Question: Write a newspaper report on:
- The Jallianwala Bagh massacre
- The Simon Commission
- The Jallianwala Bagh massacre: A public meeting was announced for the 13th April, 1919, at Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar to protest against the Rowlatt Act. The people were allowed to assemble there. After they had gathered there in thousands, General Dyer marched there with armored cars and troops. Without giving any warning to the people to disperse, he ordered firing on the unarmed, and the peaceful people. The casualties among the Indians were very heavy. Dyer’s purpose in doing so was to ‘produce a moral effect’, to create in the minds of Satyagrahis, a feeling of terror and awe. This massacre of innocent people in thousands converted Mahatma Gandhi into a non-cooperator.
- (i) The Indian members of the Central Legislative Assembly exposed the drawbacks in the Government of India Act of 1919 A.D. As a result of it, the Simon Commission was appointed in 1927 A.D. to suggest any further constitutional reforms. This commission consisted of seven members and its Chairman was Sir John Simon.
(ii) Why was it boycotted by the Indians?
But Indians boycotted the Simon Commission, because there was no Indian member in this commission. The terms of the commission’s appointment did not give any indication of ‘Swaraj’, while the demand of the Indians was only ‘Swaraj’. Therefore, the Indian National Congress, the Muslim League and other parties decided to oppose the Simon Commission.
(iii) Methods: Indian people organised hartals all over the country. They also held black flag demonstration with the slogan, “Simon go back”, when the Commission reached Bombay (Mumbai). Such demonstrations were held everywhere it went.
Question: List all the different social groups which joined the Non-Cooperation Movement of 1921. Choose any three, and write about their hopes and struggles to show why they joined the movement.
Answer: Social Groups who took part in the Non-Cooperation Movement. In the Non- Cooperation Movement (1920-1922), the following social groups took part.
(I). Middle-class people in the towns.
- The movement in the cities: The Movement started with middle-class participation in the cities. Thousands of students left government-controlled schools and colleges, headmasters and teachers resigned, and lawyers gave up their legal practices.
- Boycott of council elections: The Council elections were boycotted in most provinces except Madras (Chennai), where the Justice Party, the party of the nonBrahmans, felt that entering the council was one way of gaining some power, something that usually only Brahmans had an access to.
- Swadeshi: The Non-Cooperation Movement had a great impact on the Indian textile industry. Swadeshi goods, especially cloth got a great impetus. Foreign goods were boycotted, liquor shops picketed, and foreign cloth burnt in huge bonfires.
- Impact on industry: In many places, merchants and traders refused to trade in foreign goods or finance foreign trade. Due to this, the demand of Indian textile mills and handlooms went up. The increase in demand provided a big relief to the vanishing textile industry of India.
- Movement in the countryside: Though people in the countryside interpreted the idea of ‘Swaraj’ in their own way but they participated in the movement on large scale. In Awadh, peasants launched the movement against the talukdars and landlords. Whereas the plantation workers launched the movement against the tea estate owners.
(II) Peasants in the rural areas:
- Participants: In the countryside, the movement was led by the peasants, tribal and the local leaders. For example, in Awadh, it was Baba Ramchandra sanyasi, who had earlier been to Fiji as an indentured laborer.
- Why the rural people participated ?
The movement here was not against the Britishers but against talukdars and landlords. The problems of the rural people were different from those of the urban people:
(i). The talukdars and landlords were demanding very high rents and a variety of other taxes.
(ii). Peasants had to do begar and work at the landlord’s farms without any payment.
(iii). The peasants had no security of tenure. They were regularly evicted so that they could acquire no security of tenure.
As the problems of the people were different, their demands were also different. The peasant movement demanded:
(i). Reduction of revenue
(ii). Abolition of begar
(iii). Redistribution of land
(iv). Social boycott of oppressive landlords.
- Ways of protests: The Movement in the countryside had a different angle. In many places, Nai-dhobi bandhs were organised by the Panchayats to deprive the landlords of the services of barbers, cobblers, washermen, etc. Even national leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru went to villages in Awadh to know the grievances of the people. By October, the Awadh Kissan Sabhas were set up headed by Jawaharlal Nehru, Baba Ramchandra, and a few others.
When the movement spread in 1921, the houses of talukdars and merchants were attacked. The movement turned violent which was not liked by some of the Congress leaders.
(III) Tribal people
Most of the tribal people were dependent on forests for their livelihood but under the new Forest Policy, the government had put several restrictions on the people:
- Closing large forest area for the tribal people.
- Forcing the local people to contribute begar.
- Preventing people from entering the forests to graze their cattle, or to collect fuel wood and fruits.
All these steps enraged the hill people. Not only were their livelihoods affected, but they felt that their traditional rights were also being denied. So the people revolted.
(IV) Plantation workers
For plantation workers in Assam, freedom meant the right to move freely in and out of the confined space in which they were enclosed, and it meant retaining a link with the village from which they had come.
- The government had passed the Inland Emigration Act of 1859 under which plantation workers were not permitted to leave the tea estates without permission, and in fact, they were rarely given such permission.
- When the plantation workers heard of the Non-Cooperation Movement, thousands of them defied the authorities, left the plantations and headed towards their homes.
- The plantation workers believed that the Gandhi Raj was coming, and everyone would be given land in their own villages.
Question: Discuss the Salt March to make clear why it was an effective symbol of resistance against colonialism.
Answer: The Salt March was an effective symbol of resistance against colonialism because-
- It was the first time that Indian leaders decided to violate law. People were now asked not only to refuse cooperation with the British, but also to break colonial laws.
- Thousands of Indians in different parts of the country broke the salt law, manufactured salt and demonstrated in front of the government salt factories.
- As the movement spread, foreign cloth was boycotted and liquor shops were picketed. Peasants refused to pay revenue and ‘chaukidari taxes’, village officials resigned, and in many places forest people violated forest laws – going into Reserved Forests to collect wood and graze cattle.
- Worried by the development, the colonial government began arresting the Congress leaders, one by one. This led to violent clashes in many places. Angry crowd demonstrated in the streets, facing armored cars and police firing. Many were killed.
- When Mahatma Gandhi himself was arrested, industrial workers in Sholapur attacked police posts, municipal buildings, law courts and railway stations – all structures that symbolized the British rule.
- The outcome of the movement was the Gandhi-Irwin Pact which was signed by Gandhiji with Irwin on 5th March, 1931. By this Gandhi-Irwin Pact, Gandhiji consented to participate in a Round Table Conference in London and the government agreed to release the political prisoners.