Young India/Chapter 3

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

CHAPTER III

INDIA FROM 1857 T0 1905

PART I — FROM 1857 TO 1885

THE mutiny was quelled. The ringleaders among the mutineers were killed, hanged or shot, and with them a lot of those who were innocent. Many of the rank and file were pardoned, as no government could shoot or hang all those who had taken part in the mutiny. Their number was legion. The British Empire in India was saved, but the East India Company was gone. The system of open pillage was ended. The crown assumed the direct government of India. The Queen’s Proclamation and the policy of “ mercy and reconciliation ” inaugurated by Canning calmed the country.

The Bengalee Babu. The only parts of the coun¬ try which had received some education on modern lines were the provinces of Bengal, Bombay and Madras. The number of educated men even in these provinces was small. In the work of settlement that followed the mutiny, these educated men found ample scope for their ambition. Men who knew English had the advantage over those who did not. Men with a knowledge of English were few. The posts requiring a knowledge of that language were many. Consequently, the English-knowing Indians The were in great demand and secured ample salaries to make them “ happy and loyal.” The English-knowing Bengalees spread over the whole of Northern India, lately the scene of mutiny, and materially helped in bringing about settled conditions of life. They were the pioneers in every department of governmental activity and were looked to, both by the rulers and the people, for advice and guidance. The Bengalee is a sentimental being. His position under the Government filled him with pride and his gratitude and loyalty were overflowing. The British also liked him because he was useful, intelligent, keen, shrewd, ready to serve, and willing to be of use. He relieved the British officer of much of his intellectual work, and left him ample time for play and rest. Many a departmental head ruled the country with the brain of the “ Bengalee Babu.” The Bengalee Babu worshipped the Feringhee[1] as Mai Bap,[2] and began to imitate him in his tastes. He began to live as the Britisher lived; English life, English manners and customs, became his ideal. Gradually he became very fond of English literature and began to think as an Englishman thought. The Bengalees were the first to send their sons to England for their education and to compete for the I. C. S. (Indian Civil Service) and the I. M. S. (Indian Medical Service). They with the Parsees were the first to qualify for the English bar. In England they lived in an atmosphere of freedom.
Young India.pdf

(Upload an image to replace this placeholder.)

With freedom in drinking and eating they also learned freedom of thought and expression.

The first generation of the Bengalees was thus Anglicised through and through. They looked down upon their own religion; they thought poorly of Indian society. They knew nothing of their own past history, and they glorified in being “ Sahibs.” [3] Some of them became Christians. Alarmed at this transformation, Ram Mohan Roy and a few others resolved to stem the tide. For a time they succeeded, but only partially. Be it said to the credit of the Bengalees that a fairly good number refused to be carried down-stream, and in spite of their English education stuck to their own religion and their own customs. They saw a good deal in their society which needed reform; but they declined to make sweeping changes and would not imitate. These veterans laid the foundations of the modern Bengalee literature. They wanted to pour their knowledge, derived from a study of English language and literature, into their own mother tongue, and in order to enlarge the vocabulary of the latter for their work, they had to study Sanskrit. Thus in spite of the Anglification of the first generation of Bengalees, there grew up a class of men imbued with nationalistic tendencies. Ram Mohan Roy, the founder of Brahmo Samaj, was the first nationbuilder of Modern India.

For a time the field that was opened for the employment of English-educated Bengalees in Upper India (in the then N. W. Provinces, in the Punjab, in Behar, in Central India, in Rajputana, even in Sindh) checked the growth of these tendencies. The feeling of gratitude and contentment was supreme. The Bengalee was indispensable in almost every department. The reins of practical management were mostly in Bengalee hands, whether it was a court of justice, or a Revenue Commissioner’s office, or a commissariat depot, or an adjutant’s camp, or the department of land survey, or education. The heads of departments were always English, but the heads of ministerial establishments were generally Bengalees. The English could not do without them. The former did not know the language of the country, nor did they know the character of the people. The Bengalees were thus an absolute necessity. With the spread of a knowledge of the English language, the first generation of English-knowing Indians in every province came to occupy an important position. While the oldfashioned Pandit or Moulvie sulked, the Englishknowing Hindu or Mohammedan basked in sunshine and flourished. The British laid down policies and gave orders; the English-knowing Indian saw that they were carried out. They thus came to enjoy the confidence of their masters and imitated their vices.

But what was most important was that they began to think like their English masters. The English read their newspapers; so the Indians started their newspapers. The English met in clubs and churches. So the Indians started Samajes and Sabhas and debating clubs. For a time the Englishknowing Indian prided himself in imitating his master. He took his dress, he took his cheroot and pipe, and also his cup and beefsteak. He began to live in houses built and furnished in the English way. He detested Indian life and took pride in being Anglicised. Everything Indian was odious in his eyes. The Indians were barbarians; their religion was a bundle of superstitions; they were dirty people; their customs and manners were uncivilised; they were a set of narrow-minded bigots who did not know that man was born free. So the English set the fashion for them in everything. If their English masters went to church and read the Bible, they did the same. If the English masters indulged in free-thinking, they did the same. They wanted to be like their English masters in every way. Their ambition, however, soon met a check. They could equal the British in drinking and in free-thinking, but they could not aspire to his position and place in the government of the country. Some of them decided to try this in the case of their sons. They sent them to England. A few passed the Indian Civil Service and the Indian Medical Service examinations, others became barristers. Both found out by bitter experience that, however able and clever they might be, whatever their intellectual acquirements, no matter if they were Christians, or semi-Christians, or free-thinkers, there was a limit to their aspirations both in service and out of it. That was the first eye-opener.

In the meantime, the thoughtful among the Indians, who had not taken to English manners, were anxiously watching the flow of the current. They saw the disintegrating and denationalising forces that were at work; they saw that their national edifice was crumbling down brick by brick; everything which they had valued and held sacred was being devastated and treated with contempt and reduced to ashes. Their own children were deserting the old banners to which innumerable generations before them had clung with love and reverence. They saw all this; they were sorry; they wept tears of blood; but they could do nothing. They were powerless before the tide. They tried palliatives, but failed. What was fatal to their pious wishes was that they could not themselves resist the fruits which English education brought in the shape of emoluments and rank and position. They wanted these fruits without the thorns. They soon found that that was impossible, and so they gave up the struggle in despair and became reconciled to the inevitable. What they failed to achieve was, however, brought about by a combination of circumstances which we will briefly enumerate below.

Forces Resisting Denationalisation. 1. The English education imparted in schools and colleges established by the British, and the Christian missions (in some instances supplemented by Indian agencies), opened the gates of Western thought and Western literature to the mass of educated Indians.

2. Some of the British teachers and professors who taught in the schools and colleges consciously and unconsciously inspired their pupils with ideas of freedom as well as nationalism.
Young India.pdf

(Upload an image to replace this placeholder.)

3. The over-zeal of the missionaries in their attacks upon Indian religions and Indian thought suggested to Indian minds a closer and deeper study of their own religion and thought.

4. In this they were materially helped by the awakening of Europeans to the thought of the East. The labours of the European savants and their appreciation of Eastern thought kindled a fresh fire in the bosom of Hindus and Mohammedans.

5. The writings of Ram Mohan Roy, Debendra Nath Tagore, Rajendra Lai Mitra, in Bengal, those of Ranade, Vishnu Pandit and others in Mahrashtra, of Swami Dayanand and Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in Upper India, of Madam Blavatsky and the other Theosophists in Madras, brought about a new awakening, which afterwards received an even stronger impetus from the writings and speeches of Mrs. Annie Besant and Swami Vivekananda. This was on the religious and social side mainly, but its national character was unmistakable.

Political Disappointments. The current produced by these causes met another current, which was generated by political disappointments. The aspirations of the educated Indian had met a check. The few successes gained by Indians in the Indian Civil Service examinations alarmed the British, and they sought for means of keeping them out. One of the means adopted was to require that the candidates should not be more than 19 to 21 years of age at the time of examination, an age so young as made it impossible for Indians to come over to England and successfully compete. This raised a howl and cry in Bengal, and the rest of the country followed Bengal. Then came other measures like the Vernacular Press Act of Lord Lytton, and the remission of cotton duties,[4] and so on. The generation educated in England had some experience of the methods of political agitation in that country, and they soon began to organise on those lines. Political agitation on modern lines thus became a fact of Indian life, and English-educated Indians began to talk of liberty and self-government.

