In Bengal, younger ‘revolt groups’ emerged during the period. One of them was involved in December 1929 in the Mechauabazar bomb case. However, the most formidable group was led by Surya Sen of Chittagong which brought off the most spectacular coup in the history of terrorism This Chittagong group of revolutionaries seized the local armoury on April 18. 1930 and issued a proclamation of independence in the name of Indian Republican Army. When surrounded on Jalalabad hills on April 22, they fought a pitched battle with the police, in which 12 of them were killed Chittagong started an intense wave of terrorism in Bengal including a spectacular raid on the Government’s Secretariat in Writer’s building in Calcutta on December 8.
Thus the revolutionary terrorist tradition of Bengal still insisted on the cult of heroic self-sacrifice by a handful of youth and there was no trace of any socio-economic programme.
In sharp contrast, the HSRA was marked by an increasingly deep commitment to Marxian socialism and militant atheism The 11SRA formed a Central Committee which included Sukhdev and Bhagat Singh from Punjab, Chandrashekhar A/.ad, Kundanlal and Shiv Sharma from the united provinces, and P N Ghosh from Bihar Its actions included the murder of Saunders in Lahore in December 1928 as revenge for the assault on Lajpat Rai, bomb thrown in the Legislative Assembly by Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt on April 8. 1929; an attempt to blow up Irwin’s train near Delhi in December 1929; and a whole series of terrorist actions in Punjab and UP towns in 1930. The Assembly bomb blasts were meant to be purely demonstrative ‘to make the deaf hear’, and the occasion significantly enough, was the anti-Labour Trades disputed the bill. While the terrorist activities themselves might appear conventionally terrorist, the HSRA and Open Youth Organisation, with the Nau Jawcm Bharat Sabha under its influence, really had a much broader perspective, ‘a total change of society culminating in the overthrow of both foreign and Indian Capitalism and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat’. One of Bhagat Singh’s closest associate, Ajoy Ghosh, later became the General Secretary of the CPI. While in jail, Bhagat Singh wrote a piece entitled Why am / an Atheist, where he defined a total rejection of all religions on grounds of human dignity and rational logic.
Shortly after the bomb-throwing incident in the Assembly, all active members of the HSRA was arrested and the Lahore conspiracy case was instituted against them in 1929. The HSRA heroes attained remarkable popularity when Jatin Das died in jail on September 1929 on the 64th day of a hunger strike for improvement in the status of political prisoners. Jawaharlal Nehru in his autobiography later recalled the ‘sudden and amazing popularity of Bhagat Singh in Punjab and north India’.
While trying to appease the Indians with the reforms, the Government passed the Montague Chelmsford Reforms (1918), which formed the basis of Government of India Act of These were condemned by most of the Congress leaders, but some disagreed, for instance, T. B Sapru, Jayakar, and Chintamani. They left the party and formed National Liberal Federation/Association In continuation of its carrot and stick policy, the government also passed the Rowlatt Act in early 1919 in spite of stiff opposition from all the Indian members of the Legislative Council. It authorized the Government, through a system of special courts, to detain anyone without trial for a maximum period of two years. While all the sections of Indian opinion deeply resented the Act, it was Gandhi Ji who suggested a concrete form of a mass protest his first at an all Indian level. Initially, the plan was a rather modest one of volunteers courting arrest by public sale of prohibited works. It was extended by Gandhi on March 23, 1919, to include the novel and far more radical idea of an all-India Hartal on March 30 (later postponed to April 6). Gandhi used three types of political network—the Home Rule Leagues, certain pan-Islamist groups, and a Satyagraha Sabha which he himself started at Bombay on February 24—to organize the Satyagraha.
As has already been pointed out, the younger and radical members of the two Home Rule Leagues were in need of a leader. Gandhi had already developed excellent relations with some Muslim leaders, particularly with Abdul Ban of the Firangi Mahal Ulama group at Lucknow. Faced with the defeat of Ottoman Turkey and the rumours about the harsh peace terms being prepared by the victorious Allies, the Indian Muslims were increasingly becoming concerned about the future of the Caliph-Sultan. whom they considered as their spiritual leader.
Meanwhile, the moderate section of the ‘young party’ who wanted to accept the Montford reforms was ousted from the Muslim League by an alliance of somewhat more radical politicians like Ansari and a large group of Ulama led by Abdul Bari They came out in favor Satyagraha against the Rowlatt Act after a meeting with Gandhi in mid-March 1919. The Satyagraha Sabha concentrated on publishing propaganda literature and collecting signatures to a Satyagraha pledge, while Gandhi himself embarked on a whirlwind tour.
The movement that emerged was very elemental, almost entirely urban, with the lower middle-class groups and artisans playing a more important role than industrial workers. There were demonstrations and hartals in most of the towns on March 30 and April 6 and these were generally accompanied by violence and disorder Punjab, already suffering from the after-effects of severe wartime repression following the Ghadar outbreaks of 1915, forcible recruitment for the War, and the ravages of disease reacted particularly strongly. In Amritsar and Lahore, the situation became alarming for the Government. The army was called in and Amritsar was handed over to General Dyer, who issued an order prohibiting all public meeting and assemblies.
Jallianwala Bagh Incident
On the Baisakhi Day of April 13, 1919, a peaceful unarmed the crowd, consisting mostly of villagers who had come for a fair and were not aware of the ban on meetings, was fired upon without any warning and provocation by Dyers’ troops, in Jallianwala Bagh, a park enclosed from all sides. The official estimate was 379 deaths, while the other estimates were considerably higher. The brutality at Jallianwala Bagh stunned the entire nation. The response did not come immediately, but a little later. For the moment, repression was intensified and Punjab was placed under martial law.
