Chapter 3: Nationalism in India

Facts that Matter

  1. Modern nationalism in Europe led to the formation of nation-states, sense of belonging, new symbols and icons, new songs and it also redefined the boundaries of communities. In India, as in Vietnam and many other colonies, the growth of modern nationalism is intimately connected to the anti-colonial movement.
  2. In the years after 1919, the First World War created a new economic and political situation. People thought that their problems would end after the war but it did not happen. Rather they suffered a lot for several reasons.
  3. The people of India wanted to get rid of he British colonial government. Mahatma Gandhi became their leader and the struggle for independence of India intensified.
  4. Mahatma Gandhi returned to India in January 1915 from South Africa where he had fought the racist regime with a novel method of mass agitation, which he called Satyagraha. Satyagraha means following the path of truth and non-violence to attain freedom and fight against injustice. It was the philosophy of non-violent resistance adopted by Gandhi to end the British Raj in India. The idea of Satyagraha emphasised the power of truth and need to search for truth. Satyagraha advocated that for true cause and struggle against injustice, physical force is not required to fight with the oppressor. Without being aggressive, a satyagrahi could win the battle through non-violence.
  5. Mahatma Gandhi adopted this method in India too and organised Satyagraha movements in various places such as Champaran in Bihar, Kheda in Gujarat etc. These movements proved to be successful.
  6. The Rowlatt Act gave the British government enormous powers to repress political activities, and allowed imprisonment of political prisoners without trial for two years.
  7. Mahatma Gandhi now decided to launch a nationwide Satyagraha. Rallies were organised in various cities, workers went on strike in railway workshops and shops were closed down.
  8. Alarmed by the popular upsurge, the British government decided to clamp down on nationalists. On 10 April, the police in Amritsar fired upon a peaceful procession provoking widespread attacks on banks, post offices and railway stations. Martial Law was imposed and General Dyer took the command.
  9. On 13 April, 1919 in Amritsar, a group of people was fired in enclosed ground of Jallianwalla Bagh, by the orders of General Dyer. Hundreds of innocent people were killed. This agitated Indian minds that resulted in strikes, clashes with the police and attacks on government buildings.
  10. Seeing violence spread, Mahatma Gandhi immediately called off the movement and decided to launch a more broad-based movement in India.
  11. In the First World War, Ottoman Turkey was defeated and a harsh peace treaty was imposed on the Ottoman emperor—the spiritual head of the Islamic world (the Khalifa). To defend the Khalifa’s temporal powers, Khilafat Committee was formed in Bombay in March, 1919.
  12. A young generation of Muslim leaders like the brothers Muhammad Ali and Shaukat Ali, began discussing with Mahatma Gandhi about the possibility of a united mass action on the issue.
  13. Mahatma Gandhi saw this as an opportunity to bring Muslims under the umbrella of a unified national movement.
  14. To unite Hindus and Muslims, Gandhiji decided to start the Non-Cooperation Movement in support of Khilafat as well as for swaraj, at the Calcutta session of the Congress in September, 1920.
  15. The Non-Cooperation–Khilafat Movement began in January 1921. Various social groups participated in this movement.
  16. The movement affected the economy of the British. The import of foreign cloth halved between 1921 and 1922, dropping from ` 102 crore to ` 57 crore. Merchants and traders began to refuse to trade in foreign goods or finance foreign trade. As the boycott movement spread and people began discarding imported clothes and started wearing only Indian ones, production of Indian textile mills and handlooms went up.
  17. But the movement in the cities gradually slowed down for several reasons, the boycott of British institutions posed a problem. For the movement to be successful, alternative Indian institutions had to be set up so that they could be used in place of the British ones. These were slow to come up. So, students and teachers began to join back the government schools and lawyers joined the government courts.
  18. From the cities, the Non-cooperation movement spread to the countryside. In Awadh, peasants were led by Baba Ramchandra, a Sanyasi. Here peasants had to do begar (forced to contribute without any payment) and work at landlords’ farms without any payment. This made their condition miserable.
  19. In June 1920, Jawaharlal Nehru approached villagers to understand their grievances.
  20. By October, the Oudh Kisan Sabha was set up by Jawaharlal Nehru and Baba Ramchandra. Soon the Non-cooperation Movement and Awadh peasant struggle became popular. As the movement spread in 1921, the houses of talukdars and merchants were attacked. Bazaars were looted and grain stores were taken over.
  21. Gandhiji declared that no taxes were to be paid and land was to be redistributed among the poor.
  22. Tribal peasants interpreted the message of Mahatma Gandhi and the idea of Swaraj in another way. In the Gudem Hills of Andhra Pradesh, for instance, a militant guerrilla movement spread in the early 1920s. It was done to oppose the ban which the colonial government had imposed on the hill people.
  23. The hill people were prohibited from entering the forests to graze their cattle or to collect fuel wood and fruits. As a result, they got enraged. They felt that they were denied of their traditional rights.
  24. When they were forced to contribute begar for road building, they finally revolted. They attacked police stations, attempted to kill British officials and carried on guerrilla war for achieving Swaraj.
  25. Plantation workers in Assam who were not permitted to leave the tea gardens without permission, thought swaraj meant—the right to move freely in and out of the restricted space, retaining a link with the village from where they had come and everyone getting land in their own villages.
  26. In February 1922, at Chauri Chaura in Gorakhpur, a peaceful demonstration in a bazaar turned into a violent clash with the police. Hearing of the incident, Mahatma Gandhi immediately called off the Non-Cooperation Movement. Now, the Indian leaders began to work for full independence.
