played a pivotal role in the integration of princely states with the newly independent Indian Union. The Instrument of Accession was a legal document that princely states used to accede to either India or Pakistan, and it had several key aspects and implications:

Legal Basis: The Instrument of Accession was based on the Government of India Act, 1935, and it provided the legal framework for princely states to join one of the newly emerging nations, India or Pakistan. This legal instrument allowed princely states to transfer control over specific subjects, such as defense, foreign affairs, and communications, to the dominion they chose to accede to.

Princely States’ Autonomy: The Instrument of Accession typically allowed princely states to retain autonomy in areas outside the subjects covered by the instrument. This meant that they could maintain their sovereignty over internal matters, such as local governance, and continue to be ruled by their respective monarchs.

Choice of Dominion: Princely states had the option to accede to either India or Pakistan based on several factors, including geographical contiguity, demographics, and the wishes of the population. The ruler of each princely state made the decision on which dominion to accede to, taking into consideration the interests of the state and its people.

Negotiations: The process of accession often involved negotiations between the ruler of the princely state and representatives of the Indian government, particularly Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who played a central role in persuading princely states to join India. Negotiations focused on the terms and conditions of accession, including matters related to the ruler’s privileges, the privy purse, and the degree of autonomy retained by the princely state.

People’s Movements: In many princely states, there were mass movements and public pressure from the local population to accede to India. The Indian National Congress (INC) and other political parties actively supported and organized these movements, which played a significant role in influencing the rulers’ decisions.

Integration: Once the Instrument of Accession was signed, the princely state became an integral part of the dominion it had acceded to. The subjects covered by the instrument, such as defense, came under the dominion’s jurisdiction. The integration process also meant that the princely state became part of the Indian Union or Pakistan.

Referendums: In some princely states, referendums were held to determine the wishes of the local population regarding accession. These referendums helped ensure that the decision reflected the will of the people.

Challenges and Disputes: The accession process was not without challenges, and there were instances where rulers resisted accession or sought to delay the decision. The most notable example was the case of Jammu and Kashmir, which led to a conflict between India and Pakistan and the involvement of the United Nations.

The Instrument of Accession, along with the negotiations and democratic processes, facilitated the peaceful and lawful integration of princely states into India and Pakistan. It was a significant aspect of the final phase of the national movement, leading to the formation of the sovereign nations of India and Pakistan in 1947.

Independent India’s Relations with Princely States:

Independent India’s relations with princely states underwent significant changes as it pursued the process of integration, which aimed to consolidate these states into the newly formed Indian Union. The integration of princely states into the Indian republic was a complex and multifaceted process with several key aspects:

Instrument of Accession: The process of integration began with princely states signing the Instrument of Accession, a legal document that facilitated the transfer of control over specified subjects (typically defense, foreign affairs, and communications) to the Dominion of India. This ensured that princely states accepted the authority of the Indian government in these areas.

Negotiations: Negotiations between the Government of India and the rulers of princely states were conducted to determine the terms and conditions of accession. The negotiations often included matters related to governance, administration, and the integration of the state into India’s political and economic framework.

Sardar Patel’s Role: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India’s first Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs, played a crucial role in convincing many princely states to accede to India. His skillful diplomacy and negotiation were instrumental in bringing a majority of princely states into the Indian Union.

Merger: Princely states that successfully negotiated the terms of accession and integration became fully integrated into the Indian Union. These states lost their sovereignty and princely status, and their territories were reorganized into existing or newly created Indian states and union territories.

States Reorganization Act (1956): The reorganization of Indian states in 1956 was a significant step in shaping the political map of the country. It led to the creation of linguistic states and union territories, simplifying administrative boundaries and ensuring effective governance.

Privy Purses: The rulers of princely states were often granted privy purses or financial allowances in exchange for their surrender of power and privileges. The Privy Purses (Abolition) Act of 1971 abolished these allowances, ending a practice that had continued for a few years after independence.

Special Provisions: Some princely states were granted special provisions or autonomy under the Constitution of India. These included the states of Jammu and Kashmir and Hyderabad, which enjoyed a unique status until political changes led to their complete integration with India.

