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Day 5 – Q 3.What was the response of the nationalist leaders towards World War I? Did their views change during World War II? Elaborate.

3. What was the response of the nationalist leaders towards World War I? Did their views change during World War II? Elaborate. 

प्रथम विश्व युद्ध के प्रति राष्ट्रवादी नेताओं की प्रतिक्रिया क्या थी? क्या द्वितीय विश्व युद्ध के दौरान उनके विचार बदल गए थे? विस्तृत करें।


When the First World War broke out, British Government, appealed to the Indian leaders to join hands with them, although the leaders agreed but they forwarded their own terms and conditions. When the war was over, British Government did not fulfil its promises. This led to change the views of nationalist leaders in the Second World War.


The response of the nationalist leaders towards World War I 

  • During the war years, political unrest was growing within India and Leaders such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Annie Besant launched the Home Rule League in 1916 and used India’s war contributions to demand self-government within the empire.
  • Political moderates such as Surendranath Banerjee and Bhupendranath Basu, pledged their whole-hearted support to the Allies.
  • Different political parties and communities such as the All India Muslim League, Madras Provincial Congress, Hindus of Punjab and the Parsee community of Bombay supported the Allies and fund-raising was organized, meetings were held in cities such as Calcutta, Bombay, Lahore and Allahabad.
  • Mahatma Gandhi thought that England’s need should not be turned into our opportunity, and he argued that we should send our men to France and Mesopotamia.
  • Moderate and extremist groups within the Congress submerged their differences in order to stand as a unified front and argued their enormous services to the British Empire during the war, demanded a reward and demonstrated the Indian capacity for self-rule thus the pre-war nationalist movement had revived.
  • Lucknow Pact of 1916, was an alliance between Muslim League and Congress, which led to some sort of consensus over the issue of devolution of political power.

Response of Revolutionaries

  • The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 gave a new lease of life to the nationalist movement since Britain’s difficulty was seen as India’s opportunity by the revolutionaries as well as other nationalists. This opportunity was seized, in different ways and with varying success, by the Ghadar revolutionaries based in North America.
  • The Ghadarites attempted a violent overthrow of British rule. After the outbreak of World War 1, Ghadarites conducted revolutionary activities in central Punjab and organized uprisings. This way the Ghadar party proved to be the stepping stone for future Indian revolutionary movements.

Nationalist leaders views during World War II

  • On 1 September 1939, 2nd World War broke out. The British Government without consulting the people of India involved the country in the war. The Congress vehemently opposed it.

As a mark of protest the Congress Ministries resigned in all the seven Provinces on 12 December 1939

  • The Indian National Congress, led by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Maulana Azad, denounced Nazi Germany but would not fight it or anyone else until India was independent.
  • Congress launched the Quit India Movement in August 1942, refusing to co-operate in any way with the government until independence was granted.
  • In Singapore, Bose formed the Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army or INA) to conduct a military campaign for the liberation of India. 


Unfulfilled promises by British in the World War I made Indians not to trust British anymore, this led to Indian nationalists change their strategies. After World War II, movement like quit India launched by the Indian leaders eventually culminated in India’s independence in 1947, Two years after the end of the second world war.

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