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The Partition Of Bengal In 1905 – The Historical Reform Which Fuelled Swadeshi Movement And Boycott Movement

The partition of Bengal
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Throughout the early seventeenth century, colonialism started spreading like wildfire in the Indian subcontinent. The British Government found themselves colonizing India at a fast pace. They adopted the strategy of “divide and rule”. Throughout their colonial years, they aimed at partitioning large numbers of Indian states and regions into smaller areas in the name of an efficient administrative rule. Such an incident was recorded in the pages of history when the colonial masters, the notorious British Government conducted the partition of Bengal in 1905 for the first time which divided the Muslim community from the Hindu community. Soon after, the Swadeshi movement and boycott movement was observed by the freedom fighters and the extremist as a form of opposition to British rule. But, when and by whom was Bengal partitioned? What was the impact of Swadeshi movement in India? 

This article will walk you through the pages of history and will focus on answering the above questions through the storytelling of a great historical reform, which further contributed to the shaping of the country! 

The Partition Of Bengal In 1905

When And By Whom Was Bengal Partitioned? 

The year 1905 and Lord Curzon was the reason to note while discussing when and by whom was Bengal partitioned. The morning of July 19, 1905, saw Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy of India, conducting one of the greatest territorial reforms of the Bengal Presidency. The partition of Bengal was announced in an effort to partition or divide the Muslim regions from the western Hindu regions. Though Curzon adopted the policy in the name of efficient and better administrative rule, the main aim behind the partition of Bengal in 1905 was to divide and rule the state of Bengal. The partition was announced on July 19th, and on 16th October 1905, the partition took place. 

The partition of Bengal

The partition of Bengal not only allowed the Muslim community to establish their independent national organization but also fueled strong opposition from the Hindu community. 

Leaders Opposing The Bengal Partition

The swadeshi movement and boycott movement followed the partition, foreign goods were stopped from use by Indians, and several extremist leaders, including Lala Lajpat Rai, Aurobindo Ghosh, and others strongly raised their voices against the British oppression. 

Their opposition and fight towards achieving Swaraj or self-rule ultimately bore fruit six years later, when in 1911, Lord Hardinge cancelled the partition of Bengal and the Bengal Presidency was again reunited. 

Swadeshi Movement And Boycott Movement – The Ultimate Swaraj

The Swadeshi movement and partition of Bengal are interlinked with each other. As already mentioned, the partition of Bengal in 1905 was opposed strongly by the Extremist leaders. Swadeshi movement was made on August 7, 1905, with the passing of the ‘Boycott’ resolution in a meeting at the Calcutta town hall which brought about the unification of the hitherto dispersed leadership. One of the most successful movements during the Pre Gandhian era, the Swadeshi movement and boycott movement was an outcome of the British colonial rule and the effort to divide the Bengal province into smaller regions. So, when did the Swadeshi movement start? Who played a key role in the movement? Let us have a look! 

partition of Bengal in 1905

Soon after the declaration of the partition of Bengal in August 1905, opposition to Curzon’s policy came into force. The birthplace of the Swadeshi movement and boycott movement was the Calcutta Town Hall wherein a meeting was held and finally, the decision to observe the Swadeshi movement was made. The Swadeshi movement included a boycott of foreign goods, including clothing materials from Manchester and the Liverpool salt! 

Government schools were scorned and foreign shops and goods were picketed. Several clashes with the police also took place. Vande Mataram was being recited by people across the country to show opposition against Curzon’s partition of Bengal rule. Further Advancements were made when Kabiguru Rabindranath Thakur composed Amar Sonar Bangla which further ignited patriotism in the hearts of the Indians. 

Soon, the swadeshi movement spread across the country including Maharashtra, Madras, Punjab, and Delhi. In Maharashtra, Bal Gangadhar Tilak led the movement. India got one of its greatest and bravest freedom fighters who said, “ Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it! “. Other places including Punjab also observed the boycott movement under Lala Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh. 

swadeshi movement and boycott movement
Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal

In the 1906 Congress Session at Calcutta, the Indian National Congress under the leadership of Dadabhai Naoroji declared Swaraj as the primary goal of INC. The failure of moderate nationalists gave rise to a group of radical nationalists of Lal – Bal – Pal or Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak,  and Bipin Chandra Pal were important figures. Students and women’s participation also played a key role in the Swadeshi movement and Boycott movement! Women for the first time in the history of India came out of their homes and joined their male counterparts in the movement against the partition of Bengal. 

Reasons For Swadeshi Movement – Swadeshi Movement And Partition Of Bengal

1. To Weaken The Bengali Class

The major reason for the Swadeshi movement can be traced back to the backdrop of the Partition of Bengal in 1905. The people of Bengal Province viewed the partition of Bengal as a means for the British Government to weaken the Bengali class and rule them without any oppression from them. 

2. To Exploit The Indian Economy

Apart from the partition, another reason can also be listed here. During the same time, there was growing awareness among the Indian people about the atrocities and the oppression adopted by the British government to rule the Indian subcontinent. The people came to know about the ways in which the colonialists were exploiting the Indian economy for their own advantage. 

3. Punjab Land Alienation Act of 1900

The Punjab Land Alienation Act of 1900 rendered the non-peasants non-eligible for any sale or purchase of land for 15 years. 

4. For The Personal Use Of Funds By The British Government

Another important reason for the Swadeshi movement is the use of funds by the British government to aid in the establishment of railways and other things important to them, rather than investing the same for the education of the Indian people and to control and prevent famines and drought. 

5. The Calcutta Corporation Act of 1899

The Calcutta Corporation Act of 1899 can be another factor for the increasing opposition to British policies. The 1899 act decreased the power of elected members in political decision-making, thereby increasing the power and position of the European members! 

impact of Swadeshi movement in India

Was the Swadeshi Movement Successful?

The Swadeshi movement and boycott movement which was fueled by the Partition of Bengal in 1905 by Lord Curzon is one of the most successful movements in Indian history. Through the efforts of Indian leaders and the INC, Bengal was United six years later in the year 1911 by Lord Hardinge! 

Impact Of Swadeshi Movement In India

1. The impact of Swadeshi movement in India can be seen on many fronts. The boycott movement resulted in a decrease in imported goods from the British countryside. People stopped using foreign materials and thus the value of imported goods diminished. 

2. The swadeshi movement in India also introduced the Morley Minto reform which gave Indians some concessions to the British. This was an unnoticed impact of Swadeshi movement in India. Gopal Krishna Gokhle was an important figure in this reform. 

3. While on one side a boycott of foreign goods was performed, several Indian institutions were being set up as an expression of Independence from foreign rule. The Bengal National College was an outcome of this policy. The National Council of Education and Bengal Institute of Technology were also established. 

4. The impact of the Swadeshi movement can also be seen through the fact that Swadeshi textile mills, match factories, banks, and shops were established. The Indian Cottage Industry also grew to its full potential during this period. 

5. The Swadeshi movement also led to extreme violence among the Indians. The movement fueled extreme nationalism among the youths and they often took to violence to bring Change and independence to mother India! 

Conclusion

Though the Swadeshi movement and boycott movement were one of the most successful movements in Indian history, they could not grow to their full potential. By 1908, the spark faded as most of the leaders were either arrested or deported. Additionally, repression from the British Government also weakened the unity among the people and the movement took its last breath before being ultimately stopped under foreign repression!

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