Young India discusses the rise of British power in India and its consequences, origin and growth of Indian nationalism, foundation of the Indian National Congress, trajectories of Indian national movement upto 1915, Hindu-Muslim relations and finally Lajpat Rai’s own vision of Indian nation.


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Introductory Remarks by K.L. Tuteja


Lala Lajpat Rai, the author of 'Young India: An Interpretation and a History of the Nationalist Movement from Within' was one of the prominent leaders of India's freedom struggle.

Preface to the Fourth Edition of Young India


In the introduction to the first edition I have explained why, when and under what circumstances, this book was written. The first impression was exhausted in a few months and the publishers issued a second one soon after Mrs Besant's Home Rule League, London branch, issued an English edition with a foreword by Colonel Wedgwood who was then unknown to me.

Foreword to the British Edition of Young India


Englishmen must make up their minds about India. The days when we could lull our principles to sleep with vague talk about our beneficent rule, about a people unfitted for government, about protecting the non-military classes from violence and tyranny, are past.

Author's Introduction


During my travels in the world, the one point that has struck me most forcibly and most painfully, is the lack of true knowledge about the affairs of India among the 'civilised' nations of the globe.



Indian history rolls back to thousands of years before the Christian era. Much of it is still enveloped in mystery. What little is known has been discovered and put into shape within the last hundred years.

First Invasion of India


The first political and military invasion of India known to history was that of Alexander the Great in 326 B.C. Alexander was no doubt victorious up to a certain point, but he never conquered India, nor did he occupy it.

Chandragupta and Asoka


Megasthenes' account of the Government of Chandragupta and of the details of the administration under him is enough to fill every Indian with pride.

India Practically Independent up to the Twelfth Century


It will be thus seen that India was practically independent up to the beginning of the thirteenth century A.D. By independent, I mean that no foreign rule had been imposed upon it from without.

Muslim Rule


The Mohammedan rule over India lasted for six centuries with varying vicissitudes of fortune. For three centuries, from the thirteenth to the beginning of the sixteenth century, it was practically confined to northern India.

Muslim Rule in India not Foreign


Yet it is not right to say that the Muslim rule in India was a 'foreign rule'. The Muslim invaders were no doubt foreign in their origin (just as the Normans and Danes were when they came to England), but as soon as they had settled in India, they adopted the country, made it their home, married and raised children there, and became the sons of the soil.

India under the British


India under the British is, however, entirely different. For the first time in history she becomes a part of another empire.

Political Disqualification of Indians


For the first time in the political history of India it has become a political disqualification to be an Indian. The offspring of an Englishman, domiciled in India and married to an Indian woman, loses in rank and status by that fact, nor does the issue of an Indian gentleman from an Englishwoman gain anything thereby.

Indians may not Carry Arms


In India till recently, the Indians only were forbidden to carry arms except by special permission of their master; and permission was, of course, granted very sparingly and as a matter of favour, as a special concession and not as a right.

Loyalty of Ruling Chiefs


It would be quite wrong to conclude, as some people do, that all the ruling chiefs are sincerely loyal to the British supremacy, or that their acts displaying loyalty are free and independent expressions of their minds or their will.

Middle Class Desires Political Freedom


The desire for political independence, the sense of shame and humiliation born of being a subject race, of being a political pariah, must from the nature of things be confined largely to be educated middle class.

II. INDIA FROM 1757 To 1857


Aurangzeb, the 6th Mogul Emperor of India, died in 1707. Within fifty years of his death, the Mogul sovereignty in India was reduced to its last gasp. The seeds sown by his bigotry, fanaticism and suspicious nature were ripening and bringing to his successors a harvest of dissensions and discords, of rebellions and revolts.

Conflict of French and English in India


The political fate of India was hanging in the balance, when a power arose to take advantage of the disturbed conditions of things. The French and the English both entered the arena, taking different sides, and began to shuffle their cards.