Gandhi withdrew the movement on April 18 calling it a ‘Himalayan blunder’. Since then, Gandhi became extremely wary about starting movements without adequate organizational and ideological preparation. Rabindranath Tagore, voicing the agony and anger of the nation, through a famous letter, renounced his knighthood (May 30, 1919). Gandhi returned the Kaiser-i-Hind medal given to him for his work during the Boer war The Congress set up a nonofficial enquiry committee into the Punjab massacre. The Government, at the instigation of the nationalist leadership, appointed the Committee of Enquiry (consisting of four British and three Indian members) under the Chairmanship of Lord Hunter. However, to protect its officers, the Government simultaneously passed an Indemnity Act. Dyer was removed from active service by the British Government in London but was absolved from all guilt.
The failure of the Cripps Mission made the Indians frustrated and embittered. It was felt that time had now come for launching another mass movement against the British rule. The Discontent of Indian people was increasing due to wartime shortages and growing unemployment. There was a constant danger of Japanese attack. The Indian leaders were convinced that India would be a victim of Japanese aggression only because of The British presence in India. Gandhiji said, “the presence of the British in India is an invitation to Japan to invade India”. Subhash Chandra Bose, who escaped from India in 1941, repeatedly spoke over the radio from Berlin arousing anti-British feeling which gave rise to pro-Japanese sentiments.
The Congress under Gandhiji felt that the British must be compelled to accept Indian demands or quit the country. A meeting of the Congress Working Committee in Wardha passed the Quit India Resolution on 14th July 1942 which was later endorsed and passed on 8th August at the Bombay session of the Congress. The Congress decided to launch a mass struggle on non-violent lines, on the widest possible scale. Addressing the Congress delegates on the night of 8th August, Gandhiji, in his soul-stirring speech, said:
“I therefore want freedom immediately, this very night before dawn if it can be had …..I am not going to be satisfied with anything short of complete freedom. Here is a ‘mantra’, a short one that I give you. You may imprint on your hearts and let every breath of yours give expression to it. The ‘mantra’ is ‘Do or Die’. We shall either free India or die in the attempt. We shall not live to see the perpetuation of slavery.”
M K Gandhi
But before the Congress leaders could start the movement formally, all important leaders of Congress were arrested before the dawn of 9th August 1942. Congress was banned and declared as an illegal organization. The Press was censored.
The news of the arrest of popular leaders shocked the nation. Their anger and resentment was expressed through numerous agitations, hartals, processions and demonstrations in all parts of the country. With most of the important leaders in jail, the movement took a different shape at different places. The people gave vent to their anger by burning government buildings, police stations, post offices anything that symbolized British authority. Railways and telegraphs lines were disconnected. At some places, such as in Ballia district in U.P., Midnapore district of West Bengal and in Satara in Bombay, the revolt took a serious turn. Inspired by the ‘mantra’ of Gandhiji people were ready to make the supreme sacrifice. The British with its army and police came down heavily on the Indian people. The people were shot indiscriminately. The Quit India Movement became one of the greatest mass-movements of historical significance. It demonstrated the depth of national sentiments and indicated the capacity of the Indian people for sacrifice and determined struggle. After this movement there was no retreat. Independence of India was no longer a matter of bargain. It was to be a reality.
At the end of the World War in 1945, the British government started to talk about the transfer of power to Indian Hindus and Muslims. The first round of talks could not be successful because Muslim leaders thought that the Muslim League was the only one who could represent Indian Muslims. Congress did not agree upon it. In 1946, the Cabinet Mission arrived in India to find a mutually agreed solution of the Indian Problem. The Mission held talks with the leaders of all prominent political parties and then proposed its plan of establishing the Federal Government in India. Initially, the plan was criticized by all political parties, but later all gave their consent to it. When the election to the Constituent Assembly took place, the Congress won one hundred ninety-nine seats and the Muslim league won seventy-three.
Things, in fact, were now rapidly moving towards a final confrontation with the Government. Gandhi was in a truly militant mood. The famous Quit India resolution was passed in the Bombay session of AICC on August S, 1942, followed by the call for a ‘mass struggle on the non-violent lines on the widest possible scale’ under Gandhi’s leadership A significant clause of the resolution was that if the Congress leadership gets removed by arrest,‘every Indian who desires freedom and strives for it must be his own guide’. The same day, Gandhi made his famous ‘Do or die’ speech, stating ‘we shall either free India or die in the attempt. The Quit India resolution was opposed only by the Communist members of the AICC (Bhulabai and Rajaji had resigned in July).
In this struggle, the common people of the country demonstrated unparalleled heroism and militancy. Moreover, the repression that they faced was the most brutal The circumstances in which the movement was launched were also the most adverse ever to be faced by the national movement. Using the excuse of the war effort, the Government had armed itself with draconian measures and suppressed even the basic civil liberties. Virtually any political activity, however peaceful and legal, was termed illegal and revolutionary. Linlithgow on December 31, 1942 described the Quit India Movement as ‘by far the most serious rebellion since that of the gravity and extent of which we have so far concealed from the world for reasons of military security’.
Apart from the British obduracy, there were other factors underlying the popular mood of 1942. Prices were shooting up and there were shortages everywhere, particularly of rice and salt. The British made little efforts to check the thriving black market and profiteering in food, which finally led to the terrible famine of 1943 in Bengal. Bureaucratic mismanagement of the war reached its climax when all country boats in Bengal were ordered to be seized and destroyed, so as to prevent their capture by the Japanese. This led to considerable anger among the people.
