Indian National Congress - Its Aims and Objectives

Formation of Indian National Congress aims and objectives

The establishment of Congress was preceded by several regional, provincial and sub-national organisations in various parts of India. Organisations like the zamindari association (1837), British India Association (1851), Pune Sarvajanik Sabha (1867), Bombay Presidency Association (1885) etc came up in India. These associations had organised several campaigns like campaign for imposition import duty on cotton in 1875, campaign for increasing the number of Indians in government services (1878- 79), campaign against the war with Afghanistan, protest against Vernacular Press Act, campaign to support Ilbert bill etc.

Thus all these organisations had prepared the foundation stage for an all India organisation. In 1883 and 1885 two sessions of All- India National Conference was organised by Surendranath Banerjee and others. A.O.Hume a retired British Civil Servant played a major role to mobilize and bring various intellectuals and organisations into one all India Organisation. In December 1885, Hume with the help of other leaders of India established the Indian National Congress. The session was held at Bombay and was presided over by Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee.

Congress 1885

The annual session of Congress were held at different parts of the country. The Congress President was elected from a region which was different from the place where it was held. The second President of Indian National Congress was Dadabhai Naoroji at Calcutta 1886 (elected 3 times). First Muslim president of INC was Syed Badruddin Tyabji (1887 Madras) and first English president of INC was George Yule (Allahabad 1888). First woman president was Annie Besant (1917, Calcutta) and first Indian woman president of Congress was Sarojini Naidu at Kanpur, 1925.

Formation of Indian National Congress aims and objectives

  • Nation building: The first and foremost major objectives of INC was to promote the nation-building process in India. It was to create a national identity of being an Indian among the people and to promote National Unity. This was important because colonial administrators did not consider India as a nation, but just a geographical  expression.
  • To provide for an all India political platform: It was to allow political workers from  all over the country to educate and mobilize masses under a common all India political organization.
  • To promote political consciousness and political awakening among the educated citizens and then to all the sections of the society.
  • To create a common Pan-India political leadership (or the headquarters of the movement). A national leadership was the 'sine qua non' for the success of the national movement.
  • To promote political liberal democracy and democratic culture in the country. The working structure of Congress sessions was democratic through debates, discussions, and voting.
  • To create and promote anti-colonial ideology among the people. This was essential for the success of national movement against the authoritarian and colonial government.
  • To prepare and put forward the popular demand of Indian national congress before the government. This was to ensure the public welfare and also to unify them over these issues.

Safety valve theory

This is a theory given by extremist leaders like Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal etc which is also supported by many historians. According to this theory, Congress was formed by A.O. Hume with the help of Lord Dufferin to avoid another violent rebellion as had happened in 1857. The government had realized about the increasing discontent and impatience among the Indians, so it wanted to provide a safety valve to release this growing discontent.

However, there is a disagreement among the contemporary historians over this theory due to lack of sufficient evidence. According to them, Indian National Congress was a gradual result of increased political consciousness among Indians to set up a national body to put forward their demands and political energy. As Bipan Chandra argues that the Congress leaders used Hume as a lightning conductor to form an all India national organization for the national movement.

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