7. Why were the dialogues at the Round Table Conference inconclusive ?
Ans. The British Government has had the policy to review the progress of self-rule in India and bring reforms after the gap of ten years. This began in 1910 with Morley Minto Reform and was followed in 1920 with Montague Chemsford Report. Ten years later British government invited Round Table Conference in London for the way forward. The First Round Table Conference took place in November, 1930. The Conference failed as the most important stake holder of Indian Freedom Movement, the Indian National Congress was absent in the conference. The leaders of the Congress were behind bars due to civil disobedience movement.
The Second Table Conference took pace in February 1931. One month earlier Mahatma Gandhi was released from the jail. Hence, he participated in the conference. Gandhi Irwin pact was signed and the British government agreed to withdraw salt law partly. But the agreement came under criticism as it did not talk about complete independence of India.
Third and the most important Round Table Conference took place in the later part of 1931. The new constitutional developments were not agreed upon. The main reason was that the other participants of the conference described Congress as representative of small group of Indians and not the entire population. The major voice of dissent were, the Moslem League that claimed itself the sole representative of the Moslems in India, Dr B.R. Ambedkar claimed himself the sole representative of the low castes in India and the native rulers also claimed they would deal with the British independently and Congress could not have any say in that.
To conclude divisive politics of Moslem League, Dr Ambedkar and the attitude of the princely states are the main reasons for the failure of the round table conferences.
8. In what way did Mahatma Gandhi transform the nature of the national movement?
Ans. Gandhiji came to India back from South Africa in 1915. In 1917 he went to Champaran in Bihar to fight for the cause of farmers who were forced to grow indigo by the British government. The farmers movement proved successful as the British government accepted the demands of the farmers. Since that time to 1943 when he was assassinated, he occupied the central place in the politics of India. The fact is Mahatma Gandhi is the chief protagonist of the Indian Freedom Struggle.
Mahatma Gandhi changed the nature of freedom movement and this can be elaborated by the following points:
1. When Gandhiji joined Indian politics, the freedom movement was limited to the middle class. Everybody who participated in the political movements was educated and product of the English education. Gandhiji made it all pervasive, now people from villages, poor people, labours, workers, and students all became part of the freedom struggle. However, there are people who find fault with the act of Gandhiji. They point out that Mahatma Gandhi used religious symbols to popularise the freedom movement that in long term gave fillip to communal politics. It is notable that the Age of Gan-lhi is also the age of the Rise of Moslem League in Indian politics. Eminent author Nirad C Choudhary has also criticised Mahatma Gandhi for making the freedom movement a mass movement by short cuts.
2. Mahatma Gandhi has to be credited with emancipation of women and their participation in the public life at a scale not known in Indian history. Women were very prominent in picketing activities against shops selling foreign goods. The freedom movement gave some prominent woman leaders viz. Sarojini Naidu, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur and many more.
3. For Mahatma Gandhi freedom movement was also a platform for social reforms. He spoke in favour of place of dignity and respects for depressed classes. He made end to untouchability a fundamental objective of his political philosophy.
Thus Mahatma Gandhi made freedom movement a mass movement and a movement much beyond politics.
9. What do private letters and autobiographies tell us about an individual ? How are these sources different from official accounts ?
Ans. Private letters and autobiographies are important source of individual’s life and views. Many of our freedom struggle leaders wrote autobiographies and letters and today they are our great record about them and history too.
The autobiographies and letters tell us the following things about an individual.
1. Autobiographies and letters throw light on the interests of an individual. Let us take an example, Nehru wrote letters to his daughter Indira describing the events of world history, today it is known as the book, ” Glimpses of the World History”. These letters show that Nehru had great interest in history. These letters show also the views of the author. For example, Nehru talks highly of the socilaist government of USSR in his autobiography.
2. These autobiographies and letters are a good source of information of the social life of those days in India. Dr Rajendra Prasad has given vivid description of the village life that he saw as a child in his village.
3. Above all these autobiographies and letters are great source of history too. Nehru in his autobiography has explained in details about the obstinate approach of Moslem League towards solving the minority problem in India.
These sources were diffferent from the official accounts. This is manifested in the following points:
1. The official accounts are done by individuals but they work under the guidelines of the government. Thus, views that run against the government remain stifled. In addition, the author would not have the freedom of focused area. He would be required to write only on topics already defined. However, in autobiographies and letters one can choose anything of personal interest. Dr Rajendra Prasad gives a vivid description of his school and college days in his autobiography. This is not possible in any government account.
2. The autographic letters throw light on the personal life of individual leaders and show these events shaped the thought process of these leaders in future life. Mahatma Gandhi described how he was thrown out of the first class compartment of the train in South Africa because he was not a white man. He describes the struggle inside on how to protest and later how he took to non -violent means of protest.
10. Find out about the route of the Dandi March. On a map of Gujarat plot the line of the march and mark the major towns and villages that it passed along the route.
Ans. Dandi March was started from Sabarmati Ashram. This Ashram is in Ahmedabad (Gujarat). The route followed from Ahmedabad to Vadodara and from there to Surat. We have used triangle A, B and C to mark the Dandi expedition route.