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Emergence of Gandhi in India – Champaran, Kheda, Non Cooperation Movement

Champaran Satyagraha (1917)—First Civil Disobedience Movement

Gandhi was requested by Rajkumar Shukla to look into the problems of the indigo planters, of Champaran in Bihar. The European planters had been forcing peasants to grow indigo on 3/20 of the total land (called tinkathia system).

  • Towards the end of the 19th century German synthetic dyes replaced indigo
  • European planters demanded high rents and illegal dues from the peasants in order to maximise their profits before the peasants could shift to other crops.
  • Besides, the peasants were forced to sell the produce at prices fixed by the Europeans.
  • When Gandhi reached Charnparan to probe into the matter, the authorities ordered him to leave the area at once.
  • Gandhi defied the order and preferred to face the punishment.
  • This passive resistance or civil disobedience of an unjust order was a novel method at that time.
  • Finally, the authorities retreated and permitted Gandhi to make an enquiry.
  • Government appointed a committee to look into the matter and nominated Gandhi as a member.
  • Gandhi was able to convince the authorities that the tinkathia system should be abolished and the peasants should be compensated for the illegal dues extracted from them.
  • As a compromise with the planters, he agreed that only 25 % of the money taken should be compensated.
  • Within a decade, the planters left the area.

 


Kheda Satyagraha (1918)—First Non-Cooperation Movement

  • Because of drought in 1918, the crops failed in Kheda district of Gujarat.
  • According to Revenue Code, if the yield was less than 1/4th of the normal produce, the farmers were entitled to remission.
  • The authorities refused to grant remission.
  • Gandhi supported the peasants cause and asked them to withhold revenue.
  • The authorities, not willing to openly concede the peasants demands, issued secret instructions that only those who could afford to pay should pay.
  • During the Kheda Satyagraha, many young nationalists such as Sardar Patel and Indulal Yagnik became Gandhi’s followers.

 


Ahmedabad Mill Strike (1918)—First Hunger Strike

  • Gandhi now intervened in a dispute between mill owners of Ahmedabad and the workers over the issue of discontinuation of the plague bonus.
  • Gandhi asked the workers to go on a strike and demand a 35 % increase in wages.
  • The employers were willing to concede a 20 % bonus only.
  • Gandhi advised the workers to remain non-violent while on strike.
  • He undertook a fast unto death to strengthen the worker’s resolve.
  • Mill owners finally agreed to give the workers a 35 % increase in wages.

 


Satyagraha against Rowlatt Act – First Mass Strike

  • Just when the nationalists were expecting post war constitutional concessions, the Government came out with the repressive Rowlatt Act which the nationalists took as an insult.
  • Rowlatt Act, 1919
  • Also known as Black Act
  • Was mainly aimed to look into the militant Nationalist activities.
  • Any person could be arrested on the basis of suspicion.
  • No appeal or petition could be filed against such arrests max for 2 years
  • Gandhi called for a nationwide protest in Feb 1919.
  • But soon, having seen the constitutional protest fail, Gandhi organised a Satyagraha Sabha and roped in younger members of Home Rule Leagues and the Pan Islamists.
  • The forms of protest finally chosen included observance of a nationwide hartal (strike) accompanied by fasting and prayer, and civil disobedience against specific laws, and courting arrest and imprisonment.

 

There was a radical change in the situation by now

  • The masses had found a direction; now they could “act“ instead of just giving verbal expression to their grievances.
  • From now onwards, peasants, artisans and the urban poor were to play an increasingly important part in the struggle.
  • Orientation of the national movement turned to the masses permanently.

Jalliawalla Bagh Massacre April 13, 1919

  • In Punjab, there was an unprecedented support to the Rowlatt Satyagraha.
  • Facing a violent situation, Government handed over the administration to the military authorities under General Dyer.
  • General Dyer banned all public meetings and detained the political leaders.

On Baisakhi day, a large, crowd of people mostly from neighbouring villages, unaware of the prohibitory orders in the city, had gathered in this small park to protest against the arrest of their leaders, Saifuddin Kitchlew and Satyapal

  • The Army surrounded the gathering under orders from General Dyer
  • They blocked the only exit point and opened fire on the unarmed crowd
  • This resulted in nationwide protest against this massacre & Rabindranath Tagore renounced his knighthood as a protest.
  • Gandhi was overwhelmed by atmosphere of violence and withdrew the Rowlatt Satyagraha movement on April 18, 1919.

 


Khilafat Movement, 1919

  • Chief causeDefeat of Turkey in the First World War & harsh terms of the Treaty of Sevres (1920)
  • Treaty terms was felt by the Muslims as a great insult to them
  • Whole movement was based on the Muslim belief that the Caliph (the Sultan of Turkey) was the religious head of the Muslims all over the world.
  • Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, M.A. Ansari, Saifuddin Kitchlew, and the Ali brothers were the prominent leaders of this movement.
  • Subsequently, the Khilafat Movement merged with the Non-Cooperation Movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi in 1920.

Non-Cooperation Movement (1920-1922)

  • Non-Cooperation Movement was a sequel to the Rowlatt Act, Jallianwala Bagh massacre and the Khilafat Movement
  • It was approved by the INC at the Nagpur session in December, 1920.

 

Special Features of NCM

  • Movement began with Mahatma Gandhi renouncing the titles, given by the British
  • Surrender of titles and honorary positions along with resignation of membership from the local bodies
  • Boycott of elections held under the provisions of the 1919 Act
  • Legislatures were boycotted, No leader of the Congress came forward to contest the elections for the Legislatures.
  • Boycott of government functions, courts, government schools and colleges, & of foreign goods
  • Establishment of national schools, colleges and private panchayat courts
  • Popularizing swadeshi goods and khadi

Non Cooperation Movement Symbol

Points of Prominence
  • Peasants, Students, women & Muslims actively participated in this movement
  • Khadi & Charkha became a symbol of NCM
  • Bonfires of foreign clothes were organized
  • Movement marked the height of Hindu-Muslim unity as a result of the merger of Khilafat movement
  • 1921, mass demonstrations were held against the Prince of Wales during his tour of India
  • Many leaders were arrested & Congress & Khilafat Committees were proclaimed as illegal.
  • But the whole movement was abruptly called off on 11th February 1922 by Gandhi following the Chauri Chaura incident in the Gorakpur district of UP (22 policemen burnt)
  • In March 1922 Gandhi was arrested and sentenced to six years in jail (NCM) but released from prison on health grounds in February 1924
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