How British Imperial Immigration Policies Created the Ghadar Movement

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The Ghadar movement was an Indian Nationalist movement that grew out of a need to destroy the oppressive, Economic, Social, Legal and Racial limits thrust upon the Indian immigrants in the early 20th century North American West Coast. In the early 1900s, a few thousand South Asian pioneers, around 95% of them Punjabi Sikhs, voyaged mainly to British Columbia and California to seek economic opportunity. Over there they met with an inability to own land, were confined to all male labour gangs, denied justice and inaccurately categorized into an inferior and immutable ethnic group. These experiences led them to believe that the British Empire was pure exploitation and that Indians were a unified group that needed strong,independent representation. They aimed to dissemble British colonial oppression, and all means, including violence were used by these immigrants to achieve their means. This response, loose in organization but unified in spirit, was called Ghadar, literally meaning Rebellion in Punjabi. The ideology of Ghadar was later adopted by many leading activists in India, but the initial inspiration for one of India’s most prolific movements grew out of the suffering Indians faced by British Imperial immigration Policies.

The Ghadar party in many ways was a response to the Economic Hardships created towards the Sikhs by Oppressive British Immigration Policies. An example of Economic hardships thrust upon Indian immigrants was the Alien Land Law of California. The Alien Land Law essentially stated that no person of non-European decent could own land in the United States. Over 90% of the Indian immigrants that came to California in the early 1900s were Sikhs from the agricultural region of Punjab in Northwestern India. These S...

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