Public Movements: In some cases, public movements within princely states pressured the rulers to accede to India or follow certain policies, as seen in the Hyderabad Police Action and the movement in Junagadh.

Refusals and Standstills: Some princely states initially refused to accede to India or sought standstill agreements with both India and Pakistan to continue their existing policies and treaties. Over time, many of these states eventually integrated into the Indian Union.

The process of integrating princely states was a complex and often challenging endeavor that was completed over a period of several years after India’s independence in 1947. It required careful negotiation, diplomacy, and, in some cases, military intervention to bring the princely states into the fold of independent India. The integration of princely states played a vital role in the political and territorial consolidation of the Indian republic.


Chapter 26: Role of Women in National Movement

Role of woman in India’s freedom struggle

The role of women in India’s freedom struggle was significant and multifaceted. Women from all walks of life actively participated in the fight for India’s independence from British colonial rule. Their contributions ranged from peaceful protests and civil disobedience to more radical forms of resistance. Here are some key aspects of the role of women in India’s freedom struggle:

Leaders and Activists: Women leaders like Sarojini Naidu, Annie Besant, and Kamala Nehru played pivotal roles in the Indian National Congress and other political organizations. They were effective orators and mobilized support for the freedom movement.

Mass Movements: Women were active participants in mass movements like the Non-Cooperation Movement and the Civil Disobedience Movement. They organized and joined protests, picketed shops selling foreign goods, and took part in boycotts of British-made products.

Salt March: Women, including Kasturba Gandhi and Sarojini Naidu, joined Mahatma Gandhi in the Salt March to Dandi in 1930, symbolizing their commitment to the cause of independence.

Underground Movements: Women like Aruna Asaf Ali and Usha Mehta were involved in underground movements. Aruna Asaf Ali hoisted the national flag at the Bombay Congress session in 1942. Usha Mehta operated a secret radio station to broadcast messages for the Quit India Movement.

Women’s Role in Civil Disobedience: During the Civil Disobedience Movement, women played a significant role in making salt, spinning cotton, and weaving khadi as acts of defiance against British laws.

Prisoners and Satyagrahis: Many women were arrested and imprisoned for their involvement in the freedom struggle. They joined satyagrahis in prison and faced hardships with determination.

Participation in Protests: Women participated in various protests and agitations, often leading to confrontations with the police. They faced lathi charges, tear gas, and other forms of repression.

Support in Rural Areas: In rural areas, women actively participated in village-level protests, boycotts, and hartals. They were involved in activities like picketing liquor shops and spinning.

Impact of Women’s Movements: The freedom struggle inspired women’s movements and reforms. The All-India Women’s Conference (AIWC) played a crucial role in advocating for women’s rights and social reforms.

Sacrifices: Many women made personal sacrifices for the cause of independence. Some lost their lives during protests and confrontations with the British authorities.

Inspiration for Future Generations: The contributions of women during the freedom struggle served as an inspiration for future generations of Indian women. The struggle for independence contributed to greater gender awareness and the eventual push for women’s rights.

It’s important to recognize that the contributions of women in India’s freedom struggle were often underrepresented or overlooked in historical narratives. However, their determination, sacrifice, and commitment to the cause of freedom were instrumental in the eventual achievement of India’s independence. Women’s involvement in the freedom movement also laid the foundation for their participation in the political and social life of independent India.

  1. Role of Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949) in freedom struggle

Sarojini Naidu, popularly known as the “Nightingale of India,” played a significant role in India’s freedom struggle. Her contributions were not only in the field of politics but also in the literary and social spheres. Here are some key aspects of Sarojini Naidu’s role in the freedom movement:

Participation in the Indian National Congress: Sarojini Naidu was an active member of the Indian National Congress and worked closely with other prominent leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. She participated in several Congress sessions and became the first woman to be the President of the Indian National Congress in 1925.

Involvement in the Non-Cooperation Movement: Sarojini Naidu actively participated in the Non-Cooperation Movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi in the early 1920s. She organized and led protests, picketed liquor shops, and encouraged people to boycott British goods and institutions.

