Growth of Nationalism in British India

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Growth of Nationalism in British India

National sentiment began amongst the Indian people from the close of the 19th century. Various factors helped the growth of this movement to meet the challenge of the British domination.

Every section of Indian society was affected by a policy which either increased his suffering or deprived him of his legitimate due one way or the other. Basically, this situation arose from the clash of interest of the Indian people with the British interest in India.

The peasant suffered most from exploitation of the government, money lenders and zamindars and his conditions kept deteriorating. The artisans fared no better and it was realized that the British regime only helped foreign competition to ruin them. From the beginning of the 20th Century, workers in the factories, mines and plantations were used primarily to serve the interests of the British capitalists. They were badly treated and were prevented from organizing trade union to improve their lot. In fact, the government machinery was used against them for the benefit of the capitalist.

The educated section of the society who had been taught the values of western education became dissatisfied. After 1857, the Indian intellectuals hoped that the alien rule would modernize and industrialize the country and develop India’s productive force as the British had done in their own country. But their hopes were dashed when they discovered that the British adopted a deliberate policy to keep the country in an economically backward condition for the benefit of their own industries. The fact that economic exploitation was making India poorer was visible as also the destruction of India’s indigenous industries. Very little of the national wealth was used for education, irrigation, sanitation and national health. Furthermore, the Indian intelligentsia felt frustrated because of a systematic policy of debarring the Indians from better-paid jobs which were reserved for the British. Thus, unemployment began to grow and every section of Indian society felt that the only way to improve their lot would be through freedom from foreign domination.

The sentiments of the people gathered momentum because dissatisfaction amongst the Indian was uniform and throughout the country. The British administration which had introduced a uniform and modern system of Government had unified India administratively. The improved communication and postal and telegraph facilities helped their rule immensely. At the same time, this very system back-fired when the Indian nationalist movement began to grow.

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