Gandhian Phase (1916-1947)
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born at Porbandar in Gujarat on 2 October 1869. He studied law in England. He returned to India in 1891. In April 1893 he went to South Africa and involved himself in the struggle against apartheid (Racial discrimination against the Blacks) for twenty years. Finally, he came to India in 1915. Then he became involved in the Indian National Movement.
Gandhi was requested by Rajkumar Shukla to look into the problems of the indigo planters of Champaran in Bihar.
(Tinkathia system -The European planters had been forcing the peasants to grow Indigo on 3/20 of their total land).
The peasants were forced to sell the produce at prices fixed by the Europeans.
Gandhi convinced the authorities to abolish the tinkathia system and the peasants were given compensation for the illegal dues extracted from them.
Gandhi had won the first battle of civil disobedience in India.
- First Hunger Strike.
- To settle disputes between the mill owners of Ahmedabad and the workers over the discontinuation of the plague bonus.
- Gandhi asked the workers to go on a strike and demand a 35% increase in wages.
- He undertook a fast unto death and finally mill owners agreed to give the workers a 35% increase in wages.
- Because of drought in 1918,the crops failed in Kheda district of Gujarat
- According to the revenue code,if the yield was less than 1/4 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.
- Sardar Patel and Indulal Yagnik became Gandhi’s followers.
- In 1917, a committee was set up under the presidentship of Sir Sydney
- Rowlatt to look into the militant Nationalist activities.
- On the basis of its report the Rowlatt Act was passed in March 1919 by the Central Legislative Council.
- Any person could be arrested on the basis of suspicion.
- No appeal or petition could be filed against such arrests.
- This Act was called the Black Act and it was widely opposed.
- An all-India hartal was organized on 6 April 1919.
- Two prominent leaders of Punjab, Dr Satva Pal and Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew,
- In Punjab, there was unprecedented support for the Rowlatt Satyagraha.
- Facing a violent situation, the Government of Punjab handed over the administration to the military authorities under General Dyer.
- On 13th April, the Baisakhi day (harvest festival), a public meeting was organized at the Jallianwala Bagh (garden).
- Dyer marched in and without any warning opened fire on the crowd.
- According to an official report 379 people were killed and 1137 wounded in the incident.
- There was a nationwide protest against this massacre.
- Rabindranath Tagore returned his knighthood in protest.
- On 13th March, 1940, Sardar Udham Singh killed Dyer in London.
The chief cause of the Khilafat Movement was Students coming out of the government educational institutions. National schools such as the Kashi Vidyapeeth, the Bihar Vidyapeeth and the Jamia Millia Islamia were set up.
All the prominent leaders of the country gave up their lucrative legal practice.In 1921, mass demonstrations were held against the Prince of Wales during his tour of India.
The government resorted to strong measures of repression. The Congress and the Khilafat Committees were proclaimed as illegal. At several places, bonfires of foreign clothes were organised. The message of Swadeshi spread everywhere. Most of the households took to weaving clothes with the help of charkhas.
The whole movement was abruptly called off on 11th February 1922 by Gandhi following the Churi Chaura incident in the Gorakhpur district of U.P.
Earlier on 5th February an angry mob set fire to the police station at Churi Chaura and twenty two policemen were burnt to death.
Many top leaders of the country were stunned at this sudden suspension of the Non-Cooperation Movement. Mahatma Gandhi was arrested on 10 March 1922.
1. It was a real mass movement with the participation of different sections of Indian society such as peasants, workers, students, teachers and women.
2. It witnessed the spread of nationalism to the remote corners of India.
3. It also marked the height of Hindu-Muslim unity as a result of the merger of Khilafat movement.
4. It demonstrated the willingness and ability of the masses to endure hardships and make sacrifices.
The suspension of the Non-Cooperation Movement led to a split within Congress in the Gaya session of the Congress in December 1922.
Leaders like Motilal Nehru and chittranjan Das formed a separate group within the Congress known as the Swaraj Party on 1 January 1923.
The Swarajists wanted to contest the council elections.Elections to Legislative Councils were held in November 1923.
In the Central Legislative Council Motilal Nehru became the leader of the party whereas in Bengal the party was headed by C.R. Das.
The Swaraj Party demanded the setting up of a responsible government in India with the necessary changes in the Government of India Act of 1919.
When a Committee chaired by the Home Member, Alexander Muddiman considered the system of Dyarchy as proper, a resolution was passed against it in the Central Legislative Council. After the death of C.R. In June 1925, the Swaraj Party started weakening.
The Act of 1919 included a provision for its review after a lapse of ten years. However, the review commission was appointed by the British Government two years earlier of its schedule in 1927.
Chairman: Sir John Simon. All its seven members were Englishmen. As there was no Indian member in it, the Commission faced a lot of criticism even before it landina in India picketing by women before the shops selling liquor, opium and foreign clothes;
organising the bonfires of foreign clothes; spinning clothes by using charkha fighting untouchability; boycotting of schools and colleges by students and resigning from government jobs by the people. not to pay taxes to the government.
The movement spread to all parts of the country.
Students, workers, farmers and women, all participated in this movement with great enthusiasm.
