Emergence of Gandhi

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v  Why Nationalist Resurgence Now

After the war, the conditions in India and influences from abroad created a situation that was ready for a national upsurge against foreign rule.

Ø  Post war Economic Hardship

When the war ended, all sections of the Indian population were experiencing hardship on various fronts:-

                   i.       Industry – An increase in prices, then a recession coupled with increased foreign investment brought many industries to the brink of closure and loss.

                  ii.       Workers & Artisans – This section of populace faced unemployment and bore the brunt of high price.

                iii.       Peasantry – They faced high taxation and poverty, they waited for a lead to protect.

                 iv.       Soldiers – They were surprised to return a country that was impoverished and had less liberty than before.

                  v.       Educated Urban Classes – This section was facing unemployment as well as suffering from an acute awareness of racism in the attitude of British.

Ø  Expectations of political gains for cooperation in the war

§   The contribution of Indians to the British war effort, was huge.

§   There were huge expectations of political gains from the British government and this too contributed towards the charged atmosphere in the country.

Ø  Nationalist disillusionment with Imperialism Worldwide

§   The allied power, to rally the colonies to their side during the war, had promised them an era of democracy and self-determination after the war. But very soon it became clear from Paris peace conference and other peace treaties that the imperialist powers had no intention of loosing their hold over the colonies.

§   As a result, the post-war period saw a resurgence of militant nationalist activity thought Asia and Africa – in Turkey, Egypt, Ireland, Iran, Afghanistan, Burma, Malaya, the Philippines, Indonesia, Indo-China, China and Korea.

Ø  Impact of Russian Revolution (November 7, 1917)

§   The Bolshevik Party of workers overthrew the Czarist regime and founded the first socialist state, the Soviet Union, under the leadership of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov or Lenin and gave equal status to the Asian nationalists within its border.

§   The October revolution brought home the message that immense power lies in the hand of the people, and that the masses were capable of challenging the mightiest tyrants provided they were organised, united, and determined.

v  Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms and Government of India Act, 1919

The government announced constitutional reforms in July, 1918, known as Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms. Based on this, the Government of India Act, 1919 was enacted.

Ø  Main features:

§  Provincial Government – Introduction to Dyarchy: -

The act introduced dyarchy for the executive at the level of the provincial government.


                   i.    Dyarchy, rule of two – executive councilors and popular ministers was introduced.

                  ii.    Subjects were divided into two lists: ‘reserved’ which included subjects such as law and order, finance, land revenue, irrigation, etc., and

Transferred subject such as education, health, local government, industry, agriculture, excise, etc.

The reserved subjects were to be administered by the governor through his executive councils of bureaucrats, and the transferred subjects were to be administered by ministers nominated from among the elected members of the legislative council.

                iii.    The secretary of state of India and the governor general could interfere in respect of reserved subjects while in respect of the transferred subjects, the scope for their interference was restricted.


                   i.    Provincial legislative councils were further expanded and 70% of the members were to be elected.

                  ii.    The system of communal and his class electorates was further consolidated.

                iii.    Women were also given the right to vote.

                 iv.    The legislative councils could initiate, but the governor’s assent was required. The governor could vote bills and issue ordinances.

                  v.    The legislative councils could reject the budget, but the governor could restore it, if necessary.

                 vi.    The legislators enjoyed freedom of speech.

§  Central Government- still without Responsible Government: -

No responsible government was envisaged in the act for the government at the all-India level.

Executive: -

                   i.    The governor general was to be the chief executive authority.

                  ii.    There were to be two lists for administrative central and provincial.

                iii.    The governor general retained full control over reserved subjects in the provinces.

                 iv.    In the viceroy’s executive council of eight, three were to be Indians.

Legislature: -

                   i.    A bicameral arrangement was introduced. The lower house or central legislature would consist of 145 members (41 nominated and 104 elected – 52 general, 30 Muslims, 2 Sikhs, 20 special), and the upper house or council of state would have 60 members of which 26 were to be nominated and 34 elected- 20 general, 10 Muslims, 3 Europeans, and 1 Sikh (As per the figure given by Subhash Kashyap).

                  ii.    The council of state had a tenure of 5 years and had only male members, while central legislative Assembly had a tenure of 3 years.

                iii.    The legislators could ask questions and supplementary, pass adjournment motions, and vote a part of the budget, but 75% of the budget was still not votable.

