In Pursuit of Freedom: India’s Journey to Independence from 1857 to 1947

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1857 to 1947 History of India

With the Sepoy Mutiny or the First War of Independence in 1857, started India’s national struggle for independence. This period saw religious, social, military and political developments. From the foundation of Brahmo Samaj in 1828 by Rajaram Mohan Roy to Pandit Nehru’s Tryst With Destiny speech, India grew from a colonial economy to the leader of the Non-Allied Movement (NAM).

Although the struggle for freedom cannot be encapsulated in a single essay or a few hundred words, in this piece we will recount the history of the Indian freedom movement from 1857 to 1947. 

Also Read: Indian National Movement

Importance of the Topic: 1857 to 1947 

The attainment of independence in 1947 and the Great Revolt of 1857 are both significant events in Indian history and polity. Questions from this topic are frequently a One of the most debated and covered themes that encompasses crucial events and a comprehensive view of Indian history is the Indian National Movement, which is an important part of the country’s freedom struggle.  

Also Read: 50 Interesting History Facts

Indian Freedom Struggle: An Overview

The late nineteenth century saw the emergence of Indian nationalism. India’s fight for independence was a notable period in its history, characterized by unwavering tenacity and all-out bravery. It started in 1857 with the First War of Independence, which was motivated by resentment of British colonial control. There were other titles for the 1857 insurrection, including the Sepoy Mutiny and India’s First War of Independence. Despite its mutinous beginnings, the 1857 uprising quickly extended throughout the nation to topple the foreign hegemony. Despite the failure of the 1857 uprising, it ignited a flame of independence that eventually gave rise to several Indian national movements with the ultimate aim of ending British rule in India. 

The significant Indian Freedom Movements that took place after 1857 and helped India achieve independence are included in the table below. 

Must Read: Significance of Independence Day

Year Name of Important Freedom Struggles/ Movements
1857The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 started in Meerut and extended to Delhi, Agra, Kanpur, and Lucknow.
1905-1911Swadeshi movement: Lord Curzon’s partition of Bengal
1914-1917Gaddar Movement: Komagata Maru Incident
1916-1918Home Rule Movement: Started by Annie Besant and Bal Gangadhar Tilak
1917Champaran Satyagrah: First non-violent protest in India by Mahatama Gandhi
1919Rowlatt Act / Rowlatt Satyagraha
1920Khilafat and Non-Cooperation Movement: Gandhi started the first mass movement
1930Launch of the Civil Disobedience Movement to Violate the Salt Law
1940Individual Satyagraha: Started in 1940 in opposition to the August Offer.
1942Gandhi began his third significant effort against British rule, the “Quit India Movement”.
1942Cripps Mission: Delegation sent by British Government to India, led by Sir Stafford
1945Wavell Plan and Shimla Conference
1946Cabinet Mission Plan
1947Partition of India

Also Read: Revolutions in India You Must Know About

Indian National Movements: The Road to Freedom 

The Indian National Movement, sometimes referred to as the Indian Independence Movement, was a pivotal time in India’s history that was characterized by several movements and conflicts for freedom from British control. Let’s delve a little deeper to understand what the above-mentioned movements were all about.

1. Sepoy Mutiny: Revolt of 1857 

On May 10, 1857, the Revolt of 1857, often known as India’s First War of Independence or the country’s first liberation movement, began. It happened in a number of places, including Meerut, Lucknow, Delhi, Agra, and Kanpur.