How British Rule in India was Established


Hindus were played off against the Mohammedans, and vice versa, states and principalities against states and principalities, Jats against Rajputs, and Rajputs against Jats, Maharattas against both, Rohillas against Bundelas, and Bundelas against Pathans, and so on.

Methods of Consolidation of British India


Policies (fiscal, industrial, religious, educational) were all discussed and formulated from one point of view, viz. the establishing of British authority, the consolidation of British rule, and pecuniary gain to the East India Company.

British Public Ignorant of Facts


It is true that the British people as a whole had no notion of what was going on in India. They were as ignorant of it then, as they are today of the doings of their countrymen in the vast 'continent'.

Conquest of India Diplomatic, not Military


The British conquest of India was not a military conquest in any sense of the term. They could not conquer India except by playing on the fears of some and the hope of others, and by seeking and getting the help of Indians, both moral and material.

The Great Indian Mutiny of 1857


We have, however, referred to this story in these few words only to introduce the great Indian mutiny of 1857, as the first Indian political movement of the nineteenth century.

How the Mutiny was Put Down


Here again it was British 'diplomacy' that saved the British situation. The British rallied to their support the newly born aristocracy of the Punjab-the Sikhs. The Sikhs had been persecuted and oppressed by the Mohammedans.

III. INDIA FROM 1857 TO 1905



PART I: FROM 1857 TO 1885


The mutiny was quelled. The ringleader among the mutineers were killed, hanged or shot, and with them a lot of those who were innocent. Many of the rank  and files were pardoned, as no government could shoot or hang all those who had taken part in the mutiny.

The Bengalee Babu


The only parts of the country which had received some education on modern lines were the provinces of Bengal, Bombay and Madras. The number of educated men even in these provinces was small.

Forces Resisting Denationalisation


1. English education imparted in schools and colleges established by the British, and the Christian missions (in some instances supplemented by Indian agencies), opened the gates of Western thought and Western literature to the mass of educated Indians.
2. Some of the British teachers and professors who taught in the schools and colleges consciously and unconsciously inspired their pupils with ideals of freedom as well as nationalism.

Political Disappointments


The current produced by these causes met another current, which was generated by political disappointments. The aspirations of the educated Indian had met with a check. The few successes gained by Indians in the Indian Civil Service examinations alarmed the British, and they sought for means of keeping them out.

Lord Ripon


India was in a state of fermentation, religious, social and political, when Lord Ripon was appointed to the viceroyalty of India. Lord Ripon was an exceedingly kind man and commanded a broad outlook.

Lord Dufferin


However, the point of the story is that when Lord Ripon left India, the country was in a state of perturbation. There was a great deal of tension still Lingering between the Indian and the European communities. The fire was still smouldering when Lord Dufferin took charge of the office of Viceroyalty.




Indian National Congress an English Product


It is an undisputed historical fact that the idea of the Indian National Congress was a product of Lord Dufferin's brain; that he suggested it to Mr Hume, and that the latter undertook to work it out.

Hume, a Lover of Liberty


It is obvious that when Lord Dufferin expected a political organisation to represent the best Indian opinion, it was far from his mind to suggest an organisation that would demand parliamentary government for India, or self-government on colonial lines.

Congress to Save British Empire from Danger


But one thing is clear, that the Congress was started more with the object of saving the British Empire from danger than with that of winning political liberty for India. The interests of the British Empire were primary and those of India only secondary and no one say that the Congress has not been true to that ideal.

The Congress Lacked Essentials of a National Movement


Ever since then the Congress has cared more for the opinion of the Government and the officials than for truth or for the interests of the country. Again the question arises, why? And the reply is, because the leaders had neither sufficient political consciousness nor faith.

Hume's Political Movement


Now these were noble words, pointing out the only political weapon that ever succeeds against autocratic governments. We are told by Mr Hume's biographer that 'in pursuance of such a propaganda in India Mr Hume set to work with his wonted energy, appealing for funds to all classes of the Indian community, distributing tracts, leaflets and pamphlets, sending out lectures and calling meetings both in large towns and in country districts.

