Emergence of Gandhi in lndia Lesson-1 By Dr. Roman Saini
Introduction The role of Mahatma Gandhi in Indian National Movement is undeniably regarded as the most significant. And the period between the year of 1917 to 1947 is considered as the Gandhian era in INM. Like a one man army, he proliferate the movement for Indian independence across the masses and frontiers. The "peaceful and non-violent" tools of Mahatma Gandhi formed the basis of freedom struggle against the British rule in India. He had experimented all these techniques of no-cooperation and civil disobedience in South Africa earlier. . . .
Struggle in South Africa Having studied law in England, he went to South Africa to represent a legal case of his client, Dada Abdullah, a merchant. In South Africa he witnessed the ugly face of white racism. Also the humiliation and contempt to which Asians who had gone to South Africa as labourers were subjected. He decided to stay there to organise the Indian workers to enable them fight for their rights. Mahatma Gandhi started the struggle to emancipate the Indians from their sufferings and troubles caused by the British's cruel policies. . . . .
The Indian in South Africa consisted of three categories 1. The indented Indian labour from South India 2. The merchants who followed the labourers 3. The ex-indentured labourers who had settled down there after the . expiry of their contracts. Among them the people of the last category were very deprived and severely suffered from the policies of British. . As they were mostly illiterate and had little knowledge of english. They had accepted racial discrimination as a part of their daily existence and the condition to live in South Africa. .
. His struggle in South Africa can be divided into two phases: Moderate phase and the phase of Satyagraha. Moderate Phase (1894-1906): He follow the way of petitions and applications to the authorities to 1. . inform the actual conditions and grievances of their subjects. . To unite different sections of Indians, he o Set up the Natal Indian Congress and o Started a paper, Indian Opinion.
2. Phase of Satyagraha (1906-14): When the moderate policies were failed, he used the method of passive resistance or civil disobedience that he called Satyagraha. Having the faith in satyagraha, he did following main activities to get the justice for Indian migrants in South Africa; . e Satyagraha against Registration Certificates that needs to be carried by every Indian compulsorily. Campaign against Restriction on Indian migration from one place to other Setting up of Tolstoy farm for housing the families of satyagrahis. Campaign against Poll tax and Invalidation of Indian Marriages. o o o o
Return from South Africa Gandhi returned to India on 9 January 1915 after a long period of struggle against the British government there. This day is celebrated as Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas in India every year After returning from the South Africa, he decided not to join any . . political organisation and take any stand on political matter. . Rather, he chose to tour across the India for one year and became the witness of the actual condition of the masses.
Then, during next two years from 1917 to 1918, he took the leadership in following three local matters before he launched the Rowlatt Satyagraha in 1919 1. Champaran Satyagraha in Bihar 2. Ahmedabad Mill Strike in Gujarat 3. Kheda Satyagraha in Gujarat
Champaran: First Civil Disobedience in 1917 The lssue European planters had established indigo farms and factories in Champaran at the beginning of the 19th century The basic issue of the trouble was the system of indirect cultivation of Indigo introduced by European planters that is known as the tinkathia system. According to it, every tenant who had forced agreement with European planters needs to grow the indigo each year at three-twentieths of his holdings. .
And the tenants had to done in return for an unjust advance made by the planters at the beginning of the cultivation season. The tenants wanted to cultivate the crop that could pay them sufficient return and had surety to be sold out. Since, at this time the demand of Indian indigo in the world market was declining due to the increasing production of synthetic indigo in Germany. Therefore, most planters at Champaran realised that indigo cultivation was no longer a beneficial business.
But he applied his experimented tool of civil disobedience against the authority . And he defied the order and preferred to face the decided punishment. . Finally, he was permitted to look into the matter. Moreover, the Government appointed Champaran Agrarian Committee with Gandhi as one of its members. Again he was successful to convince the committee that the tinkathia system is oppressive and should be abolished. And peasants should be also compensated for their exploitation. .
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