Moderate Phase of Indian Freedom Struggle

During the first two decades after its foundation, Congress was guided by moderate ideology. Since congress represented the Indian nationalist movement, it can be seen that the first two decades of Indian’s struggle against British rule were marked by the dominance of moderate outlook.

Leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji, G.Ghokhale, W.C. Banerjee, Firojshah Mehta, and Surendra Nath Banerjee were prominent personalities that guided the national movement during the moderate phase.

Moderate Gopal Krishna Gokhale
Gopal Krishna Gokhale
WC Bonerjee
WC Banerjee

National Movement during Moderate Phase

National Movement was liberal in character during the Moderate Phase because moderate use of liberal methods & demands rose by them. Elements of radicalism were absent in the attitude & activities of moderate leaders. They demanded concessions & reforms, so the scope of civil liberties being enjoyed by people could be expanded.

National Movement was progressive in the outlook during the Moderate Phase because the moderate was inspired by the vision of a better & brighter future. Moderate was forward-looking they adopted positive elements from every possible source including the west.

National Movement was democratic in its character during the Moderate Phase because the democratization of Indian polity was the main demand of moderate. Expansion & empowerment of legislative council, adult suffrage & direct election of representative was some prominent demands of moderate.

National Movement was egalitarian in the outlook during the Moderate Phase. Indian leaders opposed all types of discrimination being practiced under British Rule. Rational discrimination was the main target of the Muslim League. They demanded equality in an opportunity to Indian citizens by holding civil services examine in India along with London.

Westernized outlook was dominant in the National Movement during Moderate Phase because most Muslim League had received western education. They were strongly under influence of western ideas associated with the age of enlightenment. National Movement was urban in character during the Moderate Phase. National struggle limited to town & cities cause the spirit of nationalism was yet to reach Indian villages.

In terms of its social composition, National Movement was elitist in character in the Moderate Phase because most of the Muslim League were coming upper & upper middle class of Indian society, landlord, big businessman, lawyers & professors, etc dominated national struggle during Moderate Phase. National Movement was non-violent in character during the Moderate Phase. These leaders believed in the efficacy of the peaceful method. They never used/justify the violent activity.

The non-sectarian outlook was dominant in the National Movement during Moderate Phase cause Muslim League deliberately focused on common national issues, the class issue concerning a particular section of people particularly workers & pageants were deliberately avoided. National Movement was constitutionalist in the outlook during the Moderate Phase because the constitutional method of agitation used to fight against British Rule.

The moderate used press legislative bodies petitions and memorandum to raise their demands. Belief in the British sense of justice & fairness was another important feature of the National Movement during Moderate Phase. Muslim League was under the impression that the British are good, people & they meant to do justice to India.

Moderates believe that Indians facing some difficulties it was just because senior British rule was not aware of that. They were under the impression suffering people brought to the notice of the government the necessary action to eliminate would initiative. The belief inefficiency of British rule was another important feature of the National Movement during Moderate Phase. Muslim League believes that British rule was good for India & it must be continued.

Muslim League not only supported British rule but also worked to strengthen it. Moderates were under impression that the end of British rule was pushed India into anarchy. National Movement was anti-colonial in character. Despite the fact, moderate supported British rule, they opposed the ongoing colonial exploitation of Indian resources. Moderate failed to realize that British rule was essentially colonial in character. The economic critic of British rule was another important identity of a moderate phase of Indian nationalism.

Dadabhai Naoroji
Dadabhai Naoroji

Moderate focus primarily on an analysis of the economic impact of British rule. Dadabhai Naoroji put forward “Drain Theory”. He explained how the Indian handicraft industry. British rule was held responsible for the destruction of the Indian handicraft industry. The recurring famine (starving) & massive poverty prevailing in India were explained as an outlook of the impact of British rule.

Moderates had no faith in the strength & capacity of common masses. They failed to visualize any role in common masses in India’s struggle against British rule. National Movement failed to produce any concrete result during the moderate phase. Muslim League couldn’t get what they demanded. National Movement was secular in character. Moderates didn’t use religion s a tool in the anti-British struggle. The first four presidents of congress were belonging to four different religions.

Achievements of Moderates

Muslim League had failed in building sufficient pressure on British Rule so that the British could be compelled to accept Indian demands. But at the same time, it must emphasize that moderates were not a complete failure. The efforts made by moderate laid should ground for India’s struggle.

They were busy laying the foundation which was not visible on the surface. Efforts made by moderates made political maturity in India. As a result, India’s struggle could get to continue strength with time. The concrete achievements of moderates could be seen in the form of the establishment of the Public Service Commission in 1886, enactment of Indian council act 1892, and introduction of resolution In British house of common with the demand for simultaneous holding of Civil Service Examination in India along with London 1893. The appointment of “Welby Commission” 1895 to suggest measures for better management of Indian expenditure.

The limitations of the Moderate Phase in the National MovementEconomic critic put forward by moderate was their biggest contribution. It exposed the true character of British Rule Indian nationalist could see that British Rule essentially exploitive this realization intensified the anti-British discontent prevailing among Indians. The rise of extremism in the National Movement was the outlook of the same.

Muslim League failed to understand that British Rule was essentially exploitative. Muslim League couldn’t appreciate the role of masses in the national struggle. National Movement is limited to towns & cities. Its geographical spread remains limited. National Movement limited to conference hall & discussion chambers during Moderate Phase nationalist activities number were visible in streets.

Muslim League were to pacifist to be effective because of this moderate failure in putting pressure on British Rule. The issues concerning common were not raised by moderate as a result of whom suffering people continued unabated.