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A Nation in the Making

  • During the first 20 years, after it was formed the Congress was "moderate" in its objectives and methods.

  • The Congress demanded that it have a say in the government and administration.

  • It wanted the Legislative Councils to have more Indian representatives.

  • It demanded that the Legislative Councils were given more power, and introduced in provinces that had no Councils.

  • The Congress also demanded that Indians be placed in high positions in the government. It called for civil service examinations to be held in India and not just in London.

All these demands were a result of discrimination against Indians by the British

  • At that time important jobs were monopolised by the British.

  • Important jobs were not given to Indians as the British felt that Indians could not be given positions of responsibility.

  • The British officers in high positions were receiving huge salaries and were sending a major portion of it home. They felt that if these positions were given to Indians then this would reduce the wealth that was flowing into Britain.

The Congress also had other demands

  • The Congress wanted the judiciary and the executive to function as two separate entities.

  • It wanted the government to withdraw the Arms Act.

  • It demanded that Indians be given the freedom of speech and expression.

  • The Congress demanded reduction of revenue, cut in military expenditure, and more funds for irrigation.

  • According to the Congress British rule had led to poverty and famine.

  • Increase in the land revenue had impoverished peasants and zamindars.

  • Exports of grains to Europe had created food shortages.

Though the Congress leaders were educated and belonged to the elite group of professionals, zamindars or industrialists, they were also concerned about the common people.

  • The congress objected to the salt tax

  • It was against the poor treatment of Indian labourers abroad

  • It spoke for the sufferings of forest dwellers, caused by an interfering forest administration.

The Congress wanted to develop public awareness about the unjust nature of British rule. They published newspapers, wrote articles, and showed how British rule was leading to the economic ruin of the country. They criticised British rule in their speeches and sent representatives to different parts of the country to mobilise public opinion.


The Congress wanted the British to respect the ideals of freedom and justice demanded by the Indians.


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