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Modern history

8 Solved Questions with Answers
  • 2020

    13. Since the decade of the 1920s, the national movement acquired various ideological strands and thereby expanded its social base. Discuss.

    The 1920s was a watershed decade in the history of Indian National Movement. The events and changes which manifested in the decade were seminal as they remarkably changed the course of the freedom struggle.

    Ideologies that influenced freedom struggle

    • Gandhian: Mahatma Gandhi introduced new techniques of Ahimsa (non-violence) and Non-cooperation to the national movement. The Non-Cooperation Movement in the early 1920s was the first true nation-wide movement.
    • Communism: A powerful left-wing group developed in India in the late 1920s and 1930s. The stream of the struggle for independence and that of the struggle for social and economic emancipation of the suppressed began to come together. The establishment of organisations like Communist Party of India (1925), All India Trade Union Congress (1920) and Workers’ and Peasants’ Parties (1927) extended the reach of communism throughout India among workers and peasants.
    • Communalism: Post-1922, communalism reared its ugly head and the country was repeatedly plunged into communal riots. Old communal organizations were revived and fresh ones were founded. The Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha began to further their vested interests.
    • Revolutionary activism: The failure of peaceful mediums had frustrated the youth. They began to mobilise with secret organisationslikeHindustan Republic Association (1923) andHindustan Socialist Republic Association (1928). RamPrasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan, Chandrashekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh among others actively engaged in anti-colonial activities and encouraged youth to join the cause.

    Expansion of social base

    • Gandhiji for the first time made the national movement a mass movement. People from every background began to participate in the protests. Peasants (Eka movement), tribals(Alluri Sitaram Raju) vigorously engaged in challenging the authority of British rule.
    • Due to this new awakening,the suppressed social classes asserted theirrightin society. Movementslike Vaikom Satyagraha of Kerala (1924), Adi-dharma movement of Punjab (1926) were the outcome of the aspirations of the suppressed and Dalits.
    • Women no longerremained confined to the houses and freedom-fighterssuch as Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Sucheta Kripalani and Aruna Asaf Ali actively participated and shaped the national movement.

    Earlier, the freedom struggle, with a narrow social base, was largely confined to the middle-class and elites. The 1920s witnessed the expansion ofthe social base and people fromevery stratumbegan to associate themselves with it through different ideological dimensions. The participation of masses made the struggle more vibrant and inclusive.

  • 2023

    13. How did the colonial rule affect the tribals in India and what was the tribal response to the colonial oppression?

    The arrival of colonial powers, especially the British, brought significant changes to the social, economic, and cultural fabric of these tribal societies. This impact was often marked by the displacement of tribal populations, land alienation, exploitation, and the erosion of traditional ways of life.

    Impact of Colonial Rule on Tribals:

    • Displacement and Land Alienation: One of the most significant impacts of colonial rule was the displacement and land alienation of tribal communities.
    • Exploitative Labor Practices: Tribal communities were often subjected to exploitative labor practices. The British administration forced many tribes into labor-intensive activities such as mining, plantation work, and road construction.
    • Cultural Erosion: The imposition of colonial laws, education systems, and religious practices led to the erosion of tribal cultures and traditions.
    • Forest Policies: The British introduced forest policies that restricted tribal access to forests, which were vital for their livelihoods.

    Tribal Responses to Colonial Oppression:

    • Armed Resistance: Tribal communities mounted armed resistance against colonial rule. They organized rebellions and uprisings to protect their lands, cultures, and ways of life. Examples: Santhal Rebellion, Munda Rebellion, Koya Rebellion.
    • Cultural Preservation: Some tribal communities focused on preserving their cultural heritage and traditions in the face of colonial influence.
    • Guerrilla Warfare: Some tribal communities employed guerrilla warfare tactics to resist colonial forces. They utilized their knowledge of the local terrain and their familiarity with guerrilla warfare strategies.

