The emergence of revolutionary activities in modern history can be attributed to a confluence of social, economic, and political factors that have fueled discontent and a desire for change. One prominent catalyst is widespread inequality, both in terms of wealth distribution and access to basic resources. As marginalized groups experience oppression and disparities, the seeds of revolution are sown. Additionally, political repression and the denial of basic human rights often serve as a spark, igniting the flames of resistance. The advent of new ideas and ideologies, coupled with the dissemination of information through modern communication channels, further empowers individuals to question existing power structures. Economic instability, fueled by factors such as corruption and mismanagement, also contributes to the volatile environment that fosters revolutionary sentiments. In essence, the reasons for the emergence of revolutionary activities in modern history are complex and multifaceted, reflecting a quest for justice, equality, and a more equitable society.
- The emergence of revolutionary activities in India during the early 20th century can be attributed to several factors. Here are some key reasons:
- Militant Nationalism: Revolutionary activities were a by-product of the growth of militant nationalism in India. The sentiment of nationalism was fuelled by factors such as the Swadeshi and Boycott movement, which advocated self-sufficiency and resistance against foreign goods, and the Non-cooperation Movement, which aimed at boycotting British institutions.
- Frustration with Moderate Politics: The failure of moderate politics and the perceived futility of prayer and petition to the British government led some nationalists to adopt more radical and militant approaches. Extremists criticized the moderate leaders of the Indian National Congress for their perceived political mendicancy and advocated for a more assertive and direct approach.
- Influence of Extremist Ideas: The extremist leaders, such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lajpat Rai, and Bipin Chandra Pal, played a crucial role in advocating militant methods. They emphasized the need for boycotts, passive resistance, and self-sacrifice as means to achieve nationalist goals.
- Lack of Effective Organization: While the extremist leaders propagated revolutionary ideas, they were unable to provide a practical and organized platform to channel the revolutionary energies of the youth. This lack of organization hindered the effective implementation of their ideas.
- Repression and Government Attacks: The brutal repression of the Swadeshi and Boycott movement by the British government further fueled the frustration among the youth. The government’s crackdown on the extremists and the split within the Indian National Congress in 1907 provided an impetus for radical activities.
- Belief in Physical Expulsion of British Rule: The youth who were disillusioned with peaceful political protests and faced government repression believed that achieving independence required physically expelling the British from India. They saw revolutionary terrorism as a means to achieve their nationalist goals.
- Overall, the emergence of revolutionary activities in India was a result of the convergence of various factors, including the failure of moderate politics, the influence of extremist ideas, government repression, and the desire for more assertive methods to achieve independence. These revolutionary activities played a significant role in shaping the course of the Indian independence movement.
Revolutionary Activities – Ideology
- The ideology of the early revolutionaries in India during the independence movement was marked by certain characteristics and principles. While it is important to note that the revolutionaries were not a homogeneous group, the following aspects can be observed:
- Religious Bias: Many of the revolutionaries had a strong religious bias in their activities, writings, and speeches. They believed in the spiritual preparation of the people and saw their cause as something beyond mere political propaganda. However, it is important to highlight that their religious beliefs were not necessarily aligned with the majority religion in India.
- Romanticism and Emotionalism: The revolutionaries were influenced by romantic ideals and emotionalism. They were driven by a sense of passion, idealism, and sacrifice for the cause of independence. Their actions and rhetoric aimed to evoke strong emotions among the populace and inspire patriotism.
- Armed Struggle as Supreme Goal: The staunch revolutionaries considered the emancipation of India through armed struggle as the ultimate objective. They believed that revolutionary actions, including assassinations, dacoities (robberies), and military conspiracies, were necessary to instil fear in the rulers, mobilize the people, and remove the fear of authority.
- Appeal to Patriotism and Youth: The revolutionaries sought to inspire the populace, especially the idealistic youth, by appealing to patriotism. They aimed to create a sense of nationalistic pride and motivate the younger generation to play an active role in driving the British out of India.
- Lessons from History: The revolutionaries drew lessons from India’s own history as well as the histories of other countries revolutions. They studied the tactics and strategies employed in previous liberation movements to shape their own revolutionary ideology and program.
- Opposition to Obstacles: The revolutionaries revolted against anything that obstructed the progress of the revolutionary movement. They aimed to break down time-honoured customs and challenge social and political barriers that hindered the path towards independence.
- It is important to acknowledge that the early revolutionaries’ ideology had its flaws, including a narrow religious focus and reliance on violence. However, their commitment to the cause of independence and their efforts to awaken national consciousness played a significant role in shaping the course of the independence movement in India.
