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From its foundation on 28 December by A. Hume , a retired British officer, until the time India gained its independence on 15 August , the Indian National Congress was considered to be the largest and most prominent Indian public organization, as well as the central and defining influence of the long Indian Independence Movement.
British-controlled India, known as the British Raj , or just the Raj, worked to try to support and justify its governance of India with the aid of English-educated Indians, who tended to more familiar with and friendly to British culture and political thinking. Ironically, a few of the reasons that the Congress grew and survived, particularly in the 19th century era of undisputed British dominance or hegemony , was through the patronage of British authorities and the rising class of Indians and Anglo-Indians educated in the English language-based British tradition.
Hume embarked on an endeavor to get an organization started by reaching-out to selected alumni of the University of Calcutta. In an letter, he wrote that,.
Received Message Circle " Hu sammati thi sabandho ni umar 16 ...
Every nation secures precisely as good a Government as it merits. If you, the picked men, the most highly educated of the nation, cannot, scorning personal ease and selfish objects, make a resolute struggle to secure greater freedom for yourselves and your country, a more impartial administration, a larger share in the management of your own affairs, then we, your friends, are wrong and our adversaries right, then are Lord Ripon's noble aspirations for your good fruitless and visionary, then, at present at any rate all hopes of progress are at an end[,] and India truly neither desires nor deserves any better Government than she enjoys.
In May , Hume secured the viceroy 's approval to create an "Indian National Union", which would be affiliated with the government and act as a platform to voice Indian public opinion. Hume and a group of educated Indians came together on October 12 and published "An Appeal from the People of India to the Electors of Great Britain and Ireland" which asked British voters in the British general election to support candidates sympathetic to the positions of Indians.
These included opposition to taxation of India to finance British campaigns in Afghanistan, and support for legislative reform in India. The other members were mostly Hindus from the Bombay and Madras Presidencies. Between and , the Indian National Congress passed several resolutions in its annual sessions.
Through the resolutions, the humble demands made by Congress included civil rights, administrative, constitutional and economic policies.
A look at the resolution passed on these methods would be given an idea the directions of Congress programs were taking. They put emphasis on the appointment of Indians in the government services.
Specific proposals are made to open agricultural banks for the relief of peasantry.
The Congress leaders also raised the voice of protest against the discriminatory laws enacted by the government. It must be mentioned here that the British government of India paid scant regard to the above demands made by Congress.
The Congress also put forward certain specific suggestions for the economic improvement of the country and her people. These included the introduction of modern industry, Indianization of public services, etc.
The Congress also demanded the evolution of salt tax for the benefit particularly of the poor section of the people. Even before independence of India , the Indian National Congress had well articulated foreign policy positions. In the words of Rejaul Karim Laskar , a scholar of Indian foreign policy and an ideologue of Indian National Congress , "Right after the establishment of the Indian National Congress, it started articulating its views on foreign affairs.
Many Muslim community leaders, like the prominent educationalist Syed Ahmed Khan , viewed the Congress negatively, owing to its membership being dominated by Hindus. Orthodox Hindu community and religious leaders were also averse, seeing the Congress as supportive of Western cultural invasion. The ordinary people of India were not informed of or concerned about its existence on the whole, for the Congress never attempted to address the issues of poverty, lack of health care, social oppression, and the prejudiced negligence of the people's concerns by British authorities.
The perception of bodies like the Congress was that of an elitist, then educated and wealthy people's institution.
The first spurts of nationalistic sentiment that rose amongst Congress members were when the desire to be represented in the bodies of government, to have a say, a vote in the lawmaking and issues of administration of India.
Congressmen saw themselves as loyalists, but wanted an active role in governing their own country, albeit as part of the Empire. This trend was personified by Dadabhai Naoroji , considered by many as the eldest Indian statesman. Naoroji went as far as contesting, successfully, an election to the British House of Commons, becoming its first Indian member.
That he was aided in his campaign by young, aspiring Indian student activists like Muhammad Ali Jinnah , describes where the imagination of the new Indian generation lay.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak was among the first Indian nationalists to embrace swaraj as the destiny of the nation. Tilak deeply opposed the British education system that ignored and defamed India's culture, history, and values, defying and disgracing the India culture. He resented the denial of freedom of expression for nationalists, and the lack of any voice or role for ordinary Indians in the affairs of their nation. For these reasons, he considered swaraj as the natural and only solution: the abandonment of all the British things and to protect the Indian economy from the exploitation of the British, and their biased and discriminatory policies.
Chidambaram Pillai who held the same point of view. Under them, India's four great states — Madras, Bombay, Bengal, and Punjab region shaped the demand of the people and India's nationalism.
The moderates, led by Gopal Krishna Gokhale , Pherozeshah Mehta , and Dadabhai Naoroji, held firm to calls for negotiations and political dialogue.
Gokhale criticized Tilak for encouraging acts of violence and disorder. The Congress of did not have public membership, and thus Tilak and his supporters were forced to leave the party.
BJP Manifesto 2019 : How different it is from 2014? (BBC Hindi)
With Tilak's arrest, all hopes for an Indian offensive were stalled. The Congress lost credit with the people. When the British entered the British Indian Army into World War I , it provoked the first definitive, nationwide political debate of its kind in India. Voices calling for political independence grew in number.
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Tilak had considerably moderated his views, and now favoured political dialogue with the British. He, along with the young Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Mrs.
