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December 15, 2013
Surendranath Banerjea & his contribution to Freedom Struggle
Surendranath Banerjea (1848-1925) Bom in 1848 Surendranath Baneijea is often called "the Indian Burke". Like Edmund Burke he combined 'knowledge' with 'the capacity to move audience' through his oratory.
Surendranath graduated in 1868. He successfully competed for the ICS examination in 1869 and was appointed Assistant Magistrate of Sylhet. Some charges were framed against him. As a result, in 1873 he was dismissed from the Service.
Professor of English:
After his dismissal from the Indian Civil Service, Surendranath became Professor of English in the Metropolitan Institution. Later he joined the Free Church College at Kolkata. In 1882, he started a school which later grew into a college (Lord Ripon College).
Surendranath Banerjea drew much inspiration from a great Italian nationalist Joseph Nlazzini (1805-1872). Surendranath's contribution to India's freedom struggle was as follows:
1.Fight against Injustice and Repression: Surendranath took to public life in 1876, the year in which he founded the Indian Association. The object of the Association was to agitate for the introduction of political reforms in India. In 1877, the age-limit for the Civil Service Examination was reduced from 21 to 19. Surendranath made a tour of India, protesting against the reduction of the maximum age-limit. He fearlessly criticised such measures as the Arms Act and the Vernacular Press Act.
"The great words 'Representative Institutions' were written in characters of gold in the banner that the Congress unfurled... Every nation must be the arbiter of its own destinies."
2.Elective Offices were just a Means to serve People: Surendranath was elected to the Kolkata Corporation in 1876 and was there for more than two decades. He was elected to the Bengal Legislative Council in 1894, 1896 and 1900. Surendranath transformed his civic and political duties into means to serve people:
3. Convened Indian National Conference in 1883 (A Pillar of Congress in its Early Days): Surendranath took the lead in convening the Indian National Conference in 1883. It was the first organisation of an all-India character. In 1885, the Indian National Congress was born. Indian National Conference welcomed the birth of the Congress and soon came the merger of the two bodies. Twice he presided over the sessions of the Congress in 1895 and 1902.
4. His Role as a Journalist: For several years, Surendranath edited 'The Bengalee' which had been founded by W.C. Bonnerjea. This paper very much criticised the Ilbert Bill and the Vernacular Press Act.
5. A Firm Believer in India's Right to Self-Government: He was a firm believer in India's right to Self-Government. His best known book is 'A Nation in Making'.
6. Constitutional Means for the Attainment of India's Goals: His principle was "Opposition where necessary, Cooperation where possible." He disapproved of violent activities. He urged Indians to boycott foreign goods. He supported the Swadeshi Movement. He said, "take the Swadeshi vow and you will have laid broad and deep the foundations of your industrial and political emancipation."