Question – Critically examine the concept of safety valves in the context of the establishment of Congress.

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Question – Critically examine the concept of safety valves in the context of the establishment of Congress. – 26 July 2021

Answer Establishment of Congress

The extremist leader Lala Lajpat Rai called the Congress a safety valve. According to this theory, it was alleged that the Congress acted as a safety valve that informed the British about growing discontent in India and helped to prevent any other situation like the revolt of 1857.

Argument in favor of the safety valve principle:

  • It was alleged that, Congress leaders constantly provided basic information about the Indian society to the British. Thus, the formation of the Congress would enable the British to prevent rebellions in India.
  • The British made minor reforms and assured the Congress leaders that further major reforms will be made, due to which the Congress leaders were unable to move towards the rebellion.
  • Congress was formed by a retired civil servant A.O.Hume. It was also alleged that the British administration did not suppress an organization like the Congress, as it was established to serve British interests.

Argument in favor of the safety valve principle:

  • From the beginning of the Congress, the British Government had a hostile attitude towards the Congress. This is confirmed by the incident when Lord Dufferin asked Sir Syed Ahmed Khan to keep the Muslims away from the Congress. The early Congress made an effort to unite local leaders and thus took important steps in the integration of India.
  • The early Congress raised important demands and hence British rule faced constant challenges in the initial phase of the Congress.
  • The early Congress made an effort towards women empowerment, equality in society and adopted values of secularism and democracy. These values ​​were associated with the existence of the Congress and proved to be important during the national movement.

Conclusion:

According to Bipin Chandra, although Hume founded the Congress as a lightning conductor, it acted as a catalyst which helped the nationalists to come together under one platform and form the Congress.

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