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 Why did Gandhiji start the non-cooperation movement? explain

      The last year of the second decade of the twentieth century i.e. 1920 was a year of despair and anger for the people of India. The people of India had hoped that the colonial government would do something for them after the end of the First World War, but the hopes of Indians were shattered by the Rowlatt Act and the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and martial law in Punjab. The people of India had now understood that the British government would only oppress and exploit them.


Why did Gandhiji start the non-cooperation movement? explain

Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms of 1919 and the reaction of Indians

      In 1919, the British government implemented the Montagu Reforms, the purpose of these reforms was to introduce a dual system of governance and not to give relief to the people of India. The Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms aroused dissatisfaction among both Hindus and Muslims. During the First World War, the British had promised to adopt a liberal attitude towards Turkey to seek the cooperation of the Muslims of India, but later the British backed down.

Khilafat Movement and Indian Muslims

      The Caliph of Turkey was considered the religious leader of all Muslim countries, so the Muslims of India also considered him as their religious leader. Indian Muslims felt that the Caliph would no longer have control over the places of worship in Turkey. The Muslims of India were very angry with this.

 Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and Indian Reaction

     After the riots in Punjab after the incident of Jallianwala massacre on 13 April 1919, the Indians, hoping for a fair investigation, expected that the British government would strongly condemn it. But the manner in which the Hunter Committee investigated these incidents aroused anger among the public.

General Dyer honored in Britain

       When General Dyer returned to England, General Dyer’s exploits were upheld in the British Parliament, especially the House of Lords, and the Morning Post collected £30,000 for Dyer. All these actions were enough to tell the reality of the British rule.

Turkey’s Partition and India’s Reaction

         By April 1920, the British government had exhausted all the arguments to justify its wrongdoings. The leaders of the Khilafat movement were clearly told not to expect too much. The 1920 treaty with Turkey was a testimony to the fact that the decision to partition Turkey was final. Gandhiji was also disappointed with this decision as he was a friend of the Khilafat leaders. In November 1919, Gandhi was invited as a special guest to the Khilafat Conference. Now Gandhiji also realized that the British had cheated.

 Gandhiji and Khilafat Movement

1920 AD Gandhiji advised the Khilafat leaders to launch a non-cooperation movement against the British rule. On 9 June 1920, the Khilafat Committee unanimously accepted this suggestion and urged Gandhi to lead the movement.

Congress’s attitude towards the British Government

       In the midst of these events, the Congress had now understood that nothing was going to be achieved through constitutional means. The report of the committee to investigate the Punjab disturbances disappointed the Congress. Congress itself got these incidents investigated and found out the truth. So the disappointed and angry Congress was now ready for the movement. The All India Congress Committee met in May 1920 and it was decided to hold a Congress session in September to decide the future course of action.

Inflation and public reaction due to the First World War

     During the First World War, inflation in India increased tremendously. The laborers, artisans, middle class and lower classes living in towns and cities were all troubled. People were troubled by the shortage of food grains and rising prices. This period of inflation continued even after World War I. The disease of plague was spreading in the village. The public was very angry with the British government.






Start of non-cooperation movement

       The Non-Cooperation Movement broke out on 1 August 1920. Gandhiji had given a notice to the Viceroy (Lord Chamesford) on 22 June itself making it clear that “every man has the right to refuse to cooperate with the ruler who misrules.” Balgangadhar Tilak passed away in the morning of 1st August itself. The mourning of Tilak’s death and the beginning of the movement both coincided. Strikes were observed all over the country, demonstrations were held, meetings were organized, people kept fast.

    Congress approves the non-cooperation movement

The Congress session was held in Calcutta in September 1920. Despite the opposition of many senior leaders, the non-cooperation movement was approved by the Congress, accepting it as its movement. Among those who opposed C. R. Das was the chief who was dissatisfied with the boycott of these Legislative Councils as elections to the Legislative Councils were to be held a few days later. But those who disagreed with the boycott of the Legislative Councils by the Congress followed the discipline of the Congress and did not participate in the elections. Most of the voters also boycotted it.

programs of non-cooperation movement

Congress session was held in Nagpur in December. By this time the infighting within the Congress had also ended as the assembly elections were over. C. R. Slave. It was in this conference that the proposal related to the non-cooperation movement was presented. In this resolution, it was written about the programs to be adopted in the non-cooperation movement — 

 the following programs and measures were to be adopted under the non-cooperation movement

  • resign from government jobs
  • non-payment of tax to the government
  • setting up national schools
  • Return of official titles and citations.
  • Boycott of government schools and colleges.
  • Abolition of English courts.
  • Giving up foreign clothes.
  • Resigning from government jobs.
  • To set up Panchayats for settlement of local disputes.
  • To encourage hand spinning and weaving.
  • To promote Hindu-Muslim unity.
  • make efforts to end untouchability and
  • practice non-violence.

       Gandhi assured that if these programs were fully implemented, independence would be achieved within a year. In this way the Nagpur Congress Convention announced the adoption of methods different from the Constitution. Most of the revolutionary groups also supported this movement.

  Non cooperation movement and role of Congress

Gandhiji knew very well that in order to run a movement for a long time, a committee is needed which can look after all the work throughout the year. In order to take the movement from village to village, local Congress committees were formed on linguistic basis and the membership fee of Congress was kept for ‘four annas’ for one year.

