Routledge

Tilak’s speech on "The Tenets of the New Party" (1907)

Introduction: Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1849-1920) was a major political leader of Maharashtra. He sided with the „Extremists“ and broke with the „Moderates“when the Indian National Congress split in December 1907. Shortly after the Calcutta Congress of December 1906 when the split was narrowly avoided he spoke in Calcutta on January 2,1907 outlining the tenets of the "Extremists" In 1908 he was sentenced to six years imprisonment for „sedition“. After his release in 1914 he became a leader of the „Home Rule League“. His famous slogan „Swaraj (Home Rule) is my birthright – and I will have it“was often quoted by Indian nationalists.
(see also AHOI, Ch. 7, section: The partition of Bengal and the rise of extremism)

Two new words have recently come into existence with regard to our politics, and they are Moderates and Extremists. These words have a specific relation to time, and they, therefore, will change with time. The Extremists of today will be Moderates tomorrow, just as the Moderates of today were Extremists yesterday.....
            Pax Britannica has been established in this country in order that a foreign government may exploit the country. That this is the effect of Pax Britannica is gradually realized in these days. It was an unhappy circumstance that it was not realized sooner. We believed in the benevolent intentions of the Government, but in politics there is no benevolence. Benevolence is used to sugar-coat the declarations of self-interest , and we were in those days deceived  by the apparent benevolent intentions under which rampant self-interest was concealed. ...... It is said there is a revival of Liberalism, but how long will it last? Next year it might be they are out of power and are we to wait till there is another revival of Liberalism... and after all what can a Liberal Government do?..... I laughed when I read the proceedings of the meeting in Calcutta congratulating people on the appointment of Mr. Morley to the Secretaryship of State for India. Passages were read from Mr. Morley’s books.... They utterly misunderstood the position or ignored the distinction between a philosopher and a statesman.....
            .........
To convert the whole electorate of England to your opinion and then to get indirect pressure to bear upon the Members of Parliament, they in their turn to return a Cabinet favourable to India and the whole Parliament, the Liberal Party and the Cabinet to bring pressure on the bureaucracy to yield  - we say this is hopeless, You can now understand the difference between the Old and the New Party.... The Old Party believes in appealing to the British nation and we do not. That being our opinion, it logically follows we must have some other method........ We have come forward with a scheme which if you accept, shall better enable you to remedy this state of things than the scheme of the Old school. Your industries are ruined utterly, ruined by foreign rule, your wealth is going out of the country and you are reduced to the lowest level  which no human being can occupy. In this state of things is there any other remedy by which you can help yourself? The remedy is not petitioning but boycott. We say prepare your forces, organise your power, and then go to work so that they cannot refuse you what you demand.
            ...........
We have perceived one fact, that the whole of the administration, which is carried on by a handful of Englishmen, is carried on with your assistance. We are all in subordinate service. The whole government is carried on with our assistance and they try to keep us in ignorance of our power of co-operation between ourselves by which that which is in our own hands can be claimed by us and administered by us. The point is to have the entire control in our hands,
            ..............
We shall not give them assistance to collect revenue and keep peace. We shall not assist them in fighting beyond the frontiers or outside India with Indian blood and money. We shall not assist them in carrying on the administration of justice. We shall have our own courts and when time comes we shall not pay taxes. Can you do that by your united efforts? If you can, you are free from tomorrow.
            ......
We have  not raised this cry from a mere impulse... I do not ask you to blindly follow us. Think over the whole problem for yourselves. If you acc pet our advice , we feel sure, we can achieve our salvation thereby. This is the advice of the New Party.

(Bal Gangadhar Tilak, His Speeches and Writings (Madras n.d.), p. 37 f.)

 

Bookmark and Share Email
Book Information / Buy the book