Role of Students in Home Rule Movement - A Study



To give proper advice to the students, a student's convention was held at Madras in January 1917 under the leadership of S. Subramaniya Ayyar, who requested the students to take part in the Home Rule Movement. The Movement became very popular among students as an impact of propaganda work. Sometime later, the students made their presence in the League as associates. The rules of the League required them only to attend study classes for academic discussions of a political nature. They regularly read the New India. Apart from that, their perusal of Besant's pamphlets and attendance in Home Rule classes greatly influenced them. The students gathered in large numbers at her public meetings, and in one of her lectures, she even declared that "if Home Rule propaganda does the harm of making our young men more patriotic, more courageous, more frank, and less docile, less timid, and less emasculated, then all Indians will agree that the more such 'harm' comes to the young, the better."1 On another occasion she pointed out that she had entered politics in order to ward off the youngsters from the evil influence of the anarchists.

            Her teachings and writings reached the students beyond the bounds of the Madras presidency. Students from other parts of India also came under the influence of her oratory. This is evidenced by the fact that the schoolboys began to recite the last sentence in her article on the Tilak's Security case. "The agony of the cross precedes the resurrection of India-a Nation."2 One student of the Madanapalle College wrote on the blackboard; "We do not ask for Home Rule, we demand it.3 The influence of Mrs.Besant upon the students was so great that she needed to give only a hint and the students completed the work with perfection. To point out one example, Mrs.Besant condemned the practice of separate reservation for Europeans and Indians. Taking the cue, the students of Pachaiyappa's College in the Madras city organized a procession on 27 July 1916, entered the railway station and damaged the railway property.4

            The shouting and hustling at police reporters in public meetings, the Government officials believed, were the after-effects of Mrs.Besant's condemnation of the Central Intelligence Bureau, which she nicknamed 'crush India Department."5 To cite another example, in Trichinoploy, the police reporters were abused and hustled by the students on 1 December 1916.6 In short, the teachings of Mrs. Besnt had a deep impact on the English -educated Indians.