The popular willingness to give expression to this discontent was enhanced by the growing feeling of an imminent British collapse. The news of Allied reverses and British withdrawals from South-East Asia and Burma, and the sight of the trains bringing back wounded soldiers from the Assam-Burma border further confirmed this feeling.
Combined with this was the impact of the manner in which British evacuation was carried out in Malaya and Burma. It was common knowledge that the British had evacuated only the white residents, leaving the subject people to their own fate. It is thus no coincidence that UP and Bihar, the home of most of the immigrant labor in South-East Asia and elsewhere, were the areas where the revolt attained its maximum intensity.
The Government took prompt steps to prevent the outbreak of the movement. In the early hours of August 9, Mahatma Gandhi and members of the Congress Working Committee were arrested, with numerous other arrests following in quick succession in different parts of the country. This removal of the established leadership left the younger and more militant cadres to their own initiative and gave greater scope to pressures from below.
Three broad phases can be distinguished in the Quit India Movement. The first, massive and violent, but quickly suppressed. It was predominantly urban and included Hartals, strikes, and clashes with the police and army in most of the cities Bombay, as so often before, was the main storm center from August 9 to 14. Calcutta witnessed Hartals from August 10 to 17. There were violent clashes resulting in heavy casualties in Delhi. Government’s control over the Patna city was virtually lost for two days after a famous confrontation in front of the Secretariat on August 11 The violence in Delhi was largely due to the strike of mill workers. The next day. Viceroy reported strikes in ‘Lucknow, Cawnpore, Bombay, Nagpur, and Ahmedabad’. The Tata Steel Plant was totally closed down for 13 days from August 20, with the sole labor slogan being that ‘they will not resume work until a National The government has been formed’. At Ahmedabad. the textile strike lasted for three and a half months and the city was later described as the Stalingrad of India. The urban middle class was extremely prominent in this first phase, which was spearheaded by students.
From about the middle of August, however, the focus shifted to the countryside. The militant students fanned out from centers like Banaras, Patna, and Cuttack, destroying communication links and leading a veritable peasant rebellion against white authorities strongly reminiscent in some ways of the revolt of 1857. Northern and western Bihar, eastern UP, Midnapur in Bengal, and pockets of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Orissa were the major centres of this second phase which saw the installation of a number of ‘National Governments, which were usually shortlived.
Weakened by brutal repression, the movement, from the end of September, entered its longest but also the least formidable phase. This was characterized by terrorist strikes by educated youth directed against communications, and police and army installations. It occasionally rose to the level of guerrilla war (such as the one along the North Bihar-Nepal border, led by Jayaprakash Narayan) and part-time peasant squads engaged in fanning by day and sabotage activities by night (the so-called Karnataka method). In some pockets, secret parallel National Governments functioned, most notably in Tamluk in Midnapur, Satara in Maharashtra, and Talchcr in Orissa. Though extremely impressive and heroic, such activities, however, no longer held a threat either to the British rule or to the war plans of the Allies.
The intense repression unleashed by the Government was an indication of the extent and depth of the upsurge. By the end of 1943, a total of 91,836 people had been arrested, with the highest figurescoming from the Bombay presidency, followed by UP and Bihar. 208 police outposts, 332 railway stations, and 945 post offices had been destroyed or scvcrly damaged There had been 664 bomb explosions, 1060 killed by police or army firing, while 63 policemen died fighting the upsurge and 216 defected Government experimented with different forms of terror like setting fire to villages collective fines as a kind of ‘official dacoity’, public flogging, and novel methods of torture. In addition, the British had all the resources of modem military’ might used on the war.
By the end of 1942, the British had come out decisively victorious in their confrontation with Indian nationalism. The remaining two and half years of the war passed without any serious political challenge from within the country. The victory of the British had been possible only because the war conditions allowed a ruthless use of force. The British were never again to risk such a confrontation. Wavell. who became Viceroy in October 1943, made it clear to Churchill in a letter that, It would be impossible to hold India by force after the war, given the likely state of world opinion and popular British or even army attitude (as well as the economic exhaustion of Britain) and that it would be wise to start negotiations before the end of the war brought a release of prisoners and unrest due to demobilization and unemployment, creating a fertile the field for agitation unless we have previously diverted their energies into some more profitable channels, i.e. into dealing with administrative problems and into trying to solve the constitutional problem’.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a lawyer, trained in Britain.
He went to South Africa in 1893 and resided there for twenty-one years. The treatment of the Indians in South Africa by the British provoked his conscience.
He decided to fight against the policy of racial discrimination of the South African Government. During the course of his struggle against the government, he evolved the technique of Satyagraha (non-violent insistence for truth and justice).
Gandhi succeeded in this struggle in South Africa.
Gandhiji came back to India !!!
He returned to India in 1915. In 1916, he founded the Sabarmati Ashram at Ahmedabad to practice the ideas of truth and non-violence.
Gopal Krishna Gokhale advised him to tour the country mainly in the villages to understand the people and their problems.
His first experiment in Satyagraha began at Champaran in Bihar in 1917 when he inspired the peasants to struggle against the oppressive plantation system.
He also organized a satyagraha to support the peasants of the Kheda districts of Gujarat.
These peasants were not able to pay their revenue because of crop failure and epidemics. In Ahmedabad, he organized a movement amongst cotton mill workers.
The Non-Cooperation Movement (1920-22)
Gandhiji by this time, was convinced that no useful purpose would be served by supporting the government.
He was also emboldened by his earlier success in Bihar In the light of the past events and the actions of British government, he decided to launch a nationwide satyagraha against the proposed Rowlatt Act in 1919.
He threatened to start the non-cooperation movement in case the government failed to accept his demands. Why do you think Gandhiji protested against the Act? It was because the Act gave the government enormous powers to repress political activities and allowed detention of political prisoners without any trial for two years.
