Why Was the Indian National Congress Formed?

indian-national-congress-formed Credit: PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images

The Indian National Congress, or INC, was formed in 1885 to create an outlet for Indians to voice their concerns and express their views. The forerunner of the INC was the Indian Association, which was created in 1876 and the first Indian political organization of its kind. Both organizations were formed as a result of the growing tide of political awareness taking place in British-ruled India.

In its beginnings, the Indian National Congress was made up largely of moderate voices with a limited degree of influence from British governance. The INC, however, became increasingly radicalized in the face of the British government's growing opposition to the organization's aims. The INC eventually grew into the dominant force in the independence movement and became its umbrella organization.

The Indian National Congress was founded by members of the Theosophical Society, both Indian and British, with much of the initiative for its formation credited to Scotsman, A.O. Hume, a British civil servant who had worked as a doctor and an intelligence officer in India. Rising to the position of Director-General of Agriculture by 1870, Hume's reformist policies and his championing of the plight of India's rural poor were considered controversial by his superiors.

The Indian National Congress was split into two factions by 1907: the Garam dal, comprised of extremists, and the Naram dal, which was made up of moderates. Owing to the influence of Bal Gangadhar Tilak of the Garam dal, the INC brought millions of people together to oppose British rule.