Role of Several Foreigners in Indian Freedom Struggle
Many foreigners have made an indelible contribution to our freedom struggle. After the Battle of Plassey, the British gained control over India’s political, economic, and social sphere. Such colonization destroyed the indigenous culture and tradition of India. Indians fought valiantly to free themselves from imperialist rule. During these 150 years of struggle, many foreigners have significantly contributed to India’s freedom struggle.
Some of the Foreigners who predominately helped in India’s struggle for freedom
1. Annie Besant
Annie Besant was born in London on 1st, Oct 1847. In order to attain spiritual solace, she joined the Theosophical Society. During her time in society, she was attracted to Hinduism and its spiritual ideals. She came to India in 1893 to propagate the ideas of the Theosophical Society. A few days after landing in India, she was inspired by the relentless struggle for independence against British rule and gradually became an active part of it.
The establishment of the Home Rule League was Besant’s most vital contribution to the Indian independence movement in 1916. Besant and Lokmanya Gangadhar Tilak continued the historical movement that marked a turning point in India’s long-standing struggle for independence which is organized in the spirit of the Irish local government movement, the crusade aimed to achieve the dominion of India, including Australia and Canada. The movement lasted for two years, and the Home Rule League activities played an important role in intensifying the freedom struggle.
2. Charles Freer Andrews
He was known as the English friend of the freedom struggle. In India, his close companion was Gandhi and Tagore. He was a man who fought for India Justice till his last breath. He was an Anglican priest and had a fascination for India from his childhood. It was seen that Andrews played a significant role in persuading Gandhi to return to India with him in 1915. He spent much time in Shanti Niketan with Rabindranath Tagore. He also supported a movement that bans the “violence of the outcast“. He joined the famous Vaikom Satyagraha in 1919, and in 1933, he helped B.R. Ambedkar in formulating Dalit claims. He took Gandhi to the Second London Round Table Conference and helped him negotiate with the British government on Indian autonomy and power transfer. Due to his contribution to India’s struggle, he was referred to as Dinabandhu.
3. Madeleine Slade
She was popularly known as Mirabehn. Mirabehn often accompanied Gandhi on his travels and took care of his personal needs. He became one of Gandhi’s confidants and an ardent international defender of India’s independence from British rule and accompanied Gandhi at the 1931 London Round Table Conference. Mirabehn worked as a dedicated activist in spreading the spirit of non-violence and was considered an essential participant in the Indian independence movement by the British. He was arrested several times, including in the period of civil disobedience in 1932–1933.
4. Satyananda Stokes
He was an American who worked incessantly for India’s freedom and later settled in India. He is famous for his contribution to the production of Himachal apples. Looking at the atrocities of British rule, he raised his voice against it. He was stunned by the Jallianwala Massacre when the British killed thousands of people. This incident changed his life, and he decided to join Indian politics. In 1921, He joined the INC and Represented the Nagpur session as the only American. He represented the INC from Punjab along with Lala Lajpat Rai.
5. Sister Nivedita
She was an Irish woman, who was a follower of Swami Vivekanand. After coming to India, she contributed in the India’s struggle for freedom. She was a close companion of Annie Besant and Sri Aurobindo and played a paramount role in women’s education. Her role in motivating the youth of the nation is immense. She extensively delivered lectures on Indian cultures and tradition, and promoted nationalism feelings among the people and played a pioneering role in swadeshi movement.
6. Mira Alphonse
Popularly known as ‘Mother‘, was born in Paris in 1978. After arriving in India, she was greatly influenced by Shri Aurobindo and was a great source of inspiration for women like Annie Besant and Nellie Sengupta. Her role in enriching the rich heritage and culture is immense.
7. Verrier Elwin
He was a colonial bishop who came to India for missionary purposes. He has been an architect for NEFA and the tribals of India. His work for the tribal people had been praiseworthy. He worked with leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and assisted him in his freedom struggle. After independence, he was selected as an adviser to the tribal affairs of North East.
8. Alfred Webb
An Irishman, a third non-Indian to preside over the INC and he was a man who had great concern for the welfare of the people. He was the close associate of the Dadabhai Noaroji, known as Grand Old Man of India, who explained the meticulous details regarding the draining of Indian wealth by the Britishers and opened their eyes regarding British intentions.
9. George Yule
He was the fourth non-Indian to preside over the INC and had liberal and sympathetic view for the Indians. He spoke over the reforms in the legislative council and the admission of people of various interests in it.
10. Henry Cotton
He was an Indian civil servant sympathetic to India’s struggle for freedom. He was the congress president in the year 1904 and was a fierce critic of Lord Curzon policy of partition of Bengal. Despite being a foreigner, he was a well-wisher of the Indians.
11. William Wedderburn
He was Born In Scotland and came to India as British Civil Servant. During his service in India, Wedderburn’s attention focused on hunger, the poverty of the Indian peasantry, the problem of agricultural credit, and the revival of the ancient village system. His concerns about these issues prompted him to approach the Indian National Congress. He entered Parliament in 1893 as a Liberal MP and sought to voice India’s grievances in the House. He formed the Indian Parliamentary Committee, chaired from 1893 to 1900.