The emergence of revolutionary ideology in India during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was the result of several internal and external influences working on the minds of the youth.
Early phase of revolutionary movement in India was in Bengal, Maharashtra, Punjab, U.P., Orissa, Bihar and Madras provinces, but it predominantly operated in Bengal, Maharashtra and Punjab as these regions were more politically active than other parts of the country.
The reasons behind rise of revolutionary terrorism
- Nationalism among youth:Most vital factor which contributed to amplify the spirit of nationalism among the countrymen was the ‘economic exploitation’ of Indians by the British Government and the Partition of Bengal.
- Failure of Moderate and extremist congress:Younger element was not ready to retreat after the decline of national militancy phase. Fallout of Swadeshi and Boycott Movement was the immediate reason.
- Leadership’s failureto tap revolutionary energies of the youth.
- Government repressionleft no peaceful avenues open for the protest.
- Inspired from the individual heroic action on the lines of Irish nationalistsor Russian nihilists.
- Ideological appeal of ideas:Freedom through revolution, heroic action, supreme sacrifice, Assassinate unpopular British officials, strike terror in hearts of rulers and arouse people to expel the British with force attracted the new nationalists.
Impacts of revolutionary terrorism
- The era of revolutionary terrorism began and very soon secret societies of the revolutionaries came up all over the country. The Anusilan Samiti, the most famous and long lasting secret society, with its headquarters at Calcutta created revolutionary centres all over India.
- Their activities took two forms- the assassination of oppressive officials, traitors and informers, and dacoities to raise funds for the purchase of arms, etc.
- It had its impact on the Congress strategy to involve the youths in the short term programme of rural reconstruction.
- Their sacrifices aroused the emotions of the Indian people and thus helped the building up of the national consciousness which certainly contributed to gaining independence.
- It could not mobilize the masses. In fact, it had no base among the people. They believed in individual heroism.
- This movement failed to achieve its object of independence. With the death of Chandrasekhar Azad in a shooting encounter in a public park at Allahabad in February 1931, the revolutionary movement virtually came to an end in Punjab, U.P. and Bihar.
- Surya Sen’s martyrdom also marked an end to the terrorist activity in Bengal. A process of rethinking on the part of the revolutionaries lodged in jails and in Andaman began. A large number of revolutionaries turned to Marxism.
Decline of Revolutionaries post 1930’s
- Despite gaining popularity and a dedicated following, both the terrorist and the revolutionary movements could not achieve their objectives of freeing India from the British. This was because
- There was no central, all-India level organization which could control the activities in an organised manner;
- These movements appealed to the youngsters who had faced the hostilities of the British rule, but the mass following in the rural belt was unavailable;
- Germany, which promised arms and funds to be used against Britain could not deliver;
- The US entry and its subsequent dominance in the world war demoralised Germany and the allies to be of help to the Indian cause;
- Montagu’s package of self-governance for the Indians took the fizz out of the revolutionary activists;
- The congress party and other upper middle class politicians and leaders always disapproved of the ways of these movements; and
- Gandhi’s entry into the political scene of India marked a revolution in the form of satyagraha, which contributed to the decline of the revolutionary and terrorist activities.
Although they had failed to attain set objectives of attaining independence through armed revolt, they were successful in arousing people and remove the fear of authority from their minds and strike terror in the heart of the rulers