How Did the Hindu-Muslim Divide Affect the Nationalist Movement in India in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries?

Topics: Indian independence movement, India, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi Pages: 5 (1347 words) Published: October 4, 2005
CHRONOLOGY 1880 – 1947
1885Founding of Indian National Congress (INC); moderate phase of Nationalism
1890sDissension Movement
1893Cow Protection Movement
1905Partition of Bengal on 10th October; ‘swadeshi' (own country) movement boycotts foreign products; radical nationalism; British suppression of leaders 1906Foundation of All India Muslim League (AML)

1907Split in Congress at Surat session
1908Morely-Minto Reforms – modest political reforms giving Indians slightly more representation on legislative councils; Indian Councils Act 1911Reunification of Bengal
1914Start of World War One (WW1) – Indian soldiers fight for British 1915Mohandas Gandhi
returns from South Africa
1916Jinnah becomes President of AIML – INC and AIML united against British 1917Chelmsford-Montague Reforms – promised limited representative democracy Split between AIML and INC 1919India Act, Rowlatt Satyagraha – beginning of mass politics 1920-22 Non-cooperation-Khilafat Movement under Gandhi; introduction of Satyagrapha policy and non-violence; Hindu-Muslim unity; ended because of rising violence 1920 Jinnah leaves Congress

1928 Landless labourers resisted dominant peasants in Bardoli 1929 Congress formally accepts goal of purna swarah (complete self-rule) 1930-31 Second Civil Disobedience Movement; Salt March (1930) 1931 Civil Disobedience halted; Gandhi takes part in meetings with the Viceroy and attends Second Round Table Conference 1932-34Civil Disobedience resumed but called off as a result of violence 1935Government of India Act signed

1942Cripps Mission; August: Quit India Resolution; Gandhi arrested 1945End of World War II; Labour party elected to power in Britain – promise of independence for India 1946Muslim Communal Violence

194714th August: Pakistani Independence; 15th August: Indian Independence

Indian nationalism developed from the 1880s towards independence in 1947. During India's journey towards independence there were two specific challenges that needed to be overcome. The first major obstacle was the internal divisions. These internal divisions could be roughly classified into three areas: religious, regional and class differences. The second major obstacle was the British in India. The latter challenge, however, contributed greatly to the earlier. British manipulation of Indian internal differences was a key element in the maintenance of British control over India.

To get a clear understanding, one must first define nationalism. In an Indian context there were two broad strands of nationalism developing simultaneously. Firstly, there was a communal nationalism promoting a sense of identity between people of the same religion, caste or linguistic group. For example, during the Cow protection movement of 1893 people identifying themselves as Hindu moved against those who identified as Muslim. On the other hand, Secular nationalism promotes identity across a broader range, therefore, people identified as Indians not as Tamil or Bengali (regional) or as Muslim or Hindu (religious). The idea was to carry a concept of self-determination irrespective of colour, creed or class.

Religious Divisions
The main divide in Indian society was between the Hindu majority and the large Muslim minority. When the British first conquered India, the British viewed the community they had supplanted (the Muslim community) as their natural enemy. The Hindu majority took advantage of the foreigner's pro-Hindu tendencies and by the 1880s the middle class was predominantly Hindu. When the Indian National Congress (INC) was founded in 1885, it consisted mainly of Hindu professionals and moderate elites. Although the INC was not specifically Hindu, many Muslims felt excluded. The lack of response by the INC to the Cow protection riots of 1893 may have contributed to Muslim feelings of exclusion. However, this did motivate Muslim to create the All India Muslin League (AIML) in 1906....

Bibliography: Primary Sources:
Gandhi M.K. on Hindu-Muslim Unity – excerpts from his Collected Works, Dated between 1921 and 1925, in D. Dalton, (ed.), Mahatma Gandhi: Selected Political Writings, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1996.
Kahn Sir Sayyid Ahmed, The Present State of Indian Politics: On Congress, 1888, in BN Pandey, (ed.). The Indian Nationalist Movement, 1885-1947: Select Documents, London: Macmillan, 1979
Secondary Sources:
Heehs Peter, India 's Freedom Struggle 1857-1947 A Short History, Oxford University Press, 1988
Stein Burton, A History of India, Oxford: Blackwell, 1998
All readings taken from HIST 116 Book of Readings East meets West: Asia in the Age of European Expansion, Victoria University of Wellington, 2005
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