Revolutionary Activities in Maharashtra
- The state of Maharashtra played a significant role in the revolutionary activities during the struggle for Indian independence. Here are some notable instances:
Vasudev Balwant Phadke and the Ramosi Peasant Force (1879):
- Vasudev Balwant Phadke organized the Ramosi Peasant Force, which aimed to disrupt British communication lines and instigate an armed revolt to free the country from British rule. The movement sought to address the grievances of peasants and challenge colonial authority.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Militant Nationalism (1890s):
- Bal Gangadhar Tilak, a prominent leader from Maharashtra, spread the spirit of militant nationalism through various means. He used festivals like Ganpati and Shivaji to inspire nationalist sentiments, and his journals Kesari and Mahratta disseminated his nationalist ideas. Tilak emphasized the use of violence as a means to fight against British oppression.
Chapekar Brothers and the Assassination of British Officials (1897):
- Two disciples of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the Chapekar brothers (Damodar and Balkrishna), assassinated the Poona Plague Commissioner, Rand, and Lt. Ayerst. This act of violence was a response to the oppressive measures taken by the British during the plague outbreak and symbolized the revolutionary spirit in Maharashtra.
Abhinav Bharat Society and the Savarkar Brothers (1904):
- Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and his brother Ganesh Damodar Savarkar founded the Abhinav Bharat Society, also known as the Young India Society. It aimed to mobilize revolutionaries and political activists in Maharashtra and other parts of India. The society grew in influence and had branches across the country, with Vinayak Savarkar extending its reach to London during his law studies.
Assassinations and the Nasik Conspiracy Case (1909):
- Madanlal Dhingra, associated with the revolutionary movement, assassinated Lt. Col. William Curzon-Wyllie, a British official, in London. In India, Anant Laxman Kanhare assassinated AMT Jackson, the district magistrate of Nasik, as part of the Nasik Conspiracy Case. These acts of violence aimed to strike at the heart of British authority and inspire the broader movement for independence.
- These events highlight the active participation of Maharashtra in revolutionary activities during the struggle for Indian independence. The revolutionaries from Maharashtra played a significant role in challenging British rule and inspiring nationalist sentiments among the people.
|1879||Revolt by Vasudev Balwant Phadke|
– Phadke was a Chitpavan Brahman and English-educated clerk. He seems to have been influenced by Ranade’s lectures on the drain of wealth, the experience of the Deccan famine of 1876-77, and growing Hindu revivalism among Poona Brahman intellectuals.
– In an autobiographical fragment written while hiding from the police in a temple, Phadke wrote how he had thought of re-establishing a Hindu Raj by collecting together a secret band, raising money through dacoities, and instigating an armed revolt by disrupting communications. ‘There is much ill-feeling among the people and now if a few make a beginning those who are hungry will join.’ Much of this clearly anticipates later revolutionary terrorism
– Phadke’s band of forty included a few Brahman youths and much more low-caste Ramoshis and Dhangars. The outcome was a type of social banditry, with the dacoits given shelter by the peasants.
– After Phadke’s capture and life sentence, a Ramoshi dacoit band under Daulata Ramoshi remained active till 1883
|1890s||Tilak’s attempt to promote militancy among the youth through his journals & through various festivals|
|1897||Lt Ayerst Murder at Poona, 1897|
– First political murder of European
– By Chapekar Brothers (Chitpavan Brahmins) Damodar & Balkrishna due to provocation by the tyranny of Plague Committee on sending soldiers to inspect houses of civilians for plague-afflicted persons
– Although the attack was targeted at Mr Rand (President of Plague Committee) but Lt Ayerst has shot accidentally. They were caught, prosecuted & hanged
– Along with them, Tilak was also persecuted on the charge of sedition for his writings & sentenced to 18 months. His writings inspired Chapekar Brothers and are accepted by experts too. On June 1897 he wrote in Kesari, ” Krishna’s advice in the Gita is to kill even our own teacher & our kinsmen. No blame is attached to any person if he is doing deeds without being actuated by a desire to reap the fruits of his deeds. Get out of the Penal Code & enter the high atmosphere of Srimat Bhagvat Gita & consider the actions of a great man”
|1899||MITRA MELA was founded by VD Savarkar (also wrote 1857 – The First War of Indian Independence).|
|1904||– Mitra Mela merged with Abhinav Bharat (after Mazzini’s Young Italy) – a secret organisation of Revolutionaries|
– VD Savarkar was a young graduate from Ferguson College, Poona & availed of Krishnavarma’s fellowship offer and left for London in June 1906
|1909||The unpopular District Judge of Nashik was assassinated by the Abhinav Bharat Society (with a pistol sent by VD Savarkar)|
Revolutionary Activities in Punjab
- In Punjab, revolutionary activities were influenced by several factors, including socioeconomic issues and political events. Here are some key points about revolutionary activities in Punjab:
- Socioeconomic Factors and Extremism: Punjab experienced frequent famines and faced an increase in land revenue and irrigation tax, which created discontent among the people. The practice of ‘begar,’ a form of unpaid labour demanded by zamindars, also added to the grievances. These issues contributed to the growth of extremist sentiments in the region.
