Home Rule League Movement

The Home Rule League Movement was the Indian response to the First World War, based on the Irish Home Rule League. In India, two Home Rule Leagues were Launched, one by Annie Besant (Irish theosophist) and the other by Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

  • Later leaders of the Indian National Congress and others like Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Chittaranjan Das, K.M Munshi, Mohamad Ali Jinnah, and many others joined the League.
  • The main objective was “self-government or home rule” for all of India within the British Commonwealth.

Factors in the Favour of the  Home Rule League Movement

  • A section of Nationalist politicals felt popular pressure to get the concession from the government.
  • The disappointment of moderates with the Morley-Minto Reforms.
  • Due to a hike in taxes, and a rise in prices, the people were dissatisfied. So they were ready to protest.
  • The myth of white superiority was exposed.
  • Tilak came into focus as a great leader. He was ready to assume leadership after his release in June 1914.

    Tilak’s League; 1916-Poona

    Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s league was the Home Rule League, set up in April 1916 with headquarters in Poona.

    • The First Home Rule meeting of Tilak was at Belgaum.
    • The League was restricted to Maharastra (Bombay city was not included), Karnataka, Central Provinces, and Berar.
    • It has six branches.
    • Tilak demanded Swarajya, the formation of linguistic states, and education should be in the vernacular.

    Besant’s League; 1916-Madras

    The name of her League was- The All India Home Rule League, set up in September 1916 in Madras.

    • It had 200 branches and covered the rest of India.
    • It was not well organized in comparison to Tilak’s League.
    • George Arundale was the organizing secretary, beside him the main work was done by B.W. Wadia and C.P. Ramaswamy Aiyar.
    The Aim of the Movement
    • In the Campaign of early 1915 by Annie Besant, Self-government for India was demanded. (Her newspaper was- New India and Commonweal)
    • The main aim of the movement was to convey to the common man the concept of home rule as self-government.
    The  Attitude of Government

    suppression of the movement was on a vast level as

    • students were not allowed to attend political meetings.
    • Tilak was prohibited from entering Punjab and Delhi.
    • Annie Besant and her associates B.P. Wadia and George Arundale were arrested, and after this, there was a nationwide protest.
    • Annie Beasant was released in September 1917.

    Reasons for Decline of the League

    The agitation of the Home Rule League was short-lived, it declined By 1919. The main reasons for the decline were:

    • The paucity of effective organization.
    • Communal riots
    • Moderates of Basant’s league rejoined Congress after the arrest of Basant and were conciliated by talk of reforms. (Montagu’s statement of August 1917, Self-government as the long-term goal of British Rule in India.)
    • Moderates not supported resistance so they disconnected themselves from activities in September 1918.
    • The Montague – Chelmsford reforms in July 1918, divided Nationalists.
    • Tilak went to England in September 1918.
    • Gandhi’s approach to freedom.
    • In 1920 Gandhi became president of the All India Home Rule League, and changed its name to Swarajya Sabha, and after that league merged into the Indian National Congress.

    Significances of the League

    It played an important role in Indian history as Many leaders of the Organization further participated in the protests for Independence. The League had many positive effects:

    • The emphasis shifted to the masses permanently
    • It established the organizational link between town and country.
    • A generation of passionate Nationalists was created.
    • Prepared the public for Gandhian-style politics.
    • The Montagu- Chelmsford reforms (August 1917) were influenced by the agitation for Home Rule.
    • The reunion of Moderates-Extremists at Lucknow (1916) was influenced by it.

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