Why did the ‘moderates’ fail to carry conviction with the national about their proclaimed ideology and political goals by the end of the nineteenth century? (150 W/ 10 M)

Mentor’s Comment:

Introduction should explain about the nature of the Moderates i.e. their demand of equality, British rule as an act to bring modernization, they equated liberty with class privileges and overall their politics was very limited. Also their two pronged methodology i.e. to create a strong public opinion and to persuade the British to introduce various reforms.

Further, mention about the reason they failed. Like, lack of understanding of true nature of British Rule, Narrow social base, no mass reach, they failed to realize the mass movement, pray, petition and protest types of politics and overall rise of extremist leaders who were direct in action.

Next, bring conclusion citing their contribution and importance despite their failures.


Model Answer:

The moderates sought reformation of British rule in India. They adopted prayer, petition and protests as their methodology. This yielded little results.

The Indian Councils Act of 1892 proved to be nothing more than a mere eyewash. Moreover, Lord Curzon’s racial, conservative and imperialistic policies such as partition of Bengal ignited the Indian passion against British.

The moderates had belief upon the British constitution. They were driven with the expectation that real change could be brought by making the administration aware of the plight of the people. But the British response proved that they were neither unaware nor in favor of any real change in the way India was administered.

The ‘Moderates’ failed to carry conviction of the nation about their proclaimed ideology and political goals by the end of the nineteenth century because:

  • The political education of masses started by the early moderates had increased awareness. People could understand how the drain of wealth was done to advance British imperial interests.  The Grand Durbar of Delhi in 1903 amidst the unprecedented famine made clear what the British priorities were.
  • Social awakening through religious reforms too enlightened the masses. Swami Vivekananda said, “Weakness was a sin”. Swami Dayananda Saraswati declared Swaraj as the best form of government.
  • Moreover, the defeat of Italy by Ethiopia in 1896 and Russia by Japan in 1905 had shattered the myth of European supremacy.
  • Charismatic and visionary leaders such as Bipan Chandra Pal and Arobindo Ghosh of Bengal, Bal Gangadhar Tilak of Maharashtra and Lala Lajpat Rai of Punjab appealed and captivated the masses.
  • A new stream of ‘extremist’ ideology comprising passive resistance and direct action with the goal of attaining complete independence (Swaraj) appealed to the masses.

Thus, the moderates failed to carry conviction of the nation about their proclaimed ideology of reform and people had become disillusioned with their methods of struggle and political goals. This led to the emergence of more vigorous and rejuvenated phase in Indian anti-colonial struggle.