  27. In December 1929, under Jawaharlal Nehru, the Lahore Congress solemnised the demand of ‘Purna Swaraj’ or full independence for India. It was declared that 26 January, 1930 would be celebrated as the Independence Day when people were to take a pledge to struggle for complete independence. But the celebration attracted very little attention.
  28. Mahatma Gandhi started his famous Salt March (Dandi March) accompanied by 78 followers, from his ashram in Sabarmati to the Gujarati coastal town of Dandi. On 6 April he reached Dandi, and openly violated the salt law, manufacturing salt by boiling sea water. This marked the beginning of the Civil Disobedience Movement.
  29. Different social groups participated in this movement. People were now asked not only to refuse cooperation with the British, as they had done in 1921-29, but also to break colonial laws. Thousands in different parts of the country broke the salt law, manufactured salt and demonstrated in front of government salt factories.
  30. Worried by the developments, the colonial government began arresting the Congress leaders one by one. This led to violent clashes in many places.
  31. In the meanwhile Mahatma Gandhi himself was arrested. This provoked the industrial workers in Sholapur who attacked police posts, municipal buildings, law courts and railway stations. The government, however, responded with a policy of brutal repression.
  32. Gandhiji again called off the movement and signed a pact with Irwin on 5 March, 1931 according to which he agreed to participate in a Round Table Conference in London.
  33. In December 1931, Gandhiji went to London for the conference, but the discussions went futile and he returned disappointed.
  34. Back in India, he discovered that the government had begun a new cycle of repression.
  35. Ghaffar Khan and Jawahar Lal Nehru were both in jail and the Congress had been declared illegal.
  36. With great apprehension Mahatma Gandhi relaunched the Civil Disobedience Movement. This time people did not show much enthusiasm.
  37. Prominent industrialists like Purshottam Das Thakurdas and G.D. Birla, the industrialists attacked colonial control over the Indian economy, and supported the Civil Disobedience Movement financially when it was first launched. But when it was restarted they showed their reluctance due to the failure of the Round Table Conference.
  38. The Industrial working classes too did not participate in the Civil Disobedience Movement in large numbers.
  39. However, women participated in the movement on large scale. They participated in protest marches, manufactured salt and picketed foreign cloth and liquor shops.
  40. But the nation’s untouchables did not participate in the Movement. It was because the Congress had ignored them for long for fear of offending the conservative high-caste Hindus. But Mahatma Gandhi wanted to uproot untouchability.
  41. Many dalit leaders stressed on demanding reserved seats in educational institutions, and a separate electorate that would choose dalit members for legislative councils. Dr B.R. Ambedkar organised the dalits into the Depressed Classes Association in 1930 and supported demands of dalits. But Mahatma Gandhi opposed it saying that separate electorates for dalits would slow down the process of their integration into society.
  42. Gandhiji began a fast unto death. Ambedkar ultimately accepted Gandhiji’s point and it resulted in the Poona Pact of September, 1932. It gave the depressed classes (later to be known as the Schedule Castes) reserved seats in provincial and central legislative councils, but they were to be voted in by the general electorate.
  43. Some of the Muslim political organisations in India were also lukewarm in their response to the Civil Disobedience Movement. After the decline of the Non-Cooperation-Khilafatmovement, a large section of Muslims felt separated from the Congress. From the mid-1920s the Congress openly started Hindu religious nationalist groups like the Hindu Mahasabha. This worsened the relations between Hindus and Muslims. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, leader of the Muslim League, agreed to quit the demand for separate electorates, if Muslims were guaranteed reserved seats in the Central Assembly and representation in the Muslim-dominated provinces (Bengal and Punjab). But all hopes dashed in 1928 when M.R. Jayakar of the Hindu Mahasabha strongly opposed to compromise. Many Muslim leaders and intellectuals now expressed their concern about the states of Muslims as a minority within India. They feared that the culture and identity of minorities would be submerged under the domination of a Hindu majority.
  44. Nationalism spreads when people begin to believe that they are all part of the same nation, when they discover some unity that binds them together.
  45. This sense of collective belonging came partly through the experience of united struggles.
  46. At the same time history and fiction, folklore and songs, popular prints and symbols also played an important role in spreading nationalism.
  47. The identity of India came to be visually associated with the image of Bharat Mata. The image of Bharat Mata acquired many different forms, as it circulated in popular prints and was painted by different artists. Devotion to this mother figure came to be seen as evidence of one’s nationalism.
  48. Ideas of nationalism also developed through a movement to revive Indian folklore. It was essential to preserve folk tradition in order to discover one’s national identity and restore a sense of pride in one’s past.
  49. During the Swadeshi movement in Bengal, a tricolour flag (red, green and yellow) was designed. It had eight lotuses representing eight provinces of British India and a crescent moon, representing Hindus and Muslims.
  50. By 1921, Gandhiji had designed the swaraj flag. It was again a tricolour (red, green and white) and had a shinning wheel in the centre, representing the Gandhian ideal of self-help. Carrying the flag, holding it aloft, during marches became a symbol of defiance.
  51. Another means of creating a feeling of nationalism was through reinterpretation of history. The British saw Indians as backward and primitive. In response, Indians began looking into the past to discover India’s great achievements. They wrote about the glorious developments in ancient times when art and architecture, science and mathematics, etc. had flourished. This glorious time was followed by a history of decline, when India was colonised. These nationalists urged the readers to struggle against the British to restore their glorious past.