Congress Overawed


Mr Hume started to explain in an apologetic tone. It was at this time that he came out with the 'safety valve' theory. Mass propaganda was at once abandoned, never to be resumed in the history of the movement (before 1920).   

Congress Agitation in England


The Congress, overawed in 1888 and 1889, failed in both respects. So far as the first is concerned, why, that has been a theme of lamentation, appeals, and wailings from year to year. Friends in England, whether in or outside the British Committee, have lamented it in oathetic terms. The Congress agitation in England has never been effective.

Causes of Failure of the Congress


(1) The movement was neither inspired by the people nor devised or planned by them. It was a movement not from within. No section of the Indian people identified themselves with it so completely as to feel that their existence as honourable men depended on its successful management.



The national movement in India continues on its placid and humdrum course until Lord Curzon's redicule of the movement convinced the people that the political methods of the Congress were quite powerless to bring them any relief against the despotism that trampled upon all their rights and sensibilities.

Swadeshi and Swaraj


No sooner was the cry raised than the country was swept by a wave of political activity which deeply and intimately influenced the proceedings of the Congress in 1905 and 1906. Calcutta might have witnessed in 1906 what Surat did in 1907, but for the sagacity and patriotism of Dadabhai, who rose equal to the occasion and blessed the cry for self-government.

Men Who Have Inspired the Movement


But look at the men who have inspired the movement, some of whom are leading it even today. Is Aurobindo Ghosh a failure? Is Har Dayal a failure? Were the nine deportees from Bengal failures? How many high-class graduates have been hanged; how many are in jail!

Lord Curzon and Indian Education


We have already hinted that Lord Curzon's policy and his utterances helped a great deal in the birth of the new movement. When Lord Curzon came to India he formulated a rather ambitious programme of reforms to be introduced into the administration of the country. One of these reforms related to education.

Lord Curzon's Secret Educational Conference


The fact that Curzon admitted no Indian to the meeting of the secret Educational Conference held at Simla, when he formulated the government policy, strengthened that idea.

Indians and Lord Curzon at Cross-Purpose


Indians saw that they and Lord Curzon were at cross-purposes. They aimed at self-government and freedom; Lord Curzon aimed at prolongation of the period of their bondage and the permanence of the existing political conditions.

The Congress Deputation to England in 1905


The leaders of the Indian National Congress saw all this; they resisted Lord Curzon's policy rather boldly; they spoke with courage; they sought his patronage and sent their president to wait on him.

The Congress of 1905


This was the first time that an Indian publicist had spoken in that strain. The Swadeshi and boycott had already baan started in Bengal during his absence from India. Even Mr Gokhale approved the boycott as a political weapon.

Object of the Passive Resistance Movement


The object was two-fold; first, to destroy the hypnotism that had caused the people and the country to have faith not only in the omnipotence of their rulers, but also in their altruism.




Partition of Bengal


It was on 16 October 1905, that the old Province of Bengal was partitioned by Lord Curzon. On that day 'immense numbers of people in the two divisions of the partitioned province abstained from lighting their kitchen fire, went about barefooted, performed ceremonial baths in rivers or scared tanks, and tied on one another's wrist the sacred rakhi, a piece of silk or cotton thread, as a symbol of fraternal or national unity.

Boycott of British Goods


The original idea was to resort to boycott as a temporary measure, and, therefore, in the pledges drawn up in the early days, a time limit was put in. The boycott was to last until 'the partition was withdrawn.'

Government's Reply


In reply to this move on the part of the Bengalee leaders-a move in which the entire Bengal was united, including the present moderates-the Government started a crusade against the students whom the boycotters had enlisted in their service.

The second Move of the Bengalees:
The National University


The Bengalee leaders then put their heads together and resolved to start a National University, wherein education would be given independent of government control.

Aurobindo Ghosh


To this movement, Indian nationalism owes the emerging into prominence of a quiet, unostentatious, young Hindu, who was till then comparatively obscure, holding his soul in patience and waiting for opportunities to send currents of the greatest strength into the nation's system.