- Lala Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh: Lala Lajpat Rai, a prominent leader and writer, played a significant role in Punjab’s revolutionary activities. He used his Punjabi journal to spread nationalist ideas and promote the cause of independence. Ajit Singh, who was Bhagat Singh’s uncle, organized the extremist Anjuman-i-Mohisban-i-Watan in Lahore and published the journal, Bharat Mata. Both Lala Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh were active in promoting extremist ideologies in Punjab.
- Suppression and Impact on Extremism: The Punjab government took strict measures against revolutionary activities. In May 1907, political meetings were banned, and Lala Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh were deported. These actions led to a temporary decline in extremist activities in Punjab.
- Transformation into Revolutionaries: Following the suppression of political activities, Ajit Singh and some of his associates, including Sufi Ambaprasad, Lalchand, Bhai Parmanand, and Lala Hardayal, evolved into full-scale revolutionaries. They were influenced by the events and ideology of the time and began advocating for armed struggle and revolutionary methods to achieve independence.
- These factors contributed to the growth and transformation of revolutionary activities in Punjab. Lala Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh played significant roles in promoting extremist ideas, while subsequent suppression by the government led to the emergence of a more militant approach among revolutionaries in Punjab.
Revolutionary Activities in Bengal
- The physical culture movement and the establishment of akharas or gymnasiums played a role in the development of revolutionary terrorism in Punjab, particularly during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The physical culture movement emphasized physical fitness, strength, and endurance as essential qualities for individuals aspiring for national liberation and independence.
- Swami Vivekananda, a renowned spiritual leader and a key figure in the Indian independence movement, emphasized the importance of physical strength alongside spiritual and intellectual development. He believed that a strong physique and resilient nerves were necessary for individuals to effectively contribute to the nationalist cause.
- The establishment of akharas and gymnasiums provided a platform for young revolutionaries to engage in physical training, martial arts, and combat skills. These spaces not only served as training grounds but also became centres for fostering a sense of camaraderie, discipline, and readiness for armed struggle.
- The emphasis on physical fitness and the cultivation of strength and resilience helped revolutionaries in Punjab prepare themselves for the challenges they faced in their struggle against colonial rule. It instilled a spirit of self-sacrifice, courage, and determination among the youth who sought to free their country from British imperialism.
- The physical culture movement, coupled with the growing nationalist sentiments and the socio-political context of Punjab, contributed to the development of revolutionary terrorism, as individuals sought to channel their physical and mental strength into acts of resistance against the colonial authorities.
- The revolutionary activities in Bengal during the early 20th century were characterized by the formation of revolutionary organizations, acts of violence, and the dissemination of revolutionary ideas through newspapers and journals. Here is an overview of the revolutionary activities in Bengal:
- Formation of Revolutionary Organizations: The first revolutionary organizations in Bengal were formed in 1902 in Midnapore and Calcutta. The prominent organizations included Anushilan Samiti and Jugantar. These organizations aimed to overthrow British rule in India through revolutionary means.
- Revolutionary Publications: Newspapers and journals played a crucial role in advocating revolutionary violence and spreading revolutionary ideas. Yugantar and Sandhya were among the influential publications in Bengal that promoted revolutionary activity.
- Assassination Attempts: The revolutionaries in Bengal carried out several assassination attempts against British officials. In 1906, an unsuccessful attempt was made on the life of Sir Fuller, the Lieutenant Governor of Eastern Bengal and Assam. In 1908, Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose targeted a British judge, Kingsford, but ended up accidentally killing two British ladies.
- Alipore Conspiracy Case: The arrest of the Ghosh brothers, Aurobindo and Barindra, along with other members of Anushilan Samiti, led to the Alipore conspiracy case. The case was a significant trial that exposed the revolutionary activities and ideologies of the accused.
- Barrah Dacoity: Barrah Dacoity, led by Pulin Das, was a revolutionary group founded in 1908. The group aimed to raise funds for revolutionary activities through dacoities (robberies).
