Get here the summary, questions, answers, textbook solutions, extras, and pdf of Chapter 6 “Peasant, Working Class and Leftist Movements in the 20th Century India: Characteristics and Observations” of the West Bengal Board (WBBSE) Class 10 (Madhyamik) History (Social Science) textbook. However, the given notes/solutions should only be used for references and should be modified/changed according to needs.
Summary: During the first half of the 20th century, the British attitude of imperialism had a big effect on peasants. They were taken advantage of and mistreated, which forced the poor peasants to use violence and fight back. A new wave emerged among the working class, similar to the peasant movement.
Workers’ economic distress, poor working conditions in mills and factories, worker retrenchment, and a variety of other factors gave rise to the labour movement. The peasantry played no significant role in the anti-partition movement. The Swadeshi movement did not support land reforms or the protection of peasants from rental demands. In some ways, the anti-partition movement was not focused on the concerns of the peasantry. The non-cooperation movement attracted a large number of peasants.
They stopped paying rent and chowkidari tax in various locations. The peasants had the support Anti-Partition of Indian National Congress leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Vallabhbhai Patel, and others. The peasants joined this movement and spoke out against the oppressive British rule. They became ardent supporters of the civil disobedience movement. Peasants from Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, the United Provinces, Mymensingh, and other states joined the movement wholeheartedly. Peasant participation in the Quit India Movement was spontaneous, total, and widespread. The movement was joined by peasants from Bihar, Orissa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and West Bengal.
Peasants of all classes were at the forefront of the movement, focusing their offensive on symbols of authority. During the movement, the working class was crucial. The workers’ discontent was undoubtedly fueled by material grievances such as rising prices, poor working conditions, and mistreatment by white officers. The Anti-Partition Movement resulted in a large number of industrial strikes, demonstrating the growing political consciousness of the working class. The non-cooperation movement was actively supported by the working class.
Labour unrest erupted in the mills, factories, and engineering workshops. To suppress the moment, the government implemented a number of repressive measures. However, after 1922, the working-class movement slowed under the leadership of nationalist leaders. The working class became involved in the Civil Disobedience Movement. They organised mill and factory strikes and campaigned with the slogan ‘Poorna Swaraj’. The British government implemented a number of repressive measures against workers.
Workers’ participation in the Quit India Movement was spontaneous, total, and widespread. Strikes and lockouts took place in several industrial concerns across India, including Ahmednagar, Ahmedabad, Poona, Bangalore, Bombay, Mysore, Madras, Coimbatore, Madurai, Nagpur, Calcutta, and Central Province. During the 1930s and 1940s, leftist movements were influential. M.N. Roy and SA Dange, Communist Party leaders, organised industrial workers and peasants.
The British government initiated the Meerut Conspiracy Case in order to counter communist influence (1929). The Communist Party of India was banned in 1934, but these repressions did not weaken the communist movement. However, due to the fundamental ideas of “class antagonism” and “violence,” which were foreign to Indian tradition, the leftist movements were unable to advance.
I. Very short answer type questions
1. When was Bengal partitioned?
Answer: In the year 1905, Bengal was partitioned.
2. Who was the Governor-General during Bengal’s partition?
Answer: When Bengal was divided, Lord Curzon served as the governor general.
3. When was the Bardoli Satyagraha movement launched?
Answer: The Bardoli Satyagraha movement was launched in 1928.
4. When did Gandhiji start the Salt March?
Answer: Gandhiji started the Salt March in the year 1930.
5. Name two leaders of the Moplah rebellion.
Answer: Variamkunnath Ahmed Haji and Ali Musliyar were two of the leaders of the Moplah rebellion.
6. When was the Non-Cooperation Movement launched?
Answer: The Non-Cooperation Movement was launched in 1920.
7. When did Gandhiji start the Quit India Movevment?
Answer: In 1942, Gandhiji launched the Quit India Movement.