The Nationalist Press


They started a number of papers in Bengalee and also in English, in which they gave their ideas to the people. The Sandhya and the Bande Mataram, as two of the newspapers were called, became their classrooms.

Military Measures against Boycitters


After consultation with Curzon, Fuller resolved to use force. The first step taken was the despatch of a hundred Gurkha troops to Barisal, followed by a demand for the withdrawal of a circular issued by the local leaders advising the people of the legality of a peaceful boycott of British goods.

Lord Minto


With the advent of Lord Minto in 1905, however, things began to assume a different shape. The first serious difference in the nationalist party occurred over the presidentship of the Indian National Congress at Calcutta in 1906, but an actual split was avoided by a clever and diplomatic move of the leaders of the new moderate party, who obtained the consent of Mr Dadabhai Naoroji to accept the Presidentship, if offered to him.

Indian Press Gagged


The years 1905, 1906 and 1907 were years of passive resistance. The nationalists indulged in strong language, carried on a vigorous anti-British propaganda by means of the press and the platform, used their pen and tongue rather freely, but did not think of using force.

Deportation of Lajpat Rai


The sudden deportation of Lajpat Rai, however, in May, 1907, changed the whole current of thought and action. The nationalists concluded that the movement for passive resistance required to be supported by secret propaganda as well as the use of force against force.

Disaffection Driven Underground


These prosecutions and sentences exasperated the younger party and drove disaffection underground. Undaunted by the loss of leaders, they continued their propaganda and made several attempts on the lives of high officials.

Lord Hardinge Bombed


In December 1912, again the revolutionary party gave conclusive evidence of their existence and strength. A bomb was thrown at Lord Hardinge, the Viceroy, when he was passing in procession amidst thousands of troops and hundreds of thousands of spectators, making his first state entry into the new capital of British India, the Delhi of the Moguls.



We will now see how many types of nationalists there are in India. From what follows in the chapter, the reader should not conclude that the Indian nationalists are disunited. So far as the goal is concerned there is practically unanimity in all ranks.

The Extremists


(1) To take up the extremists first: There are some who do not recognise the British Government at all. They think that the Government of the British in India is founded on force and fraud.

A Few Nihilists


The men engaged in these dacoities are of two kinds: There are those who have no moral or religious scruples. They are nihilists. But their number is exceedingly small. They are not immoral people.

Religious Extremists


In every case, however, they believe that the British are the enemies of their motherland and also of their religion. They would not touch one hair of anyone simply because that person belonged to a religion different from their; but they would not scruple to kill anyone who interferes with their religion.

The Mother Worshippers


The so-called idolatry of Hinduism,' he says, 'is also passing through a mighty transfiguration. The process started really with Bankim Chandra, who interpreted the most popular of the Hindu goddesses as symbolic of the different stages of national evolution.



Behind this mighty transfiguration of the old religious ideas and symbols of the country stands, however, a new philosophy of life. Strictly speaking, it is not a new philosophy either, but rather a somewhat new application of the dominant philosophical speculations of the race.

Advocates of Organised Rebellion


Next in order came those who differed from the first insofar as they did not believe in individual murders or dacoities. For traitors and approvers even they had no mercy, but they would not murder individual British officers or Indians in the service of the Government; nor would they rob private persons.

Har Dayal


To this class, I believe, belonged Har Dayal. It is very interesting to note the development of this man. He comes from a Kayastha family of Delhi and received his education in a mission school and a mission college under Christian influence.

Political Freedom, the First Condition of Life


According to them life in political bondage or in political subjection is a negation of life. Life signifies power and capacity to grow and progress. A slave, a bondsman, is not free to grow.

Aurobindo Ghosh-Vedantist and Swarajist


It is difficult to say to which of these classes, if to either at all, Aurobindo Ghosh belonged or still belongs. At one time it was believed that he belonged to the first class, to which most of the other Bangalee extremists belonged, but whether that belief was right and whether he still thinks on the same lines, it is difficult to say.

