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BA English/BA Political Science
2014 Admission onwards
Prepared by:
Calicut University
PO, Professor&Head
Malappuram, Kerala, India 673 635
P.G.Department of History
C.A.S.College, Madayi
School of Distance Education
BA English/BA Political Science
(CUCBCSS 2014 Admission onwards)
Prepared By :
Associate Professor & Head
P.G.Department of History
C.A.S.College , Madayi
P.O.Payangadi-RS- 670358
Kannur.Dt. Kerala
Scrutinised by :
Sri. Ashraf Koyilothan Kandiyil
Chairman, Board of Studies- History (UG)
Lay out :
Computer Section, SDE
Modern World History from AD 1500
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Modern World History from AD 1500
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Modern World History from AD 1500
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Module I Afro- Asian Experiences
Colonialism in India – Anti Colonial Struggles- The Revolt of 1857 – Indian National
Congress – Gandhi and freedom struggle
Western encroachments in China – Opium Wars – Boxer Rebellion – Tai-ping Rebellion
– The Revolt of 1911
The Scramble for Africa
Module II. The First World War and Peace Processes
The First World War – Political Crises – course – Wilson’s Points – the Paris Peace
The League of Nations – Structure – Functions – Achievements and Failures
The Russian Revolution – establishment of the U.S.S.R – Lenin – N.E.P – Stalin
Module III. The Second World War and Peace Processes
Fascism in Italy – Nazism in Germany – Socio-political changes
The Second World War – course – Impact – Destruction of Colonial powers
The U.N.O – structure – Functions – Achievements and Failures – Specialized agencies
Module I
7. Percival Spear, The History India, Vol 2
8. Percival Spear, Oxford History of Modern India 1740- 1947
9. Bipan Chandra, India’s Struggle for Independence
10. Sumit Sarkar, Modern India 1885- 1947
11. Sekhara Bandyopadhyaya, From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India
12. A. R, Desai, Social Background of Indian Nationalism
Module II
1. Michael Beard, A History of Capitalism
2. Wallbank and Taylor, Civilization: Past and Present
3. C D M Ketelby, A History of Modern Times
4. Wallerstain Emmanuel, The Modern World System
5. Mark Ferrow, Colonialism: A World History
6. E. J. Hobsbaum, The Age of Capital
7. E. J. Hobsbaum, The age of Revolutions
Module III
1. Wallbank and Taylor, Civilization: Past and Present
2. C D M Ketelby, A History of Modern Times
3. Wallerstain Emmanuel, The Modern World System
4. Mark Ferrow, Colonialism: A World History
5. E. J. Hobsbaum, The Age of Capital
6. E. J. Hobsbaum, The age of Revolutions
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18th century was marked by three major political developments in India. The first was
the decline and disintegration of the Mughal Empire. The second was the emergence of a
number of independent and semi-independent kingdoms and powers. The third was the
greed of several European powers to have their foothold on India. All this resulted in
fierce struggles, conspiracies, battles and wars. Some historians view the 18 th century
India is one of the darkest periods of Indian history. India became a slave country of the
British for about two hundred years. The people of India had to fight a long and arduous
battle for the liberation of the country from the foreign domination. The history of India
during the 18th century was the history of decline-decline in almost all walks of national
British Settlements in India.
The English East India Company, popularly known as John Company, founded by the
Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth 1 to 31 December, 1600, became one of the most
powerful commercial enterprises in its time. The Company was founded by a group of
enterprising and influential businessmen, who obtained the Crown’s Charter for exclusive
permission to trade in the East Indies for 15 years. In England the Company had secured
the backing of the English monarchs and political leaders by giving them valuable gifts.
Queen Elizabeth 1 herself was a shareholder. Subsequent rulers had expanded the powers
of the company to include “permission to coin money, to exercise full jurisdiction over
all English subjects residing at its factories or forts, and to make war or peace with “nonChristian” powers in India. The voyage to India was led by Captain Hawkins. He landed
at the west coast of Surat in 1608. Though the Portuguese did their best to prevent him,
he managed to reach Jahangir’s court but not succeeded to get any trade concessions for
the Company at Surat.
In 1612 Captain Thomos Best defeated the Portuguese fleet near Surat. He secured
permission for building a factory at Surat.After that Surat remained as one of the main
centers of Euro-Asian trade. In 1615 king James I of England sent Sir Thomas Roe as his
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ambassador to the court of Jahangir to secure permission for the Company to set up
factories and conduct exclusive trade. Thus factories were set up at Ahmadabad, Broach,
Masulipattanam, Burhanpur and Agra. Bombay was presented to the Company by King
Charles II.They made it as a well established settlement of the Company on the west
coast of India. It also served as the headquarters of the Company on the west coast. In the
South, Francis Day secured from a local Hindu ruler a strip of land just north of the
Portuguese settlement of San Thome. A fortified rectory named Fort St. George was built
there, and around it grew up the town of Madras. In 1690 the Company established a
factory was fortified and called Fort William. The villages of Sutanati, Kalikata and
Gobindpore were developed into a single area called Calcutta.
In the first half of the 18th century, the Company expanded its trade and influence
quietly and gradually. The death of Aurangzeb, the last of the Great Mughal Emperors, in
1707 opened up a vista of opportunities for the East India Company for further expansion
in India. In 1691 Nawab Ibrahim Khan granted a Farman to the Company exempting it
from paying the customs duties in Bengal in return for an annual payment of Rs. 3000
whereas other European companies had to pay 3 per cent as duties. This right was later
on ratified by an Imperial Farman by Emperor Farrukhsiyar in 1715.The English were
allowed to trade in Bengal free of all duties subject to the payment of Rs. 3,000 per
annum.They were exempted from dues throughout the province of Hyderabad but were to
pay only the existing rent for Madras. They were exempted from the payment of all
customs dues of Surat in return for an annual sum of Rs. 10,000.The coins minted at
Bombay by the Company were allowed to have currency throughout the Mughal Empire.
These Farmans are called ‘the Magna Carta of the Company’. The Company at Bombay
minted Rupees to be circulated in India. The Company’s mainstay businesses were by
now, in cotton, silk, indigo, saltpeter and tea. But, practically, the Company managed to
retain its dominant position and made huge profits from India. By 1720, almost singlehandedly managed by the Company, 15% of British imports were from India.
The Anglo- French struggle for supremacy in South India was a part of the world-wide
struggle between England and France for trade, wealth territory.Carnatic was the theatre
of this The English East India Company and the French East India Company had
developed rivalry in India for colonial and commercial domination protracted struggle.
The decline of the Mughal Empire wiped away any local authority to thwart the
competition between these two powers.
The First Carnatic War.
In 1742 the Austrian succession war broke out in Europe in connection with the
succession of Maria Theresa to the throne of Austria. Frederick the Great of Prussia
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refused to accept the succession of Maria Theresa. On this issue the French supported
Austria and the British supported Prussia. The echo of the Austrian succession war heard
in India as well as in America. In the words of Voltaire, “The first cannon shot fired in
our lands were to set the match to all the batteries in America and in Asia”. Hearing
about the outbreak of war in Europe, Dupleix tried to avert an Anglo-French contest in
India. For that purpose, he wrote in December 1744 to the three British Indian
presidencies suggesting neutrality between the British and the French in India. It was
thwarted by Nicholas Morse; Governor of Madras. The English fleet under Barnett
reached the Coramondal coast in 1745 and captured the French ship “Favori”. Soon
Dupleix sought the help of La Bourdonnais, Governor of Mauritius. La Bourdonnais
moved towards Madras and captured it. Dupleix wanted La Bourdonnais to give Madras
to the Nawab of Arcot. But La Bourdonnais to give concluded a treaty with Madras
Council, received tributes and left the place in hurry.
After his departure, Dupleix invaded and looted Madras. Then the British approached
Anwarudin, the Nawab of Carnatic, to save them and restore Madras. The Nawab asked
Dupliex to vacate his possession of Madras.But Dupleix refused. Nawab soon sent an
army against the French. A severe battle was fought at St. Thome in which Nawab’s
army was defeated by the French. After the capture of Madras, Dupleix attempted thrice
to siege Fort St. David but failed. In 1748, the English besieged Pondicherry but the
French defeated them successfully. Meanwhile, the war of Austrian succession had come
to an end by the treaty of Aixa-la-Chapelle in 1748 according to which Madras was
exchanged for Breton Island and Louisburg in North America. The first Carnatic war also
came to a close and Madras was restored to the English on 1st September 1749.The
boundaries of both the companies remained unchanged. However the reputation of the
French in India increased appreciably and the weakness of the Nawab of Carnatic was
exposed miserably. The importance of this war has been summed up by
Prof.H.H.Dodwell thus “it demonstrated the overwhelming influence of sea-power, it
displaced the superiority of European methods of war over those followed by Indian
armies and it revealed the political decay that had eaten into the heart of Indian states”.
The Second Carnatic War.
The treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle brought peace to Europe but it brought into being an
armed peace in India. Following the success in Carnatic Dupleix realized that the
European weapons and disciplined army was superior to the Indian forces. He therefore
decided to “loan” his army and resources to local princes in their quarrels in return for
monetary, commercial or territorial favours. As a result, the French began to interfere in
the affairs of Carnatic and Hyderabad. In Carnatic Chanda Saheb, the son-in-law of Dost
Ali claimed the Nawabship against Anwar-ud-Din, the nominee of Asaf Jah Nizam-ulMulk. In this contest Dupliex decided to support Chanda Saheb. In 1748 Asaf Jah
Nizam-ul-Mulk of Hyderabad died. Following this the throne was contested by his son
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Nazir Jang and his grandson Muzaffar Jang. Muzaffar Jang claimed the throne on the
ground that his succession had been authorized by the Mughal Government at Delhi.
Muzaffar Jang joined the Dupliex-Chanda alliance. The English on the other hand
extended their help to Anwar-ud-Din and Nazir Jang.Thus began simultaneously two
wars of succession which the English and the French took opposite side. Lally writes,
“The entanglement of these two wars of succession threw all South India into confusion
producing that complicated series of intrigues, conspiracies, assassinations, battles,
sieges, desultory skirmishing that is known in Anglo-Indian history as the war in the
The joint forces of Chanda Saheb and Muzaffar Jang defeated and killed Anwar-udDin in the battle of Ambur (1749) with the help of the French. Mohammed Ali, the
illegitimate son and successor of Anwar-ud-Din sought safety in the fort of Trichinopoly.
The victors entered Arcot and Chanda Saheb was installed as Nawab.Three taluks
adjoining Pondicherry (Valudavur, Villiannur and Bahur) were handed over to Dupleix as
reward for his help. After this powerful French army attacked Nazir’s camp and killed
him. Muzaffar Jang was proclaimed as the Nizam of Hyderabad.But Muzaffar Jang died
in an encounter.The French soon proclaimed Salabat Jung, the third son of Asaf Jah as
Nizam.Thus Dupleix’s policy was successful even beyond his own expectation.
The condition of the English at this time was very critical. They feared that it would
affect their trade since the hinterland of Madras would be in the hands of their enemies.
So they decided to take vigorous steps. Robert Clive was sent against Chanda Saheb and
captured Arcot. Chanda Saheb fled away and was put to death by the Raja of
Tanjore.Thus Muhammad Ali became the Nawab of Carnatic. Dupleix was recalled in
1754.The new French governor Godeheu stopped the war and concluded the Treaty of
Pondicherry with the English. By this treaty both parties agreed not to interfere in the
quarrels of the native princes and to respect each other possession.
The Third Carnatic War.
The peace settlement effected Godeheu failed to bring
peace in South India. After a brief interval of 18 months hostilities started again on the
pretext of the outbreak of the seven years war in Europe. In the Seven years war, Britain
and France were once again on opposite sides in the rival coalitions. In India the war
began in Bengal. The French deputed Count de Lally as the Governor and Commanderin-Chief of the army to conduct the war. The English under Clive and Watson attacked
the French at Chandranagore and captured in 1757. It is said that the capture of
Chandranagore was not less a seal to French domination in Bengal than it was the starting
point of British supremacy in the province. Lally captured Fort St.David in 1758. He
made an abortive attempt to take Madras. In the meanwhile, an English army under Sir
Eyre Coote defeated Lally at Wandiwash in 1760.In the words of Malleson’ “The battle
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of wandiwash shattered to the ground the mighty fabric, which Martin Dumas and
Dupleix had contributed to erect; it sealed the fate of Pondicherry”. The British captured
Pondicherry in 1761.After that they occupied the Northern Circars. The war came to an
end by the Treaty of Parris in 1763. Accordingly Pondicherry was given back to the
French. However they were not allowed to fortify their factories and keep troops in them.
The Carnatic wars thus ended forever the French competition in eastern trade and the bid
for territorial domination.
British Occupation of Bengal.
The beginnings of British political sway over India may be traced to the Battle of
Plassey in 1757, when the English East India Company’s forces defeated Siraj-udDaulah, the Nawab of Bengal. The earlier British struggle with the French in South India
had been but a dress rehearsal. The lessons lea rent there were profitably applied in
Bengal. Bengal was the most fertile and the richest of India’s provinces. Its industries and
commerce were well developed. The English East India Company and its servants had
highly profitable trading interests in the province. The Company had secured valuable
privileges in 1717 under a royal Farman by the Mughal Emperor, which had granted the
company the freedom to export and import their goods in Bengal without paying taxes
and the right to issue passes or dastaks for the movement of such goods. Under its
coverage some of the company officials had also involved in private individual trade. The
Nawab of Bengal,Aliwardi Khan took strict actions against the private trade of the
company officials in 1740 onwards. This served the relations between the company and
the Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah,who became the Nawab in 1756.took more stringent action in
this regard.
The practice of imposing tax on Indian goods brought to Calcutta by the company
provoked the Nawab.His request to stop this practice was discarded by the company
officials. They also built forts in Chandranagar.The Nawab asked to demolish them.
While the French acted accordingly, the English neglected it. The amenity between the
Nawab and the English started mounting up.The Nawab’s army captured the English
factory at Kasimbazar in 1756 and marched to Calcutta. Avoiding a direct confrontation
with the enemy, the company officials escaped. Fort William was captured and the
Nawab appointed Malik Chand as its administrator.When the Nawab had gone back to
his capital, the English hiding at Fulda on the coastal area reappeared in Culcutta.In
December 1756, an English army arrived at Calcutta from Madras under the
commandership of Clive and Admiral Watson and re-conquered Calcutta. They attacked
and destroyed the city of Hugli. The Nawab was forced to sign a peace treaty with the
company and he had to give away many concessions.
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As a part of the conflict in south India the English captured Chandranagar from the
French, who took asylum under the Nawab.The English demanded that the French should
be sent out Bengal, which was turned down by the Nawab.The company authorities
started conspiring with the officials of the Nawab.They offered the Nawabship of Bengal
to Mir Jaffer, the commander of the Nawab, Mr Jaffer fell a prey to the conspiracy and
offered his help to the English to oust the Nawab from power.On the advice of Mir Jaffer
the Nawab decided to sent the French out of Bengal. By that time the English army had
started its march from Calcutta to Maurshidabad, the capital of the Nawab. The Nawab’s
army under the commandership of Mir jaffer fought against the English at Plassey in June
1757.When the war was going on Mir jaffer withdrew from the battle field. The English
had an easy victory. Siraj-ud-daula was murdered and the English made Mir Jaffer as the
Nawab of Bengal.The New Nawab, Mir Jaffer permitted free trade in Bengal, Bihar and
Orissa.The Company was given the Zamindari rights of twenty four parganas, near
Calcutta, apart from a huge amount as compensation.
The Plassey victory laid foundation stone for the later British Empire in India. Though
Mir Jaffer became the Nawab of Bengal, the real power was within the hands of the
Company authorities. The Company appointed Robert Clive as its governor of Bengal.He
demanded more and more money from Mir Jaffer which could not be met by the latter.
Consequently, Mir Jaffer was replaced by Mir Quasim as the Nawab of Bengal by the
English.In return for the favour, Mir Quasim assigned the Zamindari rights of Midnapur,
Chittagong and Burduan to the Company apart from nearly thirty lakh rupees.
However, contrary to the expectations of the Company, Mir Quasim tried to rule
independently, without listening to the instructions of Clive. As necessary compensation
to the Company had already been paid, he thought that there is no necessity to become
the instrument of the company in future. According to the existing law, tax was collected
only from the Indian traders. Mir Quasim cancelled trade tax completely in internal
trade. This new reform considering the Indian and English traders equal was not accepted
by the Company and Clive asked the Nawab to withdraw it.The response to this demand
was negative.Then the Company started military campaigns against the Nawab.The
Nawab’s army was defeated at Murshidabad and Udayanala and forced Mir Qasim to
escape to Oudh. After reaching Oudh, Mir Quassim made alliance with Shuja-ud-daula,
the ruler of Oudh to fight against the British, later Shah Alam II, the nominal ruler of the
Mughal dynasty also joined with them.The three rulers formed a combined army and
marched against the English. However, the English army under Colonel Munroe badly
defeated them at Buxar in 1764, Shan Alam immediately made truce with the Company.
Mir Quasim escaped to Delhi.
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With the Victory at Buxar the British domination in Bengal became a reality. The
Company became the undisputable power in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa with this
victory.After the Buxar, the Company again appointed Mir Jaffer as the Nawab of
Bengal.As per the instructions of the Company the Army of the Nawab was
disbanded.After the death of Mir Jaffer his son Nizam-ud-daula became the Nawab. He
had to accept a deputy Subedar appointed by the Company, who became the real ruler of
Bengal.The Oudh Nawab, accepted the suzerainty in the Company and paid one and half
lakh rupees as compensation.The Mughal emperor gave Allahabad district to the
Company. Thus the territorial extent of the company expanded.
Formative Stage of Colonialism:
Mercantilist Phase.
The twin process of the drain and deindustrialization was carried out through various
stages of colonial rule. The process started from 1757.After the battle of Plassey the East
India Company took over the Indian control. During the same period a fundamental
change was taking place in Britain also. This change came through a series of inventions
that led to the industrial revolution. Important inventions were: Spinning Jenny
(Hargreaves, 1764), Steam engine (Watts, 1765), Water frame (Ark Wright, 1769), Mule
(Crompton, 1779), Power loom (Cart Weight, 1785) and steam engine (1788). Before
these inventions the Bank of England was established in 1694.The plunder of India
helped capital accumulation. Inventions helped in generating industrial revolution.
The impact of the British rule in the initial stages can be summed up thus: While
machine made cotton goods from England ruined the weavers, machine made twist
ruined the spinners. Between 1818 and 1836 the export of cotton twists from England to
India 5200 times. The same process could be traced in respect of silk goods, woolen
goods, iron, pottery, glass and paper. The effects of this wholesale destruction of Indian
manufacturing industries on the economy of the country can be imagined. In England, the
ruin of the handloom weavers was accompanied by the growth of the new machine
industry. But in India, the ruin of millions of artisans and craftsmen was not accompanied
by any alternative growth of new forms of industry. The old populous manufacturing
towns of Dacca, Murshidabad,Surat and the like were in a few years rendered desolate
(barren) under the ‘pan Britanica’(all British).
The pre-industrial British capital was buying Indian commodities for profitable
exports. The conquest of India by the East India Company gave it the power to levy and
collect the revenue and other taxes. On the basis of the gross profits the Company
exploited Indian commodities. This semi bondage situation of India made the British
mercantile capitalism earn tribute from conquest. During the latter half of 18 th century the
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total British imports from India increased from 12 to 24 per cent. At the same time,
British exports to India increased from 6.4% to only 9% of the total British exports.
The phase of mercantilism gave way to the phase of industrial capitalism towards the
beginning of the 19th century. Now the emphasis shifted from revenue collection and
trade to new forms of surplus appropriation. Indian economy was now geared to serve the
interests of industrial England. India was now used to provide raw material to the
industries of England. India also served as a market for the ready-made British
manufactured industrial goods. Indian resources continued to be drained out to England.
Similarly the process of deindustrialization also got accelerated.
Finance Capitalism.
After 1857 the British government took on direct control of India. Then British
capital also started pouring into the Indian market along with the manufactured goods.
Now England needed India not only as a market for their goods but also as a favourable
ground for the investment of their capital. As a result India started getting industrialized
but only on foreign capital. All the major industries like railways, jute, iron and steel
were being run by British capital. Its result was a further drain of wealth as all the profits
made on British capital were going back to England. Thus up to the end of 19 th century
India was sucked dry by the British during both phases of colonialism.
Anti- Colonial Struggles
The Revolt of 1857
The Revolt of 1857 opened a glorious chapter in the history of the anti- imperialist
struggle of Indian people. The mighty popular revolt of 1857 broke out in northern and
central India. It began as a mutiny of sepoys or soldiers of English East India Company’s
army. Soon it spread to wide regions and peoples. Millions of peasants, artisans and
soldiers fought heroically for over a year. It was in reality a product of accumulated
grievances of the people against company’s administration. For over a century, the
British had been conquering the country. Popular discontent and hatred against foreign
rule had been growing among different section of Indian society. It was this discontent
that burst forth into a mighty popular revolt.
Nature and Character of the revolt.
[1)Mutiny of Sepoys: Historians have held different views about the nature of the
outbreak of 1857. The British historians William Kaye, Malison, Trevelyan and John
Lawrence have described it as a mutiny of sepoys, which did not command the support of
the people. Sir John seeley describes the revolt of 1857 as a wholly unpatriotic and
selfish mutiny, with no nation leadership and no popular support. According to him it was
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a rebellion of the Indian sepoys against the constitutional government of the day. Some
Indian states also joined the revolt because of the annexation policy of Dalhousie. This
interpretation is unsatisfactory. Unquestionably the revolt began as a mighty rising, but it
was not everywhere confined to the army. Even the sepoys as a whole did not join the
revolt and considerable of them fought on the side of the government. In fact the rebels
came from every section of the population.
(2)Religious War: Some other scholars describe the revolt as a religious war against the
Christians. This is a wrong assumption. The Hindus and Muslims were defeated but not
their respective religions.
(3) Racial Struggle: Some other scholars explain it as a racial struggle for supremacy
between the black and white. Really it was not a war of races. True all the whites in India
were ranged on the side of British, but not all the black rallied on the side of the rebels. In
the British war camp Indians served as cooks and servants and looked after the comforts
of the British. In fact every white man in the camp there were certainly twenty black men.
To be more correct, it was a war between white on one side and black rebels on the other
(4)Conflict between Civilization and Barbarism: Some British historians like T.R.
Holmes popularized the view that the revolt of 1857 was a conflict between civilization
and barbarism. This explanation reveals narrow feeling of racial superiority of the British.
Some others described the outbreak was the result of Hindu Muslim conspiracy to over
throw the British. This explanation is inadequate and unsatisfactory.
(5)National war of independence: The British conservative party leader Benjamin
Disraeli described the revolt as a national rising. He contended that the so called
mutiny was no sudden impulse, but was a vigilant and well planned and organized one.
The people of India were waiting for an occasion and pretext. The mutiny provided both.
The early national leaders, looking for the ideals to arouse national consciousness
among the people, reinterpreted the uprising of 1857 as a people’s revolt and its leaders
were national heroes gifted with vision of a free India. V.D.Savarkar in his book “The
Indian War of Independence” published in 1909, described revolt a planned war of
national independence.Savarkar was writing at a time when the national movement was
witnessing militant and revolutionary moods on some sections of nationalists. He was
one among them. He challenged the British writer’s analysis of the revolt of 1857. The
British historians ignored the root principle of that revolt. According to Savarkar, the
greased cartridges and the annexation of Oudh were only temporary and accidental
causes, the real causes of the revolt lay in the people desire to protect their religion and to
end political slavery.
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The later national leaders widely accepted Sarvarkar’s interpretation and further
developed themes of the popular character of the revolt and cited it a shining example of
the perfect harmony and friendship between Hindu and the Muslim in the fight for
freedom from the British rule. S.B. Chaudari in his ‘Civil Rebellion- Indian Mutiny’
views the revolt as a product of national consciousness in India. The revolt had two
aspects, military mutiny and civil rebellion. It began with the mutiny of the sepoys,
millions of peasants and artisans joined with them to challenge the foreign power.
S.N.Sen in his book ‘The 1857’ views that the rising of 1857 was ‘a war of
independence’. He characterizes it as a popular revolt of political nature. Sen contends
that when a rebellion can claim the sympathies of the substantial majority of the
population, it can claim a national character. Unfortunately in India the majority of the
people remained disinterested and even apathetic. The rebellion of 1857 cannot be
invested with a national character. But it was not merely a military rising. S.N.Sen comes
to the conclusion “The mutiny became a revolt and assumed a political character when
the mutineers of Meerut proclaimed Bahadur Shah as the emperor of India” what began a
fight for religion ended as a war of independence for there is not the slightest doubt the
rebels wanted to get rid of the alien government and restore old order of the king of Delhi
as the right representative.
R.C.Majumdar vews the revolt basically as a mutiny. His book “The Sepoy Mutiny
and the revolt of 1857” he argued with S.N.Sen that the middle of the 19th century Indian
nationalism was in an embryo form. According to Majumdar the revolt of 1857 was
neither the first, nor the national nor the war of independence. He viewed the revolt
basically as mutiny.Though at certain areas the mutiny was succeeded by general revolts.
Though there was ‘Sympathy with the mutineers among the civil population, there was
no act of rebellion by them. The sepoys who mainly fought the British were also not
inspired by any patriotic fevour. The revolt from the beginning to the end was inspired by
selfish and even sordid motives. People had no idea of nationality and did not care to
look forward towards united India.
Karl Marx noticed the unprecedented unity of Indian people. Marx points out, that
sepoys were little more than tools. The principal motive power behind the insurrection
was the people of India, who rallied in the struggle against the unbearable colonial
oppression. Marx rejected the view of British ruling class, who tried to picture the
insurrection as an armed sepoy mutiny. They described the revolt as a national revolt- a
revolt of the Indian people against British rule. Marx laid special emphasis on the revolt
bringing together not only people of different religions but also of different social
standing. In his Indian revolt, Marx proved doubt that broad section of the people-the
peasants most of all-took part in the insurrection in a direct or indirect way.
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Feudal Counter Revolt.
The Marxist scholars like M.N.Roy, R.P.Dutt and A.R.Desai considered the revolt of
1857 as a feudal counter revolt. According to them the revolt was the last desperate
attempt to regain its last power. “It was a struggle between worn out feudal system and
newly introduced commercial capitalism for political supremacy. Lester Hutchinson, an
English Marxist scholar argues that the British attempt to weld India into an economic
and political unit, were creating a nation in India. So historically considered the revolt
was against nationalism. Jawaharlal Nehru and Tara Chand also shared this view.
According to Nehru, there was hardly any national and unifying sentiments among the
leaders and a men antiforeigner feeling, coupled with a desire to maintain their feudal
Peasants’ Revolt.
Some of the Marxist scholars view the revolt of 1857 as the struggle of the peasant sol
flier democratic combine against foreign as well as feudal bondage which failed because
of feudal betrayal. They analyze economic background of the revolt. The primary cause
of the revolt was the imperialistic exploitation of the Indian people. This exploitation
affected all class, the peasants seriously. According to P.C.Joshi a prominent communist
leader the political and economic policies of the British had turned every section Indian
against their regime. If a section of the feudal lords joined in such circumstances, a
popular armed rebellion whose aim was to expel the foreigners. Hence the class interest
of a section of the feudal coincided with the national interest.Bipin Chandra remarks,
“The culmination of the Traditional opposition to British rule came with the revolt of
1857 in which millions of peasants, artisan and soldiers participated. The revolt was a
product of the accumulated grievance of the people against foreign government. The
peasants were discontent with the official land revenue policy. The middle class and
upper class of Indian society were hard hit by their exclusion from the well paid higher
post in administration.
The Revolt of 1857 was basically anti- imperialist and both sepoys and people wanted
to throw out the imperial rulers. Broadly viewed any revolt on such an extensive scale
with the avowed object of ending the foreign rule in the country must be regarded as a
war of independence
The Anglo- Indian historians have greatly emphasized the importance of military
grievances greased cartridges affairs as the most important cause which led to the revolt.
But modern historians established beyond doubt that the greased cartridge was the only
one cause, and not important cause. The rebellion was the product of the accumulated
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grievance of the people against British domination. The greased cartridge and mutiny of
the soldiers was merely a stick which exploded the inflammable material which had
gathered heap on account of variety of causes. The following are the important causes of
the revolt.
I. Economic exploitation
The most important cause of the popular discontent was economic exploitation of the
country by the British and the complete destruction of its traditional economic fabric.
Both these factors resulted impoverishment of the vast mass of peasants, artisans and
large number of traditional zamindars. Indian traditional economic system and self
sufficient village structure were completely destroyed. The traditional village industry
was ruined India became a market of British made goods and a place providing raw
materials for British factories. Indian villages were impoverished.
The British deliberately destroyed Indian trade and manufacture by imposing heavy
protective duties in Britain While British goods were imported into India at a nominal
duty. The machine made goods flood Indian market and ruined Indian industries. The
ruin of industry and commerce turned India an agricultural colony of British
Manufacturing capitalism. More over the English Planters in Bengal and Bihar- practiced
inhuman treatment of indigo cultivators which constitutes one of the blackest episodes in
history of British rule in India.
2. The Land Revenue Policy: The main burden of administrative and wars of British
expansion in India had to be borne by the Indian peasants. The heavy land revenue ruined
the peasantry to a miserable extent. While the poor class was groaning under poverty, the
discontent of upper and middle classes were no less effective. The resumption of rent free
tenures by Bentinck dispossessed many land holders of their estates, though this measure
secured increased revenue to the state. It is no wonder that there prevailed grave
discontent all over India. Economic distress became more acute with the outbreak of
famines in the first half of the 19th century.
3. Discontent of the middle and upper classes.
The middle and upper classes of Indian society particularly in the north were hard hit
by their exclusion from the well paid higher posts in the administration. The gradual
disappearance of Indian states deprived those Indians, who were employed in them in
high administrative and judicial posts. British supremacy is to the ruin of persons who
made a living by following cultural pursuits. The Indian rulers had been patrons of arts
and literature and had supported preachers. Displacement of these by the East Company
meant the sudden withdrawal of this patronage and impoverishment of those who had
depended up on it.
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4. Foreignness of British rule.
Another basic issue of the unpopularity of British rule was its very foreignness. The
British remained perpetual foreigners in the country .There was no social link or
communications between them and Indians, unlike the foreign conquerors before them,
they did not assimilated socially even with the upper classes of Indians; instead they had
a feeling of racial superiority and treated Indians with contempt and arrogance. Most of
all the British did not come to settle in India and make their home. The main aim of them
was to enrich them and go back to Britain along with their wealth. The people of India
were aware of this foreign character of the new rulers. They refused to recognize the
British as these benefactors and looked with suspicions upon every act of the British.
They had thus a vague sort of anti British feeling which had found expression in
numerous popular risings against the British.
5. The British policy of conquest and annexation.
In the course of the century following the battle of Plassey the British were
conquering Indian province and states. The East India Company’s policy of effective
control and gradual extinction of the ‘Indian native states took a definite shape with the
perfection of the subsidiary alliance system of Lord Wellesley. The policy of conquest
and annexation reached culmination during the period of Lord Dalhousie. He introduced
the policy of Doctrine of Laps by which the Indian states could be taking over in the
absence of natural heirs. The right of adoption to the throne did not extent to rulers of
Indian states. Punjab and Sikkim had been annexed by conquest, satara, Jaipur, Udaipur,
Jhansi and ‘Nagpur were annexed by the application of the doctrine of Lapse.
Oudh was annexed in the name of misgovernment Dalhousie removed the Titular
Mughal emperor Bahadur Shgah II from his ancestral palace In Delhi. He refused to
continue pension to Nana Sahib, son of Baj Rao. The imperialist policy of Dalhousie
created discontent among Hindus and Muslims against the British.
