Safety Valve Theory of Indian National Congress
The concept of Safety Valve Theory says that the British had seen the political situation in the country leading to another rebellion on the lines of the Mutiny of 1857; and they wished to avoid such a situation. So, they wanted to provide a platform to the people, where they could discuss their political problems. Indian National Congress was founded by a Retired Civil Servant and not by any Indian. It was said that the INC was started by Viceroy Lord Dufferin with the help of an ex Civil Services member as a “Safety Valve” against the popular discontent.
The following arguments were put forward to the safety valve theory:
- A O Hume and other British thought that the educated Indians may become leaders of the Indian public and organize a rebellion against the government. So if the Government itself provides them a platform to raise their voice, it may be possible to stop such nuisance.
- A O Hume was a retired British Civil Servant and he had a series of meetings with Lord Dufferin, the Viceroy.
- He also lobbied with some other people such as Sir James Caird, Lord Ripon, John Bright etc.
- A large number of British in India such as Sir William Wedderburn, George Yule,Charles Bradlaugh etc. supported AO Hume.
This theory has been discarded now. But still, the contribution of British cannot be disregarded in creation of first all India political front in which majority of the people were Hindus. The Muslims took congress negatively in the beginning but there were leaders such as Badruddin Taybji who were active leaders. The contribution of British in foundation of this organization was accepted and verbalized by Gopal Krishna Gokhle in 1913 as follows:
“No Indian could have started the Indian National Congress…if an Indian had come forward to start such a movement embracing all Indians, the officials in India would not have allowed the movement to come into existence. If the founder of the Congress had not been an Englishman and a distinguished ex-official, such was the distrust of political agitation in those days that the authorities would have at once found some way or the other to suppress the movement”
The second session of Indian National Congress met at Calcutta in December 1886. The president was Dadabhai Naoroji. Now the number was 436 and these delegates were elected by different local organizations and groups. Most of these were the educated class of India consisting of lawyers, journalists, traders, industrialists, teachers, and some of them were landlords.
The success of second INC session led the leaders decide to meet every year in December in different parts of the country. By 1889, the number of the delegates rose to 2000.