Indian national movement

The Indian national movement was undoubtedly one of the biggest mass movements modern society has ever seen. It was a movement which galvanized millions of people of all classes and ideologies into political action and brought to its knees a mighty colonial empire. Consequently, along with the British, French, Russian, Chinese, Cuban and Vietnamese revolutions, it is of great relevance to those wishing to alter the existing political and social structure.

Various aspects of the Indian national movement, especially Gandhian political strategy, are particularly relevant to these movements in societies that broadly function within the confines of the rule of law, and are characterized by a democratic and basically civil libertarian polity. But it is also relevant to other societies. We know for a fact that even Lech Walesa consciously tried to incorporate elements of Gandhian strategy in the Solidarity Movement in Poland.

The Indian national movement, in fact, provides the only actual historical example of a semi-democratic or democratic type of political structure being successfully replaced or transformed. It is the only movement where the broadly Gramscian theoretical perspective of a war of position was successfully practiced; where state power was not seized in a single historical moment of revolution, but through prolonged popular struggle on a moral, political and ideological level; where reserves of counter-hegemony were built up over the years through progressive, stages; where the phases of struggle alternated with ‘passive’ phases.

The Indian national movement is also an example of how the constitutional space offered by the existing structure could be used without getting co-opted by it. It did not completely reject this space, as such rejection in democratic societies entails heavy costs in terms of hegemonic influence and often leads to isolation – but entered it and used it effectively in combination with non-constitutional struggle to overthrow the existing structure.

The Indian national movement is perhaps one of the best examples of the creation of an extremely wide movement with a common aim in which diverse political and ideological currents could co-exist and work – and simultaneously continue to contend for overall ideological and political hegemony over it. While intense debate on all basic issues was allowed, the diversity and tension did not weaken the cohesion and striking power of the movement; on the contrary, this diversity and atmosphere of freedom and debate became a major source of its strength.

Today, over sixty years after independence, we are still close enough to the freedom struggle to feel its warmth and yet far enough to be able to analyze it coolly, and with the advantage of hindsight. Analyze it as we must, for our past, present and future are inextricably linked to it. Men and women in every age and society make their own history, but they do not make it in a historical vacuum, de novo. Their efforts, however innovative, at finding solutions to their problems in the present and charting out their future, are guided and circumscribed, moulded and conditioned, by their respective histories, their inherited economic, political and ideological structures. To make myself clearer, the path that India has followed since 1947 has deep roots in the struggle for independence. The political and, ideological features, which have had a decisive impact on post-independence development, are largely a legacy of the freedom struggle. It is a legacy that belongs to all the Indian people, regardless of which party or group they belong to now, for the ‘party’ which led this struggle from 1885 to 1947 was not then a party but a movement – all political trends from the Right to the Left were incorporated in it.

What are the outstanding features of the freedom struggle? A major aspect is the values and mean ideals on which the movement itself was based and the broad socio-economic-and political vision of its leadership (this vision was that of a democratic , civil libertarian and secular India, based on self-reliant, egalitarian social order and an independent foreign policy).

The movement popularized democratic ideas and instructions in India. The nationalists fought for the introduction of a representative government on the basis of popular election and demanded that elections be based on adult franchise. The Indian National Congress was organized on a democratic basis and in the form of a parliament. It not only permitted but encouraged free expression of opinion within the party and the movement. Some of the most important decisions in its history were taken after heated debates and on the basis of open voting.

From the beginning, the nationalists fought against attacks by the State on the freedom of the press, expression and association, and made the struggle for these freedoms an integral part of the national movement. During their brief spell in power, from 1937-39, the Congress ministries greatly extended the scope of civil liberties. The defence of civil liberties was not narrowly conceived in terms of one political group, but was extended to include the defence of other groups whose views were politically and ideologically different. The Moderates defended Tilak, the Extremist, and non-violent Congressmen passionately defended revolutionary terrorists and communists alike during their trails. In 1928, the Public Safety Bill and Trade Disputes Bill were opposed not only by Motilal Nehru but also by conservatives like Madan Mohan Malaviya and M.R. Jayakar. It was this strong civil libertarian and democratic tradition of the national movement which was reflected in the constitution of independent India.

The freedom struggle was also a struggle for economic development. In time an economic ideology developed which was to dominate the views of independent India. The national movement accepted, with near unanimity, the need to develop India on the basis of industrialization which in turn was to be independent of foreign capital and was to rely on the indigenous capital goods sector. A crucial role was assigned to the public sector and, in the 1930’s there was a commitment to economic planning.

From the initial stages, the movement adopted a pro-poor ordination which was strengthened with the advent of Gandhi and the rise of the leftists who struggled to make the movement adopt a social outlook. The movement also increasingly moved towards a programme of radical agrarian reform. However, socialism did not, at any stage, become the official goal of the Indian National Congress through there was a great deal of debate around it within the National Movement and the Indian National Congress urging in the 1930s and 1940s. For various reasons, despite the existence of powerful leftist trend within the nationalist mainstream, the dominant vision within the Congress did not transcend the parameters of a capitalist conception of society.