Thus were laid the foundations of the national awakening, of which so much has been heard of late. The methods of the English Government in India, their educational system, their press, their laws, their courts, their railways, their telegraphs, their postoffices, their steamers, had as much to do with it as the native love of country, of religion and nation, which had received a temporary check by the crushing defeat of the mutineers in 1857, and by the Indian people’s too ready acquiescence in the political and social domination of the foreigner which ensued.

This time, however, the movement was brought into existence by those who had received their inspiration from Europe. Within less than twenty years after the great mutiny, the Nationalist Movement of India was born, almost at the same time and place at which Lord Lytton was presiding at the great Imperial Durbar, and announcing that the great Queen of England was assuming the title of Empress of India. The Durbar reduced the chiefs of India from the position of allies to that of feudatories, but it quite unconsciously and against the intentions of its authors raised in theory the status of the Indian subjects of the Queen to that of citizens of the British Empire. Little did the authors of that Durbar realise the inner significance of the move they were making. That Durbar, we may say, marked the beginning of the movement which filled the educated Indian with the idea of obtaining his rightful place in the Empire. He became articulate and began to assert himself. He was no longer satisfied with the minor positions which he held in the Government of India. He claimed his country as his own, and raised the cry of “ India for the Indians.” His cry gained strength when he found that the India which he looked down upon in the fifties or sixties, the system of thought and life which he considered barbarous, primitive and old fashioned, and the past which he despised, were after all not so bad as he had thought.

The latter was the contribution of the Brahmo Samaj, the Theosophical Society, the Society for the Resuscitation of Sanskrit Literature, the Bengal Sahitya Parishad, the Maharastra Sabha, the Arya Samaj, the Sanatan Sabhas and other societies of a similar nature. The Bengali and the Mahratta writers, who had carried on researches in Indian history and unearthed valuable documents and written in their respective vernaculars, contributed materially to the growth of this feeling. The Theosophical Society began to praise and justify every Hindu institution and to find science in every custom. In fact, for a time, the thoughtful began to fear lest the pendulum was swinging the other way and we were in the midst of a wave of reaction.

Lord Ripon. India was in this state of fermentation, religious, social and political, when Lord Ripon was appointed to the viceroyalty of India. Lord Ripon was an exceedingly kind man and commanded a broad outlook. He was very lucky in having come on the heels of an exceedingly unpopular Viceroy like Lord Lytton. Lord Lytton was a Tory of pronounced imperial tendencies. Under the inspiration of Disraeli, he had by an unworthy trick on the ruling chiefs of India changed their position from that of allies to that of feudatories; he had gagged the vernacular press by his press legislation; he had blundered into a bloody Afghan war and was responsible for several other reactionary measures. Lord Ripon started by undoing most of what Lord Lytton had done. He repealed the Vernacular Press Act, which at once set the seal of popular approval on his administration. The most important of his achievements were, however, constructive. He formulated a policy of local government, and thus laid the foundations of representative institutions in India; he substituted merit for patronage and jobbery in filling public services, by organising competitive examinations for filling a certain number of posts in the higher branches of the subordinate services; last but not least, he resolved to so alter the criminal law as to place the European and the Indian on an equal footing in the matter of trials.

All this aroused the bitterest anger of the AngloIndian officialdom. The Anglo-Indians opposed every one of these measures. They ridiculed the idea of introducing any measure of local self-government in India, and predicted that that must be the beginning of the end. They called the measure rash and ill-advised and impracticable. The natives were incapable of self-government, they said. Their religious and social differences made it impossible. Officialdom was equally opposed to the filling of any posts in government service by open competition. This would bring in the “ Babu,” and the “ Babu ” they had now begun to hate and look down upon. The “ Babu ” was a “ low-caste hybrid,” who wrote bad English and talked of liberty and equality, who lacked in qualities of docility and submissiveness, which had so far characterised persons appointed by selection. This interfered materially with the prestige of the Lord of the District, as people could now get “ high ” appointments under the Government independently of him. Why should the people respect him any more? His was a government by prestige, and measures like these of Lord Ripon would destroy it. So prophesied the heaven-born “ white Brahmins.” But the worst offence of Lord Ripon was the “ Ilbert Bill,” [5] which aimed at placing the European and the Indian on an equal footing in the eyes of the law, and would remove the disabilities of the Indian Magistrate in the matter of the trial of the white men. “ Shall we be judged by the Nigger? ” “ shall he send us to jail? ” “ shall he be put in authority over us? Never! It is impossible! Better that British rule in India should end than that we be obliged to submit to such humiliating laws.” The whole tribe of the AngloIndians (official and non-official) opposed the measure most vehemently and attacked Lord Ripon as never viceroy was attacked before by his own countrymen in India. They called him insulting names, passed resolutions condemning his administration wholesale, proposed his recall before the expiration of his period of office, and did everything possible to make him feel that they hated him.

His unpopularity among the Anglo-Indians made him popular among the Indians. The press and the platform sang his praise. The country was ablaze with excitement. Never before under British rule had the country been so enthusiastic in political matters. In Lord Ripon, they thought, they had found a political Messiah. They gave him addresses, unharnessed the horses from his carriage, in many places, and otherwise showed their love and regard for him, which exasperated the European community beyond measure. The Europeans saw in all this a menace to their power, and the beginning of the end of imperial despotism in India. They thought they were on the verge of losing India. In Lord Ripon the Indians recognised the first British viceroy who was prepared to make an honest attempt at giving effect to the pledges given and the promises made by Queen Victoria in her famous proclamation of 1858, when the administration of India passed into the hands of the regular British Government. Lord Ripon lost the battle on the particular measure which had aroused the anger of the European community more than anything else, viz., his proposed amendment of the Criminal Procedure Code. A compromise was made by which the principle of the bill was really abandoned. But he had raised hopes and aspiration which were, so to say, the beginning of political life in India. On the expiration of his term of office, the Indians agitated for an extension of his term, which was not granted. However, they gave him a farewell which still rings in the ears of the older generation of Indians who took part in it, in Calcutta, in Bombay, in Benares, and other places. Lord Ripon left a permanent impression on the minds of the Indians. Lord Hardinge has won a great deal of popularity, but it is doubtful if he is so universally loved and honoured as Lord Ripon was.

Lord Dufferin. However, the point of the story is, that when Lord Ripon left India, the country was in a state of perturbation. There was a great deal of tension still lingering between the Indian and the European communities. The fire was still smouldering when Lord Dufferin took charge of the office of viceroyalty. He had been brought up in diplomacy. To him diplomacy was like mother’s milk. He was a diplomat by birth as well as by training. His mission was to appease the anger of the governing class and in a quiet way to undo what Lord Ripon had done. But he thought that perhaps it might be dangerous to go at it straight. The cry of political liberty and political equality had been raised. It was impossible to satisfy it; yet it might be dangerous to strangle it by force. It was impossible to revive the Vernacular Press Act of Lord Lytton. It was impossible to stifle political life which had sprung up in the atmosphere created by Lord Ripon’s policy, and which was making a rather precocious growth. The more it was opposed, ridiculed and despised, the more it thrived. So he decided to guide it and to make it as innocuous as it could be without rousing the suspicions of those who were to be the tools.

PART II.THE BIRTH OF THE INDIAN NATIONAL

CONGRESS

Indian National Congress an English Product. It is an undisputed historical fact, that the idea of the Indian National Congress was a product of Lord Dufferin’s brain; that he suggested it to Mr. Hume,[6] and that the latter undertook to work it out. We have no means of knowing whether Mr. Hume communicated the fact to all the Indian leaders who joined hands with him in organising it, but in all probability he told some of them. It leaked out, however, in Lord Dufferin’s lifetime, was published in the press, brought to his notice and never denied by him. Nor did Mr. Hume, who died only in 1912, ever deny it. It has since been admitted to be true by his biographer, another veteran Congress leader, Sir William Wedderburn.[7] Sir William says on page 59 of his life of Mr. Hume: " Indeed in initiating the National Movement, Mr. Hume took counsel with the viceroy, Lord Dufferin; and whereas he was himself disposed to begin his reform propaganda on the social side, it was apparently by Lord Dufferin’s advice that he took up the work of political organisation as the first matter to be dealt with ” We have no hesitation in accepting the accuracy of the statement made by Sir William Wedderburn as to what Lord Dufferin told Mr. Hume, because we have no doubt of Mr. Hume’s sincerity of purpose. Lord Dufferin did evidently tell Mr. Hume that “ as head of the Government, he had found the greatest difficulty in ascertaining the real wishes of the people; and that for purposes of administration it would be a public benefit, if there existed some responsible organisation through which the Government might be kept informed regarding the best Indian public opinion.” Sir William Wedderburn assures us that “ these kindly counsels (i. e., those given by Lord Dufferin) were received with grateful appreciation by all concerned,” and “ indeed so cordial were the relations ” between the officials and the Congress leaders that “ Lord Dufferin was approached with a view to the first Congress being held under the presidency of Lord Reay, then Governor of Bombay.” We are told that Lord Dufferin welcomed the proposal as showing the desire of the Congress to work in complete harmony with the Government, but he saw many difficulties in accepting the proposal, and so the idea was abandoned. “ None the less the first Congress was opened with the friendly sympathy of the highest authorities.”

