Chapter 25: CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

Introduction

Gandhiji started the program by marching with his followers from Ahmadabad to Dandi to break the salt tax. Gandhiji even asked women to participate in the movement by picketing in front of liquor shops.


Boycott on foreign cloth was strictly followed even by mill owners. In north where scope of salt Satyagraha was less people defied government authority by not paying chowkidari tax. No rent no revenue campaigns too were started in some states. 


Round table conference


The Simon commission submitted the report but no mention was made in it of dominion status. This infuriated the moderates. The round table conferences that were held to discuss with the parties but congress did not participate in this exercise which rendered it useless.


The British prime minister announced that the congress would be participating in the round table conference. Viceroy released Gandhiji and all the leaders of the congress so that they could respond to the PM's message. The congress working committee then authorized Gandhiji to hold discussions with viceroy. In these talks Gandhi Irwin pact was signed which was a provisional settlement.


Under this pact all political prisoners not arrested for violence were released. The confiscated lands not yet sold were returned, government employees who had resigned were given leniency, the making of salt was allowed on coastal villages and non violent picketing was allowed. Congress also agreed to withdraw the civil disobedience. They would also participate in the second round table conference.


The decision of not returning land of those who had lost it to third party and no decision on commutation of death penalty of Bhagat Singh and others was criticized. The congress met in Karachi after the pact was signed to endorse it and let Gandhiji participate in the second round table conference. However six days earlier Bhagat Singh and others were hanged even though Gandhiji tried his best to save them he couldn’t. All along Gandhiji’s route to Karachi he was greeted with black flags.


Results of the civil disobedience movement:

  1. 90000 were imprisoned [thrice that of non cooperation movement]
  2. import of foreign cloth, liquor fell
  3. Government revenue from cigarettes and rent was affected.
  4. Elections to legislative assembly were boycotted.


Drawbacks of the movement:


  1. The participation of Muslims was less due to the advice of the communal leaders and the government’s efforts to push communalism as response to nationalism.
  2. Industrial workers didn’t participate in large number except in Nagpur.

The civil disobedience movement was the most popular and organized mass movement of the freedom struggle.


Karachi Session of the Congress


The Karachi session in 1931 was known for the drafting of the fundamental rights and the national economic program. This was for the first time that congress decided what Swaraj meant for the masses.


1.      Basic civil rights of free speech, free press, free assembly, and freedom of association;

2.       equality before the law irrespective of caste, creed or sex;

3.       neutrality of the state in regard to all religions;

4.       elections on the basis of universal adult franchise; and

5.       free and compulsory primary education.

6.       relief of agricultural indebtedness and control of usury;

7.       Better conditions for workers including a living wage, limited hours of work and protection of women workers;

8.      The right to organize and form unions to workers and peasants; and state ownership or control of key industries, mines and means of transport.

9.      Culture, language and script of the minorities and of the different linguistic areas shall be protected.


Result of Round table Conference


Gandhiji went to attend the second round table conference in London. The British political opinion was against giving any concessions to India. The government had handpicked communalists, careerist, landlord, bureaucrats for the round table conference. It wanted to show that congress didn’t represent majority. At the conference the British refused to concede the demand for freedom. Hence Gandhiji returned empty handed.


The British policy meanwhile had changed and their stance hardened. The new policy discarded all truce provisions and declared Gandhiji couldn’t be treated as equal with the government. Also it had prepared for a showdown with the nationalists to prevent any revival of the movement. The government had armed itself with draconian ordinances and martial law. It had unleashed brutality on peaceful picketers. Thousands were arrested and put in jails.


Second Phase of Civil disobedience


When Gandhiji landed back the congress working committee had called for a meeting to discuss the revival of civil disobedience. But government arrested all top leaders of the congress. The draconian ordinances passed were to establish martial law. Non violent protestors were brutally oppressed. No tax and no rent campaigns to were treated with harshness.


Though the people fought back the leaders couldn’t build a tempo and the movement was crushed. In all the second phase of the civil disobedience movement lingered till 1934 and then was withdrawn by Gandhiji.


Many leader like SC Bose and Vithalbhai Patel criticized Gandhiji’s decision. They wanted the congress to be reorganized with new leader. But the decision was due to the fact that people needed to rest and regroup for the next fight. They had not lost their faith in congress yet.





Q.Who of the following organized a march on the Tanjore coast to break the Salt Law in April 1930? (UPSC CSAT 2015)


  • V.O Chidambaram Pillai


  • C. Rajagopalachari


  • K. Kamaraj


  • Annie Besant



Ans . B


  1. He was arrested in April 1930 for leading a salt march from Trichinopoly to Vedaranniyam on the Tanjore coast.

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