Main Examination Pattern
- Answer all FIVE of the following questions.
- Time: 1 Hour
- Each answer should be within 250 words.
- Please email your answer sheet on email@example.com. Please mention your name, batch and Test Paper name in Subject line.
Que. 1. The resistance to the colonial rule in India was as old as the rule itself. Comment.
Que. 2. Mahatma Gandhi was born in India but was made in South Africa. Elaborate.
Que. 3. To what extent did the activism and political participation of women in Indian National movement promote a feminist consciousness in colonial India? Examine critically.
Que. 4. The welfare of the depressed classes in Indian society has always been a concern. Discuss the differences in approaches of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar in this regard.
Que. 5. Subhas Chandra Bose was one of the finest products of Indian renaissance. Discuss his ideology and political vision.
1. The resistance to the colonial rule in India was as old as the rule itself. Comment.
Answer: British colonial rule established itself in India during the second half of the eighteenth century. Although the Indian national movement started taking a unified shape in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the opposition to the colonial rule began much earlier.
The earliest response to British colonial rule came out in the form of series of peasant and tribal uprisings.
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the revenue reforms of the Company's government had fundamentally affected and altered the Indian rural society. The land reforms and the high revenue demands of the Company's government had so severely affected the entire rural population that all sections of the peasantry in different parts of the country participated in a series of violent protests.
During the first century of British rule there were, first of all, a series of uprisings started by disaffected local rulers, Mughal officials or dispossessed zamindars. One could mention in this regard the revolt of Raja Chait Singh and other zamindars of Awadh in 1778- 81 and the rebellion of the Bundela Rajput chieftains in 1842. In the south, between 1799 and 1805 the Madras government faced stiff resistance from the local chiefs called the poligars. All these armed rebellions were, however, put down eventually by the British army.
The peasants themselves often on their own initiative offered resistance to British rule. The Rangpur rebellion of 1783 in the northern districts of Bengal is an ideal example of such opposition.
In many of the peasant movements of this period, religion played an important role in providing an ideology for protest. The earliest of these was the Sanyasi and Fakir rebellion, which rocked northern Bengal and adjacent areas of Bihar between 1763 and 1800. Another religious movement called the Faraizi movement developed among the peasants of eastern Bengal.
The imposition of British rule and their economic policies, resulted in the loss of their autonomous domains of power, freedom and culture. The destruction of their imagined golden past by the intruding outsiders - the suds and dikus - led obviously to violent outbursts.
Some of the peasant rebellions in pre-1857 India were participated exclusively by the tribal population whose political autonomy and control over local resources were threatened by the establishment of British rule and the advent of its non-tribal agents.
Bhil insurrection in 1819, Koli rebellion of 1829 and Kol uprising of 1831-32 were some of the tribal movements against the British. The most effective tribal movement of this period was, however, the Santhal hool (rebellion) of 1855-56.
In contrast to the urban intelligentsia, who were also the chief beneficiaries of colonial rule, the response of the traditional elite and the peasantry, who were losing out as a result of colonial impositions, was that of resistance and defiance, resulting in a series of unsuccessful attempts at restoring the old order.
2. Mahatma Gandhi was born in India but was made in South Africa. Elaborate.
It was in 1893 that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi went from India to Natal in South Africa as a young lawyer. Except for a few interludes, mainly in India and England, Gandhi's stay in South Africa spanned 21 years. Mahatma Gandhi’s unique method of struggle and his ideology were shaped through his years in South Africa.
Settling in Natal, he was subjected to racism and South African laws that restricted the rights of Indian laborers. They removed the voting rights of a few Indians who had qualified. They began to refuse trading licenses to Indians. They imposed a three-pound tax on all “free Indians” to force them to re-indenture or return to India.
When confronted with the harsh realities of racial discrimination in South
Africa, he insisted on legal equality for Indians with Europeans. He formed
the Natal Indian Congress and drew international attention to the plight of Indians in South Africa.
In 1906, the Transvaal authorities gazetted an Ordinance requiring all Indians to register with ten finger prints, and to show the registration certificates whenever demanded by the police. When appeals to the authorities and to the British government failed, Gandhi and other Indians began to picket registration offices and court imprisonment against the ordinance. Mahatma Gandhi organized his first campaign of Satyagraha,
or mass civil disobedience.
