Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

In news: Foundation Day of the INC


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: INC

Mains level: INC and freedom struggle


A political party recently marked the  138th foundation day of Indian National Congress (INC) on December 28.

How the INC was founded?

  • The INC came into being on December 28, 1885.
  • The English bureaucrat Allan Octavian Hume is credited as the founder of the organisation.
  • On that day, 72 social reformers, journalists and lawyers congregated for the first session of the INC at Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit College, Bombay.
  • Stated objectives of INC included-
  1. First, the fusion into one national whole of all the different elements that constitute the population of India.
  2. Second, the gradual regeneration along all lines, spiritual, moral, social, and political, of the nation thus evolved; and
  3. Third, the consolidation, of, the union between England and India.

Real motive behind: ‘Safety Valve’ Theory

  • At that point, the aim of this group was not to demand independence from the ongoing colonial rule but to influence the policies of the British government in favour of Indians.
  • Its objective is often described as providing a “safety valve” as the time, through which Indians could air out their grievances and frustration.
  • As Mr. Hume explained, the: Congress organization was ‘only one outcome of the labours of a body of cultured men, mostly Indians, who hound themselves together to labour silently for the good of India.’

Transformation towards freedom movement

Ans. Famous for 3P’s: Prayers, Protest and Petitions

  • The party’s work continued, to shift the colonial administrators’ attitudes and policies on the rights and powers allowed to Indians.
  • The members frequently protested issues of British colonialism, such as the Bengal famine and the drain of wealth from India.
  • However, these protests were at this point usually limited to prayers, petitions and protests, including writing letters to the authorities.
  • As the British rule continued, there grew differences in what the party’s functioning should be like.

Strength of INC

  • Diverse participation: One of the biggest strengths of the party, which helped it appeal to a broad section of Indian society, was having members who held different ideological positions.
  • Pan-India organization: Its popularity grew across every corner of India.

Early criticism of INC

  • Non-effective: Hume and the party were criticised, by the British for attempting to change the existing systems that favoured them and by some Indians for not achieving significant results.
  • Elite-organization: The party largely consisted of educated, upper-class people who were likely to have studied abroad.

Splits and reconvening

  • In Surat in 1906, the divisions between the ‘moderates’ led by Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Surendranath Banerjea, and the ‘extremists’ led by Bal Gangadhar Tilak came to the fore and there was a split.
  • While Tilak and Lala Lajpat Rai wanted the Congress to boycott the visit of the Prince of Wales in protest against the Bengal Partition a year prior, the moderates opposed any such move.
  • But by 1915, the Bombay session saw these two groups coming together again as one.
  • The pattern of splits and eventual cohesion continued well after Indian independence, even after the party came to completely dominate successive general elections under PM Jawaharlal Nehru.

Important sessions of INC

    Year     Session President Importance  
    1885 Bombay W C Banerjee First session
    1888 Allahabad George Yule First English President of INC
    1896 Calcutta Rahimtullah M. Sayani National song ‘Vande Mataram’ sung for the first time
    1906 Calcutta Dadabhai Naoroji Dadabhai Naoroji coined the term Swaraj.
    1907 Surat Rash Behari Ghosh Party splits into extremists and moderates
    1911 Calcutta Bishan Narayan Dar National Anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’ sung for the first time
    1916 Lucknow Ambica Charan Mazumdar Reunion of Congress and Lucknow Pact, Joint session with the Muslim league
    1917 Calcutta Annie Besant First Woman President of the INC
    1919 Amritsar Motilal Nehru Jallianwalla Bagh Massacre took place
    1924 Belgaum M K Gandhi Only session where MK Gandhi was the President
    1925 Kanpur Sarojini Naidu First Indian Woman President of INC
    1927 Madras M A Ansari Independence Resolution was put forward
    1928 Calcutta Session, Motilal Nehru All India Youth Congress formed
    1929 Lahore Jawaharlal Nehru Poorna Swaraj Resolution @ 26th January, Civil Disobedience Movement launched


Karachi Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel A resolution on Fundamental Rights and National Economic Progress was passed. Gandhi-Irwin pact was endorsed and  Gandhiji was nominated to represent INC in the second round table conference
    1936 Lucknow Jawaharlal Nehru Idea of Socialism was imbibed
    1938 Haripura Subhas Chandra Bose National Planning Committee set up under Nehru, Haripura Resolution passed, which demanded Poorna Swaraj, including the princely states as well.
    1940 Ramgarh Abul Kalam Azad He was the longest-serving President of INC during British rule.

Quit India Movement started in 1942

    1946 Meerut J.B. Kripalani Last session before Indian independence



Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following statements

  1. The first woman President of the Indian National Congress was Sarojini Naidu.
  2. The first Muslim President of the Indian National Congress was Badruddin Tyabji.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2


Post your answers here.
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