    Tribal responses to colonial oppression in India were diverse, including both armed resistance and non-violent movements aimed at safeguarding their rights, culture, and traditional way of life. These efforts have contributed to ongoing discussions and policies regarding tribal rights and development in modern India.

  • 2021

    12. Bring out the constructive programmes of Mahatma Gandhi during Non-Cooperation Movement and Civil Disobedience Movement.

    Gandhi’s comprehensive plan of national regeneration, which he named the constructive programme, aimed at establishing social order, based on truth and non-violence. Gandhi believed that foreign domination in India lived and prospered because of our negligence towards fundamental duties as a nation. Collective fulfilment of these duties can be referred to as the constructive programme.

    Constructive programme during Non-Cooperation Movement and Civil Disobedience Movement:

    • Communal Unity: According to Gandhi, communal unity does not merely mean political unity but should be an unbreakable unity of hearts. This was achieved during the Lucknow Pact 1916, whereby both the Indian National Congress and Muslim League joined hands against British rule.
    • Removal of Untouchability: Gandhi held that untouchability was a blot and curse upon Indian society. Gandhi endeavoured to abolish this evil. He founded ‘Harijan Sevak Sangh’ for the abolition of untouchability in 1932 after his Poona Pact.
    • Khadi Making: Gandhi presented Khadi as a symbol of nationalism, economic freedom, equality and self-reliance. Khadi takes the central place in the upliftment of the village economy, which eventually lead to the attainment of Gram Swaraj.
    • New or Basic Education: Gandhi’s concept of new education implies that nature, society and crafts are huge mediums of education. According to him, true education is that which draws out and stimulates the spiritual, intellectual and physical faculties of the children. This education ought to be for them, a kind of insurance against unemployment.
    • Upliftment of Women: In his mission of Swaraj, Gandhi needed the cooperation of women, kisans, labourers and students. It was only due to Gandhi’s efforts that women came out of their houses for the first time in history and participated in the Indian political struggle.

    Integration of Indian society was perhaps more difficult than the achievement of freedom because, in this process, there existed a possibility of conflict between groups and classes of our own people. In this scenario, the Gandhian constructive role played a key role in nation building.

  • 2021

    11. To what extent did the role of the moderates prepare a base for the wider freedom movement? Comment.

    The first phase of the existence of the Congress is known as the moderate phase (1885-1905). During this, the Congress worked for limited objectives and concentrated more on building up its organisation. The leaders like Dadabhai Nauroji, P.N. Mehta, D.E. Wacha, W.C. Banerji, S.N. Banerji, Gopal Krishna Gokhale were staunch believers in liberalism and moderate politics and came to be labelled as moderates.

    The main objective of the Moderates was to achieve self-government within the British Empire. They believed in patience and reconciliation rather than in violence and confrontation, thus relying on constitutional and peaceful methods in order to achieve their aims. They organised annual sessions with delegates participating from all parts of the country. After the discussions, resolutions were adopted which were forwarded to the Government for its information and appropriate action.

    Success/contributions of moderates:

    • They represented the most progressive forces of the time.
    • They were able to create a wide national awakening of all Indians having common interests and the need to rally around a common programme against a common enemy, and above all, the feeling of belonging to one nation.
    • They trained people in political work and popularised modern ideas.
    • They exposed the basically exploitative character of colonial rule, thus undermining its moral foundations.
    • Their political work was based on hard realities, and not on shallow sentiments, religion, etc.
    • They were able to establish the basic political truth that India should be ruled in the interest of Indians.
    • They created a solid base for a more vigorous, militant, mass-based national movement in the years that followed.

    The early nationalists did a great deal to awaken the national sentiment, even though they could not draw the masses to them and failed to widen their democratic base and the scope of their demands. Moderates wanted to educate people in modern politics, to arouse national and political consciousness and to create a united public opinion on political questions. Their critics often accuse them for using methods of beggary through prayers and petitions.