Through this struggle, he developed the philosophy of Satyagraha - fearless defiance of unjust laws, with a willingness to suffer and adherence to nonviolence in thought and deed. A civilized and humane form of resistance to injustice, it seeks to convert the adversary and looks forward to reconciliation.
The Satyagraha was suspended in 1911, after the formation of the Union of South Africa, in the hope of a negotiated settlement, but the talks failed. Satyagraha was resumed in September 1913 in both Natal and the Transvaal, and this time women were invited to join. Such women participation was also encouraged in the Indian National Movement by Mahatma Gandhi.
A remarkable change in Mahatma Gandhi had come in South Africa itself. By May 1908, moving beyond expressing his concern merely over Indian issues,
Mahatma Gandhi rejected the policy of segregation and envisioned a South Africa in which the various races “commingle”. Gandhi’s notions on race benefited from his intellectual exposure to influences such as those of Olive Schreiner and Jean Finot. Mahatma Gandhi’s criticism of the South African Constitution of 1909-1910 was also based on his vision of non-racial nationhood.
The experience of Satyagraha model of resistance in South Africa made Mahatma Gandhi the leader that India needed for the popular mobilization in the nationalist cause. Mahatma Gandhi’s persuasive methods of civil disobedience influenced leaders of civil rights movements around the world, especially Martin Luther King, Jr., in the United States.
3. To what extent did the activism and political participation of women in Indian National movement promote a feminist consciousness in colonial India? Examine critically.
From the beginning, women’s participation in politics took place from a variety of women-only organizations, which operated actively in the public arena and focused more directly on women’s political and legal rights. These include Women’s Indian Association, National Council of Women in India and All India Women’s Conference. However, instead of mobilizing mass agitations in support of issues related to women, these organizations petitioned the government and appealed to the nationalists for support.
The developments of the early twentieth century – the birth of a new consciousness, new organizations and the politicization of women – did bring in some remarkable changes for some women. But for most of the women, the changes were less spectacular. In the Swadeshi movement, whatever participation women had, it was within accepted gender ideology that prescribed home as the rightful arena of activities for women.
With the advent of Mahatma Gandhi, a major change in the women’s involvement in the nationalist movement can be seen. Women claimed for themselves a greater active role in the Non-Cooperation movement. Thousands of women participated in the illegal manufacture of salt, picketing foreign cloth and liquor shops and took part in processions during the Civil Disobedience Movement.
In most cases, women who joined the nationalist struggle came from families where men were already involved in Gandhian movements. So in their case, their public role was an extension of their domestic roles as wives, mothers, sisters or daughters. Their politicization therefore did not lead to any significant change in their domestic or family relations.
The female activism during the 1940s was visible most significantly in the Quit India movement of 1942. The most important aspect was the participation of large number of rural women. Outside the country, Indian women were involved by Subhash Chandra Bose in Indian National Army. Women also participated in the communist movements during the period.
Thus, increasingly in the 1940s, Indian women across class, caste and religious barriers claimed agency in their participation in the national movement. But, they did not use the occasion to raise issues that affected them as women as their own goals were subordinated to those of national liberation or class struggle. This nature of participation thus did not abruptly breach the accepted norms of feminine behavior or signify their empowerment.
Although some women became conscious and actively participated in the political struggles, and also identified themselves in many ways with the emerging nation, feminism had not yet been incorporated into the prevailing ideologies of liberation. But that does not mean that no woman ever dreamed of freedom, in a way contrary to the dominant patriarchal convention.
4. The welfare of the depressed classes in Indian society has always been a concern. Discuss the differences in approaches of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar in this regard.
Although Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi fought for the rights of the oppressed castes in India with the same goal in mind, their paths were quite different.
Differences in approach
- Dr. Ambedkar believed that untouchability could not be removed without completely abolishing the caste system. Mahatma Gandhi saw untouchability only as a sin of the religion that could be corrected through reforms.
- Dr. Ambedkar emphasizes the need for and creation of self-respect and a new sensibility. For him, the Dalit is primarily a humiliated person and other dimensions of a Dalit’s personality are secondary. Further, for Ambedkar, the entire caste Hindu society is anathema. He cannot accept any identification with the symbols and ethos of caste Hindu society.