6. Administrative Policy.
The annexation of India states produced startling economic and social effect. The
Indian aristocracy was deprived of power and position. It found little chance to gain the
same old position in the new administrative set up under the British rule all high post,
civil and military were reserved for the Europeans. The administrative machinery of the
East India Company was inefficient and insufficient.
7. Social Causes.
Like all conquering people British rulers were rude and arrogant towards the subject
people. The English considered Indians as inferior as uncivilized People. The rulers
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followed the policy of contempt towards Indians and described Hindus as barbarians with
hardly any trace of culture While Muslims were considered as bigot and cruel. The
European officers in India were very overbearing in their social behaviors.
8. Religious Causes.
An important role in turning the people against British rule was the religious policy of
the British. The introduction of western education through the medium of English
language created imbalance in the traditional orthodox class of the Indians. Permission
was given to Christian missionaries to come to India. This confirmed the suspicion that
the British government was determined to convert the Indians to Christianity Many
Englishmen openly expressed the view that conversion to Christianity was a sure passport
to western education. A strong spirit of protest developed even among the educated
community against the activities of Christian missionaries. All people believed that
government was really and sincerely desirous of interfere with the religion and the
costumes of the people converting them all to Christianity. The abolition of Sati, female
infanticide, legislation of widow remarriage, right of inheritance to Christian converts,
the promotion of western education, spread of woman education were not welcomed by
the orthodox section of Indians.
The introduction of railways and telegraph were looked upon by the Indians as
ingenious devices for breaking traditional social rules and caste rules. Thus tension was
inevitable when new ideas and innovations of the west were to mingle with the orthodox
Hindu society. Religious sentiments were also hurt by the official policy of taxing lands
belonging to temples and mosques, and to their priest or charitable institutions, which had
been exempted from taxation by previous rulers.
9. Discontent of the Sepoys
The discontent against the British Raj was not confined to the civil population. The
Sepoys also had been nursing a special grievance against the British. The sepoys were
after all a part of Indian society and therefore, felt and suffered like the civilian
population. The hops desire and despairs of other sections of society were reflected in
them. If their relatives suffered from the destructive economic consequence of the British
rule, the sepoys also suffered very much. They were all affected by the general belief that
the British were interfering in their religion and determined to convert Indian to
Christianity. They know that the army was maintaining chaplains at government cost.
Moreover some of the British officers carried on religious propaganda among the sepoys.
The sepoys had religious or caste grievance of their own. The Indians of those days were
very strict in observing caste rules. The military authorities forbade the sepoys to wear
caste and sectarian marks, beards and turbans.
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In 1856 an act was passed under which every new recruit undertook to even foreign
countries, if required. This hurt the sepoy’s sentiments as according to the religious belief
of the Hindus; travel across the sea was forbidden and led to loss of caste. The sepoys
also had .many grievances against the British. They were treated as inferior creatures and
roughly addressed as pig. The Indian soldiers were paid low salary. They had little
promotion and prospects. They had to serve outside India without extra batta.
10. Immediate Cause.
By 1857, the material for a mass upheaval was ready. Only a spark was needed to set it
afire. The episode of the greased Cartridges provided this spark for the sepoys.The new
Enfield rifle had been first introduced in the army. Its “Cartridges; had a greased paper
cover whose end had to be bitten of before the Cartridges was loaded in to the rifle. The
grease was in some instance composed of cows and pigs fat, unclean to both the Hindu
and Muslims. The story spread like wild fire. It is believed that the government was
deliberately trying to destroy their religious dogmas.
Beginning of the Revolt
On 29th March 1857 the sepoys at Barrackpure refused to use the greased cartridges.
One Brahmin sepoy Mangal Pandey attacked a European officer. The regiment was
disbanded and rebels were punished. Mangal Pandey was executed. At Meerut the sepoys
who refuse to use the greased cartridges were court marshalled and sentenced to ten years
imprisonment. On 10th May sepoys broke out in open rebellion and shot their officers
and released their comrades. Then they marched to Delhi and llth May City was in the
hands of rebels. They proclaimed Bahadurshah II, the old Mughal King of Delhi as the
emperor of India. He accepted the honour with reluctance. With this single act the sepoys
had transformed a mutiny of soldiers into a revolutionary war.
Spread of the Revolt
The mutiny now became general in Oudh, Rohilkhand and many parts of central India.
Delhi, Kanpur and Lucknow were the main centers of the revolt. Large parts of Bihar and
East Punjab shook all British authority. In many princely states rebels remained loyal to
their British overlord, but soldiers revolted. The mutiny spread among the sepoys of
Northern and Central India. Everywhere the mutinies were followed by popular revolts of
civilian’s population. Millions of peasants and artisans joined the revolt.
In Delhi Bahadur Shah was merely a nominal leader. Bakht Khan was the military
commander of the Delhi rebels. The recapture of Delhi was a prestige issue and English
efforts were directed towards that aim. Troops from -Punjab were rushed and took their
position to the north of Delhi. Tough resistance was offered by the Indian soldiers. In
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September 1857 Delhi was recaptured by the English. The emperor was arrested and
deported to Rangoon. At Lucknow the revolt was led by Begum Hazarat Mahal of Oudh.
The peasants and zamindars participated in the revolt. The residency was captured by the
Indian rebels. In March 1858 the city was finally recaptured. In Kanpur; Nana Sahib was
proclaimed the Peshwa. Some European people were murdered. .Nana Sahib was helped
by his able and experienced Lientement Tantia Tope. The military operation for the
recapture of Kanpur was closely associated with the recovery of Lucknow. On December
Kanpur was occupied. Tantia Tope escaped and joined the Rani of Jhansi.
In the beginning of June 1857 the troops at Jhansi mutinied. Rani Lakshmi Bai, the
widow the late Rajah Gangadhara Rao was proclaimed the ruler of the state. In April
1858 the British recaptured Jhansi.The Rani of Jhansi and Tantia Tope marched towards
Gwalior, where they were welcomed by the Indian soldiers. The Sindhia however
decided to remain loyal to the British and took shelter at Agra. Nana Sahib was
proclaimed the Peshwa. By June 1858 Gwalior was recaptured. The Rani of Jhansi died
fighting. Tantia Tope escaped southward. In April 1859 he was captured and was hanged.
At Bareilly Khan Bahadur Khan had proclaimed himself the Nawab Nazim. In Bihar a
local zamindar Kunwar Sing raised the banner of revolt. By June 1858 the rebellion had
been almost completely suppressed.
Causes for the failure.
(1)The revolt of 1857 was localized and poorly organized: The revolt could not
embrace the entire country. Bombay and Madras armies remained loyal. India, south of
Narmada was not disturbed.Sindh and Rajasthan remained quiet. Sindhia of Gwalior, the
Holkar of Indore. Nizam of Hyderabad, the Raja of Jodhpur and other Rajaput rulers,
Rulers Patiala, Kashmir, Nepal were loyal to the British.
(2)The revolt could not embrace all the classes and groups of Indian society: Large
number of big zamindars gave active help to the British in suppressing the revolt. The
money lenders were the main target of the village attack.. They were hostile to the revolt.
The merchants also gradually became unfriendly. The modern educated Indian also did
not support the revolt. The educated Indians wanted to end the backwardness of the
country. They believed that British rule would help them to accomplish the task of
(3)Inferior weapons of Indians: The British were of superior resources and weapons.
The rebels were short of modern weapons and other material of wars. Most of them
fought with ancient weapons such as picks and swords.
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(4)Poor organization: Indian mutiny was poorly organized. The sepoys were brave and
selfless. But they were ill disciplined. Sometimes they behaved more like riotous mob
than a disciplined army.
(5)Lack of planning and leadership: The rebels did not have a common plan, action or
a programme and centralized leadership. The uprising in different part of the country was
completely uncoordinated. The leaders joined together by a common feeling of hatred for
the British but nothing else. They failed to evolve unity of action. They were suspicious
and jealous of one another. Many of them joined the revolt due to selfish personal
reasons. Thus selfishness and lack of unity and organization sapped the strength of the
(6) Lack of popular support and apathy of Indian rulers: The lack of popular support
and apathy of Indian rulers also contributed to the failure of the revolt. Sindhia and
Holkar remained legal.
(7)Absence of spirit of Patriotism and Nationalism: The weakness of the revolt went
deeper than the failings of the individuals. The entire movement lacked a unified and
forward looking programme. The movement was consisted of diverse elements, united
only by their hatred of British rule, but each having grievance and differing conceptions
of the politics of India. The absence of a modern progressive programme enabled the
reactionary princes and zamindars to seize leadership of the movement. And since the
feudal leaders, the Mughals, the Marathas and others had failed in protecting their own
kingdoms. They would not succeed in founding a new all India state. Modern nationalism
was yet unknown in India. Patriotism meant love of one’s small locality or region or
state. Common all India’s interest and spirit of nationalism were yet to come. In fact the
revolt of 1857 played on important role in bringing the Indian people together and
imparting to them national consciousness.
Impact of the Revolt.
The revolt of 1857 bought far reaching changes in the character of the Indian
administration and the future development of the country. The Indian society, Indian
government and the Indian economy all underwent significant changes as a result of the
1. The control of Indian administration was transferred from the East India Company to
the British crown by the government of Indian Act of 1858. The governor general
received the title of viceroy, who became responsible to the secretary of State in London.
The secretary of state was a member of the British cabinet and was responsible to the
parliament. The council of the secretary of the state was known as the India council.
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2. The Queen’s proclamation (November, 1858) promised religious tolerance. The
proclamation of 1858 assured equal treatment to all subjects irrespective of caste and
class. It also promised moral and material improvement of the Indian people.
3. The Mutiny influenced the British policy towards the Indian states. The British
promised to respect the right of dignity and honour of Indian princes. They guaranteed
the integrity of their territories, recognized the right of adoption. The policy of conquest
and annexation was abolished.
4. The Revolt widened the gulf between the European and Indian as well as between the
Hindus and the Muslims. The bitter memories of the event of 1857 felt by the Indians
formed the basis of Indian hostility to the British rule in the future. The unity displayed
Hindus and Muslims during the revolt had disturbed the foreign rulers. They were
determined to break this unity so as to weaken the raising national movement.
Immediately after the revolt the British repressed the Muslims, confiscated their land and
property on a large scale and declared Hindus to their favorite. After 1870 this policy was
reversed and attempt was made to turn upper and middle class Muslims against the
national movement.
5. After the revolt, the British government began to pursue reactionary policies in every
sphere. The British abandoned their previous policy of helping social reforms. They
believed that measure of social reform such as abolition of ‘Sati’, permission to widow
remarriage had been a major cause of the revolt of 1857. Therefore they gradually began
to side with orthodox sections and stopped their support to the reformers.
6. The Indian army carefully reorganized after 1858. The English East India Company
force was merged with the crown troops. But the army was reorganized to prevent the
recurrence of another revolt. Several steps were taken to minimize, if not completely
eliminate the Indian soldiers. Firstly the domination of army by it is European branch was
carefully guaranteed. The proportion of European to Indian army was raised.
The revolt of 1857 ended an era and sowed the seeds of a new era. The era of territorial
aggrandizement gave place to the era of economic exploitation. For the British the danger
from feudal India ended for ever; the new challenge to British imperialism came from
progressive India.
The Birth of Indian National Congress
The Indian National Congress was founded in December 1885 at Bombay. It marked a
new beginning in the history of Indian nationalism. It was the first organized expression
of Indian nationalism on an all India Scale. A.O.Hume, a retired English LC.S officer
played an important role in its formation.
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In 1884 Hume founded the Indian National Union. Its objectives were to promote
Indian nationalism and establish a close relation between and England, by securing the
removal of unjust and harmful laws. Towards the end of 1884 he came to Bombay and
discussed with the local leaders regarding a comprehensive programme including the
summoning of an annual conference and the formation of a central National Association.
A.O. Hume came into contact with Man Mohan Gosh, W.C. Banerjee, S.N.Sen and A.M.
Bose. He met the viceroy Lord Dufferin and discussed his plan. The congress could serve
as a focal point for national discontent. Hume made it clear that the congress should serve
as a ‘safety valve for revolutionary discontent. Hume as well as other English officials
and stats men was afraid that the educated Indian might provide leadership to the masses
and organize a powerful rebellion against the British government. Hume believed that the
National Congress would provide a peaceful and constitutional outlet to the discontent
among the educated Indian and would thus help to avoid the outbreak of a popular revolt.
W.C. Banerjee popularized the view that the idea of the Indian National Congress was a
product of Lord Dufferin’s brain, that he suggested it to Mr. Hume who under took to
work it out. Dufferin’s idea was to have a political organization through which the
government could ascertain the real wishes of the people and the save the administration
from any possible political outburst of the country. Lala Lajpat Rai maintained to serve as
a safety valve for the growing unrest in the country and to strengthen the British Empire.
The ‘safety valve’ Theory is however, is a small part of the truth. More than anything
else, the National Congress represented the urge of the politically conscious Indians to set
up a national organization to work for their political and economic advancement. We saw
that the national movement was already growing in the country as a result of the working
of powerful forces. No one man or a group can be given credit for creating this
movement. Even Hume’s motives were mixed one. In many case, the Indian leaders who
co-operated with Hume in starting Indian National Congress, were patriotic men of high
character who willingly accepted Hume’s help as they did not want to arouse official
hostility towards their effects at an early stage of political activity.
Surendra Nath Banerjee and many leaders of Bengal had not attended the first session
of Indian National Congress. They were busy with the second National Conference at
Calcutta; in 1886 they merged with the Indian National Congress. The second session of
the congress met in Calcutta on December 1886, under the president ship of Dadabhai
Naoroji. From the second session the Indian National Congress became the whole
country’s congress. Here after the Indian National Congress met every year in December
in different party of the country. The number of its delegate soon increased in Thousands.
Its delights consisted of lawyers, journalist, traders, industrialist teachers and landlords.In
1890 Kadambini Ganguli, the first women graduate of Calcutta University, addressed the
congress session.
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Mahatma Gandhi and Freedom Struggle
The post war period witnessed the growth of national movement into a widespread
mass movement. During this period the object of the congress was the attainment of
Swaraj by all legitimate means. The period was dominated by the personality of Mahatma
Gandhi who introduced new ideas into Indian politics. The name and fame of Mahatma
Gandhi as the hero of passive resistance against the government of South Africa for the
repeal of anti Asiatic legislation of Transvaal had proceeded his return to India in 1914.
In course of that struggle he had come in to contact with Gopalakrishna Gokhale, who
had extended his sympathy and active support to him in many ways. Gandhi accepted
Gokhale as his political Guru. On arrival back home, Mahatma Gandhi expressed a desire
to become a member of the famous Servants of India Society founded by Gopalakrishna
Gokhale. Gokhale himself keen on having Mahatma Gandhi has a member, but some of
the members were not agreed to the idea. Before any decision could be taken Gokhale
died and Mahatma Gandhi withdrew his application. During the war he had offered his
service to the government of India as a recruiting agent. He was awarded a medal for his
service in the war.
Mahatma Gandhi selected a spot near Ahmadabad on the bank of Sabarmati River for
setting up an Ashram, to settle some 25 men and women, who were the members of his
Tolstoy farm and phoenix settlement in South Africa. He named the ashram as a
Satyagraha ashram.
Champaran Satyagraha.
During the 19th century the cultivation of Indigo had become a very profitable
industry. A number of plantations were established in north Bihar, particularly in the
Champaran District by the English. They cultivated Indigo with the help of hired
labourers. The English planters paid very low wages to laborers, who were poor, ignorant
and helpless. In the next place the planters used to advance money to cultivators on
condition that the latter would grew Indigo on their land and hand over the produced to
the planters at a pre-determined price. If the cultivator failed or refused to grow Indigo on
the allotted land they were cruelly maltreated and beaten. They were excessively
oppressed by the European planters. The plight of the cultivators was miserable beyond
description. The cultivators revolted many times but were brutally suppressed. The
efforts the Bihar leaders to secure redress for their grievance availed nothing. Out of
desperation one Bihar peasant approached Mahatma Gandhi and requested him to move a
resolution on the subject from the congress platform. Mahatma Gandhi wanted to know
the facts for himself before moving the matter. He therefore visited Bihar to see things for
himself. He was accompanied by Babu Rajendra Prasad, Mazhar-ul-Hug, J.B. Kripalini
and Mahadev Desai. He conducted detailed enquiry into the condition of the peasantry.
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The infuriated District officials ordered him to leave Champaran, but he defied the order
and was willing to face trial and imprisonment. This was his first act of civil disobedience
in India. He was called to the court of law and there also he refused to comply with the
order and face the consequence. The magistrate did not know what to do and postponed
the case. A few days later, the case against Mahatma Gandhi was withdrawn by the
government and he was allowed to conduct his enquiry into the condition of the peasants.
The civil disobedience had thus triumphed. He had also a glimpse into the naked poverty
in which peasants of India lived.
Ahmadabad Mill strike.
In 1918 Mahatma Gandhi intervened in a dispute between workers and Mill owners of
Ahamadabad.A dispute was developing between the workers and the mill owners over
the question of plague bonus. The employers wanted to withdraw once the epidemic
hardly passed, but workers insisted it stay, since the enhancement hardly compensated for
the rise in the cost of living during the war. The British collector asked Mahatma Gandhi
to work out a compromise. Ambalal Sarabai, one of the leading mill owners of the town,
was a friend of Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi persuaded the mill owners and
workers to agree to arbitration by a Tribunal. But the mill owners taking advantage of a
stray strike withdraw from the agreement. They offered 20 per cent bonus and threatened
to dismiss those who did not accept it.
The breach of agreement was treated by Mahatma Gandhi as a serious affair and he
advised the workers to go on a strike. He further suggested that they would be justified in
demanding 30 per cent increase in the wages. The strike began and Mahatma Gandhi
addressed the workers every day. He brought out a daily news bulletin and insisted that
no violence used against employers and blacklegs. After some time workers began to
exhibit signs of weariness. In this situation Mahatma Gandhi decided to go on a fast to
rally the workers and strengthen their resolve to continue the strike. Finally a compromise
was reached. The strike was withdrawn and mill owners agreed to give thirty five percent
increases in wages.
By this time Mahatma Gandhi learnt that the peasants of Kheda district were in
extreme distress due to the failure of crops, and that their appeals for the remission of
land revenue were being ignored by the government. Enquiries by members of the
servants of India society, Vithal bhai Patel and Mahatma Gandhi confirmed the validity
of the peasant case.
The Gujarat Sabha, of which Mahatma Gandhi was the president, played a leading role
in the agitation. Appeals and petitions had a failed and Mahatma Gandhi advised to with
hold revenues and asked the peasant to fight unto death against a spirit of vindictiveness
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and tyranny and show that it is impossible to govern people without this consent.
Vallabhai patel a young lawyer and other young men joined Gandhi in touring the village
and inspiring peasant. The cultivations were asked to take a solemn pledge that they
would not pay in the interest of the poor ryots. The Government had issued secret
instruction that revenue should be recovered only from those peasant who could pay, A
public declaration of this decision would have meant a blow to government prestige. In
these circumstances the movement was withdrawn.
Rowlett Act (1919).
During his 1917-18 visit to India Montague, secretary of state for India, felt that the
government of India Act was inadequate to cope with the tense political atmosphere. In
1919 matters seemed to be drawing to a head. The publication of the Rowlett bill set the
stage for widespread agitation against the government. The Rowlett bill introduced in the
central legislature on February 6, 1919 armed the executive with unlimited power to
suppress political violence. After the war Indians were expecting generous treatment
from Britain. It definitely aroused violent protest from all parts of the country. The bill
was opposed by all elected non official members of the legislature including S.N.Banerji
and Tej Bahadursapru. Mahatma Gandhi decided to oppose the Rowlett bill which he
described as symptoms of a deep rooted disease. The remedy proposed was sathyagraha.
Launching Satyagraha.
Mahatma Gandhi had organized a Satyagraha committee in February 1919 against
Rowlett Bill. The committee members took a pledge to refuse to obey these laws. But in
these struggles they were to follow truth and refrain from violence to life, person and
property. Early in 1919 the Government of India failed to recognize the strength of
Gandhi, the giant of Indian politics. The viceroy and his advisors were convinced that the
Bill was necessary in the public interest. The Bill was enacted on 19 March 1919 with the
support of the official majority.
Mahatma Gandhi launched the movement with a day of hartal i.e suspend the normal
business and observe that day as one of prayer and fasting. March 30, 1919 was the date
fixed but it was changed to April 6. Gandhi appeals for hartal met with wonderful
response all over the country. While inaugurating the Satyagraha agitation, Gandhi
warned that the fight against Rowlett bill was probably the most momentous in the
history of India. The people were inspired very much. On March 20, 1919 the police fired
a procession of Hindus and Muslims in Delhi.The next day swami shraddhanand, the
Arya Samaj leader led the procession defying police order. Owing to a misunderstanding
Delhi observed hartal on 30th March. On 6 April the whole of India from one end to the
others observed a complete hartal. Gandhi was arrested on 9April but was set free. The
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news of the arrest provoked serious disturbances on Bombay, Ahmadabad and elsewhere.
Gandhi decided to suspend non- violent civil disobedience, as he felt that the people were
not yet fit for the movement The Rowlett Satyagraha as a political campaign was a failure
as it did not attain its object, the repeal of the Rowlett Act. But it projected Gandhi as an
all India leader of immense potential and mahatma’s Indian Experiment had begun.
Jillian walla Bagh Massacre. (April 13, 1919).
In the meantime events were moving fast in Punjab. The Lieutenant Governor Sir
Michael O Dwyer had already become notorious for his repressive measure. Within a
week of the hartal of 6 April, a considerable part of Punjab was convulsed with agitation.
Mahatma Gandi was arrested. On 10 April DR. Satyapal and Dr.Kitchalew, two popular
leaders of Punjab, were deported from Amritsar. This created tension, the citizens of
Amritsar closed their shops and a crowd marched in a procession towards the residence
of the deputy commissioner. All though the crowed was totally unarmed, it was stopped
by the police and fired upon. There upon the people committed act of violence by way of
vengeance. Some Europeans were killed by them.
On 11 April Brigadier General Dyer took command of the troop in Amristar. It had a
lasting impact on succeeding generation. People were arrested indiscriminately. On 12
April public meetings were banned. But the notice banning meeting was not widely
announced. On 13 April afternoon a public meeting was held in Jallianwalla Bagh in
Amritsar, Government took no steps to prevent the meeting. The meeting ground on all
sides by high walls, had one narrow entrance. General Dyer marched to the spot with his
Troops and machine guns. Without warning Dyer ordered firing on all unarmed crowd.
The firing lasted for ten minutes until the ammunition was exhausted. A virtual massacre
thousands of people were killed and wounded. Martial law was proclaimed in Amritsar
Lahore, and several districts of Punjab.The Punjab Tragedy had a lasting impact on
succeeding generation. Rabindranath Tagore renounced his knighthood as a measure of
protest. Gandhi returned the kaisar-1- Hindu medal given during the Boer War.
Jawaharlal Nehru wrote, “It was a massacre or butchery.
Non- Co-operation Movement (1920-1922)
The Non co-operation Movement was started with the dual object of redressing the
Punjab and Khilafal wrongs. There was intense activity, unprecedented co-operation
between Hindus and Muslims and joint political action against British. A special session
of the all India Congress committee was held from 4th to 6th September under the
president ship of Lajpat Rai at Calcutta. It was attended by a large number of Muslim
delegates. The resolution of Non cooperation was moved by Mahatma Gandhi and
seconded Dr. was supported by Motilal Nehru and Ali Brothers. The
opposition was led by C.R.Das, B.C.Pal and Pandit Malavika, the resolution was finally
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passed. It tentatively accepted the programme of Boycott of legislative council but left
the final decision to the regular session. Immediately after the special session was over,
Gandhi undertook an extensive Tour of the whole country with a view to popularizing the
programme and generating enthusiasm among the people. This resolution came up for
discussion and ratification at the regular annual session of the congress held in December
1920 at Nagpur. C.R.Das himself moved the resolution for non co-operation and Lajpat
Rai seconded it. The Nagpur session was a personal triumph of Gandhi, The resolution
called upon the people (1) to surrender all titles, honorary office and resignation from
nominated seats in the local bodies. (2) Refusal to attend government durbars and other
official and semi official function.(3) Gradual withdrawal of students from schools and
colleges owned, aided or controlled by government and in place of such schools and
college, the establishment of national schools and colleges.(4} Gradual Boycott of British
courts by lawyers and Boycott of foreign goods.
For the Sake of clarity the programme may be divided into two parts- One negative
and the other constructive. It consists of the boycott of the legislative council, boycott of
law courts, boycott of educational institutions, the surrender of titles and. honorary
offices, and the boycott of foreign goods. The positive and constructive part was
consisted of the adoption of Swadeshi, encouragement of hand spinning and hand
weaving, removal of untouchability and the promotion of Hindu Muslim unity.
The adoption of non co-operation ushered in a new era in the India’s struggle for
independence and marked a turning point in the history of the Indian National Congress.
The attainment of Swaraj by all legitimate and peaceful means was now regarded as the
fundamental objects of the Congress. Gandhi was now regarded as the great force of the
nation. A wave of unprecedented enthusiasm swept the land. Gandhi toured different
parts of India. An unusual frenzy of burning of foreign cloths undertook the country.
Nearly 2/3 of the voter’s abstained from the election to the councils held in November
1920. A large number of students abstained from attending schools and colleges. Motilal
Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, C.R. Das, Valla Bai Pattel and C.Rajagopalachari gave up this
lucrative career. Subhash Chandra Boss, who passed in I.C.S examination, resigned his
post. Jails lost its terror and people courted arrest voluntarily. Non co-operation
Movement spread to rural areas. Peasants revolted in many places.
In September 1921 Ali brothers were arrested. Soon afterwards forty five Indian
leaders headed by Gandhi issued a manifesto calling upon every Indian civilian and
soldiers to give up their jobs. This was an open challenge but the government hesitated to
take action owing to the impending visit of the Prince of Wales in November 1921. When
the prince landed in Bombay on 17 November people grew violent and attacked the
police. In the riots that followed 53 died and 400 were wounded. The government now
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began to take drastic action. Nearly 30,000 people were arrested, including Motilalal
Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Lajpat Rai and C.R.Das.
At the Ahmadabad session of the Indian National Congress held in December 1921.
The Congress expressed its determination to continue the non violent non co-operation
movement and organize civil disobedience among the masses. Gandhi was appointed as
the sole executive authority of the Congress to lead the movement. The outbreak of
violence had cautioned Gandhi. He wanted to hasten slowly with the mass disobedience.
He therefore wanted to experiment with it in Bardoli in Surat district. He gave a clear
warning that if violence broke out in any form, the movement would lose its character.
Gandhi sent an ultimatum to the viceroy on February 1, 1922. He demanded among other
things, the release of political prisoners, and the removal of all restriction on the press. If
these demands were not conceded within seven days, he threatened to start civil
disobedience in Bardoli.
Before the movement was launched; mob violence at Chauri chaura in Gorakhpur
district of U.P took place on February 1922. Twenty Two police men were killed
including the young sub inspector of police. This was followed by mob violence at
Bareilly. Mahatma Gandhi viewed the tragedy as a red signal and suspended the
movement on 12 February 1922. A few days later the Congress working committee met
at Delhi endorsed the decision.
What led Mahatma Gandhi to suspend the movement indefinitely was the realization
that there was a strong undercurrent of violence in the country. The incident of Chauri
Chaura was just like a straw indicating the direction in which the wind was blowing, it
was symptomatic of the general temper of mass mind which was steeped in violence and
had not yet imbibed to any appreciable extent the spirit of non violence. Gandhi showed a
true and deeper insight into the meaning of the Chauri Chaura than those who regarded as
an isolated event. Gandhi knew that a section of khilafat conference wanted to serape the
clause imposing non violence on them. He realized as Subhash Chandra Bose and
Jawaharlal Nehru did not seem to realize, that non co-operation movement was losing its
non violent character. At the appropriate movement he applied the brake and cried a halt.
Then he explained the whole background against which he took the decision.
The first phase of the non Co-operation movement ended with Gandhi’s carrying halt.
Though the movement failed to achieve Swaraj it generated a feeling of freedom among
the masses. Even Lajpat Rai who did not fully agree with Gandhi’s political ideas
observed that the passive resistance in India was an achievement unique on our history. It
raised political consciousness of the country by one big leap. For the first time the
Congress freed from the dominant middle class turned to the masses as a sheet anchor of
their programme. The movement also contributed to an awakening of the masses to the
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economic problems. Even the common villagers began to feel that Swaraj was the
sovereign remedy for this ill. There was also an increasing awareness of social evils like
untouchability and drinking and the importance of Khadi. A supreme self confidence
seized the people. Gandhi became aware of the strength of the movement.
The Khilafat Movement.
While the whole of India was outraged at Jallianwalla Bagh tragedy, the Muslim
community was seething with discontent against the British policy towards the Sultan of
turkey, who was looked as the Khalifa of Islam. Turkey had fought the war on the side of
Germany against the Allies. The British Prime Minister Lloyd George had assured the
Indian Muslims that Turkey would be treated fairly after the war. In 1918 Turkey was
forced to sign the armistice terms and the Sultan was deprived of all real authority and
was placed under the control of High Commission. The Indian Muslims got disillusioned
at the treatment meted out to the Khalifa.
Like a practical politician, Gandhi perceived in the emerging situation as opportunity
to cement the bond of Hindu Muslim unity. He therefore urged the Hindu’s to give full
support to the movement which the Muslims were planning to launch and win the
sympathy of Muslims for the national movement. Ali brothers, (Muhammad Ali and
Shoukath Ali) and Moulana Abdul Kalam Azad organized a Khilafath movement, for the
restoration of the Sultan of Turkey as Khalifa of Islam to his previous
status.17October1919 was observed, as Khilafat day when Hindus united with the
Muslims in fasting and observed hartal on that day. Gandhi was elected president of all
India Khilafat conference on Nov. 23, 1919. On 24 November the all India Congress
committee met in Delhi under the chairmanship of Gandhi and resolved to withdraw all
cooperation with the government until the promise made to the Sultan was restored. It
was decided to lead a deputation to the Viceroy. The Viceroys reply was discouraging.
Mahatma Gandhi also issued a manifesto on March 10, 1920. In which he outlined the
course of action to be adopted by the Khilafat Conference. The manifesto contains the
first elaborate statement of Mahatma Gandhi’s doctrine of non violent non co-operation,
which became a prominent feature of India’s struggle for independence. It is interesting
to note the philosophy and programme of non co-operation in India was first unfolded
before the Khilafat conference. In May 1920 the terms of the peace treaty with Turkey
was published. Under its terms, the Sultan was deprived of all his territories in Europe
and Asia. Turkey lost the whole of Trace to Greece. In this hour of despair for the
Muslims, Gandhi advised them to begin a non cooperation movement. This proposal was
readily accepted by the Khilafat committee.
The Central Khilafat committee organized an all India hartal on 1 August l920 under
the guidance of Gandhi. The congress and the Khilafat committee jointly proclaimed the
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policy of civil disobedience. The result was the outbreak of widespread violence which
could not be restrained by the concept of non violence. In 192I an open rebellion took
place in Malabar. Gandhi himself set the example by returning the medals given to him
by the government in recognition of his war service. At a later date Mohammed AH and
Shoukath AH were arrested and sentenced to a Two years term for asking the Muslims to
leave the army and the police.
Civil Disobedience Movement.
Since the country was drifting towards violent revolution, Gandhi decided to give it a
peaceful direction. In mid February 1930 the congress working committee met at
sabarmati gave Gandhi full power to begin the civil disobedience movement at a time and
place of his choice. On his part this time Gandhi gave an assurance to that the movement
would not be stopped because of sporadic act of violence. He noted that at that time there
was great resentment and unrest in the country against the salt tax passed. Undoubtedly
salt is the cheapest and commonest article of food. The production of salt was a
monopoly of government. Gandhi learned from experience that to rouse the masses it was
necessary to use symbols that they could easily, recognize. He realized they political
potency of common salt and turn it into a gun powder of the freedom struggle. In a stroke
of genius, he linked the essential need of every Indian to the longer goal of freedom for
every Indian. He appealed to the viceroy with his 11 point programme to ease the
situation, failing which he would start his disobedience movement. Lord Irwin ignored
the 11 programme and there was now only one way out- civil disobedience.