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar


At this stage we might mention the name of another nationalist, who exercised a vast influence on young Indians in England for a number of years and is now serving a life-term in the Andamans.

The Terrorists


The third class of nationalists consisted of those who would like absolute independence but who did not believe that it was possible in the near future. They approved of the occasional use of bomb and revolver for terrorist purposes; especially at that time when no other method had been left of carrying on propaganda of freedom.

Advocates of Constructive Nationalism


In the fourth class were comprised those who wanted independence, but not at once. They would rather consolidate the nation, raise its intellectual and moral tone, and increase its economic efficiency, before they raised the standard of revolt.

Independence, but not at Once


They do not want the British to go until the people of India are sufficiently strong to turn them out by force, and are able to protect themselves and to maintain their independence and their liberties against the outside world.

Preparing the Nation for Freedom


Nothing can be achieved without the help of the people. 'We must have the people with us,' say they. 'And in order to win the people to our side, we must show them conclusively that we have their interests at heart, that we love them perhaps more than we love ourselves, that we are disinterested and public-spirited and that we are in every respect better and more honourable than the foreign rulers.

Preparatory Work from Below


The Congress failed, according to this school, because it tried to get political concessions from above. The right policy is to work from below. They do not believe in 'mendicancy' ,nor do they place any reliance in 'benevolence and philanthropy' in politics.

Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj and Ramakrishna Mission


They are to be found in all sections of the great Indian nation, in all religions, and in all communities. They simply live on simple fare, in simple and scanty garments and in simple houses.

The Moderates


We now come to the moderates. There are some who would not advocate the use of the bomb or the revolver, but who do not desire the total disappearance of the extremist party; and the occasional use of the bomb and the revolver gives a point to their organisation which they would not lose.



The noblest and the best of the Congress type from the nationalist point of view was represented by Mr Gokhale, who loved his country quite sincerely and lived and lived and worked for it.

Congress Leaders


A great many Congress leaders are true patriots that they cannot even think of methods which might even remotely result in disturbances of peace, in riots, and in disasters.

Passive Resisters


There are others who would go even farther and inaugurate a campaign of passive resistance and boycott. The congress of 1914 thus claimed as many types of nationalists as the extremists.




Inspiration through European Nationalism


There can be no doubt that Indian nationalism is receiving a great deal of support from the world forces operating outside India. On the political side it has been inspired and strengthened by the forces of European nationalism-the struggles and successes of the English proletaraiat, the sufferings and the eventual triumph of the French revolutionists, the efforts and victories of the Italians, the continued struggle of Russians, Poles, Finns, Hungarians and others.

History of Modern Europe Tabooed in Universities


The Indian Government is conscious of this, and some people think this is what is influencing the policy of the Indian universities in tabooing the history of modern Europe from the courses of studies.

Turco-Italian War


Turkey's war with Italy, followed by her struggle with the Balkan states, has done wonders in nationalising the Indian Mohammedans. At the present moment some of the Mohammedans perhaps feel even more intensely than the Hindus.

Interpretation of India to Western World


Indian thought, Indian history and Indian culture are receiving a great deal more attention now than they ever did before. There is hardly an important contribution to the thought of the world which does not notice and consider the Indian view of the matter under discussion.



While Rabindranath Tagore is to some degree losing in the estimation and affection of his own countrymen by somewhat sacrificing nationalism to art, he is gaining in world reputation.



For a time the Mohammedan minority was the hope of the British Government in India. As far back as 1888, Lord Dufferin and Sir Auckland Colvin had successfully appealed to their fears, and won them over by promises of preferential treatment.

Mohammedan Revulsion of Feeling against the British


The world events of the last four years (1912-16), have changed the whole aspect of affairs in India. The events in Turkey, in Tripoli, in Egypt and in Persia have affected the Mohammedans deeply and have brought about revulsion of feeling against the British.

