Poster of Gandhi sitting at a spinning wheel
Popular 1930s poster depicting Gandhi using a charkha to spin cotton and weave cloth, captioned "Concentrate on Charkha and Swadeshi".

The Swadeshi movement was a self-sufficiency movement that was part of the Indian independence movement and contributed to the development of Indian nationalism.[1] Before the BML Government's decision for the partition of Bengal was made public in December 1903, there was a lot of growing discontentment among the Indians. In response the Swadeshi movement was formally started from Town Hall at Calcutta on 7 August 1905 to curb foreign goods by relying on domestic production.[2] Mahatma Gandhi described it as the soul of swaraj (self-rule). The movement took its vast size and shape after rich Indians donated money and land dedicated to Khadi and Gramodyog societies which started cloth production in every household. It also included other village industries so as to make village self-sufficient and self-reliant.[3] The Indian National Congress used this movement as arsenal for its freedom struggle and ultimately on 15 August 1947, a hand-spun Khadi tricolor Ashoka Chakra Indian flag was unfurled at Princess Park near India Gate, New Delhi by Jawaharlal Nehru.[4]

The government's decision to partition Bengal was made in December 1903. The official reason was that Bengal, with a population of 78 million, was too large to be administered; the real reason, however, was that it was the center of the revolt, and British officials could not control the protests, which they thought would spread throughout India. Reappointed George Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston Viceroy of India (1899–1905), in August 1904, he presided over the 1905 partition of Bengal.

In ‘Lion and the Tiger : The Rise and Fall of the British Raj, 1600-1947’, Denis Judd wrote: “Curzon had hoped… to bind India permanently to the Raj. Ironically, his partition of Bengal, and the bitter controversy that followed, did much to revitalize Congress. Curzon, typically, had dismissed the Congress in 1900 as ‘tottering to its fall’. But he left India with Congress more active and effective than at any time in its history.”[5]

Bengal was divided by religion: the western half would be primarily Hindu, and the eastern half would be primarily Muslim. This divide-and-conquer strategy sparked the Swadeshi movement. The British reunited Bengal in 1911 and shifted their capital to New Delhi. The Swadeshi movement took on a new meaning after the reunification of Bengal.


Swadeshi is a conjunction (sandhi) of two Sanskrit words: swa ("self" or "own") and desh ("country"). Swadeshi is an adjective that means "of one's own country".[6]


Bharat Mata, 1905 painting by Abanindranath Tagore, one of the earliest visualizations of Bharat Mata, or "Mother India."

Swadeshi Movement has been characterized as cloth production in India.

Indians started ditching British goods for Indian products, even though they were costlier. The impact was strong with British seeing 20% fall in its product sales. The trio of Lal-Bal-Pal organized several samitis, Bal Gangadhar Tilak led Ganesh Utsav as a means to popularize use and consumption of indigenous products from soil to sweets. Another notable figure in Swadeshi movement is V. O. Chidambaram Pillai in Tuticorin, who took over British India Steam Navigation Company and converted it into Indian-owned shipping company and named it Swadeshi Shipping Company in October 1906.[14]


See also


  1. ^ L. M. Bhole, Essays on Gandhian Socio-Economics, Shipra Publications, Delhi, 2000. Chapter 14: "Savadesi: Meaning and Contemporary Relevance".
  2. ^ "Swadeshi Movement: Timeline and Important facts that you must know". India Today. Archived from the original on 30 November 2018. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Jamnalal Bajaj, the Gandhian capitalist who was called the Mahatma's 'Merchant Prince'". The Print. Archived from the original on 17 September 2021. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  4. ^ "No, Nehru didn't hoist India's first tricolour at Red Fort. And British flag wasn't lowered". The Print. Archived from the original on 14 August 2019. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  5. ^ Judd, Dennis (2004). Lion and Tiger:The Rise and fall of British Empire 1600 to 1947. ISBN 0192803581. Archived from the original on 7 July 2023. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  6. ^ "Swadeshi". Metta Center. 3 May 2009. Archived from the original on 25 September 2020. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  7. ^ a b "History of Swadeshi Movement : Causes & Effects". Cultural India. 19 July 2018. Archived from the original on 23 July 2020. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  8. ^ Anjan, Tara; Rattan, Saldi (2016). Satguru Ram Singh and the Kuka Movement. New Delhi: Publications Division Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. ISBN 9788123022581.
  9. ^ McLeod, W. H.; French, Louis (2014). Historical Dictionary of Sikhism. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 261. ISBN 9781442236011.
  10. ^ Kaur, Manmohan (1985). Women in India's freedom struggle. Sterling. p. 76.
  11. ^ Clarke, Peter (2004). Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements. Oxon: Routledge. p. 425. ISBN 9781134499700.
  12. ^ "RobinAge: History - Gandhiji's Days in Mumbai". Archived from the original on 17 April 2021. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  13. ^ "History of Khadi – A Symbol of Indian Freedom Struggle". Khadivastram. 14 May 2020. Archived from the original on 24 September 2021. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  14. ^ "Why India needs Swadeshi 2.0". Archived from the original on 23 September 2020. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  15. ^ Weber, Thomas (May 1999). "Gandhi, Deep Ecology, Peace Research and Buddhist Economics". Journal of Peace Research. 36 (3): 349–361. doi:10.1177/0022343399036003007. S2CID 145534577.
  16. ^ "Explained: Why is August 7 called National Handloom Day". The Indian Express. 7 August 2020. Archived from the original on 9 August 2020. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  17. ^ "Kangana Ranaut to promote Khadi fabric through Manikarnika". Cinestaan. Archived from the original on 1 February 2022. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  18. ^ "Tooter – New Kid on the Block – India's 'Swadeshi Andolan 2.0'?". Archived from the original on 25 November 2020. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  19. ^ "Startups Called For INR 4.3 Cr 'Swadeshi Microprocessor Challenge'". Archived from the original on 20 August 2020. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  20. ^ "'Swadeshi tech' to counter drone threat: Amit Shah". Hans News. Archived from the original on 17 July 2021. Retrieved 17 July 2021.
  21. ^ "Country proud of its athletes, says PM Modi on Mann Ki Baat". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 25 July 2021. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  22. ^ "Go Swadeshi by GoCoop from 28th July to 1st August 2021 at Jayanagar". Retrieved 26 July 2021.

Further reading