First Session of Indian National Congress: 1885 INC First Session – Demands, Resolutions

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The First Session of Indian National Congress was held in Bombay, from December 28 to December 31, 1885, under the presidency of a noted lawyer Womesh Chandra Bannerjee. The INC First Session’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 article on the First Session of the Indian National Congress discusses the features, demands, and resolutions proposed in the INC First Session. The topic is relevant for the upcoming UPSC Exam.

First Session of the Indian National Congress

With Viceroy Lord Dufferin’s approval and Allan Octavian Humes’s initiative, the First Session of Indian National Congress Session was held at Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit Pathshala, Bombay, in 1883.

  • The first president of INC 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 Session of INC 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 the INC First Session

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

  • During this period, a few wonderful Congress presidents were Pherozeshah Mehta, P.Anandacharlu, Surendranath Banerjee, Romesh Chandra Dutt, Ananda Mohan Bose, Dadabhai Naoroji (thrice president), Badruddin Tyabji, and Gopal Krishna Gokhale.
  • The renowned leaders during the INC 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 First 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 First Session of INC and represented various regional areas of India.

Demands During the First Session of Indian National Congress

One of the first demands was the appointment of a commission to investigate the Indian Administration. The commission was charged with evaluating the Indian Administration from 1858.

  • At the First Session of INC, 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 First 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 INC First Session, 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.

INC First Session: Resolutions Passed

Nine resolutions were discussed and adopted during the First Session of the Indian National Congress.

  • Establishing a Standing Committee in the House of Commons to consider official protests and create legislative councils for the Northwest Province, Oudh, and Punjab.
  • Creation of a Royal Commission to examine how the Indian government is run.
  • Implementation of concurrent public service exams in India and England and a rise in the eligibility age for applicants.
  • Reduced military spending was necessary.
  • The Indian Council of the Secretary of State for India should be abolished.
  • Expansion and reform of the Indian Councils Act of 1861‘s local and imperial legislative councils.
  • All resolutions were to be disseminated to national political organizations to facilitate discussion and the articulation of opinions.
  • Show opposition to India’s intended merger with Upper Burma and the annexation of that country.
  • The next Congress meeting was scheduled for December 28, 1886, in Calcutta.

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