Morley-Minto Reforms, 1909 and Growth of Communalism

Morley-Minto Reforms, 1909

  • Increased the number of elected members in the Imperial Legislative Council and the provincial council
  • However, most of the elected members were elected indirectly
  • The reformed councils still enjoyed no real power, being merely advisory bodies.
  • Introduced separate electorates under which all Muslims were grouped in separate constituencies from which Muslims alone could be elected. This was aimed at dividing the Hindus and Muslims. It was based on the notion that the political and economic interests of Hindus and Muslims were separate.
    • This later became a potent factor in the growth of communalism
    • It isolated the Muslims from the Nationalist Movement and encouraged separatist tendencies
  • The real purpose of the reforms was to confuse the moderate nationalists, to divide nationalist ranks and to check the growth of unity among Indians
  • Response of Moderates
    • They realized that the reforms had not granted much
    • However, they decided to cooperate with the government in working the reforms
    • This led to their loss of respect among the nationalists and masses

Growth of Communalism

  • Definition
    • Communalism is the belief that because a group of people follow a particular religion they have, as a result, common secular, that is, social, political and economic interests.
    • Second stage: Secular interests of followers of one religion are dissimilar and divergent from the interests of the followers of another religion
    • Third stage: The interests of the followers of different religions or of different religious communities are seen to be mutually incompatible, antagonistic and hostile.
  • Communalism is not a remnant of the medieval period. It has its roots in the modern colonial socio-economic political structure.
  • Divide and Rule
    • After 1857, British initially suppressed Indian muslims. However, after the publishing of Hunter’s book ‘The Indian Mussalman’ they actively followed the policy of divide and rule and hence started supporting the Muslims.
    • They promoted provincialism by talking of Bengal domination
    • Tired to use the caste structure to turn the non-brahmins against Brahmins and the lower caste against the higher castes.
    • It readily accepted communal leaders as authentic representatives of all their co-religionists.
  • Reasons for growth of communal tendencies in Muslims
    • Relative backwardness: educationally and economically

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