8. Who said ‘Do or die’?
Answer: Mahatma Gandhi.
9. Why is the Eka Movement called so?
Answer: Eka is a word that means “unity.” The Eka Movement’s name comes from the peasants’ vow to remain unified throughout their uprising (unity movement).
10. When was the Congress Socialist Party formed? Who was its founder?
Answer: In 1934, the Congress Socialist Party was established. Jayaprakash Narayan was the Congress Socialist Party’s founder.
11. Where was the Communist Party of India founded?
Answer: The Communist Party of India was founded in Tashkent.
12. What was the first labour association in India.
Answer: The Bombay Mill Hands Association was the first labour union in India.
13. When was the Indian Independence League formed?
Answer: In the year 1928, the Indian Independence League was founded.
14. Who founded the Indian Independence League?
Answer: Subhas Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru founded the Indian Independence League.
15. Who founded the Radical Democratic Party?
Answer: The Radical Democratic Party was founded by Manabendranath Roy.
16. When is May Day observed?
Answer: India celebrates May Day on May 1 of every year. It was first observed in 1923.
17. Who and when established the Forward Bloc?
Answer: The Forward Bloc was founded by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in 1939.
18. List the individuals who were the targets of the Meerut Conspiracy Case.
Answer: Muzaffar Ahmad, SA Dange, Mirajkar, P. C. Joshi, Gangadhar Adhikari, Sibnath Banerjee, and Dharani Goswami were among the leaders accused in the Meerut Conspiracy Case.
II. Short answer type questions
1. What was the significance of the date October 16, 1905 in India’s history?
Answer: Bengal was partitioned on October 16, 1905, making this day significant in Indian history. It was proclaimed a day of national mourning across Bengal by the Anti Partition Movement’s leaders. On this day, Bengalis celebrated Raksha Bandhan Utsav by tying “rakhis”—a symbol of unity—on each other’s wrists. Meetings were held across Bengal where the concepts of Swadeshi and the boycott of imported goods were advocated. Famous Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore supported the cause by opening a Swadeshi store that offered products produced locally.
2. Mention two characteristics of the 19th-century peasant uprising.
Answer: The periodic peasant uprisings that occurred throughout the 19th century shared the following traits:
i. They began as movements for religious reform but eventually evolved into movements of the people who were exploited by Hindu zamindars and European indigo planters.
ii. These peasant uprisings, though, were isolated to a few particular areas and did not spread widely. These outbursts were unplanned and unmanageable.
3. What led to the peasant movement in the twentieth century?
Answer: The British imperialist mindset had a significant impact on the peasants during the first half of the 20th century. Landlords ruthlessly took advantage of peasants. Forcing them to work harder in order to earn more money resulted in the peasants suffering greatly. The poor peasants fell victim to oppression and exploitation, which compelled them to choose the violent and rebellious path.
4. What did the non-cooperation movement seek to accomplish?
Answer: The Non-Cooperation Movement, which was spearheaded by Mahatma Gandhi and began in 1920, had three objectives:
i. To right British wrongs committed in the Punjab,
ii. To uphold the Caliphate’s reputation, and to end all forms of coercion.
iii. The fulfilment of the Indians’ demand for “Swaraj,” or self-government.
5. How did the peasants contribute to the anti-partition movement?
Answer: The peasantry had no notable contributions to make to the anti-partition movement. The anti-partition movement’s leaders did not appeal to the peasants to join them in their cause. The Swadeshi movement did not support land reforms, the distribution of land to landless peasants, or the defence of the peasants from zamindar or indigo planter demands for rent. One could argue that the agitation was in some ways unrelated to the problems facing the rural community.
6. Why did Madari Pasa replace Congress as the Eka Movement’s leader?
Answer: Although the Congress and Khilafat leaders provided the Eka Movement’s initial impetus, Madari Pasi, a low caste leader, soon replaced them as the movement’s leader. This was due to Madari Pasi’s reluctance to embrace the philosophy of nonviolence. The Congress remained distant from the movement as a result of its violent nature.