So this is the genesis of the Congress, and this alone is sufficient to condemn it in the eyes of the advanced Nationalists. There is no parallel to this in the history of the world. Who has ever heard of a movement for political liberty being initiated by a despotic government, which is foreign in its agency and foreign in its methods?

Hume, a Lover of Liberty. It is obvious that when Lord Dufferin expected a political organisation to represent the best Indian opinion, it was far from his mind to suggest an organisation that would demand parliamentary government for India, or self-government even on colonial lines. What he evidently aimed at was a sort of an innocuous association which should serve more as a “ safety valve ” than as a genuine Nationalist organisation for national purposes. Mr. Hume may have meant more. He was a lover of liberty and wanted political liberty for India under the agies of the British crown. He was an English patriot and as such he wanted the continuance of British connection with India. He saw danger to British rule in discontent going underground, and one of his objects in establishing the Congress was to save British rule in India from an impending calamity of the gravest kind which he thought was threatening it at that time. In his reply to Sir Auckland Colvin,[8] he admitted that “ a safety valve for the escape of great and growing forces generated by ” British “ connection, was urgently needed, and no more efficacious safety valve than ” the “ Congress movement could possibly be devised.” This correspondence between Sir Auckland Colvin, then Lieutenant Governor of the United Provinces, and Mr. Hume, reveals the whole genesis of the Congress movement, and is so clear and illuminating that no student of Indian politics can afford to neglect it.

It leaves no doubt whatsoever that the immediate motive which underlay the idea of starting the Congress was to save the Empire from “ the danger ” that loomed ahead “ tremendous in the immediate future,” “ the misery of the masses acted on by the bitter resentment of individuals among the educated class.” In the words of Mr. Hume, “ no choice was left to those who gave the primary impetus to the movement. The ferment, the creation of Western ideas, education, invention, and appliances, was at work with a rapidly increasing intensity, and it became of paramount importance to find for its products an overt and constitutional channel for discharge, instead of leaving them to fester as they had already commenced to do, under the surface.” Mr. Hume further adds that though “ in certain provinces and from certain points of view the movement was premature, yet from the most important point of view, the future maintenance of the integrity of the British Empire, the real question when the Congress started, was, not is it premature, but is it too late? will the country now accept it?” Indeed, by that test, the events have proved that the Indian National Congress has been a great success, and that either Mr. Hume's reading of the political situation was exaggerated, or that his remedy has been amply justified.

Congress to Save British Empire from Danger. But one thing is clear, that the Congress was started more with the object of saving the British Empire from danger than with that of winning political liberty for India. The interests of the British Empire were primary and those of India only secondary, and no one can say that the Congress has not been true to that ideal. It might be said with justice and reason that the founders of the Indian National Congress considered the maintenance of British rule in India of vital importance to India herself, and therefore were anxious to do everything in their power, not only to save that rule from any danger that threatened it, but even to strengthen it; that with them the redress of political grievances and the political advance of India was only a by-product and of secondary importance. If so, the Congress has been true to its ideal, and no one can find fault with it.

On the strength of an illuminating memorandum found among his papers, Hume’s biographer has stated the nature of the evidence that “ convinced ” Mr. Hume at the time (i. e., about 15 months before Lord Lytton left India) that the British were “ in immediate danger of a terrible outbreak.” We will give it in Mr. Hume’s own words. “

I was shown seven large volumes (corresponding to a certain mode of dividing the country, excluding Burmah, Assam, and some minor tracts) containing a vast number of entries; English abstracts or translations — longer or shorter — of vernacular reports or communications of one kind or another, all arranged according to districts (not identical with ours), sub-districts, sub-divisions, and the cities, towns and villages included in these. The number of these entries was enormous; there were said, at the time, to be communications from over thirty thousand different reporters. I did not count them, they seemed countless; but in regard to the towns and villages of one district of the Northwest Provinces with which I possess a peculiarly intimate acquaintance — a troublesome part of the country, no doubt — there were nearly three hundred entries, a good number of which I could partially verify, as to the names of the people, etc" He mentions that he had the volumes in his possession only for about a week; into six of them he only dipped; but he closely examined one covering the greater portion of the Northwest Provinces, Oudh, Behar, parts of Bundelkund and parts of the Punjab; and so far as possible verified the entries referring to those districts with which he had special personal acquaintance. Many of the entries reported conversations between men of the lowest classes,[9] “ all going to show that these poor men were pervaded with a sense of the hopelessness of the existing state of affairs; that they were convinced that they would starve and die, and that they wanted to do something, and stand by each other, and that something meant violence,” (for innumerable entries referred to the secretion of old swords, spears and matchlocks, which would be ready when required. It was not supposed that the immediate result, in its initial stages, would be a revolt against the Government, or a revolt at all in the proper sense of the word. What was predicted was a sudden violent outbreak of sporadic crimes, murders of obnoxious persons, robbery of bankers, looting of bazaars). “ In the existing state of the lowest half-starving classes, it was considered that the first few crimes would be the signal for hundreds of similar ones, and for a general development of lawlessness, paralysing the authorities and the respectable classes. It was considered also, that everywhere the small bands would begin to coalesce into large ones, like drops of water on a leaf; that all the bad characters in the country would join, and that very soon after the bands obtained formidable pro-portions, a certain small number of the educated classes, at the time desperately, perhaps, unreasonably, bitter against the Government, would join the movement, assume here and there the lead, give the outbreak cohesion, and direct it as a national revolt.”

To this, Sir William Wedderburn adds further from his own personal knowledge:

“ The forecast of trouble throughout India was in exact accordance with what actually occurred, under my own observation, in the Bombay Presidency, in connection with the Agrarian rising known as the Deccan riots. These began with sporadic gang robberies and attacks on the money lenders, until the bands of dacoits, combining together, became too strong for the police; and the whole military force at Poona, horse, foot, and artillery, had to take the field against them. Roaming through the jungle tracts of the Western Ghauts, these bands dispersed in the presence of military forces, only to reunite immediately at some convenient point; and from the hill stations of Mahableshwar and Matheran we could at night see the light of their campfires in all directions. A leader from the more instructed class was found, calling himself Sivaji, the Second, who addressed challenges to the Government, offered a reward of 500 rupees for the head of H. E. Sir Richard Temple (then Governor of Bombay), and claimed to lead a national revolt upon the lines on which the Mahratta power had originally been founded.’’

So in the words of these two leaders, the immediate motive of the Congress was to save the British Empire from this danger. There is, however, one difficulty in believing outright that this was the immediate reason of the birth of the Congress. Mr. Hume is said to have seen this evidence at the time he was in the service of the Government, viz., fifteen months before Lord Lytton left India. Between then and the first meeting of the Congress in 1885 intervened a period of about seven years. During this time Lord Ripon was viceroy for five years. The idea of starting a political organisation on the lines of the Congress is said to have originated with Lord Dufferin. This is a little inconsistent with the theory that the Congress was founded out of fear of a political outbreak and only in the nature of a safety valve. Nor is the latter theory consistent with Mr. Hume’s first political manifesto addressed to the graduates of the Calcutta University in March, 1883. This document is so manly in its outspokenness, so true in its principles, that we will quote the whole of it (or at least as much of it as is given in Mr. Hume’s biography). Addressing the graduates of the university, Mr. Hume said:

“ Constituting, as you do, a large body of the most highly educated Indians, you should, in the natural order of things, constitute also the most important source of all mental, moral, social, and political progress in India. Whether in the individual or the nation, all vital progress must spring from within, and it is to you, her most cultured and enlightened minds, her most favoured sons, that your country must look for the initiative. In vain may aliens, like myself, love India and her children, as well as the most loving of these; in vain may they, for her and their good, give time and trouble, money and thought; in vain may they struggle and sacrifice; they may assist with advice and suggestions; they may place their experience, abilities and knowledge at the disposal of the workers, but they lack the essential of nationality, and the real work must ever be done by the people of the country themselves.” . “ Scattered individuals, however capable and however well meaning, are powerless singly. What is needed is union, organisation and a well defined line of action; and to secure these an association is required, armed and organised with unusual care, having for its object to promote the mental, moral, social and political regeneration of the people of India. Our little army must be sui generis in discipline and equipment, and the question simply is, how many of you will prove to possess, in addition to your high scholastic attainments, the unselfishness, moral courage, self-control, and active spirit of benevolence which are essential in all who should enlist?”

