Formation Of All India National Congress:- Here, we briefly outline the two broad theories behind the establishment of the Indian National Congress (INC),
First Phase of Indian Nationalism (1885- 1915)
This phase was dominated by moderates. This phase was initially called the ‘Early Nationalist’ phase, this phase was described as the ‘age of moderates’.
Formation Of All India National Congress
Establishment of Indian National Congress (INC):–
- The INC was established in 1885, by A.O. Hume, a retired civil servant who was staying in Shimla post-retirement.
- He invited many Indian leaders regarding the Indian cause, and he laid the foundation of the ‘Indian National Union.
- But, after the suggestion of Dadabhai Naoroji, its name was changed to ‘Indian National Congress. The word ‘Congress’ was taken from the American Constitution.
What was the real reason for the Formation Of the All India National Congress?
There are two broad theories behind this:
- Mythical Theory: This suggested that it was the humanistic approach of A.O. Hume that was cited as one of the factors that led to the establishment of the INC.
In fact, it was said that Hume was deeply moved by the political plight of the Indians, and he wanted to establish a political platform for Indians that could serve as the ‘voice for Indians’ so that the grievances could reach the British and the discontentment which was gradually growing between the British ruling system and the Indians could be minimized.
The biographer of A.O. Hume, William Wedderburn, who later on also became the President of the INC as well, deeply believed in the humanistic approach of A.O. Hume.
The extremist elements in India like Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, etc. laid down the theory known as the ‘Safety- valve’ theory.
the theory that Hume formed the Congress with the idea that it would prove to be a ‘safety valve’ for releasing the growing discontent of the Indians. To this end, he convinced Lord Dufferin not to obstruct the formation of the Congress.
Lala Lajpat Rai wrote two books, ‘Unhappy India’, and ‘Punjabi’. In these two books, he explained and criticized the policy of the British regarding the Formation Of the All India National Congress
According to him, it was a conspiracy of Lord Dufferin, and A.O. Hume, that lead to the establishment of the INC. Even the Marxist historian’s ‘conspiracy theory was an offspring of the ‘safety valve’ notion.
In the second half of the 19th Century with the growing tide of nationalism, the aggression of Indians kept on increasing against the British policies, thus the British think tanks derived a concept by which it was said that in between the British Government in India and the Indian public, there would be a buffer organization known as the Indian National Congress (INC).
Thus the INC would work as a buffer organization, or in other words, it would work as a safety valve.
The safety-valve theory got a strong momentum in the political circles of India.
Organization for expression of Indian Demands: Modern Indian historians dispute the idea of ‘safety valve’. In their opinion, the Indian National Congress represented the urge of the politically conscious Indians to set up a national body to express the political and economic demands of the Indians. Historian Bipan Chandra observes early Congress leaders used Hume as a catalyst to bring together.
Lightning conductor theory: However many historians like Bipin Chandra argue that Congress did not challenge the label of Safety Valve & yet used.
A.O. Hume was a lightning conductor to escape any direct resistance from British Rule. But, on the basis of modern analysis, the INC was a result of many a regional consciousness uniting together under the context of commonality of interests. In fact, at the beginning of the 19th Century, there were many cultural organizations which were established by social reformers. And cultural organizations always lead to political and social awareness.
Major objectives of INC
A Pan India Organization: To found a democratic, nationalist movement through a pan India organization.
Politicize and politically educate people: Congress aimed to increase awareness about the colonial exploitative policies the political rights of Indians. To this end, congress focused on demanding increasing representation in councils, Indianization of civil services etc.
Anti-colonialism: Develop and propagate an anti-colonial nationalist ideology; Promote friendly relations among nationalist political workers from different parts of the country.
Forward-looking political and economic programme: Formulate and present popular demands before the government with a view to unifying the people over a common economic and political programme.
Promote Nationalism: Develop and consolidate a feeling of national unity among people irrespective of religion, caste or province.
Thus, the objectives of INC were not mere critiques of British policies but forward-looking programmes for improving the conditions of Indians. Even though Moderates were not successful in their endeavour they laid the foundation of the mass-based independence struggle with INC formation.
The Indian National Congress was founded in Bombay in December 1885.
The early leadership – Dadabhai Naoroji, Pherozeshah Mehta, Badruddin Tyabji, W.C. Bonnerji, Surendranath Banerji, Romesh Chandra Dutt.
Subramania Iyer, among others – was largely from Bombay and Calcutta.
- A retired British official, A.O. Hume, also played a part in bringing Indians from various regions together.
- The formation of the Indian National Congress was an effort in the direction of promoting the process of nation-building.
- In an effort to reach all regions, it was decided to rotate the Congress session among different parts of the country.
- The President belonged to a region other than where the Congress session was being held.