§  On the home government (in Britain) front, the Government of India Act, 1919 made an important change- the secretary of State for India was henceforth to be paid out of the British Exchequer.

Ø  Drawbacks

The reforms had many drawbacks:

                   i.    Franchise was very limited.

                  ii.    At the Centre, the legislature had no control over the viceroy and his executive council.

                iii.    Division of subjects was not satisfactory at the centre.

                 iv.    Allocation of seats for central legislature to the provinces was based on “importance” of provinces – Punjab’s military importance and Bombay’s commercial importance.

                  v.    The provincial ministers had no control over finances and over the bureaucrats; this would lead to constant friction between the two.

                 vi.   Division of subjects was irrational and hence, unworkable.


§  The government of India Act, 1919 forged fresh fetters for the people.

:- Subhash Chandra Bose

§  The Montford Reforms … were only a method of further draining India of her wealth and of prolonging her servitude.

:- M.K. Gandhi

Ø  Congress reaction

                   i.    The congress met in a special session in August, 1918 at Bombay under Hasan Imam’s presidency and declared the reforms to be “disappointing” and “unsatisfactory” and demanded effective self-government instead.

                  ii.    According to Tilak, the Montford reforms were “unworthy and disappointing – a sunless dawn”.

                iii.    Annie Besant found them “unworthy of England to offer and India to accept”.

  • v  Making of Gandhi

Ø  Early career and Experiment with Truth in South Africa

                   i.    M.K. Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869 in Porbandar in the princely state of Kathiawar in Gujarat. His father was a diwan (minister) of the state. Having studied law in England, Gandhi in 1893, went to South Africa in connection with a case involving his client, Dada Abdullah.

                  ii.    The Indian in south Africa consisted of three categories- One, the indentured Indian labour, mainly from south India, migrated to South Africa after 1890 to work on sugar plantations; two, the merchants - mostly Meman Muslims; and three, the ex-indentured labourers who had settled down in South Africa after the retirement.

Moderate phase of Struggle

                   i.    Gandhi relied on sending petitions and memorial to the authority in South Africa and in Britain.

                  ii.    To unite different sections of Indians, he set up the Natal Indian Congress and started a paper Indian Opinion.

Phase of Passive Resistance or Satyagraha (1906-1914)

The second phase, began in 1906, was charactrised by the use of the method of passive resistance or civil disobedience, which Gandhi named Satyagraha.

                   i.    Satyagraha against registration Certificates (1906):- A new legislation in South Africa made it compulsory for Indians there to carry at all times certificates of registration with their fingerprints.

The Indians under the leadership of Gandhi retaliated by publicly burning their registration certificates.

                  ii.    Campaign against restriction on Indian migration:- The Indians defied this law by crossing over from one province to another and by refusing to produce Licenses.

Many of these Indians were jailed.

                iii.    Campaign against poll tax and Invalidation of Indian Marriages:- A poll tax of 3 pounds was imposed on all ex-indentured Indians. The demand for the abolition of poll tax widened the base of the campaign.

A supreme court order which invalidated all marriages not conducted according to Christian rites and registered by the registrar of marriages drew the anger of the Indians. They treated this judgement as an insult to their honor and drew the movement because of this dignity.

                 iv.    Protest against Transvaal Immigration Act:- The Indians protested the Transvaal Immigration Act, by illegally migrating from Natal into Transvaal.

Miners and plantation workers went on a lightning strike.

                  v.    Compromise Solution:- Through a series of negotiations involving Gandhi, Lord Hardinge, C.F. Andrews and General Smuts, an agreement was reached by which the South Africa conceded the major Indian demands relating to poll tax, the registration certificates and marriage solemnized according to Indian rites, and promised to treat the issue of Indian immigration in a sympathetic manner.

Ø  Gandhi’s Experience in South Africa

                   i.       He found that the masses had immense capacity to participate in and sacrifice for a cause that moved them.

                  ii.       He was able to unite Indians belonging to different religions and classes.

                iii.       He was able to evolve his own style of leadership technique.

Ø  Gandhi’s Technique to Satyagraha

Gandhi evolved the technique to satyagraha during his stay in South Africa based on truth and non-violence.