Annie Besant launched the Home Rule Movement to put forth Indian demands for Home Rule — Indian participation in the affairs of their own country — a precursor to Swaraj. But another Indian man with another way was destined to lead the Congress and the Indian struggle. Mohandas Gandhi was a lawyer who had successfully led the struggle of Indians in South Africa against British discriminatory laws.
[Bjp] बीजेपी घोषणा [Sankalp] पत्र 2019|BJP Sankalp Patra 2019
Returning to India in , Gandhi looked to Indian culture and history, the values and lifestyle of its people to empower a new revolution, with the concept of non-violence, civil disobedience , he coined a term, Satyagraha. Mohandas Karmchand Gandhi, who later on became more popular as Mahatma Gandhi, had success in defeating the British in Champaran and Kheda, giving India its first victory in the struggle for freedom.
Then Indian National Congress had supported that movement; Indians gained confidence in the working of that organization that the British could be thwarted through that organization, and millions of young people from across the country flooded into Congress membership.
A whole class of political leaders disagreed with Gandhi. But Gandhi had the backing of the people and a whole new generation of Indian nationalists as well as British Raj. In a series of sessions in , and , where the old and the new generations clashed in famous and important debates, Gandhi and his young supporters imbued the Congress rank-and-file with passion and energy to combat British rule directly.
With the tragedy of the Amritsar Massacre and the riots in Punjab, Indian anger and passions were palpable and radical. With the election of Mohandas K. Gandhi to the presidency of the Indian National Congress, the battle of the party's soul was won, and a new path to India's destiny forged.
Motilal Nehru , Lala Lajpat Rai and some other stalwarts backed Gandhi as they were not sure that they can lead the people like Tilak and Gokhale.
Thus it was now entirely up to Gandhi's Congress to show the way for the nation. In the years after the World War, the Congress expanded considerably, owing to public excitement after Gandhi's success in Champaran and Kheda.
Gandhi transformed the Congress from an elitist party based in the cities, to an organization of the people: [ citation needed ]. During the s, M. Gandhi encouraged tens of thousands of Congress volunteers to embrace a wide variety of organized tasks to address major social problems across India.
This profound work by M. Gandhi impressed the people of India particularly, formations of ashrams, that in later period he was mentioned as Mahatma, Great soul, by way of honor, by people of India. Under the Government of India Act , the Congress first tasted political power in the provincial elections of It performed very well, coming to power in eight of the eleven provinces where elections were held.
Sugarcane pricing not discussed at cabinet meeting: Soni
Its internal organization bloomed in the diversity of political attitudes and ideologies. The focus would change slightly from the single-minded devotion to complete independence, to also entertaining excitement and theorizing about the future governance of the nation. However, when the Viceroy Lord Linlithgow declared India a belligerent in World War II without any consultation with the elected representatives of the people, the Congress ministries resigned. The radical followers of Subhas Chandra Bose , believers in socialism and active revolution would ascend in the hierarchy with Bose's election to the Congress presidency.
History of the Indian National Congress
According to one approach, the traditionalist point of view, though not in a political sense, was represented in Congressmen like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad, C. Their organizational strength, achieved through leading the clashes with the government, was undisputed and proven when despite winning the election, Bose resigned the Congress presidency because of the lack of confidence he enjoyed amongst national leaders. A year earlier, in the election, however, Bose had been elected with the support of Gandhi.
Differences arose in on whether Bose should have a second term. Jawaharlal Nehru, who Gandhi had always preferred to Bose, had had a second term earlier. Bose's own differences centred on the place to be accorded to non-violent as against revolutionary methods.
BJP manifesto 2019 highlights: Legal citizens will become refugees, says Mamata Banerjee
They believed, along with educationists like Zakir Husain and E W Aryanayakam, that education should be imparted in a manner that enables the learners also to be able to make things with their own hands and learn skills that would make them self-supporting. This method of education was also adopted in some areas in Egypt. See Reginald Reynolds, Beware of Africans. Zakir Husain was inspired by some European educationists and was able, with Gandhi's support, to dovetail this approach to the one favoured by the Basic Education method introduced by the Indian freedom movement.
They believed that the education system, economy and social justice model for a future nation should be designed to suit the specific local requirements. While most were open to the benefits of Western influences and the socio-economic egalitarianism of socialism, they were opposed to being defined by either model. The last important episodes in the Congress involved the final step to independence, and the division of the country on the basis of religions.
Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari , the prominent leader from Tamil Nadu resigned from the Congress to actively advocate supporting the British war effort. However, they withdrew support at the critical juncture, as the mutiny failed.
Khan Sahib and Congressmen from the provinces that would inevitably become parts of Pakistan. Maulana Azad opposed partition in principle, but did not wish to impede the national leadership; preferred to stay with Indian side. In the Assembly and Constitution debates, the Congress attitude was marked by inclusiveness and liberalism.
The Government appointed some prominent Indians who were Raj loyalists and liberals to important offices, and did not adopt any punitive control over the Indian civil servants who had aided the Raj in its governance of India and suppression of nationalist activities.
A Congress-dominated Assembly adopted B. Ambedkar , a fierce Congress critic as the chairman of the Constitution draft committee.
The Congress stood firm on its fundamental promises and delivered a Constitution that abolished untouchability and discrimination based on caste, religion or gender.
Primary education was made a right, and Congress governments made the zamindar system illegal, created minimum wages and authorized the right to strike and form labor unions. In , the Congress presidency passed upon Jivatram Kripalani , a veteran Gandhian and ally of both Nehru and Patel. India's duumvirate expressed neutrality and full support to the elected winner of the , and presidential races.