DMPQ- What were the reasons for the rise in militant nationalism?

The last decade of 19th century and the early years of the 20th century saw the rise of the group of young nationalists who were increasingly getting critical to the methods and ideology of early nationalists.

Reasons for the emergence

  • Discovering true nature of British policies: The early nationalists, journalists and writers through their writings and works had uncovered the real nature of British rule. They held British responsible for the degradation of India from a self-sufficient economy to a colonial economy. All these created greater anger among the younger generations of Congress.
  • Repressive laws: The government brought repressive laws under IPC 124 and 156A which angered the young leaders. The arrest of Tilak in 1897 caused widespread anger among the public.
  • Self-confidence: During this Period, there was growth of self-respect and confidence of leaders and also the public. The leaders like Aurobindo Ghosh, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal proposed for greater participation of masses as they had the confidence about the capacity of masses for making sacrifices for attainment of Swaraj.
  • Role of education: While, on the one hand, the spread of education led to an increased awareness among the masses, on the other hand, the rise in unemployment and underemployment among the educated drew attention to poverty and the underdeveloped state of the country’s economy under colonial rule. This added to the already simmering discontent among the more radical nationalists

. · Reaction to Increasing Westernisation: The new leadership felt the stranglehold of excessive westernisation and sensed colonial designs to submerge the Indian national identity in the British Empire. The intellectual and moral inspiration of the new leadership was Indian. Intellectuals like Swami Vivekananda, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and Swami Dayanand Saraswati inspired many young nationalists with their forceful and articulate arguments, painting India’s past in brighter colours than the British ideologues had.

  • Dissatisfaction with Achievements of Moderates: The younger elements within the Congress were dissatisfied with the achievements of the Moderates during the first 15-20 years. They were strongly critical of the methods of peaceful and constitutional agitation, popularly known as the “Three ‘P’s”— prayer, petition and protest—and described these methods as ‘political mendicancy’.
  • Existence of a Militant School of Thought: By the dawn of the twentieth century, a band of nationalist thinkers had emerged who advocated a more militant approach to political work. These included Raj Narain Bose, Ashwini Kumar Datta, Aurobindo Ghosh and Bipin Chandra Pal in Bengal; Vishnu Shastri Chiplunkar and Tilak in Maharashtra; and Lala Lajpat Rai in Punjab. Tilak emerged as the most outstanding representative of this school of thought

Militant nationalism was a distinct epoch in the history of the freedom movement in our country. The background to militant nationalism was the character of the Indian National Congress at the beginning of this century. It was a political movement, which drew inspiration from the religious awakening at the end of the nineteenth century.


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