Dandi March.
On 11th March, 1930 at Sabarmati Ashram, Gandhi decided to inaugurate the
campaign by manufacturing salt at Dandi. a small village on the Gujarat sea coast.
Gandhi said on that historic occasion, “our cause is strong our means the purest and God
is with us. There is no defeat for Satyagrahi till they give up the truth. I pray for the battle
which begins tomorrow”. On 12, March 1930, Gandhi and his 78 companions which
included Sarojini Naidu begun the 240 miles March from Ahmadabad to Dandi. On
reaching at Dandi, he would break the salt law by collecting salt from the beach.
Mahatma Gandhi reached Dandi on 5th April and began civil disobedience on the 6th
April by picking up salt lying on the beach. This was the signal for starting it on a
nationwide scale. Illegal manufacture of salt was begun almost though out the country.
The Dandi March was historic. Subash Chandra Bose compared it Napoleon’s march on
Paris on his return from Elba. The press gave the widest publicity to this epic march, and
salt became the symbol of revolt. But on the other hand the Anglo Indian press equally
ridiculed the idea of salt Satyagraha saying that Gandhi would go on boiling water till
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Dominion status was attained. Brails ford, an English Journalist described it a
kindergarten stage of revolution. He scoffed at the notion that the king empire can be
unseated by boiling sea water in a kettle.
Soon after Gandhi urged the people to celebrate April 6 to 13 as the national week and
to manufacture salt, picket liquor shops, foreign cloth shops, and burn foreign cloths and
to leave colleges and government service. A wave of enthusiasm swept the country. The
civil disobedience movement spread like fire. Huge public meetings took place in big
cities. Hundreds left government jobs, many of the legislatures resigned liquor shops
were boycotted, peasants refused to pay revenue. The boycott of foreign cloth was
successful beyond calculation. It proved a blessing in disguise to domestic cloth mill
owners. By June 1930 the country appeared to in be full revolt. The British government
launched policy of repression. Police firing lathi charge and arrest became the order of
the day. Thousand’s were imprisoned. Even women were not spared. The press was also
put under restriction. On 5, May 1930, Gandhi was arrested. There were Hartals, mass
demonstration, public meeting and procession. The machinery of repression was in full
swing. Jails were filled. More than 60,000 people courted arrest. The government
resorted to emergency ordinance. There congress was declared unlawful. The struggle
continued vigorously for six months more after the arrest of Gandhi. The people revealed
remarkable power of organization initiative and resourcefulness. One of the most
remarkable phenomenon was the way in which Indian women helped the movement by
the organizing the picketing of liquor and foreign cloth shops.
The Round Table Conference.
On 12, May 1930 Lord Irwin announced November 12, 1930 as the date of the Round
Table Conference. On 27 May 1930 the Simon commission Report was published. But
the political climate of the country was still tense. An attempt was made to persuade the
congress to suspend the movement and attend the proposed Round Table Conference.
But it failed. The demand of the congress regarding the national government was not
accepted by the government. The plan for the Round Table Conference however went
ahead even without the congress. The Round Table Conference was held on 12
November 1930 at London, under the chairmanship of the prime minister Ramsay Mac
Donald.The conference boycotted by the congress, continued till January 19, 1931. The
conference was attended by statesmen represented British political parties, Indian Labor
Federation, Muslim League, Hindu Maha Sabha, Depressed classer and Indian states. The
conference proved abortive. B.R. Ambedkar demanded that the depressed classes be
treated as a separate community. The Muslim delegation also demanded adequate
safeguards for the Muslim of India.
Gandhi - Irwin pact.
The British government was anxious to secure the co- operation of Gandhi and other
congress leaders for the success of the Round Table Conference. They were fully aware
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that no constitutional reform could materialize unless the mainstream leadership assented
to it. Accordingly Lord Irwin lifted the ban on the congress and released Gandhi and
members of the congress working committee.Tej Bahadur Sapru, Dr. M.R. Jeyakar, and
Sri. Srinivas sastri saw Gandhi and were able to convince him that the Labor government
was earnest and was willing to concede the right of self determination in India. A meeting
between Irwin and Gandhi was arranged. After a long negotiation of 15 days an
agreement was reached on 5 March 1931 known as Gandhi Irwin pact. Gandhi agreed to
suspend the civil disobedience movement and to participate in the next Round Table
Conference. While the government with draw all repressive measures and released all
political prisoners except those convicted of violent crime. The pact was ratified by the
Karachi congress (March 30, 1931) the congress authorized Gandhi to represent the
congress at the second Round Table Conference. The curtain was thus drawn on the first
phase of the civil disobedience movement (1930-31), The pact had a mixed reception.
Majority of the people welcomed it as a great victory for the congress but the leftist
condemned it as surrender to the government. According to Subash Chandra Bose it was
great disappointment to the politically minded section of the people and the youth
organization of the country.Jawa harlal Nehru was shocked by the terms of one of its
clause, the mention of reservation or safeguard in regard to matters like defense, external
affairs and the position of minorities distressed him. The people of Bengal should no
enthusiasm, for it did not secure the release of political prisoners convicted for violent
activities. In spite of the best efforts Mahatma Gandhi could not secure the commutation
of the death sentence on Bhagat Singh and his two comrades. Gandhi described the pact
as victory for both sides. It was a victory for the common desire of both Gandhi and Irwin
to arrive at a settlement.
The Second Round Table Conference.
The second Round table conference met in London in September 1931 under the dark
shadow of the execution of Bhagat Singh and the communal riots at Kanpur. Gandhi
attended the conference as the sole representative of the congress. Sarojini Naidu was
another participant representing Indian women hood. 107 delegates representing the three
political parties, British Indian political parties and Indian states attended the conference.
The main issues for discussion were the future constitutional structure for India and
representation of minorities. Gandhi demanded that responsible government must be
established immediately both at centre and the provinces. No agreement could be arrived
at on the question of the structure of Indian political system among the congress the
Muslim League and the Indian princes. On the question of representation of minorities
also there was rivalry among the delegates. Sadly enough following the Muslim league,
the depressed classes also demanded for separate representation. B.R. Ambedkar
demanded separate constituencies and proper protection for the untouchables. Gandhi,
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however vehemently opposed both separate electorate and special safe guards for
minorities. The scales were terribly loaded against the congress at the conference. To
quote Nehru, “In that crowded hall Gandhi was a very lonely figure; Subash Chandra
Bose was the opinion that Mahatma Gandhi should have to go to London with a full
contingent of notable representatives to counter the mischievous move of the handpicked.
The 2nd Round table conference did not make any further progress beyond working out
some details of plan already decided op on the conference ended on December 11, 1931
Gandhi said in distress that while he had asked for bread, he was given a stone. Three
days later he left London for India “A saddened grieved and intrigued man”.
Second phase of the civil disobedience movement:
Mahatma Gandhi returned to India on December 28, 1931. By that time he was
confronted with a tense political situation. The Gandhi Irwin pact was reduced to
shambles. The new government in Britain resorted to measures of repression, and
repeated attempts were made to cow down the spirit of Indian Nationalists. The
government ordinances put the machinery of repression full swing. Hence Gandhi was
compelled to resume the civil disobedience movement in 1932. The government declared
congress as unlawful. The police arrested many congress leaders including Nehru,
Purushotham Das Tanton Abdul Ghaffar khan and his brother Dr. Khan sahib and other
nationalist leaders were imprisoned. Within a week almost all leaders were in prison,
Gandhi was also arrested. The country was again astir, particularly after the arrest of
Mahatma Gandhi. The Indian people responded with anger. Even though the congress
entered the battle rather unprepared, popular response was massive. In the first four
months, over 80.000 Sathyagrahis, most of them urban and rural poor, were jailed. While
lakhs took to the picketing of shops selling liquor and foreign clothes. Illegal gathering,
non violent demonstration, celebration of various national days and other forms of
defiance of the ordinance were the rule of the day.
The government took stern measures to crush the movement. The agitation became
intensive throughout India it was in this context the people in Ankola and Sidapur Taluks
of Bombay presidency resumed to no tax campaign in vigorous manner. The freedom of
the press to report or comment on the movement or even print pictures of national leaders
and Sathyagrahies was banned. Within the first six months of 1932 action was taken
against 109 journalists and 98 printing presses.
The people fought back. But Gandhi and other leaders had no time to build up the
tempo of the movement and it could not be sustained for long. The movement was
effectively crushed within a few months. However the movement continued to linger till
early 1934 when the inevitable decision to withdraw it was taken by Gandhi.
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The civil disobedience movement marked a critically important stage of the progress
of the anti imperialist struggle; it had certain marked features which distinguished it from
non co-operation movement. This time it was the government which took the initiative
and acted with great swiftness and was determined to crush the movement. The
repression was much more brutal and severe than before. A vast variety of social groups
had been politicized. On the side of Indian nationalism the support had the movement had
geared from the poor and the illiterate merchant class both in form and in the country,
was remarkable for the Indian women the movement was the most liberating experience
and can truly be said to have marked their entry in to the public place. The movement
However, apparently failed become it come to stop without achieving its objectives.
Nevertheless the spirit of revolt look firm root in the heart of the people and fire of
patriotism remained smoldering.
Communal Award (August 1932): the Poona pact (September 1932).
While the disobedience movement was going on the British prime minister announced
on August 17, 1932 his decision regarding the communal question known as the
communal Award imposing a scheme of representation. In this award separate electorate
were allowed not only to Muslims but extended to Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo
Indians and Europeans. The Europeans were given special weight age but the most novel
feature of the award was the creation of the special constituencies in which the depressed
classes were entitled to vote. In fact the depressed classed were given two votes- one in a
general constituency and the other in a special one. The award sought to create division
among the Hindu’s log creating a separate electorate for untouchable or depressed class.
Mahatma Gandhi began a fast unto death on the untouchables separate electorate issue on
September 20, 1932. But will a view to save his life the Hindu leaders met in Poona and
included and agreement on 25 September 1932 known as Poona pact. The pact
recommended joined electorate for the depressed classed along with the Hindus.
Dr.Amedkar also believes though reluctantly, a signatory of this pact the pact reserved a
total of 148 seats for the depressed classes in the provincial legislatives. The British
government also accepted the agreement and modified the award accordingly. Gandhi
broke his fast on September 26.
Mahatma Gandhi’s fast gave a fillip to the movement for the eradication of
untouchability it lad, however, a highly adverse effect on the civil disobedience
movement. After the successful termination of the fast Gandhi began to direct the
campaign against untouchability from behind the prison bars. This diverted the attention
of the people and the workers away from civil disobedience movement.
Individual Civil Disobedience.
After the rejection of the August 8th offer, the gulf between the Indian National
Congress and government widened. More over the congress looked with suspicion the
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undue concession of the government for minorities. At its Lahore session held in March
1940, the Muslim League enunciated the theory that the Muslims were not a minority
community in India, but a Separate Nation and demanded a home land or state of their
own. The demand for Pakistan was thus made. The congress, however, could not remain
a passive spectator of the deepening crisis there was no course open to it but to resort to
civil disobedience and it authorized Gandhi to lead the movement. However, in view of
the critical war situation Gandhi did not like to do anything which would lead to disorder.
He wanted the movement to be symbolic in character, and just register India’s moral
protest against ‘its attitude and draw the attention of the world at large to the right of the
Indian people to freedom and their determination to win it. In November 1940 the
individual Satyagraha was started as a symbolic protest against the attitude of the
government. The first Satyagrahi selected by Gandhi was Vinoba Bhave. Introducing him
to the public Mahatma Gandhi wrote “Vinobha is next to me the best exponent and
embodiment of nonviolence”. He was arrested and seen tensed to three months
imprisonment. Jawaharlal Nehru was chosen as satyagrahi no.2. But before he could offer
Satyagraha, he was arrested for a speech and sentenced to a term of four years. It is
estimated that about 25,000 persons were sent to the jail, including top ranking leaders.
This novel form of Satyagraha was invented by Gandhi to give the minimum possible
offence to authorities and get to keep the torch of nationalism burning. While the
individual Satyagraha was going on, the Executive Council was expanded and eight out
of thirteen were Indian’s in it and also instituted the war advisory council in terms of
August declaration. The key department likes. Home, Finance and Foreign affairs
however remained with the British member, while unimportant departments were given
the Indian members. The civil Disobedience of individual continued during 1940-41.
Many leaders were arrested Congress was told that in the absence of an agreement no
power could be transferred. To counter The Congress demands the Muslim League
demand4ed partition before independence, as demand described as “divorce before
marriage” by aged.
By December the government decided to release congressmen convicted in connection
with the civil disobedience movement. This jail delivery had no effect on Mahatma
Gandhi. He did not suspend the movement. C. Rajagopalachari, however forward the
suspension of the movement as political strategy. Mahatma Gandhi wanted the A.I.C.C to
decide whether or not to suspend the movement. The A.I.C.C met to consider the
situation. By this time British troops failed to stop the Japanese advance in Singapore,
Malaya and Burma. This failure of the British convinced Indians that they must not
.depend upon the government for the defense of the country. The congress therefore
suspended the movement.
Quit India Movement Mahatma Gandhi again became active in the political arena after
the outburst of World War II in 1939. On August 8, 1942 Gandhi gave the call for Quit
India Movement. Soon after the arrest of Gandhi, disorders broke out immediately
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throughout the country and many violent demonstrations took place. Quit India became
the most powerful movement in the freedom struggle. Thousands of freedom fighters
were killed or injured by police gunfire, and hundreds of thousands were arrested. He
called on all Congressmen and Indians to maintain discipline via non violence and Do or
Die in order to achieve ultimate freedom.
On 9th of August, 1942, Mahatma Gandhi and the entire Congress Working Committee
were arrested in Mumbai. In view of his deteriorating health, he was released from the
jail in May 1944 because the British did not want him to die in prison and enrage the
nation. The cruel restraint of the Quit India movement brought order to India by the end
of 1943 although the movement had modest success in its aim. After the British gave
clear signs of transferring power to the Indians, Gandhi called off the fight and all the
prisoners were released.
Partition and Indian Independence.
In 1946, upon persuasion of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Mahatma Gandhi reluctantly
accepted the proposal of partition and independence offered by the British cabinet, in
order to evade a civil war. After independence, Gandhi`s focus shifted to peace and
communal harmony. He fasted for abolition of communal violence and demanded that
the Partition Council compensated Pakistan. His demands were fulfilled and he broke his
Mahatma Gandhi was, thus, able to bring the whole nation under one umbrella to fight
the British. Gandhi developed and improved his techniques gradually to assure that his
efforts made significant impact.
Western encroachments in China
A Large Land with a Great Culture, China is a large mass of land in the east and
southeast of Asia. Its area is about 3,760,000 square miles. It is bounded in the east by
the largest ocean, the Pacific, and in the south by the highest mountains, the Himalayas.
In the West also the mountain ranges are almost impenetrable. In the north there are
extensive deserts. The vast Chinese territory stretching out to the east of the Desert
of Gobi is watered and enriched by the two main rivers, the 2.600 mile long Hwang-ho
and the 1.700 mile long Yang Tse-Kiang.The coast line over 2.000 miles in length is
freely indented. The Chinese culture is certainly one of the oldest in the world
existing side by side with ancient cultures like the Egyptian, the Indus Valley and the
Great Contributions.
The Chinese made very valuable contributions to the history of mankind. Ancient
Chinese gave to the world paper, printing, tea, Porcelain, gun-powder, mariner's compass
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and several other useful things. Ancient Chinese learning and philosophy were truly
vast and deep.
Great Setback in Modern Times.
This great land suffered a serious setback in modern times owing to various factors. It
decayed rapidly and became one of the most backward countries in the world,
exploited most cruelly and pitilessly by almost nil the highly civilized Western
Isolation of China. China, which was called Celestial Empire, was almost isolated till
the 19th century. The Chinese believed that their country alone was civilized, and all
other countries were barbarian. The Western countries had become very powerful, and
scientifically and technologically they were far ahead of China. But in her total
ignorance, arrogance and contempt for other countries, China tried to live in a splendid
isolation. Overtures made by Western countries to have trade and other contacts with
China were spurned with contempt. China wrongly thought that she could afford to
remain self-sufficient, stagnant and completely isolated, when the rest of the world was
moving fast in all fields.
Coming of Europeans.
Even though China stoutly opposed the entry of Europeans, she could not succeed in
keeping out Europeans indefinitely. Sooner or later they were bound to enter her main
gate, with violence, if need be. The earliest to come to China were the Portuguese, who
were able to settle in 1557 at Macao on the estuary of the River Canton. With the
leasehold of Macao as their base, the Portuguese were able to command almost a
monopoly of the trade with China in the 16th and 17th centuries. Other Europeans like the
Spaniards and the Dutch could make very little progress in China. The British, who made
a show of force by their expedition in 1635, were able to steal a march over the
Portuguese, and gradually they could secure the lion's share of the Far Eastern trade in
the eighteenth century. Canton was the port on the southern coast through which
Europeans established their commercial contacts with China. Russia (China's neighbor)
was able to sign in 1689 the Treaty of Nertchinsk with China to secure trading
concessions. But China did not allow Russia to expand her trade till the end of the 18th
Edicts to Regulate Trade.
The European merchants were detested and kept at arm's length by the Chinese
Government. The Chinese Emperors regulated trade with Europeans through edicts
issued from time to time. Europeans could only trade with the "Co-Hong", a group of
Chinese traders officially recognized by the Chinese Government. Emperor Chin Lung
issued an edict in 1685 giving permission to foreigners to trade at all the coastal ports.
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The Emperor wanted to ensure that the "barbarians" were kept as far as possible from the
capital Peking, and, therefore, by an edict of 1757 the port of Canton was declared as the
only open port. In Canton also the movements of European traders were strictly
regulated. They were lo live in the restricted small area of "Factories" for a part of
the year and live at Macao for the remaining part. The European merchants (who were
treated with scant respect like the Chinese merchants who were given the third rank in,
society next to the scholars, farmers and artisans) bore all the humiliation patiently,
because even after paying heavy customs duties to the arrogant Chinese officials, their
profits were very high.
Trade Balance in China's Favour:
For a long time, trade balance was in favour of
China. The Chinese taking pride in their isolation and, self-sufficiency openly said that
China had everything in plenty and did not require the factory goods of Western
"barbarians". "China sold much to the Europeans, but bought comparatively little from
them. China had to be paid in specie or bullion. The favourable balance of trade
continued till the Chinese opium addicts began to import large quantities of opium. It was
opium that disturbed the balance of trade.
Rapid Expansion of British Trade with China:
The British merchants of the East India Company (which was established in 1600)
were able to expand their trade profits with China by leaps and bounds, as they were able
to command advantages as great empire builders in India. The British made it impossible
for the French, their main rivals, to build an empire in India. The British were able to
conquer the whole of India by the middle of the 19th century. The Indian empire gave
tremendous financial and military strength to the British East India Company, which was
able to secure the first and foremost place among the European traders in China. The
British merchants, who were conscious of their power, began to behave arrogantly and
dictate terms to the Chinese Government. In China the balance of trade was unfavourable
to the British till they began their illegal trade in opium on a very large scale. After the
Industrial Revolution (1750-1850) broke out in England, the British East India Company
wanted to sell machine-made goods to China, but the Chinese government was very cold
to the British move to expand her trade. When the Napoleonic Wars ended in 1815,
England made another attempt to increase her trade with China, but here again she was
not successful. The British Government failed to establish relations with China on the
basis of equality, as the Chinese Emperor claimed superiority to all the rulers in the
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Opium Wars. The Portuguese introduced Indian opium into China in the first part of
the 17th century. The drug was used strictly for medicinal purposes in the beginning. But
gradually it was misused by the millions of Chinese addicts for smoking. The British
wanted to take advantage of the Chinese vice and after 1770 took up the highly lucrative
traffic the drug. With the collusion of the corrupt and treasonous local officials, the
British were able to make fabulous profits by smuggling huge quantities of the drug. The
health of the drug addicts was shattered and the wealth of China was drained. The
Imperial Commissioner appointed in 1838 was given full power to destroy the illegal
trade in opium. The British merchants were compelled to surrender very large stocks of
opium for being burnt.
This led to the First Opium War (1839-42) between the British and the Chinese. The
Chinese were defeated and compelled to sign the most humiliating terms of the Treaty of
Nanking on August 29. 1842. During 1856-60 the Second Opium War was fought. This
time again the Chinese were defeated and cornered to sign unequal and awfully
humiliating set of treaties—the treaties of Tientsin In 1860. China had to legalize under
these treaties the opium trade and throw open 11 additional ports to foreign trade and
surrender to the bullying terms not only of Britain, but also of France and Russia. China
lost her sovereignty, and became the virtual vassal of (he victorious imperialist powers.
Tai-Ping Rebellion.
The Manchu government (1644-1912) was particularly unpopular in the Kiangsi,
Kwangtung and Hunan provinces of South China, where the people suffered by the
ravages of Hoods and famine. The inefficiency, corruption and nigh handedness of local
officials compounded the difficulties of the people. In these areas the discontented people
were eager to follow any leader who could overthrow the Manchu government Hung
Hsiu-chuan organized a revolutionary group known as the Association of Worshipping
Gods. As the group was engaged in subversive activities, it was banned by the Manchu
regime. This provoked Hung to launch a holy war against the government. In 1850
members of the group clashed with soldiers in a petty town in the Kwangsi Province. The
clash ultimately led to what came to be called the Tai Ping Rebellion. Hung, who thought
that God had chosen him to destroy all the evil on the earth proclaimed himself as the
Heavenly King, whose aim was to establish a new dynasty known as Tai Ping (Perfect
Peace). The rebellion spread far and wide within three years, and a large number of
followers joined it in the provinces of Hunan, Hupei and Kiangsi The rebel revolutionary
army, which reached the strength of 10 lakhs was able to capture Nanking in 1853. Hung,
assuming the name of Tien Wang (Messiah king) at his capital Nanking appointed
several vassal kings to govern the various parts of China.
The Manchu army was defeated in the south, and the rebels drunk with success moved
to the north. But their efforts to establish their rule in the north by capturing Peking were
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abortive, as they were pushed to the south. Hung was in power for 11 years in South
China. During this period, he introduced revolutionary social, economic and
administrative reforms. Though the reforms were wholesome, for want of public
cooperation they failed.
Though the Western imperialists in China were wavering as regards their relations with
rebels, ultimately they decided to support the Manchu Government against the rebels.
The foreigners wanted a weak government to serve their nefarious-ends. With the help of
the foreigners, the Manchu Kings could finally crush the Tai- Ping Rebellion. In 1863
Soochow a great stronghold of the rebels, was captured by the Manchus. In 1864 with the
suicide by the Heavenly King, the rebellion collapsed.
Manchu Fully Exposed.
The spectacular success of the Tai- Ping Rebellion and the hold of the rebels over
South China for as long a period as 11 years showed how weak and rot ten the Manchu
Dynasty had become. The rebellion, which was neither anti-foreign nor anti-Christian,
was anti-Manchu. It left permanent imprints on China and rocked the Manchu
Government, which was exposed with all its vulnerability. For more than a decade there
were conditions of civil war, and even long after the suppression of the rebellion, the long
trail of anarchy and confusion could not be wiped out. The foreign imperialists were
watching the state of affairs with undisguised glee. The Manchus, who were unable to
collect taxes during the civil war, were facing bankruptcy, as they were unable to meet
their expenditure or to make payments to foreigners according to the humiliating treaties
imposed upon them. It seemed the Tai- Ping Rebellion almost sounded the death knell of
the Manchu Monarchy. The reckoning time came in 1911-12, when China became a
For thirty years (1864-94) after the suppression of the Tai- Ping Rebellion it seemed
there was over all peace and order. But China could not have a permanent cure, as the
imperial court had become a hot bed of intrigues. Foreigners wanted to take undue
advantage of these machinations and strike at an opportune moment.
China Bullied by Western Imperialist Powers.
Foreigners like the British, the French, the Russians, the Germans, the Belgians, the
Dutch and the Japanese penetrated into modern China and carved out exclusive spheres
of influence for themselves. These imperialists broke the splendid isolation of China,
behaved as they pleased making a mockery of Chinese sovereignty. Japan had resisted
the entry of foreigners in the beginning, but later wisely changed her attitude and
industrialized herself with the help and co-operation 'of European scientists, engineers
and technologists. Japan, as a small imperialist power, made common cause with the big
Western imperialists in bullying and exploiting China. She also wanted a big slice of the
Chinese melon.
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US Open Door Policy.
No European power could outright annex any part of China, as the USA also
proceeded to join lands with the European powers to exploit China. The desire of the
USA to exploit China prevented the dismemberment of the country. John Hay, the US
Secretary of State, declared that the USA would not allow the violation of the territorial
integrity of China. This was known as Hay's Doctrine or Open poor Policy. John Hay
proposed in notes to Britain. France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia that there should
be no interference n the Sphere of Influence of one nation by other nations, and he
Chinese customs in riff and other dues in those areas should be the same for all. A
favorable reply was received from all these countries though the Russian note was
evasive. The Hay proposals conditioned the right of equal trade opportunity for all with
the recognition of Spheres of Influence. Nevertheless there is no doubt that the
acceptance of these proposals helped to avert partition of the Chinese Empire by
producing an area of agreement within the conflicting interests of the major powers, and
reducing fear of unilateral action by any one of them."
Through the Open Door, the USA also secured a share in China's exploitation. The
sovereignty of the Manchus was a myth. The reality was the ruthless exploitation of
China by all the foreign imperialists, big and small, to whom China was an open and free
market for trade. The Chinese melon was in the hands of all the imperialists. The entry of
the mighty Dollar Imperialism of the USA and of the aggressive Japanese imperialism
made China's condition more pathetic and miserable. No European power went against
the US Open Door Policy, and China was saved from being annexed by Western Powers.
Wars Forced on China.
Earlier foreign imperialists forced wars, like the Opium Wars, on China for realizing
their selfish objectives. Japan, who wanted to conquer Korea from China, forced the
Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) on China. Here again China was defeated, and had to
surrender Korea and Formosa to Japan.
Hundred Days of Reforms.
In 1860 on the death of Emperor Hsian Fang, the Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi began to
wield de facto though not de jure power in the Chinese court. She could exercise
dictatorial power by putting on the throne one minor prince after another. When Emperor
Tung Chi died in 1875, she put the minor Kwan Hsu on the throne. Even after he became
a major in 1898, Tzu Hsi tried to exercise ' real power, which the emperor found to be too
galling. Emperor Kwan Hsu (1875-1908) came under the influence of Kang Yu-wei, the
great reformist leader, and began to introduce a series of reforms through Edicts in 1898.
He opened a new phase of his rule, which came to be called "Hundred Days" of reform.
These numerous reforms which covered a wide and comprehensive field could have
ushered in a new era in China. Carlton Hayes: “The imperial bureaucracy was to be
reorganized along European lines. An imperial university and a system of schools were to
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be established for the study of modern European science as well as ancient Chinese
classics. A central cabinet of ministers of the European type was to be instituted and
corresponding changes were to be brought in the high command of the army." The party
of the Dowager Empress, which suffered humiliation owing to these reforms wished to
take revenge on the emperor. Yuan Shih-kai, her right hand man, taking advantage of the
Emperor's illness, seized power by a coup d'etat in September 1898 and restored the
power of the Dowager Empress. At her instance all the Reform Edicts were annulled, and
the Emperor was pushed into the background. He lived as if in captivity till he died in
1908. The "Hundred Days" of reform brought Western influence in China and were
thoroughly anti-Manchu. The failure of these reforms clearly showed that it would be
impossible to reform China till the Manchu rulers were swept aside.
The "Hundred Days" of reform were followed by widespread disturbances. Though the
reforms were wholesome, and would have done good to China, the soil of China was not
prepared for them. Large sections of population were against these sweeping changes.
The Empress Dowager and her clique planned to divert the minds of the Chinese from the
defects of the Manchu regime by provoking the people against the foreigners.
Boxer Rebellion, 1900 AD
The defeat of the Chinese armies at the hands of the Japanese, and the division of the
country into spheres of foreign influence made the youngsters restless, and ultimately a
rebellion broke out in 1900. It was called me Boxer Rebellion. In Shantung province,
where Germany and England had acquired concessions by force, the "Society of
Harmonious Fists" or Boxers launched a campaign against Christian converts and foreign
imperialists in 1899. Poor peasants, disbanded soldiers and the discontented members of
the lower sections of society were the members of the Boxer association. The young
Boxers wished to overthrow the weak and antiquated Manchu Government, but the ruling
family adroitly redirected the Boxer wrath against the foreign missionaries and
merchants. The Boxers were told that the cause of their poverty and misery was the
presence of foreigners. Accordingly, Christian churches were attacked, missionaries were
murdered, Chinese Christians were hotly,-and unaided and foreign shops in Peking were
looted and destroyed. The situation became pretty grave, as the government openly
supported the Boxers. The Dowager Empress rashly and lucklessly went against all
foreigners whose antagonism and wrath she invited. Foreigners sought shelter in the
foreign legations, where too their fate was hanging in the balance, ill outside aid arrived.
Much bloodshed ensued till a combined armed force of Europeans and the Japanese put
down with severity the Boxer uprising before it spread throughout land. Carlton Hayes
says "In the spring of 1900 Boxer outrages occurred in all the major cities and readied a
climax at Peking, where the German minister was killed and the foreign residents were
closely besieged and threatened with extermination, whereupon an international
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military expedition, comprising soldiers or marines of Russia, Great Britain the United
States, France, Italy, Germany and Japan. Hastily assembled at Tientsin, fought its way to
Peking and put the Chinese troops to rout and the imperial court to flight." The
foreigners did not dismember China. They thought that instead of completing the
process of cutting the Chinese melon, it was better to allow the weak and corrupt
Manchus to rule. A humiliating
settlement known as the Boxer Protocol, 1901,
compelled China to pay heavy indemnities amounting to 333 million dollars, to permit
the stationing of foreign troops for the proper protection of the foreigners and their
legitimate interests. Western powers were in full control of China at the turn of the
century, though national consciousness dawned on the Chinese mind.
Maritime customs were put in charge of foreign officials. Chinese officials, who were
implicated in the rebellion, were executed. Foreign troops were permanently stationed
at Peking and all along the road from the capital to the sea. After the imperial court
returned to Peking in 1902, it »vas awkward to see the Empress Dowager (who was also
called Old Buddha) trying to appease and win the friendship of the arrogant foreigners.
In order to ensure the foreign imperialists that she was not against them, she introduced
Western methods of administration and education. Davidson and Forster say on
page 33to 01 me New Cambridge Modern History Vol. XJI (Cambridge University,
1968): "The Boxer rising had, however, more
far-reaching repercussions. Though
the powers had acted together in suppressing it, they had done so in an atmosphere of
increasing mutual suspicion. Throughout the joint action, they had been as much
concerned with the advancement of their future national interests as with the solution of
their immediate
common problem. Moves by Russia in support of its position in
Manchuria had, in particular, aroused the fears of the other powers." In attacking
Boxers to wreak vengeance foreign troop’s committed great atrocities on the
Chinese people. Property was destroyed or burnt on a large scale and women were
molested. The whole of China was thrown to the tender mercies of foreigners, with the
Manchus helplessly
watching the developments.” If the Boxer insurrection had
occurred only, a few years before it did, it would have supplied the excuse for
annexations. Yet from the troubles China emerged with her independence guaranteed, if
restricted." The failure of the Boxers brought about the destruction of the old order.
