Nationalism rose to meet the challenges of foreign domination. The very existence of a foreign rule helped in the growth of a national sentiment among the people.
There were also clashes between the British interests in India and those of the Indian people.
The British has conquered India to promote their own interest and the ruled over her primarily with that objective in view. With time, this was realised by the Indians, and this brought unity against the foreign rule. It was timely responsible for the growth of the national movement to drive out the foreigners. All classes of people in India joined at one stage or the other.
British domination of India generated certain forces, as a result of its direct and indirect consequences, which ultimately challenged the British Empire.
An important affect of the introduction of Western culture in India was the growth of modern political concepts like nationalism, nationality, political rights etc. And it were political associations which helped in 19th-century for the nationalism.
The factors which contributed to the growth of Nationalism were:
- British Imperialism
British imperialism was the most important factor which contributed to the rise of nationalism. It made the geographical unification of the country possible.
Before the advent of the British, the people of the South were usually separate from the rest of India. The British imperialism made the people to think as one nation.
- Influence of Western Civilization:
The establishment of British rule in India made closer relations with the Western world possible.
Contacts with European countries influenced the Indians immensely. The nineteenth century in Europe was the century of nationalism and liberalism. The Indians came to learn their lessons from the Europeans on both these ideologies.
The Indians imbibed the ideas of nationalism and liberalism from the Western countries, particularly Germany, Italy, Greece, and Belgium. Besides this, the ideas of Western thinkers, such as, Macaulay, Burke, Bentham, Mill, Spencer, Rousseau, and Voltaire, also inspired and encouraged the ideas of independence among the Indians. Thus there was a growth of political consciousness and awakening among the Indians.
- Spread of the English Language
There was a rapid spread of education in India, especially after the Revolt of 1857. The second half of the nineteenth century was a golden age of liberalism in Europe, particularly in England. The study of the political classics of English literature planted in the minds of English-educated Indians the seeds of liberalism in its two aspects, nationalism and democracy.
The British introduced the English language in India with their own selfish interest in mind. At the beginning, they needed Indian clerks in order to strengthen their rule in India.
English education facilitated the people of different provinces to come close to one another. Thus it helped in raising, national feelings and political consciousness among the Indians.
- Development of Means of Communications
The introduction of the telegraph and the railways gave India swift means of transport and communication.
The modern means of communication shattered the age-old isolation of Indian villages and the people of the remote parts had the opportunity of coming closer. They also promoted trade and commerce and helped the people of different regions to develop social and intellectual intercourse. The new social and economic link removed the orthodox ways and made the people conscious of their social disabilities.
The introduction of a uniform system of administration in India also brought a feeling of unity among the Indians.
- The contribution of scholars
Several scholars and religious reformers played their role in furthering the cause of progress of the nationalist movement in the country.
They emphasized on the past glory and the rich heritage of the country. The study and publication of the ancient Indian literature by the Asiatic Society of Bengal and the scholars such as Max Muller, Monier Williams, Colebrooke, Ranade, Hari Prasad Shastri, R.G. Bhandarkar, Rajendra Lai Mittra revealed to the people the splendor of the Sanskrit language. It also inculcated among the people a feeling of pride in their past and restored faith in the future.
- Contribution of the Social and Religious Reformers
Religious and social reformers, namely, Raja Rammohan Roy, Keshab Chandra Sen, Debendranath Tagore, Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, Vivekananda, and others had left a tremendous influence on the people of India; and they also were responsible for inspiring the countrymen to treasure the ideals of freedom and liberty.
- Influence of Western Civilization
The establishment of British rule in India made closer relations with the Western world possible. Contacts with European countries influenced the Indians immensely.
The nineteenth century in Europe was the century of nationalism and liberalism. The Indians came to learn their lessons from the Europeans on both these ideologies. They imbibed the ideas of nationalism and liberalism from the Western countries, particularly from Germany, Italy, Greece, and Belgium.
Besides this, the ideas of Western thinkers, namely, Macaulay, Burke, Bentham, Mill, Spencer, Rousseau, and Voltaire also inspired and encouraged the ideas of independence among the Indians. Thus, there was a growth of political consciousness and awakening among the Indians.
- Development of the Indian Press:
The Indian Press and literature, both English and vernacular, used national conscious among the people of the country.
Newspapers like the “Indian Mirror”, “Bombay Samachar” “The Hindu Patriot”, “The Amrit Bazar Patrika”, “The Hindu”, “The Kesari”, “The Bengalee”, tremendously influenced the people of India and left an indelible mark on the political life of the country.
The writings of Din Bandhu Mitra, Hem Chandra Banerjee, Navin Chandra Sen, Bankim Chandra Chaterjee, R.C. Dutta and Rabindra Nath Tagore also affected the minds of the people. “Anand Math” of Bankim Chandra Chaterjee has rightly been regarded as the “Bible” of modern Bengalee patriotism.