  • Famous Personalities Associated: Rani Laxmi Bai, Tantia Tope, Nana Saheb, Mangal Pandey, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Man Singh, and Kunwar Singh.
  • Causes of the Revolt: There were multiple reasons behind the great revolt of 1857: 
  • Introduction of the “Enfield’s rifle” and the dissemination of the rumour that its bullets were smeared with pig and cow fat. 
  • British East India Company introduced procedures for collecting land taxes.
  • British East India Company administration is inefficient and ineffective.
  • Lord Dalhousie’s introduction of the doctrine of lapse
  • The Religious Disabilities Act was enacted to change Hindu traditions.
  • Impact of the Mutiny:
  • The abolition of dualism, capitalism, and kingship
  • hiring of British government representatives in both civil and military administration.
  • British forces were added and Indian soldiers were reduced.
  • Implementation of the “Divide and Rule” strategy
  • adoption of the 1861 Indian Civil Service Act

Because community members did not participate and there was no central leadership, the Sepoy Mutiny failed. 

Also Read: Revolt of 1857

2. Swadeshi Movement

  •  Due to the difficulty of governing Bengal’s people as a whole, Lord Curzon announced the division of Bengal in 1905, which led to the birth of the Swadeshi Movement.
  • To undermine the cohesiveness of the nationalist movement, the British nevertheless, announced the split of Bengal into two provinces.
  • At a meeting held at the Calcutta Town Hall on August 7, 1905, the “Boycott” resolution was approved, launching the Swadeshi movement and unifying its previously dispersed leadership.
  • The Swadeshi movement aimed to promote the use of indigenous products and services while criticizing its British rivals. This improved India’s economic situation and showed the British that Indians were capable of supporting themselves. Due to its broader expression of unity, this movement marked a turning point in India’s history.

Also Read: Simon Commission

3.  Gaddar Movement: Komagata Maru Incident

  • Indian immigrants were being transferred to Canada on the Komagatamaru ship, which was then sent back. In an altercation with the British police, while the ship was returning to India, a number of the passengers were killed or imprisoned. 
  • Due to the prejudice and violation of human rights, the Komagata Maru event received criticism and attention from all around the world. 
  • The incident provided the Ghadar party more motivation to fight against colonial authority, indirectly boosting the independence movement in India.

4. Home Rule Movement 

  • The nation’s Home Rule Movement was a potent movement for expressing opposition to British authority and its reaction to the First World War.
  • Both Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Annie Besant launched the Home Rule Movement in 1916, first in Belgaum and then in Madras.
  • With the help of the British Government remaining out of it, this movement sought to achieve self-rule.
  • This campaign led to the 1917 Montague Declaration, which promised increased representation of Indians in government, the development of institutions for self-governance, and eventually the establishment of responsible governments in India.

Also Read: Home Rule Movement

5. Champaran Satyagrah

  • The Champaran Movement, which took place in the Bihar province of Champaran in 1917, was Mahatma Gandhi’s first instance of civil disobedience during the campaign for freedom.
  • Rajkumar Shukla, an indigo farmer, convinced Gandhi to travel to Champaran to investigate the situation of the farmers there, who were subjected to harsh constraints and hefty taxes. They were forced to plant indigo by the British colonists under the tinkathia system.
  • In 1917 and 1918, Gandhi organized three demonstrations in Champaran, Ahmedabad, and Kheda before launching the Rowlatt Satyagraha.

Also Read: Salt Satyagraha

6. Rowlatt Satyagraha

  • The British Indian government introduced the Rowlatt Act in 1919, also known as the Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act.
  • The Act gave the government the power to detain anybody charged with participating in terrorism for up to two years without a trial. The Rowlatt Act also severely curtailed the freedom of the press.
  • On April 6, 1919, Mahatma Gandhi started a non-violent Satyagraha known as the Rowlatt Satyagraha to protest the British government’s discriminatory Rowlatt Act.
  • The protests against the Rowlatt Act also led to the tragic Jallianwala Bagh massacre, which occurred in Amritsar on April 13, 1919. This act gave Indians good cause to push their independence struggles even farther.