Words that Matter

  1. Rowlatt Act: The Act empowered the government to imprison a person without a trial.
  2. Satyagraha: Following the path of truth and non-violence.
  3. Khadi: Indian handmade cotton cloth.
  4. Dandi March: Famous Salt March (Dandi March) by Gandhi from his ashram in Sabarmati to the Gujarati coastal town of Dandi.
  5. Forced Recruitment: The colonial state forced people to join the army.
  6. Boycott: The refusal to participate in activities, or buy and use things. It is usually a form of protest.
  7. Begar: Peasants were forced to work in landlords’ field without any payment of wages.
  8. Swaraj: The word swaraj is comprised of ‘swa’ and ‘raj’. The word ‘swa’ means ‘self’ and ‘raj’ means ‘rule’ which together means ‘self-government’.
  9. Purna Swaraj: Complete independence.
  10. Harijan: The men of God, the name given to the ‘untouchables’ or dalits (oppressed) by Mahatma Gandhi.
  11. Picket: Blocking the entrance to a shop, factory or office.


  1. 1918–1919: Peasant movement in U.P.
  2. 1919: The Rowlatt Act, Jallianwalla Bagh Massacre.
  3. 1919: Hartal (Strike) against the Rowlatt Act.
  4. 1921: Non-Cooperation and Khilafat movement launched.
  5. 1922: Chauri Chaura incident, withdrawal of Non-Cooperation Movement.
  6. 1928: Simon Commission was set up in India.
  7. December 1929: Lahore Congress adopted demands for Purna Swaraj.
  8. 1930: Civil Disobedience Movement was started by breaking salt law at Dandi.
  9. 1931: Gandhi-Irwin Pact.
  10. 1931: End of Civil Disobedience Movement, Poona Pact signed.
  11. 1932: Civil Disobedience Movement launched.



