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Impact of the Swadeshi movement outside Bengal 1905 1911

On 16 October 1905 Bengal was formally partitioned by Lord Curzon creating ‘East Bengal and Assam’. It followed by the Anti-Partition agitation and the Swadeshi movement (1905-1911). The Swadeshi movement emphasized on indigenous production and boycott of foreign goods. Bhadralok consisting primarily of educated and elite persons of Bengal started the movement. Rabindranath’s Swadeshi and Atmasakti (Self-reliance) became the new gospel and Bande Mataram the mantra of the age. The movement would impacted on different provinces and presidencies of British India- the United Provinces, the Central Provinces the Bombay Presidency, the Punjab and the Madras Presidency; as well as French settlements Chandernagore and Pondicherry. In Bihar and Orissa it was spasmodical. In 1906 F.C. Daly, an official of the British Government feared of a major upheaval in his confidential report (The Effect of the Anti-Partition Agitation on Provinces other than Bengal POL. (Pol.) F. No. 86(J) 1905, West Bengal State Archives, Kolkata). Tilak, Aurobindo, V.O.C. Pillai and B. C. Pal made whirl wind tours and made stirring speeches to enliven the common man to join the movement. In Punjab local issues like protest against the colonization Bill played pivotal role in bridge heading the movement from 1907 onward. In Madras even the Christian Missionaries joined. V.O.C. Pillai’s Swadeshi Steam Navigation company (1906) was a landmark. There was rise of Extremism. In 1911 the partition was revoked and the capital was transferred from Calcutta to Delhi. It failed to garner the support of the mass of Muslim community. Contemporary journal and newspapers like The Yujantar, The Kal, The Kesarasi, The Hindu, The Swadesh Mitran, The Urdu-i-Mulla, The Hindu Pradip etc and leaflets like Sonar Bangla and Who is our king? etc played important role in spreading the message of Swadeshi and later they would became important sources materials for writing the history of the Swadeshi movement. There was flourishment of regional dance, drama, art etc. In later period Swadeshi became the watchword of Indian Nationalism as well as the Gandhian movement.

Rana Ray
University of Calcutta