Monday, November 14, 2011

First 20 years of Indian National Congress (contd -1)

On account of a outbreak of cholera epidemic in Poona, the venue of the conference ( Dec., 1885) was shifted to Bombay.  
The first two decades (1885-1905) in the history of the Indian National Congress, generally described as the Moderate Phase, saw a board uiformity in objectives and methods of work.The Congress met at the end of each year for three days in what turned out to be a great social occasion as well as a political assembly and heard and applauded Presidential addresses as well as other eloquent speeches. Resolutions that were passed dealt broadly with three sorts of grievances caused by alen rule, - political, administrative, and economic.
The main political demand was reform of the Legislative Councils in order to give them greater powers and to make them representative in character by including some members elected by local bodies , chambers of commerce , universities, etc. True, the Congress leaders did not demand voting right for all Indian citizens, and  universal adult suffrage was unknown even to England at that time. The Congress demand had some influence on the making of the Indian Councils Act of 1892. But when the Act of Council Reform was passed in 1892, the Congress regretted " that it did not, in terms, concede to the people the people the right of electing their own representatives to the Council". In the next two sessions of 1893 and 1894 , the Congress passedthe resolutions  pointing out "material alterations are necessary".  There was also an expectation that freedom would gradually broaden from precedent to precedent on the British pattern till India entered the promised but distant land of what Dadabhai Naoroji in 1906 described as "Self-Government or Swaraj like that of United Kingdom or the colonies."
Considering the honesty,  integrity and goodness of the British people, Congress carried on political propaganda in England, formed a British Committee of the Indian National Congress in 1889, voted a sum of Rs. 45,000 per annum for its support, and the Journal India  with Wlliam Digby as the editor was also started for the same purpose in 1890.Among administrative reforms, however, the most important demand was the Indianization of services through simultaneous ICS examination in England and India.. The demend was "raised  not really just to satisfied the tiny elite who could hope to get into the ICS,  as has been sometimes argued, but connected with much broader themes."  Indianization was advocated as a blow against racism. It would also reduce the drain of wealth by the fat salaries and pensions of the injoyed by the Englishmen. The other demands included separation of trial by jury, repeal of the Arms Act, higher jobs in the army for Indians, and the raising of an Indian volunteer force -- demands which combined pleas for racial equality with a concern for civil rights.
Inspite of the moderation and loyalty of the Congress, the English public opinion looked upon the emergence of the Congress as a potential danger to the British power in India. The second Congress was composed of delegates, elected at public meetings held for the purpose in different Provinces. Five hundred delegates were elected of which 434 actually registered their names.
Syed Ahmed delivered a speech on the eve of the third session to be held at Madras, (1897) asked to dissuade the Muslims from attending it.   In the 3rd Conference a Committee of 34 persons was formed for drafting a constitution for Congress. But no such constitution was drafted during these 20 years .The 4th session of the Congress was held at Allahabad where out of 1200 delegates 200 were Muslims.