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Since people found their unity in the fight against colonialism, nationalism in India grew inextricably linked to the anti-colonial movement. Different social groups participated in the national movement that the Congress aimed to develop, with nationalism capturing the public’s attention. Due to increased taxes and defence spending during the First World War, the general populace experienced severe hardships, including crop failures and food shortages. Mahatma Gandhi proposed the concept of satyagraha to address these problems, emphasising the strength of truth and nonviolence. In 1919, he launched a national satyagraha against the Rowlatt Act after organising movements in a number of locations, including Champaran and Kheda. The act granted the government broad authority to stifle political activity and permitted the detention of political prisoners without charge. Gandhi felt the need to improve relations between Hindus and Muslims despite the Rowlatt satyagraha’s popularity.
The Khilafat Committee was established in Bombay following the conclusion of World War One and reports that the Ottoman Empire would be subjected to a harsh peace treaty. At the Congress meeting in Calcutta in September 1920, Gandhi persuaded other leaders that it was essential to launch a non-cooperation movement in support of the Khalafat as well as for swaraj. Gandhi saw this as an opportunity to unite Muslims under the banner of a unified national movement. The council elections were boycotted in the majority of the provinces, and the effects of non-cooperation on the economic front were dramatic, including the boycott of foreign goods, picketing of liquor shops, a boycott of foreign labour, thousands of students leaving government-controlled schools and colleges, headmasters and teachers resigning, and lawyers giving up their legal practises. In 1921, the Non-Cooperation Movement expanded into rural areas, encompassing the conflicts of tribals and peasants in various regions of India.
The Indian National Movement was a complex and varied movement that emerged in various ways in various parts of India. Jawaharlal Nehru and Baba Ramchandra founded the Oudh Kisan Sabha in Awadh to call for the social boycott of oppressive landlords, a decrease in taxation, and the elimination of beg. Over 300 branches of the movement were established, and similar movements were sparked in other regions of India. In 1928, Vallabhbhai Patel led the Bardoli Satyagraha, a pivotal event in the fight for Indian independence that garnered widespread support. On January 6, 1921, peasants in United Provinces were shot at by the police, which prompted Jawaharlal Nehru to address the gathered peasants. The peasants dispersed peacefully after he spoke to them about the value of nonviolence.
The message of Mahatma Gandhi and the concept of swaraj were interpreted in a unique way by the tribal peasants in the Andhra Pradesh region’s Gudem Hills, inspiring a violent guerrilla movement. To obtain swaraj, the rebels waged guerrilla warfare, attacked police stations, and made murderous attempts on British officials. However, when they disobeyed the authorities, they were apprehended by the police and brutally beaten up. Workers in Assam also had their own understanding of the independence struggle. Despite the fact that the Congress programme did not define the National Movement in Indo-China, tribal people continued to chant Gandhi’s name and hold signs that read “Swatantra Bharat,” demonstrating their identification with a movement that extended beyond their local area.
The Swaraj Party argued for a return to council politics within the Congress, while younger leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose pushed for more radical mass agitation and complete independence. The Simon Commission was established to look into how India’s constitutional system operated, but there was no Indian representation on the panel. The liberals and moderates, who advocated for a constitutional order within the confines of British dominion, gradually lost ground as the movement for complete independence gained steam.
Mahatma Gandhi used salt as a potent symbol to bring the country together at the Lahore Congress in December 1929, which formalised the call for a “Purna Sutra,” In a letter to Viceroy Irwin, he outlined eleven conditions that must be met before March 11 in order to abolish the salt tax; otherwise, the Congress would start a campaign of civil disobedience. Gandhi and 78 volunteers launched the well-known Salt March, which urged people to reject cooperation and flout colonial laws. After Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a disciple of Gandhi, was detained, the movement erupted into violent clashes, and mobs of protesters attacked police stations, government offices, courthouses, and railroad stations. Gandhi and Irwin made a deal in March 1931 after the government reacted with oppression. When Gandhi returned in December 1931, the government however, commenced a new cycle of repression.
The Indian Industrial and Commercial Congress and the Federation of the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industries supported the Civil Disobedience Movement, which was an anti-Swaraj movement led by wealthy peasants. Some workers adopted ideas from the Gandhian programme, despite the fact that the industrial working classes did not participate in large numbers. Women made significant contributions to the movement by taking part in demonstrations, producing salt, and marching in nationalist processions. Although they became more visible, their status remained unchanged. The “untouchables,” who had started to call themselves “dalit.” were the only group to participate in the civil disobedience movement. The colonial government executed the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army (HSRA), which was led by Bhagat Singh, Jatin Das, and Ajoy Ghosh and attacked symbols of British power. The lower classes of peasants participated in the movement but were disappointed when it was abandoned in 1931 without any changes to the revenue rates. Following the failure of the Round Table Conference, the business classes lost their enthusiasm and began to worry about the spread of militant activities and the increasing influence of socialism.
