Swadeshi movement

"Concentrate on Charkha and Swadeshi," Popular bazar poster, 1930's

The Swadeshi movement, part of the Indian independence movement and the developing Indian nationalism, was an economic strategy aimed at removing the British Empire from power and improving economic conditions in India by following the principles of swadeshi which had some success. Strategies of the Swadeshi movement involved boycotting British products and the revival of domestic products and production processes. L. M. Bhole identifies five phases of the Swadeshi movement.[1]

  • 1850 to 1904: developed by leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji, Gokhale, Ranade, Tilak, G.V. Joshi and Bhaswat.K.Nigoni. This was also known as First Swadeshi Movement.
  • 1905 to 1917: Began with and because of the partition of Bengal in 1905 by Lord Curzon.
  • 1918 to 1947: Swadeshi thought shaped by Gandhi, accompanied by the rise of Indian industrialists.
  • 1948 to 1991: Widespread curbs on international and inter-state trade. India became a bastion of obsolete technology during the licence-permit raj.
  • 1991 onwards: liberalization and globalization. Foreign capital, foreign technology, and many foreign goods are not excluded and doctrine of export-led growth resulted in modern industrialism.

The second Swadeshi movement started with the partition of Bengal by the Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon in 1905 and continued up to 1911.It was the most successful of the pre-Gandhian movement. Its chief architects were Aurobindo Ghosh, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai, V. O. Chidambaram Pillai, Babu Genu. Swadeshi, as a strategy, was a key focus of Mahatma Gandhi, who described it as the soul of Swaraj (self rule). It was strongest in Bengal and was also called vandemataram movement. Gandhi, at the time of the actual movement, remained loyal to the British Crown.


Credit to starting the Swadeshi movement goes to Baba Ram Singh of the Sikh Namdhari sect,[2] whose revolutionary movements which heightened around 1871 and 1872.[3] Naamdharis were instructed by Baba Ram Singh to only wear clothes made in the country and boycott foreign goods.[4] The Namdharis resolved conflict in the peoples court and totally avoided British law and British courts they also boycotted the educational system as Baba Ram Singh prohibited children from attending British School, amongst other forms and measures he employeed.[5]

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