The Indian Home Rule League Movement was begun in British India and was roused by the Irish Home Rule Movement, which fought for Ireland’s self-government inside the United Kingdom. Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Annie Besant founded the Home Rule League in India. From 1916 to 1918, it lasted a long period.
The Indian Home Rule Movement was a less charged but more successful response to the First World War than the romantic Ghadar movement, which was popular among Indians living overseas. The purpose of the Indian Home Rule movement was to promote Home Rule for India as well as an educational program to instill a sense of patriotism among the Indian people.
Causes Led to The Establishment of The Indian Home Rule League Movement
- The Indian people are experiencing a great national awakening, with greater political consciousness and a growing critical attitude toward the British government’s policies, particularly in the areas of politics, economic policy, and education.
- The Government of India Act of 1909 failed to meet Indians’ ambitions and expectations. The Congress Party split in 1907, and Bal Gangadhar Tilak was imprisoned in 1908, signaling a halt in the national movement.
- Government repression, such as the prohibition of public meetings and the press, as well as wartime hardships, such as high taxes and price increases, made them recognize that self-government was necessary for the country’s economic, political, and cultural advancement.
- Tilak had made conciliatory steps to assure the Government of his devotion and to the Moderates that, like the Irish Home Rulers, he sought to reform the administration rather than topple the government after his release in June 1914. He went on to say that the acts of violence had only slowed India’s political growth. During a crisis, he appealed to all Indians to assist the British administration. The Renaissance of the Nationalist Movement after being dissatisfied with the Morley Minto Reforms, Lokmanya Tilak, a renowned extremist leader, and Annie Besant, an Irish Socialist and Theosophist, created the Home Rule League, modeled after the Irish Home Rule Movements, in demanding Indian self-government.
- The War exposed the concept of racial superiority, which was waged among the major imperialist nations of the time and backed by open propaganda against each other.
- International Influences – The triumph of small Asian countries such as Ethiopia and Japan over Europe demolished the myth of European superiority. In Ireland, Russia, Egypt, and other countries, revolutionary movements are attempting to overthrow authoritarian governments.
Foundation of The Indian Home Rule League Movement
Basically, there were two Indian Home Rule Leagues that were established with the common goal of achieving Self-Government in India.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s Home Rule League
- In 1914, Tilak was released. He was readmitted to Congress in 1915 because of Besant’s mediation, but they were unable to shake the party out of its nearly long-term inactivity.
- As a result, in April 1916, Tilak founded the Indian Home Rule League.
- The headquarter of Tilak’s Home Rule League were in Poona.
- The home rule league’s activities of Tilak were limited to the Bombay Presidency (excluding Bombay City), the Central Province, Karnataka, and Berar.
- Tilak further connected the concept of Swaraj to the desire for vernacular language education and the establishment of linguistic states.
Annie Besant and All-India Home Rule League
- Annie Besant was born in Ireland and was fascinated by Indian culture and philosophy. Mrs. Besant was the President of the Chennai Theosophical Society.
- She was disappointed by the techniques utilized by the Early Nationalists. She was impressed by Ireland’s Home Rule Movement during her visits to England somewhere in the range of 1908 and 1913.
- She began spreading her thoughts through her articles daily like New India and Commonweal after joining the Congress in 1914.
- She founded the Home Rule League Movement in Chennai’s Gokhale Hall in September 1916. She established over 200 League branches across India. The Movement’s goal was to seek self-government, which would be accomplished by increasing political education and organizing dialogues.
- She distributed brochures and newsletters, as well as raised finances for the movement.
Later, the Home Rule movement was joined by Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Bhulabhai Desai, Tej Bahadur Sapru, Chittaranjan Das, and Lala Lajpat Rai. Some of these figures went on to become branch heads in their respective areas.
The government repressed the students, particularly in Madras, where they were forbidden from attending political assemblies. Tilak was charged, but the case was dismissed by the High Court. Tilak was restrained for access into Punjab and Delhi. Annie Besant and her associates George Arundale and B.P. Wadia were apprehended in June 1917.
This sparked widespread outrage. Sir S. Subramaniya Aiyar relinquished his knighthood in a theatrical gesture, whereas Tilak argued for a passive resistance strategy. The repression simply hardened the agitators’ attitudes and strengthened their commitment to oppose the government.
