MP Study Notes: Indian National Movement Part-2 (1905-1917)

By Trupti Thool|Updated : March 14th, 2022

Indian National Movement (1905-1917): The period from 1905 was known as the era of extremism in the Indian National Movement. The extremists or the aggressive nationalists believed that success could be achieved through bold means. The important extremist leaders were Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh.

Indian National Movement Part-2 (1905-1917)

  • The period from 1905 was known as the era of extremism in the Indian National Movement.
  • The extremists or aggressive nationalists believed that success could be achieved through bold means.
  • The important extremist leaders were Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, and Aurobindo Ghosh.

Causes for the Rise of Extremism

  • The failure of the Moderates to win any notable success other than the expansion of the legislative councils by the Indian Councils Act (1892)
  • The famine and plague of 1896-97 affected the whole country and the suffering of the masses
  • The economic conditions of the people became worse.
  • The ill-treatment of Indians in South Africa on the basis of the color of skin.
  • The immediate cause for the rise of extremism was the reactionary rule of Lord Curzon: He passed the Calcutta Corporation Act, (1899) reducing the Indian control of this local body.
  • The Universities Act (1904) reduced the elected members in the University bodies. It also reduced the autonomy of the universities and made their government departments.
  • The Sedition Act and the Official Secrets Act reduced the freedoms of all people.
  • His worst measure was the Partition of Bengal (1905).

Methods used by the extremists

  • Not cooperating with the British Government by boycotting government courts, schools, and Colleges.
  • Promotion of Swadeshi and boycott of foreign goods
  • Introduction and promotion of national education.

Leaders of the Extremists

  • The extremists were led by Bala Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh
  • Bal Gangadhar Tilak is regarded as the real founder of the popular anti-British movement in India. He was known as ‘Lokamanya’. He attacked the British through his weeklies The Maratha and the Kesari. He was jailed twice by the British for his nationalist activities and in 1908 deported to Mandoli for six years. He set up the Home Rule League in 1916 at Poona and declared “Swaraj is my birth-right and I will have it.”
  • Lala Lajpat Rai is popularly known as the ‘Lion of Punjab’. He played an important role in the Swadeshi Movement. He founded the Indian Home Rule League in the US in 1916. He was deported to Mandalay on the ground of sedition. He received fatal injuries while leading a procession against the Simon Commission and died on November 17, 1928.
  • Bipin Chandra Pal began his career as a moderate and turned an extremist.
  • Aurobindo Ghosh was another extremist leader and he actively participated in the Swadeshi Movement.
  • He was also imprisoned. After his release, he settled in the French territory of Pondicherry and concentrated on spiritual activities


  • Curzon announced the partition of Bengal.
  • The reason for partition was given as an attempt to improve administration.
  • But the real aim was to ‘Divide and Rule’. The partition was done in order to create a separate State for Muslims and so introduce the poison of communalism in the country.
  • However, the Indians viewed the partition as an attempt by the British to disrupt the growing national movement in Bengal and divide the Hindus and Muslims of the region.
  • Widespread agitation ensued in the streets and in the press. People of different parts of India opposed the partition of Bengal all over the country.
  • This opposition was carried on by organized meetings, processions and demonstrations etc. Hindus and Muslims tied ‘rakhi’ in each other’s hands to show their unity and their protest.

Swadeshi Movement

  • The Swadeshi Movement involved programs like the boycott of government service, courts, schools and colleges and of foreign goods, Promotion of Swadeshi goods, Promotion of National Education through the establishment of national schools and colleges.
  • It was both a political and economic movement
  • In Bengal, even the landlords joined the movement
  • The women and students took to picketing. Students refused to use books made of foreign paper.
  • It was Bal Gangadhar Tilak who realized the importance of boycott as a weapon that could be used to paralyze the whole British administrative machinery in India.
  • The boycott and Swadeshi movements were instrumental in the establishment of swadeshi enterprises - textile mills, banks, hosiery, tanneries, chemical works, and insurance companies. Swadeshi stores were opened.
  • This made the British reverse the partition of Bengal and unite it in 1911.

