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Mains Answer Writing

13-December-2023

1. “The changing nature of revolutionary extremism in the Indian national movement reflected a broader shift in political consciousness.” Substantiate.

ANSWER

  • Revolutionary extremism refers to a political or social ideology that advocates for radical and revolutionary changes to the existing scheme of things. The Indian national movement was characterized by various forms of revolutionary extremism, ranging from assassinations to armed struggle.

The nature of this extremism underwent a significant transformation over the course of Indian national movement in the following ways:

  1. The Indian nationalists gradually began to realize the limitations of passive resistance and the need for more forceful methods of political mobilization. E.g., revolutionaries like Khudiram Bose during Swadeshi agitations.
  2. The Ghadar movement was active in North America and Europe from 1913 to 1917. The movement was sought to overthrow British colonial rule in India through armed revolution.
  3. Revolutionary extremists, including the likes of Bhagat Singh and Chandra Shekhar Azad, rejected the Gandhian philosophy of non-violent resistance. They advocated for a more militant approach to the struggle for independence.
  4. During the 1920s Communist Party of India (CPI) emerged as a significant force which advocated for a socialist revolution in India and supported armed struggle as a means to achieve it.
  5. There was an ideological rethinking, where in revolutionaries urged people to move away from individual heroic actions towards mass politics. E.g., call of Bismil in support of open movements.
  6. The growth of the Indian middle class and western education was a crucial factor which paved the rise of ideologues such as MN Roy.

The changing nature of revolutionary extremism reflected a broader shift in political consciousness in the following ways:

  1. Symbolic Acts of Resistance: Revolutionary extremists engaged in acts of symbolic resistance, such as bombings and assassinations to challenge British authority. These acts aimed to inspire the masses, disrupt colonial governance, and demonstrate the resolve of Indian nationalists in their pursuit of independence.
  2. Political Discourse: The rise of revolutionary extremism forced a shift in the political discourse within the nationalist movement. It compelled moderate leaders, who previously advocated for peaceful methods, to reevaluate their strategies and demand more substantial concessions from the British. E.g., the rise of Lal-Bal-Pal within the Congress.
  3. Response to Repression: The repressive measures taken by the British colonial government, such as the Rowlatt Act and the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, deeply impacted the political consciousness of Indian nationalists. These events highlighted the oppressive nature of British rule and created a sense of urgency and disillusionment among some nationalists who believed that constitutional means alone were insufficient to achieve independence.
  4. Influence of Global Revolutionary Movements: The early 20th century was marked by various revolutionary movements around the world, including the Russian Revolution. E.g., the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army (HSRA), led by Bhagat Singh, was one of the prominent revolutionary groups that emerged during this period.
  5. Regional Movements: While the early stages of the freedom struggle movement were primarily focused on achieving political independence, there was also a growing recognition of the need to address the specific grievances. E.g., the Tebhaga movement in Bengal and the Telangana movement in Andhra Pradesh.

The changing nature of revolutionary extremism in the Indian national movement reflected a broader shift in political consciousness, marked by a growing disillusionment with the slow progress of constitutional methods and a desire for more radical approaches. While the revolutionary extremists constituted a minority within the broader nationalist movement, their actions and ideologies had a profound impact on the political landscape and forced a re-evaluation of strategies in the struggle for independence.

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