Prominent Speaker and Orator: Sarojini Naidu was a renowned orator and used her eloquence to inspire and mobilize people for the cause of independence. She traveled extensively, addressing public gatherings and spreading the message of non-cooperation with British rule.

Poet and Writer: Apart from her political involvement, Sarojini Naidu was a prolific poet and writer. Her poetry often reflected the spirit of the freedom movement and was a source of inspiration for many. Her literary contributions earned her the title of “Nightingale of India.”

Women’s Rights and Empowerment: Sarojini Naidu was a strong advocate for women’s rights and gender equality. She worked to encourage women to participate actively in the freedom movement and played a crucial role in raising awareness about women’s issues.

Participation in Civil Disobedience: During the Civil Disobedience Movement, Sarojini Naidu continued her active involvement in protests and satyagrahas, leading marches and demonstrations against unjust British laws.

International Diplomacy: Sarojini Naidu represented India on the international stage. She was part of the Indian delegation to the United Nations and was India’s first woman president of the United Nations General Assembly in 1947.

Social Reforms: Naidu was also committed to social reforms and worked on issues like child marriage and the upliftment of underprivileged sections of society.

Sarojini Naidu’s multifaceted contributions to the freedom movement, coupled with her literary and oratorical skills, made her one of the prominent women leaders of her time. She left an indelible mark on India’s struggle for independence and continued to inspire generations with her poetry and activism.

  1. Role of Annie Besant (1847-1933) in freedom struggle

Annie Besant was a prominent British socialist, theosophist, freemason, and supporter of Indian and Irish self-rule. She made significant contributions to India’s freedom struggle, and her role can be summarized as follows:

Theosophical Society: Annie Besant was deeply involved in the Theosophical Society, a spiritual organization, and became its international president. The Theosophical Society had a significant influence on her life and her engagement with Indian spirituality.

Indian Home Rule Movement: Besant moved to India in 1893 and soon became involved in the Indian Home Rule Movement. She actively advocated for Indian self-rule and Home Rule within the British Empire.

Promotion of Indian Culture and Spirituality: Besant promoted Indian culture, religion, and spirituality. She played a vital role in reviving and popularizing Indian religious and philosophical traditions, including Theosophy and Hinduism.

Support for India’s Freedom Struggle: Annie Besant was one of the early non-Indian leaders to support India’s freedom struggle. She used her influence and oratory skills to garner support for India’s self-rule, aligning herself with prominent Indian leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Gopal Krishna Gokhale.

Promotion of Education: Besant was instrumental in the establishment of educational institutions in India. She founded the Central Hindu College in Varanasi, which later became the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), one of India’s premier educational institutions.

Role in the Home Rule League: Alongside Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Annie Besant played a key role in forming the All-India Home Rule League in 1916. The league sought to promote self-governance and home rule within the British Empire.

Publication and Journalism: Besant was an avid writer and editor. She published and edited several newspapers and journals that propagated the message of Indian self-rule and encouraged people to participate in the freedom movement.

Support for Labor and Workers’ Rights: Besant also supported workers’ rights and played an active role in labor movements. She fought for better working conditions and labor reforms in India.

International Advocacy: Annie Besant was well-connected internationally. She used her influence to gain international support for India’s freedom struggle, highlighting the cause on the global stage.

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre: Besant played a crucial role in bringing international attention to the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in Amritsar by condemning the British actions and rallying support for India’s quest for freedom.

Annie Besant’s contributions to India’s freedom struggle, her promotion of Indian culture, and her work in the fields of education, journalism, and workers’ rights made her an influential figure during the early phase of India’s fight for independence.

       3.Role Kamala Nehru (1899-1936):in freedom struggle

Kamala Nehru, the wife of Jawaharlal Nehru, played a supportive and significant role in the Indian freedom struggle. Although she was not a prominent political leader like her husband, her contributions were valuable in several ways:

Support to Jawaharlal Nehru: Kamala Nehru was a pillar of support for her husband, Jawaharlal Nehru, who was a prominent leader in the Indian National Congress and played a key role in the freedom movement. She stood by him through his political journey, offering emotional and moral support.

