Indian intellectuals under the British Empire

Aug 2013
956
Italy
What was the role of Indian intellectuals in peacefully opposing British domination of their homeland? Did Indian writers, philosophers and other intellectuals (other than the Gandhians) create non-violent associations and organizations with the purpose of the liberation of the Subcontinent? Were Indian women actively involved in such movements? How did the British react to intellectual (as opposed to armed revolutionary) dissatisfaction with their regime?
 

tornada

Ad Honoris
Mar 2013
15,398
India
What was the role of Indian intellectuals in peacefully opposing British domination of their homeland? Did Indian writers, philosophers and other intellectuals (other than the Gandhians) create non-violent associations and organizations with the purpose of the liberation of the Subcontinent? Were Indian women actively involved in such movements? How did the British react to intellectual (as opposed to armed revolutionary) dissatisfaction with their regime?
Ooh, wow. That's actually a series of questions that have VERY long answers honestly. The short response to this is, yes. There were many intellectuals apart from Gandhi who pushed for various forms of independence in peaceful ways. Some pushed for basic autonomy, others for dominion status under the general aegis of the Empire (a la Canada and Australia) while others pushed for full self rule. Women from some sections, and some women from less elite sections often had central roles in the movement, though at times recognition has come after the fact. Women helped play roles not just in India's struggle for independence, but also in the establishment of many features of modern systems, such as modern primary or higher education.

Even a short, but proper answer however would require a significant grasp on specifics that I don't have. Plus a fair amount of time and space to lay it all out. As an alternative, I can provide a set of readings that will answer most of your questions. What I've selected will spread across broad academic-ideological systems. You could give one, or all three a read.

If you would like more specific works on the Freedom Struggle, or on Modern India in general (either is doable) I'd be happy to oblige. Ofcourse others will also likely give you opinions on the subject, which can add to my post.

Please consider
India's Struggle for Independence - Bipan Chandra

Modern Times - Sumit Sarkar

A History of Modern India -
Ishita Banerjee-Dube


I've given amazon links, but they are freely available with other vendors and on Google Books. All three are relatively standard readings in Indian Universities, and quite broad in scope. There are historians such as Dr. Charu Gupta and Dr. Anshu Malhotra of Delhi University who also work on more specific issues of Gendered History in Modern India (though with specific focuses of their own as well) which you might wish to look up if you wish to go down that path.
 
Aug 2013
956
Italy
Ooh, wow. That's actually a series of questions that have VERY long answers honestly. The short response to this is, yes. There were many intellectuals apart from Gandhi who pushed for various forms of independence in peaceful ways. Some pushed for basic autonomy, others for dominion status under the general aegis of the Empire (a la Canada and Australia) while others pushed for full self rule. Women from some sections, and some women from less elite sections often had central roles in the movement, though at times recognition has come after the fact. Women helped play roles not just in India's struggle for independence, but also in the establishment of many features of modern systems, such as modern primary or higher education.

Even a short, but proper answer however would require a significant grasp on specifics that I don't have. Plus a fair amount of time and space to lay it all out. As an alternative, I can provide a set of readings that will answer most of your questions. What I've selected will spread across broad academic-ideological systems. You could give one, or all three a read.

If you would like more specific works on the Freedom Struggle, or on Modern India in general (either is doable) I'd be happy to oblige. Ofcourse others will also likely give you opinions on the subject, which can add to my post.

Please consider
India's Struggle for Independence - Bipan Chandra

Modern Times - Sumit Sarkar

A History of Modern India -
Ishita Banerjee-Dube


I've given amazon links, but they are freely available with other vendors and on Google Books. All three are relatively standard readings in Indian Universities, and quite broad in scope. There are historians such as Dr. Charu Gupta and Dr. Anshu Malhotra of Delhi University who also work on more specific issues of Gendered History in Modern India (though with specific focuses of their own as well) which you might wish to look up if you wish to go down that path.
Thank you very much, Tornada. I will certainly look into the links you've sent.

Please let me know if the British colonial rule was fairly tolerant of this movement for autonomy/freedom, or if it actively persecuted even peaceful opponents.
 

tornada

Ad Honoris
Mar 2013
15,398
India
Thank you very much, Tornada. I will certainly look into the links you've sent.

Please let me know if the British colonial rule was fairly tolerant of this movement for autonomy/freedom, or if it actively persecuted even peaceful opponents.
For the most part the British Government in India wasn't particularly tolerant of any threat to its stability, regardless of its peacefulness. But British rule wasn't homogeneous. At times, individuals in the British Government of India did work with Indian intellectuals on issues such as education or public works. An example of this can be Lord Dalhousie's attempts at education reform. I wouldn't say these examples are that of purely benign or helpful actions or impulses - they were often driven by ideologies seeking to establish or cement control. But even though the ideologies were harmful and patronizing, the individuals at times were driven by personal motivations of reform.

There was an article in the newspaper Mint a few days ago, as another example of this
Sir Arthur Cotton, the engineer and his rice bowl - Livemint.

Another issue to consider for instance is that even as the state cracked down on peaceful resistance, individuals in the state machinery sometimes found the situation difficult to accept and comply with. A notable example of this is the Judge who had to try Gandhi in Ahemdabad (Broomfield). The discourse between them in the short trial, where Gandhi pled guilty, is frequently cited in historical works on Gandhi.

Nonetheless, as I noted above, the state was not particularly tolerant of any undermining of its authority. The examples I give above are the stray exceptions which receive historical attention due to their heterodox nature more than anything.
 

Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,933
New Delhi, India
Also, the newspapers started by intellectuals were great movers. Gandhi had his Indian Opinion and Young India, Nehru had his National Herald, Tilak had his Kesri. I am not an expert on this subject but this was happening all over India. In Punjab, Bengal and Tamilnadu. These newspapers molded public opinion.