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Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

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The concept of Indian nationalism arose during the Indian independence movement, which fought for freedom from British domination. Indian nationalism is an example of territorial nationalism in which all of India’s people are included, despite their different ethnic, linguistic, and religious backgrounds. It continues to have a great effect on Indian politics and represents opposition to the sectarian aspects of Hindu and Muslim nationalism.

The consolidation of the British East India Company’s dominance in the Indian subcontinent throughout the 18th century brought about socioeconomic developments that resulted in the creation of an Indian middle class while gradually eroding pre-colonial socio-religious institutions and obstacles. The growing economic and financial dominance of Indian company owners and merchants, as well as the professional class, drove them into increasing conflict with British authorities. In the later decades of the nineteenth century, a developing political consciousness among the native Indian social elite (including attorneys, physicians, university graduates, government officials, and similar groups) generated an Indian identity and nourished a growing nationalist fervor in India.

Nationalism in India

Indian nationalism has frequently been viewed as a model for the nationalism of colonial subjects fighting for independence—with one notable exception. Whereas other colonial nationalists tried to break away from their empires and establish ‘national’ governments of their own, Indian nationalists were the only ones who aimed to take over an empire as a whole, claiming every province and principality the British governed for the country.

Mahatma Gandhi And Satyagraha

The philosophy and practice of Satyagraha and constructive programs as methods to achieve freedom, justice, and peaceful society in which man lives in total harmony with all living creatures and nature have been Mahatma Gandhi’s contribution to the entire humanity.

Gandhiji invented Satyagraha as a one-of-a-kind tactic for combating injustice. Over the course of his 50-year experience with truth, he had honed this method. He created and proposed a slew of constructive programs to strengthen the country while spearheading the Satyagraha campaign to free the country from British domination. Gandhiji spent more than 20 years in South Africa before arriving in India. He had originally gone to South Africa for a year in order to make some money. He grew so concerned in the plight of migrating Indians that he gave up his profitable legal practice to organize a nonviolent fight he subsequently dubbed Satyagraha. Satyagraha became a way of life for Gandhiji, not only a tool of nonviolent resistance.

Under Gandhiji’s guidance, the country saw a variety of Satyagraha movements. The country experienced extraordinary awareness and activism among the people who willingly underwent all types of ordeals during the non-cooperation movement between 1919 and 1922 and the civil disobedience movement between 1930 and 1934. A substantial number of members from the educated middle class were imprisoned during the initial movement. Thousands of women rose up from their houses to protest British authority during the second movement. People discovered that Satyagraha may be a powerful tool for protesting injustice.

Non-Cooperation Movement

The Indian National Congress (INC), led by Mahatma Gandhi, started the Non-Cooperation Movement on September 5, 1920. The party launched the Non-Cooperation agenda in September 1920 during a Congress session in Calcutta. September 1920 to February 1922 is considered the time of the non-cooperation movement. It marked the beginning of a new era in India’s quest for independence.

The Non-Cooperation Movement began in the aftermath of a number of events, notably the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, and was suspended due to the Chauri Chaura incident in 1922. 

The non-cooperation movement was primarily led by Mahatma Gandhi. He published a manifesto in March 1920, outlining a nonviolent non-cooperation movement theory. 

 Features of Non-cooperation Movement

  •  The movement was mostly a peaceful and nonviolent protest against the British administration in India.
  •  As a form of protest, Indians were requested to forfeit their titles and resign from nominated positions in local governments.
  •  People were requested to resign from their government posts.
  •  People were asked to remove their children from government-controlled or assisted schools and universities and so on.

Rowlatt Act

The Rowlatt Act 1919, also known as the Rowlatt Satyagraha, was one of the most contentious legislative laws adopted by the British government in the early twentieth century to limit the civil freedoms of Indians. It revolutionized the Indian national movement and elevated India’s most zealous independence warrior, Mahatma Gandhi. This bill sparked several demonstrations across India, as well as the most heinous atrocity in Indian history: the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre.

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

In response to the exclusion of Mahatma Gandhi from visiting Punjab, the convert deportation of Saifuddin Kitchlew and Satyapal on 10 April, and the responses to the Rowlatt Act, Indians attempted to unite and protest in 1919. Brigadier General R.E.H. Dyer’s new rules were read out in 19 sites across the city on the morning of Baisakhi, 13 April 1919, to the sound of military drums by the city’s town criers. He had made it illegal to leave the city without a permission, prohibited any “processions of any type” and any gathering of more than four persons, and said that “anyone spotted in the streets after 8 p.m. shall be shot.”

