Indian National Congress

Rise of Indian National Congress


Predecessors of INC

  • East India Association
    • By Dadabhai Naoroji in 1866 in London
    • To discuss the Indian question and to influence the British public men to discuss Indian welfare
    • Branches of the association in prominent Indian cities
  • Indian Association
    • Surendranath Banerjee and Ananda Mohan Bose in 1876, Calcutta
    • The aim of creating strong public opinion in the country on political questions and the unification of the Indian people on a common political programme
  • Poona Sarvajanik Sabha
    • Justice Ranade, 1870
  • Madras Mahajan Sabha
    • Viraraghavachari, Anand Charloo, G Subramanian Aiyer, 1884
  • Bombay Presidency Association
    • Pherozshah Mehta, K T Telang, Badruddin Tyabji, 1885
  • These organizations were narrow in their scope and functioning. They dealt mostly with local questions and their membership were confined to a few people belonging to a single city or province


Indian National Congress

  • Indian National Congress was founded on 28 December 1885 by 72 political workers. A O Hume was the first secretary and was instrumental in establishing the Congress
  • First session in Bombay. President: W C Bonnerjee
  • With the formation of INC, the Indian National Movement was launched in a small but organized manner
  • The Congress itself was to serve not as a party but as a movement
  • Congress was democratic. The delegates to INC were elected by different local organizations and groups
  • Sovereignty of the people
  • In 1890, Kadambini Ganguli, the first woman graduate of Calcutta University addressed the Congress session
  • Safety Valve Theory
    • The INC was started under the official direction, guidance and advice of Lord Dufferin, the Viceroy, to provide a safe, mild, peaceful and constitutional outlet or safety valve for the rising discontent among the masses, which was inevitably leading towards a popular and violent revolution.

Does the safety valve theory explain the formation of Congress?

  • The safety valve theory is inadequate and misleading
  • INC represented the urge of the Indian educated class to set up a national organization to work for their political and economic development
  • A number of organizations, as mentioned above, had already been started by the Indians towards that end
  • Hume’s presence in Congress was used to allay official suspicions



Why was there a need for an All-India organization?

  • Vernacular Press Act, 1878
  • Ilbert Bill (1883) which would allow Indian judges to try Europeans was opposed by the European community and was finally enacted in a highly compromised state in 1884.
  • The Indians realized that they could not get the Ilbert bill passed because they were not united on all India level. Hence need for INC was felt.
  • In order to give birth to the national movement
    • Creation of national leadership was important
    • Collective identification was created


Aims of INC

  • Promotion of friendly relations between nationalist political workers from different parts of the country
  • Development and consolidation of the feeling of national unity irrespective of caste, religion or province
  • Formulation of popular demands and their presentation before the government
  • Training and organization of public opinion in the country


  • The first major objective of the Indian national movement was to promote weld Indians into a nation, to create an  Indian identity
  • Fuller development and consolidation of sentiments of national unity
    • Efforts for unity: In an effort to reach all regions, it was decided to rotate the congress session among different parts of the country. The President was to belong to a region other than where the congress session was being held.
    • To reach out to the followers of all religions and to remove the fears of the minorities, a rule was made at the 1888 session that no resolution was to be passed to which an overwhelming majority of Hindu or Muslim delegates objected.
    • In 1889, a minority clause was adopted in the resolution demanding reform of legislative councils. According to the clause, wherever Parsis, Christians, Muslims or Hindus were a minority their number elected to the councils would not be less than their proportion in the population.
    • To build a secular nation, the congress itself had to be intensely secular
  • The second major objective of the early congress was to create a common political platform or programme around which political workers in different parts of the country could gather and conduct their political activities.
    • Due to its focus solely on political issues congress did not take up the question of social reform.
  • Since this form of political participation was new to India, the arousal, training, organization and consolidation of public opinion was seen as a major task by the congress leaders.
    • Going beyond the redressal of immediate grievances and organize sustained political activity.



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