Topic outline

    • The Making of the National Movement: 1870s-1947

      Q55. What was the Rowlatt act? Give an account of the Rowlatt Satyagraha?
      Why was the Satyagraha call given by Gandhiji in 1919? What did it lead to?

      Ans.  The Rowlatt Satyagraha

                              i.        In 1919 Gandhiji gave a call for a satyagraha against the Rowlatt Act that the British had just passed.

                             ii.        The Act curbed fundamental rights such as the freedom of expression and strengthened police powers.

                            iii.        Mahatma Gandhi, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and others felt that the government had no right to restrict people’s basic freedoms. They criticised the Act as “devilish” and tyrannical.

                            iv.        Gandhiji asked the Indian people to observe 6 April 1919 as a day of non-violent opposition to this Act, as a day of “humiliation and prayer” and hartal (strike). Satyagraha Sabhas were set up to launch the movement.

                             v.        The Rowlatt Satyagraha turned out to be the first all-India struggle against the British government although it was largely restricted to cities.

                            vi.        In April 1919 there were a number of demonstrations and hartals in the country and the government used brutal measures to suppress them.

               vii.        The Jallianwala Bagh atrocities, inflicted by General Dyer in Amritsar on Baisakhi day (13 April), were a part of this repression.

      Q56. Discuss the various forms that the Non-Cooperation Movement took in different parts of India. How did the people understand Gandhiji?

      Ans. Non-Cooperation Movement took various forms in different parts of India.

                              i.        In Kheda, Gujarat, Patidar peasants organised nonviolent campaigns against the high land revenue demand of the British.

                             ii.        In coastal Andhra and interior Tamil Nadu, liquor shops were picketed.

                            iii.        In the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, tribals and poor peasants staged a number of “forest satyagrahas”, sometimes sending their cattle into forests without paying grazing fee. They were protesting because the colonial statehad restricted their use of forest resources in various ways.

                            iv.        In Sind (now in Pakistan), Muslim traders and peasants were very enthusiastic about the Khilafat call. In Bengal too, the Khilafat-Non-Cooperation alliance gave enormous communal unity and strength to the national movement.

                             v.        In Punjab, the Akali agitation of the Sikhs sought to remove corrupt mahants – supported by the British – from their gurdwaras. This movement got closely identified with the Non-Cooperation Movement.

                            vi.        In Assam, tea garden labourers, shouting “Gandhi Maharaj ki Jai”, demanded a big increase in their wages. They left the British-owned plantations amidst declarations that they were following Gandhiji’s wish.

      People thought of Gandhiji as a kind of messiah, as someone who could help them overcome their misery and poverty.

      Q57. Discuss those developments of the 1937-47 period that led to the creation of Pakistan.

      Ans.  Developments of the 1937-47 period that led to the creation of Pakistan

                              i.        From the late 1930s, the League began viewing the Muslims as a separate “nation” from the Hindus. In developing this notion it may have been influenced by the history of tension between some Hindu and Muslim groups in the 1920s and 1930s.

                              ii.        More importantly, the provincial elections of 1937 seemed to have convinced the League that Muslims were a minority, and they would always have to play second fiddle in any democratic structure. It feared that Muslims may even go unrepresented. The Congress’s rejection of the League’s desire to form a joint Congress- League government in the United Provinces in 1937 also annoyed the League.

                              iii.        The Congress’s failure to mobilise the Muslim masses in the 1930s allowed the League to widen its social support. It sought to enlarge its support in the early 1940s when most Congress leaders were in jail.

                              iv.        At the end of the war in 1945, the British opened negotiations between the Congress, the League and themselves for the independence of India. The talks failed because the League saw itself as the sole spokesperson of India’s Muslims. The Congress could not accept this claim since a large number of Muslims still supported it.

                              v.        Elections to the provinces were again held in 1946. The Congress did well in the “General” constituencies but the League’s success in the seats reserved for Muslims was spectacular. It persisted with its demand for “Pakistan”.

                             vi.        In March 1946 the British cabinet sent a three-member mission to Delhi to examine this demand and to suggest a suitable political framework for a free India.

               vii.        This mission suggested that India should remain united and constitute itself as a loose confederation with some autonomy for Muslim-majority areas. But it could not get the Congress and the Muslim League to agree to specific details of the proposal. Partition now became more or less inevitable.

               viii.        After the failure of the Cabinet Mission, the Muslim League decided on mass agitation for winning its Pakistan demand. It announced 16 August 1946 as “Direct Action Day”.

                            ix.        Ultimately in 1947 partition took place with the birth of new country.

      Q58. Evaluate the dynamic role of Gandhiji in the Indian nationalist struggle for freedom as a leader of the masses.

      Ans. Role of Mahatma Gandhi

                               i.        Mahatma Gandhi emerged as a mass leader. Gandhiji, aged 46, arrived in India in 1915 from South Africa.

                              ii.        Having led Indians in that country in non-violent marches against racist restrictions, he was already a respected leader, known internationally.

                             iii.        His South African campaigns had brought him in contact with various types of Indians.

                             iv.        Mahatma Gandhi spent his first year in India travelling throughout the country, understanding the people, their needs and the overall situation.

                              v.        His earliest interventions were in local movements in Champaran, Kheda and Ahmedabad where he came into contact with Rajendra Prasad and Vallabhbhai Patel. In Ahmedabad he led a successful millworkers’ strike in 1918.

                            vi.        In 1919 Gandhiji gave a call for a satyagraha against the Rowlatt Act that the British had just passed.

               vii.        Gandhiji supported urged the Congress to campaign against “Punjab wrongs” (Jallianwala massacre), the Khilafat wrong and demand swaraj. The Non-Cooperation Movement gained momentum through 1921-22.

               viii.        He abruptly called off the Non-Cooperation Movement when in February 1922 a crowd of peasants set fire to a police station in Chauri Chaura.

                             ix.        Gandhi again took off with another nonviolent movement known as the civil disobedience movement in 1930.

                              x.        The Quit India Movement was launched under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi in August 1942.