Participation in Non-Cooperation Movement: Kamala Nehru actively participated in the Non-Cooperation Movement, which was led by Mahatma Gandhi. She engaged in activities such as spinning cotton and promoting the use of khadi (handspun cloth) as a symbol of resistance against British-made goods.

Promotion of Khadi: She was a strong advocate for the promotion of khadi and encouraged the use of handspun and handwoven textiles as a means of economic self-sufficiency and a statement of defiance against British colonial rule.

Support for Civil Disobedience Movement: During the Civil Disobedience Movement, Kamala Nehru played a role in organizing and promoting the boycott of British goods and the production of salt. She was arrested along with other leaders during the movement.

Participation in Agitations: Kamala Nehru participated in various agitations and protests, expressing her commitment to the cause of India’s freedom. She was known for her dedication to the principles of non-violence and civil disobedience.

Women’s Participation: Kamala Nehru encouraged and inspired women to actively participate in the freedom struggle. She believed in the importance of women’s empowerment and their involvement in political and social issues.

Health and Welfare Work: Kamala Nehru was also involved in social and health-related activities. She supported initiatives aimed at improving the well-being of women and children, particularly during the tumultuous times of the freedom movement.

Symbol of Resilience: Kamala Nehru’s active involvement in the freedom movement, despite facing health issues, made her a symbol of resilience and determination. Her dedication to the cause of India’s independence inspired many.

Kamala Nehru’s contributions, though less publicized compared to some other leaders, were valuable in supporting the broader objectives of the Indian freedom struggle. She remains an important figure in India’s history, known for her commitment to the principles of non-violence and her active participation in the struggle for independence.


  1. Role of Aruna Asaf Ali (1909-1996) in freedom struggle

Aruna Asaf Ali was a prominent freedom fighter and a key figure in India’s struggle for independence. Her role in the freedom movement was significant, and she is remembered for her bravery, leadership, and dedication to the cause of India’s freedom. Here are some key aspects of Aruna Asaf Ali’s role in the freedom struggle:

Participation in Non-Cooperation Movement: Aruna Asaf Ali actively participated in the Non-Cooperation Movement initiated by Mahatma Gandhi in the early 1920s. She, like many others, boycotted British-made goods and protested against colonial rule.

Role in the Civil Disobedience Movement: Aruna Asaf Ali was an active participant in the Civil Disobedience Movement launched in 1930. She defied the salt laws and took part in protests, including the famous Salt Satyagraha led by Mahatma Gandhi.

Leadership in the Quit India Movement: Aruna Asaf Ali’s most iconic role came during the Quit India Movement of 1942. She was one of the leaders of the movement and played a crucial part in its organization. She hoisted the Indian National Congress flag at the Gowalia Tank Maidan (now Azad Maidan) in Mumbai on August 9, 1942, marking the commencement of the Quit India Movement.

Imprisonment and Resistance: As a result of her participation in the Quit India Movement, Aruna Asaf Ali was arrested by the British authorities and spent time in prison. Her dedication and resistance even in the face of adversity inspired many Indians to join the freedom struggle.

Promotion of the Indian National Congress (INC): Aruna Asaf Ali was closely associated with the Indian National Congress and remained a committed member of the party. She worked to mobilize public opinion in favor of the INC and the freedom movement.

Advocacy for Women’s Rights: She was an advocate for women’s rights and believed in their active participation in the freedom struggle. She encouraged women to join the movement and took on leadership roles herself.

Social Activism: After India gained independence, Aruna Asaf Ali continued to be active in social and political causes. She was involved in efforts to uplift the marginalized sections of society and worked on issues related to education and healthcare.

Recognition and Awards: In recognition of her contributions, Aruna Asaf Ali received several awards, including the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award.

Aruna Asaf Ali’s fearless leadership during the Quit India Movement and her unwavering commitment to the cause of freedom made her a symbol of courage and determination in India’s struggle for independence. She remains an inspirational figure in Indian history.

  1. Role Usha Mehta (1920-2000):in freedom struggle

Usha Mehta was a dedicated freedom fighter and a prominent figure in the Indian independence movement. Her role in the struggle for India’s freedom was characterized by her active involvement in various activities and her commitment to the cause. Here are some key aspects of Usha Mehta’s role in the freedom struggle:

Quit India Movement: Usha Mehta is best known for her active participation in the Quit India Movement of 1942. She was a student leader at the time and, along with her associates, established secret Congress Radio, also known as the “Secret Congress Radio.”