Although the goal of Mahatma Gandhi’s Civil Disobedience Movement was to bring about swaraj for India, the movement was met with a variety of responses from the country’s various communities. Leaders from the Dalit community, such as Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, who founded the Depressed Classes Association in 1930 and called for Dalit separate electorates, served as advocates. At the second Round Table Conference, this led to a confrontation between Gandhi and Ambedkar. Gandhi’s fast to put an end to the movement, however, demonstrated his dedication to uniting the neighbourhood.
Due to the Congress’s affiliation with Hindu religious nationalist groups, the Muslim community initially had a chilly attitude towards the movement. Although efforts were made to renegotiate the Congress and Muslim League’s alliance, mistrust developed between the two groups as a result of differences over representation in upcoming assemblies. Intellectual justification for the demand for Pakistan was provided by Sir Muhammad Iqbal’s call for separate electorates for Muslims.
On the other hand, Bal Gangadhar Tilak thought that communalism was crucial to the development of a peaceful India. Due to the racial and religious diversity of the country, he claimed that separate electorates were against the spirit of true nationalism. He thought that symbols like Bharat Mata, which was made possible by the resurgence of Indian folklore, and flags like the tricolour and the Swaraj flag represented the identity of the country.
Nevertheless, despite efforts made by the Congress under Gandhi’s leadership to bring the populace together and direct their grievances into the independence movement, the various groups and classes taking part in the movement had varying aspirations and expectations, which caused internal strife and division.
Textual questions and answers
1. a) Why growth of nationalism in the colonies is linked to an anti-colonial movement?
Answer: Because people started to find their unity and sense of shared bond through their struggles against colonialism, there is a connection between the anti-colonial movement and the rise of nationalism in colonies. The experience of oppression under colonialism served as a unifying factor for various groups. However, colonialism had a variety of effects, and different classes and groups did not always share the same concepts of freedom. Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress made an effort to bring these factions together into a single movement, but there were conflicts along the way.
1. b) How the First World War helped in the growth of the National Movement in India?
Answer: The First World War led to significant changes in the economic and political situation in India and contributed to the growth of the National Movement. The increased defense expenditure during the war was financed by war loans and rising taxes, leading to price increases and extreme hardship for the common people. Forced recruitment in rural areas resulted in widespread anger. The crop failures and influenza epidemic of 1918-19 and 1920-21 resulted in acute food shortages and the death of 12-13 million people according to the 1921 census. Despite the hope that hardships would end after the war, it did not happen, leading to the emergence of a new leader who proposed a new mode of struggle.
1. c) Why were Indians outraged by the Rowlatt Act?
Answer: The Rowlatt Act outraged Indians because it granted the government vast powers to stifle political activity and permitted the detention of political prisoners without charge for two years. People felt that their voices were not being heard and that the government was unfairly restricting their rights because this act had been passed through the Imperial Legislative Council despite the opposition of the Indian members. In opposition to the proposed Rowlatt Act, Mahatma Gandhi organised a nationwide satyagraha as a form of nonviolent civil disobedience. Local leaders were detained when the British government tried to crack down on nationalists, and Mahatma Gandhi was forbidden from entering Delhi. This sparked widespread attacks on banks, post offices, and train stations, and the Jallianwalla Bagh incident, in which General Dyer killed hundreds of people, only served to inflame the nation’s resentment and frustration.
1. d) Why did Gandhiji decide to withdraw the Non-Cooperation Movement?
Answer: Gandhiji decided to withdraw the Non-Cooperation Movement in February 1922 because he felt that the movement was becoming violent in many places and that satyagrahis needed to be properly trained before they were ready for mass struggles. Some leaders within the Congress were also tired of mass struggles and wanted to participate in the newly established provincial councils set up by the Government of India Act of 1919, while others were advocating for full independence through mass agitation. The withdrawal of the movement was also influenced by the internal debates and dissension within the Congress and the onset of the worldwide economic depression.
2. What is meant by the idea of satyagraha?
Answer: Satyagraha is a novel method of mass agitation that was introduced by Mahatma Gandhi and emphasizes the power of truth and the need to search for truth. It suggests that if the cause is true and the struggle is against injustice, physical force is not necessary to fight the oppressor. Instead, a satyagrahi can win the battle through non-violence by appealing to the conscience of the oppressor and persuading people, including the oppressors, to see the truth. The idea behind satyagraha is that truth will ultimately triumph if struggled for in a non-violent manner.
