Indian Freedom Struggle: Notes PDF, Timeline, Indian Independence Movement

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The Indian freedom struggle started after the revolt of 1857, and it covers the time frame from 1857 to 1947. There were many famous movements that happened within this time frame that helped Indians get independence from colonial rule. Indian Freedom Struggle includes a series of historical movements, such as the Swadeshi movement, Partition of Bengal, Minto-Morley reforms, the Home rule movement, etc., that led to the end of British rule in India.

Indian Independence movement has played an important role in the evolution of the country to be a free nation. Below, you will learn about the major events in the history of the Indian Freedom Struggle, along with other details.

What is Indian Freedom Struggle?

During the late 19th century, Indian nationalism emerged to overthrow British rule, through the Indian freedom struggle. There were many national heroes who became an active part of the struggle. From this article, one can get to know the timeline and brief history of all major events of the Indian Independence movement.

Indian Freedom Struggle Notes PDF

It is said to have started in 1857 after East India Company soldier Mangal Pandey attacked one of his officers in Bengal. The incident later spread fire throughout the country and finally led to the country’s independence in 1947 because of the contribution of important freedom fighters of India.

Indian Independence Movement Timeline

The timeline of the Indian Independence Movement is a testament to the resilience and determination of the Indian people, who fought tirelessly for their rights and sovereignty. This timeline highlights key events, movements, and personalities that shaped the trajectory of India’s struggle for independence, ultimately leading to the nation’s liberation. It should be noted that there were agitations and struggles against the British even before 1857, although the scale of the 1857 revolt was larger. Get the Indian freedom struggle timeline through the following table:

Year Movement
1857 Revolt of 1857
1878 Vernacular Press Act
1882 Indian Education Commission or Hunter Commission
1883-84 Ilbert Bill
1885 Indian National Congress established
1905 Partition of Bengal
1906 All-India Muslim League established
1909 Minto-Morley Reforms or Indian Councils Act 1909
1916 Lucknow Pact
1917 Champaran Satyagraha
1919 Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms
1919 Rowlatt Act
1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre
1920-22 Non-Cooperation Movement
1927 Simon Commission
1930 Civil Disobedience Movement
1930 First Round Table Conference
1931 Second Round Table Conference
1932 Poona Pact

– Third Round Table Conference

1935 Government of India Act 1935
1942 Quit India Movement
June 1947 Mountbatten Plan
July 1947 Indian Independence Act

Important Events in Indian Freedom Struggle

The freedom movement of India includes major events like the Revolt of 1857, the formation of the Indian National Congress, the Partition of Bengal, the Swadeshi Movement, etc. The important events in the Indian Freedom Struggle are explained as follows:

Revolt of 1857:

The major uprising movement in Indian history against British rule in India was the Revolt of 1857. The spark of the revolt was ignited at Barrackpore on 10 May 1857 by Mangal Pandey. He was a Sepoy of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry and attacked one of his officers. His rebellion turned out to be a nationwide revolt against the East India Company. The revolt resulted in the end of the rule of the East India Company over India.

Indian National Congress (INC):

After the revolt of 1857, in the late nineteenth century, India experienced the formation of several political parties. These political parties influenced the masses to fight for freedom. One of the first significant political parties that emerged in India was the Indian National Congress, formed by A. O. Hume, a retired British civil servant, along with Dinshaw Wacha and Dadabhai Naoroji. The First session of the Indian National Congress was held on 28 Dec 1885 at Bombay and continued till 31 December.

Under the leadership of prominent leaders like Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Subhash Chandra Bose, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian National Congress created a huge impact on the Indian independence movement.

Partition of Bengal (1905):

In the early 1900s, Indian National Congress influenced the masses in various parts of the country, particularly in Bengal. Seeing the outrage against the British government in Bengal, the Viceroy Lord Curzon hoped to destabilise Calcutta as the centre of Indian nationalism.

