- Before the establishment of the Indian National Congress (INC), various political associations existed in India. These associations had specific objectives and played a significant role in advocating for the rights and welfare of Indians. Here are some common objectives of political associations before the INC:
- Spread of Education: Political associations emphasized the importance of education and worked towards promoting education among the masses. They believed that education was crucial for the empowerment and upliftment of the Indian population.
- Increased Indian Representation: These associations aimed to increase Indian representation in the executive and legislative councils. They sought greater participation of Indians in the decision-making processes and governance of the country.
- Opposition to Discriminatory Policies: Political associations strongly opposed the discriminatory measures and policies implemented by the British administration towards Indians. They fought against racial discrimination and demanded equal rights and opportunities for Indians.
- Administrative Reforms: These associations sought to bring about reforms in the administrative system of the country. They advocated for a more inclusive and transparent administration that would address the needs and concerns of the Indian population.
- Freedom of the Press: Political associations emphasized the importance of freedom of the press. They fought for the right to express opinions, criticize the government, and disseminate information without censorship or restrictions.
- These objectives reflect the aspirations of Indians during the pre-INC period and the efforts made by political associations to address various social, political, and educational issues. The formation of the Indian National Congress in 1885 further consolidated these objectives and provided a unified platform for the Indian nationalist movement.
Bombay Presidency Association (1885)
- The Bombay Presidency Association, established in 1885, was a prominent political organization in the Bombay Presidency of British India. Here is some background information about the association:
- Establishment: The Bombay Presidency Association was founded in response to Lord Lytton’s reactionary policies and the controversy surrounding the Ilbert Bill. It aimed to address the concerns and represent the interests of the Indian population in the Bombay Presidency.
- Inclusive Membership: The association attracted people from diverse backgrounds, including Hindus, Parsees, Jews, and Portuguese. It provided a platform for individuals from different communities to come together and actively participate in the political discourse.
- Founding Members: The association was established by prominent leaders such as Pherozshah Mehta, K.T. Telang, and Badruddin Tyabji. These leaders played a crucial role in shaping the objectives and activities of the association.
- People’s Representative: The Bombay Presidency Association aimed to be the representative of the people in the presidency. It sought to address the needs and wants of the natives of India residing in the Bombay Presidency.
- Financial Support: The association received a significant donation of thirty thousand rupees at its inception, which provided a strong financial foundation for its activities.
Bombay Presidency Association
- The establishment of the Bombay Presidency Association marked an important step in the political awakening of the people in the Bombay Presidency. It served as a platform for expressing their concerns, advocating for their rights, and working towards political and social reforms in the region.
- The Bombay Presidency Association, founded in 1885, had several notable features and influential founders. Here are some key features of the association and information about its founders:
- Cordial Relations: The Bombay Presidency Association maintained cordial relations with the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, another important political organization in the region. This cooperation and collaboration between the two associations helped strengthen the nationalist movement in Bombay and its surrounding areas.
- Joint Deputation to England: The Bombay Presidency Association, along with the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, the Madras Mahajana Sabha, and the Indian Association of Calcutta, sent a joint deputation to England in September 1885. The purpose of the deputation was to present India’s case to the British electorate and advocate for Indian interests.
- Leadership in Delegation: The delegation sent to England was led by notable leaders from different regions. N. Chandavarkar represented Bombay, Ramaswami Mudaliar represented Madras, and Manmohan Ghosh represented Calcutta. This joint effort by leaders from different parts of India demonstrated unity and a common cause among nationalist leaders.
- Hosting the First Congress: The Bombay Presidency Association played a significant role in the first session of the Indian National Congress, which was held three months after the association’s establishment. This event marked a milestone in the history of the nationalist movement in India.
Now, let’s delve into the founders of the Bombay Presidency Association
- Pherozeshah Mehta: Sir Pherozeshah Merwanjee Mehta was a renowned Parsi politician and lawyer based in Bombay. He was knighted by the British Government for his contributions to the legal profession. Mehta held several important positions, including the Municipal Commissioner of Bombay Municipality and the President of the Indian National Congress in 1890. He played a pivotal role in the formation of the Bombay Presidency Association and served as its president until his death. Mehta advocated for Western education and cultural assimilation to uplift India, and he actively supported various social causes.