7. What part did Baba Ramchandra play in the peasant movement?
Answer: In the United Provinces, Baba Ramchandra led the peasant movement. He established a powerful movement and rose to the position of leader of the Kisan Sabha of the United Provinces. The Kisan Sabha movement and Gandhiji’s Non-Cooperation movement merged under his direction.
8. What sparked the Bardoli Satyagraha Movement?
Answer: Bardoli experienced famine in 1928, which had a negative impact on crop production and put farmers in serious financial trouble. In that year, the tax rate was increased by 30% by the Bombay Presidency government. In the face of the disasters, the government steadfastly refused to exercise any indulgence. Under the direction of Sardar Vallabbhai Patel, the peasants of Bardoli in Gujarat began a campaign to abolish taxes in 1928. This became the Bardoli Satyagraha Movement.
9. Where and why did the Bakasht Movement start?
Answer: In Bihar, the Bakasht movement started. The bakasht lands were those that share croppers continued to farm after tenants lost them to zamindars during the depression due to non-payment of rent. The Bakasht Movement opposed zamindars’ removal of tenants from Bakasht land.
10. How did the Indian National Congress view the Bardoli Satyagraha?
Answer: The Gujarati district of Surat’s peasants in Bardoli launched a no-tax movement in 1928. Vallabbhai Patel had told the farmers to remain utterly non-violent. A large number of Indian members of the legislative Councils in Bombay and throughout India resigned from their positions and publicly supported the farmers.
11. List two characteristics of the 20th-century working class movement in India.
Answer: Two characteristics of the working class movement in India during the 20th century are as follows:
i. Industrial workers organised strikes because they understood how well strikes could accomplish their goals;
ii. Prominent political figures of the era offered their support to the striking workers.
12. List two of the most important political decisions made at the Lahore Congress in 1929.
Answer: A demand for “Purna Swaraj,” or complete independence for India, was made at the Lahore Congress (1929), along with the decision to launch the Civil Disobedience Movement under Gandhiji’s leadership.
13. What were the Civil Disobedience Movement’s goals?
Answer: Mahatma Gandhi launched the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930 with two specific goals in mind: first, to put an end to the British Empire’s oppressive and exploitative rule over India, and second, to achieve full independence. Gandhi sought to protect the nation from terrorism, lawlessness, violence, and anarchy.
14. Why was the Meerut Conspiracy Case initiated by the British government?
Answer: In the history of the Indian trade union movement, the working class’s awakening in 1928 was a significant turning point. The public safety Bill and Trade Dispute Bill, intended to crush the communists, were introduced by the British government in response to growing unrest. The British government detained several prominent communists in the wake of severe industrial unrest, including Joshi, Dange, Muzaffar Ahmed, Ben Bradley, Mirajkar, and Phillip Spratt. They were placed on trial in the well-known Meerut Conspiracy Case.
III. Long answer type questions
1. Write briefly about the Meerut Conspiracy Case.
Answer: There was a sharp increase in communist activities in India following the founding of the Communist Party of India. The Communist Party of India started uniting workers and peasants in the 1920s, which contributed to the growth of communism. Thousands of workers and peasants joined the Congress meeting in 1929 and shouted “Purna Swaraj” at the top of their lungs under the direction of the Communist Party of India. The communists’ activities caused the colonial government a headache. In such a situation, they wished to halt the communists’ expansion. As a result, the government started the Meerut Conspiracy Case and detained several communist leaders as part of its investigation. In 1933, a decision was reached in the Meerut Conspiracy Case. In the trials, 33 communist leaders were found guilty. Renowned communist leaders like Muzaffar Ahmed, SA Dange, P. C. Joshi, Phillip Spratt, Shibnath Bannerjee, etc. were among them.
