To check the unity among Indians and to divide the nationalists into different groups, British introduced the Morley Minto reforms. Do you agree?
The Swadeshi movement demonstrated a shift from earlier approach to freedom struggle by bringing elements of extremism, passive resistance and wider participation including that of women. To check this growing nationalism and to give some concessions to the constitutionalists’ demands, British government brought Morley-Minto reforms of 1909.
- The number of elected members in imperial legislative council and provincial legislative council were increased.
- The powers of legislatures were enlarged.
- Separate electorate system was introduced for Muslims.
These reforms were not aimed towards democratizing Indian administration, as made clear by Lord Morley, but to create social and political divisions in India.
The purpose that it served Political and social division
- The legislative reforms were made to placate moderates who were mostly against the extremists’ methods of freedom struggle.
- The separate electorate system was to check Hindu-Muslim unity and appease small section of Muslim elite.
- The whole idea of reforms was to win over the Muslims and the moderates’ nationalist opinion and rally them against the rising tide of militant nationalism.
The reforms had immediate as well as long term impact on development of unity and nationalism in India:
- The divide between moderates and extremists further widened which got restored only after the Lucknow pact.
- The British utilised this divide to isolate and suppress the extremist leaders. Main leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Aurobindo Ghosh were arrested and jailed.
- The separate electorate system proved extremely harmful, which checked the progress of India’s unification, became the potent factor in the growth of communalism, encouraged separatist tendencies and prevented people from concentrating on economic and political problems. It laid the foundation of communal politics.