The key concepts for the entire chapter on nationalism in India are provided in this document, which is concise and will be useful for reviewing and taking notes.
The First World War, Khilafat, and Non-Cooperation
- National Movement was spreading in new areas in 1919 and incorporating new social groups and developing new modes of struggle.
- Mahatma Gandhi came to India and The Idea of Satyagraha emphasized the power of truth and the need to search for truth.
- He advocated that physical force was not necessary to fight the oppressor.
- In 1916, he travelled to Champaran in Bihar to inspire the peasants to struggle against the oppressive plantation system.
Mahatma Gandhi broke the Salt Law
The Idea of Satyagraha
- Mahatma Gandhi returned to India in January 1915. His heroic fight for the Indians in South Africa was well-known. His novel method of mass agitation known as Satyagraha had yielded good results.
- The idea of Satyagraha emphasized the power of truth and the need to search for truth.
- In 1916, Gandhi travelled to Champaran in Bihar to inspire the peasants to struggle against the oppressive plantation system.
- In 1917, crops field in Kheda district of Gujrat, but the government refused to remit land revenue and insisted on its full collection.
- In 1918, Mahatma Gandhi intervened in a dispute between workers and mill owners of Ahmedabad. He advised to workers to go on strike and to demand a 35% increase in wages.
- Satyagraha brought Gandhiji into close touch with the workers in the urban areas.
Mahatma Gandhi leading the salt march
Question for Key Concepts: Nationalism in India
Try yourself:In which of the following places Mahatma Gandhi organised satyagraha for the first time in India?
The Champaran Satyagraha of 1917 was the first Satyagraha movement led by Gandhi in India and is considered a historically important revolt in the Indian Independence Movement. It was a farmer's uprising that took place in Champaran district of Bihar, India, during the British colonial period.
The Rowlatt act
- When the Rawlatt act of 1919, was passed hurriedly through the Imperial Legislative Council inspire of the unanimous opposition of the Indian members, Gandhiji’s patience comes to an end.
- Gandhi wanted non-violent civil disobedience against such unjust laws, which would start with a hartal on 6th April.
- 6th April 1919 was observed as Satyagraha Day when people all over the country observed fast and hartal.
- 1919, the country witnessed a remarkable political awakening in India.
- Local leaders were picked up from Amritsar and Mahatma Gandhi was barred from entering Delhi.
- On 10th April, the police in Amritsar fired upon a peaceful procession, provoking widespread attacks on banks.
Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
- A large crowd gathered in the enclosed ground of Jallianwala Bagh.
Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
- People came to protest against the government’s repressive measures while some came to attend the annual Baisakhi fair.
- General Dyer entered the area. Blocked the exit points and opened fire on the crowd, killing hundreds.
- The government responded with brutal repression seeking to humiliate and terrorize people.
- Satyagrahis were forced to rub their noses on the ground, crawl on the streets and do Salaam (salute) to all Sahibs.
Question for Key Concepts: Nationalism in India
Try yourself:When did the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre happen?
Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, also called Massacre of Amritsar, incident on April 13, 1919, in which British troops fired on a large crowd of unarmed Indians in an open space known as the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar.
- Rowlatt Satyagraha had been a widespread movement, it was still limited mostly to cities and towns.
- Mahatma Gandhi now felt the need to launch a more broad-based movement in India.
- But he was certain that no such movement could be organized without bringing the Hindus and Muslims closer together.
- The First World War had ended with the defeat of Ottoman Turkey. There were rumors that a harsh peace treaty was going to be imposed on the Ottoman Emperor, who was the spiritual head (Khalifa) of the Islamic world.
- The Muslims of India decided to force Britain to change her Turkish policy.
- A Khalifa Committee was formed under the leadership of Maulana Azad, Ajmal Khan, and Hasrat Mohani.
- A young generation of Muslim leaders like the brothers Muhammad Ali and Shaukat Ali began discussing with Mahatma Gandhi about the possibility of united mass action on the issue.
Differing Strands Within The Movement
In January 1921, the Non-Cooperation-Khilafat Movement began. In this movement, various social groups participated, but the term meant different things to different people.
The Movement in the Towns
- The middle-class started the movement and thousands of students, teachers, headmasters left government-controlled schools and colleges, lawyers gave up their legal practices.
- In the economic front, the effects of non-cooperation were more dramatic. The production of Indian textile mills and handlooms went up when people started boycotting foreign goods.
- However, this movement slowed down due to a variety of reasons such as Khadi clothes are expensive, less Indian institutions for students and teachers to choose from, so they went back to government schools and lawyers joined back government courts.
Rebellion in the countryside
- From the cities, the non-cooperation movement spread to the countryside. After the war, the struggles of peasants and tribal were developing in different parts of India.
- One movement here war against talukdars and landlords who demanded peasant exorbitantly high rents and various other ingredients.
- Peasants had to do begar. The peasant movement demanded reduction of revenue, an abolition of begar and social boycott of oppressive landlords.
- Oudh Kisan Sabha was setup headed by. Jawaharlal Nehru and other, within a month, over 300 branches had been set up by the villagers.
- Tribal peasants interpreted the message of Mahatma Gandhi and the idea of Swaraj in yet another way.
- The colonial government had closed large forest areas preventing people from entering the forests to graze their cattle, or to collect fuelwood and fruits.
