Question – Critically examine the role of capitalists in the national freedom struggle. – 19 July 2021
The capitalists included owners of large trading groups to local traders. The role of the capitalists towards the struggle changed over time.
Role of capitalists in the national freedom struggle:
- During the Swadeshi movement, the capitalists largely opposed the movement.
- During the Non-Cooperation Movement, some capitalists supported the movement. But, a section of capitalists, including Purushottam Das, opposed the Non-Cooperation Movement.
- During the Civil Disobedience Movement, the capitalists largely supported the movement. Yet their contribution to the movement was not enough to make the national movement effective.
- The capitalists opposed violent mass revolution, because such revolution would pave the way for socialism and this would threaten the existence of capitalism in India.
- The capitalists were not ready to directly host enmity with the government, as hostility towards the government was not in the interest of the capitalists. Although they provided financial support to the Congress.
- The Indian capitalists were in favor of constitutional participation, such as the appointment to important positions in executive and legislative councils, as it gave Indians a chance to improve the economy.
The vacant space created deteriorating control of foreign capital, import substitution by war and change in foreign trade led to the emergence of Indian capitalism. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), an organization of Indian capitalists, made it clear that imperialism is affecting its development in an economic and political way. It was because of this clear criticism of colonialism that Indian capitalists made a policy to participate in the national movement.