Swadeshi Movement

Origin: Swadeshi movement had its genesis in the anti-partition movement which was stated to oppose the British decision to partition Bengal. The british announced the decision in December 1903 quoting the reason, that the population of Bengal is higher and administration become difficult. This was true to some extent but the actual reason for partition is to weaken the nerve center of the nationalism.

The idea of British was to divide the Bengal based on

  1. Language as Bengal had minority of population in strength when compare to Hindi
  2. Religionwas another tactic to divide the Bengal as the western part of Bengal had Hindu majority and the eastern part of Bengal had Muslim majority.


Anti-partition Campaign under moderates:During this period leadership was provided by Surendernath bannergee, K.K.Mitra and Prithwishchandra Ray. They adopted petitions to government, public meetings, memoranda, and propaganda through pamphlets and newspaper such as Hitabadi, Sanjibani and Bengalee. Their objective was to exert the pressure on the government through an educated public opinion in India and England to prevent the unjust partition of Bengal from being implemented.


Announcement of partition:Ignoring the public opinion against the partition proposal , the government announced partition of Bengal in July 1905. Within days, protest meetings were held in small towns all over bengal. In this meetings that the pledge to boycott foreign goods was first taken but formal proclamation of swedeshi movement was made in august 07, 1905 in boycott resolution held in town hall , culcutta.


In October 16, 1905, the day the partition formally came into force, was observed as a day of mourning throughout the Bengal. People bathed in ganges and walked in barefoot in procession singing Bande Mataram. This song become the theme song of the movement. People tied Rakhis on each others hand as a symbol of unity of the two halves of the bengal.

The movement later spread to other part of the countries like poona, Bombay, Delhi and Madras.

The Congress position: The indian national congress, meeting in 1905 under the presidentship of Gokhale, resolved to

  1. Condemn the partition of Bengal and the reactionary policies of Curzon
  2. Support the anti-partition and swadeshi movement of Bengal

Militant nationalist wanted to take out the movement to other parts of the Bengal but the moderates were opposing it. In Calcutta session (1906) under the presidentship of Dadabhai Naoroji, it’s declare that the goal of INC was ‘Self government or Swaraj like the United Kingdom or colonies’.

The moderates-extremist dispute reached to deadlock at suraj session where the party split.


Techniques used in Swadeshi movement:

The militant nationalist put forward several fresh ideas at te theoretical, propagandistic, and programmatic plane. Their idea was to convert the movement of boycott into full-fledged non-cooperation movement and passive resistance but some militants were keeping the option of violent resistance too.

Public meetings and procession emerged as major methods of mass mobilization and simultaneously as forms of popular expression.  Meetings were held in all the levels right from district to village levels. This movements were the foundations for the later national movements.

Forming the samiti was another technique used by the extremist which reached even the remotest places of the district to generate the mass movement.

Celebrating the festivals and offering the meals were the techniques used to reach a mass. Ganapati festival and Shivaji festivals, popularized by Tilak became the medium for Swadeshi propaganda and this helped the movement vigorous not only in western but also in bengal.  Jatra, traditional folk theatre forms were extensively used to disseminate the swadeshi movement.

Another important aspect of this movement was ‘Atmasakti’ or self-reliance in various filed meant reasserting of national dignity, honor and confidence. It was, perhaps in the cultural sphere that the impact of swadeshi movement was most marked.

Drawbacks of the Swadeshi movement:

This movement was not supported by the mass muslims especially the peasantry class. During this period the All india muslim league was set up with the support of British government.

Swadeshi movement caused Negative consequences, implanted by Mullahs and Maulvis during the time of communal riots in the Bengal.

Popular customs and festivals techniques were misinterpreted and distorted by the communalist backed by the state.

Communal forces saw the narrowness in the religious identities in the tradition forms and festivals

Reason for failure of Swadeshi movement:

Repression took in the form of controls and bans on public meetings and processions and the press.

Students participated in this movement were expelled from the colleges , debarred from the government services.

Internal conflicts, especially the split happedn in 1907 weakened the movement.

Swadeshi movement lacked effective organization and party structure. All these movements were not converted into reality as a political practice.

The mass movement were not able to sustain the force of the movement as the movement suffered severe repression from the government.

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