Hind Swaraj

  • When the movement against the partition of Bengal was at its height the annual session of the Congress was held at Calcutta in 1906 under the presidentship of Dadabhai Naoroji.
  • This session is very important because of the conciliation between the Moderates and Extremist
  • Congress condemned the Partition of Bengal. In the words of DadaBhai Naoroji, it is a bad blunder of England.
  • The promotion of education was declared as the aim of Congress.
  • The Swadeshi and the Boycott were accorded full support by Congress. For the first time Boycott was authorized to be used as a political weapon.

Formation of Muslim League (1906)

  • As the radical movement grew stronger the British began to look for ways and means to break the unity among Indians.
  • They tried to do this through the partition of Bengal and by sowing the seed of communalism among the Indian people.
  • They motivated Muslims to form a permanent political association of their own.
  • In December 1906, during the Muhammadan Educational Conference in Dacca, Nawab Salim Ullah Khan raised the idea of establishing a Central Muhammadan Association to take care of Muslim interests.
  • Accordingly, on 30th December 1906, the All India Muslim League was founded. Another prominent person, Aga Khan was chosen as its president.
  • The main objective of the league was to protect and advance the rights of Muslims in India and represent their needs to the government.
  • By encouraging the issue of separate electorates, the government sowed the seed of communalism and separatism among Indians.
  • The formation of the Muslim League is considered to be the first fruit of the British master strategy of ‘Divide and Rule’. Mohammad Ali Jinnah later joined the League.

Surat Session (1907)

  • The INC split into two groups -The extremists and The moderates, at the Surat session in 1907.
  • Extremists were led by Bal, Pal, Lai while the moderates by G.K. Gokhale.
  • Controversy arose over the elected president, Ras Bihari Ghosh, as extremists didn’t accept him.
  • Extremists wanted Lala Lajpat Rai to be chosen.
  • The government after this launched a massive attack on extremists by suppressing their newspapers and arresting their leaders.


  • The Council Act of 1909 was an extension of the 1892 reforms, also known as the Morley-Minto Reforms after the names of the then Secretary of State (Lord Morley) and the then Viceroy (Lord Minto).
  • It increased the members of the Legislative Assembly from sixteen to sixty.
  • A few non-elected members were also added.
  • Though the members of the Legislative Council were increased, they had no real powers. They remained mainly advisory in character.
  • They could not stop any bills from being passed. Nor did they have any power over the budget.
  • The British made another calculated move to sow the seed of communalism in Indian politics by introducing separate electorates for the Muslims.
  • This meant that from the constituencies dominated by Muslims only Muslim candidates could be elected.
  • Hindus could only vote for Hindus, and Muslims could only vote for Muslims.
  • Many leaders protested against this communal electorate policy of the British to ‘Divide and Rule’.

Annulment of Bengal Partition

  • It was decided to annul the partition of Bengal in 1911 mainly to curb the menace of revolutionary terrorism.
  • The annulment came as a rude shock to the Muslim political elite.
  • It was also decided to shift the capital to Delhi as a sop to the Muslims, as it was associated with Muslim glory, but the Muslims were not pleased.
  • Bihar and Orissa were taken out of Bengal and Assam were made a separate province.

Ghadar Party (1913)

  • Formed by Lala Hardayal, Taraknath Das and Sohan Singh Bhakna.
  • The name was taken from a weekly paper, Ghadar, which had been started on November 1, 1913 to commemorate the 1857 revolt.
  • HQ was at San Francisco.
  • The outbreak of the First World War provided the Ghadarites with an opportunity to free India from a Government which was indifferent to their cause.
  • They began to return to India in thousands for a coordinated revolt in collaboration with the Bengal revolutionaries. Their plan was foiled at the last moment due to treachery.

Komagata Maru Incident

  • The importance of this event lies in the fact that it created an explosive situation in Punjab.
  • Komagata Maru was the name of a ship which was carrying 370 passengers, mainly Sikh and Punjabi Muslim would-be immigrants, from Singapore to Vancouver.
  • They were turned back by Canadian authorities after two months of privation & uncertainty.
  • It was generally believed that the Canadian authorities were influenced by the British Government.
  • The ship finally anchored at Calcutta in September 1914 but the inmates refused to board the Punjab-bound train.
  • In the ensuing with the police near Calcutta, 22 persons died.
  • Inflamed by this and with the outbreak of the War, the Ghadr leaders decided to launch a violent attack on British rule in India.
  • They urged fighters to go to India. Bengal revolutionaries were contacted; Political dacoities were committed to raising funds mainly in Punjab.
  • Thus, an explosive situation was created in Punjab.