- K.T. Telang: Kashinath Trimbak Telang was one of the founding members of the Bombay Presidency Association. He contributed significantly to the association’s activities and objectives.
- Badruddin Tyabji: Badruddin Tyabji, another founding member, played an instrumental role in the establishment and functioning of the Bombay Presidency Association. He was also a prominent figure in Bombay’s public life.
- These three leaders, Pherozeshah Mehta, K.T. Telang, and Badruddin Tyabji, were known as ‘The Triumvirate’ or ‘The Three Stars’ of Bombay’s public life. They made significant contributions to the political and social progress of the region and played vital roles in shaping the nationalist movement in the Bombay Presidency.
- He was a notable figure in Indian politics and law, particularly in Bombay. Here are some key details about his life and contributions:
- Personal Background: Pherozeshah Merwanjee Mehta was born on August 4, 1845. He belonged to the Parsi community, which is a prominent Indian Zoroastrian community.
- Political and Legal Career: Mehta was a highly respected lawyer and politician. He made significant contributions to the legal field, leading to his knighthood by the British Government in India in recognition of his services to the law.
- Municipal Commissioner of Bombay Municipality: In 1873, Mehta was appointed as the Municipal Commissioner of Bombay Municipality. He served as its President four times, in the years 1884, 1885, 1905, and 1911. His involvement in municipal administration allowed him to work towards improving the infrastructure and welfare of the city.
- Founder and President of the Indian National Congress: Mehta played a crucial role in the establishment of the Indian National Congress (INC). He was one of the founding members of the INC and served as its President during the Calcutta session in 1890. His leadership and vision contributed to the growth and influence of the INC as a prominent nationalist organization.
- President of the Bombay Presidency Association: When the Bombay Presidency Association was formed in 1885, Mehta was elected as its president. He held this position for the rest of his life. As the president, he led the association in its efforts to promote political and social reforms, advocating for the interests of the people of the Bombay Presidency.
- Advocacy for Western Education and Social Causes: Mehta believed in the importance of Western education and the adoption of Western culture to advance India. He encouraged Indians to pursue Western education as a means to uplift themselves and their nation. Additionally, he actively supported various social causes, including education, sanitation, and healthcare, aiming to improve the living conditions of the people.
- Pherozeshah Mehta’s contributions as a politician, lawyer, and social reformer greatly influenced the political and social landscape of his time. His leadership and commitment to the welfare of the people left a lasting impact on the Bombay Presidency and the Indian nationalist movement.
- Badruddin Tyabji was an influential figure in Bombay’s public life and an important leader in the Indian nationalist movement. Here are some key details about his life and contributions:
- Early Life and Education: Badruddin Tyabji was born on October 10, 1844, in Bombay. His father belonged to an old Cambay emigrant Arab family. Tyabji received his education in London and joined the Middle Temple. He became a Barrister in April 1867, becoming the first Indian Barrister in Bombay.
- Rise in the Legal Profession: Tyabji quickly gained prominence in his legal career. He rose through the ranks and became a respected figure in the legal profession in Bombay.
- Involvement in Public Life: Tyabji made his public debut after three years at the Bar when he actively campaigned for an elective Bombay Municipal Corporation in July 1871. He played a leading role in the campaign and was subsequently elected to the corporation.
- The Triumvirate of Bombay’s Public Life: Along with Pherozeshah Mehta and Kashinath Telang, Badruddin Tyabji formed the Triumvirate or the Three Stars of Bombay’s public life. These three leaders were influential figures who played significant roles in shaping the political and social landscape of Bombay.
- Involvement in Political Associations: Tyabji played a crucial role in the formation of the Bombay Presidency Association in 1885. He was one of the founders of the association and took the responsibility of running it almost entirely by himself.
- Role in the Indian National Congress: When the Indian National Congress held its first session in Bombay, Tyabji and his brother, Camruddin Tyabji, were among the delegates. However, their attendance was limited due to urgent business in Cambay, leading to allegations that Muslims were boycotting Congress. Tyabji vehemently denied these allegations and emphasized his opposition to communal and sectarian prejudices.
- Badruddin Tyabji’s contributions to the legal profession, public life, and the nationalist movement were significant. His involvement in political associations and his dedication to fostering unity and combating communal prejudices played a crucial role in shaping the political discourse of his time.
