Various political associations existed before the existence of the Indian National Congress (INC). The Indian National Congress was not India’s first political organization. However, wealthy and aristocratic elements dominated most political associations in the early half of the nineteenth century. They had a local or regional flavor to them. Political organizations in the second half of the nineteenth century were increasingly dominated by the educated middle class—lawyers, journalists, doctors, teachers, and so on—who had a broader perspective and a larger agenda.
They were not at the pan-India level but regional in their operations. They had general demands like increasing the representation of Indians in administration; to bring out educational and military reforms; to work for the development of modern industries in India; etc. They used to send long petitions to the government in this regard.
Various Political Association Before INC
|Organizations||Year of formation||Founder/associates|
|Bangabhasaha Prakasika Sabha||1936||Gourishankar Tarkbagish (Associates of Raja Ram Mohan Roy)|
|Zamindari Association/Landholders’ Society||1838||Dwarkanath Tagore and Raja Radha Kant Deb|
|British India Society*||1839 (England)||William Adam, (Friend of Raja Ram Mohan Roy)|
|The Bengal British India Society||1843||George Thomson. Members included ‘Young Bengal’ group|
|British Indian Association||1851||formed by merging the Bengal Landholders Society and British India Society together in 1851.|
|The East India Association*||1866 (London)||Dada Bhai Naoroji|
|The Indian League||1875||Sisir Kumar Ghosh|
|The Indian Association of Calcutta (Indian National Association)||1876||Surrendranath Banerjee and Ananda Mohan Bose|
|Bombay Association (Bombay Native Association)||1852||Jagannath Shankersheth, Sir Jamshedji Bhai, Naoroji Fardonji, Dadabhai Naoroji|
|The Poona Sarvajanik Sabha (at Pune)||1867||Mahadeva Govind Ranade, G.V. Joshi, S.H. Chiplankar|
|The Bombay Presidency Association||1885||Badruddin Tyabji, Pherozshah Mehta, and K. T. Telang|
|Madras Native Association||1849||Gazulu Lakshminarasu Chetty|
|The Madras Mahajan Sabha||1884||M. Viraraghavachari, B. Subramaniya Aiyer, and P. Ananda Charlu|
Political Association Before INC in Bengal
Bangabhasha Prakasika Sabha
- Bangabhasha Prakasika Sabha was founded in 1836 by the associates of Raja Rammohan Roy.
- It came into being before the existence of the Indian National Congress (INC).
- It worked for administrative reforms, the association of Indians with the administration, and spread of education and helped in arousing general will and laying down a path towards modern nationalism among the masses.
Zamindari Association (Bengal Landholders Society)
- The Zamindari Association, also known as the ‘Landholders’ Society,’ was established in 1838 to protect the landlords’ interests.
- This organization was formed by Prasanna Kumar Tagore, Dwarkanath Tagore and Radhakant Deb in 1836.
- Despite its limited objectives, the Landholders’ Society marked the beginning of organized political activity and the use of constitutional agitation methods for the redressal of grievances.
- It believed in safeguarding the interests of landlords and used constitutional methods so as to fulfill their objectives.
- The political organizations worked through long petitions to the British Parliament demanding administrative reforms, association of Indians with the administration, and the spread of education, etc.
Bengal British India Society
- It was formed by William Adam, a friend of Raja Ram Mohan Roy in 1843 in England.
- It advocated improving the situation of Indians by letting the world know about the extreme circumstances in which the British were keeping the Indians.
- They used constitutional and legal means to achieve their objectives.
British India Association
- This organization was formed by merging the Bengal Landholders Society and British India Society together in 1851.
- This organization used to submit petitions addressing the grievances of common people.
- For instance, they submitted a petition to the British Parliament and provided suggestions for the new Charter Law of the company.
- This led to the acceptance of one such suggestion in the Charter Act of 1853 and the Governor General’s Council for Legislative purposes was expanded by the addition of 6 new members.
- Due to the absence of a constructive political policy this organization could not operate pan-India.
East India Association
- It was started by Dadabhai Nawrojee in London in 1867.
- It advocated for generating awareness among people of the UK about the conditions in India and generate popular support among British People for Indian well being.
- It is also known as the predecessor association to the Indian National Congress.
- It challenged the notion of Asians being inferior to the Europeans by the Ethnological Society of London in 1866.
- It had presence in Bombay, Madras and Calcutta in 1869.
- The Indian League was founded in 1875 by Sisir Kumar Ghosh with the goal of “stimulating a sense of nationalism among the people” and encouraging political education.
- This organization was associated with nationalist leaders such as Ananda Mohan Bose, Durgamohan Das, Nabagopal Mitra, Surendranath Banerjee, and others.
Indian National Association (Indian Association of Calcutta)
- This organization was formed by Bengali Nationalists such as Anand Mohan Bose and Surendranath Banerjee in 1876.
- Pro landlord policies and conservative outlook by the British India Association led to unrest amongst the young Bengali nationalists.
- Their objectives included reforming civil services examinations, generating and unifying a public opinion on political issues of national importance.
- They had presence in various Indian cities and therefore were able to expand their membership amongst the masses.
- It later merged with the Indian National Congress.
Political Association Before INC in Bombay
Poona Sarvajanik Sabha
- Poona Sarvajanik Sabha was established in 1870 by M.G. Ranade, G.V. Joshi, S.H. Chiplankar and his associates.
- It was a sociopolitical organization in British India which worked as a mediating body between the government and people of India in order to popularize the peasants’ legal rights.
Bombay Presidency Association
- The Bombay Presidency Association was established by Pherozshah Mehta, K.T Telang, and Badruddin Tyabji in 1885.
- It was founded in response to Lytton’s reactionary policies and the Ilbert Bill controversy.
- The Bombay Presidency or Bombay Province, also known as Bombay and Sind (1843–1936), was an administrative subdivision (province) of British India, with its capital in Bombay, the first mainland territory acquired in the Konkan region with the Treaty of Bassein (1802).
Bombay Association (Bombay Native Association)
- It was started in 1852 by Jaggannath Shankersheth along with Sir Jamshedji Jejibhai, Jagannath Shankarshet, Naoroji Fursungi, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad, Dadabhai Naoroji and Vinayak Shankarshet.
- Sir Jamshedji Jejibhai was the first president of the organization.
- It is also known as the first political party/organization of Bombay Province.
- They advocated to address public grievances through Legal agitational means.
Political Association Before INC in Madras
Madras Mahajan Sabha
- Madras Mahajan Sabha was a Madras Presidency-based Indian nationalist organization.
- It is regarded as a forerunner of the Indian National Congress, along with the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, the Bombay Presidency Association, and the Indian Association.
- M. Veeraraghavachariar, G. Subramania Iyer, and P. Ananda Charlu founded the Madras Mahajana Sabha in May 1884.
Madras Native Association
- This organization was formed by Gazulu Lakshminarasu Chetty in 1849 in the Madras Presidency.
- It was the first political organization in Madras.
Limitations of Political Association Before INC
- These associations helped in the generation of nationalism, political will and demands of the Indian public, however their activities were limited.
- They were concerned mostly with resolving the local issues.
- The members and leaders of these organizations were also limited to one or adjoining provinces.
- There was absence of national unity in the case of political association which only emerged after the formation of Indian National Congress.