What Was the Swadeshi and Boycott Movement?

The Swadeshi and Boycott Movement was an effort by Indian people to oppose British rule. It began in 1903 when British officials separated the Bengal province, dividing it by Bengali, Hindi and Oriya languages and Muslim and Hindu religions. Indians responded by boycotting British products and using only Indian-made goods.

At the time of the proposed partition, Bengal was British India’s largest province and had a population of around 78 million. Bengal was also the center of Indian nationalism. Secretly, British officials wanted to weaken the nationalism movement, but publicly, they stated that Bengal should be divided in two sections because it was too big to administer as a single province. The British considered the newly partitioned areas to be more manageable in size and population. Western Bengal’s population was around 54 million and included a Hindu majority. Eastern Bengal, which included the province of Assam, had a population of 31 million and a Muslim majority.

Because of the Swadeshi movement and other efforts to gain Indian independence, the Bengal partition was annulled in 1911. Bengal was reunited and separated from the Assam province.

Swadeshi is Hindi for self-sufficiency. The Swadeshi movement was also known as the vande mataram movement.