To what extent did the role of the moderates prepare a base for the wider freedom movement? Comment. UPSC GS Paper 1 2021, 10 Marks

Q11. नरमपंथियों की भूमिका ने किस सीमा तक व्यापक स्वतंत्रता आन्दोलन का आधार तैयार किया ? टिप्पणी कीजिए । (250 शब्दों में उत्तर दीजिए)

Q11. To what extent did the role of the moderates prepare a base for the wider freedom movement? Comment. (250 words) 15 Marks



The moderate period, which lasted from 1885 to 1905, was crucial in the promotion of moderate nationalism in India. They took a variety of public issues and demands and set the ground for the next phase of the national movement.

Moderates’ methods for spreading their views include:

1.Prayer, petition, persuasion, and philanthropy.

  1. Their demands, like their agitation, were constitutional.
  2. Their tactics were dubbed “Passive Resistance.” Their method of operation was based on boycott.

The moderates prepared a base for the wider freedom movement in following ways:

1. Critique of British dominance from an economic standpoint:

The moderate phase leaders revealed the truth about British colonialism’s harmful effects on India’s economy. In his book Poverty and UnBritish Rule in India, Dadabhai Naoroji proposed the drain theory to explain India’s economic exploitation. According to the theory, the British exported a portion of India’s wealth to Britain for which India received no advantage. The wealth of India was exported to Britain in the form of wages and pensions paid to British officials, interest paid on British loans, and payments for services like as shipping and banking.

2. Demand for economic reforms:

  • Reduce land revenue and protect peasants from zamindars’ illicit revenue collecting.
  • To cut down on military spending.
  • Increase the amount of money allocated to activities like health and education.
  • To get rid of the salt tax.
  • To enhance plantation labourers’ working conditions.
  • With the support of agricultural banks, give lower-cost credit to peasants.
  • They asked that Indian industry be developed and protected by increasing tariffs on imports and government assistance.

3. Demands for constitutional reforms and propaganda in the legislative councils:

  • Increase the number of Indians in the councils.
  • They requested more control over financial problems such as the budget.
  • The long-term goal was to achieve self-government.

4. Demand for administrative reforms:

  • There is a push to increase the number of Indians in government jobs. They said that because British bureaucrats and officers are paid well, an increase in the number of Indians would lessen the government’s financial burden. Second, Indianization of government services would lessen the wealth drain caused by British officials’ wages and pensions being sent back to the UK. Finally, they chastised the British for discriminating against Indians by excluding them from key administration positions.
  • They urged that Indian civil service examinations be held simultaneously in India and England. This was done in order to enhance Indian participation in government services.
  • They demanded the separation of the Executive and Judiciary to prevent arbitrary police and bureaucratic operations. They also chastised the bureaucracy for being repressive and authoritarian, as well as the judiciary for being expensive and time-consuming.
  • They requested that several unjust laws, such as the Arms Act and the License Act, be repealed.
  • They requested that municipal and local governments be reformed to give them more power and resources. This was done to improve the administration’s overall welfare and administrative efficiency.

5. Demands for protection of civil rights in India:

The British government in India had an authoritarian character and more than often it tried to curtail the Civil rights of Indians through draconian laws. The moderates demanded protection of rights like right to free speech and liberty, right to association, freedom for free press etc. They demanded for the removal of Preventive Detention Acts, which was arbitrarily used by the British. Leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak and several journalists were arrested on sedition charges for making provocative statements. This led to increase in the protests due to increased awareness among the masses.


Criticism of moderates:

The moderate phase leaders were criticized for the methods they used i.e. 3 P’s -prayers, petitions and protests. These methods were criticized as being inadequate for challenging the British might in India. Further the lack of participation of masses in the movement has been criticized as the major drawback as the leaders were mainly educated middle class professionals like lawyers, teachers, journalist and civil servants etc. The masses mainly played a passive role during the moderate phase of national movement.



Although, the moderates failed to appeal the wider population and to convince the government, they laid a crucial foundation base, on which the future of the freedom struggle was based. Extremists, Gandhi Ji , and other freedom fighters used this base to finally achieve the independence in 1947.

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