The statements were made against a background of noise and extraordinary heat, and they missed critical spots around the city, suggesting that the information was not sufficiently distributed. Dyer was later notified at 12.40 p.m. that a political gathering was to be convened in Jallianwala Bagh. By the time Dyer arrived with 90 Sikh, Gurkha, Baloch, and Rajput troops from the 2-9th Gurkhas, the 54th Sikhs, and the 59th Sind Rifles, there was a gathering of 20,000; a mix of speakers, listeners, picnickers, men, women, and children of all ages, including Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, and Christians. Dyer then ordered his forces to open fire on the demonstrators. 1,650 bullets were fired, and the number of those killed and injured has subsequently been contested.

By May 22, 1919, Rabindranath Tagore had got word of the tragedy. He attempted to organize a demonstration in Calcutta but ultimately opted to forfeit his British knighthood as “a symbolic gesture of protest.” “I… desire to stand, stripped of all special distinctions, at the side of those of my countrymen who, for their so-called insignificance, are subject to endure degradation not fit for human beings,” he said in a repudiation letter dated 31 May 1919 and written to Viceroy of India, Lord Chelmsford.

In retaliation for the slaughter, Udham Singh killed Michael O’Dwyer, the then Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab, who had sanctioned Brigadier-General Dyer’s conduct. As a youngster, Udham Singh is said to have seen the carnage.

Sample Questions

Question 1: What happened at Jallianwala Bagh, and how did it happen?


 The events that lead to this heinous deed were as follows:

  • Rowlatt Act (1919): Despite the Indian members’ unanimous opposition, the British government approved the Rowlatt Act (1919). This Act provided the government vast powers to suppress political activity, including the ability to detain someone for two years without charge.
  • Gandhiji wanted nonviolent civil disobedience against the Rowlatt Act. Rallies were held around the country, employees went on strike, and businesses were shut down.
  • Due to a popular uprising, the British administration enforced martial law in Amritsar. On the 13th of April, 1919, General Dyer opened fire on a crowd of innocents gathering in Jallianwala Bagh, killing hundreds.

Question 2: What are the points of Gandhiji’s Satyagraha?


       Following are the characteristics of Gandhiji’s Satyagraha:

  • It highlighted the importance of seeking truth and the power of truth.
  • It implied that if the cause was right and the struggle was against injustice, then fighting the oppressor did not require physical force. The satyagraha might win the conflict without being aggressive.
  • Through satyagraha, one may overthrow an oppressor by appealing to one’s conscience. The oppressor must be forced to realize the truth.
  • Gandhiji felt that via Satyagraha, truth will prevail in the end, and that this nonviolent dharma could unify all Indians.

Question 3: What did plantation laborer’s in Assam think of the concept of swaraj?


          The plantation laborer’s in Assam thought the following:

  • In Assam, freedom meant the ability to freely enter and exit the limited room in which they were housed. Under Emigration Act of 1859, plantation employees couldn’t leave without permission.
  •  For plantation laborer, Swaraj meant maintaining a connection to the community from which they had come. When plantation employees learned of the non-cooperation movement, hundreds of them refused to follow their superiors and fled the farms.
  • They thought Gandhiji Raj would arrive and everyone would be granted land in their own village. The plantation workers, on the other hand, never made it to their destination because they were apprehended by the police and mercilessly assaulted.

Question 4: What was the motivation behind the khilafat movement?


Muhammad Ali and Shaukat Ali founded this unified fighting movement. Gandhiji regarded this as a chance to unite all Muslims under a single national cause. During the aftermath of World War I, Muslims in British India formed the Khilafat movement, a pan-Islamic political protest campaign aimed at influencing the British government and protecting the Ottoman Empire. The collapse of Ottoman Turkey brought the First World War to a close. There was concern that the spiritual leader of the Islamic world (Khalifa) might lose his influence. A Khilafat committee was founded in Bombay in 1919 to preserve his rule. The leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization exerted pressure on the British government to treat Turkey better.

Question 5: Describe the cultural process that drew people’s attention to nationalism.


Nationalism captivated people’s imagination through a range of cultural practices. History, fiction, folklore, music, popular prints, and symbols all contributed to the formation of nationalism

The image of Bharat Mata contributed to the creation of a national identity for the country. Devotion to this mother figure became regarded as proof of one’s patriotism. People grew to think that they were all part of the same nation and discovered a sense of collective belonging as a result of these cultural processes, which aided in the growth of nationalism.

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Last Updated : 21 Dec, 2022
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