Even truer and nobler are the sentiments in the final appeal which ended this letter and which runs thus:

“ As I said before, you are the salt of the land. And if amongst even you, the elite, fifty men can not he found with sufficient power of self-sacrifice, sufficient love for and pride in their country, sufficient genuine and unselfish heartfelt patriotism to take the initiative, and if needs be, devote the rest of their lives to the cause, then there is no hope for India. Her sons -must and will remain mere humble and helpless instruments in the hands of foreign rulers, for ' they who would he free, themselves must strike the blow! And if even the leaders of thought are all either such poor creatures, or so selfishly wedded to personal concerns, that they dare not or will not strike a blow for their country’s sake, then justly and rightly are they kept down and trampled on, for they deserve nothing better. Every nation secures precisely as good a government as it merits. If you, the picked men, the most highly educated of the nation, can not, scorning personal ease and selfish ends, make a resolute struggle to secure freedom for yourselves and your country, a more impartial administration, a larger share in the management of your own affairs, then we, your friends, are wrong, and our adversaries right; then are Lord Ripon’s aspirations for your good, fruitless and visionary; then, at present, at any rate, all hopes of progress are at an end, and India truly neither lacks nor deserves any better government than she now enjoys. Only, if this be so, let us hear no more factious, peevish complaints that you are kept in leading strings, and treated like children, for you will have proved yourselves such. Men know how to act. Let there be no more complaints of Englishmen being preferred to you in all important offices, for if you lack that public spirit, that highest form of altruistic devotion that leads men to subordinate private ease to the public weal, that true patriotism that has made Englishmen what they are, then rightly are these preferred to you, and rightly and inevitably have they become your rulers. And rulers and task-masters they must continue, let the yoke gall your shoulders ever so sorely, until you realise and stand prepared to act upon the eternal truth, whether in the case of individuals or nations, self-sacrifice and unselfishness are the only unfailing guides to freedom and happiness The capitals and italics are, except in two cases, ours. In the original there are only two italics, (i) the word themselves in the sentence “ they who would be free, themselves must strike the blow,” and, (2) “Men know how to act.” Now these are not the words of a diplomat, much less those of a hypocrite. Mr. Hume was too noble not to mean what he said, and the present writer has no doubt but that Mr. Hume was absolutely sincere in what he said. He had a passion for liberty. His heart bled at the sight of so much misery and poverty as prevailed in India, and which according to him was preventable by good government. He burned with indignation at the “ cowardly ” behaviour of his countrymen towards Indians, and he could not help feeling ashamed at the way in which pledges given and promises made were being ignored. He was an ardent student of history and knew full well that no government, whether national or foreign, had conceded to popular demands without pressure from below. In the case of an alien government, the chances were even still more meagre. He therefore wanted the Indians “ to strike ’ for their liberty if they wanted it. The first step was to organise. So he advised organisation.

Nor are we prepared to believe that men like Ranade, Tilak, Naoroji, W. C. Bonnerjea, Ajudhia Nath, and Tyabji, were only tools in the hands of the Britishers. No, we do not think so. They were all true and good patriots. They loved their country and they started the Congress with the best of motives. It is possible that with some British sympathisers, the interests of the British Empire were primary, and they sided with the Congress because they believed that thereby they could best secure the Empire; but the writer of this book knows from personal experience how deeply the love of humanity and liberty is embedded in the hearts of some Britishers, and he is compelled to believe that at least some of those who showed their sympathy with the Congress were of that kind.

The Imperialist Junker and Jingo calls such men “ Little Englanders,” but the truth is that their hearts are too big to be imperial. They believe in humanity, and in liberty being the birthright of every human being. In their eyes a tyrant, one who robs others of their liberty, one who bases his greatness on the exploitation of others, or deprives them of their rights by might or clever diplomacy,does not cease to be so by the fact of his being their countryman. They are patriots themselves and will shed the last drop of their blood in the defence of their liberty, and in the defence of their country’s liberty and independence, but their patriotism does not extend to the point of applauding their country’s robbing others of theirs. Yes, there are Britons who are sincere friends of the cause of liberty all over the globe. They deplore that their country should be ruling India at all, and if it were in their power, they would at once withdraw from India. Some of these sympathise with the Indian Nationalists in all sincerity, and have done so ever since the Indian National Congress was started, or even from before that time. It is no fault of theirs, if the Indian Nationalist Movement has not been such a success as they would have wished it to be, and if it has not been able to achieve anything very tangible. The fault is purely that of the Indians, and of the Indians alone, or of the circumstances.

Mr. Hume was quite sincere in his motives, but he forgot that a political organisation started at the instance or even with the approval of the rulers whose power and emoluments it proposed to curtail, whose despotism and principles it questioned, in short, whom it proposed to displace and dethrone, was an anomaly; it was unnatural. In their desire to have an easy and unopposed start, the Indian founders of the National Congress forgot their history, and consequently ignored the truth that “ those who wanted to be free must themselves strike the blow,” and that it was monstrous to expect those against whom the blow was aimed to bless the striker and the striking. We do not agree with Mr. Gokhale that “ no Indian could have started the Indian National Congress” and that “ if the founder of the Congress had not been a great Englishman and a distinguished ex-official, such was the official distrust of political agitation in those days that the authorities would have at once found some way or other to suppress the movement.”

First, political agitation did not start with the Congress. It had been started before and no attempt to suppress it had succeeded. Second, the distrust of political agitation in India was not greater in those days than it is now and has been during the life of the Congress. But if it be true that the movement could not have been started by an Indian or by the combined efforts of many Indians, all we can say is that that itself would be proof of its having been started before time and on wrong foundations.

Had not Mr. Hume said that “ whether in the individual or the nation, all vital progress must spring from within,” and that it was “ to her own sons that the country must look for the initiative?” Did not Mr. Hume say in his manifesto of 1883 that “ in vain may aliens like myself love India . . . in vain may they struggle and sacrifice . . . they may assist with advice and suggestion, but they lack the essential of nationality, and the real work must ever be done by the people of the country themselves?”

These may be only truisms, but they are fundamental and any political effort made in defiance of them must be futile and impotent. The Indian leaders of the Congress have never fully realised the absolute truth of these principles and the result is the comparatively poor record of the Congress. In his original manifesto issued in 1883, Mr. Hume wanted fifty Indians “ with sufficient power of selfsacrifice, sufficient love for and pride in their country, sufficient genuine and unselfish heartfelt patriotism to take the initiative and if needs be to devote the rest of their lives to the cause.”

Of course there were many times fifty men of that kind in the country, even then, who were devoting their lives to the service of their country, but not in the political line. It took the Congress and the country, by working on Congress lines, more than twenty years to produce fifty, many times fifty, such men to devote their lives to the political cause. But unfortunately these are neither in the Congress, nor of the Congress. Barring Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji and the late Mr. Gokhale, who among the living Congress leaders can be said to have devoted their lives, in the way Mr. Hume wanted them to do, to the Congress cause? Within the last thirty years India has produced many noble sons who have given their all in the service of the Motherland. They come from all provinces, all religions, all denominations, and all castes. But very few of them have ever been active in the Congress or for the Congress. Within the same period many Indians have given away many hundreds of thousands of rupees, some the whole earnings of a lifetime, in aid of education or for other public or charitable purposes; but the Congress work has always languished for want of funds. The British Committee of the Indian National Congress, located in London, have never had sufficient money to do their work decently. The expenses of the British Committee have largely fallen on Sir William Wedderburn. He and Mr. Hume between them spent quite a fortune on the movement. No single Indian is said to have spent even a fraction of that. The question naturally arises,— why has it been so? The answer is obvious. The movement did not appeal to the nation. The leaders lacked that faith which alone makes it possible to make great sacrifices for it.