    However, had they adopted revolutionary or violent methods, they would have been crushed right in the infancy of the Congress. They created a solid base for a more vigorous, militant, mass-based national movement in the following years. The Moderates thus were prudent in using the constitutional and peaceful methods to handle British rule.

  • 2020

    3. Evaluate the policies of Lord Curzon and their long term implications on the national movement

    When Lord Curzon became the Viceroy of India in 1899, the national movement wasstill in itsinfancy. The Indian National Congress has been established in 1885 and was dominated by the moderates who believed in pleading and petitioning to have their demands met.

    Policies adopted by Lord Curzon

    • Imperialism: Curzon was a true imperialist and deeply racist, and convinced of Britain’s “civilising mission”. He was intolerant of Indian political aspirations and his ambition was to strangulate the national movement. He had famously said, “Congress is tottering to its fall, and one of my greatest ambitions while in India is to assist it to a peaceful demise.”
    • Calcutta Corporation Act, 1899: The Act reduced the number of the elected representative to the Calcutta Corporation. The aimwasto deprive Indians ofself-governance and serve the interests ofthe European business community who complained of delay in grants of licences.
    • University Act, 1904: On the pretext to raise the standard of education all around, the Act reduced the number of elected senate members. A countrywide movement against this Act was launched.
    • Bengal Partition, 1905: Bengal was divided, on the pretext of administrative convenience, in two separate provinces. Besidesthe ostensible reason,the real motive wasto check the relentlessly rising nationalism among the Bengalis. Curzon wanted to create fission based on religious identity.

    Implication of Curzon’s policies

    • The stepstaken by Curzon to curb political aspirations created resentment and a confrontation with the educated middle-class nationalists ensued.
    • The Swadeshi movement was started in Bengal in 1905 with an appeal to boycott British goods and promote swadeshi. It was probably the first wide-scale movement after the revolt of 1857. The future movements by Gandhiji, such Non-Cooperation were considered to be based on Swadeshi movement.
    • The movement had started on the conventional moderate lines but later it was taken over by the extremists and became a nation-wide anti-colonial movement. Leaders like Tilak, Bipin Pal, Aurobindo Ghose started to dominate the Congress.
    • Later, numerousrevolutionary organisation like Jugantar began to emerge. They actively engaged in anti-colonial activities and instilling nationalism among the youth.

    The partition of Bengal and the high-handed behaviour of Curzon fired the national movement. His policies, contradictory to his beliefs,strengthened and extended the reach of nationalism. He also ended up extending the clout of extremists and revolutionaries who did not believe in pleading and petitioning.

  • 2022

    3. Why was there a sudden spurt in famines in colonial India since the mid-eighteenth century? Give reasons.

    The term "famine" is derived from the Latin word "Fames," which means "hunger." Famine is defined as "a state of intense hunger experienced by a region's population as a result of a lack of regular food supply."

    • The 1769-70 famine in Bengal followed two years of erratic rainfall but was worsened by a smallpox epidemic. The 1783-84 famine again followed a crop failure over a wide area.


    • Drought:
      • The excessive rainfall in 1770 did not relieve the people from the sufferings of drought of the year before; on the contrary, it caused overflowing of rivers and damaged standing crops.
      • The proximate cause of famines, without exception, was a sharp rise in food prices, which in turn reduced real wages and caused starvation, malnutrition and epidemic, mainly among agricultural laborer groups.
    • Rural Indebtedness:
      • Debt has always been a major component of India's rural economy. Due to exorbitant rents and illegitimate taxation imposed by the British Government, peasants were heavily indebted, this indebtedness was exacerbated by the onset of severe drought-like circumstances which culminated in the onset of famines.
    • British Policy:
      • The main cause of the devastating famines during the colonial rule was the British policy of exploitation, repression and oppression inflicted upon the Indian people.
      • Mass export of agricultural produce to the England by the Britishers led to shortage of the food supply in India which ultimately culminated into the severe famine.
      • Cornwallis introduced the permanent settlement in 1793. The peasants were dispossessed of their ownership of land by this strategy, which for the first time in India's agricultural history made the zamindars and talukdars the true landowners.