- Economic Exploitation
The primary objective of the British rule was economic exploitation. They took away raw materials and brought their manufactured goods. The policy of economic exploitation ruined the Indian industries; the British were taking away the wealth of India to their country.
The free trade policy proved ruinous for Indian trade and industries. Indian industries failed to compete with those of the British because the British had all the advantages and privileges on their side. Moreover, the British officials working in India had become a drain on the Indian resources.
The economic system of India was molded to the needs of the people of England. Thus, the interests of the Indian people’ were completely ignored. No wonder the relations between the Indians and the Britishers became strained.
- Discrimination against Indians in the appointment to Government Services
From the beginning, there was a lot of discrimination shown in respect of appointment of the Indians to the government services. No Indian was given any high position. The British did not trust the Indians and their sincerity.
The Proclamation of Queen Victoria in 1858 declared that Indians would be appointed to high posts on the basis of their merit irrespective of their caste, religion, or race. But this policy was not properly implemented. The policy of discrimination, arbitrary, and unjust policy of the Government created great discontent and unrest among the educated people of India. They started taking active part in the national movement with the aim of driving away the British altogether from India.
- Racial Jealousies
During the mutiny, the relations of the Europeans and the Indians were greatly embittered. Many Britishers were killed. So, the British were full of vengeance. Helpless and innocent Indians became the victims of their vengeance.
The English killed their prisoners without trial and in a manner held by all Indians to be the height of barbarity. Some villages were marked out for destruction and all the men inhabiting there were slaughtered.
The Indians were prevented from travelling in the upper class railway compartment. The administration of criminal justice was also scandalous.
- The Events of the Reign of Lord Lytton
The period from 1870 to 1884 was extremely tumultuous and is seen as the beginning time of Indian nationalism. Several acts of omission and commission in the time of Lord Lytton accelerated the nationalist movement.
Lord Lytton held his famous Delhi Darbar in 1877, at a time when the people of South India were suffering from the effects of terrible famine. Most of the import duties on British textile imports were removed to please the textile manufacturers of England. Indians interpreted the action as the proof of the British desire to ruin small but growing textile industry of India.
In 1878, the Arms Act was passed, which disarmed the Indians. It appeared that it was an attempt by the government to weaken the whole nation.The second Afghan War also cost the Indian treasury a lot.
Lytton passed the Vernacular Press Act in 1878. The people belonging to all walks of life condemned the discriminatory provisions of the Act. It has been pointed out that the Act was a retrograde and ill-conceived measure injurious to the future progress of India.
At the same time in 1878, the government announced new regulations, reducing the maximum age limit for sitting in the Indian Civil Service Examination from 21 years to 19.
All these measures created a widespread discontentment among the Indians. Anti-Indian administration of Lord Lytton helped to intensify discontent against foreign rule.
- Ilbert Bill Controversy
During the viceroyalty of Lord Rippon, a controversy arose concerning the Ilbert Bill. Rippon tried to pass a law to enable the Indian district magistrates and sessions judges to try the Europeans in criminal cases.
The Europeans in India organized a vehement agitation against the bill, which was drafted by Ilbert, the law member of Rippons government. They poured abuses on the Indians and Lord Rippon became the target of their agitation. The Europeans declared that even the most highly educated among the Indians were unfit to try the Europeans. In the end, the government bowed before the Europeans.
The Indians became conscious of the degradation to which foreign rule had reduced them. This increased racial bitterness, and led to the growth of national discontent.
- Impact of Foreign Rule
European and the British traders initially came to India for the purpose of trading. The Industrial Revolution led to the increase in demand for raw materials for the factories in Britain.
At the same time, they also required a market to sell their finished goods. India provided such a platform.
The 18th century was a period of internal power struggle in India and with the declining power of the Mughal Empire, the British officials were provided with the perfect opportunity to establish their hold over Indian Territory. They did these through numerous wars, forced treaties, annexations of and alliances with the various regional powers all over the country. Their new administrative and economic policies helped them consolidate their control over the country. Their land revenue policies help them keep the poor farmers in check and get huge sums as revenues in return. They forced the commercialisation of agriculture with the growing of various cash crops and the raw materials for the industries in the Britain.
With the strong political control, the British were able to monopolise the trade with India.
They defeated their foreign rivals in trade so that there could be no competition. They monopolised the sale of all kinds of raw materials and bought these at low prices whereas the Indian weavers had to buy them at exorbitant prices.
Heavy duties were imposed on Indian goods entering Britain so as to protect their own industry. Various investments were made to improve the transport and communication system in the country to facilitate the easy transfer of raw materials from the farms to the port, and of finished goods from the ports to the markets. Also, English education was introduced to create a class of educated Indians who would assist the British in ruling the country and strengthen their political authority.