He came up with the idea to divide the state of Bengal into two parts in December 1903. However, the formal announcement of the Partition of Bengal was held on 19 July 1905, and the partition took place on 16 October 1905. Not only they divided the region, but they also divided the people based on their religion to counter Indian unity through the Divide and Rule policy.

Swadeshi Movement (1905-1908):

Swadeshi is the combination of two words – “Swa” meaning “Self,” and “desh” meaning “country.” The Swadeshi Movement was initiated by MK Gandhi to popularize the use and consumption of native products. After the movement, the Indian masses refused to use British goods and ditched them for Indian products. Initially, it started as an active political event in Calcutta Town Hall on 7th August 1905.

Later, it spread throughout the country after the movement’s promotion by several leaders like Bhaswat K. Nigoni, Ganesh Vyankatesh, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Mahadev Govind Ranade, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, and Dadabhai Naoroji. But, the movement was a failure as the Swadeshi Movement was not supported by the masses. Also, the British government used communalism to turn Muslims against the people supporting the movement.

Split in the Congress (1907):

Though the Indian National Congress was formed to achieve Swaraj, there were leaders with different ideologies. Because of the differences in their ideologies, the Congress was about to split in 1906. However, the split was avoided by choosing Dadabhai Naoroji as the President of the Congress.

Perhaps they avoided the move in 1906, the differences in opinion regarding the extension of the Swadeshi and Boycott movement became a strong reason for its split. The Split of the Indian National Congress in 1907 into two groups happened during the Surat session.

Minto-Morley Constitutional Reforms (1909):

Lord Minto and John Morley, serving in the Indian government as the Viceroy and the Secretary of State respectively, offered the institution of new reforms in the Legislative Councils in discussion with the Moderates of the INC. However, these ideas were a huge disappointment for the whole country. The major provisions of the Minto-Morley Reforms in 1909 were as follows-

  • Minto-Morley Constitutional Reforms, or the Indian Councils Act of 1909, increased the number of elected members in the Provincial Legislative Councils and the Imperial Legislative Council.
  • Indians were appointed as members of the Governor-General’s Executive Council.
  • After the Act’s introduction, the power to ask questions in the council was increased.
  • Also, it allowed voting on separate budget items.

Ghadar Movement (1913):

The Ghadar movement was an international political movement that gained popularity during World War I. The movement was founded by expatriate Indians to fight against British rule. The Ghadar Party was initially supported by the Punjabi Indians living on the West Coast of Canada and the United States of America. Later, this movement was supported by people all over the country.

The major leaders of this movement of the Indian freedom struggle were Bhagwan Singh and Har Dayal. But, this movement was weak as the Ghadar leaders underestimated the extent of preparation at the financial, tactical, strategic, ideological, and organizational levels. Also, there was a lack of a mass base, and the arrest of Har Dayal resulted in the abrupt end of the Ghadar movement.

Home Rule Movement (1916-1918):

Under the leadership of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the Home Rule Movement was set up in the Bombay Province while Annie Besant started another movement along the lines of the Irish Home Rule League working in different areas. The Home Rule Movement was considered a turning point in the Indian freedom struggle.

The Movement that started under the cooperation of Annie Besant realized the need for Moderates’ and Extremists’ cooperation, while the one under the leadership of Tilak promoted the Home Rule campaign. Later in December 1916, during the Lucknow session of the INC, the famous Congress-League Pact was declared. However, the decision to arrest Mrs Besant and her associates George Arundale and B.P. Wafia in 1917 became a turning point for the Home Rule Movement. Also, in 1920, the movement’s name was changed to Swarajya Sabha.

Bihar’s Champaran Movement (1917):

After facing racial discrimination in South Africa for more than twenty years, Mahatma Gandhi returned to India in 1915. He was advised to travel around India by Gokhale to understand the problems faced by the Indians. In his initial days, he kept a distance from political issues but saw the worsening in their conditions. He started Satyagraha against the British government at Champaran in Bihar in 1917, called Champaran Satyagraha.