3. Write a newspaper report on:
a) The Jallianwala Bagh massacre
Answer: Amritsar Tragedy: Hundreds Dead in Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
Amritsar, India: In a shocking turn of events, the peaceful gathering of villagers and protestors at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar took a deadly turn on April 13th. According to eyewitnesses, a large crowd had gathered to protest against the government’s new repressive measures and to attend the annual Baisakhi fair. However, many were unaware of the martial law that had been imposed in the city.
British General Dyer entered the enclosed ground of Jallianwala Bagh, blocked the exit points, and opened fire on the crowd without warning. The massacre resulted in the death of hundreds of innocent civilians and left many more injured. General Dyer later declared that his intention was to produce a ‘moral effect’ and create a feeling of terror and awe in the minds of the satyagrahis.
The news of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre spread quickly, inciting crowds to take to the streets in many north Indian towns. There were widespread strikes, clashes with the police, and attacks on government buildings. The government responded with brutal repression, forcing satyagrahis to perform humiliating acts such as crawling on the street and saluting all sahibs. People were also flogged, and villages around Gujranwala in Punjab were bombed.
In light of the spreading violence, Mahatma Gandhi called off the movement, calling for peace and non-violence. The tragedy at Jallianwala Bagh has left the nation stunned and has brought the issue of British rule and oppression in India to the forefront.
b) The Simon Commission
Answer: Simon Commission Report Causes Stir in India
Delhi, India: The arrival of the Simon Commission in India in 1928 has sparked widespread protests and demonstrations, with the Indian National Congress and Muslim League among the groups leading the charge against the British government’s latest attempt to examine the functioning of the constitutional system in the country.
The Commission, which is constituted entirely of British members, has been met with the slogan “Go back Simon” as India’s political leaders and citizens demand representation in any attempts to alter their country’s future.
Despite Lord Irwin’s efforts to placate the opposition with a vague offer of “dominion status” and a Round Table Conference to discuss the future constitution, the Indian National Congress remains unsatisfied. The divide between radicals, such as Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose, and the moderates within the party has grown, with the latter losing ground as the call for full independence gains momentum.
In December 1929, the Lahore Congress formalized its demand for “Purna Swaraj,” or complete independence, and declared 26 January 1930 as India’s Independence Day. Despite initial excitement, the celebrations attracted little attention, prompting Mahatma Gandhi to find a way to connect the abstract idea of freedom to the concrete issues of everyday life.
As the Simon Commission continues its examination, it is clear that the question of India’s future remains a contentious one, with a growing number of voices demanding full independence from British rule.
Q: List all the different social groups which joined the Non-Cooperation Movement of 1921. Then choose any three and write about their hopes and struggles to show why they joined the movement.
Answer: The different social groups which joined the Non-Cooperation Movement of 1921 were:
- Peasants in Awadh, led by Baba Ramchandra
- Tribal peasants in Gudem Hills of Andhra Pradesh, led by Alluri Sitaram Raju
- Plantation workers in Assam
i. Peasants in Awadh: They joined the movement as they were facing issues such as exorbitantly high rents and various other cesses from the landlords, forced labor (begar), and insecurity of tenure. They demanded the reduction of revenue, abolition of begar, and social boycott of oppressive landlords. The Congress effort was to integrate the Awadh peasant struggle into the wider struggle.
ii. Tribal peasants in Gudem Hills of Andhra Pradesh: They joined the movement as their traditional rights and livelihoods were affected by the colonial government’s closing of forest areas. They were further enraged by being forced to contribute begar for road building. They saw Alluri Sitaram Raju as a leader and believed he had special powers. Raju talked of the greatness of Mahatma Gandhi and inspired people to wear khadi and give up drinking but believed that India could only be liberated by force.
iii. Plantation workers in Assam: They joined the movement as they were confined to the tea gardens under the Inland Emigration Act of 1859 and were not permitted to leave without permission. They heard of the Non-Cooperation Movement and thousands of workers defied the authorities and headed home, believing that Gandhi Raj was coming and everyone would be given land in their own villages. They were brutally beaten up by the police when they were caught. They hoped for freedom and retaining a link with their villages.
Q: Discuss the Salt March to make clear why it was an effective symbol of resistance against colonialism.
Answer: The Salt March, also known as the Salt Satyagraha, was an effective symbol of resistance against colonialism for several reasons. Firstly, the tax on salt and the government monopoly over its production was one of the most oppressive aspects of British rule, and its abolition was a demand that could be supported by all classes within Indian society. The act of manufacturing salt through boiling sea water, led by Mahatma Gandhi, was a clear violation of the law and symbolically defied the British rule.