Gandhiji wanted non violent civil disobedience against such unjust laws. The government paid no heed to it.
Gandhiji, therefore, started his non-cooperation movement in August 1920, in which he appealed to the people not to cooperate with the British government.
At this time, the Khilafat movement started by the Muslims and the Non Cooperation movement led by Gandhi merged into one common confrontation against the British Government.
For this Gandhi laid down an elaborate programme
Surrender of titles and honorary offices as well as resignation from nominated seats in local bodies
refusal to attend official and non-official functions;
gradual withdrawal of children from officially controlled schools and colleges;
gradual boycott of British courts by lawyers and litigants;
refusal on the part of the military, clerical and labouring classes to offer themselves as recruits for service in Mesopotamia;
boycott of elections to the legislative council by candidates and voters;
boycott of foreign goods and National schools and colleges.
Later, it was supplemented with a constructive programme which had three principal features:
(1) promotion of ‘Swadeshi’, particularly hand-spinning and weaving; (2) Removal of untouchability among Hindus;
(3) promotion of Hindu-Muslim unity.
Due to this appeal of Gandhiji, an unusual frenzy overtook the country. A large number of people, dropping their differences, took part in this movement.
Over two-thirds of the voters abstained from taking part in the elections to the Council, held in November, 1920.
Thousands of students and teachers left their schools and colleges and new Indian educational centers were started by them. ( can u name some ………………. comment below!!!!
Lawyers like Moti Lal Nehru, C. R. Das, C. Rajagopalachari and Asif Ali boycotted the courts. Legislative Assemblies were also boycotted. Foreign goods were boycotted and the clothes were put on bonfire.
But, during this movement some incidents took place that did not match with the views of Gandhiji.
The non-violent Non-Cooperation Movement, which started auspiciously, was marked by violence in August, 1921. The government started taking serious action.
Prominent leaders were arrested. In two months, nearly 30,000 people were imprisoned.
The outbreak of violence cautioned Gandhi. Mob violence took place on February 9, 1922, at Chauri Chaura village, in Gorakhpur district of UP. This was followed by more violence at Bareilly
. Gandhi suspended his non cooperation on February 14, 1922. He was arrested at Ahmedabad on March 18, 1922, and sentenced to six years simple imprisonment.
The non-cooperation movement failed to achieve success, yet it succeeded to prepare a platform for the future movements.
After taking back the Non-Cooperation movement, Gandhiji and his followers were busy in creative activities in village areas. By this he gave the message to the people to remove the cast based animosity.
In 1922, Gandhiji suspended his non-cooperation movement after Chauri Chaura incident, even when the movement was on its peak.
Many people criticized the decision of Gandhi ji. Imagine that you were a journalist at that time and you got an assignment to interview Mahatma Gandhi just after this movement. Write an imaginary dialogue of your discussions with Mahatma Gandhi asking him to justify his decision.
C. R. Das, Motilal Nehru and other like minded persons hatched out a novel plan of non-cooperation from within the reformed councils.
They formed the Swaraj Party on January 01, 1923. C. R. Das was the president of the party and Motilal Nehru the Secretary.
The party was described as ‘a party within the Congress’ and not a rival organization. But, they could neither end nor amend the Act of 1919.
In 1927, British government appointed a commission under the chairmanship of Sir John Simon. The Commission was appointed to study the reforms of 1919 and suggest further measures for Constitutional reforms. The Commission had no Indian member in it. The Indians boycotted this all-White commission. Therefore, when this Commission arrived in India, it faced protests all over the country. Black flags were shown, demonstrations and Hartals took place all over the country and the cry of ‘Simon go back’ was heard. These demonstrators were lathi charged at a number of places by the British Police. Lala Lajpat Rai was severely assaulted by the police and he succumbed to his injuries. This agitation against the Simon Commission gave a new strength to the National Movement of India.
Meanwhile, Indian political leaders were busy in drafting a Constitution. This is known as Nehru Report which formed the outline of the Constitution. Among its important recommendations were a declaration of rights, a parliamentary system of government, adult franchise and an independent judiciary with a supreme court at its head. Most of its recommendations formed the basis of the Constitution of independent India which was adopted more than twenty years later. At the historic annual session of Congress in Lahore in 1929, the Congress committed itself to a demand for Purna-Swaraj or complete independence and issued a call to the country to celebrate 26th January as Purna-Swaraj Day. On January 26, 1930, the Congress celebrated ‘Independence Day’. On the same day in 1950 the Constitution of Independent India was adopted, making India a sovereign, democratic socialist republic. Since then January 26th is celebrated as Republic Day.
Gandhi:Ethics in Public Life
Gandhi In India’s Freedom Struggle
By the time Gandhi returned to India from South Africa in January 1915. he had already attained political maturity. Gandhi developed his philosophy and the technique of Satyagraha as an instrument for redressing the grievances of the immigrant Indian minority in South Africa. The term Satyagraha, meaning firmness in the truth or truth force’, was devised by him to describe an approach which sought victory not by the forcible defeat of the opponent but by bringing about a change in his heart through one’s own suffering or self-sacrifice.
The basic Gandhian technique was put into action in South Africa from 1906. This involved training of disciplined cadres (at the Tolstoy farm and the Phoenix settlement), non-violent Satyagraha through peaceful violation of specific laws, mass the courting of arrests, occasional hartals, and spectacular marches. It included careful attention to organization and financial details, a readiness for negotiations and compromises, at times leading to abrupt withdrawals, and the cultivation of certain Gandhian peculiarities (vegetarianism, nature therapy, experiments in sexual self-restraint, etc. ) It galvanized the masses but kept their activity restricted to certain forms predetermined by the leader, in particular to the methods of non-violence.