In the early years of the Congress there was a great deal of enthusiasm for it among the English educated Indians. So long as no attempts were made to reach the masses and carry on the propaganda among the people, the officials expressed their sympathy with the movement. Lord Dufferin even invited the members as “ distinguished visitors ” to a garden party at Government House, Calcutta, when the Congress held its second session in that city in 1886. In 1887 the Governor of Madras paid a similar compliment to them at Madras,[10] but in 1888 when Mr. Hume adopted the methods and tactics of the Corn-Law Leaguers of England, down came the hand of the Government; and then the Congress movement at once adopted an apologetic tone and abandoned the only method by which it could make itself heard with effect. Why? Because, in the words of Mr. Hume, there were no “men who could act.”

The Congress Lacked Essentials of a National Movement. Ever since then the Congress has cared more for the opinion of the Government and the officials than for truth or for the interests of the country. Again the question arises, why ? And the reply is, because the leaders had neither sufficient political consciousness nor faith. They had certain political opinions, but not beliefs for which they were willing to suffer. They were prepared to urge the desirability of certain reforms in the government of the country, even at the risk of a certain amount of official displeasure, but they were not prepared to bear persecutions, or suffer for their cause. Either they did not know they had a cause, or they were wanting in that earnestness which makes men suffer for a cause. Or, to be charitable, they thought that the country was not prepared for an intense movement and considered it better to have something than nothing. They perhaps wanted to educate the country in political methods and bring about a political consolidation of all the national forces, before undertaking an intensified movement. But with the greatest possible respect for the founders of the Indian National Congress, or for those who a few years ago took up the control of the movement, we cannot help remarking that by their own conduct they showed that their movement lacked the essentials of a national movement.

A movement does not become national by the mere desire of its founders to make it so. In the opinion of the writer it is a mistake to start a national political movement unless those who start it are prepared to make great sacrifices for it. A halting, half-hearted political movement depending on the sympathy and good will of the very class against whom it is directed, consulting their wishes at every step, with its founders or leaders trembling for their safety and keeping their purse strings tight, only doing as much as the authorities would allow and as would not interfere in any way with their own personal interests and comforts and incomes, is from its very nature detrimental to real national interests. A political movement is mischievous in its effects if its leaders do not put a sufficient amount of earnestness into it to evoke great enthusiasm among their followers, such as would prepare them for great sacrifices for the cause on the one hand, and on the other, produce a certain amount of fear of unpleasant consequences in those against whom it is directed. For this it is necessary that the leaders should be prepared to suffer for the cause. The sacrifice of money is the least proof of earnestness which a believer in any cause can give.

It is a fact that the English friends of the movement showed more earnestness than many of the Indian leaders. They spent their own money over it and they incurred the displeasure of their countrymen and the odium of being called traitors to their own country. Mr. Hume was “ in deadly earnest.” He started the movement with the good will of the authorities and waited for results for two years. When, however, he found that “ the platonic expressions of sympathy by the authorities were a mockery,” that nothing was done to lessen the “ misery of the masses ” and to relieve their sufferings and redress their grievances, he decided to put more intensity into the movement. He undertook to instruct the Indian nation and rouse them to a sense of their right and to a sense of the wrong that was being done to them. In his opinion, “ the case was one of extreme urgency, for the deaths by famine and pestilence were counted not by tens of thousands or by hundreds of thousands, but by millions.”[11] He concluded that “ in order to constrain the Government to move, the leaders of the Indian people must adopt measures of exceptional vigour, following the drastic methods pursued in England by Bright and Cobden in their great campaign on behalf of the people’s food.” So, like Cobden, Hume decided that since the attempt of the Congress leaders to instruct the Government had failed and since the Government had refused to be instructed by them, the next step was “ to instruct the nations, the great English nation in its island home, and also the far greater nation of this vast Indian continent, so that every Indian that breathes upon the sacred soil of this our motherland, shall become our comrade and coadjutor, our supporter and if need be our soldier, in the great war that we, like Cobden and his noble band, will wage for justice, for our liberties and our rights" [12]

Hume's Political Movement. Now these were noble words, pointing out the only political weapon that ever succeeds against autocratic governments. We are told by Mr. Hume’s biographer that “ in pursuance of such a propaganda in India, Mr. Hume set to work with his wonted energy, appealing for funds to all classes of the Indian community, distributing tracts, leaflets and pamphlets, sending out lecturers and calling meetings both in large towns and in country districts. Throughout the country over one thousand meetings were held, at many of which over five thousand persons were present, and arrangements were made for the distribution of half a million pamphlets, translations into twelve Indian languages being circulated of two remarkable pamphlets, showing by a parable the necessary evils of absentee state landlordism, however benevolent the intention.”[13]

That was true political work, done with a real political insight. If it had been persevered in, the history of the Congress would have been different and perhaps the revolutionary party would never have been born or would have been born earlier. In either case the country would have been farther ahead in politics than it is now. What, however, actually happened was that the Government was at once moved to hostility. Lord Dufferin spoke of the Congress in terms of contempt “as the infinitesimal minority,” at a Calcutta dinner. Sir Auckland Colvin stirred up the Mohammedans, organised an Anti-Congress Association and denounced the Congress in no measured terms, as mischievous, disloyal, and much before the time. Congress Overawed. Mr. Hume started to explain in an apologetic tone. It was at this time that he came out with the “ safety valve ” theory. The propaganda was at once abandoned, never to be resumed in the history of the movement. The movement in England failed for want of funds. The movement in India collapsed for want of perseverance, vigour and earnestness. Here again we are disposed to think that Mr. Hume’s subsequent conduct was influenced more by the fears and half-heartedness of the Indian leaders than by his own judgment. If the Indian leaders had stuck to their guns and pushed on their propaganda, the country would have supplied funds and would have rallied round them. Perhaps there might have been a few riots and a few prosecutions. But that would have drawn the attention of the British public to Indian conditions more effectively than their twenty-eight years of half-hearted propaganda in England did. The political education of the people would have been more rapid and the movement would have gained such a strength as to make itself irresistible. It is possible, nay, probable, that the Government would have suppressed the movement. But that itself would have been a victory and a decided and effective step in the political education of the people. The revolutionary movement would have come earlier and the Government would have seen the wisdom of conciliating the moderates much earlier than 1909. What was given to us in 1909 might have been given twenty years earlier. The Mohammedans would have been happy to get in 1889 what they got in 1909. The Indian leaders, however, thought that they were not sufficiently strong and that the movement stood the chance of being suppressed. They gave in and abandoned the only effective weapon they had forged to get redress of political grievances.

No nation and no political party can ever be strong enough to make their voice effective, unless and until they put forward a sufficient amount of earnestness (not bluff) to convince their opponents that in case their demands are trifled with, the consequences might be serious to both parties. The into twelve Indian languages being circulated of two remarkable pamphlets, showing by a parable the necessary evils of absentee state landlordism, how¬ ever benevolent the intention.”[14]

That was true political work, done with a real political insight. If it had been persevered in, the history of the Congress would have been different and perhaps the revolutionary party would never have been born or would have been born earlier. In either case the country would have been farther ahead in politics than it is now. What, however, actually happened was that the Government was at once moved to hostility. Lord Dufferin spoke of the Congress in terms of contempt “ as the infinitesimal minority,” at a Calcutta dinner. Sir Auckland Colvin stirred up the Mohammedans, organised an Anti-Congress Association and denounced the Congress in no measured terms, as mischievous, disloyal, and much before the time.

Congress Overawed. Mr. Hume started to explain in an apologetic tone. It was at this time that he came out with the “ safety valve ” theory. The propaganda was at once abandoned, never to be resumed in the history of the movement. The movement in England failed for want of funds. The movement in India collapsed for want of perseverance, vigour and earnestness. Here again we are disposed to think that Mr. Hume’s subsequent conduct was influenced more by the fears and half heartedness of the Indian leaders than by his own judgment. If the Indian leaders had stuck to their guns and pushed on their propaganda, the country would have supplied funds and would have rallied round them. Perhaps there might have been a few riots and a few prosecutions. But that would have drawn the attention of the British public to Indian conditions more effectively than their twenty-eight years of half-hearted propaganda in England did. The political education of the people would have been more rapid and the movement would have gained such a strength as to make itself irresistible. It is possible, nay, probable, that the Government would have suppressed the movement. But that itself would have been a victory and a decided and effective step in the political education of the people. The revolutionary movement would have come earlier and the Government would have seen the wisdom of conciliating the moderates much earlier than 1909. What was given to us in 1909 might have been given twenty years earlier. The Mohammedans would have been happy to get in 1889 what they got in 1909. The Indian leaders, however, thought that they were not sufficiently strong and that the movement stood the chance of being suppressed. They gave in and abandoned the only effective weapon they had forged to get redress of political grievances.