Choose the correct option:

1. The Poona Pact took place in the year .........

(a) 1857                                                                                   (b) 1932

(c) 1935                                                                                   (d) 1942

2. What does Satyagraha mean?

(a) Fight against injustice                                                        (b) Complete independence

(c) Following the path of truth and non-violence                   (d) All of the above

3. Gandhiji called off the Non-Cooperation Movement due to .........

(a) Jallianwalla Bagh incident                                                 (b) Chauri Chaura incident

(c) Tribals’ agitation                                                                (d) All of the above

4. When did the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre take place?

(a) 1919                                                                                   (b) 1921

(c) 1922                                                                                   (d) 1928

5. Gandhiji agreed to participate in a Round Table Conference in London in .........

(a) Gandhi-Irwin Pact                                                             (b) Poona Pact

(c) Lahore Pact                                                                        (d) Gandhi-Simon Pact

6. Who was the Khalifa?

(a) The political leader of the Islamic world               (b) The spiritual head of the Islamic world

(c) The spiritual leader of the whole world                 (d) The spiritual leader of Saudi Arabia

7. When was a Khilafat Committee founded?

(a) 1919                                                                                   (b) 1020

(c) 1927                                                                                   (d) 1922

8. The Non-Cooperation programme was adopted in the .........

(a) Lahore session                                                                   (b) Congress session at Nagpur

(c) Gujarat Congress                                                               (d) Second Round Table Conference

9. Where was the Non-Cooperation Movement turned violent?

(a) Kheda in Gujarat                                                               (b) Champaran in Bihar

(c) Nagpur in Maharashtra                                                      (d) Chauri Chaura in Uttar Pradesh

10. Who initiated ‘Purna Swaraj’?

(a) Mahatma Gandhi                                                               (b) B.R. Ambedkar

(c) Motilal Nehru                                                                    (d) Jawaharlal Nehru

11. Whose name is associated with The Folklore of Southern India?

(a) Bal Gangadhar Tilak                                                          (b) Natesa Sastai

(c) Bipin Chandra Pal                                                                         (d) T. Krishnamurthy

12. Who wrote ‘Vande Mataram’?

(a) Abanindranath Tagore                                                       (b) Rabindranath Tagore

(c) Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay                                      (d) Ravi Varma

13. Who painted the image of Bharat Mata?

(a) Rabindranath Tagore                                                         (b) Abanindranath Tagore

(c) Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay                                      (d) Natesa Sastri

14. Who wrote the book Hind Swaraj?

(a) Mahatma Gandhi                                                               (b) Jawaharlal Nehru

(c) Lal Bahadur Shastri                                                           (d) Maulana Azad

15. The Act that gave enormous powers to the British government to repress political

activities was ..........

(a) Rowlatt Act                                                                       (b) Seditious Meetings Act

(c) Arms Act                                                                           (d) Vernacular Press Act

Ans. 1—(b) 2—(c) 3—(b) 4—(a) 5—(a) 6—(b) 7—(a) 8—(b) 9—(d) 10—(d) 11—(b) 12—(c) 13—(b) 14—(a) 15—(a)



1.            What was the Civil Disobedience Movement associated with?

2.            What was the forced recruitment?

3.            Name the places where Mahatma Gandhi successfully organised satyagrah movements.

4.            What do you know about the Rowlatt Act of 1919?

5.            Why was a Khilafat Committee formed in Bombay in March 1919?

6.            What did Mahatma Gandhi do to launch a more broad-based movement in India.

7.            What was Gandhiji’s conviction regarding the starting of the Non-cooperation movement that he expressed in his book Hind Swaraj?