Secret Congress Radio: Usha Mehta and her team set up the Secret Congress Radio in Bombay (now Mumbai) during the Quit India Movement. This underground radio station played a crucial role in disseminating information, rallying support for the movement, and countering British propaganda. It operated clandestinely, broadcasting news and messages of the freedom struggle.

Propagation of Mahatma Gandhi’s Message: The Secret Congress Radio, under Usha Mehta’s leadership, regularly broadcast Mahatma Gandhi’s speeches and messages. It became a vital medium for spreading the principles of non-violence, civil disobedience, and the call for India’s immediate independence.

Risk and Persecution: Operating the Secret Congress Radio was a perilous undertaking, as the British colonial authorities were determined to suppress it. Usha Mehta and her associates faced the constant threat of arrest and persecution. They went to great lengths to maintain the secrecy of the radio station.

Arrest and Imprisonment: Usha Mehta and many members of her team were eventually arrested by the British authorities. She was imprisoned for her role in the Quit India Movement and her activities related to the underground radio.

Post-Independence Contribution: After India gained independence in 1947, Usha Mehta continued her commitment to social and political causes. She was involved in various educational and social welfare initiatives.

Usha Mehta’s dedication to the freedom struggle and her fearless efforts in operating the Secret Congress Radio played a significant role in mobilizing support for the Quit India Movement and the broader movement for India’s independence. She remains a revered figure in India’s history for her role in promoting the ideals of non-violence and civil disobedience.


  1. Role of Kasturba Gandhi (1869-1944) in freedom struggle

Kasturba Gandhi, also known as “Ba,” played a significant role in India’s freedom struggle alongside her husband, Mahatma Gandhi. Her contributions to the independence movement were invaluable. Here are some key aspects of Kasturba Gandhi’s role in the freedom struggle:

Early Involvement: Kasturba Gandhi’s involvement in the freedom movement began early in her life when she married Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who would later be known as Mahatma Gandhi. She actively supported and participated in her husband’s social and political activities.

Participation in Civil Disobedience: Kasturba Gandhi took part in various campaigns and movements led by Mahatma Gandhi, including the Civil Disobedience Movement. She defied colonial laws, participated in protests, and helped organize campaigns.

Promotion of Khadi: Kasturba Gandhi played a pivotal role in promoting khadi (handspun cloth) and encouraging its use as a symbol of self-reliance and resistance against British-made textiles. She herself spun khadi and wore it as a mark of solidarity with the common masses.

Support for Salt Satyagraha: During the Salt Satyagraha in 1930, she accompanied Mahatma Gandhi on the Salt March from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi. She was actively involved in the protest against the British salt tax and participated in making salt.

Participation in Women’s Movements: Kasturba Gandhi actively encouraged women to participate in the freedom movement. She organized and led women’s marches, picketing of liquor shops, and other protests.

Imprisonment: Like many freedom fighters, Kasturba Gandhi faced imprisonment multiple times for her involvement in the freedom struggle. Her spirit and resilience in the face of adversity inspired others.

Social Work: Apart from her political activities, Kasturba Gandhi was involved in social work, including efforts to improve the status of women and promote basic education in rural areas.

Support for Rural Upliftment: She supported Mahatma Gandhi’s vision for rural self-sufficiency and was instrumental in the establishment of various ashrams that focused on community development and self-reliance.

Advocacy for Nonviolence: Kasturba Gandhi, like her husband, was a staunch advocate of nonviolence and civil disobedience as the means to attain freedom. She exemplified these principles in her actions and speeches.

Symbol of Sacrifice: Kasturba Gandhi’s sacrifices for the cause of independence and her unwavering support for Mahatma Gandhi made her a symbol of sacrifice and dedication in the freedom movement.

Kasturba Gandhi’s contributions to India’s freedom struggle were vital in mobilizing and inspiring countless individuals to join the fight for independence. Her legacy as a freedom fighter and her commitment to the principles of nonviolence continue to be celebrated in India’s history.