2. What circumstances led to the creation of Forward Bloc?
Answer: Subhas Chandra Bose defeated Gandhiji’s nominee Pattavi Sitaramayya to win the presidency of the Indian National Congress during the Tripuri session in 1939. Gandhiji was shocked by Sitaramayya’s defeat, and his ardent supporters decided not to work with Subhas Bose, which led to a deadlock in Congress politics. Despite his victory, Subhas Bose was forced to step down as president because of his stark disagreements with Gandhiji on a number of issues. Subhas Bose established the Forward Bloc, his own political organisation, in 1939 after leaving the presidency.
3. Give a brief description of the role played by peasants in the Non-Cooperation Movement.
Answer: The following points can be made regarding how farmers took part in the Non-Cooperation Movement:
i. In 1920, Gandhi founded the Non-Cooperation Movement, which attracted a sizable number of peasants. The peasants were stirred by the Congress’ campaign for no rent.
ii. Under Birendranath Sashmal’s direction, the peasants of Midnapore in Bengal launched the no-rent campaign.
iii. Peasants in Bihar, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, and the Deccan stopped paying rent and chowkidari tax.
iv. Peasant warfare is also well-liked in Awadh. Merchants’ and Talukdars’ homes were attacked in 1921 as the movement grew. Stores of grains were seized, and bazaars were pillaged.
v. The abused Moplahs of the Malabar region organised armed resistance against the repressive landlords and moneylenders.
vi. In Andhra Pradesh state’s Gudem Hills, A S Raju’s militant guerilla movement grew. The rebels engaged in warfare in order to achieve swaraj, attacking police stations and making murderous attempts on British officials.
vii. Rajasthan developed into a key node of the Non-Cooperation Movement. Organisers of a bloody peasant uprising included Vijay Singh and Manikyalal Verma. Jagirdars had to make some concessions to the peasants as a result.
viii. Indian National Congress leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Vallabhbhai Patel, and others supported the peasants during the Non-Cooperation Movement. The Indian national movement grew to include the peasantry as a key component.
4. What role did the peasantry play in the United Provinces Civil Disobedience Movement?
Answer: At the Congress’s request, the Civil Disobedience Movement got underway in 1930. In the United Provinces, the peasants actively participated in this movement.
i. Mass movement: The peasantry took part in the Civil Disobedience Movement in places like Rae Bareilly, Agra, Barabanki, Lucknow, Pratapgarh, etc., among other places. As a result, this movement in a sense evolved into a mass movement.
ii. Stopped paying taxes: As part of the Civil Disobedience Movement, the peasantry stopped paying taxes. Not only did they stop paying taxes to the government directly, but they also stopped paying taxes to zamindars and landlords.
iii.Leadership: Peasant leaders like Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, Kalika Prasad, and others assumed control of the movement’s direction.
iv. Initiative by the Congress: The Congress supported the peasant movement in the United Provinces right away. In actuality, the committee was the one who recommended that the peasants stop paying taxes.
v. Gandhi suggested that peasants should pay at least a small amount of taxes, but the leftist leaders did not support this idea. The communists and socialists were also associated with the peasant movement.
5. Write a note on the Eka movement.
Answer: Near the end of 1921, the Hardoi, Bahraich, and Sitapur (UP) districts saw the emergence of the Eka (Unity) movement.
i. The main reasons for the Eka movement included the practise of share rents, oppression of the thikadars in charge of revenue collection, and higher rents that were approximately 50% higher than the recorded rents in some areas.
ii. Movement’s goal was to thwart the landlords’ and their men’s attempts to collect more rent from tenants than was legally allowed. The peasants promised to only pay the recorded rent and to make timely payments. When they were forced to leave, they resisted doing forced labour as well.
iii. Although the Congress and Khilafat leaders provided the initial impetus, the movement was led by Madari Pasi and other low caste leaders as well as many small zamindars who were dissatisfied with the British demands for high revenue.
iv. In 1922, the movement’s leader Madari Pasi was detained. The movement came to an end as a result of severe repression by the British government.