    Famines that occurred during the colonial era had a tremendous influence on the economy and even the culture. Famines unquestionably had a negative impact on population growth and slowed down economic development.

  • 2022

    2. Why did the armies of the British East India Company – mostly comprising of Indian Soldiers – win consistently against the more numerous and better equipped armies of the then Indian rulers? Give reasons.

    Indians were recruited for the British East India Company's army because they were familiar with the conditions in India. Indians were prepared to take lower wages. As a result, the East India Company's overall expenditures were cheaper than those of contracted British army men. Because of the immense distance that separated Britain from India, the British people were not willing to move India. The English had enforced every available means of war and administrative procedures in order to consolidate their own authority over India.

    Superior military and armaments strategy:

    • The British had cannon and assault rifles that were more advanced in terms of their range and shooting speed than Indian weapons.
    • Many Indian rulers brought European weapons, but they were unable to develop war strategy like British authorities.

    Armed regulation, dedication, and consistent remuneration:

    • The British were very careful about a regular income and a rigid code of conduct that guaranteed the loyalty of the commanders and soldiers.
    • The rulers of India lacked the resources necessary to make regular salary payments.
    • Some of the kings were dependent on their own personal guards of unruly and disloyal mercenaries.

    Effective leadership:

    • Robert Clive, Warren Hastings, Elphinstone, Munro, and others demonstrated exceptional leadership traits.
    • The British also profited from second-line commanders like Sir Eyre Coote, Lord Lake, Arthur Wellesley, and others who stand up for their nation's interests and honor.
    • While the Indian side had excellent commanders like Haider Ali, Tipu Sultan, Madhu Rao, Sindhia, and Jaswant Rao Holkar, they needed a second line of leadership.

    A solid financial foundation:

    • A great deal of wealth was contributed to England by British trade, which led to government assistance in the form of money, materials, and other resources.

    Absence of national pride and unification:

    • Indian rulers lacked a cohesive political nationalism, which the British skillfully exploited to incite civil war among them.

    The East India Company had a private army. The corporation utilized its armed power to impose terrible taxes, carry out officially approved plundering, subjugate Indian governments and principalities with which it had previously entered into commercial deals, and defend its economic exploitation of both skilled and unskilled Indian workers.

  • 2023

    2. What was the difference between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore in their approach towards education and nationalism?

    Gandhi and Tagore, key figures in India's independence, had distinct approaches to education and nationalism, despite a common goal of freedom from British rule.

    Differences between Mahatma Gandhi and Tagore:

    • Education:
      • Gandhi: Gandhi believed in the concept of 'Nai Talim' or 'Basic Education.
        • He advocated for a holistic education that nurtured practical, intellectual, and moral skills.
        • He promoted practical education to bridge the elite-mass divide.
      • Tagore: Tagore advocated a more liberal and cosmopolitan education.
        • He founded Shantiniketan to promote arts, creativity, and cultural integration.
        • His philosophy sought to cultivate well-rounded individuals who could value and enrich the world's diverse cultures.


    • Gandhi: His nationalism was characterized by non-violence and 'Satyagraha'.
      • Gandhi's nationalism was deeply rooted in the idea of self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and Swaraj.
      • He promoted the idea of boycotting British goods and institutions as a way to weaken British rule.
    • Tagore: Tagore's approach was more cosmopolitan and less confrontational.
      • He envisioned a nationalism beyond borders, focusing on cultural unity and harmony.
      • He saw India's heritage as a bridge between East and West and believed nationalism should unite, not isolate, India within global civilization.

    While Gandhi focused on practical education and non-violence, shaping his nationalism. On the other hand, Tagore, with a liberal approach, had a universalistic view of nationalism.

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