The Swadeshi Movement 1903-1908

The biggest contribution of the Extremists was the Swadeshi Movement. The leaders of the Extremist lobby were against the Bengal Partition on the basis of Religion. So, they started the Swadeshi Movement as the proposal of Bengal Partition came into the 1903.

So, in this post, we shall read about the contribution of every section of the society in the Swadeshi Movement.

Swadeshi Movement

First All India Movement

Swadeshi Movement can be considered as the first all India movement. Because in 1903 there was all India organisation like Indian National Congress. The people got the inspiration from the Ilbert Bill Controversy ie Unity is Strength.

Therefore, although the issue was the partition of Bengal. But Swadeshi Movement saw the presence at all India level. Example,

All India Impact of Swadeshi Movement
All India Impact of Swadeshi Movement

Motivation: Self Reliance

The most important feature of Swadeshi Movement was self-reliance or Atma-Shakti. In the Ramacharita Manas, Goswami Tulsidas said,

Paradhin Supanehun Sukh Nahin!

According to Tulsidas, a dependent person cannot enjoy even in his dreams. So, India during the 20th century was completely dependent on Britain for every basic necessity.

So, this was one of the important reason for the slavery of India. In this situation, Swadeshi Movement emphasised on self-reliance. Therefore, under it three important targets were,

Important Targets of Movement
Important Targets of Movement
  • Education
  • Villages
  • Industries


Education is the soul of the family, society and nation. So, till 20th-century education was at the hand of the British government. This government was propagating the philosophy of civilising mission. So, this was the hurdle in the growth of nationalism in India.

So, in this scenario, the important steps of the movement were,

  • Established National Educational Council in 1906 to propagate education on nationalist lines.
  • Primary education in Vernacular languages.
  • Promotion of technological education. For this established Bengal Institute of technology, 1906. Meritorious students of this college were sent to Japan for the higher education.

It was the very good move of the Swadeshi Movement. This strengthened the national freedom struggle because it started giving birth to the class in the society which was inclined towards nationalism. Bhagat Singh, Sukh Dev, Bhagwati Prasad Vohra, Jatin Das etc had the total impact of this phase of Indian Freedom Struggle.


The Base of Indian Economy
The Base of Indian Economy

India is the agricultural country, where villages are the base of the economy, society and the nation. During this time, the very base of society was suffering from the harsh taxation system imposed on them. They were also suffering from some social evils like poverty, caste system and child marriage etc.

But Swadeshi Movement declared fight against these evils with the help of self-help groups. The most famous group was Swadesh Bandhav Samiti formed by Ashwini Kumar Dutt. So, all these kind of Samities moved to the people and tried to awaken them for self-dependence and against the social evils.


India in 1905 was dependent on British products for all its requirements. So, the Swadeshi Movement emphasised on the establishment of small-scale units to fulfil day to day requirements. Therefore this led to the establishment of the number of small industrial units in Bengal.

But within a short span of time, most of the units were closed with few exceptions like Bengal Chemical Factory by P.C. Ray. It happened due to the fact that Indian goods were not able to compete with the British goods plus certain communities in India were not good entrepreneurs.

Though the establishment of industries did not create any strong impact on this British Market. But first time in British Raj Indians understood the importance of economy. As the moderates have shown the economic exploitation of India to the masses. So, the extremists took the steps to hurt the British economy in a different manner by boycotting the British goods.

Promotion of ideology of Indian Culture

Emphasis on Indian Culture
Emphasis on Indian Culture

Culture creates a Bond of Unity and in 1905, there was nothing like Indian Culture. This was the hurdle in the freedom struggle. So, in this scenario, Swadeshi Movement decided to strengthen the concept of Indian Culture. Therefore, they established Indian Society of Oriental Arts in 1907.

The objective of this society was to promote the concept of Indian Culture. The first award winner of this organisation was Nand Lal Bose because he gave the concept of Bharat Mata. So, this led to the increased mass participation of middle-class women and children.

Swadeshi Movement was the very big development in the freedom struggle of India. But as it was just a beginning so it has certain limitations,

  • Repression by the government.
  • Internal Struggle.
  • Failed to attract Muslim majority especially farmers.
  • Extremists did not understand the limitation of mass movement. So, any mass movement cannot be extended to the limitless time.

But if we see in a holistic manner, it was a good achievement of extremists. They succeeded in creating tension for the government. But this achievement did not last long because of the Surat Split of 1907!!!!

We shall discuss Surat Split of 1907 in the next coming post.

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