Reasons for the Failure of Boxer Rebellion/Uprising
A. The impossibility of fighting all foreign powers
The conduct of the Boxers angered all foreign powers, who thereby organized an allied
force to march to Peking. China could not hope to resist all foreign powers at the same
B. Military superiority of the Allied Expedition
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The military forces of the Allied Expedition were far superior to the Boxers and the
Qing troops. Despite military reforms carried out between 1895 and 1900, the Chinese
troops in Peking were weak and useless.
C. Weakness of the Boxers
The Boxers were actually bandits. They were disorganized. Many of them joined the
Boxer Movement not so much because they were patriotic as because they were poor and
hungry. They claimed that bullets and fire-arms could not hurt them because they
practiced kung-fu. But they quickly fell apart when they met foreign troops. They would
not defend the country; some of them did not even have the intention of doing so.
D. Absence of popular support for the Boxers
Popular support for the Boxers was lacking throughout the provinces. The provincial
independence during the uprising left the Boxers in Peking alone to fight foreign troops.
Neither did the Chinese people help. The Boxers were therefore bound to fail.
Effects of Boxer Uprising
A. Effects on China: political
i. Further violation of China's national right
With the conclusion of the Boxer Protocol, China's national rights were further
violated. The terms of the Protocol interfered with China's internal administration. Also,
her national defense was badly shaken.
ii. Provincial safety and continued Qing rule
Thanks to the policy of neutrality of clear-head statesmen like Li Hung-chang and
Chang Chih-tung, however, most of the provinces in China were not affected by Boxer
disturbances or Allied invasion. With the excuse that the Boxers were rebels out of the
government's control, the dynasty could return to power. The Qing dynasty continued to
rule over China.
iii. The Empress Dowager's decision on reform
Within the Qing court, even the Empress Dowager realized the impossibility of
fighting against foreigners. To save the Manchu dynasty, the Empress knew that
institutional reform (which she opposed in 1898) was really necessary. The failure of
resistance against foreign imperialism left only one alternative: reform. Some historians
argue that the Empress was only trying to hide her shame by an insincere promise of
reform. Other historians suggest that in announcing a reform movement in 1901, the
Empress was playing a game of delay. Be it one way or another, however, reform (i.e. the
Late Manchu Reform, 1901-11) was really carried out by the Qing government.
iv. Further provincial decentralization
But the political decentralization of the late Qing period was made worse during the
Boxer Uprising. The independence of some provinces in 1900-01 clearly showed that
Peking's control over the country at large was weak. In such circumstances, it was
unlikely that the reform efforts after 1901 would succeed.
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B. Effects on China: social and economic
i. Growth of anti-Manchu feelings and of social support for the revolutionary movement
In society, suffering and discontent increased when the Qing government raised taxes to
pay for the heavy indemnity. At the same time, the corrupt and hopeless Manchu rule,
and the Boxer humiliation brought about by the Manchus, convinced many Chinese that
revolution, not reform, was the only effective way of saving China. Having failed to
resist the foreigners by force, the people concentrated on blaming the Manchus for their
inability to defend China. The downfall of the Qing dynasty quickened when
revolutionary activities received more social support.
ii. Erosion of Chinese pride and self-respect
The Allied Expedition's brutal demonstration of power and China's quick defeat greatly
hurt Chinese pride and self-respect. The Chinese attitude toward the Foreigners began to
change from one of hatred to one of fear.
iii. Heavy burden of the large indemnity.
The large indemnity had a harmful effect on the Ch'ing dynasty's financial conditions
and obstructed China's economic growth, as large amounts of money flowed out of the
country. The total sum that China had to pay in the next 39 years, with interest included,
was over 900 million teals. The Qing dynasty lost much money that could otherwise be
used for reform. Later, as an act of goodwill, some foreign powers used part of the
indemnity to promote modern education in China. This helped bring about a class of
modern intellectuals and students who were opposed to the corrupt Qing rule and who
made possible the 1911 Revolution.
C. Effects on China's foreign relations
i. Delay in the revision of unequal treaties
To the foreign powers, China appeared much uncivilized in 1900-01, as the behaviour
of the Boxers was very barbarous. Foreign governments were therefore less willing to
consider any revision of unequal treaties, especially treaty rights like extra-territoriality.
China's chance of recovering national rights was delayed.
ii. Decline of the Qing government's international position
In Peking, foreign ministers strengthened their position over the Qing government by
organizing themselves into a powerful group. The Qing dynasty's international reputation
was at its lowest.
iii. End to the Scramble for Concessions
On the level of Sino-Western relations, the Chinese determination to resist foreigners in
the Boxer Movement had the effect of checking and moderating foreign imperialism in
China. The foreign powers were convinced of the need to adopt an Open-Door policy and
stop the Scramble for Concessions. As a result, in a general willingness to reduce
international conflict and to maintain the existing conditions of China, the principle of
equal exploitation was accepted by the powers, even though by 1901 the powers had
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occupied Peking and was in a position to partition China. The breakup of China was
D. Effect on Russo-Japanese relations
Seeds of future international conflicts in the Far East had already been sown during the
Boxer disturbances. During the uprising, Russian troops entered Manchuria, pretending
to protect the region from Boxer disorder but actually trying to extend their influence
there. After 1901, the Japanese demanded the withdrawal of these Russian troops.
Russia's deliberate delay in withdrawing them was partly responsible for the outbreak of
the Russo-Japanese War in 1904.
The Manchu dynasty came to an end as a result of the revolution of 1911. The causes
leading to this revolution are the following.
1. Manchus were Weak, Incompetent and Corrupt. The Manchus were weak,
incompetent and corrupt. The people were completely dissatisfied with their rule. The
humiliation of China at the hands of foreign imperialists, all and sundry increased the
discontent of the people. As the Manchu emperors were helplessly watching the rape of
China by foreigners, the people's anger was roused. Though in the later days the Manchus
tried to improve conditions, it was too late.
2. Extreme Poverty, Misery, Flood and Famine. The extreme poverty and misery of
the people was another cause of the revolution. While Western nations had made
spectacular progress in all the fields, China continued to be steeped in abject poverty,
with the Manchu emperors, Chinese nobles and war-lords ruthlessly exploiting the vast
masses of people. China's population was increasing at an alarming rate. It shot up from
377 million in 1885 to 430 millions in 1910. Food production did not increase
proportionately and food shortage in the opening years of the 20th century became truly
acute. The gigantic problems of the people could not be tackled by the Manchu
government. Discontent and anger became intense, when food shortage, floods, and
famine in 1910-11 took a heavy human toll and rendered millions of those, who survived
nature's ravages, penniless and destitute.
3. Intolerably Heavy Taxes. The discontented people who had no love for the rulers
found the taxes to be intolerably burdensome. The reorganization of the army along the
modern lines, construction of new railways,implementation of new educational reforms
and the need of paying heavy indemnities to Japan (the victor of the Sino-Japanese
War) and to Western imperialist powers (which had crushed the Boxer rebellion) had
raised the level of taxation far beyond the capacity of the people to pay.
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4. Impact of Western Ideas. The impact of new and liberal ideas from the West created
conditions favorable for a revolution. The introduction of the Western system of
education was responsible for propagating the liberal and democratic ideas of the West.
Many Chinese who went to Western countries for business, studies and other purposes
realized that there was a vast difference between the people in the West and
those in China. Western society had been freed from exploitation and the Western mind
had been liberated. They did not understand why Chinese society should be in a
moribund condition shackled by meaningless and obscurantist traditions. The need to
reform Chinese society and save it had become urgent. Confucian philosophy was
wholesome for China for a long time, but Confucian principles could not provide
solutions to the problems of China for all time in a fast moving world. The efforts made
by those in power to prevent the introduction of great changes resulted in the stagnation
of Chinese society. A revolution was required to break the old social moulds and cast
society in the modern moulds.
5. Death of Empress Dowager. The death of Tzu Hsi, the Empress Dowager on
November 14, 1908 pulled down the last pillar supporting the decrepit Manchu regime.
Though she was power hungry and her policies were harmful to the country, at least she
could shrewdly keep the revolutionaries at bay and avert the outbreak of a revolution.
Within a few hours after her death, Emperor Kwan Hsu, who was like a toy in the hands
of conspirators in the court, also died, and a three year old infant Hsian Tung was placed
on the throne, with a clique exercising real power. It would not therefore, take much time
to sound the death-knell of the Manchu dynasty and arrange for its burial.
6. Resentment against Centralization. Political and administrative reforms in the latter
part of the 19th century resulted in strengthening the hands of the central government and
in eroding the powers of the provincial and local governments. The reforms deeply cut
into the traditional rights and privileges of provincial officials and the common folk.
Hence, there was great resentment against these reforms.
7. Discontent in the Army: The reorganization of the army on modern lines created
discontent in the troops posted at Hankow and Nanking in the southern provinces. The
new army which was much better and more disciplined .than the old army was fully
aware how hollow and rotten the Manchus had become. The troops of the new army,
particularly those posted in the southern provinces, where Manchu rule was very
unpopular, had doubtful loyalty to the Manchu government. The danger of this army
deserting the Manchu side and joining the revolutionaries was lurking all the time.
8. Better Means of Transport and Communication. As China is a large land, ideas
take much time to spread. With the better means of transport and communication like
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rail ways, post and telegraph, it was possible
freely and spread revolutionary ideas with comparative ease.
9. Growth of the Press. The growth of the press, chiefly the vernacular press provided
greater scope to give wide publicity to new ideas and principles to put dynamism in
Chinese society. The minds of the people began to be fed on progressive and
revolutionary ideas of the vernacular press.
10. Emergence of Revolutionary Parties. As the Manchu rulers did not do much to
alleviate the sufferings of the people, and their reforms proved to be too feeble, too halfhearted and too late, revolutionaries got the upper hand in the first decade of the 20th
century. It was crystal clear that reformers with slow-moving democratic methods could
not make much head way, and revolutionaries would be able to snatch the initiative from
the hands of reformists. The success of Dr. Sun Yatsen in uniting in August 1905 the
various revolutionary parties into a single party called Tung-meng Hui (Alliance Society)
proved to be fatal to the Manchu dynasty.
This party, which could
not openly conduct its activities in the early days, came into the open in 1911 to pull out
the Manchu dynasty by its roots.
11. Railroad Nationalization- the Immediate Cause. Companies had been formed by
Chinese capitalists, bankers and financiers in Central South and Southwestern China for
the construction of railways from 1905. The rights of Chinese companies in railway
construction were nationalized early in 1911 not for the good of the country but for being
mortgaged to foreign banks to guarantee repayment of a loan of 6 million dollars
advanced by British, American, French and German bankers. The wrath of the people,
moderates as well as revolutionaries, was roused against this action of the Manchus for
making further efforts to humiliate the country before foreign imperialists. It was known
to all that the Manchus were seeking the solid support of foreigners to continue their
dynastic rule.
Course of the Revolution of 1911.
Unjust Arrests and Firing. Chinese shareholders of the proposed Chengtu-Chunking
Railway in the Szechuan Province sent a deputation to register their protest against
nationalization of railways. Instead of giving a hearing, the imperial viceroy had the
members of the deputation arrested. The people of Chengtu, whose feelings were
outraged, demonstrated for getting the arrested persons released. Here again the
government turned unreasonably highhanded and recklessly ordered troops to fire on the
demonstrators. The tyranny of the Manchu rulers was fully exposed.
October Explosion. On October 10, 1911 there was an explosion in a house in Hankow
in the Russian sphere. Thinking that the best way of defense was offence, the Chinese
revolutionaries openly revolted on a large scale under the leadership of Li Yuan-hung, a
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Japanese military officer. The underground revolutionaries of the Tung-Meng- Hui party
provoked the Chinese troops to rise in rebellion against the Manchu monarchy. The spark
of the Hankow explosion became a tongue of a revolutionary flame, which finally
became a huge conflagration all over South China. The Manchu dynasty was sure to
perish in this conflagration while the whole of South China repudiated the Manchu
authority. North China continued to be loyal to the Manchu court, whose army was well
in control of the situation in the northern parts.
Formation of Constitutional Monarchy. For saving the Manchu dynasty, those in
power in the imperial court recalled General Yuan Shih-kai, who had been sacked after
the death of Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi. With initial reluctance Yuan agreed to mediate
between the imperial court and the revolutionaries, provided his six conditions were
fulfilled for the establishment of constitutional monarchy. These conditions were: (i)
forming a parliament the next year, (ii) constituting a cabinet responsible to parliament,
(iii) grant of amnesty to all political offenders (iv) legal recognition of the revolutionary
party, (v) full control of Yuan Shih-kai over the army and (VI) adequate fund for military
purposes. The imperial court had no other alternative but to grant these demands for the
very survival of the Manchu dynasty. Yuan Shih-kai was elected Prime Minister by the
National Assembly and was vested with supreme power to control the army and the navy.
Capture of Nanking by Revolutionaries. While the imperial court "was trying to save
itself from extinction, Li Yuan-hung, the commander of the revolutionary army, occupied
Nanking, which was proclaimed on January 11, 1912 as the capital of a new Chinese
Republic. The Manchu army under the control of Yuan Shih-kai was far superior to the
rebel army supporting the revolutionaries, and therefore, Yuan could negotiate from a
position of strength. But Yuan was not a man to be trusted, as he was more interested in
entrenching himself in power than in saving the Manchu dynasty.
Great Inspiration from Sun Yat-sen: The Chinese revolutionaries drew great
inspiration from Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the greatest leader of young China and nationalist par
excellence. Michael Edwards says:"In China the revolutionary movement of Sun Yat-sen
emerged as a struggle upon two fronts-against the traditional China of the Man-chus and
against the 'investment imperialism' of the West. The movement had its roots In the
South, in the middle-class China of traders and bankers who, rebelling against the inferior
position assigned to them in the Confucians system, turned to the West for the mechanics
of a new and dynamic China freed from the shackles of tradition. The southern Chinese
had had much longer contact with the West, and most of the traders, who had immigrated
to the countries of South-East Asia, had done so in order to free themselves from the
Confucian atmosphere and to satisfy their self-interest without involvement in a highly
stratified social order."
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Dr. Sun, whom the Chinese revered as the Father of New China, was born in a humble
peasant family in 1867 and took his medical degree from Hong Kong in 1891. The
pathetic condition of China attracted his attention, and he dedicated his life to the service
of his motherland. In 1894, he organized a secret national organization called the Chinese
Revival Society. By his speeches and writings he roused the youth of his country and
staged a revolt against the Manchu rule in 1905. "But the revolt failed, and he had to flee
to Japan, since the Chinese offered a rich reward for his head, alive or dead. In Japan, he
started the Chinese Revolutionary League, and traveled widely in the USA and Europe to
seek foreign aid for the liberation of his country. He had embraced Christianity. While in
London he was cleverly captured by the Chinese Legation, who wished to pack him off
promptly to China to his final doom, but the timely intervention of his English host, a
former English professor of his Hong-Kong medical school, made him a free man again.
He received encouraging promises of aid everywhere. He returned to Japan in 1910 and
made preparations for a final showdown. He greatly strengthened his political party and
renamed it as Kuo Min-tang (KMT) or the People's National Party. He gave the Chinese
three principles for revolutionary activities: (1) Nationalism, (2) Democracy, and (3)
Negotiations by Sun Yat-sen. In response to the invitation of Li Yuan-hung, delegates
from the provinces, which had revolted attended a meeting at Nanking and elected Dr.
Sun Yat-sen as the Provisional President of the Chinese Republic. Dr. Sun, who became
Provisional President on the New Year's Day of 1912, was able to bring about unity
among the revolutionaries and it was possible for his government to hold peaceful
negotiations with the Manchu court. The revolutionaries demanded that monarchy should
be ended immediately and the future form of government should be decided by a
National Convention. Both the parties reached an agreement to abolish monarchy, but it
was not possible for them to agree upon the method of forming a National Convention,
which was to create the future form of government.
Problems for Both the Parties. Both the negotiating parties faced formidable problems,
and hence both were very keen on reaching an early settlement in order to save them. The
imperial treasury was empty, and Yuan Shih-kai had to compel the regent to make
payments to the army from the Household Treasury. Bankruptcy compelled the imperial
court to be reasonable in its negotiations. The position of the provisional government was
also unenviable, and in no way better than that of the imperial court. Therefore, it was in
the Interests of both the parties to sort out the problems immediately and reach a peaceful
Initiative of Yuan Shih-kai. As a mediator between the revolutionaries and the
Manchus, Yuan Shin-kai took the initiative in the later phase of talks. He made it very
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clear to the Prince Regent and the Manchu officials that it was in their own interests that
monarchy should be ended and a republican form of government should be set up.
However, Yuan tried to secure for the royal family the most favorable terms in the
End of Monarchy. The infant Manchu Emperor Hsuan Tung abdicated on February 12,
1912, and thus monarchy came to an end. After abdication, the Emperor, who came to be
called Henry Pu-yi, continued to stay in the Peking palace. After some time, however, he
escaped to Japan, where he became the pensioner of the Japanese Government, which
made him in 1932 Emperor Kang Teh of Manchuria (Manchukuo). It was intriguing to
note that the royal edict transferred power to Yuan Shih-kai and not to the revolutionary
government. The Manchu family was treated liberally for giving up power. The emperor
was to receive an annuity of 4 million taels. The republic was to accord to the emperor
the respect commonly due to a foreign monarch. (3) The emperor could continue to have
his palace and guards. (4) He was guaranteed protection of his ancestral temples, where
he could enjoy the privilege of performing the customary religious ceremonies. (5)
Protection was given to the private property of the Manchu royal family. (6) Similarly,
the private property and hereditary titles of the princes of the royal family were also to be
Resignation of Sun In Favor of Yuan. Dr. Sun Yat-sen, who had no personal ambitions
showed his selflessness and true greatness by resigning as the Provisional President. This
generous and unique gesture was made to preserve unity and save the republic. The
National Assembly at Nanking had no other alternative but to elect Yuan Shih-kai as the
President of the United Republic. The republicans took Yuan's election as a bitter pill, as
they hated and distrusted him.
No Interference from Foreign Powers. The foreign powers fully realized the new mood
of the Chinese and wisely refrained from interfering at a crucial stage, when delicate
negotiations were being conducted for ending monarchy and establishing a republic.
They were fully aware that the Manchus had totally decayed and were beyond
redemption. They closely watched the developments and hoped that President Yuan
would not harm their interests. It was also refreshing to note that the -revolutionaries
exercised wholesome restraints and did not incite the wrath of foreign powers, which
could have created Treat problems putting that republic in serious jeopardy.
Significance of the Revolution, 1911
The Revolution of 1911-12 was of extra-ordinary significance. It surely put an end to
the age of decadent monarchy and meaningless conservatism. The outmoded Confucian
ideals and traditions, which had brought stagnation, were now brushed aside. The old
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social moulds were broken, and modern principles and ideals took their place. As
Confucianism, the old official religion ended, nationalism, the new religion emerged. The
Revolution was anti-imperialist, Anti-Manchu and anti-tradition. It marked the great
triumph of nationalism, republicanism and progress-ideologies. The Following are the
important results.
A. End to the monarchical form of government
Politically speaking, the 1911 Revolution was a decisive break with the past. For over
two thousand years, China had been ruled by the monarchical form of government. Now,
in 1911, however, she was willing and determined to abandon it. Whereas in the past, the
dynasty could claim absolute obedience from its subject people, the Chinese people after
1911 began to learn that sovereignty (i.e. national right) belonged finally to them and to
no one else.
B. Decreased Confucianism and increased Westernization and modernization
Such a political break with the past had at least two far-reaching effects:
i. Negatively, the importance of Confucianism in Chinese society was greatly decreased.
As the emperorship political structure had been an inseparable part of Confucianism, the
abolition of the monarchy in 1911 declared Confucianism a useless political belief. Later,
during the May Fourth Revolution in 1919, even Confucianism as a way of life and a
body of social thought was under attack. In this way, the 1911 political revolution made
way for the 1919 intellectual revolution.
ii. Positively, the creation of a Western-style republic speeded up and extended
Westernization and modernization in all areas of Chinese city life and culture. The
Chinese people were therefore psychologically better prepared to accept new, modern
things. Indeed, some intellectuals even accepted Communism later.
C. Practice of republicanism
Over the world at large at that time, republicanism was still not popularly practiced. For
example, except for China, there was no republic in Asia in 1911.Even in Europe; there
were only two republican governments, one in France, and the other in Switzerland. Seen
in this way, therefore, the 1911 Revolution in China was indeed very advanced.
D. Lack of social revolution
Socially speaking, the 1911 revolution was a failure:
i. First, the Revolution did not bring about much change in the composition of the
Chinese ruling classes. It is true that the emperor and his officials were gone, but the
conservative gentry-landlords had not been overthrown, and still ruling in the
countryside. In addition, military men of the Late Ch'ing like Yuan Shih-k'ai remained
influential. Revolutionaries and intellectuals, who helped run the Republic, were
powerless in the presence of these conservative forces.
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ii. Secondly, the revolution was limited to several cities only and was too quickly
concluded. Only the political system was revolutionized; the social order remained what
it had been. Consequently, while the city was modernized, the village was as backward
and conservative as ever.
E. Increased provincial decentralization
Once the dynasty had been overthrown, the traditional link between the provinces and
Peking was cut. The new Republic was weak and could not establish centralized political
power over all China. Consequently, the local-provincial scholar-gentry fell back on local
and provincial, not national, affairs. The growth of national consciousness was therefore
slowed down. Seen from this angle, the 1911 Revolution worsened the problem of
political decentralization of the late Ch'ing period.
F. From anti-Manchuism to anti-imperialism
Before 1911, Chinese intellectuals could blame the Manchus for all the national and
social problems that China suffered. Now that the Manchus no longer ruled, the blame
began to be directed at foreign imperialism. Modern Chinese nationalism, therefore,
gradually changed from anti-Manchuism to anti-imperialism after 1911.
G. Increased foreign influence in China
Because the new Chinese Republic was weak and divided, foreign control of China was
increased after 1911. For example, the foreign diplomats in Peking had taken over the
complete direction of China's maritime customs.
H. Loss of Outer Mongolia and Tibet
Territories that traditionally belonged to China were lost, like Outer Mongolia and
Tibet, which declared independence from China after 1911.
Rise of the Chinese Revolutionary Movement
A. Growing social disturbances after the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95)
i. China's defeat in the war revealed the weakness of the Ch'ing court. Many secret
societies considered the moment suitable for armed uprisings. Small-scale rebellions
broke out in many places. There were on average 80 to 100 such revolts every year from
1895 to 1911.
ii. The soldiers recruited to fight Japan were quickly disbanded after the peace treaty of
1895. Discontent grew among them. They became bandits in society.
iii. Taiwan was ceded to Japan in 1895. As a result, many frightened Taiwanese moved
into the neighboring province of Fukien. Social instability in South China spread and
B. Introduction of modern, Western ideas into China
Through missionary efforts and via treaty-ports, modern ideas such as democracy and
republicanism were introduced to and popularized among Chinese intellectuals. These
progressive young people were greatly influenced by examples of great European
revolutions (such as the French Revolution of 1789) and national unifications (such as the
German Unification of 1871).
C. Acceptance of the idea of revolution by an increasing number of Chinese intellectuals
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More and more young intellectuals decided that a revolution was necessary to save
China. The overseas students were particularly won over by the idea of revolution, for the
following reasons:
i. On coming into contact with modernized, Westernized societies like Japan, they
realized how backward China was.
ii. In a foreign environment, they had the experience of being racially discriminated
against and were thus particularly nationalistic.
iii. Because of the freedom provided by the foreign environment, they could experiment
with ideas about revolution.
iv. The Western education they received had the effect of encouraging radical activities.
D. Revolutionary activities in China
i. Sun Yat-sen's revolutionary uprisings in South China.
ii. Huang Hsing's revolutionary uprising in Central China - In 1903, Huang Hsing, who
was an overseas student from the province of Hunan, set up a revolutionary organization
there to work for the overthrow of the Ch'ing dynasty. The organization was called the
China Revival Society (Hua-hsing hui ). An uprising was planned. It was unsuccessful. In
1904, Huang Hsing was forced to escape to Japan, where he met Sun Yat-sen.
E. Revolutionary activities in Japan
i. Most of the late Ch'ing overseas students were sent to Japan, and most of them came
from the wealthy southern provinces of China. Since South China had a stronger antiManchu tradition than North China, revolutionary activities spread quickly among these
overseas students in Japan.
ii. But because the overseas students came from different Chinese provinces, they were
divided into different provincial factions. A united revolutionary organization was
iii. In the early 1900s, these overseas students became increasingly patriotic and radical.
For example, in 1903, they formed a " Resist-Russia-Volunteer Corps" for the purpose of
defending China against the Russian aggression in Manchuria.
iv. By 1905, Sun Yat-sen, Huang Hsing and the overseas students in Japan realized the
importance of cooperation in revolutionary efforts. They set up the Revolutionary
Alliance (T'ung-meng hui).
A. Early life
Sun Yat-sen (Sun Yixian) was born in a village near Canton in 1866. His family
belonged to the peasant class. At early school age, he had a traditional Chinese classical
education. At the age of 13, however, Sun was sent to Hawaii to join his elder brother
who had started a successful business overseas. There, Sun received a foreign, modern
education and became a Christian. Later, he returned to his village and after some time
went to Hong Kong to study medicine. He became a doctor in 1892. Then, when
practicing in Macau, Sun came into contact with friends who were members of anti-
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Ch'ing secret societies. Such connections with the secret society proved to be important
for his later revolutionary career.
B. Intellectual background
Brought up by both traditional Confucian education and modern, Western one, Sun was
not bound by the limitations of tradition but was somehow influenced by Chinese culture.
Consequently, his ideas were a mixture of both Western and Chinese thoughts. Also, as
Sun was less bound by Confucianism, it was more likely for him to become a
C. Foreign influence
i. Years of observations, both in Hawaii or Hong Kong and in his home village, made
Sun realize the backwardness of China and the progress of the West. His dissatisfaction
with the corrupt Ch'ing rule grew.
ii. However, precisely because he had received a Western education and was a Christian
and a doctor, Sun had difficulty in making himself acceptable and popular among the
traditional scholar-gentry and reformers like Liang Ch'i-ch'ao (Liang Qichao) and K'ang
Yu-wei (Kang Youwei).
iii. But because Sun was familiar with Western countries and Western culture, he had an
advantage of having the quality of political leadership that traditional Confucian scholars
lacked contacts with the West.
D. Chinese influence
i. Because Sun came from a peasant family and had lived among overseas Chinese, he
was in a better position to develop connections with the lower classes of Chinese society
in revolutionary efforts. In this respect, he was unlike the Confucian scholars, most of
whom kept themselves apart from the common people.
ii. South China, and Kwangtung in particular, had a stronger anti-Manchu tradition than
North China. Born in such an environment (South China), Sun was himself deeply
revolutionary in character.
E. As a reformer, 1890-1894
During this period, Sun Yat-sen was not yet an outright revolutionary. He still thought
of using the old method to save China - reform. Thus attempts were made by Sun to meet
reformist figures of the time, such as K'ang Yu-wei (in 1893) and Li Hung-chang (in
1894). After failure to attract Li's attention, however, Sun became a full-time
revolutionary working for the overthrow of the dynasty.
F. As a revolutionary, 1895-1900: dependence on secret societies and overseas Chinese
i. Formation of the Revive China Society (Hsing-chung hui), and the first revolutionary
uprising - The society was founded by Sun in Hawaii and Hong Kong in 1894-95. It
consisted mainly of overseas Chinese and Christians (such as clerks, workers, farmers
and tailors), and was under the leadership of a small group of missionary-educated young
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people like Sun himself. There were about 150 members. They took an oath to "expel the
Manchus, restore the Chinese rule, and establish a republic". It was planned that the
overseas Chinese members would organize revolts in places like Hong Kong, and secretsociety members would be hired to do the fighting on the Chinese mainland. In 1895,
making use of the disturbances created by China's defeat in the Sino-Japanese War
(1894-5), the Society planned a revolt in Canton. It was unsuccessful. Sun himself fled
ii. Attempts at widening support for the revolutionary movement - After 1895, Sun
travelled in foreign countries for the sake of: a. winning sympathy from Western
countries, and
b. seeking more support from the overseas Chinese communities.
Sun believed that active foreign assistance or friendly foreign neutrality was necessary
for a successful revolution in China. He therefore tried to convince the foreigners that
both trade and missionary activities would be better served by a new republic than by the
corrupt Manchu dynasty. He promised that a republic set up by the revolutionaries would
bring advantages for foreigners. Yet, the results of Sun's travels were disappointing. Not
even Hong Kong, a British colony, permitted Sun to organize his revolution.
iii. Kidnap in London, 1896-97 - When Sun stayed in London, he was kidnapped by some
Ch'ing officials in the Chinese legation. However, with the help of an English friend, he
was finally rescued. Later, Sun published his story as Kidnapped in London and
overnight became the most famous Chinese revolutionary. The effect of the incident was
to strengthen Sun's sense of confidence and mission, making his determination to
overthrow the Manchu dynasty greater than ever.
iv. Support in Japan - Upon arriving in Japan, Sun met and made some good Japanese,
friends, who were sympathetic toward his revolutionary efforts.
Much help was given to Sun. For example, these Japanese:
a)introduced Sun to many influential people in Japan,
b) raised money for Sun's revolutionary movement,
c)popularized Sun's reputation in newspapers, and
d) (as citizens of Japan, a great power) protected Sun from being arrested or assassinated.
v. Attempted cooperation with reformers - Sun’s Japanese friends worked to get the
Chinese revolutionaries and reformers to cooperate, since both groups competed for
financial support from the same overseas Chinese communities. The attempt was,
however, a failure, because: a. The two sides worked for different ideological objectives
(one to reform the existing dynasty,the other to overthrow it).
b. K’ang Yu-wei and Liang Ch'i-ch'ao, the reformers, considered Sun to be poorly
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vi. Second revolutionary uprising, 1900 - Making use of the disturbances caused by the
Boxer Uprising (1900), Sun and his secret society allies in Kwangtung planned another
uprising there. The uprising, known as the Waichow Rebellion held out for a few days
and ended in failure. Its effects were as follows:
a. The early success of the uprising further convinced Sun that his revolutionary strategy
of stimulating the outbreak of local revolts was correct and workable. Just as Sun
expected, Chinese society was ready for revolution.
b. But the final failure showed the weakness of depending entirely and only on secret
societies and overseas Chinese in the revolutionary movement. Aiming at a real
revolution, not a traditional rebellion Sun began to understand that wider social support
was needed.
G. As a revolutionary, 1901-1905: turn to overseas students
Sun's attention began to turn to the overseas Chinese, especially those in Japan, after
1901. To win support from these intellectuals and to turn them into active revolutionaries
against the Manchus, Sun took the following steps:
i. Military training for overseas students - With the help of some Japanese army officers,
military training was organized, though unsuccessfully, for Chinese students in Japan.
ii. Ideological programs to save China - An ideology, later known as the Three Principles
of the People , was worked out by Sun so as to attract the attention of the overseas
students, since the students were fond of experimenting with Western ideas. Moreover,
with a modern ideology, Sun would no longer be viewed, as before, as an uneducated
traditional rebel.
iii. Anti-imperialist propaganda - As the overseas students were mostly anti-imperialist in
attitude, Sun wrote many articles to newspapers and journals to discuss the problem of
imperialism in China. Instead of saying good things about foreigners in China, which he
used to do previously, Sun now condemned foreign imperialism and praised the Boxers
so as to win approval from the students. By drawing attention to the problem of
imperialism, Sun was in fact showing the students that he was able to deal with the
foreign threat.
iv. Arguments and mass meetings - Sun took up arguments with reformers like Liang
Ch'i-ch'ao on the advantages of a revolution. Also, mass meetings were organized, at
which Sun spoke to hundreds of overseas Chinese. Through these opportunities, Sun
showed to the overseas students that he too was intellectually capable of analyzing
China's problems and proposing solutions to them.