  • The First World War started in the year 1914.
  • This War was fought among the nations of Europe to get the colonial monopoly. During wartime, the British Government made an appeal to the Indian leaders to join hands with them in their time of crisis.
  • Indian leaders agreed but they put their own terms and conditions i.e. after the war was over, the British government would give Constitutional (legislative and administrative) powers to the Indian People.
  • Unfortunately, the steps taken by the British government during World War I created unrest among the Indian people. This was because the British government had taken a huge loan during wartime which they had to repay.
  • They increased the rent from the land, i.e. lagan. They forcefully recruited Indians in the British Army.
  • They increased the price of necessary goods and imposed taxes on personal and professional income.
  • As a result, they had to face protest from Indian society.
  • Farmers and workers of Champaran, Bardoli, Kheda and Ahmedabad actively protested against the exploitative policies of the British government.
  • Lakhs of students left schools and colleges. Hundreds of lawyers gave up their practice. Women also significantly contributed to this movement and their participation became wider with the emergence of Gandhi.
  • The boycott of foreign cloth became a mass movement, with thousands of bonfires of foreign cloth lighting the Indian sky.

Lucknow Session (1916)

  • The 31st Session of the Congress was held at Lucknow in 1916.
  • It was presided over by the Ambica charan Majumdar who was a prominent lawyer and was actively associated with the Congress since its birth.
  • After a lapse of about 10 years, both the Moderates and Extremists have united again which was a good sign for the national movement.
  • In this session, the Congress and the Muslim League came closer to each other and they signed the historic Lucknow Pact.
  • A joint Reform Scheme was sent to the Viceroy.
  • They decided to make a united demand for self-government.
  • They were to join their hands in asking the Government that a majority of the members of the Legislative Councils to be elected.
  • They were to ask the Government that the Legislative Councils be invested with wider powers than before.
  • They would make a common demand that at least half the seats in the Viceroy's Executive Council be filled with Indians.
  • Thus this session of 1916 cemented the friendship between the Congress and the Muslim League and promoted goodwill between the Hindus and the Muslims.
  • The resolution condemning the Arms Act and Press Act was passed which had virtually reduced the people and the press to a condition of absolute helplessness

Home Rule League Movement 1916

  • The Home Rule Movement was the Indian response to the First World War
  • Was organized on the lines of the Irish Home Rule Leagues, which represented the emergence of a new trend of aggressive politics
  • Annie Besant, the Irish Theosophist, had decided of a movement for Home Rule on the lines of the Irish Home Rule Leagues
  • Tilak was ready to assume leadership after his release in 1914 and reassured Government of his loyalty and to the Moderates that he wanted, like the Irish Home Rulers, a reform of the administration and not an overthrow of the Government
  • By early 1915, Annie Besant had launched a campaign to demand self-government for India after the war on the lines of white colonies
  • She campaigned through her newspapers, New India & Commonweal, and through public meetings and conferences
  • Two Home Rule Leagues were established, one by BG Tilak at Poona in April 1916 and the other by Mrs. Annie Besant at Madras in September 1916
  • Tilak’s Movement concentrated on Maharashtra (excluding Bombay), Karnataka, Central Provinces, and Berar
  • Annie Besant’s Movement covered the rest of India (including Bombay)
  • The home rule league mainly aimed at
  1. Getting self-government for India within the British Empire
  2. Formation of linguistic states
  3. Education in the vernacular Languages
  • The two Leagues cooperated with each other as well with the Congress and the Muslim League in putting their demand for home rule.
  • The Home Rule Movement had brought a new life to the national movement (Revival of Swadeshi movement) with women joining in larger numbers.
  • Anglo-Indians, most of the Muslims and non-brahmins from the South did not join as they felt Home Rule would mean the rule of the Hindu majority, mainly the high caste.

Note → Shyamji Krishnavarma set up home rule league in London 

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