- Delhi Bomb Attack: In December 1912, Rashbehari Bose and Sachin Sanyal orchestrated a bomb attack on Viceroy Hardinge during his official entry into Delhi. The attack aimed to challenge British authority and gain attention for the revolutionary cause.
- German Plot: During World War I, the Jugantar party, under the leadership of Jatindranath Mukherjee (Bagha Jatin), established connections with sympathizers and revolutionaries in other countries. They arranged for the import of German arms and ammunition to support their revolutionary activities. Jatin also planned an all-India insurgency, known as the ‘German Plot’ or ‘Zimmerman Plan.’
- These revolutionary activities in Bengal reflected the determination of the revolutionaries to free India from British colonial rule. They used acts of violence, publications, and international connections to advance their cause and inspire a larger movement for independence.
|1902||– Anushilan Samiti: Organised by Aurobindo Ghosh & Promotha Mitter, Jatindranath Banerji and Barindra Ghosh|
– Basically it was gym started after Vivekananda teachings but gradually became a secret society of revolutionaries
– East Bengal counterpart was Dhaka Anushilan Samiti led by Pulin Bihari Ghosh (Eastern Bengal outfits were more organised than Western Bengal outfits)
– Philosophy – Force Must be encountered by Force
|1905||– Aurobindo Ghosh published Bhavani Mandir giving detailed plan for organising revolutionary activities|
– Another book Mukti Kon Pathe (Which way lies the Salvation) exhorted Indian soldiers to supply weapons to Indian revolutionaries
|1906||– Yugantar Group : founded by Barindra Kumar Ghosh and Bhupendra Nath Dutt|
– News Paper called Yugantar also started
– Group worked in close association with Anushilan Samiti
|1908||Muzaffarpur Conspiracy Case|
– Murder attempt on Kingsford , unpopular judge of Muzzafarpur but instead bomb was thrown by mistake on Mrs Kennedy’s carriage killing two english ladies – Two revolutionaries who threw bomb were Prafulla Chaki: later Shot himself Khudiram Bose : a boy of 15 tried & hanged Alipur Conspiracy Case Government searched for illicit arms in Calcutta & arrested 34 persons including Aurobindo Ghosh & his brother Barindra Ghosh. But after that sequence of murders started. – Narendra Gosain who turned approver was murdered in jail – 1909: Public Prosecutor was assassinated in Calcutta – 1910: DSP of Calcutta assassinated when he was coming out of Calcutta High Court Atlast Aurobindo was released due to lack of evidence. He quit the movement and took up religion
|1912||BENGAL GROUP ASSOCIATION: – Bomb was thrown at Viceroy Hardinge II by Rash Behari Bose & Sachin Sanyal at Chandani Chowk, Delhi – Many of his attendants were killed in this – Sanyal was arrested, tried and later released for some time and in that time he with Ramprasad bismil formed Hindustan Republican Army (HRA) in 1924. Later he was convicted in the Kakori conspiracy and died in jail. – Rash Bihari Bose was able to escape to Japan Note – Sachin Sanyal wrote BANDI JEEVAN (Bible of revolutionaries at that time)|
|World War I||– Here, Yugantar Group under the leadership of Jatindranath Mukherjee (Aka Bagha/Tiger Jatin) conspired to start an armed rebellion against the Britishers – It depended on some of the agents who had already left India and gone to South East Asia eg Narendranath Bhattacharya (later became MN Roy, the famous Communist). He established links with Germans to import arms and ammunition to Bengal which the Yugantar party was to use to start a more elaborate Arms Revolution. Ship carrying arms was to arrive at the coast of Odisha but it was uncovered and the ship was seized. Jatin died martyrs death in an encounter|
Revolutionary activities in Delhi
- It played a significant role in the Indian independence movement. The city was home to a number of revolutionary groups, including the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) and the Ghadar Party. These groups engaged in a variety of activities, including:
- Bombing and assassinations: The revolutionaries carried out a number of bombing attacks on British targets in Delhi, including the Viceroy’s House and the Legislative Assembly. They also assassinated a number of British officials, including Sir William Hutton, the Chief Commissioner of Delhi.
- Sabotage: The revolutionaries also engaged in sabotage activities, such as cutting telegraph wires and derailing trains. They also attempted to smuggle weapons and ammunition into India.
- Propaganda: The revolutionaries also engaged in propaganda activities, such as distributing leaflets and pamphlets that promoted their cause. They also set up secret presses to print revolutionary literature.
- Recruitment: The revolutionaries also engaged in recruitment activities, trying to attract young people to their cause. They set up secret cells in schools and colleges, and they also held public meetings to spread their message.
