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Non-cooperation movement

The Non-cooperation movement was a significant phase of the Indian struggle for freedom from British rule. This movement, which lasted from 1920 to 1922, was led by Mohandas Gandhi, and supported by the Indian National Congress. It aimed to resist British occupation of India through non-violent means. Protestors would refuse to buy British goods, adopt the use of local handicrafts, picket liquor shops, and try to uphold the values of Indian honor and integrity. The Gandhian ideals of ahimsa or non-violence, and his ability to rally hundreds of thousands of common citizens towards the cause of Indian independence, were first seen on a large scale in this movement.

Among the significant causes of this movement were colonial oppression, exemplified by the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, economic hardships to the common man due to a large chunk of Indian wealth being exported to Britain, ruin of Indian artisans due to British factory-made goods replacing handmade goods, and popular resentment with the British over Indian soldiers dying in World War I while fighting as part of the British Army, in battles that otherwise had nothing to do with India.

The calls of early political leaders like Mohammad Ali Jinnah (who hardened his stand in the later days of the struggle), Annie Besant, Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Bal Gangadhar Tilak for home rule were accompanied only by petitions and major public meetings. They never resulted in disorder or obstruction of government services. Partly due to that, the British did not take them very seriously. The non-cooperation movement aimed to ensure that the colonial economic and power structure would be seriously challenged, and British authorities would be forced to take notice of the people's demands.

Contents

[edit] Champaran, Kheda, Khilafat and Amritsar

[edit] Success and suspension

The success of the revolt was a total shock to British authorities and a massive encouragement to millions of Indians. Then on February 4, 1922, in the Chauri Chaura, after violent clashes between the local police and the protestors in which three protestors were killed by police firing,[1] the police chowki (pron.-chau key) (station) was set on fire by the mob, killing 22 of the police occupants.

Gandhi felt that the revolt was veering off-course, and was disappointed that the revolt had lost its non-violent nature. He did not want the movement to degenerate into a contest of violence, with police and angry mobs attacking each other back and forth, victimizing civilians in between. Gandhi appealed to the Indian public for all resistance to end, went on a fast lasting 3 weeks, and called off the mass civil disobedience movement.

[edit] Aftermath

The Non-Co-operation Movement was withdrawn because of the Chauri-Chaura incident. Although he had stopped the national revolt single-handedly, on March 10, 1922, Gandhi was arrested. On March 18, 1922, he was imprisoned for two years for publishing seditious materials.

Although most Congress leaders remained firmly behind Gandhi, the disillusioned broke away. The Ali brothers would soon become fierce critics. Motilal Nehru and Chittaranjan Das formed the Swaraj Party, rejecting Gandhi's leadership. Many nationalists had felt that the Non-Cooperation Movement should not have been stopped due to isolated incidents of violence, and most nationalists, while retaining confidence in Gandhi, were discouraged.

Contemporary historians and critics suggest that the movement was successful enough to break the back of British rule, and possibly even result in the independence most Indians strove for until 1947.

But many historians and Indian leaders of the time also defend Gandhi's judgment. If he had not stopped the revolts, India could have descended into a chaotic rebellion which would have alienated common Indians and impress only violent revolutionaries.

[edit] Redemption

Gandhi's commitment to non-violence was redeemed when, between 1930 and 1934, India committed itself to full independence and tens of millions again revolted in the Salt Satyagraha which made India's cause famous worldwide for its unerring adherence to non-violence. The Satyagraha ended in glorious success: the demands of Indians were met, and the Congress Party was recognized as the real representative of the Indian people. The Government of India Act 1935 also gave India its first taste in democratic self-governance.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Chauri Chaura#The Incident



Related topics in the Connexions Subject Index

Alternatives  –  Left History  –  Libraries & Archives  –  Social Change  – 


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