Activities of the Indian National Congress from 1885 to 1905
The early national leaders were staunch believers in liberalism. The Indian National Congress, during the period from 1885 to 1905, was dominated by those leaders.
The Congress during the period under review had four objectives:
- To promote the feeling of unity among Indians.
- To establish contact with the patriots of different parts of India,
- To adopt principles of social reforms with co-operation of educated people, and
- To formulate the economic and political demands.
Economic critique of imperialism
The early leaders were aware of contemporary economic exploitation. They opposed the investment of foreign capital.
They believed that the policy of economic exploitation of the British Government was responsible for India’s poverty.
The early nationalists demanded the development of modern industry. They urged for the reduction of the heavy land revenue.
They demanded a radical change in the existing pattern of taxation. Dadabhai Naoroji in his book, ‘Poverty and Un-British Rule in India’, declared that the economic drain was the basic intellectual unrest and seedtime to Indian national movement.
Dadabhai Naoroji is also credited for being one among the founding members of Indian National Congress.
The early nationalists worked for the reform of the administrative system. They demanded the separation of the judiciary from executive. They also demanded the introduction of the jury system and reform of the police department. They demanded transfer to power to the elected members in corporation and municipalities.
The Indian Councils Act of 1861 made provision for the nomination of a few non-officials to the council. But most of the non-official government nominees were zamindars and big merchants. So, the nationalists demanded membership of the councils for the elected representatives of the people. Hence, the government passed the Indian Councils Act of 1892.
Methods of political work
The early nationalist leaders who dominated the Indian National Congress were believers in ‘moderate’ politics. During the period under review, the Congress was dominated by men of affluent middle class. It was their faith that British rule in India was necessary for the interest of the Indians.
Most of the Congress leaders of the period believed that the British people were just and righteous. They demanded few concessions and not freedom for the nation.
The policy of the moderate leaders was criticized as ‘political’ mendicancy’. But it must be admitted that the period from 1885 to 1905 was the seedtime of Indian nationalism. They focused public attention on the colonial exploitation. They were fathers of Indian nationalism.