- Alluri Sitaram Raju Claimed that he had a variety of special powers. He asserted that India could be liberated only by the use of force.
Swaraj in the Plantations
For plantation workers in Assam, freedom meant right to move freely in and out and retaining a link with the village from which they had come. Under the Inland Emigration Act of 1859, plantation workers were not permitted to leave the tea gardens without permission. After they heard of the Non-Cooperation Movement, thousands of workers left the plantations and headed home. But, unfortunately, they never reached their destination and were caught by the police and brutally beaten up
Towards Civil Disobedience
- C.R. Das and Motilal Nehru founded the Swaraj Party within the Congress to fight elections for the Councils and demand reform.
- The Simon Commission (1928) led to protests throughout India.
Revolt against the infamous Simon Commission
- At the Lahore Session of the Congress (Dec. 1929), the Congress adopted Complete Swaraj's resolution as its goal. 26th January 1930 to be celebrated as Independence Day.
The Salt March and the Civil Disobedience Movement
- Gandhiji gave the call for Civil Disobedience Movement.
- He chose ‘Salt’ as the symbol of unity of the nation. Called the ‘Salt Tax’ as most inhuman. The movement started on 31 January 1930. He made eleven demands in a letter to the Viceroy Lord Irwin. His demands covered every class from industrialists to peasants.
- Famous Dandi March began on March 12, 1930. On 6th April 1930, Gandhiji reached Dandi, a village in Gujarat and broke the Salt Law by boiling water and manufacturing salt. Thus began the Civil Disobedience Movement.
Gandhiji breaking the salt law
- The Non-Cooperation Movement (1920-22) attempted to bring the government to a standstill by non-cooperating with the administration.
- The Civil Disobedience Movement aimed at paralysing the government by performing illegal acts.
- Boycott of foreign goods, non-payment of taxes, breaking forest laws were its main features.
- The British Government followed a policy of brutal repression. Arrested all the leaders including Gandhiji and Nehru. Nearly 100,000 people were arrested.
- Lord Irwin, the Viceroy, signed a pact with Gandhiji on 5 March 1931. Gandhiji agreed to attend the Second Round Table Conference and the British agreed to release all political prisoners.
- Gandhiji returned from the Second Round Table Conference disappointed in December 1931. Civil Disobedience started again.
- By 1934 the Movement lost its momentum.
How did Participants saw the Movement?
What Swaraj meant to different social groups who joined the Civil Disobedience Movement.
- To the countryside: Rich peasant communities expected the revenue tax to be reduced, when the British refused to do so, they did not rejoin the movement in 1932.
- The Poor were the peasants who rented the land from landlords: Depression made them unable to pay rent and wanted it to be reduced. Their relationship with the Congress became uncertain.
- The Business Classes: After the war, their huge profits were reduced, wanted protection against import of foreign goods. The failure of the Round Table Conference, curbed their enthusiasm for the Civil Disobedience Movement.
- The industrial working class did not participate in a large number. They joined because of low wages and poor working conditions. Congress was reluctant to include workers’ demands as it would alienate the industrialists.
- Women and the Civil Disobedience Movement: 1930 was the year when women entered the struggle for Independence on a massive scale. During Gandhiji’s Dandi March, they joined protest marches, picketed foreign clothes and shops. But Congress did not encourage them or gave them important posts in the organisation.
Limits of Civil Disobedience
- The Dalits or the Untouchables did not actively participate in the movement, they demanded reservation of seats, separate electorates. Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the leader of the Dalits, formed an association in 1930, called the Depressed Classes Association. He clashed with Gandhiji.
- Gandhiji began a fast unto death against separate electorate. Finally, Poona Pact between the two leaders (1932) gave reserved seats in Provincial and Central Councils but was voted by general electorate.
- Muslim political organisations also kept away from the Movement.
- Congress seemed more visibly associated with Hindu religious nationalist groups. The leader of the Muslim League M.A. Jinnah wanted reserved seats for Muslims in Central Assembly. Civil Disobedience Movement started in an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion between the two communities.
The Sense of Collective Belonging
- Collective belonging comes through experiences of common struggles. A common history and fiction, through folklore, songs and popular prints and symbols.
- Bharat Mata became the symbol of India.
- Bakim Chandra Chattopadhyay created the image in his song “Vande Mataram” in his novel ‘Anand Math’ (1870s). Abanindranath Tagore painted Bharat Mata as a calm, composed, divine and spiritual figure.
- Rabindranath Tagore of Bengal and Natesa Sastri of Madras compiled songs, ballads, myths and folklore.
- Reinterpretation of History: Indians delved into the past history and discovered India’s greatness and achievements in mathematics, literature, religion, culture, philosophy, crafts, and trade.
Gandhiji channelized the anger against the colonial government into a common struggle for freedom in the first half of the 20th century. He saw the emergence of a nation wanting to liberate itself from colonial rule despite all its differences.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q.1: State one oppressive feature of Rowlatt Act ?
Ans: It allowed detention of political prisoners without trial for two years.
Q.2: Why people could not afford Khadi ?
Ans: Khadi cloth was often more expensive than mass produced mill cloth and poor people could not afford to buy it.
Q.3: When did Simon Commission arrive in India and why was it boycotted ?
Ans: Simon Commission arrived in India in 1928. It was boycotted because no Indian was member of this Commission.