Analyse the argument that Swadeshi Movement was an expression of extremist politics. What were the reasons for decline of the movement? (250 words)
- Introduce with the partition and the swadeshi movement
- Discuss how the new methods used were an expression of extremist politics
- Give reasons for decline of the movement
- Conclude appropriately
Swadeshi Movement was a comprehensive movement which had its genesis in the anti-partition movement which was started to oppose the British decision to partition Bengal. Although it was backed by an economic strategy aimed at removing British Empire from power and improving economic conditions in India by following the principles of Swadeshi, the main factor responsible for the movement was Partition of Bengal by the British to break the growing strength of Bengali nationalism since Bengal was the base of Indian nationalism.
An expression of extremist politics:
Extremists were rising during that time leading up to the announcement of Bengal’s partition in 1905 because of reasons including
- The failure of the moderates to get any notable success
- The reactionary rulings of Lord Curzon such as Calcutta Corporation Act(1899), Universities Act(1904), Sedition Act(1904), Officials Secret Act(1904) and
- The contemporary international events like defeat of Russia by Japan which encouraged the Indians to fight against the British
The methods used in the Swadeshi Movement clearly indicated an expression of extremist politics. These included programmes like boycott of government services, courts, schools, colleges and of foreign goods, promotion of swadeshi goods, promotion of national education through establishment of national schools and colleges. Celebration of Ganpati festival and Shivaji festival and offering the meals were the techniques used to reach the masses. Landlords, students, women all actively participated in this economic and political movement.
However, the movement could not sustain and was crushed by 1908.
Reasons for decline:
- The movement was not properly directed, it lacked effective organisation and party structure.
- It was not supported by the muslims masses, especially the peasantry class. All India Muslim League was set up during this time.
- Severe government repression in the forms of controls and ban on public meetings, processions and press.
- Internal conflicts among Congress leaders leading to Surat Split weakened the movement.
- The movement was rendered leaderless with most of the leaders either arrested or deported by 1908.
Although Swadeshi was originally conceived as merely a handmade of boycott of foreign goods and meant only to be an urge to use indigenous in preference to foreign goods, it soon attained a much more comprehensive character and became a concrete symbol of nationalism.
Subjects : History and Culture