Civil Disobedience Movement In India Essay

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Though the Non-Cooperation Movement failed to achive its goals, yet it succeeded in involving millions of people in the movement against the British Raj. After a gap of about eight years in 1930, the congress again gave the call for a mass movement, known as the Civil Disobideince Movements.

The developments of Indian situation since the withdrawal of Non-Cooperation Movement and the unchanging attitude of the British Government to the Indian Question, prepared the ground for Civil Disobideince Movement.

The announcement of the appointment of a Statutary Commission of seven members under the chairmanship of Sir John Simon on 8 November, 1927 to evaluate the work of the Government of India Act, 1919 with a view to determining the future course of constitutional reforms aroused great political excitement in India. The Congress found, on tplea of an all white commisssion, an oppurtunity to revive the Non-Cooperation spirit. Simon and his team were greeted with Black flags, demonstration and shouts of "Simon goods back" from the very day, that is, 3rd February, 1928 on which they arrived at Bombay. Hartals and massive demonstrations were mounting on a large scale.

The people of orissa showed two-fold reaction to the Simon Commission. The Congress members from Orissa shared are reaction of the Indian National Congress. But many leading men outside the national mainstream took it an opputunity to focus the long standing demand of the people of Orissa for the formation of a separate province by amalgamating the oriya-speaking tracts.

The Lahore session of the Indian National Congress, held in December 1929, marked the beginning of a new phase of freedom struggle. In the session under the presidentship of Jawaharlal Nehru, Congress declared Poorna Swaraj or complete independence as its goal. 26 January 1930 was fixed as the first Independence Day and the people were asked to celebrate with a pledge of Independence Day by declaring freedom as their inalienable right.

The Lahore session also decided to launch a Civil Disobedience Movemnt for the attainment of Poorna Swaraj and authorised Mahatma Gandhi to lead it. In February the congress working Committee met at Sabarmati Ashram and authorised Mahatma Gandhi to chalk out a programme of the Civil Disobedience Movement.

Before launching the movement, Gandhi placed "eleven points" of administrative reform and stated tif Lord Irwin, the Viceroy, accepted them there would be no need of agitation.

The important demands were:

(1) The Rupee-Sterling ration should be reduced.

(2) Land Revenue should be reduced by half and made a subject of legislative control,

(3) Salt tax should be abolished and also the Government salt monopoly,

(4) Military expenditure should be reduced by 50% to begin with,

(5) Protection of Indian textiles and coastal shipping.

(6) All political prisoners should be discharged.

The Government response to Gandhi's proposal was negative. The viceroy gave a brief reply in which he regretted that Gandi was "contemplating a course of action which was clearly bound to involve violation of law and danger to the public peace." Gandhi in his rejoinder said, "On bended knees I asked for bread and received a stone instead. The English nation responds only to force and I am not surprised by viceregal reply."

Gandhi took the decision to start the movement. The Civil Disobideince Movement began with the historic "Dandi March" by Gandhi. On 12 March 1930, he started from Sabarmati Ashram along with 78 Satyagrahis for Dandi, a coastal village in Gujurat where he decided to break the salt law. He walked nearly 200 miles and reached Dandi on 5 April.

The next morning on 6 April, 1930 Gandhi and his fellow Satayagrahis which included Motibas Das, a Khadi student of about 20 years of age from Balasore, prerpared salt in violation of salt law. His action was hailed by all Indians. Jawaharlal Nehru was accompanied Gandhi to Dandi was greatly impressed by Mahatma's exemplary courage and determination to break the salt laws. Subhas Chandra Bose compared the Dandi March of Gandhi to Napoleon's march to Paris from Elba.

On 9 April 1930, Gandhi gave a call for the country-wide Civil Disobedience Movement. He declared "The British rule has brought about moral, material, cultural and spiritual ruination of this great country. I regard this rule as a curse.

I am out to destroy this system of Government ….Sedition has become my religion. Ours is a non-violenet battale. We are not to kill anybody, but it was our "dharma" to see that the curse of this Government is blotted out." He prepared a programme of mass 'Satyagraha' which included;

(1) Salt law should be violated everywhere,

(2) Student should leave college and the giov servants should resign from services,

(3) Foreign clothes should be burnt,

(4) No tax should be paid to the Government,

(5) Women should stage a Dharna at liquor shops etc.

The choice of salt as central issue appeared puzzling initially. Events quickly revealed the enormous potentialities of this choice. "You planned a fine startegy round the issue of salt," Irwin later admitted to Gandhi. Salt was a concrete and a universal grievance of the rural poor, which was almost unique having no socially divisive implications.

Moreover the breaking of the salt law meant a rejection of the Government's claim on the allegianciance of the people. The manufacture of salt also became a part of Gandhian methods of constructive work like Khadi production. Above all, Dandi march and the subsequent countrywide violation of the salt law provided a tremendous impressive demonstration of the power of the non-violent mass struggle.

The people responded to Gandhi's call for Civil Disobideince. Everywhere in the country people joined hartals, demonstartions, and campaign to boycott foreign goods and to refuse to pay taxes. Thousands of women joined the Civil Disobedience Movement in response to Gandhi's call. The movement also spread to North-West frontier preovince where Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, popularly known as "Frontier Gandhi organised a scoiety of non-vioelnt volunteers, called "Khudai Khidmatgars" or the servants of God. These volunteers were devoted to the cause of freedom.

The success of the Civil Disobideince Movement upset the British Government, which as usual, resorted to severe repressive measures. Public meetings were banned and Satyagr ahis were mercilessly lathi-charged.

The congress was declared an unlawful body and restrictions were imposed on press. Gandhi and other leaders of Congress were arrested. But all these intensified the movemnt which remained non-violent in character. As a follow-upon measure, Government arrested about one lakh of Satyagrahis and sent them to jail.

The figure also included large numbers of women Satyagrahis. But, inspite of all these repressive measures, the Government failed to supress the movement. At lat it proposed a round table conference of Indian leaders and spokesmen of the British Government in London to discuss Indian problems and Simon Commission Report.


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