As a reaction, the British Government arrested important leaders of the Congress and imprisoned them.Round Table Conferences The British government adopted the strategy of talking to different political parties by convening the Round Table Conferences.
The first Round Table Conference was held in November 1930 at London and it was boycotted by the Congress.
In January 1931 in order to create a conducive atmosphere for talks, the government lifted
the ban on the Congress Party and released its leaders from prison.
On 8 March 1931 the Gandhi-Irwin Pact was signed. As per this pact, Mahatma Gandhi agreed to suspend the Civil-Disobedience Movement and participate in the Second Round Table Conference.
In September 1931, the Second Round Table Conference was held at London.
Mahatma Gandhi participated in the Conference but returned to India disappointed as no agreement could be reached on the demand of complete
independence and on the communal question. In January 1932, the Civil-Disobedience Movement was resumed.
The government responded to it by arresting Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel and by reimposing the ban on the Congress party.
The third Round Table Conference came to an end in 1932.
The Congress once more did not take part in it.
In March 1933, the British Government issued a White Paper, which became the basis for the enactment of the Government of India Act, 1935.
During the first Round Table Conference, Dr. B.R.Ambedkar had demanded separate electorates for the depressed classes.
On 16 August 1932 the British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald made an announcement, which came to be known as the Communal Award.
According to this award, the depressed classes were considered as a separate community and as such provisions were made for separate electorates for them. Everywhere it was greeted with black flags and the cries of ‘Simon go back’.
On 30 October 1928 Lala Lajpat Rai was seriously injured in the police lathi charge and he passed away after one month.
The report of the Simon Commission was published in May 1930. It was stated that the constitutional experiment with Dyarchy was unsuccessful and In its place the report recommended the establishment of an autonomous government.
Simon Commission’s Report became the basis for enacting the Government of India Act of 1935.
1. In the meanwhile, the Secretary of State, Lord Birkenhead, challenged the Indians to produce a Constitution that would be acceptable to all. the challenge was accepted by the Congress, which convened an all party meeting on 28 February 1928.
2. It was headed by Motilal Nehru.
3. The Report published by this Committee came to be known as the Nehru Report.
Dominion Status. Full responsible government at the centre. Autonomy to the provinces. Clear cut division of power between the centre and the provinces. A bicameral legislature at the centre.
However, the leader of the Muslim League, Mohammad Ali Jinnah regarded it as detrimental to the interests of the Muslims.
Jinnah convened an All India Conference of the Muslims where he drew up a list of Fourteen Points as Muslim League demand.
The annual session of the Congress was held at Lahore in December 1929.
During this session presided over by Jawaharlal Nehru the Congress passed the Poorna Swaraj resolution.
As the government failed to accept the Nehru Report, the Congress gavea call to launch the Civil Disobedience Movement.
The Congress had also observed January 26, 1930 as the Day of Independence. Since then January 26th has been observed as a day of independence every year.
The same date later became the Republic Day when the Indian Constitution was enforced in 1950.
Dandi March thus, the stage was set for the second major struggle led by the Congress.
On 12th March 1930, Gandhi began his famous March to Dandi with his chosen 79 followers to break the salt laws.
He reached the coast of Dandi on 5 April 1930 after marching a distance of 200 miles On 6 April formally launched the Civil Disobedience Movement by breaking the salt laws.
Finally, an agreement was reached between Dr Ambedkar and Gandhi. This agreement came to be called the Poona Pact.
The British Government also approved of it. Accordingly, 148 seats in different Provincial Legislatures were reserved for the Depressed Classes in place of 71 as provided in the Communal Award.
On 1 September 1939 the Second World War broke out. The British Government without consulting the people of India involved the country in the war.
The Congress vehemently opposed it.
The Muslim League celebrated that day as the Deliverance Day.
In March 1940 the Muslim League demanded the creation of Pakistan.
During the course of the Second World War in order to secure the cooperation of the Indians, the British Government made an announcement on 8 August 1940, which came to be known as the ‘August Offer’.
The August Offer envisaged that after the War a representative body of Indians would be set up to frame the new Constitution.
Gandhi was not satisfied with the August offer and decided to launch Individual Satyagraha. Individual Satyagraha was limited, symbolic and non-violent in nature and it was left to Mahatma Gandhi to choose the Satyagrahis. Acharya Vinoba Bhave and Jawaharlal Nehru became the first and second Individual Satyagrahis respectively.
Lord Linlithgow expanded his Executive Council by including five more Indians into it in July 1941.However, in the midst of worsening wartime international situation, the British Government in its continued effort to secure Indian cooperation sent Sir Stafford Cripps to India on 23 March 1942. This is known as Cripps Mission.
The promise of Dominion Status to India,Protection of minorities, setting up of a Constituent Assembly in which there would be representatives from the Princely States along with those of the British Provinces,There would be provision for any Province of British India not prepared to accept this Constitution, either to retain its present constitutional position or frame a constitution of its own.
The major political parties of the country rejected the Cripps proposals.
Gandhi called Cripps proposals as a “Post-dated Cheque”.
The Muslim League was also dissatisfied as its demand for Pakistan had not been coceded in the proposal.
The failure of the Cripps Mission and the fear of an impending Japanese