Indian Independence Movement

What effect did India’s independence have on the stability of the British Empire? Why was India referred to as the ‘jewel in the crown? Why was the independence movement in India successful?

Indian Independence Movement Indian Independence Movement

Create learning materials about Indian Independence Movement with our free learning app!

  • Instand access to millions of learning materials
  • Flashcards, notes, mock-exams and more
  • Everything you need to ace your exams
Create a free account
Contents
Table of contents

    In this article, we will answer these questions and more through an exploration of the Indian independence movement. The Indian Independence Movement is a topic you will encounter in your political studies of nationalism and serves as an example of anti-colonial nationalism.

    Indian Independence Movement (1857 to 1947)

    The Indian Independence Movement of 1857 to 1947 refers to the bid to establish India as an independent nation free from the control of the British Empire, which was achieved in 1947. The Indian independence movement was heavily influenced by the actions and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, we will explore his role in the independence movement later in this article.

    The British Empire during its imperial century which occurred from 1815 to 1914 was one of the largest and most successful empires the world had ever seen. At one point in time, Britain had control over a third of the entire world and due to its vast holdings it was said that ‘the sun never set on the British empire’. This was due to the various geographical locations and time zones that were under British control; there was always somewhere in the empire where it was daytime.

    History of the Indian Independence Movement

    India fell under British control in 1858, India was referred to as the jewel in the crown of the British empire. This was because India was rich in resources and raw materials. During the Industrial Revolution, Britain desired raw materials and sought them from India. Britain took millions worth of rupees (Indian currency) from India in the form of raw materials and then sold the transformed materials back to India which doubly profited Britain. Another reason why India was considered the jewel of the British Crown was due to its geographical location in Asia. British control over India meant that Britain could trade with China with ease which made it great for the sale of silk.

    The British Raj

    India, its resources and its people were exploited during their 100 years of colonial subjugation. The British Raj refers to the British Crown’s rule over India. The continued exploitation and mistreatment of India and its people bred a sense of nationalism amongst the Indian population. Indian people began to identify themselves as a distinct group that was deserving of a nation-state and fought to achieve this and from this emerged the Indian independence movement.

    Indian Independence Movement British Raj flag StudySmarterFig. 1 - British Raj flag

    The Indian independence movement sought to overthrow the British Raj in India. This form of nationalism was anti-colonial in its nature. This is because anti-colonialism refers to the rejection of colonial rule and the pursuit of independence from colonial powers. The Indian independence movement resulted in the partition of India into two independent nations, namely India and Pakistan. These two nations were created along religious lines, Pakistan became home to the vast proportion of Indian Muslims whereas India became home to the majority of Indian Hindus.

    Indian Independence Movement: leader

    It's important to look at what events led to the success of the independence movement. In order to do this, we must look at the role of Mahatma Gandhi, whose leadership is one of the most important factors in the success of the Indian independence movement.

    Mahatma Gandhi

    Mohandas Gandhi is famously known as "Mahatma" Gandhi. The meaning of Mahatma translates to the great soul which is a reflection of his role in the independence movement. Gandhi was born in 1869 and was an Indian native who had been educated in England before becoming a lawyer. In 1893 Gandhi went to South Africa to represent indentured Indian labourers. Gandhi was thrown off a train because he was a person of colour sitting in a first-class seat. This experience led Gandhi to fight against the injustices that many people of colour faced at the time. Gandhi returned to India in 1915.

    Indian Independence Movement Mahatma Gandhi StudySmarterFig. 2 - Mahatma Gandhi, the figurehead of the Indian Independence Movement

    Indian Independence Movement: timeline

    In India, Gandhi joined the Indian independence movement that had been ongoing since 1857, however, Gandhi established his own views on how independence should be achieved. Gandhi used satyagraha as his guiding force for achieving independence.

    Satyagraha refers to Gandhi's non-violent methods of protest, in which he urged Indians to cease buying British goods, avoid paying taxes to the British government and take part in peaceful civil disobedience.

    During his first nationwide protest, Gandhi urged the people to boycott British institutions and products and even encouraged individuals to resign from roles where one was employed by the British government. The disorder that emerged from the movement was unprecedented and posed a threat to Britain's rule.

    Do or Die!

    Indian National Congress Party leaders adopted a policy to expel the British from India on 8th August 1942. A national slogan was born from Gandhi's 'Do or Die' rallying cry, and the movement became known as the Quit India Movement. As part of the Quit India Movement, over 100,000 people were arrested and fined by the British, and demonstrators were met with force. The British arrested all the leaders of the Congress Party including Gandhi, and at this point, Gandhi's health had also become poor. In 1944, the British, fearing a very large protest by Indians in the event of Gandhi's death, freed Gandhi. Gandhi continued to oppose the British and demanded the release of all other leaders.

