Swadeshi Movement: Leaders, Timeline, History

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Swadeshi Movement

The beginning of the Swadeshi Movement was a turning event that lasted for 6 years in the history of India. In July 1905, Lord Curzon issued an order of partition for Bengal into two parts: Assam and East Bengal, which had a population of 31 million people, and the rest of Bengal, which had a population of 54 million people. 

A movement resulting from the Bengal partition gave a call for passive resistance i. e Swadeshi Boycott, etc. In 1906 during the Calcutta Session of Congress, Dadabhai Naoroji, the then president of INC passed several resolutions which included Swadeshi, Boycott, Swaraj, etc. And in the next year i.e. in 1907, the Indian national movement took a gigantic step with women, students, and different segments of the urban and rural population of Bengal and other regions of India coming forward and taking active participation in politics for the first time in the century.

What is the Swadeshi Movement?

  • The Swadeshi Movement stands as a fundamental component of India’s quest for independence. 
  • At the core of this movement were principles of self-sufficiency and the promotion of Swadeshi products. 
  • Moreover, as mentioned earlier, it started budding in the aftermath of the decision to divide Bengal.  
  • Members of the Indian National Congress took the aid of the Swadeshi Movement to ignite the fire in the nation’s fight for freedom.
  • On August 15, 1947, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru unfurled an Ashoka Chakra Indian flag made of hand-spun Khadi at India Gate, New Delhi.

Also Read – Civil Disobedience Movement in India: Impact & Drawbacks

How did it begin?

  • It is believed that the inception of the Swadeshi Movement happened in August 1905 during a meeting at the city of Calcutta Townhall.
  • Indians were asked to boycott foreign goods such as Manchester cloth.
  • Upon the declaration of the partition of Bengal into Bangladesh, the people residing in the region of Bengal opposed the decision by singing Vande Mataram.
  • Moderates (used for leaders like P.M. Mehta, W.C.Bonnerjee, and Dadabhai Naoroji) started the anti-partition campaign against Lord Curzon’s decision of partition.

Places and Leaders

Tilak called the movement “Bahishkar Yoga” and Lala Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh believed that the movement was training in “Self-help, Determination and Reliance”. Some leaders and from the places that they started their movements are – 

Bal Gangadhar TilakPune
Lala Lajpat Rai and Ajit SinghPunjab
C. PillaiMadras
Syed Haider RazaDelhi
Hari Sarvottam RaoAndhra Pradesh

Also Read – Salt Satyagraha Movement: Definition, Causes, Effects

The Diversity of the Movement 

The diversity of the movement was felt from politics to a breakthrough in Indian art, poems and literature, music, science, and industry. The movement was driven by deep patriotism and pain at the hands of Britishers. The movement, however, came out as a cultural movement. 

  • K.K Mitra in his newspaper, ‘Sanjivani’ first gave the idea of a Boycott, followed by the prospects of national education, awareness, and ‘Economic Swadeshi’.
  • Rabindranath Tagore composed “Amar Sonar Bangla”
  • Swadeshi enterprises like TISCO, Bengal Chemical Factory under P C Ray, etc started.
  • Mass Ganesh and Shivaji Festivals by Tilak were organized for the first time.

Various ways of boycotting British goods like clothes, sugar, goods, etc took place. This integration of Swaraj with that of the boycott movement led to the Swadeshi movement in place. 

The Swadeshi movement can be called a stepping stone or groundwork for taking the future independence struggles. With the foundation in place, the programs that were fostered during the Swadeshi movement became the insignia of the Gandhian movement as well.

 Also Read – Khilafat Movement  

Impact of the Swadeshi Movement 

  • The Swadeshi Movement aimed to reduce India’s growing dependence on British and foreign foods.
  • It encouraged the production of Indian goods and aided the nation in building a self-reliant economy.
  • The promotion of Indian industries was another essential impact of the Swadeshi Movement.
  • Indian consumers started rejecting British goods and made a move towards adopting indigenous alternatives.
  • This movement also led to an unprecedented increase in political activism throughout the country.
  • It fostered the spread of nationalist ideas and sparked a cultural revival. 

Also Read – Quit India Movement: History, Facts, Phases, UPSC

Problems with the Swadeshi Movement

  • It is believed that the Swadeshi Movement was not properly directed by the leaders. 
  • Due to the establishment of the Muslim League and the influence of Nawab Salimullah, the movement failed to unite Hindus and Muslims.
  • The demand for separate electorates also aggravated the situation.
  • The movement did not take the grievances of the poor peasants into consideration. 

The Decline of the Movement

The Government launched an aggressive attack on the leaders by passing and implementing various new laws which included – 

  1. Sedition Meeting Act, 1907
  2. Indian Newspaper Act, 1908
  3. Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1908
  4. Indian Press Act, 1910.

The movement soon became leaderless as prominent ones like Tilak were sent to Mandalay Jail for 6 years, Lala Lajpat Rai left for abroad, and B.C Pal retired from active politics. The strategy of Repression, Suppression, and Conciliation adopted by the Government gave them fruitful results. The national movement soon declined till 1914 to again rise, leaving a feeling of patriotism, unity, Atma Shakti, and want for Swaraj.


What were the 3 main features of Swadeshi movement?

The following were the main features of the Swadeshi movement
1. Total boycott of all goods that were made by the British
2. To encourage the use of indigenous goods or goods made in India
3. To fight against the trade carried out by the colonial government.

Which event led to Swadeshi movement?

The anti-partition movement was initiated after the fight against the decision of Lord Curzon to divide the province of Bengal

What was the main aim of Swadeshi movement?

The main aim of the Swadeshi movement was to promote domestically made products or products made in India as well as boycott the goods that were produced by colonial rule.



#1. The Swadeshi Movement was launched _____:

#2. In which year Swadeshi Movement started in India?

#3. Who was the president of the Indian National Congress during Swadeshi Movement?

Development of Press in IndiaIndia’s Journey to Independence from 1857 to 1947
Government of India Act 1935Bengal Partition
Vernacular Press Act of 1878Indian National Movement 
Indian Press Act of 1910Timeline of the India-Pakistan War
Arrival of the East India Company and Its ExpansionRevolutions in India You Must Know About

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