A. Background to its formation in 1905
i. Growing anti-Manchu attitudes and activities among overseas Chinese students in
Japan (see above)
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ii. The overseas students' turn to Sun Yat-sen for revolutionary leadership - Before 1903,
the overseas students were, generally speaking, distrustful of Sun Yat-sen and paid no
great attention to him. From 1903 to 1905, however, they began to welcome him, for the
following reasons:
a. After the Boxer Uprising (1900-01), more and more overseas students were convinced
that China would be saved by revolution only, not by reform.
b. The overseas students began to recognize the importance of foreign assistance or
neutrality (which Sun had the ability to appeal to) in China's revolution.
c. Sun had long years of actual revolutionary experience (which the overseas students
d. The anti-Manchu and anti-imperialist arguments made by Sun fitted well with the
overseas students' attitudes.
iii. Sun Yat-sen's turn to the overseas students for support - (See above)
iv.Japanese efforts in working for the unification of the Chinese revolutionary movement
- After failure to bring about cooperation between the Chinese reformers and
revolutionaries in 1899-1900, Sun Yat-sen's Japanese friends actively worked to bring
different revolutionaries like Sun himself, Huang Hsing and the overseas students
together for joint revolutionary action.
B. Leadership
Sun Yat-sen was chosen as the most important leader of the Revolutionary Alliance
because of:
i. his close contact with secret societies and the overseas Chinese, which other
revolutionaries lacked,
ii. his connections with foreigners, which other revolutionaries did not have,
iii. his ability to raise money for the revolutionary movement,
iv. his experience in organizing revolutionary activities, and
v. the support that Sun's Japanese friends gave him.
C. Membership
From 1905-6, there were about 1,000 people who joined the Revolutionary Alliance,
90% of whom did so in Japan. Most of the members were students and intellectuals, and
nearly all provinces of China were represented in the organization (unlike the Revive
China Society formed in 1895 which consisted mostly of uneducated people and
Kwangtung natives).
D. Objectives
The primary and most important objective was the overthrow of the Manchu dynasty.
Other aims were included in a six-point program:
i.overthrow of the Manchus,
ii.establishment of a republic,
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iii.maintenance of world peace,
iv.nationalization of land,
v.cooperation with Japan, and
vi world support for the revolutionary movement.
E. Weaknesses
i. Lack of unity - Since members of the Revolutionary Alliance came from different
provinces of China, the organization was divided into many provincial factions. There
were serious personal and ideological disagreements. Leaders of the provincial factions
often planned revolutionary actions regardless of central leadership and the need for
ii. Financial problem - Despite the funds raised by Sun Yat-sen, the Revolutionary
Alliance was still in need of money for its costly activities.
iii. Unreliable alliance with the secret societies - The secret societies were not good allies
of the Revolutionary Alliance because:
a. In revolting against the Ch'ing dynasty, the secret societies were eager to safeguard
their self interests.
b. Secret-society members disliked such an unfamiliar and Western-sounding idea as
c. The secret societies favoured traditional methods of rebellion that the Revolutionary
Alliance did not always approve of.
iv. Small-size and limited influence - Because the Revolutionary Alliance's membership
was limited mainly to the overseas Chinese and overseas students, the organization
remained small in size when compared to the large size of China's territories and
population. By 1910, for example, there were only about 10,000 members. Among them,
no more than 3,000 were intellectuals, and no more than a few hundred of these 3,000
actually and actively took part in revolutionary activities.
A. Sun Yat-sen's revolutionary strategy
Armed uprisings would be organized in China's southern border regions. According to
Sun, these uprisings would finally result in the seizure of a province or two in South
China by the revolutionaries. Then,
i. either similar revolts would occur and succeed in other provinces (thus quickly
overthrowing the dynasty),
ii. Or, a republic would be established in the south first, win foreign recognition then, and
build a base to conquer the north afterwards.
B. Huang Hsing's revolutionary strategy
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Huang Hsing, however, did not consider Sun's strategy to be a suitable one for China's
conditions. He believed that the Revolutionary Alliance should organize revolts in
Central China along the Yangtze to directly attack the Ch'ing dynasty's heartland.
C. Revolutionary failures, 1907-1910
From 1907 until 1910, Sun and Huang attempted several revolts at the Sino-Vietnamese
border and Kwangtung. Because of insufficient financial support and military supplies,
however, all these uprisings were unsuccessful. The Revolutionary Alliance began to
consider Huang Hsing's revolutionary strategy.
D. Weakening of the Revolutionary Alliance
i. With repeated failures, many revolutionaries were in despair of further attempts. Wang
Ching-wei, for example, began turning to terrorist assassinations of Ch'ing officials as a
substitute for armed uprisings. Even the strong-willed Huang Hsing began losing
ii. Meanwhile, alarmed at the growing revolutionary activities in Japan, the Ch'ing
government began limiting the flow of students to the country.
iii. The Japanese government was getting increasingly conservative and unfriendly in
dealing with the Chinese revolutionaries. Thus Sun's Japanese friends lost much
influence and found it difficult to help the Revolutionary Alliance.
iv. When Sun Yat-sen left Japan in 1907, unity within the Revolutionary Alliance was
further weakened. Dissatisfaction with Sun's leadership grew among some of the
members. There was even a rumour that Sun put public money into his pocket. By 1908,
each of the provincial groups in the Revolutionary Alliance organized revolts in its own
A. The comeback of Yuan Shih-k'ai (Yuan Shikai)
Immediately after the Wuhan Uprising in October, in a last attempt to save itself, the
Manchu court recalled Yuan Shih-k'ai, who had been forced to retire since 1908.
However, Yuan had not been loyal to the dynasty and was only concerned about his own
power. He delayed coming to the dynasty's help until he was given complete control of
the Peiyang Army and full powers to deal with the situation as he saw fit.
B. The election of Sun Yat-sen as president
Meanwhile, members of the Revolutionary Alliance like Huang Hsing had returned to
China to rival the gentry-merchant-military leaders for control of the political situation.
At the provincial level, the revolutionaries could never challenge the powerful gentrymerchant-militarist alliance. At the national level, however, the Revolutionary Alliance
was recognized as the leading revolutionary group. It sent representatives to a Provisional
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Government which met in Nanking in December 1911. Most of the representatives
favoured either Li Yuan-hung or Huang Hsing as candidates for the presidency. Lacking
agreement, however, supporters of both sides turned to Sun Yat-sen, who had returned
from overseas at this moment. Sun was thus elected as Provisional President of the newly
established Chinese Republic.
C. Peace talks between Yuan and the revolutionaries
Yuan Shih-ktai's position was indeed powerful:
i. He controlled the Peiyang Army.
ii. He had supporters in the Provisional Government in Nanking.
iii. He had foreign backing, since the foreign powers regarded him as the only strong
man in China who could maintain law and order.
iv. He enjoyed full powers given by the Manchu court.
Sun Yat-sen and other revolutionaries, on the other hand, knew that their strength was
weak and feared that further delay in political unification might encourage foreign
imperialist intervention. Thus in the negotiations with Yuan, Sun made it clear that the
presidency of the Republic would be given to Yuan if Yuan forced the Manchus to
D. The end of the Ch'ing dynasty, February 1912
For reasons discussed later, Yuan Shih-k'ai was willing to give up the dynasty in
support of the Republic. On February 12, 1912, under Yuan's pressure, the Manchu court
announced its abdication. The 268-year-old Ch'ing dynasty (1644-1912), together with
the century-long monarchical system of government, was put to an end.
E. Yuan Shih-k'ai as President of the Chinese Republic
On the same day as the Ch'ing dynasty's abdication, Yuan Shih-k'ai promised to support
the Republic. Then Sun Yat-sen resigned as Provisional President, to be succeeded by
Yuan after a formal election. Yuan was required by the new Republican Government to
come to Nanking to take up the presidency. Unwilling to release his power base in the
north, however, Yuan stayed in Peking. He became President of China in March. In
April, Peking was made the national capital. It was renamed Peiping.
F. Reasons for the acceptance of Yuan as the president by the revolutionaries
i. Yuan had strong military power, and the revolutionaries were unprepared to fight with
him in a long civil war, which would only bring more disorder and disunity.
ii. The revolutionaries feared that a long civil war would bring about foreign intervention
in the Chinese revolution and foreign partition of China.
iii. The revolutionaries were inexperienced in actually running a government and were
disorganized themselves. Besides, as revolutionaries working outside China most of the
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time, they lacked popular Chinese support and did not have the friendship of the powerful
local-provincial gentry. It was difficult for them to struggle with Yuan.
G. Reasons for Yuan Shih-k'ai's acceptance of the presidency
i. Yuan was himself ambitious and had never been really loyal to the Ch'ing dynasty.
ii. Republicanism seemed to be a necessity after the success of the revolution in October.
Yuan would appear to be a reactionary traitor if he did not make peace with the
iv. Only by supporting a republic could Yuan receive foreign support. iv. Yuan's
military position against the revolutionaries was not altogether superior, since
the loyalty of many of his officers was questionable.
A. Fund-raising to finance revolutionary activities
Sun had close connections with the overseas Chinese, especially in Southeast Asia and
America. With a strong power of persuasion, Sun was able to win enthusiastic financial
support from them. Living in a foreign (often unfriendly) environment, the overseas
Chinese were particularly sensitive to being discriminated against by foreigners. As a
result, these Chinese people were especially patriotic. They contributed much money in
Sun's fund-raising campaigns. The funds were in the form of "patriotic bonds". The
revolutionaries promised that the money would be repaid to the buyer after the success of
the future revolution.
B. Connections with foreigners and request for foreign help
It had been Sun's policy to win foreign sympathy for the Chinese revolutionary
movement. He convinced many other fellow revolutionaries of the importance of such a
policy. Sun had the connections and opportunities to turn to foreign governments for
help. He had many good foreign friends in Britain, America and Japan. Through these
foreign friends, Sun could every now and then explain to both foreign governments and
foreign peoples the harmlessness, good intention and (above all) moderation of the
Chinese revolutionary movement, so that Sun's revolution would not be mistaken for
another anti-foreign uprising like the Boxer Uprising. It is true that the 1911 Revolution
broke out and developed without the active help of foreign powers. But in respecting
foreign privileges in China, the revolutionaries were able to win foreign neutrality,
without which the Chinese revolution would never succeed.
C. Willingness to work with lower social classes in revolutionary efforts
Unlike other intellectuals who kept themselves apart from the lower social classes, Sun
Yat-sen was willing to cooperate and work with peasant bandits and secret-society
members in the revolutionary movement. In fact, he was a member of one of the famous
secret societies, the Triads.
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D. Flexible leadership
Sun Yat-sen had not laid down any absolute and unchangeable formula of revolution.
Rather, he followed whatever was suitable and necessary, as long as the aim remained the
overthrow of the Manchu dynasty. Thus revolutionary strategies would change in
accordance with the demands of unexpected situations. Because the harmful effects of
policy disagreement were cut down, there was better unity within the revolutionary
E. Strong confidence
With repeated failures of revolutionary attempts in the late 1 900s, morale began to
decline among many revolutionaries. Sun, however, continued to view the future
optimistically. He kept his fellow revolutionaries going. And if to some people he
appeared to be childish and unrealistic, he nevertheless provided a quality so very
important for the success of a revolution - faith.
F. Comprehensive ideology for the revolutionary movement
Sun's Three Principles of the People provided comprehensive programs to deal with the
political, social and economic problems of China. Although such programs necessarily
had weaknesses and had to be improved later, Sun was nevertheless the first political
leader of Modern China to work out systematic ways to save the country.
The Scramble for Africa
We all are aware about what are imperialism and its effects on the countries which
were controlled by the imperialists. Africa, along with many Asian countries was
conquered by various European colonial powers, such as Britain, France, Germany,
Holland, Portugal etc. What was remarkable in these conquests was the knee-jerk
reaction of the colonial powers to annex territories in Africa. It all started with a
conference in Berlin and within months, half of the soldiers of Europe were shipped to
Africa. This hurried response on the part of European powers is referred to as scramble
for Africa.
The scramble for Africa, also known as the Race for Africa, was the rush or hurry for
African territories by European powers. These European powers rushed for African
territories due to several reasons. These causes can be categorized into economic, social,
political and humanitarian/social reasons. Partitioning is simply the division/sharing of
African land among European powers.
European Imperialism
Imperialism is a term that refers to the economic and political domination or control of
one country or nation by another one which is technologically and economically more
advanced. Therefore, European imperialism was the economic and political domination
of other nation’s world over by European powers. For more than three centuries the
European nations had extended their influence and imperialism into other continents such
as Asia, Latin America, the West Indies, and Africa. This was possible because these
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European nations were relatively economically and militarily stronger than the people of
other continents.
The Scramble and Partition of Africa
The scramble for Africa, also known as the Race for Africa, was the rush or hurry for
African territories by European powers. These European powers rushed for African
territories due to several reasons. These causes can be categorized into economic, social,
political and humanitarian/social reasons. Partitioning is simply the division/sharing of
African land among European powers.
Reasons for the Scramble for Africa
1. Economic Reasons
(a) Need for Raw Materials
Due to the Industrial Revolution in Europe, production with the help of machines
increased. European demand for raw materials such as palm oil, copper, rubber, cocoa,
and gold increased. Africa was seen as being capable of supplying the needed raw
materials. As a result, European powers partitioned Africa in order to secure some
territories in order to provide a constant supply of raw materials to their industries in
(b) Need for Market for their Finished Products
With the help of machines during the Industrial Revolution, more goods were
produced in the European industries but the local consumption was the same. This meant
that not all the goods produced in Europe were locally sold and used in Europe.
Therefore, European powers had to look for other areas where they could go and sell their
surplus products. Africa was found suitable for this reason. This was because Africa did
not have industries to produce these goods.
(c) Need to Invest Abroad
The Industrial Revolution had made many European businessmen very rich by 1880.
Many of these had accumulated surplus capital which they wanted to invest abroad for
profit because profit had fallen in their respective countries due to the high cost of labor.
Therefore, they believed that Africa could provide them with cheap labor. Thus, they
started encouraging their home governments to acquire colonies in Africa.
(d) Need to Protect their Trading Companies
Before 1800, many European countries had allowed the formation of companies to
promote overseas trade. Examples of these companies include the British Royal Niger
Company in West Africa, the British South African company (B.S.A.C.) in South Africa,
the Imperial British East Africa and the Germany East African Company in Tanganyika.
The second half of the 19th century saw stiff competition among these companies. As a
result, these companies were forced to ask their home governments to take over certain
African areas where they could enjoy the trade monopoly.
2. Political Reasons
(a) Balance of Power
After the Berlin Congress was held and the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-78 thereafter,
European nations realized that there was no power in Europe which was more powerful
than the others. This meant that no country in Europe could expand its sphere within
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Europe without risking a major war. These powers therefore turned to Africa were there
was no resistance.
(b) Prestige
Due to the rise of nationalism, many Europeans had developed strong pride and
patriotism and loyalty for their countries. They wanted to promote the status of their
countries’ position in the world. The possession of a large overseas empire became a
symbol of braveness. The more colonies a country had, the more powerful it was
considered to be, or rather, considered it to be. For example, when France was defeated in
1871, she lost her two provinces of Alsace and Lorraine to Germany. Hence, France
turned to Africa for colonies were there was no resistance. Other Europeans obtained
colonies for personal glory. For example, king Leopold of Belgium acquired the Congo
Free State and treated it as a personal farm. This encouraged other Europeans to do the
same elsewhere in Africa.
(c) Source for Soldiers
Other European nations obtained colonies in Africa so as to provide a source and base
for troops. For example, France obtained Senegal and Britain obtained South Africa and
used Africans from these territories to fight on their respective sides during the First
World War.
(d) Strategic Purposes
Other parts in Africa were obtained by European powers because of their strategic
positions. Areas like Egypt, Morocco, Mozambique, Angola, and the cape were obtained
to control trade in times of peace and war. Britain’s interest in Egypt was the Suez Canal.
This provided a faster sea route to India
3. Social Reasons
(a) Need to Settle Surplus Population
It is important to understand that because of the new machines that were now being
used during the Industrial Revolution; many people lost employment in Europe because it
was the newly invented machines that were doing their work now. Because of the
unemployment due to the Industrial Revolution, European countries obtained colonies in
Africa to settle their surplus unemployed population. Nigeria, Rhodesia and Kenya were
obtained for this purpose.
(c) Need to Spread Christianity and Combat Diseases
This was another reason that led to the partition of Africa. Some Europeans decided to
obtain colonies in Africa so as to convert the Africans into Christianity, introduce modern
society and ‘civilize’ them. On the other hand, colonies were obtained so that some
Europeans who had certain illnesses could come and live where the climate was
(b) Need to end Slave Trade
Britain took the lead in fighting against slave trade by passing a law in 1807. In 1833
the British government again passed the Emancipation act by which slavery was
abolished throughout the British Empire. Many European nations had done the same.
However, slave trade continued and other methods had failed.
4. Missionary Activities
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Missionaries and explorers opened up the interior of Africa. Their reports about the
richness of Africa encouraged the scramble. It is the reports of the accounts of such
missionaries and explorers like Dr. David Livingstone that pushed the European countries
to have overseas possessions.
5. The Berlin Colonial Conference of 1884/85
The Berlin Colonial Conference was a meeting of European powers in Berlin, Germany
in 1884-85 at the invitation of Bismarck, the Chancellor of Germany. The aim of the
meeting was to discuss the peaceful division and sharing of African territories amongst
themselves. At the end of this conference, the Berlin Treaty was signed. It laid down the
conditions by which the scramble was to be conducted.
The European powers agreed that any power claiming any territory in Africa must not
only notify other powers, but must also effectively occupy that territory. It was this clause
of effective occupation in their agreement that encouraged and pushed European powers
to partition the continent and develop colonial rule. It was also agreed that two rivers, the
Zaire and Niger, were to be free to all for trade transportation. Additionally, slavery was
to be abolished in all the territories that the European countries occupied.
No Africa chief was invited to this meeting or consulted about the whole process of
partitioning. Soon after this meeting ended agents of many European powers started
coming to Africa and began to demarcate boundaries for their claims, which became
known as colonies. The only parts, which survived the scramble, were Liberia and
Abyssinia (Ethiopia).
The "Scramble for Africa".
Until the 1870s only Portugal, Britain and France of the European nations had made
any substantial colonization in Africa. And. the French and British advances had been
rather spasmodic, their colonial policies varying with the government or regime in power,
and with the enterprise of its representatives in Africa. In the 1870s, however, the outlook
of the European nations towards African colonization changed. This was partly due to the
greater knowledge of the continent obtained from exploration, and consequent increased
opportunities for trade and access to valuable raw materials; and partly due to efforts to
protect the explorers and missionaries and to suppress slavery and the remnants of the
slave trade. But it was also due to a new spirit of national prestige, stemming largely from
the unification of both Germany and Italy in the period 1859-1870; and perhaps to some
extent due to the rise of a sentiment that it was the duty of the "superior" white man to
civilize, educate and convert the Africans - a sentiment which ignored the fact that the
white man was not necessarily superior, and that the Africans might well be much
happier, and certainly preferred, to be left alone.
The result was the “scramble for Africa", in which the European nations competed
with each other for colonies there. One of the earliest targets was Tunisia, where Italy had
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greatly extended her commercial interests and hoped to gain control of the country but, as
already mentioned, was forestalled by the French in 1881. The French people were no
very ardent colonists; but France’s policy, after her humiliating defeat by Prussia in 1870,
had become one of vast colonial expansion, partly to restore her international prestige.
Bismarck, the creator of Germany, did not want colonies, but deferred to pressure by
German commercial interests, and Germany joined in the competition.
There then followed, in 1884-85, a remarkable international conference in Berlin at
which rules were drawn up for colonization in Africa. There were many provisions in the
Act emanating from the conference, the main one being that all signatories had to notify
the others of any intended action to take possession of any part of the African coast or to
penetrate into the interior - and in effect to obtain the approval of the other signatories. In
this way, although there were international disputes and 'incidents', Africa was carved up
by the European nations without armed conflict between them.
One of the first agreements arising from the Berlin conference was the recognition of
the "Congo Free State" as the personal possession of King Leopold II of the Belgians.
(Belgium had been an independent country since 1830).The enterprising Leopold, seeing
the possibilities of central Africa opened up by the explorations of Livingstone, Stanley
and others, had called an international conference in 1876 to co-ordinate further
exploration and suppress the slave trade. (This was the forerunner of the Berlin
conference eight years later.) An international association was formed – largely Belgian and Leopold engaged Stanley to establish trading posts in the Congo area and make
treaties with the African chiefs. Stanley spent 5 years doing this. The international aspect
of the operations soon evaporated, and Leopold financed the enterprise from his private
fortune - hence the award of the Congo Free State as his personal property. Early in the
1900s mismanagement and ill-treatment of the Africans in the Congo Free State led to
international concern, particularly in Britain and the United States. The result was that in
1908 the Belgian government took over the colony, and the worst of the abuses were
In general, the period from 1885 to about 1920 was one of invasion, conquest and/or
negotiations with African rulers by the European powers in their chosen and allotted
areas, and the setting up of colonial rule. The only African states to survive as
independent were Ethiopia and Liberia. In some of the more powerful and organized
African countries resistance was fierce and prolonged, but in the end they succumbed to
the superior weapons and equipment of the invaders. Another cause of the defeat of the
Africans was that there was no unity amongst them – either between different states, or
within each state. Some countries comprised several different African peoples, with one
ruling and oppressing the others. The Europeans could often recruit African soldiers for
their invading armies.
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Altogether some 40 colonies or protectorates were formed. Taking in turn the
European nations involved:-France was the most active colonial power, and acquired the
largest area of territory. By 1900 her African empire included Algeria and Tunisia in the
north; Senegal, French Guinea, Ivory Coast and Dahomey in the West African
coastlands; French West Africa which took in nearly all the Sahara and western Sudan;
French Equatorial Africa which comprised Gabon, some of the Congo and central Sudan
(modern Chad); French Somaliland (Djibouti), and the island of Madagascar. France did
not achieve this without a number of severe struggles, particularly in Dahomey, and in
the Lake Chad area where they met with resistance from the Senussi. It was well into the
20th century before the French had won control in the western and central Sudan. In
Madagascar resistance by the Hova dynasty was not finally overcome until 1896. The last
stage of French colonization was in Morocco, where France, Spain, Germany, Britain and
Italy competed for influence over the Sultan. Eventually, in 1912, the country became a
French protectorate, except for the Spanish possessions in the north - around Ceuta and
Melilla. Resistance by the Riff tribes continued. A prolonged rising by them in the 1920s
was suppressed, but guerilla action went on into the 1940s.
Britain completed her occupation of Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Gambia and Sierra Leone
in West Africa, and acquired Kenya, Nyasaland*, Uganda, Zanzibar (where the Arab
Sultan accepted a British protectorate) and British Somaliland in the east. In the Gold
Coast there were two more wars with the Ashanti before it became a British colony in
1902. In Somaliland a Moslem Somali leader, nicknamed the "Mad Mullah" by the
British, caused a lot of trouble by raids against the British forces during the first 20 years
of the 20th century.
In Egypt a British-officered Egyptian army defended the frontier with the Sudan for 10
years against the Mahdi’s successor until Britain decided on re-conquest to end this
nuisance and to deliver the Sudanese from tyranny. In 1896-98 the re-conquest was
achieved by a British/Egyptian army under Lord Kitchener. The eastern Sudan came
under the joint control of Britain and Egypt - and Britain continued to rule Egypt until
1922. (By a British unilateral declaration Egypt then became formally independent, but
with certain powers reserved to Britain, including the future of the Sudan. The last British
troops left Egypt in 1956, leaving the Sudan a separate state, independent of Egypt.)
In British South Africa the dominant personality in political affairs in the 1880s and
early 1890a was Cecil Rhodes who had visions of British dominion from Cape Colony to
Cairo. He was alarmed at the threat to the route to the north by German infiltration in
South West Africa on one side and the Boers of the Transvaal on the other; and when the
Bechuana tribes in 1885 asked for protection against Boer aggression, Britain proclaimed
Bechuanaland (modern Botswana) to be a British protectorate.
Rhodes later turned his attention to the land north of the Transvaal – ancient Zimbabwe
- then divided between the Shona and the Zulus (with whom Britain had already had a
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serious conflict in 1879). The British now intervened in a Shona-Zulu war, defeating the
Zulus; but some years later, in 1896, they were faced with a formidable rising of both
peoples, which they suppressed. The whole area was given the name Rhodesia, separated
in 1911 into the two protectorates of Northern and Southern Rhodesia, north and south of
the Zambezi. Northern Rhodesia is modern Zambia, Southern Rhodesia modern
Returning to the “scramble" - Germany acquired the Cameroons and Togo, South West
Africa (Namibia) and Tanganyika. To the latter were joined Rwanda and Burundi, to
form German East Africa. In the first decade of the 20th century the Hottentots and the
Herero tribes in South West Africa and the African tribes in Tanganyika all rebelled,
unsuccessfully, against German rule.
Italy, after being disappointed in Tunisia, was ‘awarded' Eritrea (north of Ethiopia) and
Italian Somaliland. Not content with this she embarked in 1887 on an attempt to conquer
Ethiopia. After establishing a sort of protectorate, with the terms of which the Emperor of
Ethiopia did not agree, the Italians invaded the country again in 1896, only to be
disastrously defeated at Adowa. Still in search of a greater African empire, Italy invaded
Tripolitania in 1911. The Turks, attacked by a league of Balkan countries, withdrew from
Tripolitania to meet the menace nearer home - and Italy conquered Tripolitania and
Cyrenaica; but they had great difficulty with the Senussi, who were not finally subdued
until the early 1930s. In 1934 Tripolitania and Cyrenaica were united to form the Italian
colony of Libya.
Portugal, as well as being confirmed in her possession of Mozambique and Angola,
was awarded “Portuguese" Guinea. Portugal also still possessed the Cape Verde Islands
and Madeira. Spain kept her ancient possessions - in northern Morocco, the Canary
Islands and the island of Fernando Po (which she obtained from Portugal in the 18th
century). To Fernando Po she added the nearby mainland area of Rio Muni, to form
Spanish Guinea; and along the north-west coast she acquired the Spanish Sahara.
*Nyasaland was ancient Malawi, Uganda largely the ancient Kingdom of
Buganda.Britain acquired both mainly by peaceful agreement with the Africans.
**The history of Rhodesia, while it was Rhodesia, is included in the history of South
Africa. (After the Boer War of 1899-1902, the Boer Transvaal and Orange Free State
became British colonies, and in 1910 were united with Cape Colony and Natal to form
the British dominion, the Union of South Africa.)
Results of the Scramble for Africa
1. During the New Imperialism period, by the end of the 19th century, Europe added
almost 9 million square miles (23,000,000 km) — one-fifth of the land area of the globe
— to its overseas colonial possessions.
2. Between 1885 and 1914 Britain took nearly 30% of Africa's population under its
control, to 15% for France, 9% for Germany, 7% for Belgium and only 1% for Italy.
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Nigeria alone contributed 15 million subjects, more than in the whole of French West
Africa or the entire German colonial empire.
3. Loss of Independence of African Chiefs. Once the colonialists settled on the
African soil, they set up colonial administrative offices in order to rule the Africans. In
French occupied territories, the indigenous Africans were ruled directly. The British on
the other hand ruled the Africans indirectly through the chiefs. This was called Indirect
Rule. Most of the powers that the chiefs had were grabbed from them by the
imperialists. The British and the French were determined to put things in order and
establish a clear administrative hierarchy with Europeans at the top and Africans below.
4. In the beginning, European countries claimed to be only interested in raw materials.
But soon casual commercial dealings were replaced by systematic exploitation and
control of Africa’s resources. In their extraction of raw materials like minerals in South
African and Rhodesian mines, they did not consider the destruction their activities caused
to the natural environment.
5. By the end of the century Europeans were covering the continent with railways
and roads. Though the roads that were made mostly followed the already existing slave
routes, the others went to areas where Europeans wanted to access raw materials. The
railway lines were a completely new phenomenon on the African continent.
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FIRST WORLD WAR (1914-1918)
The 20th century ushered in a veritable ‘era of conflicts’ in different parts of the world.
During 1894-95, the Sino-Japanese War took place, resulting in the victory of Japan over
China. The Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) soon followed in the Far East leading to the
complete defeat of Russia. In 1905, the Russian Revolution transformed the ancient
Tsarist autocracy into a Constitutional Monarchy. The "young Turks" under the
leadership of Mustapha Kemal Ataturk Pasha, the father of modern Turkey, carried out a
revolution in the Ottoman Empire in 1908-1909.In 1911, Italy seized the Ottoman
provinces of Tripoli and Cyrenaica. This led to the two Balkan Wars which involved
Austria-Hungary, Russia, Germany, Italy, Great Britain, and the Ottoman Empire as well
the Balkan countries like Serbia, Bulgaria, Rumania, Albania, Montenegro, and Bosnia
and Herzegovina. Great national and international rivalry was provoked by these Balkan
wars which formed one of the important underlying causes of First World War.
First World War, which started in the year 1914, possessed novel features in several
respects. It was one of its kinds in the history of mankind. World War I occurred on a
worldwide scale. Many wars had taken place before 1914.However they did not affect
people all over the world collectively. World War I was the first war to be fought on a
worldly scale. It had repercussions on almost every country in the world.
It was also the first international war to make use of modern technology for the
purpose of destruction and defense. This war saw the use of a large variety of guns,
cannons, tanks, bombs, aero planes, warships and submarines, causing great destruction
to life and property throughout the world.
The First World War could also be called a total war, since it was the first international
war to be fought on the land and above the land, on the sea and under the sea, with the
use of tanks, aero planes and submarines. Dr.David Thompson points out that one of
World War I’s greatest novelties was "a remarkable disparity between the ends sought,
the price paid, and the results obtained."
1. The main cause of the First World War was the ever-rising tide of militarism in
Europe. There was a terrible race for armaments after 1870, throughout Europe. Though
these armaments were meant for national defense, they created universal suspicion, fear
and hatred among nations."Further, in every country there were influential military
officers who believed that war was inevitable." They persuaded their governments
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towards mobilization of the armed forces. This increased military and naval rivalries
among nations.
Finally most militarists believed in "preventive" war that is declaring war upon the
enemy, while he was weak and crushing him, before he could become strong. Thus
Germany wanted to wage war against Russia, before the latter could reorganize its armed
forces. Similarly, England desired to crush the growing German navy, before it could
become a greater menace to England. Thus, by 1914, all European countries were
completely armed and ready meet each other in combat.
2. Aggressive nationalism was partly responsible for First World War. The love of one’s
country demanded the hatred of another country. Thus the love of France demanded the
hatred of Germany, while the love of Germany demanded the hatred of England and vice
versa. The chief principle for every patriot was "my country right or wrong." This
aggressive nationalism created a favorable atmosphere for war.
3. There were national rivalries between Germany and Britain, between Japan and
America and also between Germany and Russia. This led to the First World War. The
German Kaiser William II declared that Germany was determined to become a world
power and this would arouse rivalry with Britain. Owing to the Franco-Prussian War of
1870, France lost Alsace and Lorraine to Prussia. It had to recover these provinces. There
was also a crisis in the Balkans, leading to the two Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913,
because of the rivalry between Germany and Russia.
4. There was great colonial imperialism owing to the need for raw materials, overseas
markets for surplus manufacturers and for colonies for investing surplus capital. This led
to colonial conflicts and national rivalries.
5. There was a poisoning of public opinion by the press in all the countries. Newspapers
would take up some point of dispute and exaggerate it. They made attacks and counterattacks, engendering a regular newspaper war. Professor Sidney B. Fay comments that
they "so offered a fertile soil in which the seeds of real war might easily be germinated."
This was especially true in Austria, Serbia, Germany and France, where there were
misrepresentations, suppression of truth and tossing of insults thus creating an
atmosphere of mutual hatred and suspicion, which eventually led to the Great War.