The national movement was, from its early days, fully committed to secularism. Its leadership fought hard to inculcate secular values among the people and opposed the growth of communalism. And despite the partition of India and the accompanying communal holocaust, it did succeed in enshrining secularism in the constitution of free India.

It was never inward looking. Since the days of Raja Rammohan Roy, Indian leaders had developed a broad international outlook. Over the years, they evolved a policy of opposition to imperialism on a world-wide scale and solidarity with anti-colonial movements in other parts of the world. They established the principle that Indians should hate British imperialism but not the British people. Consequently, they were supported by a large number of Englishmen, women and political groups. They maintained close links with the progressive, anti-colonial and anti-capitalist forces of the world. A non-racist, anti-imperialist outlook, which continues to characterize Indian foreign policy, was thus part of the legacy of the anti-imperialist struggle.

In my view, India’s freedom struggle was basically the result of a fundamental contradiction between the interests of the Indian people and that of British colonialism. From the beginning itself, India’s national leaders grasped this contradiction. They were able to see that India was regressing economically and undergoing a process of underdevelopment. In time they were able to evolve a scientific analysis of colonialism. In fact, they were the first in the 19th century to develop an economic critique of colonialism and lay bare its complex structure. They were also able to see the distinction between colonial policy and the imperatives of the colonial structure. Taking the social experience of the Indian people as colonize subjects and recognizing the common interests of the Indian people vis-à-vis colonials, the national leaders gradually evolved a clear-cut anti-colonial ideology and critique of colonialism were disseminated during the mass phase of the movement.

The national movement also played a pivotal role in the historical process through which the Indian people got formed into a nation or a group of people. National leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji, Surendranath Banerjee, Tilak, Gandhiji and Nehru accepted that India was not yet a fully structured nation but a nation-in-the-making, and that one of the major objectives and functions of the movement was to promote the growing unity of the Indian people through a common struggle against colonialism. In other words, the national movement was seen both as a product of the process of the nation-in-the-making that was never counter-posed to the diverse regional, linguistic and ethnic identities in India. On the contrary, the emergence of a national identity and the flowering of the narrower identities were seen as processes deriving strength from each other.

The pre-nationalist resistance to colonial rule failed to understand the twin phenomena of colonialism and the nation-in-the-making. In fact, these phenomena were not visible, or available to be grasped, on the surface. They had to be grasped through hard analysis. This analysis and political consciousness based on it were then taken to the people by intellectuals who played a significant role in arousing the inherent, instinctive, nascent, anti-colonial consciousness of the masses.

The Role of Mahatma Gandhi in Indian National

Mahatma Gandhi was born on October 2.1869 A.D. in a trading family of porbander, a small town in Kathiawara. His full name was Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi and his father was the Diwan of Rajkot. He went off to South Africa after marriage and worked as barrister there for twenty years. In South Africa, he had his first brush with apartheid. Once while he was traveling in a train, he was thrown out of the first class compartment despite having a ticket. This made him swear that he would do his best to erase apartheid from the face of his world. He went back to India only to find that his own country was being ruled by the British and his fellow citizens were being treated harshly by the British. Role of Mahatma Gandhi in Freedom Struggle Like other great men in history, Gandhi took his time to grow and develop his techniques to ensure that his actions made an impact. His faith in different religions was commendable. His listened to the teachings of Christianity with the same belief and faith he read the Hindu scriptures with. Gandhi arrived in India on 9 January, 1915. Initially, he spent a year visiting various places in India to have an understanding of the situation. His political engagement started in the 1917-18 period when he took up the issues of Champaran indigo farmers, the Ahmedabad textile workers and the Kheda peasants. These struggles witnessed his specific method of agitation, known as Satyagraha, which had earlier developed in the South African context and through which he was partially successful in achieving his goals.

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#MeToo

There are times when you feel the rage and anguish in the air, at least from a certain section of the society. Many are now raising their voices to improve their individual personality as well as the society as a whole. A society develops only when individuals themselves create ripples by hosting their arguments. Several movements are there which is woman centric and the MeToo movement being one among them. The #MeToo movement first began as an offline protest and later it changed to an online movement. The movement was started around 2006 and it reached the online platforms in October 2017. It’s the voice of the educated women against the deep trenched male dominant culture at the workspace. The #MeToo movement was founded by Tarana Burke, a social activist and community organizer. Burke, who is creating a documentary titled Me Too, has said she was inspired to use the phrase after being unable to respond to a 13-year-old girl who confided to her that she had been sexually assaulted. Burke said she later wished she had simply told the girl, ‘Me too’. It’s a platform for the oppressed and a means to express the abuse they had faced. When news of the allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein broke last October, it unleashed a torrent of emotion, especially on social media, offering permission to disclose current and past experiences of sexual harassment and assault. In an unprecedented quantum of use, it offered many angry and upset women accessible ways of venting often long-repressed feelings. It also gave rise to the #MeToo movement. A barrage of allegations has since emerged against high-profile men in entertainment, the media, politics, and tech. Many deny any wrongdoing. The repercussions are still in flux, but world’s power dynamics have undoubtedly shifted.

