Gandhi in Champaran, Kheda and Ahemdabad

Champaran Movement 1917, Bihar

Background:

  • Peasant discontent against the European planters forcing them to produce indigo under tinkathiya system (grow indigo on 3/20th part of land and were allowed to take only one-third of the indigo produced by themselves while two-thirds had to be given to the British/European planters).
  • Raj Kumar shukla, an indigo cultivator, travelled to Lucknow congress 1916 persuaded Gandhi to come to bihar and led the movement.
  • Rajendra Prasand and J.B Kriplani played some role in mobilizing the peasants.

What happened in Champaran:

  • Gandhi began leading the clean-up of villages, building of schools and hospitals and encouraging the village leadership to undo purdah, untouchability and the suppression of women. He was joined by many young nationalists from all over India
  • But his main assault came as he was arrested by police on the charge of creating unrest and was ordered to leave the province. He was released after massive protests. Gandhi led organized protests and strike against the landlords, who with the guidance of the British government, signed an agreement granting more compensation and control over farming for the poor farmers of the region, and cancellation of revenue hikes and collection until the famine ended.
  • It was during this agitation, that Gandhi was addressed by the people as Bapu (This was given by Subhash Chandra Bose) and Mahatma (It was given by Rabindranath Tagore). (Earlier, he had also got the title of Kaiser-e- Hind from British government after he started Ambulance service during Boers War while he was in South Africa).

Conclusion:

  • Gandhi’s intervention broke the fear in the minds of people but Gandhi would not take this movement beyond the limited goal, which was fulfilled by Champaran agriculture act 1918. However, this legislation, on the ground, could end the problem.

Ahmedabad Mill strike-1918

 Background:

  • The immediate reason for the industrial conflict was the withdrawal of plague-bonus. This withdrawal came at a time when the workers were already facing hard times from unusual high prices caused by World War One, and there were wildcat strikes and the formation of a weavers' association.

What happened in Ahmedabad:

  • Gandhi was invited by Anusuya Sarabhai, a social worker, and his brother Ambalal Sarabhai, the president of the Ahmedabad Mill-owners, Association, to intervene as an arbitrator. However, this method failed.
  • Gandhi decided to champion the worker's cause but persuaded them to tone down their demand to a wage hike of 35 percent, instead of their original demand of 50 percent.
  • He and his Sabarmati ashram volunteers mobilised the workers and held regular meeting
  • Still, the mill owners stood their ground and the workers began to lose their
  • Gandhi now used his last weapon of a hunger strike; the mill owners gave in and agreed to send the matter to the arbitration board.
  • The workers ultimately got only 27.5 percent wage rise.

Kheda Movement-1917, Gujarat

 Background:

  • Peasants were already struggling with the destruction of crops by late rains, a sudden rise in agricultural wages, high rate of inflation and the outbreak of bubonic plague.
  • The peasants of Kheda could not pay the revenue and were demanding that revenue collection be relaxed instead British government raised the revenue.
  • Local leaders, already running no revenue Campaign, through the Gujarat Sabha they got in touch with Gandhi in January 1918, but it was not until 22 March that Gandhi decided to launch a satyagraha in their support.

What happened in Kheda:

  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and a close coterie of devoted Gandhians, namely Narhari Parikh, Mohanlal Pandya, Indulal Yagnik and Ravi Shankar Vyas toured the countryside, organized the villagers and gave them political leadership and direction.
  • Many aroused Gujaratis from the cities of Ahmedabad and Vadodara joined the organizers of the revolt, but Gandhi and Patel resisted the involvement of Indians from other provinces, seeking to keep it a purely Gujarati struggle.
  • By April the Bombay government partially fulfilled the peasants' demands by not confiscating the properties of defaulting peasants who could not pay, and in June Gandhi withdrew the campaign.
  • British government after facing a united opposition agreed on a compromise and the revenue was waived for that year and next year.

Gains from these Movements:

  • Gandhi gained nationwide popularity by championing these localised causes.
  • It broke the barriers of fear in the minds of people.
  • In the process, all these regions became strongholds of political support for Gandhi, as people here responded eloquently to his later calls for political action.
  • New leadership emerged such as Rajendra Prasad, J.B Kriplani, Jawahar lal Nehru, Vallabh bhai patel etc.
  • Ahmedabad movement paved the way for the foundation of the Textile Labour Association in February 1920.

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