No nation and no political party can ever be strong enough to make their voice effective, unless and until they put forward a sufficient amount of earnestness (not bluff) to convince their opponents that in case their demands are trifled with, the consequences might be serious to both parties. The history of political advance in self-governed countries like England, Germany, France, etc., amply proves this. No political agitation need be started unless those who are engaged in it are prepared to back it by the power of the purse and the power of conviction.

Congress Agitation in England. The Congress overawed in 1888 and 1889, failed in both respects. So far as the first is concerned, why, that has been a theme of lamentation, appeals, and wailings from year to year. Friends in England, whether in or outside the British Committee, have lamented it in pathetic terms. The Congress agitation in England has never been effective. The Congress has had precious little influence on English public opinion, and although the British Committee of the Congress have had an office and an organ in London for the last 25 years or more, their influence in English politics has been almost nil. But for the generosity of Mr. Hume and Sir William Wedderburn, the Congress office in London might have been long ago closed. The leaders of the Congress have talked very much of their implicit faith in the English nation; they have held out hopes of our getting a redress of our wrongs if we could only inform the British people of the condition of things prevalent in India; yet the efforts they have put forward to achieve that end have been puerile and paltry. There is a party of Indian politicians who do not believe in agitation in England, but the leaders of the Congress and those who have controlled the organisation in the last 30 years do not profess to belong to that party. We shall now try to explain why this has been so.

Causes of Failure of the Congress.(1). The movement was neither inspired by the people nor devised or planned by them. It was a movement not from within. No section of the Indian people identified themselves with it so completely as to feel that their existence as honourable men depended on its successful management. The movement was started by an Englishman, at the suggestion of an English pro-consul. The Indians, who professed to lead it, were either actually in government service or in professions allied to government service and created by the Government. A good many of the latter aspired to offices under the Government or to a recognition of their merit and public spirit by the Government. They were patriotic enough to give a part of their time and energy to the movement, so long as it did not clash with their own interests, so long as they were not required to mar their careers for it, or so long as it did not demand heavy sacrifices from them. We do not question either their motives or their patriotism, but it was not sufficiently intense to induce them to stake their all on it. (2). The movement lacked the essentials of a popular movement. The leaders were not in touch with the people. Perhaps they did not even want to come in touch with them. Their propaganda was confined to a few English-educated persons, was carried on in English and was meant for the ears of the authorities rather than for the people. The leaders always felt shy of the masses, made no efforts to reach them, and systematically discouraged the younger men from doing the same. Some of them have openly opposed efforts in this direction.

(3) . The leaders failed to inspire enthusiasm among the people, either by their own failure to make sacrifices, or by the triviality of their sacrifices. Their ordinary life, their income, their prosperity, and their luxuries were in no way affected by the movement. There were only two exceptions to this, viz., Dadabhai Naoroji and Gokhale. The sacrifices of Messrs. Hume and Wedderburn shamed the people, but failed to appeal to their imagination. In fact, they roused the anger of the people against the leaders and created distrust. The spectacle of leaders accepting high offices they were offered under the Government added to this distrust.

(4) . The movement was neither confined to a select few, nor open to all. While the people were expected to add to the spectacular side of the show by their presence in large numbers, by crowded meetings, by cheers and applause, they were never given a hand in the movement. Differences of opinion were always discouraged and free discussion was never allowed. It was neither a public forum, nor a private meeting of the select few. In the latter case it would have been less expensive and would have saved money for work in England. In the former case it would have been more effective.

(5) . A national movement, demanding only a few concessions and not speaking of the liberties of the nation and of its ideals, is never an effective movement. It is at best an opportunist movement. It is mischievous in so far as it diverts attention from substantial nation building and character making. It brings fame without sacrifice. It opens opportunities for treacheries and hypocrisies. It enables some people to trade in the name of patriotism. No political movement can be entirely free from these disadvantages, but the greatest mischief which a political movement lightly handled and led does, is that it delays the development of the people on normal lines by raising hopes which are baseless and can never be realised by means recommended and methods adopted.


PART III.THE BIRTH OF THE NEW NATIONALIST MOVEMENT

The National Movement in India continued on its placid and humdrum course until Lord Curzon’s ridicule of the movement convinced the people that the political methods of the Congress were quite powerless to bring them any relief against the despotism that trampled upon all their rights and sensibilities. This led to a deeper and a closer study of the political problem on the part of men who had convictions as distinguished from opinions, who had faith as against opportunism, who wanted a soul for their people, rather than a few more posts under the Government. They discovered that the movement had suffered not only by the adoption of wrong methods and by want of sacrifice on the part of tyrdom. The ideal of Swaraj found men ready to suffer for it, to meet death like martyrs. The new movement has inspired a class of men whose life is filled with that idea and that idea alone. They are the worshippers of Swaraj; they love their motherland above everything else. They do not want office, or incomes, or recognition, or applause. What they want is liberty, not for themselves, because that they might get perhaps by settling in other countries, but for their beloved country. High Court Judgeships, Civil Service, Councils, mean nothing to them.

The founders of the Indian National Congress began their movement under inspiration of government and under the shadow of the high offices they held or aspired to under that government, but the founders and inspirers of the National Movement started their propaganda by boycotting government and government patronage. The former wanted high offices, the latter despised those who held them. The former asked for concessions, the latter rejected them. The former wanted Councils, the latter would have nothing to do with them. The former appealed to the British Government and the British nation, the latter appealed to their own people and to their own patriotism and to their God. The former were led by the British, the latter by pure Indians. The former would not do anything which would mar their careers, the latter threw away their chances like poisoned bread. The former lived in bungalows, revelled in drawing rooms, velvet-covered chairs, were attended by liveried servants, ate
151
INDIA FROM 1857 TO 1905

at well-furnished tables, entertained governors and migistrates; the latter gave up even the little comforts they had, changed trousers for dhotis, coats for chapkans or kurtas (shirts), overcoats for blankets, and boots for ordinary Swadeshi shoes. The former owed their prosperity in life, their positions, and their comforts, to the British system, and were therefore under obligation to the British; but the latter chose the path of poverty and destitution to avoid obligations. They threw away their chances deliberately and with the conviction that that was the right thing to do. The former cared for wines, for children, and for home. The latter gave up all, to devote themselves completely to the cause and to the motherland. The former had produced only two full time workers for the cause in the course of 22 years, the latter produced virtually hundreds and thousands in less than two years. The former worked under the best auspices, the latter started their work under overhanging clouds, which soon burst and swept away many of them into prisons.

Is it any wonder that under such inspiration the movement spread like wildfire and assumed wide proportions? Life met life. Forces met forces. Conflict and clash resulted in fatal accidents to either party. The casualties on the side of the Nationalists have been tremendously heavy and out of all proportion to their number, but judging the conflict by the resources, no one need hesitate in saying that the moral victory lies with the Nationalists. Within less than five years of their propaganda, they forced the hand of the Government to make concessions which could not be even thought of in 1905. The Congress leaders claim credit for themselves and so does the Government; but the verdict of impartial and unbiased historians will be other¬ wise.

Lord Morley would rally the moderates because there were extremists in the land. In the absence of the so-called extremists, the moderates were extremists and the Government and its agents looked down upon them. The Anglo-Indian statesman and his confidant, the moderate Congress leader, say that the extremists are few, that most of them are those good-for-nothings, who could do nothing at the universities, or with their lives; that they are maniacs and men who have lost all sense of right and wrong.