6. The system of secret alliances was one of the factors that contributed to the First World
War. In 1879, Germany entered into a defensive alliance with Austria-Hungary. It was
known as the ‘Dual Alliance’ against Russia and France. In 1882, Italy joined the Dual
Alliance and thus brought into existence the Triple Alliance. Russia entered into a
defensive alliance with France in 1890. In 1904, France entered into a defensive alliance
with England known as the ‘Entente Cordiale.’
In 1907, Russia joined the ‘Entente Cordiale’, thus bringing into existence the Triple
Entente, which pitted itself against the Triple Alliance. Later Japan joined the Triple
Entente, while Romania and Turkey joined the Triple Alliance. Professor Fay rightly
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mentions that "the system of secret alliances made it inevitable that if war did come, it
would involve all the great powers of Europe. The members of each group felt bound to
support each other."
7. The Great War of 1914 was partly caused by the existence of international anarchy.
Professors Hayes, Moon and Wayland observe that "Every nation could do what it
pleased, or what it dared, because there was no international government to make laws
for the nations and to compel all nations to respect such laws." No state was ready to
submit its dispute with another to any arbitration, or to seek any method of peaceful
settlement. Thus the situation was favorable for a war.
8. The murder of Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, on June 28, 1914,
by a twenty-four year old fanatical Serbian student in Sarajevo (Bosnia) was the spark
that set the World War off.
Course of the War
With the news of the murder of Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria and his wife,
Austria decided to crush Serbia with the support of Germany. An ultimatum was served
to Serbia by Austria, which made certain demands on her. When Serbia refused to
comply with these demands, Austria declared war with the defaulting country on July 20,
1914. The next day, orders of mobilization were issued by Germany and also by Russia.
Germany declared war on France on August 3, 1914. After Germany’s invasion of
Belgium on August 4, 1914, England declared war against Germany.
During the early phase of the war, which included the Battle of Verdun, events moved
in favor of the Allies. In early 1915, Italy and Rumania joined the Allies. The year 1917
marked a turning point in the course of the war. After being defeated by the Germans, the
Russians were highly demoralized. In 1917, they revolted against the Czar and
established a Republic. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed with Germany, by the
new government in March 1918.
The war at sea was also in favor of the Allies. However Germany’s position grew
stronger with the collapse of Russia. Germany began to manufacture ‘U-boats’ on a large
scale and began a submarine warfare. The German submarines then began to destroy the
British battleships as well as the American merchant ships. Hence the U.S.A. declared
war against Germany on April 6, 1917. U.S.A.’s entry into the war turned the war in
favor of the Allies. Finally Germany surrendered in November 1918, on the basis of the
Fourteen Points, announced by President Woodrow Wilson of the U.S.A. An armistice
was signed on November 11, 1918.
The Paris Peace Conference was held in January 1919 in order to end the war.
However only the representatives of the victorious states attended the Peace Conference.
The defeated states were not represented. Among the most important members of the
Conference were the "Big Four" namely Clemenceau, the Prime Minister of France
(known as the ‘Tiger’ of France), Lloyd George, the Prime Minister of England,
Woodrow Wilson, the President of the U.S.A.; and Orlando of Italy. The delegates at the
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council were assisted by an army of secretaries, historians, geographers, financiers and
other experts. Finally five treaties were drawn up by the delegates, namely,
1. Versailles with Germany,
2. St. Germaine with Austria,
3. Trianon with Hungary,
4. Neville with Bulgaria, and
5. Sevres with Turkey.
Since the defeated states were forced to sign these treaties, it was also known as a
"dictated peace."
Revolutionary changes were brought about by the First World War in all forms of
social life, as well as in all modes of thinking. The war produced consequences of
worldwide significance. World War I caused a terrible loss of human life and property. It
involved practically all the countries of Europe and the U.S.A., as well as most of the
African and Asian states. Nine million men were killed, and twenty-nine million men
were wounded or missing. Thirteen million died on account of civilian massacres, disease
and famine, which overtook the world, as a consequence of the Great War. The financial
cost of the Great War was estimated to have been about 400 billion dollars.
The map of Europe was reconstructed by a series of treaties.
By the Treaty of Versailles, Germany surrendered
The provinces of Alsace and Lorraine and the coal mines of the Saar basin to
Eupen and Malmedy to Belgium
iii. Memel to Lithuania
Northern Schleswig to Denmark
Five-sixth of the territory of Posen, most of West Prussia and Upper Silesia and
Danzig (the corridor to the sea) to Poland.
The Treaty of St. Germaine was imposed on Austria on September 10, 1919. As a
result of this treaty, the Empire of Austria-Hungary was destroyed. Austria and Hungary
were separated. Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia were created as two new states.
The Allies imposed a separate treaty, called the Treaty of Trianon, upon Hungary on
June 4, 1920. Hungary lost about 90,000 square miles of territory with a population of
about 12 million under this treaty.
The Treaty of Neville was forced by the Allies upon Bulgaria on November 27, 1919.
Finally, the Allied powers imposed the Treaty of Sevres upon Turkey on August 10,
Nationalism triumphed to a great extent. The German, the Austrian and Hungarian, the
Turkish and the Russian empires were shattered. On their ruins, new national states were
built, which were founded on the principle of ‘self-determination’ of the people, as
advocated by President Woodrow Wilson. The Polish territories, which were seized by
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Russia, Prussia and Austria, at the congress of Vienna of 1815, were joined to form the
sovereign state of Poland. Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia were formed into two new
independent ideologies and economic systems.
The above Treaties aimed at reducing the armaments of the vanquished and keeping
them militarily weak. The Treaty of Versailles made Germany stand fully unarmed
before the fully armed Allied powers. All kinds of tanks, armored cars, military aero
planes, submarines and air force, were forbidden in Germany. The manufacture of arms
and ammunition was heavily restricted. The Treaty of St. Germaine reduced the Austrian
army to 30,000 soldiers and her naval force to only three police boats on the Danube.
The end of the war caused serious problems such as large-scale unemployment and also
a disruption of normal industrial and economic life. This created a favorable atmosphere
for the growth of leftist and other parties, such as Socialist, Communist, Fascist and Nazi
parties which gained power in Europe. It also led to the birth of communism in Russia,
and authoritarian dictatorships in Italy, Germany, Spain and Turkey.
The Allied Powers set up a Reparation Commission to estimate the total amount of
reparation to be made by Germany. The latter was supposed to make financial atonement
for all damage done to the civilian population of the Allies. It was to make an initial
payment of five billion dollars. It was also to devote its economic resources to the
physical restoration of the devastated areas in France. German criminals were to be tried
and punished by military tribunals of the Allied Powers.
First World War led to the emergence of Great Powers in Europe, America and the Far
East. Great Britain proved to be the leading maritime and colonial power on earth. France
came to be regarded as a great military power in Europe. Japan enhanced its power and
prestige in the Far East, at the cost of China and Russia. Finally, the U.S.A. emerged
from the Great War as a great world power.
The Treaty of Versailles was too harsh on Germany; it was fully deprived of her
colonies and was totally disarmed by the treaty. She had to pay a crushing war indemnity.
It was natural then, that the Germans grew up on the cult of revenge under the leadership
of Adolph Hitler who was mainly responsible for World War II.
To promote international co-operation and peace, the American President Woodrow
Wilson decided to create the League of Nations at the Paris Peace Conference. It was to
function through three organs namely, an Assembly, a Council and a Permanent
Secretariat. It was to have two affiliated organizations called the Permanent Court of
International Justice and the International Labor Office.
The Balkan War
According to the conditions of the Berlin Treaty, different Christian races were forced
to stay in different kingdoms. These races gradually thought of making their own
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federation, as they were greatly influenced by European ideologies. But their desire could
not take the shape of reality.
The Bulgarian Issue (1885) arose as it had captured Rumania which troubled Serbia
immensely. It led to a war between Bulgaria and Serbia. As a result, the Balkan kingdoms
were prevented from forming a federation of their own. Bulgaria had intentions of
annexing Macedonia to her kingdom and establishing a democracy. Besides Bulgaria,
Serbia and Grecia also wanted Macedonia included in their kingdom. There were regular
fights among themselves. Due to this, the formation of a federation was effected. As
Bulgaria opposed it, even the Greek Prime Minister did not succeed in his efforts of
bringing these states closer to the formation of a federation.
However, when the birthday of the ruler of Montenegro was celebrated in 1910, the
Ruler of Bulgaria, the Serbian and Greek Princes also actively participated in it. After a
military pact made by Greece, Venizelos, the Greek Prime Minister, made a federation
comprising Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria. Later, Montenegro joined it. Thus, the Balkan
States formed the Federation.
The Main Issues leading to the Balkan Wars
As Turkey was weak, the Balkan Kingdoms (Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro)
decided to attack her, with the aim of distributing its parts among themselves. They
(Balkan Kingdoms) had made a pact among themselves to distribute the spoils of
Macedonia. Accordingly, they waged a war against Turkey and defeated it. Serbia and
Montenegro captured Albania and reached Constantinople. The unjust demands of the
victors made Turkey wage another war with the Balkans, but to no avail. She lost it
again. She was now forced to accept the terms of the victors. A Treaty was signed in
London (1913). According to this London Treaty, nearly all the territories of Turkey were
lost to the Balkans.
Balkan War of 1913
Now the Balkan Peninsula kingdoms fought among themselves on the question of the
distribution of Macedonia. In this war, Serbia, Montenegro, Greece and Romania took up
arms against Bulgaria. As it was difficult for Bulgaria to face the strong armies of these
kingdoms, she made peace with them.
Effect of the Balkan Wars
Turkey suffered immense loss of men and territorial possessions as a result of these
wars. Greece, Romania and Serbia acquired the territorial gains. Bulgaria was humiliated
by its defeat in war. Turkey helped Romania, Serbia and Greece against Bulgaria. It also
enhanced the hostilities between the two, but the Treaty of Constantinople made peace
between them.
The Peninsula of Balkan is said to be the Volcano of Europe. As far as Europe was
concerned, it remained constantly endangered by the conflicts of these kingdoms. The
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interests of the European rulers clashed with one another for the Balkan Peninsula. The
Great War of 1914 was fought as a direct result of the Balkan wars.
War Technology
First World War was one of the defining events of the 20th century. From 1914 to 1918
conflict raged in much of the world and involved most of Europe, the United States, and
much of the Middle East. In terms of technological history, World War I is significant
because it marked the debut of many new types of weapons and was the first major war
to “benefit” from technological advances in radio, electrical power, and other
World War I grew out of a variety of factors that had been building up throughout
Europe in the preceding decades. During the later 1800s many European countries
experienced a rise in nationalism. Nationalism, combined with growing industrial
capabilities, led to military buildups and an increasingly tense political situation
throughout the continent. Nations were increasingly nervous about what their neighbors
might be planning. In response to this tension, England, France, and Russia (Italy would
join in 1915 after the war was underway) formed the “Triple Entente” and aligned against
Germany and Austria-Hungary. This was one of numerous alliances that divided Europe
and made world war virtually impossible to avoid if one nation took action against
The flashpoint of the war is generally regarded as the 1914 assassination of Archduke
Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, during a state visit to Sarajevo.
Austria-Hungry turned its anger towards Serbia, who, they believed, encouraged and
abetted the assassination. In retaliation, Austria-Hungary invaded Serbia. On 29 July, in
defense of Serbia, Tsar Nicholas II mobilized Russia’s armed forces to pressure AustriaHungary. Three days later, on 1 August, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany honored its
alliance with Austria-Hungary, and declared war on Russia. That same day, France,
following its alliance with Russia, mobilized. Two days later, on 3 August, Germany
declared war on France. Great Britain, as an ally of France, declared war on Germany on
4 August. Less than a month and a half after the assassination of the Archduke and within
a week of the first military mobilizations the peoples of Europe were engulfed in war.
From the onset, those involved in the war were aware that technology would make a
critical impact on the outcome. In 1915 British Admiral Jacky Fisher wrote, “The war is
going to be won by inventions.” New weapons, such as tanks, the zeppelin, poison gas,
the airplane, the submarine, and the machine gun, increased casualties, and brought the
war to civilian populations. The Germans shelled Paris with long-range (60 miles or 100
kilometers) guns; London was bombed from the air for the first time by zeppelins.
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World War I was also the first major war that was able to draw upon electrical
technologies that had been in development at the turn of the century. Radio, for example,
became essential for communications. The most important advance in radio was the
transmission of voice rather than code, something the electron tube, as oscillator and
amplifier, made possible. Electricity also made a huge impact on the war. Battleships, for
example, might have electric signaling lamps, an electric helm indicator, electric fire
alarms, remote control—from the bridge—of bulkhead doors, electrically controlled
whistles, and remote reading of water level in the boilers. Electric power turned guns and
turrets and raised ammunition from the magazines up to the guns. Searchlights—both
incandescent and carbon-arc—became vital for nighttime navigation, for long-range
daytime signaling, and for illuminating enemy ships in night engagements.
Submarines also became potent weapons. Although they had been around for years, it
was during First World War that they began fulfilling their potential as a major threat.
Unrestricted submarine warfare, in which German submarines torpedoed ships without
warning—even civilian ships belonging to non-combatant nations such as the United
States—resulted in the sinking of the Lusitania on 7 May 1915, killing 1,195 people.
Outrage over the Lusitania and other sinkings, coupled with other factors brought the
United States out of its isolationism to declare war on Germany in 6 April 1917. Finding
ways to outfit ships to detect submarines became a major goal for the allies. Researchers
determined that allied ships and submarines could be outfitted with sensitive
microphones that could detect engine noise from enemy submarines. These underwater
microphones played an important part in combating the submarine threat. The Allies also
developed sonar, but it came too close to the end of the war to offer much help.
The war, especially the brutality of trench warfare, brought death and disease on a scale
people had never before experienced. During the 10-month-long Battle of Verdun in
1916, for example, as many as 1,000,000 people were killed. As the war dragged on,
casualties increased, and the war became unpopular with ordinary people. Revolution in
1917 led to the end of Russian participation in the war and precipitated the Bolshevik
regime. Just over a year later, a worker’s revolution in Germany forced the abdication of
Kaiser Wilhelm II on 9 November 1918. With the militaristic Kaiser out of the way,
Germany requested an armistice. Two days later, it took effect on the “Eleventh hour of
the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” On 28 June 1919 German delegates signed the
Treaty of Versailles and the war was officially over.
Although the war was over, its ramifications were far reaching. Technologically, great
strides had been made in just about every area that might come into play during war. But
the costs had been dear, and the end only temporary. Deaths from “The Great War” have
been estimated at 10,000,000, and the end of the war itself, the Treaty of Versailles and
its humiliating terms for Germany, laid the groundwork for World War II. The war was
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called “the war to end all wars,” and at the time that seemed possible. Unfortunately, it
would prove untrue in less than a generation.
Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points
Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points were first outlined in a speech Wilson gave to the
American Congress in January 1918. Wilson's Fourteen Points became the basis for a
peace programme and it was on the back of the Fourteen Points that Germany and her
allies agreed to an armistice in November 1918.
1. No more secret agreements ("Open covenants openly arrived at").
2. Free navigation of all seas.
3. An end to all economic barriers between countries.
4. Countries to reduce weapon numbers.
5. All decisions regarding the colonies should be impartial
6. The German Army is to be removed from Russia. Russia should be left to develop her
own political set-up.
7. Belgium should be independent like before the war.
8. France should be fully liberated and allowed to recover Alsace-Lorraine
9. All Italians are to be allowed to live in Italy. Italy's borders are to "along
clearly recognizable lines of nationality."
10. Self-determination should be allowed for all those living in Austria-Hungary.
11. Self-determination and guarantees of independence should be allowed for the Balkan
12. The Turkish people should be governed by the Turkish government. Non-Turks in the
old Turkish Empire should govern themselves.
13. An independent Poland should be created which should have access to the sea.
14. A League of Nations should be set up to guarantee the political and territorial
independence of all states.
The First World War caused heavy losses and suffering to the people of the countries
devastated by war or by blockade. To this were added the 0nancial burdens to remedy
those evils. The world now realized that war like gunpowder merely destroys and never
rebuilds and that it is a useless way of settling international disputes. This conviction led
to the founding of the League of Nations. It held out the hope that union of states could
collectively assure the world better security of life and property than an individual state
could do. League of Nation sought to convert the war mentality of man into a peace
mentality. This plan might have appeared to some as impracticable but that was the only
way to human progress.
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It included (I) an assembly in which all states big and small had equal representation.
(2) The Security Council which; it first included five permanent members—England,
USA, France, Japan and Italy- -and four non-permanent members elected from the rest of
the states. In 1926 Germany was admitted as the permanent member of the Security
Council and non-permanent membership was raised to 9. As the USA senate failed to
ratify the Treaty of Versailles USA ceased to be a member of the League (3) A
Secretariat under a Secretary General (4; A number of other agencies like the
International Court of Justice consisting of 15 judges, International Labour Organization
to negotiate treaties for protection of working men and women all over the world and
better their conditions of life. The League set up expert agencies to deal with social work,
with the problems of health and social evils, to control international transport, improve
the financial conditions of the worn-torn countries, to rehabilitate: prisoners of war and
refugees etc. The Mandate Committee was in charge of mandated territories and the
Minority Committee safeguarded the interests of the minorities in all countries.
Its Aim: The Covenant of the League lays down its main aims. Its first aim was to
maintain international peace and security by banishing war as a means of settling
international disputes and to co-operate in promoting social and economic well being of
the peoples of the world.
Its achievements. It carried out certain treaty obligations. Accordingly the League
supervised plebiscites in Schleswig and East Prussia and Upper Silesia. It administered
the Free City of Danzig and governed the Saar Basin for 15 years and enforced the rights
of the minorities and administered the mandated territories. It promoted humanitarian
work, secured humane and fair treatment of the natives in colonies, equality of
opportunities in commerce and took adequate steps to control or prevent diseases and
established voluntary Red Cross Societies.
In 1921 it forced Serbia to withdraw its forces from Albania. In 1923 it settled a
dispute between Italy and Greece over the Island of Corfu. It saved Austria and Hungary
from an economic collapse by advancing them credit In 1925 it averted a clash between
Greece and Bulgaria. However in disputes, where big powers were involved the League
failed. Thus it could do nothing when Poland seized Vilna belonging to Lithuania,
because Poland's claims were supported by France. It compelled Sweden to hand over
Aland Islands to Finland. When dispute arose between Turkey and Iraq over the Mosul
territory it fixed the boundary. Some 400,000 prisoners of war were repatriated to their
homes It looked after the refugees turned out by Turkey and took adequate steps to check
the spread of typhus from Russia and the sale of arms to the native tribes.
Two other outstanding achievements of the League were the Briand-Kellogg Pact and
the European Federal Union. It was sponsored by Briand, French Foreign Minister and by
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Kellogg, the USA Foreign Secretary. The members who signed the Pact in 1928 resolved
not to use war as a means to settle international disputes. The European Federal Union
sponsored by Brand aimed at organizing European states into a union and create
machinery to discuss common problems and give up war as a means of settling
international disputes. But the lukewarm attitude of some of the European powers did not
hold out any hope of its realization. All hopes of lasting peace disappeared with the death
of Briand in 1932 and his place was taken by other.
Decline of the League: The League failed to solve the disarmament question. The
preamble to the League laid down that reduction of the armaments to the level necessary
to maintain the security of the state was the necessary condition for world peace. British
Prime Minister said that unless the allied powers reduced their armaments it would be
difficult to make Germany to disarm. Now France that was afraid of Germany refused to
reduce its armaments until Britain gave the guarantee of aid. In 1932 at the instance of
USA a World Conference on Disarmament met at Washington. France suggested the
organization of an international military force and it was to be supplemented by national
contingents as the League might decide. It would have been the right step but the plan
was shelved. USA then proposed that all the governments should reduce their armaments
by a third. But others put forward proposals of excluding certain types of armaments such
as heavy artillery, bombing craft, chemical warfare etc- and as a result to decision was
reached on the question But Germany's right, to increase its armaments gradually to the
level of other' nations' was recognized It was a great blunder. The Nazis who came lo
power in 1933 withdrew from the League and started arming itself at a rate which
threatened European peace. Naturally other nations followed the example of Germany
until Europe was ready for a second show down.
As time went on the League's authority steadily declined. It suffered a reverse on
Manchurian issue. In 1931 Japan, a permanent member of the Security Council annexed
Manchuria, a Chinese province, and converted it into the Kingdom of Man-chuko. The
League declared Japan guilty and wanted it to vacate But it retaliated by withdrawing
from the League and the League could do nothing to make it vacate the aggression. Its
prestige suffered further when Italy conquered Abyssinia in 1936. The dispute began with
clashes between the two powers on the Abyssinian frontier. On a complaint made by
Abyssinia the League appointed a commission which found that neither of the two
powers was guilty and it suggested that they should withdraw Italy refused even when
favorable concessions were offered to it. The League then recommended economic
sanctions against Italy and about fifty nations responded but in spite of Italy annexed
Abyssinia. Rape of Abyssinia was a glaring example of the League's weakness. Italy was
a permanent member of the Security Council and was represented at the Peace
Conference at Versailles and had sponsored the entry of Abyssinia in to the League. It
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had also signed the Briand-Kellogg Pact and was a member of the proposed European
Concert. The World was stunned when such a state committed aggression and it knew
that Italy was guilty.
Causes of Failure. There were certain underlying causes for the failure of the: League.
(1) It did not represent all the nations of the world and to that extent its authority
remained weak. (2) The economic sanctions used against state could not produce
immediate effects. Military sanctions would have been more effective but they were
fraught with danger. After the withdrawal of Japan, Germany and Italy, responsibility for
military sanctions would have fallen only on Britain as others could contribute very little.
It was not in the interest of Britain to entangle itself in a war which was against its
economic interests, Further the European powers were unwilling to fight for a principle.
(3) French Foreign Policy was to a large extent responsible for what happened. It had
concluded a secret treaty of friendship with Italy assuring it the safety of its Alpine
frontier and France adopted a make-belief policy in its dealings. (4) Absence of USA
from its membership was greatly responsible for its decline. (5) There was an utter lack
of give and take policy among the powers which made it difficult to solve the disputes
through arbitration.
The Russian Revolution, 1917
One of the most significant single events in modern world history is undoubtedly the
Russian Revolution of 1917. It cannot be compared to any revolution (preceding or
following it) in its scope, its fundamentalism, dynamism and its immediate impact.
Various factors and forces led to the Russian Revolution of 1917.
The economic factors were the main factors contributing to the Revolution, as they
resulted in poverty, misery and exploitation of the masses by the nobility.
Russia was mainly a highly backward agricultural country before the revolution. The
royal family, the nobility and the clergy owned most of the agricultural land. Only
between three and ten acres of land was owned by 70% of the peasants. Many of them
had to earn their livelihood only 2½ acres land or even less. In addition they had to use
primitive tools, implements and methods of cultivation, which were not very productive.
Further, the poor peasants became poorer as they had to pay huge sums of rent and
tributes to their landlords every year. This created great discontent among the farmers
who were ready to revolt against the Czarist government, in order to end this economic
and social system.
In the industrial sphere too, Russia was backward and depended only on foreign capital.
The workers and laborers had to endure miserable working conditions. They received
extremely low wages and worked for 12 to 14 hours a day. They had to go without any
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medical relief in case of an accident while on duty. They did not even have a weekly
holiday. It was considered a crime to form trade unions.
Moreover, the government did not attempt to improve these conditions. Instead, the
Russian villages and cities suffered from poverty, dirt and disease caused by the
exorbitant land revenue and the unbearably high taxes and levies.
There was an imbalance in the social structure, owing to the above economic factors.
As a result 70% of the Russian population was illiterate. The social structure of Russia
was completely devoid of education, medical relief and public health. The masses being
poor, hungry, diseased and ignorant were highly addicted to vodka, a very powerful
intoxicant. Above all the system of flogging that prevailed in the whole of Russia made
Russian social life, highly miserable, inhuman and wretched.
Political factors also formed an important cause of the Russian Revolution of 1917. The
masses had no legal means of improving the social structure. A strike was considered to
be a mutiny. The people had no press to ventilate their grievances.
The Czarist government was ruthless, absolute and repressive. On January 15, 1905, a
peaceful demonstration led by Father Gapon at St. Petersburg was fired upon by the
Czarist troops. The Duma (parliament) had limited powers. Franchise was not given to
women, laborers and the common people.
The growing discontent among the masses manifested itself in all aspects of national
life. The working class became highly receptive to Marxist ideas infiltrating into Russia.
In 1893, the Social Democratic Party was founded and in 1903, this party was split into
two; the Bolsheviks led by Nikolai Lenin and the Mensheviks led by Martov. While the
former was revolutionary and supported by Stalin, the latter was evolutionary and was
supported by Trotsky.
In the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, Russia, a giant state, received a crushing defeat at
the hands of Japan, a very small Asian power. The people realized that the Russian defeat
was due to the lack of a well trained and a well-equipped army. Thus it became essential
to end the Czarist regime.
The Revolution of 1905 gave the people a good experience in popular uprisings, strikes,
lockouts and violent demonstrations against the Czarist government. Thus this
Revolution could be regarded as the dress rehearsal for the major upheaval that was to
follow in the future. This upheaval would eventually revolutionize the nation in the
social, economic and political spheres.
Czar Nicholas II of Russia was under the influence of his Czarina Alexandra
Fyodorovna. She in turn was under the sway of the wicked and notorious monk Rasputin,
who claimed to have spiritual powers that could heal the young prince. The latter was
suffering from an incurable disease. In order to please Rasputin, Czarina Alexandra used
to interfere in the day-to-day administration of the state. Thus the ministers and high
officials were appointed and dismissed on the careless advice of Rasputin, causing great
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discontent among the people. Though Rasputin was killed by the nobles in December
1916, the Czarina nobles in December 1916, the Czarina continued to influence the
affairs of the state till the Revolution of 1917.
The social, economic, political and psychological conditions in Russia had become so
vulnerable that it only required a spark to cause the revolution. World War I was
responsible in setting the ball of revolution rolling in Russia. Acute shortage of
ammunition, poor generalship, lack of factories, demoralized soldiers, a corrupt
government and high treason at all ranks, created a crisis in the state. The entire national
life of the state was paralyzed. The peasants and workers denounced the war and the
Czarist government. They held demonstrations and went on an indefinite strike. The
peasants attacked and killed the Kulaks (rich peasants) and seized their lands. The heavy
losses in battles undermined the morale of the soldiers, who deserted the front and joined
the peasants, factory workers and sailors in the revolution that began on March 12, 1917.
Course of the Russian Revolution
During the year 1917, two revolutions took place in Russia. The February revolution of
1917 led to the defeat of Czarism, and a republic was established in its place. However
the October Revolution of 1917 established the dictatorship of the proletariat (i.e. the
laboring class).
The February revolution of 1917 began with the bread riots on February 23. This was
followed by a general industrial strike on February 25, in Petrograd. The entire Petrograd
garrison and the police, joined the revolution by February 27, and by the following day,
Petrograd fell into the hands of the revolutionaries.
The February revolution was the spontaneous outbreak of a large number of workers
and peasants. By February 27, two organizations came into existence namely the
Provisional Committee of the Duma and the Provisional Executive Committee of the
Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ Deputies. The latter that represented factory workers, social
revolutionaries, Mensheviks and Bolsheviks was to guide the revolution.
The Czarist ministers were arrested on February 28, 1917 and Commissars were
appointed in their place by the Provisional Committee of the Duma. The mutiny of the
troops occurred on March 1, 1917. Though the Czar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate
on March 2, 1917, all the members of the royal family remained under house arrest, until
they were shot dead on July 16, 1918. This brought the Czarism in Russia to an end.
A provisional coalition government came into existence by March 3, 1917, under the
premiership of Prince George Lvov. The Allied powers soon recognized the provisional
government; it was considered the ’legal successor’ to the Czarist government.
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However, an ever-increasing number of workers and soldiers came to recognize the
Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers. Thus a Dual Power was established by the revolution,
namely the Provisional Government and the government of the Soviets of Workers’ and
Soldiers’ Deputies. The latter was soon established in all cities, towns and districts. The
first All -Russian Congress was announced by the end of March, 1917.
The brilliant leadership and the moving spirit of Lenin was responsible for the October
Revolution in Russia. Under his leadership, the Bolsheviks criticized and exposed the
shortcomings of the Provisional Government. A huge armed demonstration was held
against the Provisional Government in Petrograd, on July 17, 1917. Prime Minister
George Lvov was forced to resign. He was succeeded by Alexander Kerensky as the new
Prime Minister.
However Kerensky’s new coalition Government soon grew unpopular. At the same
time, the masses became attracted towards the Bolsheviks, whom they regarded as the
true champions of the revolution. The Bolsheviks became the majority party in most of
the Soviets by October 2. They formed the Military Revolutionary Committee under Leon
Trotsky. Under this committee, the Red Guards were organized and commissars were
procured to take charge of the Petrograd army units. Thus the complete allegiance of the
Petrograd troops was secured.
On October 25, the Winter Palace, where the Provisional Government was in session
under armed protection, was attacked by the Red Guards. All the ministers were arrested
and killed. Since the October revolution was a deliberately planned coup d’état by Lenin
and the Bolshevik controlled Petrograd Soviet, Lenin is rightly considered to be the
Father of the Bolshevik Revolution.
According to the Constitution published and adopted on July 10, 1918, Russia was
named as the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic. While the Constitution of
1918 guaranteed certain basic rights to the exploited people, it also imposed some basic
obligations on them. In 1922, the All-Russian Congress of Soviets created the Union of
Soviet Socialist Republic.
In 1921, Lenin introduced the New Economic Policy (N.E.P) which was a blend of state
socialism and state capitalism.
After Lenin’s death in 1924, there was a keen struggle between his lieutenants Leon
Trotsky and Joseph Stalin, for taking his place. Stalin was successful in establishing his
dictatorship in the party, as well as in the country.
Joseph Stalin then inaugurated an era of five-Year plans in order to convert the weak,
agrarian Russian economy into a powerful and stable industrial economy. He also
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attempted to get rid of the Kulaks, by mechanization and the collectivization of all the
farms. Thus the First Five-Year Plan in 1928, the Second Five-Year Plan in 1933, and the
Third Five-Year Plan in 1938, helped Stalin to realize his objectives completely. Owing to
these Five-Year plans, the Soviet Union became the second most highly industrialized
country by 1940. The Revolution also enabled the Soviet Union to emerge from World
War II as the second super power; the first being the U.S.A. In 1936, Stalin gave a new
constitution to the U.S.S.R, which provided for such features as a secret ballot and
universal adult franchise.
Consequences of the Russian Revolution
The Russian Revolution is regarded as one of the most remarkable events in
history since it set up a new way of living and thinking. Dr. J.E.Swain has
commented, "Nothing has so completely challenged orthodox theories, since the
revolutionists overthrew the Bourbons. The Russians, in a few years, have
standards for a new way of living and thinking."
set up
The Russian Revolution brought to an end the Czarist regime. In its place a Republic
was established. The Revolution threw a challenge to the values of western culture, the
fundamental principles of trade and industry, the well-established systems of government,
the social, economic and political institutions and the methods of diplomacy. Thus the
world was forced to re-evaluate the western values of democracy.
The Russian Revolution of 1917 was an event of international significance. It struck
terror in the minds of the capitalists all over the world as the Revolution made an
irresistible appeal to the proletarians. Therefore it was claimed that "The proletarians
have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all
countries, unite!" The Russian Revolution thus invited the laboring people all over the
world to unite against the capitalist class. Thus a war was declared between totalitarian
dictatorship and democratic socialism, between Marxism and capitalism.
The colonial people were awoken form their long slumber of ignorance. A new
consciousness of their political rights against their imperialist masters had been injected
into them. The revolution deeply affected the minds of millions in Asia and Africa; they
were provided with a fresh weapon in the form of the principle of self-determination of
all peoples.
The success of the Russian Revolution changed the character of the nationalist
revolutions in the colonial world. They were given a new social and economic content.
