Gandhi:The Unifier of Indian Masses
Arrival of Gandhi
MohanDas Karam Chand Gandhi returns back to India in 1915 at Bombay from S.Africa after having spent nearly 2 decades struggling against the Brits and their laws like Pass law, Marriage law. He went there on the Invitation of DadaBhai Abdullah, a Gujrati businessman to fight a court case for him. Gandhi's education and his barrister degree quickly made him popular amongst Indians working in S.Africa. In S.Africa, He edited 'The Indian Opinion' and established his Ashram 'Tolstoy' in Phoenix which he had fondly named after one of his favorite writer/thinker Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) the author of famous book "War and Peace"
Understanding Gandhi's Ashram
In his Ashram, Gandhi would teach and practice self sufficiency and being able to enjoy the work you do with your hand. In his views no work is better or worse rather everything has its own importance, He will even clean toilets which were shared and had to cleansed by carrying away the filth, this was something which many at his ashram found very demeaning and for this very reason he had an argument with KasturBa (his wife).
Gandhi would teach in his ashram few values which one had to practice while living there. Truthfulness- because it sets you free and makes you fearless, when you have nothing to hide. No Stealing- stealing for Gandhi is broader than how its commonly understood, for him accumulation is also a form of stealing. Brahmcharya for even married couples unless they want to have children. Self sufficiency so we don't rely upon others to provide for us. Restrict your palette because overindulgence of food leads to laziness and disease. Have respect for others' culture and religion for every religion has truth in it.
Gandhi In India
Gandhi's Journey in India as a politician began in 1915, and he started his journey by deciding to go on a train ride across India and he was on his journey when he was called by the peasants of Champaran, Bihar. He reluctantly answered their call and agreed to visit upon his arrival he was stopped at the railway station by the police and asked to go back, Gandhi's question ,"Under what law?" he was still detained and produced before a judge who asked him to pay fine or he will be jailed, Gandhi refused to pay fine and was jailed however he was released through an executive order overruling the local judges judgement. This little incident had a big impact on the local populas and strengthened their admiration for Gandhi, because an Indian being released without paying any fine and before completing his sentence was almost unheard of under Crown's Rule.
Satyagrah was Gandhi's way of defiance and struggle and could be explained in few key points
- Search for the truth
- Insist on the truth
- Make god a witness
- Change your opponents heart through self struggle
Through these principles of struggle Gandhi worked and unified Indians for the common cause, his Idea of non-violence resonated with millions of Indians because Indians by and large are a people who are not violent and because of non-violent means of protests women and children started to join the struggle of Gandhi against foreign rule.
Champaran Satyagrah 1917
The peasants of champaran were unhappy with tinkathiya system of contract under which they had to cultivate 3/20th of their land with the crop they had in their contract which in champaran was indigo. Initially the farmers were happy because indigo was in high demand and thus the contractors paid them good money however WWI and German synthetic dye reduced the demand and price of Indian Indigo in European market, another issue was the fertility of soil decreased in the land where indigo was cultivated making it more hard for peasants to survive because they also had to pay taxes. The terms of the contract were as such that farmers couldn't just stop farming Indigo and contractors would ask them high amount of money to waive off the terms of contract.
Once Gandhi had listened to the plight of the peasants he asked them to stop planting Indigo and remain firm on their stance while staying united.
Dr. Rajendra Prasad
Anugrah Narain Sinha
Bhula Bhai Desai
An enquiry commission was established and Gandhi was made a member of the commission, which gave recommendations that peasants should not be forced if they don't want to continue the contract and that they should be allowed to grow crops on their lands without any force and limitations.
Ahmadabad Satyagrah 1918
Mill workers in Ahmadabad went on a strike demanding the continuation of the plague bonus which they were getting until last year however the industrialists were not ready and refused. Gandhi visited the workers and heard their reasons and he extended his support to the workers and decided to fast along with striking workers this made the industrialists who were Indians too agree to take the issue to a tribunal which decided to award 35% of the plague bonus instead of 50% which the workers demanded, Gandhi advised the workers to accept the reduced bonus and ended his fast by reconciling the workers and the industrialists .
Kheda Satyagrah 1918
Farmers in Kheda, Gujrat were protesting against taxes which they were required to pay even though their crop failed. Gandhi sent Vallabh Bhai Patel and Indulal Yagnik to kheda to find out the reason of protests, who after understanding the issue of farmers advised the farmers not to pay taxes and not to break their resolves rather stay firm on their demands while protesting through non violent means. The resolve of farmers lead the government to issue a circular stating that no taxes would be collected from those farmers whose crop had failed, Gandhi and other leaders agreed to it and ended their protest.
Rowlett's Act 1919
A controversial act of the crown's government aimed at curbing the revolutionaries who were becoming a problem for the foreign rule and to deal with them and their supporters the government brought this act which gave the police power to arrest anyone on mere suspicion without any evidence and jail them for up to two years.
Every Political party opposed the act, Jinnah resigned from imperial council.
Gandhi called for Sarvadharm Prarthna Sabha under the banner of 'SatyaGrahi Sabha' and called for an All India Strike which stopped the nation, people in every city gathered in large numbers and protested against the act. In Delhi it was being led by M.A.Ansari and Asaf Ali, In Punjab the protestors were led by Dr. Satyapal Malik and Saifuddin Kichlu and in one such gathering in JalianWalan Bagh Protestors were present in a large number and were protesting peacefully but police under the command of General Dyer opened fire on to the protestors which killed more than thousand individuals but in government records it was only 370+.
The nation was shocked, Gandhi fearing violence called of protests, Rabindra Nath Tagore returned his Knighthood in response to the Hunter's Report which was set up to investigate Gen. Dyers action.