However, he was threatened by the Commissioner to leave the district. At this time, the leaders of the Home Rule movement obeyed the government, but he refused to leave the movement and preferred to face the punishment. The movement was successful as Gandhi was able to manipulate the government to grant refunds to the peasants.

Ahmedabad Satyagraha (1918):

Ahmedabad Satyagraha was Gandhi’s first-ever hunger strike and it was started by him to resolve the brewing dispute between the mill owners and workers over the plague bonus in Ahmedabad. It was another successful Indian independence movement led by Gandhi, as the workers received an increased wage of 35%.

Kheda Satyagraha (1918):

Just 4 days after the Ahmedabad Satyagraha, the Kheda Satyagraha was held by Gandhi and Sardar Patel in March 1918 after the Kheda region was affected by the plague, cholera, and famine leading to the destruction of agriculture. Despite such conditions, the peasants of the region were compelled to submit a 23% tax rise.

Kheda Satyagraha was the first non-cooperation movement led by Gandhi that made the government authorities give concessions to the farmers.

Rowlatt Satyagraha (1919):

A censorship of the press was instituted by the British government during the First World War in the form of the Rowlatt Act and in response, Mahatma Gandhi and Mrs Sarojini Naidu initiated a Satyagraha on 6th April 1919. The Rowlatt Satyagraha spread throughout the country like wildfire in no time, prominently in Punjab. It was supported by the Home Rule League members, congressmen, and some reformist leaders like Shri Niwas Shastri, Tej Bahadur Sapru, Surendranath Banerjee, and Sir D.E.Vadi.

This Satyagraha was significantly promoted by the national press like Akhatav (Lucknow), Independent (Allahabad), Bombay Chronicle (Bombay), Navjeevan (Ahmedabad), and Young India (Fortnightly).

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre (1919):

In March 1919, the Imperial Legislative Council passed the Rowlatt Act. Along with the Act, the British government passed a bill according to which the police had the right to arrest anyone and incarcerate anyone suspected of ‘terrorist’ activities without trial for up to two years. Though in opposition to the bill Gandhi called for a peaceful satyagraha, the situation was grim in Punjab.

People decided to come together and protest peacefully in the Jallianwala Bagh, but it turned out to be one of the bloodiest incidents in the Indian Freedom Struggle. The military commander of Amritsar entered the place and commanded to open fire on unarmed men, women, and children inside. The shooting lasted for almost 10 mins. In the incident, 379 innocent people were killed according to the British government’s official figures. But according to Indian figures, the massacre resulted in the deaths of at least 1000 people and injured more than 1500 people.

Non-cooperation Movement (1920):

To resist the British domination of India, Mahatma Gandhi spread the idea of non-cooperation among Indians and launched the Non-cooperation Movement on 1st August 1920 with the manifesto to adopt Indian principles along with inheriting the swadeshi habits like weaving and spinning and working against untouchability. The Chauri Chaura incident ended the movement after two years in February 1922.

Khilafat Movement (1919-24):

Under the leadership of Hasrat Mohani, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Shaukat Ali, Maulana Azad, and Muhammad Ali, the Khilafat Movement was started to force the British Indian Government to change its approach towards Turkey along with restoring the former position of the Islamic Caliphate. The leaders of the Khilafat Movement joined Gandhi’s Non-cooperation Movement against the British. The movement helped create political consciousness among Indian Muslims.

Boycott of Simon Commission (1927):

In November 1927, the British Government appointed the Simon Commission to look into the working of the Government of India Act of 1919 and to suggest changes. The Commission consisted of only Englishmen without a single Indian representative. After the commission came to India in 1928, it was boycotted by the Congress Party along with the Muslim League as no Indians were included in the commission.