- Kashinath Trimbak Telang, commonly known as K.T. Telang, was a prominent figure in the Indian nationalist movement and a respected lawyer. Here are some key details about his life and contributions:
- Early Life and Education: K.T. Telang was born in 1850 into a Marathi Brahmin family. He received his primary and secondary education at a Marathi school. He later pursued higher education at Elphinstone College, earning his M.A. and L.L.B. degrees.
- Rise in the Legal Profession: Telang quickly gained recognition as a lawyer in Bombay and rose to prominence within a short period of time. His expertise in Hindu law, coupled with his command of Sanskrit and English, made him well-known and respected in the legal field.
- Involvement in the Indian National Congress: Telang was actively involved in the Indian National Congress (INC) from its inception. He played a significant role in the organization and was appointed as the first secretary of the INC. As a member of the moderate faction within the Congress, he advocated for gradual political reforms and worked towards the upliftment of society.
- Appointment as a Judge: In 1889, Telang was appointed as a judge in the Bombay High Court, a position that further solidified his stature and influence in the legal and political spheres.
- Social Reforms: Telang was not only involved in politics and law but also contributed to social reforms. He strongly advocated for women’s education, recognizing its importance in empowering women and promoting social progress. He also worked towards improving the conditions of the lower classes and championed their upliftment.
- K.T. Telang’s multidimensional contributions as a lawyer, politician, and social reformer made him a prominent figure in the Indian nationalist movement. His commitment to gradual reforms and social upliftment, coupled with his legal expertise, played a significant role in shaping the moderate faction within the Indian National Congress.
Poona Sarvajanik Sabha (1870)
- The Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, established in 1870, played a significant role in the sociopolitical landscape of British India. Here are some key features and contributions of the Sabha:
- Formation and Founders: The Poona Sarvajanik Sabha was founded on April 2, 1870, in response to public dissatisfaction with the management of a local temple. The prominent founders of the Sabha were M.G. Ranade, G.V. Joshi, S.H. Chiplunkar, Bhawanrao Pant Pratinidhi, and others.
- Composition and Membership: The Sabha had a diverse membership, including lawyers, pensioners, pleaders, teachers, journalists, and government employees from the judicial and education departments. While the majority of members were from the educated middle class, membership was open to people from all castes and classes.
- Objectives and Activities: The primary objective of the Sabha was to represent the people of the region and act as a bridge between the government and the public. It organized lecture tours, meetings, and relief efforts during famines to instill a sense of national pride and address social issues.
- Advocacy and Reforms: The Sabha represented the interests of peasants to the government and voiced opposition to forest laws, salt laws, and press laws. It published a quarterly journal to promote its ideas and encouraged Indians to unite for economic and political reforms.
- Support for Swadeshi: The Sabha actively supported the Swadeshi movement, advocating for the use of hand-spun khadi fabric. It sent one of its members, Ganesh Vasudeo Joshi, dressed in khadi, to the Delhi Durbar in 1877, even before Mahatma Gandhi popularized khadi as a symbol of Indian nationalism.
- Influence and Transition: The Sabha played a crucial role in shaping the sociopolitical landscape of the time. It foreshadowed the formation of the Indian National Congress in 1885, with many of its members joining the INC. However, after 1895, ideological differences within the Sabha led to a decline in its activities, and it eventually splintered into different groups.
- The Poona Sarvajanik Sabha was an important sociopolitical organization that aimed to represent the people’s interests and advocate for reforms. Its efforts in promoting national pride, advocating for social causes, and supporting Swadeshi had a lasting impact on the Indian nationalist movement.
The Bombay Presidency Association
- The Bombay Presidency Association was a political organization founded in Bombay in 1885 by Pherozeshah Mehta, K.T. Telang, Badruddin Tyabji, and others. It was one of the first political organizations in India to demand greater self-government for Indians under British rule. The Association played a significant role in the Indian independence movement, and many of its members, including Mehta, Tyabji, and Gokhale, went on to become leading figures in the Indian National Congress.
- The Bombay Presidency Association was formed in response to the reactionary policies of Lord Lytton, the Governor-General of India from 1876 to 1880. Lytton’s policies, which included the introduction of a new Arms Act and the Vernacular Press Act, were seen by many Indians as an attempt to suppress dissent. The Bombay Presidency Association was founded to protest against these policies and to demand greater Indian representation in the government.