Men who have Inspired the Movement. But look at the men who have inspired the movement, some of whom are leading it even to-day. Is Arabinda Ghosh a failure? Is Har Dayal a failure? Were the nine deportees from Bengal failures? How many high-class graduates have been hanged; how many are in jail! Look at their university records and look at their prospects, and then say if you can call them “ malcontents ” or men who have arisen against the Government because they could not prosper under it. Their propaganda has compelled the Government to adopt the severest repressive measures open to a foreign government. The penal code has been amended to make the definition of sedition more comprehensive. The criminal procedure code has been amended to facilitate convictions and to accelerate trials. Provisions have been added to enable magistrates to award summary imprisonment for failure to give security for good behaviour asked for on political grounds. A Seditious Meetings Act has been enacted to make open propaganda impossible. An Explosives Act has been placed on the statute book. A Press Law has been passed to muzzle the press. Spies and detectives have been employed out of number. Teachers, professors, friends, pupils, class-fellows, parents, have all been requisitioned to crush the movement. The number of publications confiscated under the Press Act, the convictions for sedition, for seditious murders, for dacoities and for keeping arms, the sentences for failure to find securities for good behaviour, all continue to grow. The cry is, “ Still they come! ” In prisons the political prisoner has been subjected to horrible treatment; one committed suicide and another lost his senses in the Andamans. Many a tale of misery and wretchedness, of torture and of insults comes from the prisons in India, but still the movement is far from being crushed.

There is evidence that new recruits join the secret propaganda every year and take the place of those hanged or imprisoned. A number has exiled themselves and are carrying on their propaganda in distant lands under very discouraging and depressing circumstances. The man who says that the movement is dead or dying must be a liar or a fool. The movement is alive and possibly as vigorous as it ever was. It has captured the imagination of the younger generation. And at least 75 per cent, of the students in India and in England sympathise with this party. Almost all are Anti-Congress. Even those who are not Nationalists do not like the Congress and feel no obligation towards it, because the Congress failed to communicate high principles and lay down high ideals, and because it failed to create that spirit of self-sacrifice, that willingness to suffer, without which no national movement can grow, prosper, and inspire.

The failures of the Congress evolved the Nationalist Movement. The Congress did its work that way. It brought conviction home that no amount of prayers, resolutions, protests, memorials, could move the autocratic bureaucracy in India, and no amount of petitions were likely to make any impression upon the people in England. The fact that the Congress leaders would not make sacrifices for the Congress cause, though they would give large amounts of money for educational purposes and other charities, forced people to think that they themselves had no faith in the Congress propaganda or in the Congress methods, though they lacked the courage to say so or to change their methods. It was perhaps unreasonable to expect that of the kind of men that led the Congress. Most of them loved their country and were public spirited; they had given proof of it, good and sufficient, in other sides of national activity, in the cause of social reform, in the cause of public education, in industrial propaganda. Outside the Congress they have done enough to create an atmosphere which was bound to bring about the development of the political movement along the lines on which it eventually did develop in 1905.

The Nationalist child was, so to say, brought up on the lap of the old Congress man and fed on the food provided by him; though, strange enough, this bringing up and this feeding produced results for which the Congressman was not prepared and which shocked him a bit. The first shock over, some of them were happy to have lived to see the day, and blessed the movement. Some made up their minds to throttle it, but soon found that it was not in their power to do so. The worst they could do was to condemn it and to denounce it. All they could achieve was to cut the new movement, shake off all responsibility for it, and thus secure their own safety. We do not say that they did it to save their skins. But fortunately for them their convictions led them the way their safety lay. In their heart of hearts they blessed the new movement and were heartily glad that it came. It acted and reacted on their own movement. It made it possible for them to put strength and force into their demands for concessions. Whenever an extremist leader recanted or used compromising language, they were sorry. They wanted the movement to continue and to live, though they would not join it and though they believed that it was harmful to the country in some respects. They deplore the lack of enthusiasm and sacrifice in their own ranks, but they admire the selflessness of the extremists and respect their real leaders, An Arabinda Ghosh and a Tilak simply compel their admiration and respect. Whatever the shortcomings of Har Dayal may be, he is a unique personality.

We have stated wherein the new movement differed from the old, and we have also stated what its dominant note is. We would now like to examine how it intended to proceed and how its hands were forced to do the things it has done since.

Lord Curzon and Indian Education. We have already hinted that Lord Curzon’s policy and his utterances helped a great deal in the birth of the new movement. When Lord Curzon came to India, he formulated a rather ambitious programme of reforms to be introduced into the administration of the country. One of these reforms related to education.

Every one in the country, who has had anything to do with education in India, was of opinion that the country was very backward in education and that the system of education there in vogue was defective. It laid too great stress on the literary side and did not fit people for the battle of life; it gave undue importance to the English language and Western modes of thought, at the cost of the vernaculars and the indigenous civilisation of the country; it encouraged " cram ” at the cost of real merit; it produced a class of imitators and left little scope or none for originality; it invited third class men from England to fill the highest positions in the educational service of the country, and placed the best native intellect and talent under them to starve and rot for want of opportunities; it did not recognise the duty of the Government to look after the education of the child from the beginning until he was fit to fight his own way in the world.

The educational system of the country required radical changes, but what was most needed was that the Government should be prepared to spend adequate sums of money for its spread and in order to make it efficient. Lord Curzon’s pronouncements and programme therefore raised great hopes in the minds of the people. His University Commission was simply flooded with suggestions and statements from Indians and Anglo-Indians. The two classes, however, discussed the matter from entirely different standpoints: The Indians wanted greater facilities for education, more schools, more colleges, more masters, more stipends, an extension of primary school education, abler and better-paid teachers, freedom of private enterprise, ample provision for technical and industrial education; but what they wanted most and cared for most was that education should be more nationalised and humanised. The Anglo-Indians wanted a curtailment of the educational opportunities, a greater and stricter control of private enterprise, a raising of university standards, and a system of education which would curb the rising generation and make them more easily amendable to discipline and obedience.

Lord Curzon did go into all these questions, but the decision arrived at convinced the educated Indians that the motive which underlay Lord Curzon’s policy was the tightening of government control, the Strangling of all independence in matters educational, and the eventual weakening of all national movement and national sentiment..

Lord Curzon's Secret Educational Conference. The fact that he admitted no Indian to the meeting of the Secret Educational Conference held at Simla, when he formulated the government policy, strengthened that idea. His University Legislation shocked the country beyond measure and left no doubt whatsoever that what he aimed at was a complete official control of all education in India. Educated Indians read between the lines and concluded that it was a mistake to look to the Government to do things or to follow a policy which might quicken the national pulse, strengthen the Nationalist sentiment, or add to the efficiency of the people so as to fit them to stand on their legs and desire to get rid of the leading strings in which they were held by the British.

Indians and Lord Curzon at Cross Purposes. Indians saw that they and Lord Curzon were at cross-purposes. They aimed at self-government and freedom; Lord Curzon aimed at prolongation of the period of their bondage and the permanence of the existing political conditions. We wanted independence; he wanted us to be dependent on the British. We wanted to quicken the pace of national advance; he wanted to slacken it. We wanted to be assertive and self-reliant; he wanted us to be submissive and in permanent control and tutelage. We wanted to go forward, he mistrusted us. We wanted a policy of honest confidence; instead of that he inaugurated a policy of suspicion. We wanted unity, he proceeded to bring into existence fresh causes of friction between community and community. We wanted the marshalling of our forces in the common cause, he proceeded to divide us and to keep us apart. We wanted consolidation, and he started active disintegration. We wanted an extension of representative government, Lord Curzon did his best to discredit the institutions that had been granted and to set back the hands of the clock.

The Congress Deputation to England in 1905. The leaders of the Indian National Congress saw all this; they resisted Lord Curzon’s policy rather boldly; they spoke with courage; they sought his patronage and sent their president to wait on him. Lord Curzon refused to see him and thus slapped the Congress in the face. He characterised their activities as the letting off of “ gas.” Their resolutions he looked upon with contempt because, as he said, nothing had ever come out of them. The leaders felt offended, they fretted and foamed. But all they resolved to do was to appeal to the British public. So a deputation was sent to England in 1905 to place the grievances of India before the British public.

This deputation was composed of Messrs. Gokhale and the writer of this book. They addressed a large number of meetings in Great Britain, made many friends, saw some politicians; but they were not very hopeful as to the results. One of them on his return (the present writer) struck an unmistakable note of despondency. He frankly told his people that the British democracy was too busy with their own affairs to do anything for them, that the British press was not willing to champion Indian aspirations, that it' was hard to get a hearing in England, and that the influence and the credit of the Anglo-Indians was too strong to be met successfully by the necessarily inadequate agitation which the Congress could set up in England. On his return to India the message which he brought to his people was, that if they really cared for their country, they would have to strike the blow for freedom themselves, and that they would have to furnish unmistakable proofs of their earnestness.

