World War I & National Movement

  • World War I broke out in 1914. Britain allied with France, Russia, USA, Italy and Japan against Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey. This was a period of maturing nationalism in India, rise of Gandhi & upsurge of extremist ideology within Congress.
  • Moderates in Congress supported Britain in the war effort. The support was on the pretext of duty.
  • Extremists supported the war on the assumption that Britain would grant self-rule to India after the war.

Impact of WWI on National Movement

  • There was a sudden rise in revolutionary activities outside India. Ghadar Party in North America & Berlin Committee in Europe were the prominent ones.
  • Rising demand for popular movement & passive mood of moderates led to launch of Home Rule Movement by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Annie Besant. The idea was to replicate the governance of Ireland in India as well.
  • Both Congress & Muslim League came together to raise constitutional demands through Lucknow Pact (1916).
  • During the war, British came up with Montagu’s statement of August 1917 to convince Indian opinion. But this did not appear promising to nationalist leaders. This became a good excuse to start a mass struggle.
  • Loss of Turkey and denial of ruling rights to Khalifa brought anger among Indian Muslims and caused resentment towards British. This emotion was utilised to launch Khilafat and Non-Cooperation Movement. After Swadeshi Movement, NCM was the largest nationalist movement in India and showcased the prowess of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Mass movement became the new normal of Indians towards the tyrant British rule after the world war.
  • Opposition to Rowlatt acts which denied Indians basic freedoms resulted in mass protests across the country. These protests were brutally opposed by British Government. The most brutal atrocity was carried out at Jallianwala Bagh.
  • Rolling out of Montford reforms in 1919 was the beginning of the expanding constitutional freedom to Indians. It talked about voting rights, and federalism.
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