British Imperialism in India

At this time, and while the world was in the throes of World War One, the British were committing more acts to instigate resentment amongst Indians. India had a large part in World War One, with more than a million pounds sterling voted from Indian revenues towards the cost of the war (Cowie, 39, 1994). With this in mind, the Montagu Declaration was issued in 1917, promising ‘gradual’ and ‘progressive’ self-government for India. There was, however, much suspicion that this declaration meant nothing and that Britain had no intention of relinquishing control beyond simple aspects such as health services, agriculture and public works (Cowie, 39, 1994). This of course caused much resentment - autonomy was essentially being denied, and in a condescending manner after India’s sacrifice for the Empire in World War One.

During the 1920s and 1930s the Indian nationalist movement continued with strength. Ghandi’s campaign for independence went on, with his encouragement of peaceful protest and criticism of British administration and taxes. In 1921, Ghandi called for all Indians to boycott paying taxes on farming tools to the British, a strategy to have a negative effect on the economy. His non-cooperation campaign, despite its nonviolent aims, periodically became violent, and Ghandi was imprisoned in 1922 for instigating the movement. He was released two years later. The movement, however, was quite successful in terms of uniting the country in a movement under one leader (Masselos, 138, 1972), joined by their resentment of British rule. While earlier in the century, the English language and European political principles gave rise to the Indian nationalist movement, these were the tools used to strengthen the movement and to create unity among the Indian people.

Many individual events associated with Ghandi’s satyahara approach, such as the Salt March in 1930 which demonstrated defiance of the British monopoly on salt manufacturing, and Ghandi’s "Quit India" campaign that lasted throughout the 1920s and 1930s, led to the eventual independence of India in 1947. The one movement that underpinned singular acts of patriotism was the nationalist movement, led by ‘Mahatma’ Ghandi. Ghandi was "…shrewd enough to utilise the nature of British rule in India to win independence without too much bloodshed" (Masani, quoted in Wood, 32, 1989). This movement was made possible by the establishment of English as a unifying language and by acquainting Indians with European political principles, which led to Indian resentment of British nationalism and ultimately to the British loss of control over India.

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