Its basic tenets were as follows:-

                   i.    A satyagrahi was to always remain truthful, non-violence and fearless.

                  ii.    A satyagrahi works on the principles of withdrawal of cooperation and boycott.

                iii.    Methods of satyagraha include non-payment of taxes, and declining honors and positions of authority.

                 iv.    A satyagrahi should be ready to accept suffering in his struggle against the wrong doer.

                  v.    A true satyagrahi would have no ill feeling for the wrong doer; hatred would be alien to his nature.

v  Gandhi in India

Ø Gandhi returned to India in January 1915. His efforts in south Africa were well known not only among the educated but also among the masses.

Ø He was convinced that the only technique capable of meeting the nationalist aims was a non-violent satyagraha.

Ø During 1917 and 1918, Gandhi was involved in three struggles – in Champaran, Ahmedabad, and Kheda – before he launched the Rowlett satyagraha.

§  Champaran Satyagraha (1917)- first civil disobedience

Ø Gandhi was requested to Rajkumar Shukla, a local man to look into the problems of the farmers in context of indigo planters of Champaran in Bihar.

Ø They were forced to grow indigo in 3/20 part of the total land by the European planters.

Ø To maximise their profits European planters forced them to sell the produce at prices fixed by them (Europeans).

Ø Popular leaders of Champaran satyagraha (1917)

M.K. Gandhi, Rajendra Prasad, Mazhar-ul-Haqq, Mahadev Desai, Narhari Parekh, and J.B. Kriplani, Brajkishore Prasad, Anugrah Narayan Sinha, Ramnavami Prasad, and Shambhu Sharma Verma.

Ø Gandhi defied the order and preferred to face the punishment, the authorities retreated and permitted Gandhi to make an enquiry.

Ø Government appointed a committee to go into the matter.

Ø Tinkathia system abolished and a compromise with the planters, he agreed that 25% of the money taken should be compensated to the planters.

§  Ahmedabad Mill strike (1918) – First hunger strike

Ø In march 1918, Gandhi intervened in a dispute between cotton mill owner of Ahmedabad and the workers over issue of Discontinuation of the plague bonus.

Ø The mill owner wanted to withdraw the bonus.

Ø The workers were demanding a rise of 50 % in the wages so that they could manage war time inflation.

Ø The mill owners were ready to give 20% wage hike.

Ø The workers went on strike and relation between the workers and owners worsened.

Ø Gandhi asked the workers to go on a strike and demand a 35% increase in wages instead of 50, and also advised them to remain non-violent.

Ø Gandhi also went on a fort unto death, the  negotiations did not progress.

Ø Finally, the issue submitted to a tribunal.

Ø The strike was withdrawn.

Ø The tribunal awarded the workers a 35% wages hike.

§  Kheda satyagraha (1918)- first non-cooperation

Ø Because of drought in 1918, the crops failed in kheda district of Gujarat.

Ø According to the revenue code, if the yield was less then one-fourth the normal produce, the farmers were entitled to remission.

Ø The government said that the property of the farmers would be seized if the taxes were not paid.

Ø Gandhi asked the farmers not to pay taxes. Sardar Vallabh bhai patel and a group of other devoted Ghandians, went around the villages, organised the villagers and told them what to do, and gave the necessary political leadership.

Ø The government sought to bring about an agreement with the farmers. It agreed to suspend the tax for the year and for the next, reduce the increase in rate and return all the confiscated property.

§  Gains from Champaran, Ahmedabad, and Kheda

Ø Gandhi demonstrated to the people the efficiency of his technique of satyagraha.

Ø He came to understand the strengths and weakness of the masses.

Ø He acquired respect and commitment of many, especially the youth.

v  Rowlett Act, satyagraha and Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

          i.     The Rowlatt Act

Ø Just six months before the Monford Reforms, two bills were introduced in the Imperial legislative Council.

Ø One of them was dropped, but the other – an extension to the defence of India Regulations Act, 1915 – was passed in March, 1919.

Ø It was officially called the Anarchical and Revolutionary crimes Act, but popularly known as the Rowlatt Act, headed by the British Judge, six Sidney Rowlatt, to investigate the ‘Seditions conspiracy’ of the Indian people.

