NCERT Notes: Mahatma Gandhi’s Early Movements [Modern Indian History Notes For UPSC]

NCERT notes on important topics for the IAS aspirants. These notes will also be useful for other competitive exams like banking PO, SSC, state civil services exams and so on.

The Rise of Gandhi in Indian Freedom Struggle

M K Gandhi returned from South Africa (where he had lived for more than 20 years) to India in 1915. There he had led a peaceful agitation against the discrimination meted out to Indians and had emerged as a respected leader. It was in South Africa that he developed his brand of Satyagraha. In India, he first used this tool against the British government at Champaran in Bihar.

Champaran Satyagraha (1917)
  • The first civil disobedience movement by Gandhi in the freedom struggle.
  • Persuaded by Rajkumar Shukla, an indigo cultivator, Gandhi went to Champaran in Bihar to investigate the conditions of the farmers there.
  • The farmers were suffering under heavy taxes and an exploitative system. They were forced to grow indigo by the British planters under the tinkathia system.
  • Gandhi arrived in Champaran to investigate the matter but was not permitted by the British authorities to do so.
  • He was asked to leave the place but he refused.
  • He was able to gather support from the farmers and masses.
  • When he appeared in court in response to a summons, almost 2000 locals accompanied him.
  • The case against him was dropped and he was allowed to conduct the inquiry.
  • After peaceful protests against the planters and landlords led by Gandhi, the government agreed to abolish the exploitative tinkathia system.
  • The peasants also received a part of the money extracted from them as compensation.
  • Champaran struggle is called the first experiment on Satyagraha by Gandhi.
  • It was during this time that Gandhi was given the names ‘Bapu’ and ‘Mahatma’ by the people.

Kheda Satyagraha (1918)
  • 1918 was a year of failed crops in the Kheda district of Gujarat due to droughts.
  • As per law, the farmers were entitled to remission if the produce was less than a quarter of the normal output.
  • But the government refused any remission from paying land revenue.
  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, under Gandhi’s guidance, led the farmers in protest against the collection of taxes in the wake of the famine.
  • People from all castes and ethnicities of the district lend their support to the movement.
  • The protest was peaceful and people showed remarkable courage even in the face of adversities like confiscation of personal property and arrest.
  • Finally, the authorities gave in and gave some concessions to the farmers.

Ahmedabad Mill Strike (1918)
  • Gandhi used Satyagraha and hunger strike for the first time during an industrial dispute between the owners and workers of a cotton mill in Ahmedabad.
  • The owners wanted to withdraw the plague bonus to the workers while the workers were demanding a hike of 35% in their wages.
  • During the peaceful strike led by Gandhi, he underwent a hunger strike.
  • The strike was successful and the workers were granted the wage hike they wanted.

In all these movements, Gandhi was able to involve the masses including farmers, artisans and even the so-called lower castes. This was a change from the previous movements when the participation was limited to the upper and the middle classes.

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