In the political field, the cult of the ’common man’ was a major result of Soviet
democracy. The proletariat regarded socialism as absolutely necessary to complete
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democracy and make it realistic. Countries like Albania, Bulgaria, Poland, Peking, China
and Mongolia established proletarian dictatorship.
In the economic field, the conception of economic planning (Five-Year Plans) and the
idea of central direction of the national economy with definite goals emerged from the
Soviet Union. E.H. Carr declared, “If we are all planners now, this is largely the result,
conscious or unconscious, of the impact of Soviet practice and Soviet achievement."
The Soviet economic planning was directed towards the realization of three welldefined social goals. Firstly, the promotion of the material and moral conditions of the
proletariat; the realization of the social or the common good of society by and through
society and finally the securing of equal social obligations and rights.
The Bolshevik Revolution divided the world into two diametrically opposed power
blocs; one being the communist bloc led by the Soviet Union and the other being the antiCommunist bloc, under the leadership of the U.S. The Revolution of 1917 transformed a
poverty-stricken Czarist Russia into a super power, under the guiding spirits of Lenin,
Stalin and other leaders.
The Bolshevik Revolution is still going on. It continually demonstrates the values that
transformed a backward and decadent state into a super power of the world, within the
short span of sixty years. It attracts many more millions of Southeast Asia and the Middle
Establishment of USSR
In post-revolutionary Russia, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) is
established in December 1922 comprising a confederation of Russia, Belorussia, Ukraine,
and the Transcaucasia Federation (divided in 1936 into the Georgian, Azerbaijan, and
Armenian republics). Also known as the Soviet Union, the new communist state was the
successor to the Russian Empire and the first country in the world to be based on Marxist
During the Russian Revolution of 1917 and subsequent three-year Russian Civil War,
the Bolshevik Party under Vladimir Lenin dominated the soviet forces, a coalition of
workers’ and soldiers’ committees that called for the establishment of a socialist state in
the former Russian Empire. In the USSR, all levels of government were controlled by the
Communist Party, and the party’s politburo, with its increasingly powerful general
secretary, effectively ruled the country. Soviet industry was owned and managed by the
state, and agricultural land was divided into state-run collective farms.
In the decades after it was established, the Russian-dominated Soviet Union grew into
one of the world’s most powerful and influential states and eventually encompassed 15
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republics–Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Belorussia, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Latvia, Lithuania, and
Estonia. In 1991, the Soviet Union was dissolved following the collapse of its communist
Lenin (1870–1924)
Vladimir Lenin was founder of the Russian Communist Party,
leader of the Bolshevik Revolution and architect and first head of the Soviet state. Wide
considered one of the most influential and controversial political figures of the 20th
century, Vladimir Lenin engineered the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in 1917 and later
took over as the first leader of the newly formed Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Early Years
He was born Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov on April 22, 1870, in Simbirsk, Russia, which
was later renamed Ulyanovsk in his honor. In 1901, he adopted the last name Lenin while
doing underground party work. His family was well-educated, and Lenin, the third of six
children, was close to his parents and siblings. School was a central part of Lenin’s
childhood. His parents, both educated and highly cultured, invoked a passion for learning
in their children, especially Vladimir. A voracious reader, Lenin went on to finish first in
his high school class, showing a particular gift for Latin and Greek.
But not all of life was easy for Lenin and his family. Two situations in particular
shaped his life. The first came when Lenin was a boy and his father, an inspector of
schools, was threatened with early retirement by a suspicious government nervous about
the influence public school had on Russian society.
The more significant and more tragic situation came in 1887, when Lenin’s older
brother, Alexander, a university student at the time, was arrested and executed for being a
part of a group planning to assassinate Emperor Alexander III. With his father already
dead, Lenin now became the man of the family. Alexander’s involvement in oppositional
politics was not an isolated incident in Lenin’s family. In fact, all of Lenin’s siblings
would take part to some degree in revolutionary activities.
Young Revolutionary
The year of his brother’s execution, Lenin enrolled at Kazan University to study law.
His time there was cut short, however, when, during his first term, he was expelled for
taking part in a student demonstration. Exiled to his grandfather’s estate in the village of
Kokushkino, Lenin took up residence with his sister Anna, whom police had ordered to
live there as a result of her own suspicious activities.
There, Lenin immersed himself in a host of radical literature, including the
novel ‘What Is To Be Done? by Nikolai Chernyshevsky, which tells the tale of a
character named Rakhmetov, who carries a single-minded devotion to revolutionary
politics. Lenin also soaked up the writing of Karl Marx, the German philosopher whose
famous book ‘Das Capital’ would have a huge impact on Lenin’s thinking. In January
1889, Lenin declared himself a Marxist.
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Eventually, Lenin received his law degree, finishing his schoolwork in 1892. He
moved to the city of Samara, where his client base was largely composed of Russian
peasants. Their struggles against what Lenin saw as a class-biased legal system only
reinforced his Marxist beliefs.In time, Lenin focused more of his energy on revolutionary
politics. He left Samara in the mid-1890s for a new life in St. Petersburg, the Russian
capital at the time. There, Lenin connected with other like-minded Marxists and began to
take an increasingly active role in their activities.
The work did not go unnoticed, and in December 1895 Lenin and several other Marxist
leaders were arrested. Lenin was exiled to Siberia for three years. His fiancée and future
wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, joined him.
Following his release from exile and then a stint in Munich, where Lenin and others
co-founded a newspaper, Iskra, to unify Russian and European Marxists, he returned to
St. Petersburg and stepped up his leadership role in the revolutionary movement. At the
Second Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party in 1903, a forceful Lenin
argued for a streamlined party leadership community, one that would lead a network of
lower party organizations and their workers. “Give us an organization of revolutionaries,”
Lenin said, “and we will overturn Russia!”
The Revolution of 1905 &First World War
Lenin’s call was soon supported by events on the ground. In 1904 Russia went to war
with Japan. The conflict had a profound impact on Russian society. After a number of
defeats put a strain on the country’s domestic budget, citizens from all walks of life began
to vocalize their discontent over the country’s political structure and called for reform.
The situation was heightened on January 9, 1905, when a group of unarmed workers in
St. Petersburg took their concerns directly to the city’s palace to submit a petition to
Emperor Nicholas II. They were met by security forces, who fired on the group, killing
and wounding hundreds. The crisis set the stage for what would be called the Russian
Revolution of 1905.
Hoping to placate his citizens, the emperor issued his October Manifesto, offering up
several political concessions, most notably the creation of an elected legislative assembly
known as the Duma.But Lenin was far from satisfied. His frustrations extended to his
fellow Marxists, in particular the group calling itself the Mensheviks, led by Julius
Martov. The issues centered on party structure and the driving forces of a revolution to
fully seize control of Russia. While his comrades believed that the power must reside
with the bourgeoisie, Lenin passionately distrusted that segment of the population.
Instead, he argued, a real and complete revolution, one that could lead to Socialist
Revolution that could spread outside of Russia, must be led by the workers, the country’s
From the Mensheviks’ point of view, however, Lenin’s ideas really paved the way for
a one-man dictatorship over the people he claimed he wanted to empower. The two
groups had sparred since party’s Second Congress, which had handed Lenin’s group,
known as the Bolsheviks, a slim majority. The fighting would continue until a 1912 party
conference in Prague, when Lenin formally split to create a new, separate entity.
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During World War I Lenin went into exile again, this time taking up residence in
Switzerland. As always, his mind stayed focus on revolutionary politics. During this
period he wrote and published ‘Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism’ (1916), a
defining work for the future leader, in which he argued that war was the natural result of
international capitalism.
Russian Leader
In 1917, a tired, hungry and war-weary Russia deposed the tsars. Lenin quickly
returned home and, perhaps sensing his own path to power, quickly denounced the
country’s newly formed Provisional Government, which had been assembled by a group
of leaders of the bourgeois liberal parties. Lenin instead called for a Soviet government,
one that would be ruled directly by soldiers, peasants and workers.
In late 1917 Lenin led what was soon to be known as the October Revolution, but was
essentially a coup d’état. Three years of civil war followed. The Lenin-led Soviet
government faced incredible odds. The anti-Soviet forces, or Whites, headed mainly by
former tsarist generals and admirals, fought desperately to overthrow Lenin’s Red
regime. They were aided by World War I Allies, who supplied the group with money and
Determined to win at any cost, Lenin showed himself to be ruthless in his push to
secure power. He launched what came to be known as the Red Terror, a vicious
campaign Lenin used to eliminate the opposition within the civilian population.
In August 1918 Lenin narrowly escaped an assassination attempt, when he was
severely wounded with a pair of bullets from a political opponent. His recovery only
reinforced his larger-than-life presence among his countrymen, though his health was
never truly the same.
Despite the breadth of the opposition, Lenin came out victorious. But the kind of
country he hoped to lead never came to fruition. His defeat of an opposition that wished
to keep Russia tethered to Europe’s capitalist system, ushered in an era of international
retreat for the Lenin-led government. Russia, as he saw it, would be void of class conflict
and the international wars it fostered.
But the Russia he presided over was reeling from the bloody civil war he’d helped
instigate. Famine and poverty shaped much of society. In 1921, Lenin now faced the
same kind of peasant uprising he’d ridden to power. Widespread strikes in cities and in
rural sections of the country broke out, threatening the stability of Lenin’s government.
To ease the tension, Lenin introduced the New Economic Policy, which allowed workers
to sell their grain on the open market.
Later Years Lenin suffered a stroke in May 1922, and then a second one in December
of that year. With his health in obvious decline, Lenin turned his thoughts to how the
newly formed USSR would be governed after he was gone.
Increasingly, he saw a party and government that had strayed far from its revolutionary
goals. In early 1923 he issued what came to be called as his Testament, in which a
regretful Lenin expressed remorse over the dictatorial power that dominated Soviet
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government. He was particularly disappointed with Joseph Stalin, the general secretary of
the Communist Party, who had begun to amass great power.
On March 10, 1923, Lenin’s health was dealt another severe blow when he suffered an
additional stroke, this one taking away his ability to speak and concluding his political
work. Nearly 10 months later, on January 21, 1924 he passed away in the village now
known as Gorki Leninskiye. In a testament to his standing in Russian society, his corpse
was embalmed and placed in a mausoleum on Moscow’s Red Square.
War Communism
War Communism, in the history of the Soviet Union, economic policy applied by the
Bolsheviks during the period of the Russian Civil War (1918–20).More exactly, the
policy of War Communism lasted from June 1918 to March 1921.The policy’s chief
features were the expropriation of private business and the nationalization of industry
throughout Soviet Russia, and the forced requisition of surplus grain and
other food products from the peasantry by the state.
These measures negatively affected both agricultural and industrial production. With
no incentives to grow surplus grain (since it would just be confiscated), the peasants’
production of it and other crops plummeted, with the result that starvation came to
threaten many city dwellers. In the cities, a large and untrained bureaucracy was hastily
created to supervise the newly centralized, state-owned economy, with the result that
labour productivity and industrial output plummeted. By 1921 industrial production had
dropped to one-fifth of its prewar levels (i.e., in 1913), and the real wages of urban
workers had declined by an estimated two-thirds in just three years. Uncontrolled
inflation rendered paper currency worthless, and so the government had to resort to the
exchange and distribution of goods and services without the use of money.
By early 1921 public discontent with the state of the economy had spread from the
countryside to the cities, resulting in numerous strikes and protests that culminated in
March of that year in the Kronshtadt Rebellion. In response, the Bolsheviks had to adopt
the New Economic Policy and thus temporarily abandon their attempts to achieve a
socialist economic system by government decree.
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
Lenin realized that the Russian people desired peace. In December 1917, an armistice
was signed with Germany. After some haggling, Trotsky finally made the peace treaty
with the victorious Germans in March 1918.
Soviet Russia ceded to the Germans vast territories, including Terms Russian Poland,
Lithuania, Kurland, Latvia, and Estonia. To Turkey she gave Ardahan, Kars and Batum
in the Caucasus region. The surrender of Bessarabia to the Rumanians was added later.
Soviet Russia had to give recognition to the independence of Finland, Georgia and the
Ukraine. Reparations of 6 billion marks were exacted in installments.
The peace treaty was a humiliation for Russia. It deprived Russia of nearly 1/3 of her
agricultural land and population, more than 3/5 of her iron-ore and coal production and
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1/2 of her industrial plants. By a single treaty, Russian territorial gains over the past
centuries, dating back to Peter the Great, were wiped out. Russia was pushed back and
virtually cut off from the Baltic.
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk gained some support from the Russians who desired peace;
but it hurt the pride of those Russians who had never agreed to peace at any price and felt
humiliated by the harsh terms of the Treaty. The most discontented group was the Social
Revolutionaries. The Social Revolutionaries had great influence over the peasantry in the
territories lost. They even made an attempt to kill Lenin. They also stirred up peasant
uprisings. The former members of the Provisional Government which had advocated the
continuation of the war were also infuriated.
To sum up, in its early years, the Bolsheviks were able to make peace and give
satisfaction to the peasants and the workers but the non-Bolshevik political groups were
dissatisfied with the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly and the humiliating BrestLitovsk peace treaty.
The Civil War (1918-1920)
The Participants
The non-Bolshevik politica1 groups attempted to oust the Bolsheviks from power.
Between 1918 and 1920, there was a civil war between the 'Red' Russians and the 'White'
Russians. The 'Red' Russians were the Bolsheviks. The 'White' Russians were the Social
Revolutionaries, the Czarist supporters (e.g. the army officers and Cossacks), the Cadets
and members of other 'bourgeois' political parties. The Mensheviks occupied an
ambiguous position in the Civil War. Some sided with the 'White' Russians but most of
them were in sympathy with the 'Red' Russians.
Ex-allied countries, at one time reaching fourteen in number, joined in the Civil War to
fight on the side of the 'White' Russians. These countries included the U.S.A., Britain,
Japan, France and Poland. Their motives were mixed:
(i) Some disliked Communism and had a fear of revolution;
(ii) some hated the Bolsheviks for repudiating the foreign debts, nationalizing foreign
investments and publishing the secret treaties between the powers;
(iii) some wanted to take revenge on the Bolsheviks who withdrew from the war;
(iv) Some wanted to protect their oil, coal and iron interests in South Russia;
(v) Some of the neighbouring countries of Russia had agreed for Russia's territories.
Course of the Civil War
The Civil War took place in five main areas on the periphery of the Russian state: in
the Caucasus and Southern Russia, in the Ukraine, in the Baltic, in Northern Russia
(Murmansk and Archangel) and in Siberia. The White governments were proclaimed in
these areas, rivaling the Bolshevik government. The greatest crisis for the Bolshevik
government came in the summer of 1919. Admiral Kolchak advanced from Siberia.
General Denikin advanced from Southern Russia. General Yudenich advanced from the
Ukraine to the outskirts of Petrograd. But these three movements were not well
coordinated and were defeated by the Red Army organized by Trotsky.
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By the end of 1920, the White governments in these five regions were defeated by the
Red Army. The Civil War petered out. But in May 1920, Poland suddenly launched an
attack on Kiev. The Red Army fought back but was finally defeated by the Polish troops
aided by the French government. By the Treaty of Riga, Russia surrendered extensive
parts of White Russia (including Kiev) and part of Ukraine to Poland. In these areas,
there were about 4 million Russian and Ukrainians. (Stalin recovered these areas through
a deal with Hitler on the eve of the Second World War).
Reasons for the Bolshevik Victory
The Bolsheviks' victory was chiefly attributed to their superior understanding of
modern warfare. They made a total war (a war which combined military operations with
economic, psychological and other activities):
(i) Trotsky, the Commissar of War, was chiefly responsible for the successful military
operations. He exercised a central command over the whole army, emphasizing discipline
and obedience. The recruitment of the Red Army was based upon conscription. The
commanders of the Red Army were staffed with former Czarist officers who were willing
to co-operate. These ex-Czarist officers were watched over by the Political Commissars,
who had also the duty to teach the army revolutionary theories, and explain to them the
importance of fighting the Civil War against the counter-revolutionaries. Officers would
be punished to death if they were defeated in any single battle. Fear of death compelled
the Red Army to fight bravely.
(ii) Lenin also ordered an economic reorganization to co-ordinate with the war effort.
This was called 'War Communism'. This meant that all the economic resources and
products of the country were to be nationalized by the government. In practice, the
government sent army detachments and committees of poor peasants to confiscate food
crops from the peasants. The industrial plants of the country were taken over by the
government. All private banks were closed and their resources were taken over by the
State Bank. Internal and foreign commerce became a state monopoly. Railroads and
shipping lines were also put in the hands of the State. Compulsory labour for everyone
was introduced. No strikes were allowed. Overnight the regime had at its disposal the
entire national resources to carry on a war against its enemy.
(iii) In contrast, the White Army had poor discipline. They were uncoordinated in their
war efforts. The White General often acted independently. They fought at vast distances
from one another. Moreover, the White Army took food from the peasants and so did not
have much economic support from the peasants. The White ill-treated the peasants under
their rule. They shot their prisoners indiscriminately.
(iv) Psychological fear was exploited to the full by Lenin. Many members of the old
Czarist secret police, the Okrana, were used to establish a new secret police, renamed
Cheka. It came to employ a staff of 30,000 and its own army. By 1922, the secret police
was believed to have put to death about 50,000 persons. The Czar and his family were
shot dead. So the Russians dared not oppose Lenin.
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(v) The workers rallied under the Bolsheviks. The peasants did the same because they
feared that once the Whites were in power, they would repudiate the Bolsheviks' decree
of giving land to the peasants.
(vi) The 'White' Russians obtained aids from the Allies. Foreign intervention brought
national danger to Russia. A sense of nationalism brought Russians to support Bolshevik
government. Except in munitions, allied help to the Whites was too small and unreliable.
(e.g. The total British casualties in Northern Russia were less than a thousand men.) The
people of the allied countries were too tired of war. Once the war ended, both the Labour
Party and the Trade Unions in Britain were objected to British intervention in the Russian
Civil War. There were serious mutinies in the French fleet in the Black Sea. The allies
withdrew their troops before the end of 1919.
The New Economic Policy (1921-1928)
New Economic Policy (NEP), the economic policy of the government of the Soviet
Union from 1921 to 1928, representing a temporary retreat from its previous policy of
extreme centralization and doctrinaire socialism. The policy of War Communism, in
effect since 1918, had by 1921 brought the national economy to the point of total
breakdown. The Kronshtadt Rebellion of March 1921 convinced the Communist Party
and its leader, Vladimir Lenin, of the need to retreat from socialist policies in order to
maintain the party’s hold on power. Accordingly, the 10th Party Congress in March 1921
introduced the measures of the New Economic Policy. These measures included the
return of most agriculture, retail trade, and small-scale light industry to private ownership
and management while the state retained control of heavy industry, transport, banking,
and foreign trade. Money was reintroduced into the economy in 1922 (it had been
abolished under War Communism).The peasantry were allowed to own and cultivate
their own land, while paying taxes to the state. The New Economic Policy reintroduced a
measure of stability to the economy and allowed the Soviet people to recover from years
of war, civil war, and governmental mismanagement. The small businessmen and
managers who flourished in this period became known as NEP men.
But the NEP was viewed by the Soviet government as merely a temporary expedient to
allow the economy to recover while the Communists solidified their hold on power. By
1925 Nikolay Bukharin had become the foremost supporter of the NEP, while Leon
Trotsky was opposed to it and Joseph Stalin was noncommittal. The NEP was dogged by
the government’s chronic inability to procure enough grain supplies from the peasantry to
feed its urban work force. In 1928–29 these grain shortages prompted Joseph Stalin, by
then the country’s paramount leader, to forcibly eliminate the private ownership of
farmland and to collectivize agriculture under the state’s control, thus ensuring the
procurement of adequate food supplies for the cities in the future. This abrupt policy
change, which was accompanied by the destruction of several million of the country’s
most prosperous private farmers, marked the end of the NEP. It was followed by the
reimposition of state control over all industry and commerce in the country by 1931.
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The Comintern
In March 1919, Lenin founded the Third International (or Comintern) in Moscow with
Zinoviev as its President. Its avowed object was to replace World Capitalism by World
Communism. Its methods were to set up communist parties in all countries of Europe. All
these newly-established communist parties would accept instructions from the
Comintern. They would break away from the existing Social Democratic parties which
worked for immediate social reforms through parliamentary legislation. These new
communist parties would preach the workers to seize power through a revolution.
Zinoviev was the President of the Comintern from 1920 to1926. (In 1926, he was
branded as a supporter of Trotsky and lost his position. During the great purges of 19341936, he was tried and finally executed in 1936). The Third International lasted until
Joseph Stalin (1878–1953)
Joseph Stalin ruled the Soviet Union for more than two decades, instituting a reign of
terror while modernizing Russia and helping to defeat Nazism.
Early Life
On December 18, 1879, in the Russian peasant village of Gori, Georgia, Iosif
Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili (later known as Joseph Stalin) was born. The son of
Besarion Jughashvili, a cobbler, and Ketevan Geladze, a washerwoman, Joseph was a
frail child. At age 7, he contracted smallpox, leaving his face scarred and his left arm
slightly deformed. The other village children treated him cruelly, instilling in him a sense
of inferiority. Because of this, Joseph began a quest for greatness and respect. He also
developed a cruel streak for those who crossed him.
Joseph's mother, a devout Russian Orthodox Christian, wanted him to become a priest.
In 1888, she managed to enroll him in church school in Gori. Joseph did well in school,
and his efforts gained him a scholarship to Tiflis Theological Seminary in 1894. A year
later, Joseph came in contact with Messame Dassy, a secret organization that supported
Georgian independence from Russia. Some of the members were socialists who
introduced him to the writings of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. Joseph joined the group
in 1898.
Though he excelled in seminary school, Joseph left in 1899. Accounts differ as to the
reason; official school records state he was unable to pay the tuition and withdrew. It's
also speculated he was asked to leave due to his political views challenging the tsarist
regime of Nicholas II. Joseph chose not to return home, but stayed in Tiflis, devoting his
time to the revolutionary movement. For a time, he found work as a tutor and later as a
clerk at the Tiflis Observatory. In 1901, he joined the Social Democratic Labor Party and
worked full-time for the revolutionary movement. In 1902, he was arrested for
coordinating a labor strike and exiled to Siberia, the first of his many arrests and exiles in
the fledgling years of the Russian Revolution. It was during this time that Joseph adopted
the name "Stalin," meaning steel in Russian.
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Though never a strong orator like Vladimir Lenin or an intellectual like Leon Trotsky,
Joseph Stalin excelled in the mundane operations of the revolution, calling meetings,
publishing leaflets and organizing strikes and demonstrations. After escaping from exile,
he was marked by the Okhranka, (the tsar's secret police) as an outlaw and continued his
work in hiding, raising money through robberies, kidnappings and extortion. Stalin
gained infamy being associated with the 1907 Tiflis bank robbery, which resulted in
several deaths and 250,000 rubles stolen (approximately $3.4 million in U.S. dollars).
In February 1917, the Russian Revolution began. By March, the tsar had abdicated the
throne and was placed under house arrest. For a time, the revolutionaries supported a
provisional government, believing a smooth transition of power was possible. In April
1917, Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin denounced the provisional government, arguing
that the people should rise up and take control by seizing land from the rich and factories
from the industrialists. By October, the revolution was complete and the Bolsheviks were
in control.
Communist Party Leader
The fledgling Soviet government went through a violent period after the revolution as
various individuals vied for position and control. In 1922, Stalin was appointed to the
newly created office of general secretary of the Communist Party. Though not a
significant post at the time, it gave Stalin control over all party member appointments,
which allowed him to build his base. He made shrewd appointments and consolidated his
power so that eventually nearly all members of the central command owed their position
to him. By the time anyone realized what he had done, it was too late. Even Lenin, who
was gravely ill, was helpless to regain control from Stalin.
After Lenin's death, in 1924, Stalin set out to destroy the old party leadership and take
total control. At first, he had people removed from power through bureaucratic shuffling
and denunciations. Many were exiled abroad to Europe and the Americas, including
presumed Lenin successor Leon Trotsky. However, further paranoia set in and Stalin
soon conducted a vast reign of terror, having people arrested in the night and put before
spectacular show trials. Potential rivals were accused of aligning with capitalist nations,
convicted of being "enemies of the people" and summarily executed. The purges
eventually extended beyond the party elite to local officials suspected of
counterrevolutionary activities.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Stalin reversed the Bolshevik agrarian policy by
seizing land given earlier to the peasants and organizing collective farms. This essentially
reduced the peasants back to serfs, as they had been during the monarchy. Stalin believed
that collectivism would accelerate food production, but the peasants resented losing their
land and working for the state. Millions were killed in forced labor or starved during the
ensuing famine. Stalin also set in motion rapid industrialization that initially achieved
huge successes, but over time cost millions of lives and vast damage to the environment.
Any resistance was met with swift and lethal response; millions of people were exiled to
the labor camps of the Gulag or were executed.
As war clouds rose over Europe in 1939, Stalin made a seemingly brilliant move,
signing a nonaggression pact with Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany. Stalin was
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convinced of Hitler's integrity and ignored warnings from his military commanders that
Germany was mobilizing armies on its eastern front. When the Nazi blitzkrieg struck in
June 1941, the Soviet Army was completely unprepared and immediately suffered
massive losses. Stalin was so distraught at Hitler's treachery that he hid in his office for
several days. By the time Stalin regained his resolve, German armies occupied all of the
Ukraine and Belarus, and its artillery surrounded Leningrad.
To make matters worse, the purges of the 1930s had depleted the Soviet Army and
government leadership to the point where both were nearly dysfunctional. After heroic
efforts on the part of the Soviet Army and the Russian people, the Germans were turned
back at Stalingrad in 1943. By the next year, the Soviet Army was liberating countries in
Eastern Europe, even before the Allies had mounted a serious challenge against Hitler at
Stalin had been suspicious of the West since the inception of the Soviet Union. Ever
since the Soviet Union had entered the war, Stalin had demanded the Allies open up a
second front against Germany. Both British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and
American President Franklin D. Roosevelt argued that such an action would result in
heavy casualties. This only deepened Stalin's suspicion of the West, as millions of
Russians died.
As the tide of war slowly turned in the Allies' favor, President Roosevelt and Prime
Minister Churchill met with Joseph Stalin to discuss postwar arrangements. At the first of
these meetings, in Teheran, Iran, in late 1943, the recent victory in Stalingrad put Stalin
in a solid bargaining position. He demanded the Allies open a second front against
Germany, which they agreed to in the spring of 1944. In February 1945, the three leaders
met again at Yalta in the Crimea. With Soviet troops liberating countries in Eastern
Europe, Stalin was again in a strong position and negotiated virtually a free hand in
reorganizing their governments. He also agreed to enter the war against Japan once
Germany was defeated.
The situation changed at the Potsdam Conference in July 1945. Roosevelt died that
April and was replaced by President Harry S. Truman. British parliamentary elections
had replaced Prime Minister Churchill with Clement Attlee as Britain's chief negotiator.
By now, the British and Americans were suspicious of Stalin's intentions and wanted to
avoid Soviet involvement in a postwar Japan. The dropping of two atomic bombs in
August 1945 forced Japan's surrender before the Soviets could mobilize.
Convinced of the Allies' hostility toward the Soviet Union, Stalin became obsessed
with the threat of an invasion from the West. Between 1945 and 1948, he established
Communist regimes in many Eastern European countries, creating a vast "buffer zone"
between Western Europe and "Mother Russia." Western powers interpreted these actions
as proof of Stalin's desire to place Europe under Communist control, thus formed the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization to counter Soviet influence. In 1948, Stalin ordered
an economic blockade on the German city of Berlin, in hopes of gaining full control of
the city. The Allies mounted a massive airlift, supplying the city and eventually forcing
Stalin to back down.
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Stalin suffered another foreign policy defeat after he encouraged North Korean
Communist leader Kim Il Sung to invade South Korea, believing the United States would
not interfere. Earlier, he had ordered the Soviet representative to the United Nations to
boycott the Security Council because it refused to accept the newly formed Communist
People's Republic of China into the United Nations. When the resolution to support South
Korea came to a vote in the Security Council, the Soviet Union was unable to use its
Death and Legacy
Though his popularity from his successes during World War II was strong, Stalin's
health began to deteriorate in the early 1950s. After an assassination plot was uncovered,
he ordered the head of the secret police to instigate a new purge of the Communist Party.
Before it could be executed, however, Stalin died on March 5, 1953. He left a legacy of
death and terror as he turned a backward Russia into a world superpower.
Stalin was eventually denounced by his successor, Nikita Khrushchev, in 1956.
However, he has found a rekindled popularity among many of Russia's young people.
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First World War brought almost all the monarchies in Europe to an end. There
emerged a popular demand for representative assemblies, democratic electorates,
universal suffrage and responsible governments. Republics began to be established all
over Europe. The decade from 1919-1929 also witnessed the efforts of the League of
Nations and of the world powers, to maintain world peace. Attempts were made towards
collective security, through the Washington Conference in 1921-1922, the Dawes Plan in
1924, and the Locarno Treaty of 1925.
Though peace spread throughout the world during the decade after World War I, it was
followed in the next decade (1929-1959), by the rise of dictatorships in different forms in
European countries such as Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal. The life of the citizen
was totally controlled by the dictators; they were the ones who decided how a citizen
should vote and even what he should read and do. Dictatorships even threatened their
neighboring countries by refusing to work with the League of Nations except on their
own terms. The dictators adhered to the supreme motto: ’everything for the state
everything within the state, and nothing outside the state.’
Causes for the Growth of Dictatorships in Europe
Italy was thrown into a state of poverty, discontent and disorder after the First World
War. Though the Italians had won the war, their claims were not accepted at the Paris
Peace Conference in 1919. They were thus seeking a leader who would fulfill their
ambitions. They found him in Benito Mussolini.
Thanks to the Treaty of Versailles (1919), Germany was physically mutilated,
economically suffocated, emotionally humiliated and territorially encircled. Thus the
German youth was filled with a sense of intense hatred and revenge against the Allied
Powers. These popular sentiments were well exploited by Adolf Hitler.
At the Washington Conference of 1921-22, Japan was forced to sign three treaties. She
was thus looking for an opportunity penetrates into China. The Soviet Union also sought
to fulfill its mission of a world communist revolution, after First World War, thus
threatening the whole world.
Democratic governments were not able to solve the social, political and economic
problems of the post-war period. This exposed the evils in their functioning. The
victorious powers such as Great Britain, the U.S.A. and France failed to enforce the
Treaty of Versailles vigorously. This also encouraged the growth of dictatorships.
The League of Nations was unsuccessful in its aim to preserve peace. Thus the path
was paved for the growth of totalitarian dictatorships. The world economic crisis in 1929,
caused frustration, despondency and despair all over the world. Forces of international
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anarchy were released in 1931, when Japan invaded Manchuria. This convinced the
world dictators, that the road to aggression was not difficult.
Fascism in Italy
Italian dictatorship assumed the name of Fascism. It was initiated by Benito Mussolini.
Various causes led to the rise of Fascism in Italy. Italy was a disappointed victor of
World War I, for it gained much less than it expected, at the Paris Peace Conference of
1919. War had proved costly to Italy, draining it of its finances and forcing up the cost of
Various post-war problems arose in Italy. She faced bankruptcy, starvation, inflation
and unemployment. Strikes and lockouts were posed by industrial workers. The middle
class became impoverished. The democratic Italian government failed miserably to solve
these diverse problems. Italy was tormented with disorder and confusion.
Italy was left crippled economically. The Russian Revolution of 1917 greatly
influenced the Italian socialists. They planned a revolution to transplant the Soviet system
into Italy. Therefore strikes, lockouts and riots became more frequent.