8.            Give one reason why the Non-cooperation movement gradually slowed down in the cities.

9.            What were the demands of the Awadh peasants?

10.        In February 1922, Mahatama Gandhi decided to withdraw the Non-co-operation movement. Why did they do that?

11.        With what purpose did the Simon Commission arrive in India?

12.        Why did Mahatma Gandhi organise the Champaran Satyagraha in Bihar?

13.        What did the peasants of Kheda demand?

14.        For long the congress had ignored the dalits. What was the reason behind this?

15.        What, according to Mahatma Gandhi, revealed the most oppressive face of the British rule?

16.        Name the two Indian leaders between whom the Poona Pact was segied.

17.        What do you know about the Poona Pact?

18.        What were Gandhiji’s apprehensions regarding the grant of separate electorates to the dalits?

19.        Why did the business classes in India participate in the Civil Disobedience Movement?

20.        How did Gandhiji visualise women?

21.        When does nationalism spread in a country?

22.        Name the colours which were used by Gandhiji in the Swaraj flag.

23.        Why did the tribal peasant participate in the Non-cooperation movement?

24.        Who wrote Vande Mataram? What is it?

25.        What is the importance of the Lahore Congress Session of 1929?

26.        During the Swadeshi Movement in Bengal, a tri colour flag was designed. It had eight lotuses. What did they represent?

27.        Why was the Simon Commission boycotted in India?

28.        The Simon Commission was greeted on its arrival in India with a famous slogan. What is it?

29.        Who led the Awadh peasants during the Non-cooperation Movement?


1.      “The Congress was reluctant to include the demands of industrial workers in its programme of struggle.” Analyse the reasons.    (CBSE 2015)

2.      Give a brief description of Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha Movements which he organised in various places after arriving in India from South Africa.  (HOTS)


Name the two main ‘Satyagraha Movement’ organised by Mahatma Gandhi Successfully in favour of peasants in 1916 and 1917. (CBSE 2008, 2011)

3.      Write a short note on the Rowlatt Act. How did Indians act in response to it and what were its consequences?(HOTS)


Why did Mahatma Gandhiji decide to launch a nationwide ‘Satyagraha’ against the proposed Rowlatt Act? Explain any three reasons. (CBSE 2010, 2015)

4.      Mention three main proposals with reference to the Non-cooperation Movement as suggested by Mahatma Gandhiji. (CBSE 2008)

5.      The Non-Cooperation Movement significantly affected the British economy. Then why did it fail later?


Describe briefly any three economic effects of the Non-Cooperation Movement.    (CBSE 2009)


What were the factors responsible for gradual slow-down of the Non-Cooperation Movement?  

 (CBSE 2008)   


Why did the Non-Cooperation Movement gradually slowdown in the cities? Give three reasons.

(CBSE 2011, AI CBSE 2012)

6.      When and why Gandhiji went on fast unto death? What was its outcome?

7.      How did Khilafat movement gain momentum? or How did Mahatma Gandhi view the Khilafat issue?

8.      Mention three reasons by which the rich peasant communities took active participation in the Civil Disobedience Movement. (CBSE 2009).

9.      An important feature of the Civil Disobedience Movement was the large-scale participation of women. Explain. (HOTS)

10.  Discuss the factors that deteriorated the relations between Hindus and Muslims.

11.  Under what circumstances did Gandhiji re-launch the Civil Disobedience Movement? (HOTS)

12.  Describe any three features of Civil Disobedience Movement of    (CBSE 2009)

13.  What were the three local issues in which Gandhiji experimented his technique of Satyagraha during the years 1917-18? How were these issues resolved?

14.  State the three cultural presses through which nationalism captured people’s imagination during the British rule in India. (HOTS)


How did the image of Bharat Mata help in creating a sense of collective belongingness amongst the people of India?


Some icons and symbols were used for unifying the people and inspiring in them the feeling of nationalism. Explain with examples.

15.  What was Rowlatt Act? How did the Indians show their disapproval towards this Act? (CBSE 2011)


How was Rowlatt Act opposed by the people in India? Explain with examples. (AI CBSE 2013)

16.  Explain the circumstances under which Gandhiji decided to call off the civil disobedience movement in 1931.  (CBSE 2012)

17.  Method of reinterpretation of history was followed to encourage nationalism. Discuss. (HOTS)


How was history re-interested in creating a feeling of nationalism? Explain with examples. (CBSE 2012)

18.  Describe the portrait of Bharat Mata and also its different image forms.  (HOTS)

19.  How did the business classes participate in the Civil Disobedience Movement?


Analyse the role of merchants and the industrialists in the Civil Disobedience Movement.  (CBSE 2010)

20.  Mention any three efforts made by Gandhiji to get Harijans their rights.     (CBSE 2009)

21.  What was the Inland Emigration Act of 1859?


What was the notion of Swaraj for the plantation workers in Assam?    (CBSE 2008)

22.  Why did Mahatma Gandhi support the Khilafat Movement? (CBSE 2011, 2012)

23.  How did the business classes relate to the Civil Disobedience Movement?


Who led the business community during the Civil Disobedience Movement? How did the community provide a big boost to the Movement?