- According to Gandhi, as both Dalit and caste Hindu societies are organically intertwined with each other, the notion of untouchability has to disappear from the mind and heart of caste Hindu society. The other should change. Any attempt to eradicate untouchability will not be fruitful without a constant and deep interaction with the other.
- Ambedkar believed that the movement for the amelioration of the cause of depressed classes should be led by depressed classes only and for this reason, he perceived himself but Gandhi as leader of the depressed classes.
Gandhi believed that such movement may be launched by any person.
- Wherein Ambedkar saw the communal award of 1932 - in the form of separate electorate for depressed classes - as necessary for advancement of depressed classes, Gandhi saw it as a British attempt to split Hindus and opposed it.
- The Gandhi-Ambedkar conflict was over how to understand caste.
Ambedkar insisted, for the first time in India’s modern history, that caste was a political question, and couldn’t be addressed by social reforms only while Gandhi considered it a social issue.
Gandhi’s reading of caste fundamentally differed from Ambedkar. While Ambedkar preferred a rights-based approach, Gandhi’s approach was through faith and spirituality. Unlike Ambedkar, Gandhi felt that any exploitative relationship could be rectified only when the exploiter had a change of heart. So he worked with upper castes to change their mindset.
5. Subhas Chandra Bose was one of the finest products of Indian renaissance. Discuss his ideology and political vision.
The period when Subhas Chandra Bose was born, the Indian society was going through a dynamic transition. Old ideas and institutions were coming under the challenge of the new liberal rational tradition. The atmosphere was clouded with the ideas of reform movements and political agitation. All these were most prominently felt in Bengal which was for long the nursery of Indian nationalism and of which Subhas Chandra Bose was a product.
Ideology of Subhas Chandra Bose
- Views on Religion: Subhas Chandra Bose, being a Secularist, had an attitude of impartiality towards all religions. According to him, the Government of Free India must have an absolutely neutral and impartial attitude towards all religions and leave it to the choice of every individual to profess or follow a particular religion of his faith.
- Views on communalism: Bose was of the firm opinion that socioeconomic issues cut across communal divisions and barriers. According to him, the remedy lies in the solution of the political problem on the establishment of a national, popular and democratic government in which people will have direct right to participate and indirect right to criticize. All Indians living in South East Asia were united in the Indian National Army irrespective of caste, race, sex and creed.
- Caste system: Subhas advocated emphatically the abolition of caste system in India. He supported inter-caste marriages in India.
- Emancipation of women: Bose believed in female emancipation in the true sense of the term and in liberating women from all shackles and artificial disabilities - social, economic and political. He spoke in favour of all-round education for women. He was a supporter of widow remarriage and abolition of Purdah system. He created the Rani Jhansi Regiment and appointed one woman Cabinet Minister in the Provisional Government of Azad Hind, giving her a position after him in the order of preference.
- Goal: The goal of his life was the liberation of India and rebuilding it into a republic. Even though he joined the National movement under the leadership of Gandhi, he eventually came to think that Indian freedom could not be achieved by the Gandhian strategy.
- Foreign assistance: Besides, he was sure that foreign assistance was essential for a country like India to win freedom and he tried his best to enlist the support of axis powers during the Second World War. Thus, he organized the Azad Hind Fauz comprising 30,000 soldiers and officers and mobilized them on the north-eastern front to give a valiant fight to the British army.
- Egalitarian society: In his Free India, Subhas Chandra Bose had the aim of creating an egalitarian society in which all members would enjoy almost equal economic benefits and social status. According to him, in the Free India, there must not be any discrimination on ground of caste, race, sex, creed or wealth.
- Concept of freedom: His concept of freedom implies not only emancipation from political bondage but also equal distribution of wealth, abolition of caste barriers and social inequalities and destruction of communalism and religious intolerance.
- Democracy: Subhas had developed immense faith in the power of the people. According to him, Democratic theory emphasizes on the common man as the agent of change, evolution and progress, and recognizes the potency and potentiality of the common man to participate in the political process.
Subhas Chandra Bose had always held the belief that free India will fulfill various aspirations of its people, devoid of any discrimination and exploitation. He applied his ideas and beliefs in efforts to free the country from colonial rule.