Growth of Nationalism – UPSC GS1

The changes which the British colonisation brought in the Indian Society were irreversible and formed the basis of nationalism. Analyse what changes in Indian society occurred due to colonisation and how it helped in growth of Indian nationalism. (200 Words)

Nationalism is a people‘s sense of belonging to a nation. Indian nationalism grew partly as a result of colonial policies and partly as a revolution to colonial policies.
  1. Economic exploitation: Men like Dadabhai Naoroji and R. C. Dutt say that the poverty, economic backwardness and underdevelopment of India were direct consequences of British colonialism. The British discouraged cottage industries of India and dumped the Indian market with goods manufactured in England.
  2. Unification of Country: By Civil Services, unified judiciary, codified laws throughout the length and breadth of country imposed a new dimension of political unity. Railways and telegraph brought masses very close to each other and strengthened the feeling of nationalism
  3. Press and Literature: Unprecedented growth of Indian – owned English and vernacular newspapers, helped the spread of modern idea of self-government, democracy, civil rights and industrialization
  4. Pride of India past: Scholars like Max Muller, Roth & Sasoon, and R.L. Mitra aroused nationals‘ feelings and demolish colonial myths that Indian was inferior race and bound to servility.
  5. Socio-religious movements: Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj, Ramakrishna Mission, Theosophical Society gave new awakening amongst Indian masses.
  6. Ilbert Bill, decrease of eligibility in ICS from 21 to 19 years, and contribution of Christian Missionaries who spread lot of western ideas.
  7. Rise of Middle class intelligentsia: Expanding English educated class formed the middle class intelligentsia who constituted the nucleus of newly arising political unrest. This new class though was minority played a vital role in igniting the minds of majority‖.


“The national movement based itself on a clear-Cut anti-colonial ideology and the vision of a civil libertarian, democratic, ‘secular and socially radical society.” Elaborate. (200 Words)
Do you agree with the view that in the emergence of modern nation state system, the realities had come first before principles and ideals? (200 Words)
“When a nation abolishes aristocracy, centralization follows as a matter of course” – Tocqueville
Rise of India as an Independent nation was a laudable dream of masses from 1850s, but it became reality only in 1947. Several political realities change with the rise of freedom movements.
Example. Establishment of INC, Muslim League, Communist Parties, Farmer and Labour Union in India. British introduce some controversial reforms like Communal and Minority representation in Legislative council of Viceroy articulating that India was never a one nation as it is now.
British empire wished to provide federal structure to Independent India because they believe aspiration of all communities will be secured in decentralization of power. But Two-nation theory, Day of Direct Action, and Jinnah’s Communal stand brought constituent assembly to bring powerful union instead of powerful Federal nation.
So, when principally, independence was discussed before formation of constituent assembly of India, decentralization was given more importance than other matters. But reality during last decade of freedom movement changed aspirations of makers of constitution.
When, British left India, it was believed aristocracy also left with them, but continuous rise of ethnic and communal issues since independence justified modern India as “Union of States” instead of Federation.
Thus, Indian nation state evolved on principles, but in reality it is yet to apply all the principles into socio-economic realism to bring ideals which glorified “Free India’s Vision”.


“Legislative Councils in India had no real official power till 1920. Yet, work done in them by the nationalists helped the growth of the national movement.” Examine. (200 Words)
The Imperial legislative council formed was an impotent body with few representation for Indians and that too rich and wealthy and having no power to make a significant effect. It was formed to vent out the political steam by British but nationalist were able to use these platform significantly in following ways:
  • They use these council for exposing the true nature of British Government and their indifferent attitude towards Indians. Nationalist flayed government foreign policy which resulted in annexation of Burma and attack on Afghanistan and time-consuming judicial system.
  • They made these councils a platform for political discussions and severely criticised the government policies. G.K Gokhale raised important questions regarding the budget in the council and severely reprimanded British government for their anti –Indian economic policies.
  • The councils were used to raise demands regarding discrimination of Indians in civil services exam, to increase the social spending, to treat Indian bureaucrats on par with European etc.
Nationalists were able to create a wide national awakening and a feeling of unity from these platforms
They used these councils to disseminate modern ideas and to mobilize the masses.
But restricted social base and their failure to achieve anything substantive through these councils made the nationalist to raise the demand for swaraj. It was only through their incessant efforts inside the councils that several economic and political demands for the betterment of Indians could be raised.


It is analysed that by 1907, the Moderate nationalists had exhausted their historical role in India’s struggle against colonialism. Examine why did moderates fail and with what consequences. (200 Words)
By 1907 there emerged a clear ridge between moderates and extremists that ultimately led to split in congress in its Surat session.
Reasons for failure of moderates-
  1. pray, petition and protest type of politics could not turn to be effective.
  2. political awareness (including about drain theory) had been on rise in people
  3. Bengal was divided against the will and wish of people.
  4. vandemataram movement, irrespective of its intensity turned to be deaf ears.
  5. people like savarkar brothers and chapekar brothers started advocating extremism.
  6. moderates remained distant from masses hence their mass appeal remained ineffective.
  7. emergence of leaders like Tilak in congress led to new kind of environment that is more favourable to the extremists.
  8. youth element in vandemataram movement paves way for extremism.
  1. turmoil with in congress was witnessed since 1906 onwards.
  2. swaraj demand was passed in line of demands of extremists.
  3. congress was split in 1907’s surat session.
  4. moderates moved distant away from active politics due to various reasons.
  5. exploiting the situation the British government arrested extremist elements like tilak.
  6. congress turned to be ineffective and remained as it was till 1916’s lucknow session.
  7. this political vacuum led to emergence of nationalist terrorism.
Even if the moderates moved away from mainstream politics the flames that they had ignited by then, led to a new kind of environment that facilitated continuance of national movement.



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