24.  The First World War created a new economic and political situation. Explain.         (HOTS)

25.  Why did Mahatma Gandhi perceive ‘Salt’ as a powerful symbol that unite the nation? (CBSE 2011)


Why did the Indians oppose the tax on salt in 1930?



1.      “Nationalism spreads when people begin to believe that they are all part of the same nation.” Support the statement.   (CBSE 2015)

2.      Give a brief description of Gandhiji’s contribution to the Indian freedom struggle.  (HOTS)

3.      Describe briefly the ‘Salt March’ undertaken by Mahatma Gandhi.   (AI CBSE 2009)

4.      Write a note on Jallianwalla Bagh massacre.       (HOTS)

5.      What were the reasons for the launching of the Non-Cooperation Movement? What was Gandhiji’s idea behind launching it as stated in his book ‘Hind Swaraj’? (CBSE 2008)


Why did Mahatma Gandhi feel the need to launch a broad-based movement in 1920? Give reasons.(CBSE 2012)

6.      How culture played a vital role in awakening of the feeling of nationalism?  (HOTS)

7.      Explain the term ‘Satyagraha’. Describe three movements of Satyagraha successfully organsied Or

What was Satyagraha? Explain some of the Satyagrahas launched by Gandhiji.      (CBSE 2011)


“A Satyagraha was the battle through non-violence”. Explain with examples. CBSE 2010(F)]by Mahatma Gandhi soon after his arrival in India.    (HOTS)

8.      Who was Alluri Sitaram Raju? Explain his role in inspiring the rebels with Gandhiji’s ideas. How did people and the colonial government react to the Civil Disobedience Movement? Explain.                                                                                                  (AI CBSE 2012)

9.      How did people and the colonial government react to the Civil Disobedience Movement? Explain. (AI CBSE 2012)

10.  “Some of the Muslim political organisations in India were lukewarm in their response to the Civil Disobedience Movement.” Examine the statement.  (CBSE 2013)

11.  Explain the role played by tribal peasants in the Gudem Hills of Andhra Pradesh during the Non-Cooperation Movement. (CBSE 2012)


Analyse any four features of the Gudem rebellion of Andhra Pradesh.        (CBSE 2011)

12.  (i) Explain the Poona Pact of 1932.

(ii) What were the apprehension Gandhiji had regarding the grant of separate electorates to the dalits?


When and why was the Poona Pact signed? (CBSE 2011)

13.  Explain the contributions of folklore, folk song and paintings in strengthening nationalism during the 1870s.  (CBSE 2008)


How did a variety of cultural processes play an important role in developing a sense of nationalism in India? Explain with examples.    (CBSE 2010(F), CBSE 2012)


How did the image of Bharat Mata acquiring forms as it was painted by different artists help in arousing the feeling of nationalism among the Indians? Explain.

14.  “Dalit participation was limited in the Civil Disobedience Movement.” Examine the statement. [AI CBSE 2013]

15.  Which incident marked the beginning of the Civil Disobedience Movement? How was the Civil Disobedience Movement different from the Non-Cooperation Movement? (AI CBSE 2008, 2011)

16.  How did women in India respond to Mahatma Gandhi’s call for Civil Disobedience Movement?


Explain the role of women in the Civil Disobedience Movement. (CBSE 2011)



1.      Describe the role of Mahatma Gandhi in the Indian National Movement.

2.      What were Khilafat and Non-Cooperation Movements? Describe the development of these movements.

3.      Examine the factors responsible for the growth of national consciousness in the later half of the 19th century.

4.      How did the First World War help in the growth of the national movement in India?

5.      How did Mahatma Gandhi bring the masses into the national movement?

6.      Discuss the factors that contributed to the growth of Nationalism in India.

7.      Dalit participation in the Civil Disobedience Movement was limited. Explain.