Nehru Report (1928):

The Nehru Report was put forward by Motilal Nehru at the Lucknow session of the all-party conference on August 28, 1928, to demand fundamental rights for Indian citizens. The major components of the Nehru Report were as follows-

  • Rights bill
  • Proposal for Supreme Court creation
  • Equal rights for men and women as citizens
  • Federal form of government formation

Purna Swaraj Campaign (1930):

The Indian National Congress promulgated the Declaration of the Independence of India or the Purna Swaraj Declaration on 26 January 1930. On 31 December 1929, Jawaharlal Nehru hoisted the Indian Flag on the banks of the Ravi River, Lahore. After the incident, the members of Congress asked Indians to observe Independence Day on 26 January. During the Purna Swaraj Campaign, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and other nationalists publicly hoisted the Indian Flag all across the country.

Civil Disobedience Movement (1930):

Another landmark in the history of the Indian Freedom Struggle was the Civil Disobedience Movement started under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. The movement began when Gandhi left his Ashram along with his selected members for Dandi to break the Salt Law. The British government then had a monopoly on making salt, and it was considered illegal for others to make salt.

The Dandi March, or the Salt Satyagraha, was accepted by the public and it became widespread as a significant Civil Disobedience Movement that symbolized the people’s disapproval of the policies made by the British Government.

Quit India Movement (1942):

In 1942, the Cripps Mission failed. Its failure caused the Quit India Movement to be launched. It was one of the major movements in the Indian Freedom Struggle launched by Mahatma Gandhi. It was later joined by other prominent leaders of the country on August 8 and 9, 1942. People came up with slogans like ‘Bharat Chodo’, ‘Quit India’, and ‘Do or Die’. The provisions of the movement were as follows:

  • End of British rule over India immediately.
  • Establishment of a provisional government after the British withdrawal from India.
  • Ending imperialism and fascism by declaring the commitment to free India.

Role of Women in Indian Freedom Struggle

The role of women in the Indian freedom struggle was instrumental and transformative. Women played a vital role in all phases of the movement, from early organizing efforts to mass protests and acts of resistance against British colonial rule. Their participation was marked by courage, sacrifice, and unwavering commitment to the cause of independence.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, women began to actively participate in social and political organizations that aimed to challenge British domination and promote Indian nationalism. Prominent women leaders emerged, such as Sarojini Naidu, Annie Besant, Kamala Nehru, and Aruna Asaf Ali, who became influential figures in the fight for freedom.

Indian Freedom Struggle UPSC Notes

The Indian Freedom Struggle led to the independence of the country from British Rule. Several questions have been raised from the Indian Freedom Struggle in the UPSC Prelims and Mains exam. You can download the Indian Independence Movement PDF with the link provided above.

Question 1: The Dandi March, led by Mahatma Gandhi, was a significant event during the Indian Independence Movement. It was a protest against: (a) The imposition of salt tax, (b) The partition of Bengal, (c) The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, (d) The Rowlatt Act

Answer: a) The imposition of salt tax

Question 2: Which revolutionary freedom fighter of the Indian Freedom Struggle is known as “The Lion of Punjab“? – (a) Bhagat Singh, (b) Chandrashekhar Azad, (c) Subhas Chandra Bose, d) Lala Lajpat Rai

Answer: d) Lala Lajpat Rai

Question 3: The famous slogan “Inquilab Zindabad” (Long Live the Revolution) was given by: (a) Bhagat Singh, (b) Subhas Chandra Bose, (c) Jawaharlal Nehru, (d) Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

Answer: a) Bhagat Singh

Important Notes for UPSC
Wildlife Sanctuary in India Right to Information
President of India List Doctrine of Lapse
Important Boundaries and Lines of India Poverty Alleviation Programmes in India
Indian Foreign Policy Prime Minister of India
Maharatna Companies Kothari Commission
Delhi Sultanate Highest Peak in India
World Happiness Index Self Help Groups
Our Apps Playstore
SSC and Bank
Other Exams
GradeStack Learning Pvt. Ltd.Windsor IT Park, Tower - A, 2nd Floor, Sector 125, Noida, Uttar Pradesh 201303
Home Practice Test Series Premium