Gandhi’s non-violence was a well worked out philosophy. According to him, resort to violence to enforce one’s own understanding of truth (nobody attains the ultimate truth) was sinful. To him, violence was the opposite of the truth. However, as a pragmatic politician, Gandhi sometimes conceded to less than complete non-violence. For instance, he campaigned for military recruitment during the First World War in the hope of winning post-war political concessions. He even asserted that violence was preferable to a cowardly surrender before injustice.
As a political weapon, non-violence appealed to business groups, the new peasantry and the well-off sections of the society because it kept the political struggle from turning into an orgy of destruction and violence. It, therefore, provided a way out for the Indian politicians before Gandhi, who had earlier tended to oscillate between the moderate mendicancy and individual terrorism, because of their social inhibitions against the uncontrolled mass movements. Under Gandhi, the doctrine of Ahimsa played an essentially unifying role, thus making possible a combined national struggle against the foreign rule.
Gandhi first announced his life’s mission in Hind Swaraj, which was to show the way for the moral regeneration of Indians and the potential for the emancipation of India.
It was written in ten days, from 13 to 22 November 1909, on board the ship ‘Kildonan Castle’, on his return trip from England to South Africa.
The whole manuscript was written on the ship’s stationery at a furious pace. When the right hand got tired, the left hand continued writing and 49 of the 275 pages were written by the left hand.
Gandhi told his friend Herman Hallenbach, the first one to know about the book’s completion that he had produced an original work’
It is also a work which Gandhi himself translated from Gujarati into English; no other work of his, not even his autobiography enjoys this distinction.
It has been compared to such diverse works as Rousseau’s Social Contract, and the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola.
The book was addressed to a mixed audience: the expatriate Indians (greatly attracted to terrorism and political violence), the Extremists and Moderates of the Indian National Congress, the Indian people, and the British.
The assassination of Sir William Curzon-Wyllie , the ADC to the Secretary of State for India by Madan Lai Dhingra before Gandhi’s arrival in London shook London, the Indian Community in England, and Gandhi himself.
The social ideals of Gandhi arc incorporated in HindSwaraj (1909), where he asserted that the real enemy was not the British colonial domination but the modern industrial civilization itself. It represented a response to the deeply alienating effects of modernization, particularly under colonial conditions. The anti-industrial theme held some attraction for the artisans ruined by modem industries, the peasants to whom law courts were a ruinuous trap and going to city hospitals usually an expensive death sentence, and to the rural or small town intelligentsia for whom education had brought few material benefits. However, it had no charm for the sophisticated urban groups which by 1930s and 1940s would increasingly turn tow ards capitalist or socialist solutions based on industrialization. After his return to India, Gandhi gave a concrete shape to his message through programmes of Khadi, rural reconstruction, and Harijan welfare. The message of self-reliance and self-help of the Swadeshi period thus acquired wider dimensions.
During the first year after his arrival, Gandhi did not take a public stand on any political issue on the advice of his political mentor/guru, Gokhale He spent the year traveling around the country, seeing things for himself, and in organizing his ashram in Ahmedabad. where he and his devoted band of followers from South Africa decided to lead a community life.
His first major public appearance in India was at the opening of the Benaras Hindu University in February 1916, to address the donors whose contributions had led to the founding of B1IU, along with Congress leaders such as Annie Besant During the course of 1917 and early 1918. Gandhi was involved in three significant struggles, beginning with Champaran in Bihar, Ahmedabad, and Kheda in Gujarat. These struggles were related to specific local issues. Champaran and Kheda involved the peasants while Ahmedabad involved industrial workers.
In the early 19th century, European planters compelled the peasants to grow indigo on a pail of their holdings (known as the Tinkathia System ) and to sell it to the planters at prices fixed by them. Towards the end of 19th century, German synthetic dyes forced indigo out of the market, making indigo cultivation unremunerative. European planters of Champaran. though keen to release the cultivators from their obligation of cultivating indigo, tried to turn this to their advantage by securing enhancements in rent and other illegal dues as its price. Resistance had earlier surfaced in 1908, but the exploitations by planters continued as before. Hearing of Gandhi’s campaigns in South Africa, several peasants of Champaran invited him to help their cause.
Gandhi, accompanied by Rajendra Prasad. Mazhar-ul-Haq, J B Kaplan (a teacher by profession), and Mahadev Desai reached Champaran in 1917 and began conducting a detailed inquiry into the conditions of the peasantry after a local ban on his entry had been lifted by the higher authorities in face of a Satyagraha threat. The grievances of the indigo cultivators were given all-India publicity. The commission of inquiry instituted by the Government was convinced by Gandhi that the Tinkathia System had to be abolished and the peasants compensated for the illegal enhancement of their dues.
The concrete achievements of the agitation were far surpassed by their psychological impact. Gandhi was compared to Lord Rama and the planters\o Rakshasas (demons). He was thought of as a holy man with miracle powers, who could end all exploitation.
It suffered from repeated famines and plagues after 1899, making revenue payments, which were seldom reduced, difficult. During 1917-18, a poor harvest coincided with the high prices of kerosene, ironware, cloth, and salt. The farm labour, employed by Fattidars (small peasant proprietors) had successfully forced them to hike up their wages. Pattidars’ appeals for the remission of revenue were ignored by the Government. Inquiries by members of the Servants of Indian Society, Vithalbhai Patel, and Gandhi confirmed the validity of the peasants’ case. As the crops were less than one-fourth of the normal yield, they were entitled under the revenue code to a total remission of the land revenue.
