First World War 1914-18

Table of contents

The First World War originated in Europe between 1914-18 and spread throughout the world. It is called the Great War or the Global War. WWI was also believed to bring an end to all other wars, hence it was known as ‘war to end all wars’. But it had not happened and the Second World War was also observed in 1939. This war started on 28th July, 1914 and lasted till 11th November 1918. Approx. one crore seventy lakh people had lost their life and about two Crores got injured. Many died due to epidemics and malnutrition.

The First World War was fought between Allied Powers (France, Britain and Russia; later on the USA joined the war during 1917-18) and the Central Powers (Germany, Japan, And the Ottoman Empire, Italy). At the end of the war new boundary for Europe was determined. The power of Russia, Germany and Austria were ended and the USA became the ‘Super Power’ of the world. The First World War affected the whole world directly or indirectly.

Reason of the First World War

The First World War was the clash of a long tussle among the European Countries before 1914. The reasons behind the war can be classified into two groups which are mentioned below:-

Long Term Reasons:

The different events and circumstances such as- feeling of nationality, militarism, communism, economic rivalry, secret and diplomatic treaties, lack of social media like newspapers and radio, lack of international institutions, imbalance in the society etc. were the main reason of the war.

Contemporary Reasons:

  • The sign of unrest and disorder in Europe was noticed from a long period of time. The contemporary events put butter into the fire.
  • Actually the instantaneous reason behind the war was the murder of the successor of the throne of Austria Arch Duke Francis Ferdinand in Bosnia and the blame of the murder was put on Serbia.
  • The rough ties between the two countries were seen from a long time and this event had given the opportunity to Austria to attack on Serbia. Taking the advantage of the circumstances Austria had compelled Serbia to accept the ten point demand but Serbia refused to accept these inappropriate demands.
  • As a result on 28th July, 1914 Austria declared a war against Serbia. Many countries were involved in the war one by one and the war had taken a worldwide view.

How First World War Relate to the Indian Independence Movements

Since Britain was associated in the First World War hence the Indian Soldiers had to be involved into the war. It was the period of National dominance and the nationalist leaders believed that the British would provide them liberty to use some constitutional powers if they will contribute in the war in favour of Britain. The British had assured for some liberty. When the Indian soldiers returned from the war they were welcomed with great joy and zeal. A hope of liberty was prevailing in every Indian heart. Actually India had supported the British on the assurance of establishment of democracy but the British had imposed the Rowlet Act immediately after the war. A feeling of dissatisfaction grew in the Indian hearts and the national conscience was prevailed among the Indians that led to Non-cooperation Movement. With the rebuilding of Russia as USSR the effect of communism was felt in India also and its effect was seen in the freedom struggle of India.

India and its Association into the First World War

  • Indians are well known for their bravery. The Indian soldiers were understood to support Britain as their duties that honour their tribal group as well as they wanted to win hearts of the British.
  • From the British point of view appointing the Indian soldiers into the war was less expensive. They had to pay only INR 11 per month to an Indian soldier whereas the extra income gained by the war soldier was a good option for the poor soldier whose family was only based on farming. Therefore, economic income was the major objective to involve in the war.
  • Many newspapers of that period revealed that many soldiers participated in the war to show their individual respect and duty towards Lord George Pancham.

Effects of the First World War

Significantly the Indian National Movement and the socio- economic development of the country are co-related. The First World War had associated the global events and its effects that were observed after the war, that are the followings:

Political Effect

  • After the end of the First World War the soldiers in Punjab had stimulated their activities against the British rule which turned into elaborate demonstrations and violence.
  • In 1919, the Montague Chelmsford reforms failed to fulfill the aspirations of the home-rule then the feeling of Nationality and common citizen disobedience arose.
  • The policy of appointing the soldiers without their will put anger among the people which prepared the background for the feeling of Nationalism.

Social Effect

  • In spite of the negative effects of the war, during 1911 to 1921 a remarkable increase in the literacy rate into the soldier’s community was felt.
  • They started learning and improve their knowledge for the upcoming expeditions. The prestige and honour of those communities who fought wars had been increased.
  • Many doctors and nurses were also appointed. In the male dominating society of India now the social utility of the women had been realized and their field of work was expanded.

Economic Effect

  • The production in British industries was badly affected by the war thus the demand of Indian goods was increased in Britain.
  • However there was an obstruction in the Shipping lane due to the war but that only meant that the discomfort faced due to the input of import from Britain and Germany previously. Thus hindrances were balanced with the extra demand.
  • Another consequence of the war was the inflation. After 1914 the industrial prices became double in 6 years and these increasing rates largely benefited the Indian traders and manufacturers along with the whole Indian industry.
  • In comparison to Industrial prices Agricultural prices increased gradually. The tendency of fall in prices continued especially during the Great Depression.
  • Food supply was increased due the increase in the demand of food grains. Due to loss in European markets the export of cash crops like Jute faced a great loss.
  • It is significant that the increase in demand of soldiers there was a scarcity of the labourers in the Jute industry and they were in loss. Compensation was granted by the British which would become the reason for the increase in income inequality.
  • The cotton industry was in profit due the decrease in British production. The British investment was re-started in Britain providing growth opportunities for the Indian economy.
  • On the comprehensive level although many people were killed during the First World War yet the effect of the war was said to be positive in many aspects for India.
  • The demand of Indians to give them constitutional right was discarded by the British after the war that evoked the consciousness of the Indians.
  • Apart from this, the elaborate changes had been observed at the social, political and economic level. In brief we can say that during the war, economy encouraged capitalism in India.

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