  1. Role of Rajkumari Amrit Kaur (1889-1964):in freedom struggle

Rajkumari Amrit Kaur was a prominent Indian freedom fighter and a key figure in the country’s struggle for independence. Here are some aspects of her role in the freedom movement:

Early Political Awakening: Rajkumari Amrit Kaur’s political consciousness developed early in life, influenced by her family background and her close association with leaders like Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhian Ideals: She was deeply inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence and civil disobedience. She actively participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement and other nonviolent protests against British rule.

Participation in Salt Satyagraha: She played an active role in the Salt Satyagraha of 1930. Like many other freedom fighters, she defied the salt laws and engaged in the illegal production of salt.

Women’s Rights and Empowerment: Rajkumari Amrit Kaur was a champion of women’s rights. She believed that the freedom struggle should go hand in hand with the empowerment of women. She encouraged women’s participation in the independence movement.

Healthcare and Social Service: After independence, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur served as the first Health Minister of India in independent India’s first Cabinet. She played a crucial role in the establishment of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and the expansion of healthcare infrastructure in the country.

International Diplomacy: She represented India at various international forums, including the United Nations, where she advocated for India’s stance on various global issues.

Humanitarian Work: Apart from her political activities, she was involved in various humanitarian initiatives. She promoted social service and charitable work, emphasizing the importance of selfless service to society.

Contribution to the Constitution: Rajkumari Amrit Kaur was part of the Constituent Assembly of India, which drafted the Indian Constitution. Her insights and contributions helped shape the healthcare and educational provisions in the Constitution.

Recipient of Awards: She received several awards and honors for her contributions to India’s freedom struggle and her service to the nation. In 1954, she was awarded the Padma Bhushan.

Legacy: Rajkumari Amrit Kaur’s legacy continues through her contributions to the fields of healthcare, women’s empowerment, and public service in India. Her commitment to social justice and her role in the freedom movement are remembered and celebrated in the country’s history.

Rajkumari Amrit Kaur’s multifaceted contributions to India’s struggle for independence, her dedication to women’s rights, and her role in nation-building after independence make her an inspirational figure in Indian history.

  1. Role of Durgabai Deshmukh (1909-1981):in freedom struggle

Durgabai Deshmukh, a prominent Indian freedom fighter, was actively involved in various aspects of the freedom struggle. Her contributions extended beyond the fight for independence and encompassed social and political reform. Here are some key aspects of Durgabai Deshmukh’s role in the freedom struggle:

Participation in Non-Cooperation Movement: Durgabai Deshmukh actively participated in the Non-Cooperation Movement led by Mahatma Gandhi. She joined the call for boycotting British goods and institutions and encouraged others to do the same.

Women’s Empowerment: Durgabai Deshmukh was a strong advocate for women’s rights and empowerment. She played a significant role in promoting women’s participation in the freedom struggle and encouraged them to take an active part in social and political movements.

Social Reforms: Apart from her contributions to the freedom movement, Durgabai Deshmukh was dedicated to various social and welfare causes. She worked tirelessly for the upliftment of the underprivileged and marginalized sections of society.

Educational Initiatives: Durgabai Deshmukh was instrumental in establishing educational institutions and promoting educational opportunities, especially for women. She believed that education was key to social progress.

Political Activism: She was actively involved in political activities and joined the Indian National Congress. Her commitment to the national cause and her support for the Quit India Movement reflected her dedication to the struggle for independence.

Philanthropy: Durgabai Deshmukh was also known for her philanthropic activities. She contributed to various charitable and social organizations to support the welfare of the less fortunate.

Post-Independence Work: After India gained independence in 1947, Durgabai Deshmukh continued her work in various fields, including education, social reform, and women’s rights. She played a significant role in shaping post-independence India’s policies and programs.

Durgabai Deshmukh’s multifaceted contributions to the freedom struggle and her ongoing work in social and political reform have left a lasting impact on India’s history. She remains a respected figure for her relentless efforts in the pursuit of social justice, empowerment, and independence.

