The swadeshi movement had its genesis in the anti-partition movement started to oppose the British decision to divide Bengal. With the start of the swadeshi movement at the turn of the century, the Indian national movement took a major leap forward. The richness of the movement was not confined to politics alone. Women, students and a large section of the urban and rural population of Bengal and other parts of India became actively involved in the national movement.
Banaras Session of Congress
The Indian National Congress took up the swadeshi call in its Banaras session, 1905, presided over by G. K. Gokhalc. Militant nationalism spearheaded by Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai, and Aurobindo Ghosh was, however, in favour of extending the movement of the rest of India and carrying it beyond the programme of just swadeshi and boycott of goods to full-fledged political mass struggle. On 7 August 1905, a resolution to boycott British goods was adopted at a meeting of the Indian National Congress held in Calcutta. It began as a purely economic measure for the development of Indian industry. Bonfires of foreign goods were conducted on a large scale in all major cities. It had many positive consequences: (a) it encouraged Indian industries especially the small- and medium-scale, (b) many swadeshi banks and insurance companies were launched, and (c) development of journalism and national poetry which inculcated the feeling of nationalism in the Indian masses.
Spread of Swadeshi Movement
The message of swadeshi and boycott soon spread to the rest of the country: Lokmanya Tilak took the movement to different parts of India, especially Poona and Bombay, Ajit Singh and Lala Lajpat Rai spread the swadeshi message in Punjab and other parts of northern India; Syed Haidar Raza set up the agenda in Delhi. Rawalpindi, Kangra, Jammu, Multan, and Hardwar witnessed active participation in the swadeshi movement; Chidambram Pillai took the movement to Madras presidency, which was also galvanized by Bipin Chandra Pal's extensive lecture tour.