Popularity of non-cooperation movement

    Congress programs filled new energy in the movement. From 1921 the popularity of the movement started increasing all over the country. Gandhi, along with the leaders of the Khilafat movement, the Ali brothers (Shokat Ali, Muhammad Ali), toured the country, gave speeches in hundreds of meetings and met political activists.

      Students affected by the non-cooperation movement, in the first month itself, thousands (according to a figure of 9000) students left government schools and schools and were admitted to national schools and colleges. At that time there were 800 national schools and colleges in the country.

Impact of Bengal Non-Cooperation Movement

The boycott of education was highest in Bengal. The students of Calcutta went on a statewide strike. What was the demand of these students that the managers of the schools should break their ties with the government. CR Das greatly encouraged this movement and Subhas Chandra Bose became the principal of the “National College” (Calcutta).

Effect of non-cooperation movement in Punjab

Education was also boycotted on a large scale in Punjab. Lala Lajpat Rai, who was not a supporter of this movement in the beginning, played a very important role.

     Similarly non-cooperation movement got full support in Bombay, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Assam but failed in Madras.

boycott of government courts

Lawyers did not boycott the courts on a large scale, but the eminent lawyers of the country – CR Das, Motilal Nehru, MR Jayakar, Kichlu, Vallabhbhai Patel, C. Rajagopalachari, T. Prakasam Asaf Ali did the courts. invented. Most of them were Bengali lawyers.

the invention of foreign clothing

The non-cooperation movement boycott of foreign cloth was successful in a big way. Holi of foreign clothes was burnt everywhere. Prabhudas Gandhi accompanied Mahatma Gandhi to the country. The effect of this was that in 1920-21, where foreign clothes worth one billion rupees were imported, in 1921-22 it came down to 57 crores.

Demonstration at ‘toddy’ shops

There was a sit-in demonstration at the shops of ‘toddy’ which was a type of liquor, due to which the British government lost a lot of revenue.

Tilak Swaraj Fund’ In 1921, Congress conference was held in Vijayawada and the workers were asked to collect a fund of one crore in the next three months. In this, Tilak Swaraj Fund was in the forefront, which collected more than one crore rupees in the fund and the membership reached 50 lakhs. Charkha and Khadi were widely promoted.

When Gandhiji wore semi-garments

       This incident happened when Gandhiji was appealing to the students to wear ‘Khadi’ clothes in a meeting. So some people complained that Khadi is too expensive. Gandhiji suggested that wear less clothes, Gandhi himself stopped wearing kurta and dhoti from that day, started wearing loincloth and lived like a half-baked fakir from that day.

Prince of Wales’s visit to India

        On 17 November 1921, the Prince of Wales’ visit to India began and on that day there was a strike all over India including Bombay. But a scuffle broke out between the supporters of the British government and the supporters of the non-cooperation movement and the police opened fire in which 58 people were killed. Gandhi had to sit on a fast for three days, then the riots subsided.

Farmers’ entry into non-cooperation movement

      The non-cooperation movement was having an impact indirectly as well. In Awadh (Uttar Pradesh), the Kisan Sabha and the peasant movement were gaining momentum since 1918. The propaganda of non-cooperation, which was being promoted by Jawaharlal Nehru in Awadh and its countryside, had a great impact. In the meeting, the Kisan Sabha and the non-cooperation movement protested together. Similarly, in Kerala, Malabar farmers were protesting, but here communalism had gained momentum in the movement.
    In Assam, the tea-garden workers went on strike, on which the police opened fire. Farmers went on strike everywhere in the country.

Suppression of non-cooperation movement by the British government

       The government, frightened by the growing popularity of the non-cooperation movement, took the path of repression. In 1921, the new Viceroy, Lord Redding, who came to India, met Gandhiji and asked the Ali brothers not to say things that incite violence in their speeches, but Gandhi refused.

       CR Das was first arrested, later his wife Basanti Devi was arrested. This was strongly opposed in Bengal and thousands of people made their arrests. In the next one month, about 30,000 people were arrested. Many prominent leaders were arrested except Gandhi Joe.

Chauri-Chaura incident and end of non-cooperation movement

     On the other hand, Gandhiji was under constant pressure to launch a civil disobedience movement at the national level. In December 1921, in the Ahmedabad Congress conference itself, the Congress handed over the responsibility of deciding the future strategy. But there was no visible change in the attitude of the British Government. After the all-party conference of 1922, Gandhi wrote a letter to the Viceroy that ‘if the government does not restore civil liberties, does not release political prisoners, then he will be forced to launch a nationwide civil disobedience movement.’ But it had no effect on the government.

    Being compelled, Gandhiji announced the launch of the Civil Disobedience Movement. This movement was about to start from Bardoli taluka (Surat). Gandhi asked the people to be completely disciplined and conduct a non-violent movement. But the Chauri-Chaura incident stopped this movement for 6 years.

Chauri Chaura incident

On 5 February 1922, a procession of Congress and Khilafat took out in Chauri-Chaura. Some of the policemen misbehaved with them, as a result of which a group involved in the procession attacked the police. In response, the police opened fire. The crowd got agitated by this firing. The mob attacked the police, the policemen ran to the police station to save their lives, the mob set the police station on fire. 22 policemen were burnt to death. Hearing this news, Gandhiji announced the end of the movement. On 12 February 1922, the Congress Working Committee agreed to this. Thus ended the movement. Many conflicting questions have arisen in this regard, which we will discuss in detail in the next blog.

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