1st Session of the Indian National Congress

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 31, 2022, 12:56

The 1st Session of the Indian National Congress was held from December 28 to December 31, 1885, in Bombay under the presidentship of a noted lawyer Umesh Chandra Banerjee.

1st Session of the Indian National Congress's mission was to increase the number of educated Indians in government while also providing a forum for civic and political dialogue between them and the British Raj. The cholera outbreak caused the shift in the venue to Bombay from Pune. Continue reading to learn the most important facts about the 1st Session of the Indian National Congress.

Meeting Leading to the 1st Session of the Indian National Congress

  • With Viceroy Lord Dufferin's approval and Allan Octavian Humes's initiative, the first meeting was held at Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit Pathshala, Bombay, in 1883. The first president was Umesh Chandra Banerjee, and 72 delegates (most lawyers and zero women) representing each province of India attended the meeting.
  • At the first meeting in Bombay, Viceroy Lord Dufferin called the Early Nationalists a 'microscopic minority.' The economic agenda came to the forefront - they demanded the presentation of the budget in the assembly, highlighted the growth of agricultural labour, drain theory, the ruin of handicraft industries, rise in rural indebtedness, poverty, famine, etc.
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Demands Discussed in 1st Session of the Indian National Congress

  • One of the first demands was the appointment of a commission to investigate the Indian Administration, with the commission charged with evaluating the Indian Administration from 1858.
  • At the 1st Session of the Indian National Congress, the moderates demanded to disband the India Council in London by questioning the Secretary of State's authority to govern India. The Indian House, functioning as 'India House', had to face heavy criticism.
  • The most important demands of the 1st Session of the Indian National Congress were constitutional and legislative, including increasing the proportion of Indians in the legislature to make it more attentive to the Indian people. They also demanded the same for the Provincial Legislative Assembly resulting in the establishment of the Legislative councils for Sindh, the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), and Awadh.
  • Because India was of great strategic importance to the British, and the cost of maintaining the Indian military was very high, they ran the entire colonial operation in Asia through India; there was a strong desire to reduce military spending.
  • 'Early Nationalists' spoke out against Sir Edward Lytton's proposal to lower the civil service age limit from 21 to 19 years. They demanded civil service exams in both India and England simultaneously.

As a result of the 1st Session of the Indian National Congress, the moderates did not want 'complete independence' but rather 'Indianisation' of the services; their goal was for Indians to govern Indian with British assistance.

However, it was only in 1904 that India's moderates sought representation in the House of Commons to achieve integration of the British and Indian political systems.

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FAQs on 1st Session of the Indian National Congress

Q.1. Who presided over the 1st Session of the Indian National Congress?

Umesh Chandra Banerjee was the first president of the 1st Session of the Indian National Congress.

Q.2. Who moved the first resolution in the 1st Session of the Indian National Congress?

Subramaniya Iyer, affectionately known as the Grand Old Man of South India, led the Madras delegation to the 1st Session of the Indian National Congress in Mumbai (then Bombay) in December 1885 and moved a resolution in response to a proposal from K. T, Telang urging that elected elements in Legislative Councils, in addition to councillors, receive tangible powers.

Q.3. When was the 1st session of the Indian National Congress held?

The 1st session of the Indian National Congress was held in Bombay from December 28 to 30, 1885.

Q.4. What was the purpose of the 1st Session of the Indian National Congress?

The 1st Session of the Indian National Congress would raise various political, administrative, and economic issues, present their demands to the government, and expect the government to take appropriate action. They wished to raise public awareness of the inequitable nature of British rule.