Important movements in Indian Independence

indian movements

In 1858, India was finally declared British Rule when the Crown took over India through their East India Company. For the next 100 years, India remained under the crown rule, though it is also true India had lost its freedom much before the official declaration. Unofficially, the British have ruled over India for almost 200 years. And within these years, the country has witnessed some of the most revolutionary events that collectively helped us gain independence.

The brave acts of Subhas Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Rani Lakshmi Bai, or Bal Gangadhar Tilak are nothing less than legendary. Independent India is indeed the collective victory of all such brave people who contributed to the freedom revolution. But do you know about major Indian movements that helped the country become free?

Here are 9 major Indian movements for the independence of India

Our Independence was toilsome, and just like every battle- there are triumphs and losses. Arent there?

Rebellion 1857:

Do you remember the 1857 Indian Rebellion? It was one of the major but unsuccessful rebellions of India from 1857–58 against the British East India Company. It was also the very first Indian revolt that started the chain of revolutions and patriotism in the heart of its citizens. The rebel was ignited when the new Enfield rifle was introduced in the army. In order to load these guns, sepoys have to tear the cartridges from their mouth. There was a rumor going around that the cartridges were lubricated by the lard of pigs and cows. This was religiously unacceptable by both Hindu and Muslim sepoys. Mangal Pandey was also one of the sepoys who openly revolted against the distress.

indian movements

Mangal Pandey attacked the British forces in the military garrisons and shot Sergeant-Major James Hewson. The 29 years old declared that he would rebel against his commanders. This began the then year-long revolt against the crown rule all over the country starting from Delhi and going all the way to Bombay. Huge massacres were carried out in Kanpur and Lucknow by the Indian rebels. In 1857, the Bengal Army had 86,000 men, of which 12,000 were British, 16,000 Sikh, and 1,500 Gurkha. There were 311,000 native soldiers in India altogether, 40,160 British soldiers, and 5,362 officers. But soon the many of them were either mutinied or broke up.

Though in the end, the British won the war but the aftermath of it inspired hundreds of revolutionaries who carried forward the legacy of Mangal Pandey and Rani Lakshmibai. The rebellion of 1857 was one of the most important revolts in Indian history.

Formation of Indian National Congress:

The Indian National Congress was formed in 1885 and was the first modern nationalist movement to Emerge in British Empire and challenged it. It was first led by Mahatma Gandhi and joined by Jawaharlal Nehru. Congress became the principal leader of the Indian independence movement. Though it was initially created to avail a greater share of educated Indians in the government and create a medium for civic and political conversation between them and the British Raj. But later, Congress turned when the young leaders Subhas Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru demanded Purna Swaraj, an ideology began by poet Hasrat Mohani and Bhagat Singh.

indian movements

In 1928, Mahatma Gandhi proposed a resolution that called for the British to grant dominion status to India.

Partition of Bengal:

For decades British officials had maintained the huge size of Bengal, Bihar, parts of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, and Assam which created difficulties in effective management. Thus the idea of partition was raised in the authorities. It was supported by Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy of India who decided to split Orissa and Bihar. The huge population was Muslims and Hindus remained the minority. The Muslims partially supported the partition and Hindus rejected it as they thought it of vivisection from their motherland.

indian movements

Congress openly provided a petition against the partition. Surendranath Banerjee, a political leader, had suggested that the non-Bengali states of Orissa and Bihar be separated from Bengal rather than dividing two parts of the Bengali-speaking community. His demand was not accepted by Lord Curzon. Bannerjee opposed the partition and decided to boycott British goods. He labeled this movement as swadeshi and was joined by many political leaders and revolutionaries.

The protest grew so big that the authorities finally reversed the partition in mere six years.

The arrival of Mahatma Gandhi:

Mahatma Gandhi was one of the most prominent leaders of India who with his acts impacted the whole world. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist, and political ethicist. He was the one who ignited the nonviolence movement in India. His ideology was different from the then revolutionaries as he supported ‘Ahinsa’.

Though born in India, Gandhi spent his younger years in South Africa, where he stayed for 21 years. At the age of 45, when he returned to the country, he first fought for excessive land-tax and discrimination. In 1921, he took the leadership of the Indian National Congress and led numerous campaigns and movements opposing the crown rule. Gandhi initially never supported any violence against the Raj and believed that India can only gain freedom by ‘Ahinsa’. But later inspired by Bhagat Singh, Gandhi too supported Purna Swaraj or self-rule.

indian movements

Major movements led by Mahatma Gandhi include- Champaran Movement (1917), Kheda Movement (1918), Khilafat Movement (1919), Non-Cooperation Movement (1920), Civil Disobedience Movement: Dandi March (1930), and Quit India Movement (1942).