    Gandhi’s popularity and Quit India movement combined with the end of the Second World War resulted in the granting of independence for Indians. Even though Britain was on the winning side of the Second World War war, the length and disruption of the fighting diminished Britain’s power. Indian soldiers had also put in a major effort in the conflict on behalf of Britain during the Second World War and Britain’s failure to reward Indian soldiers resulted in increased protests and boycotting of British goods and services. This put Britain under heavy pressure to grant independence to India as well as the loss of support for British rule in India from British people. Due to the efforts of Gandhi and his followers and the post-World War 2 protests and boycotts, India was granted independence in 1947.

    Legacy of Gandhi and The Movement for Indian Independence from Britain

    Gandhi’s non-violent means of achieving independence is often praised in anti-colonial literature. Gandhi is used globally as an example of the benefits of pacifism. Gandhi’s teachings also served as an inspiration to many influential figures such as civil rights leader Martin Luther King who applied Gandhi's teachings to the Civil Rights Movement in America. Gandhi’s role in the independence movement has cemented his place as an important historical figure in anti-colonial literature and anti-colonial nationalism.

    India’s independence resulted in the partitioning of India and the creation of two independent states - India and Pakistan. This resulted in the largest migrations seen in history that are not associated with famine or war. Hindus residing in what was now Pakistan fled to India and Muslims in India fled to Pakistan in order to resist religious persecution. Many people died and were separated from their families with over 12 million people becoming refugees.

    India today

    Whilst India is presented as being the home of Hindus and Pakistan the home of Muslims, to this day India has the largest population of Muslims in the world. In India however, there has been a rise of Hindu nationalism with the Hindu religion becoming increasingly linked with the state. This has caused many Muslims to be oppressed within India and continues to be a point of contention in contemporary politics. In addition to this, the partition of India resulted in the Kashmir conflict in which both India and Pakistan lay claim to Kashmir. This conflict emerged in the wake of Indian independence and still persists to this day.

    Indian Independence Movement Hindu population by region in India in 2001 StudySmarterFig. 3 - Hindu population by region in India in 2001

    Indian independence movement - Key takeaways

      • The Indian independence movement refers to the bid to establish India as an independent nation free from the control of the British Empire, which was achieved in 1947.

      • India was referred to as the jewel in the crown of the British empire. This was because India was rich in resources and raw materials.

      • India, its resources and its people were exploited during the 200 years of the British Raj.

      • The continued exploitation and mistreatment of India and its people bred a sense of nationalism amongst the Indian population.

      • Gandhi used satyagraha as his guiding force for achieving independence.

      • Gandhi’s popularity and Quit India movement combined with the end of the Second World War resulted in the granting of independence for Indians.

      • Gandhi’s teachings also served as an inspiration to many influential figures such as civil rights leader Martin Luther King who applied Gandhi's teachings to the Civil Rights Movement in America.

    Indian Independence Movement Indian Independence Movement
    Learn with 10 Indian Independence Movement flashcards in the free StudySmarter app

    We have 14,000 flashcards about Dynamic Landscapes.

    Sign up with Email

    Already have an account? Log in

    Frequently Asked Questions about Indian Independence Movement

    Who led the Indian independence movement?

    Mahatma Gandhi is credited as being the leader of the Indian independence movement.

    What was Gandhi's role in the Indian independence movement?

     In India, Gandhi joined the Indian independence and established his own views on how independence should be achieved. Gandhi used satyagraha as his guiding force for achieving independence. 

    What year did India gain independence?

    1947

    What was the Indian Independence Movement called?

    Quit India

    Was the Indian independence movement successful?

    The movement was successful in creating an independent India free from British Rule but has created long-standing issues such as the tension between India and Pakistan and Muslims and Hindus. 

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    When was Gandhi born?

    What nations did the partition of India in 1947 create?

    Before returning to India, where was Gandhi fighting against injustices?

    Next

    Discover learning materials with the free StudySmarter app

    Sign up for free
    1
    About StudySmarter

    StudySmarter is a globally recognized educational technology company, offering a holistic learning platform designed for students of all ages and educational levels. Our platform provides learning support for a wide range of subjects, including STEM, Social Sciences, and Languages and also helps students to successfully master various tests and exams worldwide, such as GCSE, A Level, SAT, ACT, Abitur, and more. We offer an extensive library of learning materials, including interactive flashcards, comprehensive textbook solutions, and detailed explanations. The cutting-edge technology and tools we provide help students create their own learning materials. StudySmarter’s content is not only expert-verified but also regularly updated to ensure accuracy and relevance.

    Learn more
    StudySmarter Editorial Team

    Team Indian Independence Movement Teachers

    • 9 minutes reading time
    • Checked by StudySmarter Editorial Team
    Save Explanation

    Study anywhere. Anytime.Across all devices.

    Sign-up for free

    Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.

    Join over 22 million students in learning with our StudySmarter App

    The first learning app that truly has everything you need to ace your exams in one place

    • Flashcards & Quizzes
    • AI Study Assistant
    • Study Planner
    • Mock-Exams
    • Smart Note-Taking
    Join over 22 million students in learning with our StudySmarter App