Ø All the elected Indian members – who included Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Madan Mohan Malaviya and Mazhar ul Haq – resigned in the protest of this Act.

Ø The act allowed political activities to be tried without juries or even imprisoned without trial. It allowed arrest of Indians without warrant on the mere suspicion of “treason”.

Ø The law of habeas corpus, the basis of civil liberty, was sought to be suspended.

Ø There was strict control over the press, and the government was armed with a variety of powers to deal with revolutionary tactics.

Ø The object of the government was to replace the repressive provisions of the wartime Defence of India Act, 1915 by a permanent law.

         ii.     Satyagraha against the Rowlatt Act – first mass strike

Ø Gandhi and the Indians felt betrayed after encourage the recruitment of Indians into the British Indian forces.

Ø Gandhi called the Rowlatt Act the ‘Black Act’ and argued that not everyone should get punishment in response to isolated political crimes.

Ø Gandhi called for a mass protest at all- India level but soon get repressed.

Ø Gandhi organised a satyagraha sabha and roped in younger members of Home Rule league and the Pan Islamists.

Ø A nation wide hartal (strike) was observed accompanied by fasting and prayers, and civil disobedience against specific laws.

Ø Satyagraha was to be launched on April6, 1919 but before it could be launched, there were large-scale violent, anti-British demonstrations in Calcutta, Bombay, Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Punjab.

Ø The lieutenant Governor of Punjab, sir Michel O’ Dwyer, is said to have used aircraft strafing against the violent protestors.

        iii.     Jallianwala Bagh Massacre (April 13, 1919)

Ø Amritsar was the worst affected by violence.

Ø On April 9, two nationalist leaders, Saifuddin Kitchiew and Dr. Satyapal, were arrested without any provocation, this caused resentment among the Indian Protestors who came out in thousands on April 10 to show their solidarity with their leaders.

Ø Dyer issued a proclamation on April (Baisakhi)13, forbidding people from leaving the city without a pass and from organizing demonstrations or processions, or assembling in groups of more than there.

Ø On Baisakhi day, a large crowd of people mostly from neighbouring villages, unaware of the prohibitory orders in the city, gathered in the Jallianwala Bagh, a popular place for public events, to celebrate the Baisakhi festival.

Brigadier – general Dyer arrived on the scene with his men, blocked the only exit point and opened fire on the unarmed crowd.

Ø No warning was issued.

Ø According to Britain Indian sources, 379 were dead and 1100 were wounded.

Ø The INC estimated more than 1500 were wounded and approx. 1000 were killed.

Ø It is precisely known that 1650 bullets were fired into the crowd.

Ø The entire nation was stunned. Gandhi gave up the title of Kaiser-i-hind, bestowed by the British for his work during the Boer war.

Ø Udham Singh, who bore the name, Ram Mohammad Singh Azad, later assassinated Michael O’ Dwyer.

v  The hunter committee of Inquiry

Ø The secretary of state for India, Edwin Montagu, Ordered that a committee of inquiry be formed to investigate the matter.

Ø Ion October 14, 1919, the government of India announced the formation of the Disorders Inquiry committee or Hunter Committee/Commission after the name of its chairman, lord William Hunter.

Ø The purpose of the commission was to “investigate the recent disturbances in Bombay, Delhi and Punjab about their causes and the measures taken to cope with them”.

Ø There were three Indians among the members, six chimanLal Harilal Setalvad, Pandit Jagat Narayan and Sardar Sahibzada Sultan Ahmad Khan.

Ø Dwyer stated that his intention had been to strike terror throughout the Punjab and in doing so, reduce the moral stature of the ‘rebels’.

Ø The Dwyer was found guilty, The Hunter committee did not impose any penal or disciplinary action because Dwyer’s action was condoned by various superiors.

Ø The cabinet with Churchill agreed that Dwyer was a dangerous man and could not be allowed to continue his point. Dwyer relieved of his command in March 1920, and recalled to England.

v  Congress view

Ø The INC appointed its own non-official committee that included Motilal Nehru, C.R. Das , Abbas Tyabji, N.R. Jayakar, and Gandhi.

Ø They criticized Dwyer’s act as in human and also said that there was no justification in the introduction of the martial law in Punjab.

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