Differences between Moderates and Extremists


Moderates and Extremists, you might have heard these two terms in your student life or life. 

This article examines these terms, their differences, their origin, and similar other questions about them. If you’ve landed here, then make sure to make sure, you give this one a thorough read. 

The term – Moderates and Extremists, decoded. 

Throughout our nation’s history, India has struggled, fought, and succeeded in acquiring independence. It was neither easy nor fast. 

Many leaders and their strategies had to work hard for years to achieve this. Some failed, some worked. 

But, it could not have been possible without the contribution of each and every leader that has ever been a part of the freedom movement. During the time when the nation struggled for its freedom, it got divided into people with 2 separate schools of thought. 

In response to colonial practices, Nationalists were formed, which led to the formation of two types of nationalist parties: Extremists and Moderates.

While the aim of both remains the same, which was to expel the British Empire from India, their approach and school of thought were completely different. 

Let’s take a closer look at each one. 

Who were the Moderates? 

Moderates, who were also called ‘Early Nationalists’, believed that reforms should be enacted while adopting constitutional and peaceful means for their ends.

They trusted the British sense of justice, fair play, honesty, and integrity and thought British rule benefited India. In the early days of the Nationalist movement, open-mindedness and moderate politics were communal values. Through their efforts to unite the public, educate them, and create a strong public opinion, they were able to make the British reform their policies and bring them into line with the public’s opinion.

There were several leaders among which Dadabhai Naoroji, Pherozshah Mehta, and S N Banerjee were a few of many well-known names. They were followed by nationalists of the Gandhian era, which existed from 1919 until the Indian Independence in 1947.

During the process of reaching the goal, they used a slow, organized approach and achieved steady political progress.

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Who were the Extremists ? 

The Extremists arose much later, their origin from the Congress was the result of the anti-partition Bengal agitation. They were called ‘Extremists’ because of their belief that success could be achieved only through bold means.

They had many strong leaders, some of them were Lala Lajpat Rai, Bipin Chandra Pal, and Bal Gangadhar. 

The Rise of Extremists

The difference in thought processes and strategies divided the Nationalists, and there were a number of reasons for that, some being: 

  • There was no notable success for the Moderates except for the expansion of the Indian councils.
  • There was no eye-opening experience from the famine and plague of 1896-97 about how British exploitative policy degraded the economic condition of the people.
  • Indians in South Africa face color discrimination.
  • Events related to the Russo-Japanese war played an important role in the national awakening.

Differences between Moderates and Extremists 

While the freedom fighters on both sides were fighting for the same goal, their approach, belief, and strategies were entirely different. The contribution they each made to the freedom struggle can’t be undermined despite their differences in ideology, belief, and actions. 

Let’s take a look at some of the differences between them: 

The Inspiration: 

Every group is guided by some form of inspiration. The Moderates found their inspiration in European History and Liberal Ideology, while Indian Culture, History, and Heritage were idolized by the Extremists.

The Methodologies: 

The Moderates believed in cooperation and reconciliation and followed the principles of 3 P: Petition, Prayer, and Protest. The Extremists on the other hand were believers in democracy, constitutionalism, and progress and followed the principle of ‘Atmashakti’ which meant self-reliance as a weapon against domination.

The Supporters: 

Moderates were supported mainly by Zamindars and the upper class, whereas educated middle/lower classes supported Extremists. 

The Beliefs: 

Likewise, the inspiration for both of these is unique, as is their belief: Moderates believed ties with Britain would benefit India in every way while Extremists desired complete independence.

The Ideologies:

Moderates supported constitutional changes to increase Indian government participation, whereas extremists remained committed to total independence.

The Approaches:

Moderates adopted a loyal attitude toward the crown, while Extremists viewed the throne as unworthy of loyalty, as evidenced in their approach to leading any campaign.

The Contributions: 


  • Economic Critique of British Imperialism
  • Constitutional Reforms and Propaganda in Legislature
  • Campaign for General Administrative Reforms
  • Defense of Civil Rights


  • Demand of Swaraj
  • Mass movement & Nationalism
  • Spread of national education
  • Rise of communalism

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An Equal Role

Despite the different approach and their own setbacks, both Moderates and Extremists contributed heavily to the freedom struggle, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the absence of any of the two. 

How do you guys feel about the approach of the Moderates and the Extremists to achieving their goal? 

Furthermore, what is your main takeaway from these insights into two entirely different approaches? Here’s ours – Regardless of what method you choose, it is crucial that you focus on the end goal and give consistent efforts to achieve it. 

Thank you for reading, if you’re interested in such topics, keep an eye on our blogs as we always keep them updated with topics and information that makes an impact. 

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