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?
In 1919 Gandhiji gave a call for a
satyagraha against the Rowlatt Act that the British had just passed.
The Act curbed fundamental rights such as
the freedom of expression and strengthened police powers.
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.
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.
The Rowlatt Satyagraha turned out to be the
first all-India struggle against the British government although it was largely
restricted to cities.
In April 1919 there were a number of demonstrations
and hartals in the country and the government used brutal measures to suppress
The Jallianwala Bagh atrocities, inflicted
by General Dyer in Amritsar on Baisakhi day (13 April), were a part of this
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.
In Kheda, Gujarat, Patidar peasants
organised nonviolent campaigns against the high land revenue demand of the
In coastal Andhra and interior Tamil Nadu,
liquor shops were picketed.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
of the 1937-47 period that led to the creation of Pakistan
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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”.
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
Mahatma Gandhi emerged as a mass leader.
Gandhiji, aged 46, arrived in India in 1915 from South Africa.
Having led Indians in that country in
non-violent marches against racist restrictions, he was already a respected
leader, known internationally.
His South African campaigns had brought him
in contact with various types of Indians.
Mahatma Gandhi spent his first year in
India travelling throughout the country, understanding the people, their needs
and the overall situation.
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.
In 1919 Gandhiji gave a call for a satyagraha
against the Rowlatt Act that the British had just passed.
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.
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.
Gandhi again took off with another
nonviolent movement known as the civil disobedience movement in 1930.
The Quit India Movement was launched under
the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi in August 1942.