Rise of Gandhi and Freedom Movement of India: SEBA Class 10 History

Rise of Gandhi
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This article gives a brief summary of the chapter "Rise of Gandhi and the Freedom Movement of India" which is the second chapter of the History textbook of Class 10 under the Board of Secondary Education, Assam. The facts mentioned in this article is in accordance with the textbook.

A brief profile of Mahatma Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi, was born at Porbandar in Gujarat on October 2, 1869, in a well-to-do family. He went to England the year 1888 to study law and returned to the country in the year 1891 as a Barrister and started working here.

However, after a brief stint as a lawyer both in Rajkot and Bombay, he proceeded to Natal, South Africa in the year 1893. This was a turning point in his life. In South Africa, he was shaken by the political and social discriminations of Indians living there imposed by the Europeans. He himself was humiliated a number of times which caused the rise of Gandhi as the leader of the struggling Indians against racial discrimination.

In South Africa, he founded a political association known as Natal Indian Congress and started a newspaper called "Indian Opinion." It was during this struggle that he took the path of non-violent resistance later known as Satyagraha against humiliating laws. The word "Satyagraha" was used by Gandhi for the first time in South Africa. It means "holding on to the truth."

His struggles in South Africa transformed him into an idealist leader. He returned to India in the year 1915 and joined Congress. Soon after returning to India, he solved three local disputes in Champaran (North Bihar), Kheda (Gujarat) and Ahmedabad which paved the way for the rise of Gandhi as a powerful leader.

Non-violence Movement, Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and rise of Gandhi

As the revolutionary activities were rising rapidly in the country, In the year 1917, Governor-General Lord Chelmsford appointed a Committee under the Chairmanship of Justice Sydney Rowlatt to investigate the nature and extent of revolutionary activities, and to suggest legislation to deal with them. Soon after, the government passed the Rowlatt Act in 1919. This enabled the government to arrest and imprison anyone without trial.

In the same year, Gandhi started Satyagraha or the Non-Violence movement in India. The movement was launched on April 6, 1919, with a day of hartal or bandh. The business was suspended and the people were asked to fast and pray. Soon, the movement became a mass movement. It propelled the rise of Gandhi as a pan India leader. He was soon arrested but was set free. The government, however, was able to suppress it.

On April 13, 1919, a public meeting was held at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar. The meeting ground was confined on every side by tall walls and had one narrow entrance. Prior to the meeting, no steps were taken by the British government to prevent it, but during the meeting, General Dyer appeared with his troops. Under the orders of General Dyer, the British troops mercilessly fired on the unarmed and defenceless people which resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives.

The Khilafat Movement

The Muslims considered the Sultan of Turkey as their Khalifa or spiritual head and were upset when they found out that he would retain no control over his empire's holy places. The Muslims, as a consequence of the events in Turkey, formed a Khilafat Committee under the leadership of Maulana Shaukat Ali and Mohammad Ali. Its objective was the restoration of the Sultan of Turkey as Khalifa (Caliph) of Islam. Gandhi decided to extend support to the Khilafat Movement as he viewed it as a good opportunity to bring Muslims and Hindus together in the country against the British. He successfully persuaded the Khilafat Committee to accept the non-violent non-cooperation movement to force the government to accept its demands.

The Non-Cooperation Movement

The Non-cooperation Movement was one of the major events in the Indian struggle for independence. Started in 1920, the movement lasted till 1922. Under Mahatma Gandhi's leadership, the movement aimed at British rule through non-violence (ahimsa). As part of the movement, people refused to buy British goods, used only local products and picketed liquor shops. The goal of the movement was to uphold Indian honour and integrity in a peaceful manner. Some of the significant factors which resulted in the movement were the discontent over World War I as it had taken a big toll on India's economy and human resource, the growing British oppression of Indians as demonstrated by the Rowlatt Act of 1919, the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919, the economic exploitation of India by the British, and the launching of the Khilafat movement to ensure the protection of the Ottoman Empire.

Civil Disobedience Movement

The formation of the Simon Commission was one of the major factors leading to the Civil Disobedience Movement. The commission included only the British Parliament members and came into effect in November 1927 to report the working of the constitution established by the Government of India Act of 1919. The Indians saw it as an insult that no Indians was part of the commission when the objective of the commission was to frame laws for the country and the people.

In 1929, at Lahore Congress, it was decided that the goal of the Congress was to attain Puma Swaraj or complete independence for India. Consequently, on 26 January 1930, 'Puma Swaraj Day' was celebrated in India. On 31 January 1930, Gandhi gave an ultimatum to the Viceroy Lord Irwin to remove the evils of the British rule with a list of demands. So9me of the demands were the prohibition of the use of intoxicants, change of the ratio of rupee and sterling, reduction of the rate of land revenue, the abolition of the salt tax, reduction of military expenditure, reduction of expenditure on civil administration, the imposition of customs duty on foreign cloths, acceptance of the Postal Reservation Bill, the abolition of the Crime Investigation Department, the release of all political prisoners etc.

The British government, however, didn't respond within the stipulated time and the Civil Disobedience Movement was therefore launched with the famous Dandi March.

Quit India Movement, India's independence and formation of Pakistan

At the Lahore session of the Muslim League in March 1940, Jinnah in his Presidential Address impressed on his two-nation theory i.e., a separate homeland for the Muslims called Pakistan. The English, who wanted to weaken the national movement, also encouraged the separatist spirit.

In August 1942, Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement. The nation was inspired by his slogan of 'Do or Die' ('Karo ya Maro') and support from all over the country poured in for the movement. Thousands of people were arrested and imprisoned as part of the movement.

On August 15, 1947, British domination over India came to an end. This also led to the partitioned of the country into India and Pakistan. Mohammad Ali Jinnah became the first Governor-General of Pakistan, while Lord Mountbatten was appointed as the first Governor-General of Free India. Jawaharlal Nehru was sworn in as Independent India's first Prime Minister. On August 17, 1947, the Radcliffe Line was accepted as the boundary demarcation line between India and Pakistan.

In March 1971, when Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) became Independent from Pakistan, the Radcliffe Line remained as the demarcation line between India' and Bangladesh.

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