It’s a common practice in the world to abuse women irrespective of the age. It doesn’t mean that only women are being abused, men also belong to this but when compared the rate of abuse is very less. Abusing women has now become a part of culture mainly because of the stereotypes. #MeToo is one way to overcome these stereotypes. The reason for the #MeToo public explosion is that the judiciary or armed forces never bothered about their problems and their suffocations. It is seen that the law favors the oppressor more than the oppressed. The whole process shamed the victim. Many of the sexual assault happened when workplaces were not sensitive to the safety of women and social media platforms were nonexistent. Besides this, our power structure is dominated by men and the victims are young and vulnerable women.

Social media is both a boon and bane. It is depends on how we treat a certain issue.  #MeToo movement has been very active in social media since the latter half of 2017. It is in fact the social media that urged the advancement of #MeToo. The hashtag #MeToo is doing the rounds in every nook and cranny of social media. As more and more women come out on social media with accounts of sexual harassment and abuse a great political cultural change in being shaped. The change brought by #MeToo movement is immense and it has been able to give the possible credentials to women. It has achieved great success in challenging the social norms. Many men, who are charged of sexual assault through the #MeToo movement, some admitted and apologized to the misconduct they have committed. This, in this instance, has become an eye opener for many men. In this wave of storm, prominent personalities are named for their harsh behavior. The #MeToo is critical of the power and the way it enables sexual predators. #MeToo is trying to fill the gender gap that has been produced by the patriarchy. There are so many laws to protect sexual harassment of women in workplace.

In a feminist perspective, #MeToo is a translation of western culture. The #MeToo movement can be analyzed from the notion of female experience. The subjects involved in the process are all women of all age. It determines the point of view without any hesitance or shyness and in a courageous manner. The experiences differ from other females and males. It can be related to the ‘second wave of feminism’ which portrays equal rights and representation as its key motive. In #MeToo movement, there is no celebration of so called ‘feminity’. It’s a transformation from ‘inter – dependence’ to independence. In relation to Cixous’, ‘Ecriture Feminine’ which exemplifies women to writing about her body, #MeToo is a continuation of this concept and not only writing about body but also writing about the sexual violence that is faced by women. It was a renewal of an old tradition of thoughts and action. #MeToo movement revisits the history of Indian Feminism. The American Feminist critic Eliane Showalter classified the history of women’s writing into feminine phase, feminist phase and female phase. In feminine phase women writers imitated the dominant male artistic norms; in feminist phase a radical position was maintained and in female phase women started writing their own experiences. The #MeToo movement can he considered as a part of female phase as it involves expressing the sexual violence that is imbibed upon them.

Hashtags and Mobilization

Movements are part of changing society and changing holocaust. Social movements have a structure which makes them functional relative to their goals. Activism is action on behalf of a cause, action that goes beyond what is conventional or routine activity. The central theme is to resist authority. The kind of reformation that is taking place through movements is shaking the base root of patriarchy. The patriarchal belief system is constantly negotiating the need of revolution. The action might be door-to-door canvassing, alternative radio, public meetings, rallies, or fasting. The cause of the activism will vary according the type of protests. The cause might be women’s rights, gender equality, opposition to a factory, world peace and so forth. Activism has played a major role in ending slavery, challenging dictatorships, protecting workers from exploitation, protecting the environment, promoting equality for women, opposing racism, and many other important issues. Activism can also be used for aims such as attacking minorities or promoting war.The main purpose of movements is to raise a sought of awareness and to engage the people in deliberation. It makes the people politically aware of the situation and hitherto experiences. The perpetrators of activism are called
‘activists’.

A major protest that happened in India was the ‘Nirbhaya’ movement. In December 2012, New Delhi witnessed a horrific crime– a student was violently gang-raped on a moving bus and then dumped onto the highway, injured and unconscious. While she didn‟t survive the attack, Nirbhaya, as she was named by the media, sparked a revolution in India and its neighboring countries. Social movements always stand by the side of marginalized. The Naxalite movements in India exemplify this. The Naxalite movement helps the downtrodden indigenous people to acquire their needs. It is a small group devoted to the left liberal activism.

The Internet helps in coordinating and creating platforms of discussion inside movements. The internet has given rise to social media and the social media in turn gave rise to hashtags and mobilization is an essential part of the movement. Social mobilization is directed towards social change. The Kerala floods were not greatly acknowledged by the national media. But with the influence of Facebook and twitter it crossed the regional differences and help was provided by various people residing outside the state. It is the ordinary people who harnessed social media and their own resources to play a role in relief and rescue efforts. Hashtags such as #KeralaFloods #Verified became trending within hours and helped to grab the attention of the whole world.

Movements are context based and it is up to the people to decide whether it should sustain or not. In today’s world there are both online and offline movements and both of them have their own merits and demerits. A protest that begins in the internet transforms into an offline movement and vice versa.