After the lesson of the Indian Mutiny the British became a little more respectful of Indian culture. However the desire for independence did not die. On the contrary it slowly grew. The Indian National Congress was founded in 1885. The Muslim League was founded in 1906.
In 1861 legislative bodies was formed for India. However the members were not elected. They were appointed by the governor-general or by provincial governors. Most of their members were British. Furthermore after the mutiny the ratio of British soldiers to Indians was increased. In 1877 Queen Victoria was made Empress of India.
In the late 19th century the British created a network of railways in India. By 1900 there were 25,000 miles of railway in India. The first train made in India was built in Bombay in 1865. The British also built new roads across India. Improved communications meant the different parts of India were bought closer together and Indians began to feel a greater sense of national identity. In the late 19th century many newspapers were founded and they helped to mobilise public opinion.
In 1905 the British divided Bengal. They did this to make it easier to rule. This move provoked unrest in Bengal. People demonstrated and boycotted British goods.
In the late 19th century India was an agricultural society. Jute, raw cotton and tea and coffee were exported to Britain. In return textiles and other manufactured goods were imported from there. The Indian textile industry could not compete with cheap, mass produced British goods. However in the early 20th century Indian industries began to develop. It was still an overwhelmingly agricultural country but it was just beginning to change.
At the same time Britain was in decline. In the mid-19th century Britain was the most powerful country in the world but by the end of the century other powers such as Germany and the USA had caught up. Britain was weakened by the first world and continued to decline in the 1920's and 1930's. As Britain declined Indian nationalist feeling grew stronger.
Indian public opinion was embittered by the Amristar massacre, which took place on 13 April 1919. A crowd of thousands gathered in a square named Jallianwalla Bagh to protest against recent legislation. General Reginald Dyer decided on a show of force. Dyer told his men to open fire. They did so, killing 379 people and wounding about 1200 more.
At this point a remarkable individual rose to be the leader of the struggle for independence. This was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948). Gandhi was a lawyer. For a time he lived in South Africa and became the leader of the Indians in that country. In 1915 he returned to India and soon emerged as the leader of the nationalists. In 1920 he launched a campaign of non-co-operation with the British. This included boycotting British textiles and their schools. Against Gandhi's wishes some people turned to violence. Gandhi was arrested in 1922 and remained in prison for 2 years.
Not everyone agreed with Gandhi's desire for peaceful campaigning. Nevertheless his skill as a politician and his personal charisma ensured that he became the leader of the independence movement. In 1930 he began a campaign to end the governments monopoly of salt production. He led a march to the sea to collect salt. The British arrested Gandhi and tens of thousands of others. However in 1931 they were forced to back down. They released Gandhi and most (not all) of the other prisoners. They also allowed people to make salt for their own personal use. In 1932 the army began to recruit Indian officers.
In 1931 the capital of India was moved from Calcutta to New Delhi.
Gandhi continued campaigning. He was arrested again in 1932 and in 1933 but both times was soon released. By 1935 the British realised that Indian independence was inevitable, sooner or later. In that year they granted a new constitution. When it came in effect, in 1937, Indians were allowed to elect provincial assemblies. (Although the British retained control of central government).
In 1939 the Viceroy of India declared war on Germany, without consulting the Indians, much to their chagrin.