Also Read: Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

7. Khilafat and Non-Cooperation Movement

  • Khilafat Movement: The way the British overthrew the Caliph in Turkey angered Indian Muslims. Therefore, several demonstrations against the British were staged in 1919. 
  • During this period, the Muslim League and Congress merged. These two groups collaborated to plan several political demonstrations. 
  • The Khilafat Committee’s campaign of non-cooperation on August 31, 1920, served as the movement’s official launch date. 
  • On September 5, 1920, the Non-Cooperation Movement was launched by the Indian National Congress (INC), under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. One of the major forces in India’s quest for freedom is the Non-Cooperation Movement. Gandhi started it as a means of assisting the Khilafat Movement.
  • To support India’s fight for independence, important social programs, events, workplaces, and schools were to be boycotted. Gandhi urged people to adopt Swadeshi values and struggle for the social elimination of untouchability in his proclamation.
  • However, Gandhi decided to stop the campaign in response to the Chauri Chaura incident in February 1922, in which after a confrontation between the police and demonstrators, a mob of thugs set fire to a police station, killing 22 officers.

Also Read: Non-Cooperation Movement

8. Civil Disobedience Movement

  • The nonviolent Dandi March, also known as the Dandi Satyagraha, the Salt Satyagraha, and the Salt March were all organized by Mahatma Gandhi in colonial India.
  • The Congress Party declared in 1930 that Poorna Swarajya, or complete independence, should be the primary objective of the liberation effort. Poorna Swarajya Day was established on January 26, 1930.
  • Indians were furious by a British tax on the sale and collection of salt in 1930, and Gandhiji decided to ignore the levy in disobedience of the government as a result.
  • As the movement spread across the country, more than 60,000 people were arrested, including Mahatma Gandhi.
  • The Gandhi-Irwin Pact stated that the civil disobedience campaign would end in exchange for allowing Indians to produce salt for home use. The release of the Indians from captivity was also approved by Lord Irwin. 

Also Read: Civil Disobedience Movement

9. Quit India Movement

  • The INC advocated for a massive civil disobedience movement when the Cripps Mission, which arrived in India in March 1942, failed to offer any type of constitutional answer for India’s difficulties.
  • At its Wardha conference on July 14, 1942, the Congress Working Committee endorsed the notion of an Indian independence struggle.
  • To get the British to leave India, Gandhi started this initiative in August 1942. The “Bharat Chhodo Andolan,” as it was known, forced the British colonial rulers to think about leaving India.
  • The government used harsh repression tactics, but people were unaffected and kept up their fight.
  • The movement prioritized calling for complete independence as the main goal of the freedom movement.


The Indian National Congress, the Muslim League, and the Sikh community’s legislator representatives reached an accord with Lord Mountbatten on what has come to be known as the 3 June Plan or Mountbatten Plan. This was the final independence strategy.

The Viceroy Mountbatten’s plan, which was unveiled on June 3, 1947, had the following guidelines:

  • The British Government agreed in principle to the division of British India.
  • It would provide dominion status to succeeding administrations.
  • Both nations are given autonomy and sovereignty.
  • The succeeding administrations might draft their own constitution.
  • The Princely States were given the choice of joining Pakistan or India based on two main considerations: geographic proximity and popular preference.

The India Independence Act of 1947 was enacted as a result of the Mountbatten Plan.

The Dominion of Pakistan and the Dominion of India, later to become the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the Republic of India, respectively, were created from British India by the Indian Independence Act of 1947, which was approved by the British Parliament. On July 18, 1947, this Act was given royal sanction.

On August 15, 1947, both Pakistan and India attained independence. Pakistan, by choices made by its cabinet, elected to commemorate its Independence Day on August 14 while India continued to honour its Independence Day on August 15.

The Indian Freedom Struggle was marked by a variety of events, as described in the Series of National Movements in India. Each national movement has historical value and provides information about modern times and past events. 


Q1. Which incident launched India’s freedom movement?

Ans: The Revolt of 1857

Q2. How long did India’s struggle for freedom take place?

Ans: Historical events that took place for India’s struggle for independence occurred between 1857 to 1947

Q3. What is the name of the last mass movement in India’s struggle for freedom?

Ans: Quit India Movement in 1942

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