Gandhi now organized the first real peasant Satyagraha, asking the peasants to withhold revenue and to ‘fight unto death against such a spirit of vindictiveness and tyranny, and, show that it is not possible to govern men without their consent’. Vallabh Bhai Patel, a young lawyer and a native of Kheda district, and other young men including Indulal Yajmk joined Gandhi in touring the villages. They urged the peasants to stand firm in the face of increasing Government Repression which included the seizing of cattle and household goods, and the attachment of standing crops The Government issued secret instructions directing that revenue should be recovered from only those peasants who could pay. The movement was withdrawn under the circumstances. People were exhausted and Gandhi too was looking around for some graceful way of ending the struggle. But the sustained village work continued by the volunteers was to build up over the years a solid Gandhian base in Gujarat.
Gandhi’s intervention in Ahmedabad in February’-March 1918 was in a situation of purely internal conflict between the Gujarat mill-owners and their workers over the question of plague bonus of 1917. The employers wanted to withdraw it once the epidemic had passed The workers demanded a 50%wage hike in lieu of the plague bonus to take care of the rise in the cost of living during the War (later reduced under Gandhi’s advice to 35%), but the owners were willing to offer only 20%. The Ahmedabad strike of March 1918 under Gandhi’s leadership is notable for his first use of* the weapon of hunger strike It was an attempt to rally the flagging spirit of the workers, an alternative to the militant picketing which Gandhi strictly forbade.
The hunger strike was a success and the workers got a 35% wage increase Ambalal Sarabhai’s (a textile magnate) sister Anasuya Bchn. was one of the main lieutenants of Gandhi in this struggle.
The Gandhian hold on the Ahmedabad workers was consolidated through the Textile Labour Association of 1920, grounded in the philosophy of peaceful arbitration of disputes, interdependence of capital and labor, and the concept of owners being trustees of the workers. Gandhi ‘s excellent personal contacts with Ahmedabad mill-owners and workers alike helped make such methods a success. However, this model of Gandhi, which rejected politicization along class lines could never spread beyond Ahmedabad.
Till early 1919, Gandhi, by and large, did not intervene in the matters of all-India politics. He showed little interest in the reforms proposal, though, in his view, they deserved sympathetic handling rather than a summary rejection. It was the provocative enactment of the Row last Act in February 1919, which made him launch an all-India Satyagraha campaign for the first time.
As the radical movement grew stronger the British began to look for ways and means to break the unity among Indian.
They tried to do this through the partition of Bengal and by sowing the seed of communalism among Indian people.
They motivated Muslims to form a permanent political association of their own.
In December 1906, during the Muhammadan Educational conference in Dacca, Nawab Salim Ullah Khan raised the idea of establishing a Central Muhammadan Association to take care of Muslim interests.
Accordingly, on 30th December 1906, the All India Muslim League was founded. Another prominent person, Aga Khan was chosen as its president.
The main objective of the league was to protect and advance the rights of Muslims in India and represent their needs to the government.
By encouraging the issue of separate electorates, the government sowed the seed of communalism and separatism among Indians.
The formation of the Muslim League is considered to be the first fruit of the British master strategy of ‘Divide and Rule’. Mohammad Ali Jinnah later joined the League.
Role Of Muslim League In Indian Freedom Struggle
The seeds of Muslim communalism were sown in the 1880s when Syed Ahmed Khan sought to use it as a counterpoise to the national movement, that had emerged under the Congress. He believed that the Muslim share in administrative posts and in various professions could be released only by professing loyalty to the British. The Muslims had turned to modern education, trade, and industry late, So they needed the special protection of the British were also projected as safeguard the Muslim minority’s interests. The Hindus in India, because they were a majority, would have dominated Muslims and totally overruled their interests. Syed Ahmed knew that British authorities, at the time, frowned upon any attempts at the politicization of the Indian people Thus, instead of creating a counter communal political organization, he asked the Muslims to shun all politics and remain politically passive.
The British authorities, quick to see the inherent advantage of communalism and the theory of official protection of the minorities, from the very’ beginning, actively promoted and supported communalism.
However, the attempt to keep the growing Muslim intelligentsia politically passive was not wholly successful.
When Badruddin Tyabji presided over the Congress session in 1887, the number of Muslim delegates to the Congress increased in the succeeding year R M Sayani, A Bhimji, Mir Musharaff Husain, I Iamid All Khan and numerous other Muslim intellectuals from Bombay. Bengal and northern India joined the Congress. Abdul Rasul and a large number of other Bengali Muslim intellectuals gave support to the Swadeshi agitation against the partition of Bengal.
However, it cannot be denied that there was a certain Hindu tinge in the political work and ideas of the militant nationalists. This proved to be harmful to the National Movement as British and pro-British communal propagandists took advantage of its Hindu colouring to poison the minds of the Muslims. The result was that a large number of educated muslims remained either aloof from the rising National Movement or became hostile to it, thus falling an easy prey to the separatist outlook.
The communalists, as also their official supporters, felt that they had to abandon the policy of political passivity and enter the political arena At the end of 1906, the All India Muslim League was founded in Dacca by a group of big zamindars, ex-bureaucrats and upper class Muslims like Aga Khan, the Nawab of Dacca and Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk. It supported the partition of Bengal, raised the slogan of separate Muslim interests, and demanded special safeguards for the Muslims in government services. Later, with the help of Lord Minto, it secured acceptance of the demand for separate electorates for the Muslims. A branch of Muslim League was set up in London in 1908 by Amir All.
The Muslim League devoted itself to the task of keeping the emerging intelligentsia among the Muslims from joining the Congress. Its activities were against the National Congress and the Hindus and not against the British. It, thus, played into the hands of the British and became one of the main instruments with which the British hoped to fight the rising National Movement.