Mrs. Besant, The President of Congress
In light of rising national animosity, Mrs. Annie Besant, who was jailed in June 1917, was later released by the British government. It was at this time that the popularity of Mrs. Besant’s personality and the Home Rule movement were at their peak.
She had contributed new aspects to India’s war for independence over the preceding three years, aspects that had caught the attention of an ever-widening audience in India and the British Raj. As a result, Mrs. Besant was chosen as the President of the Congress at Calcutta Session (1917). The Home Rule movement reached its pinnacle at this point.
This movement became memorable for two of its major contributions. Firstly, it brought the Congress’ ranks together. Mrs. Besant successfully brought together moderates and extremists, in a way that the Congress’s two wings became closer.
As a result, she was able to undo what had occurred in Surat in 1907. Second, it had a significant impact on the Congress’s character. It effectively pushed Congress to learn how to use methods of “demand” and “agitation,” rather than the older ways of “petition” and “prayer.”
When Lala Lajpat Rai observed, he said “India of 1917 was different from India of 1907.”, he was expressing his gratitude for the transformation, furthermore he added “We use to fight for crumbs in 1907. We are no longer pleading for concessions, but rather for rights in 1917.“
The force and vigor of the Home Rule Movement, which had been visualized as a “pioneer movement” to do the “spade work” dissipated and eventually lost its identity in the Non-cooperation Movement of 1921, as Gandhiji became more involved in politics, infusing greater tenacity and vigor into the activities of the Congress.
Decline of The Home Rule League Movement
- There was an ineffective organizational structure.
- Only Educated Individuals and Students are permitted to participate.
- During 1917-18, there were communal riots. As the leagues were unable to gain support from Muslims, Anglo-Indians, and non-Brahmins because they believed that giving the upper caste Hindu majority home rule would lead to their control.
- After Besant’s arrest, moderates in Besant’s league returned to Congress, pacified by talk of reforms (The purpose of British policy in India, according to Montague’s August 1917 speech, is progressive self-government, which prompted many nationalists, including Gandhiji, to believe in it, and therefore activities in support of the war led to the League’s demise.)
- From September 1918 onwards, the Extremists’ talk of passive resistance held the Moderates at bay.
- The Montagu-Chelmsford changes, which were made public in July 1918, further polarised nationalists.
- Tilak was forced to travel abroad in September 1918 to pursue a libel case against Sir Ignatius Valentine Chiro, while Annie Besant was undecided about how she felt about the reforms and passive resistance strategies. The movement was left without a leader after Besant’s inability to provide a strong lead and Tilak’s absence in England.
- Gandhi’s strategy for achieving freedom.
- In 1920, Gandhi was elected as president of the All India Home Rule League, which got renamed Swarajya Sabha, and later, the league was merged with the Indian National Congress.
Significance and Impact of The Home Rule League Movement
- The movement turned the focus away from the educated elite and permanently redirected the movement away from the Moderates’ path.
- It made an authoritative connection between the town and the country, particularly in politically underdeveloped places such as Gujrat and Sindh, which was to demonstrate pivotal in later years when the development entered its mass stage from a genuine perspective.
- It gave birth to a generation of zealous patriots.
- Indians, including the Muslim League, Extremists, and Moderates, presented the government with a concrete proposal for self-government.
- It educated a large number of people who went on to become the architects of the Indian National Movement.
- The Home Rule agitation influenced Montagu’s August 1917 proclamation as well as the Montford reforms.
- It helped to prepare the people for Gandhian politics.
- The Congress has resurrected as an effective weapon of Indian nationalism thanks to Tilak and Besant’s efforts at the Lucknow Moderate-Extremist reunion in 1916.
- It infused the national movement with a new dimension and sense of urgency.
- Many British citizens agreed with the Indians’ aspiration for self-government.
- It put pressure on the government to grant self-rule to the country. The government proclaimed the gradual establishment of self-governing institutions in India as a result of the movement’s widespread support.
The demand for Home Rule was clear and powerful, but it had the major drawback of being difficult to meet in the short term. Annie Besant had restricted her room for maneuver by first demanding the maximum; any attempt to adjust her tactics in relation to the British exposed her to charges of heresy from her supporters.
Mrs. Besant and Tilak eventually succeeded in provoking their supporters by boosting agitation to the point where passive resistance was required, then repudiating this goal, thereby generating much of the steam that would feed Gandhi Ji’s campaign of Satyagraha in 1919.