Pre-Congress Campaigns & Indian National Congress Campaigns

Political associations in India organized various Pre- Congress campaigns, before the advent of Indian National Congress which was the first all India level organizations. Such campaigns were-
Campaign for the imposition of import duty on cotton (1875)
  • Indians wanted to stay import duty intact in the interests of the Indian textile industry. Since 1875, there had been a continuous campaign by Political Associations around cotton import duties.
Campaign for Indianization of government service (1878-79)
  • For the demand for the lndianization of Government services a full-fledged campaign had been organized during 1877- 88.
  • Indian Association of Calcutta founded by Surendranath Banerjee and Anand Mohan Bose organized an all India agitation known as the Civil Service Agitation for the reform in Civil Services.
Campaign against Lytton's Afghan adventure
  • Lytton (the Viceroy of India) allegedly had apprehensions of the spread of Russian influence in Central Asia. Lytton launched the invasion of Afghanistan in November 1878 as then Afghan Amir was supposedly to have pro-Russian sentiments and Lytton wanted to replace him with somebody more loyal to the British.
  • Lytton s this step was even criticized by British people too, a book published in 1879 by William Joseph Eastwick, an official of the East India Company, criticized the errors of fact and judgment made by Lytton in pursuit of his forward policy toward Afghanistan.
  • It was also opposed by the Political Associations in India as the Anglo- Afghan war had immense human, financial, and political costs.
Campaign against Arms Act (1878)
  • After the Revolt of 1857 Britishers had apprehensions towards Indians as they noticed that Indians with arms can be a great threat to their rule in India. So, in 1878 to eradicate any possibility of another uprising among the masses, Britishers introduced Indian Arms Act of 1878.
  • Indian Arms Act provisioned that no Indian would be allowed to keep arms with them without any prior permission & licence.
  • It was Viceroy Lord Lytton during whose time this act was implemented.
  • It was specifically for Native Indians and Europeans & Anglo-Indians remained out of purview of this act.
  • Indian Political associations opposed such restrictions although they could not bring substantive results in this field.
Campaign against Vernacular Press Act (1878)
  • Vernacular Press Act of 1878 was enacted to prevent the expression of criticism toward British policies and curtail the freedom of the Indian press (Local Language Press).
  • The main event that led to the passing of such act was the opposition that had grown in India and outside due to 2nd Anglo-Afghan War (1878 80). Viceroy's Council passed the Act unanimously.
  • Political Organizations in India opposed Vernacular Press Act which imposed restrictions on the Vernacular presses and Indians even innovated new steps in order to keep themselves out of the scope of the act i.e. Amrita Bazar Patrika in Calcutta within a week of the passing of the Vernacular Press Act, had converted itself into an all-English weekly.
Campaign against plantation labour and against Inland Emigration Act.
  • Under the Inland Emigration and plantation Act the workers working in plantations were not allowed to leave without the permission of European Planters and such permissions were rarely given.
Campaign in support of Ilbert Bill
  • Viceroy Lord Ripon introduced the 'Ilbert Bill' in 1883.
  • Ilbert bill was a step in the direction to minimise racial prejudices and according to it, Indian judges could try a European accused.
  • This is also called the White Mutiny (1883) since the bill was opposed by Europeans and finally was passed in highly compromised manner.
  • This bitter Ilbert Bill controversy was also a reason which paved the way to the formation of the Indian National Congress in the upcoming years.
Campaign against reduction in maximum age for appearing in Indian Civil Service
  • The Indian Association took up this question and organized an all-India agitation against it, popularly known as the Indian Civil Service agitation.
Roots of Indian National Congress Campaign
By the 1870's Indian nationalism had gathered enough strength to appear as a major force on the Indian political scene. The need to unite politically against the foreign rule and exploitation was felt and the time was also ripe for the formation of an all India level organization of the nationalists. Therefore, Indian National Congress came into existence.
As a prelude to Indian National Congress, two sessions of the Indian National Conference were held by the efforts of Ananda Mohan Bose and Surendranath Banerjee in 1883 and 1885, which had representatives from all major cities of India.
Causes for Formation of INC
  • Events like the reduction of the age limit for the Civil Services Exams in 1876, the passage of the Vernacular Press Act in 1878 and the Ilbert Bill of 1882, resulted in a wave of opposition from the middle-class Indians. They were looking for a platform where their voices can be heard.
  • As another pattern of rebellion on the lines of War of Independence of 1857, was foreseen by the British and therefore to avoid such a situation, the British decided to provide an outlet (seen as Safety Valve) to the local people where they could discuss their political problems.
Indian National Congress campaign
  • When Indian National Congress was created in 1885 under the guidance of A.O. Hume, most of its delegates hailed from bourgeois big city professionals with a sprinkling of merchants and landowners.
  • The first session of Congress, was held in Bombay.
  • Womesh Chunder Bonnerjee, presided over the first session of Indian National Congress
  • Almost all regions of India were represented in the congress.
  • Indian National Congress was a secular organisation since the beginning as it included almost every section of the society.
  • In 1890, Kadambiny Ganguly addressed the Calcutta session of Indian National Congress, she was the first woman graduate of Calcutta University. This event symbolised the commitment to give the women of India their due position in national life.
Objectives of Indian National Congress

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