Was the national struggle for independence merely an expression of self-serving agenda of the Indian capitalist class? Discuss giving examples of suitable personalities and events related to Indian capitalist class.
The capitalist class chose to carefully tread in its support to the freedom struggle. It preferred to follow the constitutional path and try resolving disputes through negotiating table. So, they did not want to adopt the informal means of taking to streets and civil disobedience. There were various reasons for their non-support including fear of diminishing capitalism in the days of growing Marxist ideology; fear of disruption in business and their opposition to Swadeshi.
But this was only side of the picture. The other side indicated that the capitalists were secretly wanting success for the mass struggle because they were aware of the benefits of its success not only for the nation but also for themselves. So, they never counter-supported the colonial government to help it to repress the movement. Some of the causes that they actively accepted were that of lifting ban on Congress, releasing political prisoners, stopping arbitrary rule with ordinances. The increase in Congress militancy and radicalization did not push them to take sides. Their active support was also seen during the Civil Disobedience Movement in the 1930s indicate that they were not completely opposed to this form of freedom struggle. They had largely refused to respond to the Viceroy’s threats to publicly repudiate the stand of the Congress even on assurance of receiving government protection for their acts. By 5th August 1942, four days before launching of the Quit India Movement, some of them like JRD Tata, Purushottam Das and GD Birla had written to the Viceroy that the only means to be free from civil disobedience movement was to grant political freedom to the country.
The capitalist class always played a very important role, particularly in the form of huge amount of financial support that they could provide owing to the fortune that they made and the silent cooperation that they showed to the movement. Some of the big industries that flourished in India like the Iron and Steel Company gave some competition to the British capital goods, making the colonizers to rethink about India being a potential market for their finished products. This can be one cause of British leaving India, the loss of market. Their immense support for the adoption of constitution cannot be ignored too. While the Congress leaders were busy mobilizing the masses, they played a significant role in engaging in formal interactions with the colonial government, thus bridging the gap of communication.