  1. Role of Sucheta Kriplani (1908-1974): in freedom struggle

Sucheta Kriplani was a prominent Indian freedom fighter and a significant figure in the country’s struggle for independence. Here are some aspects of her role in the freedom movement:

Early Activism: Sucheta Kriplani’s journey into the freedom movement began during her student days. She was deeply influenced by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi and became actively involved in the Indian National Congress.

Participation in Quit India Movement: Sucheta Kriplani actively participated in the Quit India Movement of 1942. She joined the masses in protesting British colonial rule, which eventually led to her imprisonment by the British authorities.

Role in the Indian National Congress: She was a dedicated member of the Indian National Congress and worked closely with other leaders, including Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi. She served as a link between the top leadership and the grassroots workers.

Advocacy of Nonviolence: Like many freedom fighters of her generation, Sucheta Kriplani adhered to the principles of nonviolence and civil disobedience promoted by Mahatma Gandhi. She encouraged peaceful resistance as a means to achieve independence.

Empowerment of Women: Sucheta Kriplani was an advocate for women’s rights and their active participation in the freedom struggle. She worked to mobilize and empower women to become agents of change.

Post-Independence Contributions: After India gained independence in 1947, Sucheta Kriplani continued to play a crucial role in public life. She became the first woman Chief Minister of an Indian state, serving as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh from 1963 to 1967.

Education and Healthcare: She was committed to improving education and healthcare services in India, particularly for women and children. Her contributions to these fields left a lasting impact on the nation.

Advocacy for Social Justice: Throughout her life, Sucheta Kriplani championed the cause of social justice and the upliftment of the marginalized and disadvantaged sections of society.

Parliamentary Career: She served as a Member of Parliament and contributed to the legislative process by raising issues related to women’s rights, social justice, and other important matters.

Recognition and Legacy: Sucheta Kriplani’s contributions to the freedom movement and post-independence India earned her recognition and accolades. Her legacy as a freedom fighter and a pioneering woman leader in Indian politics is celebrated in the country’s history.

Sucheta Kriplani’s life and work exemplify the resilience, commitment, and dedication of women leaders who played a vital role in India’s struggle for independence and its subsequent development as a democratic nation.

  1. Role of Rani Lakshmibai (1828-1858) in freedom struggle

Rani Lakshmibai, also known as the “Warrior Queen of Jhansi,” played a significant role in the Indian freedom struggle, particularly during the First War of Independence in 1857-1858. Her contributions to the freedom movement were marked by her fearless resistance against British colonial rule and her dedication to the cause of India’s independence. Here are the key aspects of Rani Lakshmibai’s role in the freedom struggle:

Leadership in the Revolt of 1857: Rani Lakshmibai was one of the prominent leaders in the Revolt of 1857, also known as the Indian Sepoy Mutiny or the First War of Independence. She played a pivotal role in the uprising against British rule in India.

Defender of Jhansi: Rani Lakshmibai is best known for her defense of the princely state of Jhansi against British forces. After the death of her husband, Raja Gangadhar Rao, she became the regent of Jhansi. When the British East India Company attempted to annex Jhansi, she refused to surrender and led her forces in the defense of the city.

Symbol of Resistance: Rani Lakshmibai’s bravery and her determination to protect her state became a symbol of resistance against colonial oppression. Her refusal to bow down to British rule inspired many others to join the fight for independence.

Military Leadership: Rani Lakshmibai demonstrated exceptional military leadership and strategic acumen. She led her troops in battles and displayed valor and courage in the face of adversity.

Death in Battle: Rani Lakshmibai fought fiercely against the British forces but eventually succumbed to injuries sustained in battle. She died in combat, becoming a martyr for the cause of Indian independence.

Legacy: Rani Lakshmibai’s legacy as a freedom fighter and symbol of resistance endures in Indian history and culture. Her life and sacrifice have been celebrated in poems, songs, and literature, and she remains an iconic figure of the Indian freedom struggle.

Rani Lakshmibai’s fearless and heroic resistance against British colonial rule in India made her one of the most revered figures in the country’s history. She is remembered for her unwavering commitment to the cause of Indian independence and her willingness to lay down her life in the fight against British oppression.