1st Session of the Indian National Congress (1885) - Features, Demands, Resolutions

By K Balaji|Updated : August 25th, 2022

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 Womesh Chandra Bannerjee.

1st Session of the Indian National Congress's mission was to increase the number of educated Indians in government while 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.

1st Session of the Indian National Congress Meeting

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 Womesh Chandra Bannerjee, and 72 delegates (most lawyers and zero women) representing each province of India attended the meeting.
  • Viceroy Lord Dufferin called the Early Nationalists a 'microscopic minority at the first meeting in Bombay.'
  • The economic plan 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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Features of 1st Session of Indian National Congress

The most influential conference held during the latter half of December 1885 was the 1st Session of the Indian National Congress, among all the other conferences.

  • Few of the wonderful Congress presidents during this period were Pherozeshah Mehta, P.Anandacharlu, Surendranath Banerjea, Romesh Chandra Dutt, Ananda Mohan Bose, Dadabhai Naoroji (thrice president), Badruddin Tyabji, and Gopal Krishna Gokhale.
  • The renowned leaders during the first session were Sisir Kumar Ghosh, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Motilal Ghosh, Mahadev Govind Ranade, G. Subramania Aiyar, C. Vijayaraghavachariar, and Dinshaw E. Wacha.
  • The 1st Session of the Indian National Congress was organized in the auditorium of Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit College in Bombay.
  • It is known that due to the widespread Cholera disease in Poona, the location changed from Poona to Bombay.
  • Approximately 72 delegates attended the session and represented various regional areas of India.

Demands During 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', faced 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, establishing 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

  • Womesh Chunder Bonnerjee of Calcutta was the first president of the 1st Session of the Indian National Congress. The first session was accompanied by 72 representatives from each province of India.

  • 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.

  • The 1st session of the Indian National Congress was held in Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit College, Bombay, from December 28 to 30, 1885, at the action of retired Allan Octavian Hume, Civil Service officer.

  • 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.

  • The first session of the Indian National Congress was held in Bombay. On December 28 1885, approximately 72 social reformers, lawyers, and journalists gathered at Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit College, Bombay.

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