The Fascists denounced Liberalism, Communism and also Democracy. They also
guaranteed the following benefits to the masses:
a. Maximum hours of work and minimum wages for workers
b. Immediate relief to industrialists from strikes
c. Social security and patriotism
d. Maintenance of law and order in the country
e. National glory abroad
In March 1919, Benito Mussolini formed a political party. He named it the ’Fascisti’
after the Roman rods or fasces that were carried by the officers attending upon the
ancient Roman Consuls before the chief magistrate of the state. They were emblems of
authority at that time. The party consisted of ex-soldiers, industrialists, landlords,
professional men, middle-class people and the intelligentsia.
A civil war in Italy lasted from 1920-21. This was between the Fascists and the
radicals; the latter were finally eliminated by the Fascists. In October 1922, Mussolini
issued an ultimatum in the Congress of Fascists that either the reigns of government
should be handed to them, or they would seize it by marching on Rome. King Victor
Emmanuel III then invited Mussolini to form a government at Rome. He did so on
October 30, 1922. Thus Mussolini came to power by constitutional means, through his
Fascist party.
After becoming the Prime Minister, Mussolini demanded and obtained dictatorial
powers from the National Parliament. This happened in 1923.
Mussolini’s Domestic Policy
After coming to power, Mussolini restored order and stability in the state. He
eliminated any kind of opposition that appeared in every form.
Industrialists began to feel secure, since Mussolini banned industrial strikes. At the
same time, workers were benefited by a ’Charter of Labor’ which guaranteed some basic
rights to them. These included such rights as
a. an eight-hour day,
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b. a weekly holiday,
c. a compulsory employer’s contribution towards insurance against sickness,
accidents and old-age benefits and
d. no dismissal of workers, on grounds of illness.
Mussolini developed the concept of the ’Corporate State.’ He established six
corporations of employers, six of workers and one of professionals. In 1934, a National
Council of Corporations was formed to replace the Parliament itself.
Mussolini controlled all educational institutions by appointing only fascist teachers in
schools, colleges and universities. He revived and encouraged trade, commerce and
industry. The greatest priority was given to the construction of railways and the
shipbuilding industry. Banking and currency were regulated.
Finally, Mussolini signed the Lateran Treaties with the Pope of Rome, in 1929. These
created the new state of the Vatican in Rome. The Roman Pope was recognized as its
sovereign ruler.
Mussolini’s Foreign Policy
Mussolini had promised national glory abroad. To achieve this, he ordered universal
conscription, and better arms and ammunition for the armed forces. These measures made
the Italian army, navy and air force more efficient.
In 1923, Mussolini secured the island of Corfu (that was in Greece). He then acquired
the port of Fiume on the Adriatic Sea. On October 2, 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia
(Abyssinia) in Africa, and annexed it on May 9, 1936. In October 1936, Italy and
Germany formed a close alliance known as the Berlin-Rome Axis. In 1937, Italy joined
the Anti-Comintern Pact against Russia.
Mussolini entered World War II on June 10, 1940. The Italian force suffered a severe
defeat at the hands of the Allies. Italy surrendered officially, on September 3, 1943. This
was the end of the Fascist dictatorship in Italy. Benito Mussolini was captured and shot
dead by anti-Fascist Italians.
Nazism in Germany
There were several factors that contributed to the growth of Nazi dictatorship in
Germany after 1930.
After the First World War Germany was filled with a sense of discontent, hatred and
revenge, as the Treaty of Versailles crippled her physically, exhausted her economically
and weakened her emotionally. The Treaty of Versailles was not enforced strictly by the
Allied Powers like Britain, U.S.A. and France.
Currency inflation created serious problems in the country. Before the war, the value of
a dollar was 4.2 German marks. By November 1923, it became absolutely worthless at
2.52 trillion to one dollar. To remedy this problem, the government issued a new
currency at the old rate, namely 4.2 marks to one dollar. The government fixed the ratio
at one new mark to one trillion old marks. Thus the life savings, in the form of bank
deposits, insurance, provident funds, pensions and cash, were all wiped out.
The result of the currency inflation was that all industries, factories, workshops and
mills were paralyzed. There was widespread unemployment, starvation, and desperation.
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The introduction of the Dawes Plan in 1924 was followed by an unprecedented prosperity
in Germany, up to 1929. However, when the world economic depression came in 19291930, Germany faced economic chaos.
After World War I, the atmosphere in Germany was filled with militant nationalism;
this was the result of feelings of German superiority and of the utter national humiliation
caused by the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. The Germans had no love for democratic
institutions. They preferred prestige and glory to liberty and freedom.
After World War I, communist ideas were spreading throughout Germany. During the
economic depression of 1929-1930, millions of jobless workers flocked towards the
Communist Party. The middle classes therefore looked forward to the Nazis, to save their
country, from a communist revolution.
Finally, the magnetic personality of Adolf Hitler was greatly responsible for the growth
of the Nazi dictatorship in Germany. Hitler was chiefly responsible for making his fellow
countrymen burn in the fire of revenge, for the national humiliation they had suffered.
Adolf Hitler, an Austrian by birth, joined the German army during the First World War.
He won an Iron Cross for his bravery. In February 1925, he rebuilt and revitalized his
political party, the Nazi party. Its strength increased gradually. In 1932, Hitler acquired
German citizenship.
Fresh elections to the Reichstag (German Parliament) took place on March 5, 1933, in
which 44% of the total seats were won by the Nazi Party. Thus Hitler formed a coalition
government with the nationalists who won 8% of the total seats.
After becoming chancellor, Adolf Hitler crushed all opposition and began a campaign
of repression against Jews and Communists. On June 30, 1934 he massacred thousands of
socialists for treason, for which the day came to be known as ’Bloody Saturday.’ He
centralized all the powers of the central and local governments, coordinated all the labor
and youth organizations and controlled all the aspects of national life, including the Press,
educational institutions, the stage and the cinema.
When President Hindenburg died on August 2, 1934, he was succeeded by Hitler.
The Nazi Party adopted three goals in its foreign policy:
Union of all the people of the German race by the right of self-determination, in
one great Germany
The cancellation of the Peace Treaties of Versailles and St. Germain and
The acquisitions of further territory for the support of the people
Hitler then took a series of measures to repudiate the Treaty of Versailles. On October
14, 1933, Germany gave notice of withdrawal from the League of Nations and the
Disarmament Conference. On March 19, 1935, Germany violated Part V of the Treaty of
Versailles by re-introducing military conscription. On March 7, 1936, Hitler dispatched
troops to remilitarize the Rhineland.
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To expand German territory and power, Hitler followed a policy of naked aggression.
Germany entered into a pact with Japan against Russia. It was known as the AntiComintern Pact and was signed in November 1937.
With the help of Italy, Hitler annexed Austria on March 11, 1938. On March 15, 1939,
Hitler invaded and annexed Czechoslovakia. Germany then signed the Non-aggression
Pact with the Soviets, on August 23, 1939. Hitler launched an armed attack on Poland, on
September 1, 1939. This was followed by the declaration of war upon Germany by
Britain and France on September 3, 1939.
This initiated World War II (1939-1945). However, the Germans surrendered on May
7, 1945 and Hitler committed suicide. This brought Nazi dictatorship in Germany to an
Significance and Impact of Dictatorships in Europe
The Fascist and Nazi dictatorships were anti-humanist because the dictators had no
regard for consideration for fellow feelings. As dictatorship is founded on fear and force,
it employs the most violent and coercive measures for suppressing and eliminating all
opposition. In Germany as well as in Italy, freedom of speech, expression, belief,
worship, communication, press and other freedoms, under which the human personality
flourishes, were abolished.
The dictatorships that emerged in Italy and Germany, during the post World War I
period were highly anti-internationalist. Both the Fascists and the Nazis were fully
intoxicated with the doctrines of militarism. Hence the patriotic and nationalistic spirit in
these nations intensified and sanctified these ideas, which proved to be a great source of
danger to internationalism. Both Mussolini and Hitler glorified and worshipped war as a
noble activity. They condemned the international reign of law and peace, as acts of
cowardice and hypocrisy. Hence Mussolini and Hitler inaugurated an era of naked, brutal
and ruthless aggression. Thus they proved to be the most dangerous enemies of
SECOND WORLD WAR (1939-1945)
First World War had made the world ’safe for democracy’. Since Germany had been
humbled, there was hardly any chance of war-mongering nations rising again. However
what was desired did not turn out to be true. Germany and her defeated partners were
filled with thoughts of revenge. The victorious powers of World War I, as Italy and
Japan, did not secure enough. General discontent spread everywhere. While great
democratic states were being shattered on one side, other nations like Germany were
arming themselves rapidly. The statesmen of the big nations failed to nip aggressive
Germany, Italy and Japan in the bud. Thus Germany, Italy and Japan not only ruined
themselves, but also brought the whole world to the brink of ruin.
Causes for the Second World War
The Second World War can be traced to the Treaty of Versailles, which had been
imposed on Germany. This treaty was a kind of dictated peace. It deprived Germany of
every scrap of its colonial empire. Danzig was cut off from Germany and the country was
forced to stand totally disarmed. Allied troops were stationed in Germany, in order to
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enforce the provisions of the Treaty. Germany was burdened with reparations. It alone was
held guilty of the war. Thus it caused hatred in the minds of the Germans who were born
and brought up in the cult of revenge.
The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 greatly disappointed victorious Italy. This resulted
in the rise of Fascist dictatorship in Italy under Mussolini and the Nazi dictatorship in
Germany after 1932, under Hitler. Both the dictators embarked upon a career of open
After the First World War, victorious Japan followed the policy of imperialism, in the
Far East. In 1931, Japan grabbed Manchuria from China. The League of Nations could do
nothing, to prevent this aggression. Japan was party to the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis,
which severely threatened world peace.
The Allied Powers were committed to the Wilsonian principle of ‘self-determination.’
However, at the Paris Peace Conference, its application was conditioned by economic
necessity, military defense, as well as religious and political traditions. These factors
kindled the fire of nationalism and political liberty among national minorities. Germany
spread the news that its nationality was being oppressed under the foreign rule in Austria,
Sudetenland and Poland. For this reason, Hitler invaded and annexed these territories,
thus sparking off World War II.
While disarming Germany, under the Treaty of Versailles, the Allied Powers had
pledged to apply the same measures to themselves. And Britain did disarm itself to a
great extent; However France and the other European powers always upheld the slogan,
"Security first, disarmament afterwards."This convinced Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and
Japan that rearmament was the only road to power and national achievement. Thus efforts
at disarmament of the world failed miserably. In fact by 1930 most European nations had
spent the maximum of their budget on rearmament. This practice eventually led to World
War II.
The League of Nations had been formed to promote national security and international
peace. However, owing to its weakness, the League failed to achieve its objectives.
Britain used the League as an alternative to Bolshevism. France used it as an instrument
for perpetuating the peace settlement. Germany condemned it as "a grouping of the victor
imperialist powers." Russia regarded it as ’a forum of the imperialists.’ When the League
failed, the only alternative left was that the parties could settle their disputes by resorting
to war.
After the First World War, there was a conflict of ideologies, created by totalitarian
states like Italy, Germany, Japan and Russia on the one hand and democratic states like
Britain, France and the U.S.A. on the other. Since co-existence soon grew impossible
between these two opposite camps, war was inevitable.
Great Britain and France developed contrasting attitudes towards international
problems in the post-war years. France made every effort to prevent German revival. This
led her to search for security in and outside the League. On the other hand, Great Britain
followed a policy of appeasement that is of satisfying Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and
militarist Japan, by making various concessions to them. Thus England ignored Hitler’s
repudiation of Germany’s international covenants, Japan’s seizing of Manchuria, Italy’s
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conquest of Ethiopia and Germany’s seizure of Austria and Czechoslovakia. Once Hitler
was allowed to grab his small neighbor, he began to aim at devouring the whole of
Course of the Second World War
Second World War began with Hitler’s attack on Poland on September 1, 1939. As
both Britain and France had entered into an alliance with Poland in April 1939, they
declared war upon Germany. The Germans occupied Western Poland. The Soviet Union
annexed Eastern Poland. Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and a part of Rumania, were invaded
and annexed by Russia, soon after.
In April 1940, Denmark and Norway were attacked and annexed by Germany. In May
1940, Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland were raided by German bombers. All these
three states surrendered within a week. Following this, the Germans invaded France in
June 1940. Paris fell to the Nazis on June 14, 1940. Germany soon occupied the whole of
northern and western France, while Italy seized Nice and other French districts that were
adjacent to Italy.
After the fall of Poland and France, Britain alone was at war with the Axis Powers from
June 1940 to June 1941. However, the British forces were victorious over the Axis
powers in Africa.
On June 22, 1941, Russia was attacked by Germany. The Anglo-Russian Alliance was
formed on July 22, 1941, for mutual military aid in the war against Germany. The United
States also gave the Soviet Union assurances of military help.
The American fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was bombed by the Japanese on December
7, 1941. Hence the U.S.A. declared war on Japan, on December 8, 1941. Germany and
Italy then declared war against the U.S.A. Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Britain,
President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the U.S.A. and Premier Joseph Stalin of the Soviet
Union mobilized their forces to destroy the Axis powers namely, Germany, Italy, and
The Nazi and Fascist forces were successful in their conquest of Europe, up to the end
of October 1942. However on November 8, 1942, the Allied forces succeeded against the
Axis powers in North Africa. On September 3, 1943, Italy surrendered unconditionally
and signed an armistice with the Allies on September 3, 1943.
Forging across the Rhine in March 1945, the Allied forces defeated the German forces.
As a result, Hitler lost all hope and committed suicide on April 30, 1945. Hence, the
Germans surrendered unconditionally, on May 7, 1945. Japan continued to battle until
atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945
respectively, by the United States. Japan finally surrendered unconditionally on August
14, 1945, signing a document of surrender on September 2, 1945.
Consequences of the Second World War
Second World War produced disastrous consequences that were unparalleled in the
history of mankind. The war caused unprecedented destruction of life and property. There
was a complete destruction of fields and factories, mills and workshops and the houses of
the civilians. Number of people died and many more were permanently disabled. In the
opinion of Chester Bowles, World War II "killed twenty-five million people, permanently
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disabled twice that number and devastated much of Germany, Italy, Poland and the
Balkans, Russia, China and Japan."
During the war, the Nazi dictator, Adolf Hitler initiated a movement that aimed at
wiping out the whole race of Jews. This was called the holocaust. This movement was
part of his plan to conquer the world. Millions of Jews were imprisoned into
concentration camps and were subjected to inhuman tortures. The captives were even
starved to death. Cruel experiments were performed on these helpless victims. The aged,
the sick and the disabled were poisoned with gas.
The war also created an acute scarcity of foodstuff, essential commodities and cloth.
This led to unprecedented inflation. The standard of living fell drastically. Since the
prices shot up, life of millions became made miserable.
The war proved the moral degradation of man, for he killed his own species in an
unparalleled scale. Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and militarist Japan inflicted
unimaginable cruelties upon the combatants, non-combatants, as well as on innocent
men, women and children. The dropping of the two atom bombs by the U.S. upon Japan
in August 1945 demonstrated how man was competent enough to wipe out the entire
human race, within a split second. Both the victors and the vanquished were guilty of
behaving like barbarians.
The three great Axis Powers namely Italy, Germany and Japan were leveled to dust.
(i) Germany, the chief architect of the war was utterly humiliated and punished. At the
Potsdam Conference, Germany was divided into four zones. Each zone was placed under
a major allied victor.
(ii) The Italian empire disappeared from the map of the world. The spoils of war, in terms
of territory and reparation, were shared and enjoyed by the major Allied victors.
(iii) After the war, Japan was placed under the control of the Far Eastern Commission
with General Mac Arthur as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces. However,
only in 1951, did Japan regain its lost sovereignty, under the San Francisco Peace Treaty.
Great Britain emerged from the war as a second-rate world power. The British Empire
suffered heavy losses during the war. After the war, within a short span of time, many
new nations were born on the ruins of the British Empire.
The strain of the war on France was beyond her power of endurance. Though it
emerged victorious from the war, its status sank considerably in the international field
and it became a second-rate power. Undoubtedly, it also suffered heavy losses.
The United States of America played a vital role in winning the war. The U.S.
manufacturers made fantastic profits. World War II enabled the U.S.A. to play an
important role in financial, political and diplomatic domains all over the world. The
underdeveloped, developing and war-torn states turned their eyes towards the U.S.A. for
her aid both physical and financial.
In Russia, Stalin left no stone unturned to extract as many concessions as possible from
the Allies. This enhanced the power and position of the former USSR. The Soviet Union
emerged from the war as another super power.
Second World War enhanced the prestige of the communist dictatorship of Russia, and
enabled it to spread its control all over east and central Europe as well as Asia. However
democracy held its sway over Western Europe.
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The World thus came to be divided into two power blocs
(a) the Capitalist bloc of Great Britain, the U.S. and their allies, and
(b) the Communist bloc of the Soviet Union and her satellites.
The British, Dutch, French and Italian Empires were left in a disintegrated state.
New nations like India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon were born on their ruins.
Israel, Iran, Syria and Lebanon won political freedom from their imperialist
United Nations Organization (U.N.O)
The Second World War resulted in widespread concern for world peace. Hence the
United Nations Organization was established after the war in October 24, 1945. It was
formed to ensure permanent peace in the world as well as to enhance the economic and
cultural development of mankind.
The UN is an international organization, not a world government. The United Nations
is an organization of sovereign States. These States voluntarily join the UN to work for
world peace, promote friendship among all nations and support economic and social
progress. It formally came into being on 24 October 1945. At that time, it had 51
countries as Members. As of March 2007, 192 countries were UN members.
The UN is a forum, a meeting-place, for virtually all nations of the world. It provides
them with the mechanism to help find solutions to disputes or problems, and to act on
virtually any matter of concern to humanity.
Though sometimes described as a “parliament of nations”, the UN is neither a supraState nor a government of governments. It does not have an army and it imposes no taxes.
It depends on the political will of its Members to have its decisions implemented and
relies on the contributions of its Members to carry out its activities.
The United Nations plays a central role in reducing international tensions, preventing
conflicts and putting an end to fighting already under way. It deals with our environment,
outer space and the sea-bed. It has helped wipe out many diseases and expand food
production. It cares for and protects refugees, expands literacy and responds quickly to
natural disasters. It also protects and promotes rights of individuals by setting a global
standard for human rights.
Reasons for the establishment of the U.N.O.
Various reasons were responsible for the establishment of the U.N.O:
1. The Second World War: Undoubtedly, the Second World War proved more
destructive that the first. It left millions dead and disabled. The fact that another
war of the greater scale would possibly bring in the destruction of the world and of
human civilization altogether, became a matter of concern the world over.
2. Need for Permanent Peace in the World: The disastrous results of the Second
World War gave rise to the need of an organization which could establish and
maintain permanent peace in the world. Since the Second World War had
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originated from the First, all the countries feared that the Second World War could
be the cause of a Third. Hence such an organization was even more desirable.
3. Elimination of Mutual Suspicions: One of the results of the Second World War
was the division of some of the major countries into two diametrically opposed
ideological blocs: the Communist and the Western bloc. Both had no faith in each
other. Hence there was an urgent need to reduce the confrontation between them
and bring them together through a particular institution.
4. Invention of destructive weapons: With the invention of sophisticated atomic
weapons (that were successfully tested during World War II), the threat to the
survival of modern civilization had intensified more than ever. Therefore an
organization was required where all the nations of the world could come together
and consider ways to save themselves and mankind from the destruction caused by
such deadly weapons.
5. (ii) Formation
6. It will be recalled that the League of Nations had been established after the First
World War primarily with the similar objective establishing permanent world
peace and preventing the occurrence of another world war. However, the
organization failed to miserably on these counts and the Second World War did
occur. Therefore, this time the nations of the world decided that the next
organization should be empowered with more authority, so that the aim of
establishing permanent peace could be efficiently enforced.
7. In August 1941 the Atlantic Charter was issued by the U.S. President Roosevelt
and the British Prime Minister Churchill. This was an important document that
underlined the aims of the organization:
1. The maintenance of international peace and security.
2. The encouragement of international cooperation in the sphere of social,
economic and cultural development of the world.
3. The development of friendly relations among nations on the principle of equal
rights and self-determination of people.
4. The recognition of the fundamental rights and status of all people.
8. In October 1944, a scheme for the establishment of an international security
organization was discussed at Dumbarton Oaks Conference held in Washington.
The next step in this direction was the Yalta Conference held in 1945 in which the
U.S. President Roosevelt, the British Prime Minister Churchill and the Soviet
Prime Minister Stalin met to resolve to call for a session of the United Nations.
The nature of the organization was also determined at this conference. Following
this, a conference of about 51 countries was held in June of 1945 at San Francisco
and a charter was drawn up. The representatives of these countries signed the
charter on June 26, 1945. The U.N.O. started functioning from 24 th October, 1945.
This day is therefore celebrated as the United Nations Day. Its headquarters was
based at New York.
9. The membership of the U.N.O is open to all peace-loving nations, which accept
the objectives of the U.N.O. and are prepared to observe its principles. A total of
184 nations were members of the U.N.O. by 1994.
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The objectives of the U.N.O. are as follows:
1. To maintain international peace and security.
2. To develop friendly relations among nations.
3. To achieve international cooperation in solving international economic, social,
cultural and humanitarian problems.
4. To promote respect for human rights, dignity and freedom.
5. To promote respect among the member nations for fundamental rights and
freedoms of mankind by ending the differences of caste and creed.
6. To be a center for harmonizing the actions of the nations in attaining these
common ends.
The principles of the U.N.O. are as follows:
1. The U.N.O. is based on the sovereign equality of all its members.
2. Each member nation should perform her duty earnestly according to the Charter.
3. Each member nation should settle the disputes by peaceful means so that peace,
security, and justice in the world are not disturbed.
4. All member nations will not make use of threat and violence in their international
5. All member nations will help doing those functions, which the U.N.O. intends to
perform according to the Charter, and none will help a country against which the
U.N.O. is taking any action.
6. The U.N.O will not intervene in the internal affairs of a country.
7. The U.N.O will also see that all the member nations work to maintain international
peace and security.
Functions of the Principal Organs:
The U.N.O. has six main organs- (1) General Assembly, (2) Security Council, (3)
Economic and Social Council, (4) Trusteeship Council, (5) International Court of Justice,
and (6) Secretariat. The important organs are explained below:
1. The General Assembly
The General Assembly is the main deliberative organ of the United Nations and
includes all its Members. It may discuss any matter arising under the UN Charter and
make recommendations to UN Members (except on disputes or situations which are
being considered by the Security Council). In the Assembly, each nation, large or small,
has one vote and important decisions are taken by a two-thirds majority vote.
The Assembly meets every year from September to December. Special sessions may
be summoned by the Assembly, at the request of the Security Council, or at the request of
a majority of UN Members. The work of the General Assembly is also carried out by its
six main committees, the Human Rights Council, other subsidiary bodies and the UN
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2. The Security Council
The Security Council has primary responsibility under the Charter for maintaining
peace and security. It can be convened at any time, whenever peace is threatened.
Member States are obligated to carry out its decisions. When a threat to peace is brought
before the Council, it usually first asks the parties to reach agreement by peaceful means.
If fighting breaks out, the Council tries to secure a ceasefire. It may then send
peacekeeping missions to troubled areas or call for economic sanctions and embargoes to
restore peace.
The Council has 15 members, including five permanent members: China, France, the
Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The other 10
are elected by the General Assembly on the basis of geographical representation for twoyear terms. Decisions require nine votes; except on procedural questions, a decision
cannot be taken if there is a negative vote by a permanent member (known as the “veto”).
The Council also makes recommendations to the General Assembly on the appointment
of a new Secretary-General and on the admission of new members to the UN. Many
countries want to expand the membership of the Council to include new permanent and
non-permanent members.
3. The Economic and Social Council
The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is the central body for coordinating the
economic and social work of the United Nations and the UN family of organizations. It
has 54 member nations elected from all regions. As much as 70 per cent of the work of
the UN system is devoted to promoting higher standards of living, full employment, and
conditions of economic and social progress and development. The Council recommends
and directs activities aimed at promoting economic growth of developing countries,
supporting human rights and fostering world cooperation to fight poverty and underdevelopment.
To meet specific needs, the General Assembly has set up a number of specialized
agencies, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO),
the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) and programmes such as the UN Development Programme
(UNDP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Office of the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The work of these agencies and programmes is
coordinated by ECOSOC.
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4. The Trusteeship Council
The Trusteeship Council was assigned under the UN Charter to supervise the
administration of Trust Territories — former colonies or dependent territories — which
were placed under the International Trusteeship System. The system was created at the
end of the Second World War to promote the advancement of the inhabitants of those
dependent Territories and their progressive development towards self-government or
Since the creation of the Trusteeship Council, more than 70 colonial Territories,
including all of the original 11 Trust Territories, have attained independence with the
help of the United Nations. As a result, in 1994, the Council decided formally to suspend
its operation and to meet as and when occasion might require.
5. The International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the UN’s main judicial organ. Presiding over
the ICJ, or “World Court”, are 15 judges, each from a different nation, elected by the
General Assembly and Security Council. The Court settles legal disputes between nations
only and not between individuals, in accordance with international law. If a country does
not wish to take part in a proceeding it does not have to do so, unless required by special
treaty provisions. Once a country accepts the Court's jurisdiction, it must comply with its
The seat of the International Court of Justice is at The Hague in the Netherlands. The
offices of the Court occupy the “Peace Palace”, which was constructed by the Carnegie
Foundation, a private non-profit organization, to serve as the headquarters of the
Permanent Court of International Justice, the predecessor of the present Court. The UN
makes an annual contribution to the Foundation for the use of the building.
6. The Secretariat
The Secretariat is made up of an international staff working at UN Headquarters in
New York, as well as UN offices in Geneva, Vienna, Nairobi and other locations. It
consists of departments and offices with a total staff of around 16,000, drawn from some
175 countries. Including civil staff in peacekeeping missions the total number comprises
approximately 30,000 staff. Staff members carry out the substantive and administrative
work of the United Nations as directed by the General Assembly, the Security Council
and the other organs.
The Secretariat is headed by the Secretary-General. He is appointed by the General
Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council for a five-year term. As the
chief administrative officer of the Organization, the Secretary-General directs its work.
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He is also responsible for implementing decisions taken by the various organs of the
United Nations.
The Secretary-General may bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter
which, in his opinion, may threaten international peace and security. He may use his
“good offices” to prevent conflicts or promote peaceful settlement of disputes between
countries. The Secretary-General may also act on his own initiative to deal with
humanitarian or other problems of special importance.
Achievements of UNO:
The First and foremost it has prevented the occurrence of any further world wars.
Instrumental in the maintenance of international balance of power.
It played a Significant role in disarming the world and making it nuclear free.
Various treaty negotiations like 'Partial Test Ban Treaty' and 'nuclear nonproliferation treaty' have been signed under UN.
Demise of colonialism and imperialism on one hand and apartheid on the other
had UN sanctions behind them.
UN Acted as vanguard for the protection of human rights of the people of the
world, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.
Despite crippled by Bretton Woods Institutions, UN has played limited but
effective role on economic matters. Supported the North-South dialogue and aspired
for emergence of new international economic order.
Agencies of United Nations like WHO, UNICFF, UNESCO have keenly
participated in the transformation of the international social sector.
Peace keeping operations, peaceful resolution of disputes and refugee concerns
had always been on the list of core issues.
Since 1945, the UN has been credited with negotiating 172 peaceful settlements
that have ended regional conflicts.
The world body was also instrumental in institutionalization of international laws
and world legal frame work.
Passage of various conventions and declarations on child, women, climate, etc,
highlights the extra-political affairs of the otherwise political world body.
It has successfully controlled the situation in Serbia, Yugoslavia and Balkan areas.
A number of peace missions in Africa have done reasonably well to control the
Failures of the UNO:
UN opinion on Hungary and Czechoslovakia were ignored by the erstwhile Soviet
Union in 1950s.
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Israel had been taking unilateral action through decades in its geographical
vicinity and nothing substantial has come out even by September 2010.
No emphatic role in crisis of worst kinds like the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam
crisis etc.
UN was nowhere in the picture when the NATO rained bombs over former
Uni-polarity and unilateralism has shaken the relevance of the world body.
Unilateral action in Iraq was bereft of UN sanction.
Failed to generate a universal consensus to protect the deteriorating world climate,
even at Copenhagen in 2009.
Number of nuclear powers in the world has kept on increasing. UN Could not
control the horizontal expansion and proliferation of weapons and arms.
Financial dependence on the industrialized nations has at times deviated UN from
neutrality and impartiality.
The world body has failed to reflect the democratic aspiration of the world.
Without being democratic itself, it talks of democratization of the world.
Aids are crossing regions and boundaries both in spread and intensity.
Domestic situation of near anarchy in Iraq and many regions of Afghanistan,
despite on active UN. The US President scheme of withdrawal has not able to bring
any specific solutions in the region. In fact, the situation has been further aggravated.
The UN totally exposed in the case of US invasion on Iraq in name for the search
weapon of mass destruction. US have withdrawn its combat forces but the law and
order and mutual distrust has worsened and at this juncture UN seems to be clueless.
Specialized Agencies:
The effects of the Second World War saw not only the need for an organization to
establish permanent world peace but also the formation of certain agencies that would
help in the rebuilding of the damaged social and economic structure of nations the world
over. The Special Agencies of the U.N.O work together in economic, social, cultural,
scientific spheres to ensure substantial development in developed and especially
developing countries.
1. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
It is an agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.
Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all
nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy. FAO is also a source of
knowledge and information, and helps developing countries and countries in transition
agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices,
good nutrition and food security for all.
2. World Health Organization (WHO)
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It was founded in April 1948 with its headquarters at Geneva. There is an Executive
Board that implements its programs. Its primary concern is to improve the health of all
the peoples of the world. "Health for all by the 2000" is the main aim of this agency. The
WHO provides medical aid. It arranges for medicines to prevent various diseases. It takes
measures to check the spread of infectious diseases. This agency also sends specialists to
various nations to provide advice for the promotion of human health. It encourages
research related to all aspects of health including nutrition, maternity and child care,
environmental safety, mental health, control of specific diseases, etc.
3. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
This agency was founded in 1946 with its headquarters at Paris. Its main purpose is to
promote peace and security through education, science and culture and communication. It
helps in the spread of knowledge, culture, and international understanding among the
member nations. It makes arrangements to expand and direct education in different
countries to eliminate illiteracy. It starts schools and trains teachers, planners and
administrators. It fosters social sciences as instruments for the realization of human
rights, justice and peace. It promotes national and cultural values and encourages the
study and development of cultures.
4. United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
Most of the work of the United Nations, in terms of finance and personnel, is devoted
to programs aimed at achieving economic and social development in the developing
countries. The U.N.O. extends aid for national development plans in an attempt to ensure
balanced economic and social growth of the world economy. It aims at making the best
use of available financial, physical and human resources.
Its programs are related to various development activities in almost every economic
and social sector, including farming, fishing, forestry, mining, manufacturing, health and
environmental sanitation. It carries out surveys to economic worth of a nation’s natural
resources, improving education systems and upgrading the economic and social structure
in order to accommodate sophisticated technology. It is funded by the governments of the
member nations.
5. United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
This was established in 1946. Its headquarters are at New York. It attempts to arrest
the spread of diseases among children. It organizes nutritious food for the benefit of
undernourished children in the poor countries. It takes steps to spread information of how
to prevent serious diseases. This agency is again financed by the governments of the
member nations as well as certain private agencies.
6. International Labor Organization (ILO)
It was founded in 1919 and was also an organ of the League of Nations. It began
operating as a special agency of the U.N.O in 1945 and its headquarters at Geneva. This
agency aims at improving the working conditions of the laborers all over the world, for
the purpose of raising their standard of living, improving their economic and social
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condition and providing a more just environment for working people. It checks
unemployment among the labor, determines their wage hours and conditions of work and
organizes social insurance, paid vacations, industrial safety, education of their children
and labor inspection.
It will be observed that U.N.O.’s role towards maintaining world peace in order to
make human life safe and worthwhile can never be overemphasized.
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