6. Describe the causes of the peasant movement in Bardoli.
Answer: Under the direction of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the peasants of Bardoli in the Gujarati district of Surat began a no-tax movement in 1928. One of the main reasons for the Bardoli peasant movement was the famine that hit the region in 1928, which had a negative impact on crop production and put farmers in serious financial trouble. That year, the Bombay Presidency government increased the tax rate by 30%. The farmers made an effort to find a solution and asked the government to reverse its decision. Despite the catastrophes, the government steadfastly refused to call off the rise. Farmers found themselves in a dire situation; they hardly had enough land or crops to cover the tax. So, under the direction of Sarder Vallabhbhai Patel, the Bardoli Satyagraha began.
7. Discuss the Bijolia Movement.
Answer: A peasant uprising against excessive demands for land revenue, known as the Bijolia Movement, was started in Rajasthan, India’s Mewar region. During this movement, the peasants refused to do “begar” and withheld the taxes. The centre of the movement was in the Bhilwara district town of Bijolia. The neighbouring jagirs were eventually affected by the movement. Sitaram Das started the movement, and it was later carried forward by Bhoop Singh and Manikyalal Verma. In opposition to the Maharaja of Udaipur, a princely state under the British Raj, the movement’s leaders led a no tax movement. However, this attempt to overthrow the Maharaja of Udaipur was unsuccessful.
8. What triggered the Moplah Rebellion?
Answer: Moplahs were the name given to the exploited Muslim peasants of south India’s Malabar coast. The Moplah Rebellion had the following root causes:
i. In 1921, it started as a response to the British government’s harsh suppression of the Khilafat movement.
ii. The Nambudiri and Nair Hindu Brahmin landlords’ oppression and exploitation was the main driver of the uprising.
iii. The Malabar land tenure system was quite unfavourable to the Moplah tenants; the Moplah had complete tenure insecurity and were subject to eviction without the proper notice.
iv. The British’s steadily rising land rent and the issue of tenancy rights also contributed to the rebellion.
9. When and how did the Communist Party of India come into existence?
Answer: Manabendra Nath Roy and his comrade Abani Mukherjee founded the Communist Party of India for the first time in Tashkent in the former Soviet Union in October 1920. The Communist International, led by Lenin, recognised this party the following year (1921). In 1922, communist organisations were founded in Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, Lahore, and other Indian cities by young people committed to communist ideologies and some leaders of the Trade Union Movement. In Bombay, S A Dange and Nadkarni were in charge, while Muzaffar Ahmad served as the organization’s leader in Calcutta. The British government was concerned by the sudden surge in popularity of socialist ideas. As a result, communist figures like S. A. Dange, Muzaffar Ahmad, and Nalini Gupta were detained on treason-related charges. They were tried in 1924 as part of the Kanpur Conspiracy Case. A conference was called in Kanpur the very next year (1925), where communist workers from various parts of India gathered, and it was decided that an undivided All-India Communist Party should be formed. The “Communist Party of India” was founded in 1925 as per the conference’s decision.
10. How was the Congress Socialist Party formed?
Answer: Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose, two prominent socialist Congressmen, were unable to accept the beliefs and strategies of Mahatma Gandhi and his adherents. They did not support Gandhi’s pacifist approach to compromise. Congress leaders like Achhut Patvardhan, Jayaprakash Narayan, Minoo Masani, and Narendra Dev supported the idea of a distinct socialist group within the Congress in 1933 while they were in the Nasik prison. A manifesto for the Congress Socialist Party calling for a socialist reconstruction of Indian society and the economy was written in 1934 by Sampuranand, the leader of the UP Congress. Under Narendra Dev’s leadership, the Congress Socialist Party was established in Patna in 1934.
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