- The Association was successful in achieving some of its goals. In 1882, the government of India appointed a commission to investigate the Indian Civil Service, and the Association was able to secure a number of concessions for Indians, including the right to compete for all but the highest posts in the service. The Association also played a role in the passage of the Ilbert Bill, which would have allowed Indian magistrates to try European defendants. However, the bill was ultimately defeated by the British government, and this led to a split in the Indian National Congress.
- The Bombay Presidency Association continued to be active in the Indian independence movement until it was disbanded in 1906. It played an important role in the development of Indian nationalism, and many of its members went on to become leading figures in the Indian National Congress.
- The Bombay Presidency Association is still remembered today as one of the first political organizations in India to demand greater self-government for Indians under British rule. It played a significant role in the Indian independence movement, and its members helped to lay the foundation for the modern Indian state.
- Here are some of the important features of the Bombay Presidency Association:
- It was a non-violent organization that believed in using constitutional methods to achieve its goals.
- It was open to all Indians, regardless of caste, creed, or religion.
- It was committed to the cause of Indian independence.
- It played a significant role in the development of Indian nationalism.
- Many of its members went on to become leading figures in the Indian National Congress.
- The Bombay Presidency Association was an important milestone in the history of the Indian independence movement. It helped to raise awareness of the Indian people’s desire for self-government, and it laid the foundation for the eventual achievement of Indian independence.
The Madras Presidency
- There were several political associations in Madras Presidency during the British Raj. Some of the most important ones were:
- The Madras Native Association (MNA), was founded in 1852 by Gazulu Lakshminarasu Chetty. The MNA was the first political organization in the Madras Presidency, and it campaigned for greater Indian representation in the government.
- The Madras Mahajana Sabha was founded in 1884. The Madras Mahajana Sabha was a more radical organization than the MNA, and it called for Indian independence.
- The Justice Party was founded in 1916. The Justice Party was a non-Brahmin party that campaigned for greater representation of non-Brahmins in the government.
- The Swaraj Party was founded in 1920. The Swaraj Party was a radical party that called for complete Indian independence from British rule.
- These political associations played an important role in the Indian independence movement. They raised awareness of the Indian people’s desire for self-government, and they helped to lay the foundation for the eventual achievement of Indian independence in 1947.
Here are some of the important features of the political associations in the Madras Presidency:
- They were all non-violent organizations that believed in using constitutional methods to achieve their goals.
- They were all open to all Indians, regardless of caste, creed, or religion.
- They were all committed to the cause of Indian independence.
- They all played a significant role in the development of Indian nationalism.
- Many of their members went on to become leading figures in the Indian National Congress.
- The political associations in Madras Presidency were an important milestone in the history of the Indian independence movement. They helped to raise awareness of the Indian people’s desire for self-government, and they laid the foundation for the eventual achievement of Indian independence.
Madras Mahajan Sabha
- The Madras Mahajana Sabha, established in May 1884, played a significant role in the Indian nationalist movement. Here is an overview of the Sabha’s background, features, and objectives:
- The Madras Native Association, founded in 1851-52, was the precursor to the Madras Mahajana Sabha. However, it ceased to exist in 1862.
- Inspired by Lord Ripon’s liberal policies, several political organizations emerged, including the resurrected Madras Native Association.
- M. Veeraraghavachariar, G. Subramania Iyer, and P. Ananda Charlu founded the Madras Mahajana Sabha in May 1884.
- The Sabha’s office was initially located at the office of The Hindu on Mount Road in Madras.
- P. Rangaiah Naidu was elected as the President of the Sabha in 1885.
- In September 1885, the Sabha collaborated with the Bombay Presidency Association and the Indian Association to send a delegation to England.
- The Sabha convened its first conference in December 1884, where various topics, including legislative council reform, separation of executive and judiciary, changes in the Indian government, and the state of agricultural classes, were discussed.
- The Sabha initially pursued a moderate policy, but its goals and objectives were considered seditious by the British authorities.
- The Madras Mahajana Sabha played a crucial role in paving the way for India’s national liberation.
- It advocated for fundamental rights, national freedom, and social issues affecting Indian citizens.
