Growth of Nationalist Movement in Andhra
Right at the beginning of the Freedom Movement in 1885 A.D. the leaders of the Indian National Congress were satisfied with demanding a few political concessions or administrative reforms from the side of the British government. Their policy was to pray and petition only. But with the partition of Bengal in 1905 A.D. the nationals resorted to armed rebellion for liberating the country. For that purpose they advocated boycott of British goods and adoption of Swadeshi. The emergence of India’s nationalist movement was the most prominent feature of the history of India in general and of Andhra in particular.
Seeds of this movement were sown in the second half of the 19th century A.D. Alongwith the other states of India, the freedom movement took deep roots in Andhra also. During 1757-1857 the English East India Company acquired large tracts of the land in India and Andhra was no exception; and enjoyed the rights of a ruling power. During the rule of the East India Company Andhra was severely humiliated and suffered greatly. After the Great Revolt of 1857 the administration of the East India Company was taken away by the British Crown. Even then, no basic changes were introduced and on the other hand, the accumulated wealth of the local rulers, nobles and zamindars was grabed. Reaction of the native chiefs against the authoritarianism and expansionism of the English East India Company was reflected in the Battle of Padmanabham (1794), the revolts of the land lords of Visakhapatnam in A.D. 1830 and the outbreak of the Mutiny at Vizianagaram on 28th February 1857 form sporadic incidents.
The upper classes of the society like the chiefs and landlords revolted against the inequities of the British administration. The revolts of the landlords (1843) in the Visakhapatnam district show restiveness of certain sections of the people against the restrictions imposed on them by the British administration . The cultural renaissance and the economic exploitation of the British and the activities of the Christian missionaries, produced hatred against the British. The economic drain resulted in the impoverishment of the people. Loss of territory and the establishment of a foreign rule all created resentment. This discontentment was outburst in the shape of the Great Mutiny of 1857. The Revolt, though failed, quickened the feeling of nationalism throughout India including Andhra. The Andhras were inspired by the ‘Vandemataram (Bandemataram) Movement. The Vandemataram song invoked them. The tour of Bipin Chandra Pal in Andhra awakened the Andhras . The years between 1905 and 1921 was an era of militant nationalism. Finally the period from 1921 to 47 was the Gandhian era-the era of
- Salt Satyagraha
- Civil Disobedience
- Quit India Movement
- Harijan uplift and
- the use of Khadi.
Delegates from Andhra went to Bombay and attended the first session of the Indian National Congress (1885). As the activities of the Indian National Congress were growing by leaps and bounds, the Andhra Congress Committee was formed on the model of the National Congress, and later the District Congress Associations were also formed on the model of State Congress. As early as 1892 the Krishna District Association, devoted to national activity, was started in Machilipatnam. In 1895 Marepalli Ramachandra Kavi of Visakhapatnam District started a cultural association. The Partition of Bengal (1905) gave a sharp edge to national awareness all over the state . The nationalists crossed the limits of their political growth by 1905. The period from 1857 to 1905 was the seed time of the nationalism. It further organized Swadeshi campaigns not only in the Krishna district but spread to all other districts of Andhra . The period from 1905 to 1919 was an era of militant nationalism whereas the period from 1920-1947 was the Gandhian era. In 1907 Buchi Sundara Rao, a student of Mrs. A.V.N.College, Visakhapatnam organized a terrorist movement against the Government7 . In 1915 Visakha Swarajya Seva Samithi and in 1919 Visakhapatnam National Congress Committee were formed. It is already mentioned that the Congress is a national institution with people of all religions struggling for freedom The Partition of Bengal not only opened a new chapter in the history of the freedom movement but produced other movements like Swadeshi campaign, Boycott of foreign goods, Home Rule Movement and such other movements, shared by the state. People of Andhra went even to Japan to get trained in modern industries.
The people of Andhra suffered a lot under the rule of the East India Company. Actually Andhra was a part of the then Madras Presidency, some rebellions occurred here and there in the Coastal Andhra. The landlords revolted in Srungavarapukota (1830) and Anakapalle (1840) tribal people of Chintapalli of Visakhapatnam revolted against the British because of certain restrictions imposed on them10. The landlords revolted in Srungavarapukota and Vizianagaram (1857) and became restless because of the restrictions imposed by the British. Korra Mallayya of Korravanivalasa (Salur) with 5000 followers revolted to drive the English from the country. Nellore district figures prominent in its fight for the liberation of the country. Delegates from Nellore and other districts like Srikakulam went to Bombay to attend the first session of the Indian National Congress (A.D. 1885). The Partition of Bengal gave a sharp edge to the national awareness and there was a widespread protest. Political consciousness was very progressive. The Home Rule League started by Mrs.Annie Besant gave rise to a spate of activity in all the districts. Rebellions were mercilessly put down by the British army. The British authorities did not respond favourably to the reasonable demands of the Congress; moreover, they became hostile to the policies of the Congress. Introduction of English language as the medium of instruction created a new class of intelligentsia and this intelligentia led to the renaissance movement in the 19th century. English education was to spread western culture and to reduce the importance of Indian educational system. British education was secular in character, liberal in spirit and was opened to all the people irrespective of caste, colour or creed. The English education, in turn, produced a rebellion against orthodox social institutions like caste system, superiority of Brahmins and Sati etc. The Educated Indians or an intelligent middle class agitated against the age-old social customs and demanded a reformation of the Hindu society. ‘New India’ a widely circulated English daily inspired the intellectuals of the Krishna district.The Educated Indians demanded that the type of administration current in England should be followed in India also.
The real sense of political awakening emerged in Andhra with the out-break of Vandemataram and Swadesh Movements. The Andhra Provincial Congress Committee was formed for the purpose of acting in Congress matters in the Andhra districts. The Vandemataram Movement was also the result of a spirit of revolt against the foreign rules. A notable feature of the Swadeshi Movement in Andhra Districts was the manifestation of hostility among the local people towards the alien rule. The people of Andhra responded to the Vandemataram Movement. D.V. Suryanarayana of Vizianagaram was expelled from the Government Arts College. Rajahmundry for participating in the Vandemataram Movement. Several men and women of the Vizianagaram district vigorously participated in the movement and suffered severe imprisonment. A Swadeshi League was also formed and the well-known Congress leaders Nyapathi Subbarao Pantulu and C.Y. Chintamani toured in all districts of Andhra to popularize the above movements, particularly swadeshi.
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