Q.“Though Swadeshi movement failed in achieving its immediate objective, yet it played a significant role in the Indian freedom struggle”. Discuss (250 words)30 Mar, 2020 GS Paper 1 History
- Briefly discuss the Swadeshi Movement.
- Reason for failure of the Swadeshi Movement.
- Impact of Swadeshi Movement on Indian National Movement.
Indian National Congress initiated the Swadeshi movement in Bengal against the announcement of the partition of Bengal in July 1905 by Lord Curzon. It was launched as a protest movement which also gave a lead to the Boycott movement in the country. It led to the use of goods produced in India and burning British-made goods.
Reasons for Failure
- The movement threw up an entire gamut of techniques that later came to be associated with Gandhian politics—noncooperation, passive resistance, filling of British jails, social reform and constructive work.
- However, the movement failed to create these techniques with a disciplined focus and it lacked an effective organisation or a party structure.
- The movement aroused the people but did not know how to tap the newly released energy or how to find new forms to give expression to popular resentment.
- Surat split: internal squabbles among leaders, magnified by the Surat split (1907), did much harm to the movement.
- Leaderless movement: the movement was rendered leaderless with most of the leaders either arrested or deported by 1908 and with Aurobindo Ghosh and Bipin Chandra Pal retiring from active politics.
- Limited participation: the movement largely remained confined to the upper and middle classes and zamindars, and failed to reach the masses—especially the peasantry.
Impact of Swadeshi Movement
- Change in strategy: the movement was a turning point in modern Indian history. It proved to be a “leap forward” in more ways than one.
- The previously untouched sections like students, women, workers, some sections of the urban and rural population participated.
- The trend of the national movement moved from conservative moderation to political extremism, from revolutionary activities to incipient socialism, from petitions and prayers to passive resistance and non-cooperation, emerged during the Swadeshi Movement.
- Growth of indigenous industries: the anti-partition agitation paved the way for the development of indigenous industries, for example, Acharya PC Ray’s Bengal Chemical Stores. This inculcated a feeling of self-reliance by reducing the dependence on foreign goods.
- Growth of national education: the movement also increased the demand for national education and numerous national schools and colleges came up in various parts.
- In1906, a National Council of Education was set up. A National College with Aurobindo Ghose as Principal was opened in Kolkata.
- The movement led to the flourishing of the Bengali literature under Rabindranath Tagore, Rajani Kanta Sen etc.
- Attainment of swaraj: Swadeshi, as a strategy, was a key focus of Mahatma Gandhi, who described it as the soul of Swaraj (self-rule). It became an important tool for Gandhian movements in Indian National Movement.
The Swadeshi Movement was not successful in reaching its immediate goals but it provided a platform for the national freedom struggle. Later it showed the way to nationalist leaders to prepare the masses for the next phase of struggle under Gandhiji’s leadership.
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