The Muslim political elite got a rude shock in December 1911 with the annulment of the partition, announced by George V at the Delhi Durbar. The continuing revolutionary terrorism in Bengal worried the authorities. They felt that until we get rid of the partition ulcer, we shall have no peace. ‘ Simultaneously, a transfer of the capital to Delhi was decided upon, both as a sop to the muslim sentiments and, more importantly, to insulate the Vieeregal authority from provincial pressures which would ultimately lead to ‘a larger measure of self-governance in the provinces’.
However, Muslim opinion was not mollified but was, in fact, further alienated by Britain’s refusal to help Turkey in the Italian and Balkan wars (1911-12). The Turkish ruler, at that time, was acknowledged as the Caliph or religious head of all the Muslims. Moreover, nearly all the Muslim holy places were situated within the Turkish empire. The younger Muslim intellectuals, the so-called Young Party, got dissatisfied with the loyalist and slavish mentality of the upper-class leadership of Muslim League. They captured the League in 1912 and began steering it towards greater militancy, some kind of accommodation with the nationalist Hindus, and pan-Islamism. Its leaders included Wazir Hassan, T A K Sherwani, the radical All brothers (Muhammad and Shaukat), and I lasart Mohani in UP. ZafarAli Khan in Punjab, and Fazlul Huq in Bengal.
In their social composition, they tended to be very much like the radical Hindu nationalists, insofar as they were seldom titled Zamindars, occasionally had a small pittance in rents from land, and mostly had to find employment in government service or the professions. In 1912. the brilliant Congress leader MA Jinnah was invited to join the League which adopted setting up of self-government as one of its objectives. In the same year, Aga Khan resigned as the President of the League.
The militantly nationalist Ahrar Movement was founded at this time under the leadership of Maulana Mohammad Ali, Hakim Ajmal Khan. Hasan Imam. Maulana Zafar Ali Khan and Mazhar-ul-Haq. In their efforts, they got support from the section of orthodox Ulema (scholars), especially those belonging to the Deoband school. Another orthodox scholar to be attracted to the national movement was the young Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. He was educated at the famous AlAzharUniversity-at Cairo and propagated his rationalist and nationalist ideas in his newspaper Al Ililal, which he brought out first in 1912.
The Indian National Congress was founded by Allan Octavian Hume in 1885. Hume was a retired Civil Service Officer.
He saw a growing political consciousness among the Indians and wanted to give it a safe, constitutional outlet so that their resentment would not develop into popular agitation against the British rule in India.
He was supported in this scheme by the Viceroy, Lord Dufferin, and by a group of eminent Indians.
Womesh Chandra Banerjee of Calcutta was elected as the first President.
The Indian National Congress represented an urge of the politically conscious Indians to set up a national organization to work for their betterment.
Its leaders had complete faith in the British Government and in its sense of justice.
They believed that if they would place their grievances before the government reasonably, the British would certainly try to rectify them.
Among the liberal leaders, the most prominent were Firoz Shah Mehta, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Dada Bhai Naoroji, Ras Behari Bose, Badruddin Tayabji, etc.
Sir Sayyed Ahmed Khan had not joined Indian National Congress (Why?comment below )
From 1885 to 1905, the Indian National Congress had a very narrow social base. Its influence was confined to the urban educated Indians.
What were initial goals of Indian National Congress ?
The early aims of this organization were limited only to communicate with British the government on behalf of the Indian people and voice their grievances.
It was rightly called the era of the Moderates.
Congress placed its demands before the government always in the form of petitions and worked within the framework of the law.
It was for this reason that the early Congress leaders were referred to as ‘Moderates’.
During its first twenty years, Congress made moderate demands.
The members placed their demands before the Government always in the form of petitions and worked within the framework of the law.
What were the demands of Indian National Congress in its early years ?
It was for this reason that the early Congress leaders were referred to as ‘Moderates’ They asked for: (a) representative legislatures, (b) Indianization of services, (c) reduction of military expenditure, (d) education, employment and holding of the ICS (Indian Civil Services) examination in India, (e) decrease in the burden of the cultivators, (f) defense of civil rights, (g) separation of the judiciary from the executive, (h) change in the tenancy laws, (i) reduction in land revenue and salt duty, (j) policies to help in the growth of Indian industries and handicrafts, (k) introduction of welfare programmes for the people.
Did Indian National congress succeed in early years ?
Unfortunately, their efforts did not bring many changes in the policies and administration of the British in India.
In the beginning, the Britishers had a favourable attitude towards the Congress. But, by 1887, this attitude began to change.
They did not fulfil the demands of the Moderates.
The only achievement of the Congress was the enactment of the Indian Councils Act, 1892 that enlarged the legislature by adding a few nonofficial members and passing of a resolution for holding Indian Civil Services Examination simultaneously in London and in India.
Many leaders gradually lost faith in the Constitutional process.
Even though Congress failed to achieve its goal, it succeeded in creating national awakening and instilling in the minds of the Indian people a sense of belonging to one Nation.
They provided a forum for the Indians to discuss major national issues. By criticizing government policies, they gave the people valuable political training.
Though, They were not ready to take aggressive steps which would bring them in direct conflict with the Government. The most significant achievement was the foundation of a strong national movement.
How the out look of Britishers changed towards Indian National Congress ?
The Britishers who were earlier supporting the Moderates soon realized that the movement could turn into a National force that would drive them out of the country. This totally changed their attitude. They passed strict laws to control education and curb the press. Minor concessions were given so as to win over some Congress leaders. The British Viceroy, Lord Curzon was a staunch imperialist and believed in the superiority of the English people. He passed an Act in 1898, making it an offence to provoke people against the British rulers. He passed the Indian Universities Act in 1904, imposing stiff control over Indian Universities. Curzon was out to suppress the rising Nationalism in India. This was evident from what he did in 1905 about which you will read in the next section.
