The Indian National Movement from 1919 to 1947 is also known as the Gandhian Era primarily because the period was dominated by Mahatma Gandhi and his policies.
Early Life of Mahatma Gandhi
- Gandhi was born in 1869 at Porbandar in the Kathiawar district of Gujarat. He went to England in 1888 to study Law.
- From 1893 to 1914, he practiced law in South Africa. He witnessed racially discrimination in South Africa and soon became the leader of a struggle against racist authorities in the country.
- He formed the Natal Indian Congress to fight against the racist policies of the South African government. It was here that the unique technique of
- Satyagraha evolved. Gandhi’s Satyagraha was based on truth and non-violence.
- Gandhi returned to India in January 1915 and made an extensive tour of the country in the next three years. In 1917 and 1918, he was involved in three significant struggles—in Champaran (Bihar), in Ahmedabad, and in Kheda in Gujarat.
Methods used by Gandhi during the freedom struggle
It was based on truth and non-violence. It was a fearless, truthful and peaceful technique aimed at fighting injustice. Gandhi differentiated between passive resistance and the principle of Satyagraha—while the former does not exclude the use of physical force, the latter is against the use of any kind of force.
Principle of Non-violence:
Mahatma Gandhi’s principle of non-violence was laid down on the principle that no kind of injury should be caused either by words or by action. Gandhi opined that non-violence is a positive and active force.
Swadeshi means to produce all the necessary goods within the country. Mahatma Gandhi believed that the use of swadeshi goods would make India self-sufficient and self-reliant. He stressed the use of the charkha and khadi.
Mahatma Gandhi made the Indian National Movement a mass movement. He provided leadership to the masses who followed him irrespective of their caste, class, or religious differences.
Champaran Satyagraha (1917)
The peasants at Champaran in Bihar were bound by law to grow indigo on 3/20 part of their land. They had to sell indigo at fixed rates (which were extremely low) to European planters. The indigo cultivators invited Gandhi to look into their miseries and take up their cause. The district administration banned his entry into the district. Gandhi offered Satyagraha due to which an inquiry was ordered into the miseries of indigo cultivators.
Ahmedabad Satyagraha (1918)
Gandhi provided leadership to the mill workers in Ahmedabad in a strike against mill owners who refused to pay higher wages to the workers. He went on a hunger strike. The mill owners finally had to bow down and agreed to give a 35% hike in salaries to the workers.
Kheda Satyagraha (1918)
The crops in 1918 failed in Kheda, and the farmers were not in a situation to pay land revenues to the government. They requested the government to waive off their revenues, but their pleas went unheard. Gandhi took up the cause of the Kheda peasants and offered Satyagraha. Finally, the government was forced to look into their demands and arrived at a settlement with the peasants. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel also played a significant role in the Kheda Satyagraha.