- The revolutionary activities in Delhi had a significant impact on the British Raj. They helped to undermine the British government’s authority and to spread the message of Indian independence. The revolutionaries also inspired other parts of India to take up the cause of the armed struggle.
Some of the most famous revolutionaries from Delhi include:
- Ashfaqulla Khan: Khan was a member of the HRA and was executed for his role in the bombing of the Viceroy’s House.
- Rash Behari Bose: Bose was a member of the Ghadar Party and was exiled to Japan, where he set up a revolutionary government in exile.
- Chandra Shekhar Azad: Azad was a leading figure in the HRA and was killed in a shootout with the British police.
- Surya Sen: Sen was the leader of the Chittagong Armoury Raid and was hanged by the British for his role in the attack.
- The revolutionary activities in Delhi were a significant part of the Indian independence movement. They helped to inspire the people of India to fight for their freedom, and they played a key role in the eventual overthrow of British rule.
- The Delhi Conspiracy was an attempt made in 1912 to assassinate the then Viceroy of India, Lord Hardinge by throwing a local self-made bomb, on the occasion of transferring the capital of British India from Calcutta to New Delhi.
- The conspiracy was hatched by a group of revolutionaries led by Rash Behari Bose. The plan was to throw a bomb at Hardinge’s carriage as he was riding through Delhi on December 23, 1912. The bomb was thrown, but it missed Hardinge and only injured two of his attendants.
- The British government launched a massive manhunt for the conspirators, and several of them were arrested. In 1914, five of the conspirators, including Lala Hanumant Sahai, Basanta Kumar Biswas, Bhai Balmukund, Amir Chand and Awadh Behari, were sentenced to death for their roles in the conspiracy.
- Rash Behari Bose managed to evade capture and fled to Japan. He later became involved in the Ghadar Conspiracy, a plan to overthrow British rule in India.
- The Delhi Conspiracy was a major setback for the Indian independence movement, but it also showed that the British were not invincible. The conspiracy helped to inspire other revolutionaries to continue the fight for India’s freedom.
- Here are some of the key figures involved in the Delhi Conspiracy:
- Rash Behari Bose: The leader of the conspiracy. He was a Bengali revolutionary who had been involved in several other attempts to assassinate British officials.
- Lala Hanumant Sahai: A Punjabi revolutionary who was one of the conspirators who threw the bomb at Hardinge’s carriage. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Andaman Islands.
- Basanta Kumar Biswas: A Bengali revolutionary who was one of the conspirators who threw the bomb at Hardinge’s carriage. He was sentenced to death.
- Bhai Balmukund: A Punjabi revolutionary who was one of the conspirators who threw the bomb at Hardinge’s carriage. He was sentenced to death.
- Amir Chand: A Punjabi revolutionary who was one of the conspirators who threw the bomb at Hardinge’s carriage. He was sentenced to death.
- Awadh Behari: A Punjabi revolutionary who was one of the conspirators who threw the bomb at Hardinge’s carriage. He was sentenced to death.
- The Delhi Conspiracy was a significant event in the Indian independence movement. It showed that the British were not invincible, and it helped to inspire other revolutionaries to continue the fight for India’s freedom.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What are the primary social factors contributing to the emergence of revolutionary activities?
A: Social factors such as widespread inequality, discrimination, and oppression play a pivotal role in fueling revolutionary sentiments. When marginalized groups experience systemic injustices, it often becomes a catalyst for collective action and resistance.
Q: How does political repression contribute to the rise of revolutionary activities?
A: Political repression, characterized by the denial of basic rights and freedoms, creates an atmosphere of discontent among the populace. When individuals feel silenced or oppressed, it fosters a desire for change and often leads to the mobilization of revolutionary movements seeking political transformation.
Q: Can economic instability be a driving force behind revolutionary activities?
A: Yes, economic instability is a significant contributor to revolutionary activities. Corruption, mismanagement, and unequal distribution of resources can create a sense of injustice, prompting people to challenge existing economic structures and advocate for a fairer system.
Q: How do new ideas and ideologies play a role in the emergence of revolution?
A: The dissemination of new ideas and ideologies, facilitated by advancements in communication, empowers individuals to critically assess existing societal norms. The adoption of progressive ideologies often becomes a unifying force, inspiring movements that seek to challenge and transform established power structures.
Q: Is the availability of information through modern communication channels a factor in the rise of revolutionary activities?
A: Absolutely. Modern communication channels, such as the internet and social media, enable the rapid spread of information and ideas. This accessibility enhances awareness of social injustices, mobilizes like-minded individuals, and facilitates the coordination of revolutionary activities on a larger scale.
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