His message was in no way different from what Mr. Hume had told the graduates of the Calcutta University in 1883, or in his pamphlets “ The Star in the East ” and the “ Old Man’s Hope.”

The Congress of 1905. This was the first time that an Indian publicist had spoken in that strain. The swadeshi and boycott had already been started in Bengal during his absence from India. Even Mr. Gokhale approved of the boycott as a political weapon. So the message which he brought fell on willing and sympathetic ears. The country was in a mood to listen to it, and it did listen. The Congress Session of 1905, held at Benares,[15],gave an opportunity for comparing notes and for settling a programme. The reception accorded to Mr. Gokhale and the rather uproarious meetings of the Subjects Committee afforded ample evidence of the temper of the people. Gokhale was cautious, careful, but enthusiastic. His presidential address was inspiring, though strictly moderate. His Bombay friends, however, would not let him go sufficiently far. The very first night the Subjects Committee sat, it appeared that a split was inevitable and the proceedings could not be as unanimous and harmonious as was customary. The old Congress leaders were accustomed to unanimity, but the younger generation soon convinced them that unanimity on the old lines was impossible.

When the meeting of the Subjects Committee broke up after its deliberation on the first night, no unanimity had been reached with regard to a resolution welcoming the visit of the Prince of Wales (the present King) to India. The dissentionists threatened to oppose it in the Congress. The reception committee and the older leaders were all furious, threatened all sorts of retributions, and predicted all sorts of evil consequences, but the younger men would not listen. The whole of the morning was spent in efforts to induce them to withdraw their opposition, but young Bengal refused to agree. The meeting was delayed; Gokhale then made a personal appeal to the Mahratta and the Punjab leaders, and they prevailed on their Bengalee friends to absent themselves from the meeting and let the resolution be passed in their absence. The resolution relating to Swadeshi,[16] boycott, and national education, again evoked lively discussion resulting in compromise, wherein the principles for which the Nationalists stood were conceded. In the Congress camp, the younger generation had met in open conference to discuss their future programme. It was then that Mr. Tilak gave out the idea of passive resistance. No formal resolutions were passed, but the better mind of the people present decided to inaugurate an era of self-help and self-reliance based on an active boycott of government service and of the semi-government institutions.

Object of the Passive Resistance Movement. The object was two-fold. (1). To destroy the hypnotism that had caused the people and the country to have faith not only in the omnipotence of their rulers, but also in their altruism. In the words of one of the leaders of the Nationalist thought (Babu B. C. Pal,[17] “ The Spirit of Indian Nationalism,” page 42), the people had been hypnotised to believe in the altruism of their foreign rulers:

“ Untrained in the crooked ways of civilised diplomacy, they had believed what their rulers had said, either of themselves or of their subjects, as gospel truth. They had been told that the people of India were unfitted to manage their own affairs, and they believed it to be true. They had been told that the people were weak and the Government was strong. They had been told that India stood on a lower plane of humanity and England’s mission was to civilise ‘ the semi-barbarous native.’ The Nationalist school took it upon themselves to expose the hollowness of all these pretensions. They commenced to make what are called counter-passes in
Young India.pdf

(Upload an image to replace this placeholder.)

hypnotism, and at once awoke the people to a sense of their own strength, an appreciation of their own culture.”

In the second place, the object was to create a passionate love of liberty, accompanied by a spirit of sacrifice and readiness to suffer for the cause of the country. This was to be done more by example than precept. What the programme was may better be stated in the words of the leader whom we have quoted above:

“ Boycott both economic and political, boycott of foreign and especially British goods, and of all honorary associations with the administration, national education implying a withdrawal of the youths of the nation from the officialised universities and government-controlled schools and colleges, and training them up in institutions conducted on national lines subject to national control and calculated to help the realisation of the national destiny, national civic volunteering, aiming at imparting a healthy civic training to the people by the voluntary assumption of as much of the civic duties, at present discharged by official or semi-official agencies, as could be done without any violation of the existing laws of the country,— duties, for instance, in regard to rural sanitation, economic and medical relief, popular education, preventive police duties, regulation of fair and pilgrim gathering,— settlement of civil and non-cognisable, criminal disputes by means of arbitration committees: — these were the proclaimed methods of the Nationalist school.” As to the objects of this scheme, we will again quote the same writer:

“ The evident object was to create in the first place a strong civic sentiment in the people with the help of co-operative organisations for the furtherance of the common good, and thus to train them gradually for the larger and heavier responsibilities of free citizenship, and in the next place, to cover the whole country with a net-work of active, political organisations which would place the leaders in direct and living touch with the people, and enable them to bring, from time to time, the irresistible pressure of organised public opinion to bear upon the Government, helping thereby the gradual expansion of popular rights.”

Now it should be noted here in passing, that with the exception of boycott and volunteering, every other item in the above propaganda had been more or less tried and with varying success in all parts of the country, but more particularly in the Punjab and Maharashtra before this. The Deccan education Society and the Poona Fergusson College were the offshoots of the desire to further the cause of education by self imposed sacrifices, with the underlying motives of quickening the patriotic impulse and the Nationalist spirit. Similarly Swadeshi, co-operative organisations, and private arbitration courts had been thought of and tried. The motives underlying these attempts were absolutely patriotic, combining an element of philanthropy in them. The private colleges in Bengal, started by Vidyasagar and others, were also due to the same impulse, and so was the Pachaipiya College at Madras. Bombay had its own schemes and was ahead of the rest of India in purely Indian industrial and trade organisations. Similarly in the Punjab the idea of swadeshi had been started as early as 1877. The motives were economic and patriotic. The idea of national education had found expression in the D. A. V. (Dayanand Anglo-Vedic) College, and that of national co-operative organisations in the “ Punjab National Bank,” the “ Bharat Insurance Company ” and other joint stock concerns. Religious and philanthropic motives had brought into existence the Hindu orphan movement, the famine relief movement, and so on. A little volunteering had also been attempted in connection with the famine relief movement and the Kangra earthquake relief movement. Long before 1905, the Punjab had a network of privately organised, privately financed, unaided schools and other charitable institutions, over which the Government had little effective control. Patriotism and philanthropy were the underlying motives of these institutions, but not politics,[18]

The ruling bureaucracy did not quite like these activities, but they could not suppress them. Individual officers sometimes sympathised and even helped these movements. So far Bengal had been rather backward in the matter of national development on these lines. So, when Lord Curzon proclaimed the partition of Bengal, attacked the veracity of the orientals in his Calcutta University convocation speech, and on other occasions called them cowards, windbags, unpractical talkers, and mere frothy patriots, the Bengalees awoke to a consciousness of their weaknesses, and resolved to revenge themselves upon Lord Curzon, and prove to the world at large that Lord Curzon was a liar. What followed may be briefly stated in a separate chapter.

  1. A native term equivalent for Europeans.
  2. This is a native expression signifying the highest respect of the speaker towards one whom he considers his superior. Literally it means mother and father.
  3. I, e., like the English.
  4. In the interests of Lancashire goods.
  5. Mr. Ilbert was the Law member of the Council of the Governor General and the bill came to be named after him.
  6. Mr. Hume was an ex-secretary of the Government of India who had retired from service.
  7. Sir William Wedderburn is also a retired member of the Government of Bombay, India.
  8. Sir Auckland Colvin was the Lieutenant Governor of the then North Western Provinces (now the United Province of Agra and Oudh).
  9. The quotations from Hume are taken out of W. Wedderburn’s Allan Octavian Hume, the parts enclosed in parenthesis are Wedderburn’s.
  10. These compliments have been renewed of late. The Congress held at Madras in 1914 was attended by the British Governor of the Presidency.
  11. Mr. Hume’s biography by Sir William Wedderburn, p. 62.
  12. Mr. Hume’s biography by Sir W. W., p. 63.
  13. Biography, p. 63.
  14. Biography, p. 63.
  15. Presided over by the Honourable Mr. G. K. Gokhale, a member of the Viceroy’s Council
  16. Swadeshi means the cult of home industries, i. e., the use of the articles made in the country
  17. An eminent Bengalee writer
  18. Moreover the keynote of these organisations was association and co-operation with Government, and not independent self-assertion.