Safety-valve Theory A fiction to portray Hume as a British patriot who wanted to save the British Empire from an impending crisis was created by a friendly biographer William Wedderburn. another ex-civil servant The biography of Hume was published in 1913.
Bipan Chandra’s: “If Hume and other English liberals hoped to use Congress as a safety-valve, the Congress leaders hoped to use Hume as a lightning conductor.”
Gokhale: If the founder of the Congress had not been a great Englishman, the authorities would have at once found some way or the other to suppress the movement’
The INC met for the first time on December 28, 1885, in the hall of the Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit College.Bombay.WC Banncrji. an eminent Bengali lawyer was elected its first president. It was attended by 72 delegates. The objective of the INC was declared to be the development of close relations between national workers, the dissolution of all race, creed and provincial prejudice and consolidation of national unity among them, recording of the conclusions on vital Indian problems reached by educated Indians after earnest discussion and outlining the programme of work for the next year.
The second session of the INC met at Calcutta in December 1886, under the presidentship of Dadabhai Naoroji. Here the National Conference merged itself with the INC. Its delegates now numbered 436 and were elected by different local organizations and groups. They consisted mostly of lawyers, journalists, traders, industrialists, teachers, and landlords. From then on, the Congress decided to meet even,’ year in December in a different part of the country. The number of delegates attending the sessions gradually increased to 2.000 in 1889.
Prominent Leaders of INC
The first President of the Congress was W C Banner) i. Some of the great presidents of the INC during its early years were Dababhai Naoroji, Badruddin Tyabji, Pherozshah Mehta, P Ananda Charlu, Surendra Nath Banerjee, Ramesh Chandra Dutta. Anand Mohan Bose, and Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Other prominent leaders of the movement in this period were Mahadev Govind Ranade, Madan Mohan Malaviya, G Subramaniya Iyer, C Vijayaraghavachariar, brothers Sisir Kumar and Motilal Ghosh, and Dinshaw E Wacha.
During the early years of its existence, Congress passed resolutions on broadly three types of grievances—political, administrative and economic. The principal political demand was for reform of legislative councils—to give them greater powers (of budget discussion and interpellation, for instance) and to make them representative There was also a demand for the start of a self-government.
Among administrative reforms, the principal demand was for Indianisation of services through simultaneous ICS examinations in England and India. It was hoped that this would make the administration more responsive to Indian needs. Other demands were the separation of the Judiciary, extension of trial by the jury, repeal of the Arms Act, higher jobs in the army for the Indians, and the raising of an Indian volunteers force.
The economic issues that were raised were based on The drain of Wealth theory propounded by Naoroji. The book was The Poverty and Un-British Ride in India The demands were for inquiry into India’s growing poverty and famines, reduction in military expenditure and home charges more funds for technical education to promote Indian industries, the end of unfair tariffs and excise duties, and extension of Permanent Settlement to other areas. He was the one to assert for the first in 1867-68 that the per capita income in India was Rs. 20.
The early nationalists, called moderates, believed that their demands were so reasonable and just that the British The government could be persuaded to concede them. They did not want to sever the British connection but to impart a national character to the British rule. To do this, they passed resolutions and prepared petitions which they sent to the Government for consideration These demands were popularised in Britain too, where they carried on active propaganda. In 1889, a British Committee of the INC was founded. In 1890, this Committee started a journal called India.
The Indigo Rebellion (1859-1862): The British adopted many ways through which they could increase their profits
They also started interfering with the basic means of livelihood of the people.
Not only did they introduce new crops, they also brought new techniques of farming.
Heavy pressure was put on the zamindars and peasants to pay high taxes and grow commercial crops.
One such commercial crop was Indigo.
The cultivation of indigo was determined by the needs of the English cloth markets. The discontent of the farmers growing indigo was mainly for three reasons:
They were paid very low prices for growing indigo;
Indigo was not as lucrative as it was planted at the same time as food crops;
And the loss of fertility of the soil because of planting indigo.
As a result, food stocks declined. The peasants suffered at the hands of the traders and the middleman on whom they depended to sell their goods, sometimes at very low prices. They supported the zamindars to maintain their dominance and deal with their problems in administering those areas.
The peasants launched a movement for non cultivation of indigo in Bengal. Hindu and Muslim peasants together went on strike and filed cases against the planters. They were supported by the press and the missionaries. The government passed orders in November 1860, notifying that it was illegal to force the raiyats to cultivate indigo. This marked the victory for the rebels.
70. Who among the following were the founders of the “Hind Mazdoor Sabha” established in 1948 ?
(a) B. Krishna Pillai, E.M.S. Namboodiripad and K.C. George
(b) Jayaprakash Narayan, Deen Dayal Upadhyay and M.N. Roy
(c) C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer, K. Kamaraj and Veeresalingam Pantulu
(d) Ashok Mehta, T.S. Ramanujam and G.G. Mehta
Answer is ‘D’
The HMS was founded in Howrah in 1948 by socialists Forward Bloc followers and independent unionists which included Basawon Singh (Sinha), Ashok Mehta, R.S. Ruikar, Maniben Kara, Shibnath Banerjee, R.A. Khedgikar, T.S. Ramanujam, V.S. Mathur, G.G. Mehta. R.S. Ruikar was elected president and Ashok Mehta general secretary.
HMS absorbed the Royist Indian Federation of Labour and the Hind Mazdoor Panchayat, which was formed in 1948 by socialists leaving the increasingly communist dominated AITUC.