Secondly, the march itself was a powerful demonstration of mass mobilization and unity. Thousands of people, including women, came out to hear Mahatma Gandhi and participated in protest marches, salt manufacturing, and the boycott of foreign cloth and liquor shops. This show of public support and defiance against the colonial government was a significant statement of resistance.
Finally, the salt march sparked a wider Civil Disobedience Movement, in which people were asked not only to refuse cooperation with the British, but also to break colonial laws. The widespread participation in breaking the salt law and other acts of non-cooperation demonstrated a unified front against colonialism. The movement led to the arrests of Congress leaders, violent clashes, and government repression, but despite these challenges, it continued for over a year, losing momentum only by 1934.
The Salt March was an effective symbol of resistance against colonialism because it united all classes of Indian society, demonstrated mass mobilization and unity, and sparked a wider Civil Disobedience Movement. The march represented a clear act of defiance against the British rule and inspired widespread participation in acts of non-cooperation.
Q: Imagine you are a woman participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement. Explain what the experience meant to your life.
Answer: As a woman participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement, I was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s call to take part in the struggle against colonialism. The salt march was a turning point in my life as I stepped out of my home to join thousands of other women in the protests. I participated in various forms of protest including march, salt manufacturing, picketing foreign cloth and liquor shops, and even went to jail for my beliefs.
Being a part of this movement allowed me to see service to my nation as a sacred duty and gave me a sense of purpose. Despite coming from a high-caste family in urban areas or being from a rich peasant household in rural areas, I was moved by Gandhiji’s message of non-violence and felt a strong desire to make a difference.
However, I was aware that my increased public role did not necessarily bring any significant change to the way women were perceived.Despite these challenges, participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement was a transformative experience for me. It gave me the courage to stand up for what I believed in and made me realize the power of collective action. The movement not only brought me closer to my goal of freeing my nation from colonial rule but also helped me to evolve as a person.
Q: Why did political leaders differ sharply over the question of separate electorates?
Answer: Political leaders differed sharply over the question of separate electorates due to differing views on the status of dalits and Muslims as minorities within India. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar demanded separate electorates for dalits but Mahatma Gandhi opposed this and began a fast unto death, believing that separate electorates would slow down the process of their integration into society. The Poona Pact of September 1932 resulted in reserved seats for the Depressed Classes in legislative councils but to be voted in by the general electorate.
Many Muslim leaders and intellectuals expressed their concern about the status of Muslims as a minority within India and feared that their culture and identity would be submerged under the domination of a Hindu majority. Sir Muhammad Iqbal, as the president of the Muslim League, reiterated the importance of separate electorates for the Muslims as a safeguard for their minority political interests, which is said to have provided the intellectual justification for the later demand for Pakistan. Negotiations over the question of representation continued but efforts at compromise failed, leading to suspicion and distrust between communities and hindering the response of Muslims to the call for a united struggle during the Civil Disobedience Movement.
Q: Why did various classes and groups of Indians participate in the civil disobedience movement?Answer: The various classes and groups of Indians participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement for different reasons. The industrial working class, although not participating in large numbers, had some members who selectively adopted certain aspects of the Gandhian program, such as the boycott of foreign goods and wages, as part of their own movements against poor working conditions. This resulted in strikes by railway workers in 1930 and dockworkers in 1932. In the Nagpur region, thousands of workers participated in protest rallies and boycott campaigns. On the other hand, the Congress was reluctant to include workers’ demands as part of its anti-imperial struggle, as it feared that this would alienate the industrialists and divide the anti-imperial forces. Women, especially those from high-caste families in urban areas and rich peasant households in rural areas, participated in large numbers, moved by Gandhiji’s call. They participated in protest marches, manufactured salt, picketed foreign cloth and liquor shops, and many went to jail. However, this increased public role for women did not necessarily mean a radical change in their position, as Gandhiji believed that women’s duty was to look after home and hearth and be good mothers and wives. The Congress also was reluctant to allow women to hold any position of authority within the organization and was only keen on their symbolic presence.
Additional/extra questions and answers/solutions
1. What is modern nationalism in Europe associated?
Answer: Modern nationalism in Europe is associated with the formation of nation-states.
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68. Who were the individuals and groups that participated in the Quit India Movement?
Answer: Thousands of people from all walks of life, including workers, peasants, students, and others, took part in the Quit India Movement. Many women, including Matangini Hazra, Kanaklata Barua, and Rama Devi, participated actively in it as well as leaders like Jayprakash Narayan, Aruna Asaf Ali, and Ram Manohar Lohia.
69: How did the British react to the Quit India Movement?
Answer: In response to the Quit India Movement, the British used considerable force. However, it took them over a year to bring the situation under control.
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