Disaffection among the Sikhs


But the Mohammedans were not the only people whom the Britishers had succeeded in keeping aloof from the Hindu nationalists. The Sikhs had also so far kept aloof.



It is both difficult and  risky to predict, especially concerning a country situated as India is today. It is always the unexpected that happens in human affairs. This is particularly true where human affairs are so complicated and complex as in India.

Change in Indian Life and Depth of Nationalism


But this is only partially true of modern India. There is a great deal of exaggeration about the immobility of Indian people. There may be millions in India who are unaffected by modern conditions of life and ideas as they were fifty years ago, but then there are millions who have consciously awakened.

Nationalism Fertilised by Blood of Martyrs


No amount of repression or espionage can stop it. No amount of official terrorism and no devices, invented or followed to inculcate loyalty, can stop or check the flow of the new feeling of patriotism and nationalism which is being constantly fed by the sentences of death and transportation that the British courts are passing on beardless youths.

Wave of Indian Nationalism is on


Such is human psychology, and such is the psychology of nations in the making. The Indian mind has entered on that phase.

Propitiation and Petty Concessions Futile


This is the supreme fact of Indian life which everyone who has anything to do with India, official or non-official, statesman or layman, politician or publicist, must recognise and face.

Internal Division no Valid Plea for continuance of British rule


India has and can produce enough to feed her own children, and to spare, provided she were free to make her own laws, spend her own revenues, and protect her industries.

Illiteracy: the Fault of the British and no Bar to Self-Government


Again it is sometimes said that India cannot be self-ruling because of its illiteracy. This argument does not come with good grace from the Britishers because it is they who are responsible for the appalling illiteracy of the Indian population.

Internal Troubles


As for internal troubles following the withdrawal of the British or the grant of self-government, we ask, 'Is there any country on the face of the earth which is free from internal troubles?

Unfitness of Orientals for Representative Institutions


As for the unfitness of Orientals for democratic institutions, why, the ancient history of India refuses it conclusively. India was the home of democratic institutions long before England and France had any notion of what democracy implied.

Nationalism Has Come to Stay


Let England try and experiment by repealing the Arms Act and giving a parliamentary government to India and see if there considerations effectively stand in the way of progress.

Curzons, MacDonnels, Sydenhams Responsible for Bombs and Revolver


These persons are directly responsible for the appearance of bombs and revolvers in Indian political life. The young men who use them are mere tools of cir-cumstances.

Appendix A (By the Author)



Extracts from Sir Henry Cotton's 'New India'


Feudatory Chiefs Powerless. It would perhaps be ungenerous to probe too narrowly the dependent position and consequent involuntary action of the feudatory chiefs. They are powerless to protect themselves.

Some Opinions about British India


Industrial Ruin of India. Gokhale. When we come to this question of India's Industrial domination by England, we come to what may be described as the most deplorable result of British rule in this country.

Appendix B (By K.L. Tuteja)





Mr Lajpat Rai, the author of this book, is one of the most widely known, most honoured and most influential public men in India. For more than twenty years he has been a leading member of the bar in Lahore, the capital city of the large province of the Punjab, and has long been prominent in public affairs, both local and national.

The Problem of Nationalism in India


Mr Lajpat Rai Traces the History of a Movement, Definitely Organized Ten Years Ago, Started as a Protest against British Rule
YOUNG INDIA: An Interpretation and a History of the Nationalist Movement from Within
By Lajpat Rai, New York: D. W. Huebsch. $1.50

Bibliography (As given by the Author)


Books by Englishmen
New Spirit in India by H.W. Nevinson.
The Awakening in India by J. Ramsay MacDonald.
India: Impressions and Suggestions by J. Keir Hardie, M.P.
New India by Sir Henry Cotton (once an M.P.), late of the Indian Civil Service.

More Details about Young India: An Interpretation and a History of the Nationalist Movement from Within

General Information  
Author(s)Lajpat Rai edited by K L Tuteja
PublisherNational Book Trust
Edition1st Edition
Publish YearJanuary 1927