Gandhian era(1917-1947) Part I

Emergence of Gandhi

  • Third & final phase of the Nationalist Movement (1917-1947) is known as the Gandhian era.

  • During this era M.K.Gandhi became the unquestioned leader of the National Movement.

  • By his principles were nonviolence & Satyagraha, he made the nationalist movement a mass movement.

  • Gandhiji was greatly influenced by the works of Leo Tolstoy’s Civil Disobedience & Ruskin’s ‘unto to the last’. Tolstoy’s ideal of non-possession was developed by Gandhiji in his concept of ‘trusteeship’.

  • Also influenced by the life & teachings of Swami Vivekananda.

  • His political GurusGopala Krishna  Gokhale & Dadabhai Nauroji.

  • Experience of struggle in South Africa between (1984-1914).

  • Came to India in 1915 & involved himself in the Indian National Movement.

  • M.K.Gandhi began his experiments with Satyagraha against the oppressive European indigo planters at Champaran in Bihar in 1917.

  • In the next year he launched another Satyagraha at Kheda in Gujarat in support of the peasants who were not able to pay the land tax due to failure of crops.

  • During this struggle, Sardar Vallabhai Patel emerged as one of the trusted followers of Gandhi.

  • In 1918, Gandhi undertook a fast unto death for the cause of Ahmedabad Mill Workers and finally the mill owners conceded the just demands of the workers.

  • On the whole, the local movements at Champaran, Kheda & Ahmedabad brought Mahatma Gandhi closer to the life of the people and their problems at the grass roots level.

Champaran Satyagraha, 1917

  • First great experiment of Gandhi in satyagraha came in 1917 in Champaran, a district in Bihar.

  • The peasantry on the indigo plantations in the district was excessively oppressed by the European planters.

  • Compelled to grow indigo on at least 3/20th of their land & so sell it at prices fixed by the planters.

  • This system was popularly known as ‘Tin-Kathia system’.

  • Several peasants of Champaran invited Gandhi to come and help them.

  • Accompanied by Babu Rajendra Prasad, Mazhar-ul-Huq, J.B. Kripalani, Narhari Parekh and Mahadev Desai, Gandhji reached Champaran in 1917 & through his method and efforts, the disabilities from which the peasantry was suffering were reduced.

Ahmedabad Mill Strike, 1918

  • Gandhijis second experiment at Ahmedabad in 1918′ when he had to interfere in a dispute between the workers & the mill owners.

  • He advised the workers to go on strike & to demand a 35 per cent increase in wages.

  • And should not use violence against the employers during the strike.

  • Undertook a fast unto death to strengthen the workers’ resolve to continue the strike.

  • This put pressure on the mill owners who relented on the fourth day & agreed to give the workers a 35 per cent increase in wages.

Kheda Satyagraha, 1918

  • The farmers of Kheda district in Gujarat were in suffering because of the failure of crops.

  • The government refused to remit land revenue & insisted on its full collection.

  • Gandhi advised the peasants to withhold payment of revenue till their demand for its remission was met.

  • The struggle was withdrawn when it was learnt that the government had issued instructions that revenue should be recovered only from those peasants who could afford to pay.

Rowlatt Act, 1919

  • In 1917, a committee was set up under the presidentship of Sir Sydney Rowlatt to look into the militant Nationalist activities.

  • Act was passed in March 1919 by the Central Legislative Council.

  • According to the Act, any person could be arrested on the basis of suspicion & No appeal or petition could be filed against such arrests.

  • It was widely opposed all over the India & called as “Black act”.

  • An all-India hartal & meetings were held all over the country.

  • Gandhi was arrested near Delhi.

  • 2 prominent leaders of Punjab, Dr. Satya Pal & Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew, were arrested in Amritsar.

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, 13th Apr, 1919

  • Facing a violent situation, the Government of Punjab handed over the administration to the military authorities under General O’ Dyer. He banned all public meetings & detained the political leaders.

  • People were aroused over the arrest of Dr. Kitchlu and Dr. Satyapal on April 10, 1919 & assembled in the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar.

  • General O’ Dyer marched in & without any warning opened fire on the crowd & firing continued for about 10 to 15 minutes. According to official report 379 people were killed and 1137 wounded in the incident.

  • Rabindranath Tagore returned his Knighthood in protest and Sir Shankaran Nair resigned from Viceroy’s Executive Council after this.

  • The Hunter Commission was appointed to enquire into the matter.

  • On 13 March, 1940, Sardar Udham Singh killed O’ Dyer when the latter was addressing a meeting in Caxton Hall, London.

Khilafat Movement, 1919

  • Main cause of the Khilafat Movement was the defeat of Turkey in the First World War & abolition of Caliph (the Sultan of Turkey).

  • The Muslims in India were upset over the British attitude against Turkey & aboltion of Caliph.

  • Two brothers, Mohammad Ali & Shaukat Ali started this movement along with Maulana Azad, Jakim Ajmal Khan and Hasrai Mohani.

  • On 23rd Nov, a joint conference of the Hindus & the Muslims held under the chairmanship of Gandhi.

  • Gandhiji viewed the Khilafat movement as a golden opportunity for bringing the Hindus & Muslims together.

  • Very soon the Khilafat movement lost its relevance because Mustafa Kamal Pasha abolished Khilafat & made Turkey a secular state.

  • Subsequently, the Khilafat Movement merged with the Non-Cooperation Movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi in 1920.

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