- Prominent leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi, delivered speeches at Sabha events.
- The Sabha organized the Salt Satyagraha movement in April 1930, and its members faced brutal attacks by the British police.
- The Sabha demanded a legal investigation into the injustices faced by Satyagraha participants and established an inquiry commission into the murders of activists.
- The members of the Madras Mahajana Sabha aimed to establish an All India-level organization to free the nation from British rule and address Indian problems.
- They held regular meetings, debated public issues, conducted town hall meetings, and communicated their views to the government.
- The Sabha’s demands included simultaneous civil service examinations in England and India, abolition of the Council of India in London, tax cuts, and reductions in civil and military spending.
- Many of the Sabha’s demands were later adopted by the Indian National Congress, which was founded in 1885.
- The Madras Mahajana Sabha played a crucial role in the Indian nationalist movement, advocating for Indian rights, mobilizing public opinion, and influencing the formation of the Indian National Congress. Its contributions in the areas of activism, public discourse, and demands for reforms were significant in the struggle for India’s independence.
Madras Native Association
- The second half of the 19th century witnessed the inception of the organizational opposition against the colonial government in the subcontinent, which later spurred the national movement culminating in Indian independence. The Madras Native Association (MNA), established in 1852 at present-day Chennai, was the first Indian political association to be formed in the Madras presidency. Founded by Gajula Lakshminarasu Chetty, the MNA was the political hub of the landed gentry of the presidency, who had grievances against the Company rule.
- The impending discussion in the British Parliament regarding Company rule in India provided the impetus for MNA’s formation. Dissatisfied with the Company administration, the MNA submitted a petition to the British Parliament pleading the termination of the Company regime after the passage of the Charter Act of 1853. Around 14,000 people signed in this petition. Though dominated by elites, the Association tried to be inclusive in its actions. In its first petition sent to Parliament in 1852, MNA presented the grievances of the ryots under the land settlement systems and urged immediate action. This was followed by a visit from H.D. Seymour, Chairman of the Indian Reform Society, leading to the formation of the Torture Commission in 1854. Moreover, MNA firmly opposed the pro-proselytization activities of the colonial government.
- The MNA was dissolved in 1867. Despite the efforts to revive it in the 1870s, it ceased to exist by 1881. Though short-lived, the Association put forward a legacy that later provided an impulse to organizations like Madras Mahajan Sabha and the Indian National Congress.
East India Association (1866)
- The East India Association, established by Dadabhai Naoroji in London in 1866, was an organization aimed at raising awareness about the conditions in India and generating support for Indian welfare among the British public. Here are some key points about the East India Association:
- Purpose: The association focused on addressing the problems and issues concerning India and aimed to influence British leaders to take the development of India seriously.
- Advocacy: It advocated for the promotion of public interests and the welfare of Indians, working to present an accurate portrayal of India to the British public and voicing Indian concerns in the British press.
- Challenging Ethnological Society: The association aimed to challenge the notion promoted by the Ethnological Society of London in 1866, which sought to prove that Asians were inferior to Europeans.
- Successor to London Indian Society: The East India Association superseded the London Indian Society, which was initially formed drawing inspiration from Dadabhai Naoroji.
- Leadership: Lord Lyveden became the first president of the East India Association.
- Membership: Initially, the organization had around 1000 members, but it was only after 1912 that females were allowed to be admitted.
- Journals: The association communicated its ideology about India to the British public through two journals: the Journal of East India Association and the Asiatic Quarterly Review. The latter superseded the former and published various papers and proceedings of the association.
- Inclusivity: The association catered to a wide range of audiences, featuring lectures by Indian and British men and women on diverse subjects such as economic development, Indian literature, and suffrage.
- Merger: The East India Association incorporated the National Indian Association in 1949, becoming the Britain, India, and Pakistan Association. It later merged with the former India Society (now the Royal India, Pakistan, and Ceylon Society) in 1966 to form the Royal Society for India, Pakistan, and Ceylon.
- The East India Association played a significant role in bringing Indian issues to the forefront, shaping public opinion in Britain, and laying the groundwork for the Indian National Congress. Its efforts to challenge prevailing stereotypes and advocate for Indian welfare were instrumental in raising awareness and generating support for India’s cause.
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