Associations in British India

Landholders’ Society - 1831
The Zamindari Association, which was later renamed Landholders’ Society, was established in 1831 by Dwarkanath Tagore and other major landlords of Bengal. It has been described as “the first organisation of Bengal with distinct political object.” The society virtually became defunct after the death of Dwarkanath Tagore.

British India Society - 1839
The British India Society was set up in 1839 in England primarily as a result of the efforts of William Adam, who was a counterpart of Ram Mohan Roy. In 1841, it started publishing a newspaper named British Indian Advocate, edited by William Adam.
British Indian Association - 1851
The British Indian Association was established in 1851. Its establishment meant Indians had come together and could no longer be ignored. It developed enormous hopes amongst the Indians about their future. It was formed by the amalgamation of the Landholders’ Society and the Bengal British India Society. The association sought to take up issues on behalf of all sections of society but occasionally it made conscious efforts to protect the right of the landed aristocracy.Despite its shortcomings, it was the only association of Indians which took up their causes and represented to the government. The first committee of the association was composed of : Raja Radhakanta Deb as President and Debendranath Tagore as secretary.

Bombay Association - 1852
It was the first political association in the Bombay. It was founded by Dadabhai Naoroji.

Madras Native Association - 1852
Gazulu Lakshminarasu Chetty established Madras Native Association as a platform for educated Indians to protest against any injustice on the part of the British. He served as its first President of the association. It was the first Indian political organization in the Madras Presidency. This organisation did not survive for long and was eventually disbanded.

Poona Sarvajanik Sabha - 1870
Poona Sarvajanik Sabha was started with the aim of working as a mediating body between the government and people of India. It started as an elected body of 95 members elected by 6000 persons in 1870. The organisation was a precursor to the Indian National Congress which started with its first session from Maharashtra itself. The Poona Sarvajanik Sabha provided many of the prominent leaders of national stature to the Indian freedom struggle including Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

Madras Mahajana Sabha - 1884
S. Ramaswami Mudaliar and P. Anandacharlu established the Madras Mahajana Sabha. It is considered to be a predecessor of the Indian National Congress. It has developed very close relationship with the Indian National Congress and its activities since 1920 onwards. In 1930, the Sabha organized the Salt Satyagraha movement on various places of Tamil Nadu. In 1942, many members of the Sabha took part in the Quit India Movement and were imprisoned. Madras Mahajana Sabha celebrated its 125th year in 2010.

The Non-Brahman movement
In the early twentieth century, the non-Brahman movement started. The initiative came from those non-Brahman castes that had acquired access to education, wealth and influence. They argued that Brahmans were heirs of Aryan invaders from the north who had conquered southern  lands from the original inhabitants of the region – the indigenous Dravidian races. They also challenged Brahmanical claims to power. E.V.Ramaswamy Naicker, or Periyar, as he was   called, came from a middle-class family. He became a member of the Congress, only to leave it in disgust when he found that at a feast organised by nationalists, seating ar rangements followed caste distinctions – that is, the lower castes were made to sit at a distance from the upper castes. Convinced that untouchables had to fight for their dignity, Periyar founded the Self Respect Movement. He argued that untouchables were the true upholders of an original Tamil and Dravidian culture which had been subjugated by Brahmans. He felt that all religious authorities saw social divisions and inequality as God-given. Untouchables had to free themselves, therefore, from all religions in order to achieve social equality. Periyar was an outspoken critic of Hindu scriptures, especially the Codes of Manu, the ancient lawgiver, and the Bhagavad Gita and the Ramayana. He said that these texts had been used to establish the authority of Brahmans over lower castes and the domination of men over women.

The Veda Samaj - 1864
Established in Madras (Chennai) in 1864, the Veda Samaj was inspired by the Brahmo Samaj. Sridharalu Naidu and Keshab Chandra Sen were the key persons behind veda samaj. The main philosophies of Veda Samaj were very similar to that of Brahmo Samaj. It worked to abolish caste distinctions and promote widow remarriage and women’s education. Its members believed in one God. They condemned the superstitions and rituals of orthodox Hinduism. 

The Singh Sabha Movement - 1873
Reform organisations of the Sikhs, the first Singh Sabhas were formed at Amritsar in 1873 and at Lahore in 1879. The Sabhas sought to rid Sikhism of superstitions, caste distinctions and practices seen by them as non-Sikh. They promoted education among the Sikhs, often combining modern instruction with Sikh teachings. Khalsa College, Amritsar, was established in 1892 by the leaders of the Singh Sabha movement.

Paramhans Mandali - 1849
Paramahansa Mandali was a secret socio-religious group in Bombay and worked to  eliminate casteism. It was started by Dadoba Panderung in 1849.

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