Jallianwala Bagh Genocide:

The massacre of Jallianwala bagh took out on 13 April 1919, when local leaders of the Indian National Congress and hundreds of others gathered to peacefully protest against the arrest of Satyapal and Saifuddin Kitchlew. It was also the occasion of Baisakhi and hundreds of people joined to celebrate. Colonel Reginald Dyer with his troops entered the area and closed all the exit gates and opened fire on the unaware protesters. Over 350 people died that day including kids.

indian movements

It was one of the deadliest massacres ever recorded in Indian History.

Khilafat Movement:

The Khilafat movement also knows as the Caliphate movement, or the Indian Muslim movement (1919–24), was a pan-Islamist political protest campaign launched by Muslims of British India. It was led by Shaukat Ali, Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar, Hakim Ajmal Khan, and Abul Kalam Azad to restore the caliph of the Ottoman Caliphate, who was considered the leader of the Muslims, as an effective political authority. It was one of the major movements in Indian history. It was not a religious movement but rather done in solidarity with the Muslim community of the world. Though started to protect the Caliphate which the Europeans failed to protect, it ended up creating a sensation in India.

indian movements

The movement was at its peak in India and several other parts of the world. The Khilafat Community later joined hands with the Indian National Congress and fought for both Khilafat and Swaraj. It soon became a part of the non-cooperation movement and ignited peaceful civil disobedience all over the country. The movement ended in 1922 when Turkey moved towards Nationalism.

Civil Disobedience Movement:

The Civil Disobedience Movement was started by Mahatma Gandhi in 1930. The movement was followed by the Dandi March when Gandhi left Sabarmati Ashram at Ahmedabad on foot with 78 other members to break the salt law. As the government declared a monopoly over salt, Gandhi opposed it and led to the Dandi March which was joined by several Indians barefoot. On reaching Dandi, they broke the salt law and made salt out of the saltwater. It led to widespread Satyagrah and became symbolic of people’s opposition to the government.

indian movements

Gandhi along with several others was arrested, around 12,000 people were arrested by the Raj. But instead of it doing any good, the arrest ignited many more people to join the protest. The impact was so huge that it created a distrust against the Raj and implemented a foundation of Indian Freedom Struggle. It was also the first nationwide movement that saw huge participation from the women of the country. Many prominent female leaders emerged during the Satyagrah movement.

Azad Hind Fauj:

The Azad Hind Fauj was the armed forces of Indian collaborationists and Imperial Japan to free India from the Crown Rule. It is widely believed that the Azad Hind Fauj was created by Rash Behari Bose and revived by Subhash Chandra Bose after he returned from southeast Asia in 1943. The army was declared to be Bose’s Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind. It also has an all-women regiment that was named after Rani of Jhansi- Lakshmibai.

“An army that has no tradition of courage, fearlessness and invincibility cannot hold its own in a struggle with a powerful enemy.”- Subhas Chandra Bose.

indian movements

The assault of INA was an important factor that contribute to the British shifting back to their land. Azad Hind Fauj in the end did pave its way for Indian Independence. They carried out many struggles and fight to bring freedom to India. And the major credit for it goes to Bose who together with fearless soldiers paved way for a free nation.

Quit India Movement:

The Quit India movement was started by the All India Congress Committee by Mahatma Gandhi in 1942 demanding to end British rule in the country. After many unsuccessful events, Gandhi made a ‘Do or Die’ expression in his speech on 8 August 1942. What followed was widespread brutality at stations, workplaces, and government offices. The broad demonstrations of treachery by the Indians were not accepted by the Raj and they assumed Gandhi was answerable for the resistance. He was immediately arrested after his speech.

indian movements

Subhas Chandra Bose was also arrested and kept on house arrest to which he eventually fled. After he escaped, Bose supported the Axis Power and Indian independence from outside. Though many opposition parties opposed the movement for individual benefits, Congress remained unified and adamant. As Gandhi along with several other prominent leaders was arrested, huge protests were carried out and Aruna Asif Ali also presided over the AICC session and hoisted the Indian flag.

The Quit India movement, to date, remains India’s most active movement that created a revolution in the country.


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