Presentation on theme: "Gandhi in India. India before 1915 Prior to the British, India was ruled by the Mughal Emperors, who did so through agreements with local rulers. Europeans."— Presentation transcript:
India before 1915 Prior to the British, India was ruled by the Mughal Emperors, who did so through agreements with local rulers. Europeans arrived to trade from 1498 onwards, but it was only in the 17 th Century that the East India Company began its involvement. As the Mughal Empire collapsed the Company stepped in to protect its interests, and by 1850 they controlled almost all the subcontinent. The brutal way in which they ruled led to the 1857 rebellion which, although eventually put down, spelled an end to Company rule. The British government took direct control and introduced a number of reforms to prevent a rebellion on that scale ever occurring again.
The Indian nationalist movement The Indian National Congress, founded in 1885, convened annually to discuss the issues facing India. They sent the resolutions they passed to the regime, which tended to ignore them. The Congress was overwhelmingly Hindu, and almost all its delegates were western-educated elites. Other religious groups were worried that an independent India, or even a more autonomous India would lead to the Hindu majority oppressing them. Before the First World War the Congress split between radicals, who wanted immediate independence for India, and moderates, who wanted reform within the existing structure. There were some small terrorist groups, but their impact was minimal – although the British could use them as a pretext for supressing other nationalists.
Gandhi’s goals and principles Gandhi sought swaraj, a word many took to mean political independence for India, but had many more aspects for Gandhi. Swaraj for him was a spiritual concept including freedom from ignorance, self-control and a better society. Gandhi, throughout his time in India, did not seek only to win concessions and ultimately independence from the British, but to combat what he saw as social ills: illiteracy, poor hygiene, animosity between Hindus and Muslims, child marriage, discrimination against the lower castes etc.
Gandhi’s return to India Gandhi returned to India relatively well-known in nationalist circles due to his achievements in South Africa He made a vow of a year’s silence on political matters and spent most of it travelling the country Gandhi made a point of associating with Muslims and Hindus from the lowest classes as he sought to break down social barriers Gandhi founded an ashram where inmates lived lives of manual labour, celibacy and nonviolence, and used only Indian products Gandhi, in contrast to members of the Congress, advocated a non-western style of education in the vernacular language and with a more traditional curriculum.
Champaran Satyagraha 1917 The Champaran region of the Bihar and Orissa province was a very rural area, overwhelmingly reliant on agriculture. Most of the population were illiterate (95%+), and the area was largely isolated from the nationalist movement. Gandhi was asked to travel there to investigate the grievances of workers on indigo plantations in December 1916. The European indigo planters used their powers to raise illegal levies from their tenants, deny them grazing and tree-felling rights, and covered their losses by asking for extra rent in the place of indigo when the international price of the commodity fell. Gandhi led a series of protests and strikes, obtaining a compromise agreement which was overseen by the government and incorporated into law.
Kaira Satyagraha 1918 The Gujurat district of Kaira in the Northern Division of the Bombay presidency suffered bad harvests in 1917 and 1918, and was also hit by sickness and cholera. Gandhi led a satyagraha in which the farmers refused to pay their taxes, and responded to coercion non-violently. Gandhi travelled the region encouraging the protestors and also sought to raise publicity in the rest of the nation for their struggle. A compromise agreement was eventually reached protecting the farmers from the worst consequences of non-payment of tax. As in Champaran, it spread the idea of political protest to another region of India.
Ahmedabad Satyagraha 1918 Gandhi also led a similar movement in Ahmedabad, Indias 8 th largest city. Ahmedabad was a hotbed of industry, and rising prices, combined with lock-outs and the loss of a plague bonus meant mill-workers were also unable to meet the cost of living. Gandhi organised a strike until the demand for a 35% pay increase was met, and used leaflets to encourage and educate the strikers. Gandhi eventually launched a personal hunger-strike, which brought the employers to the negotiation table. Eventually the 35% pay increase was achieved.
Rowlatt Act 1919 The Act extended wartime measures from the Defence of India Act including juryless trials, indefinite detention without charge and strict control of the press. Many nationalists found this completely unacceptable and Gandhi decided to organise another satyagraha, this time on a nationwide scale. On the 6 th April they held a hartal – or day of mourning – where people stopped work and went to meetings. Gandhi then planned to openly sell prohibited books. In some regions, like the Punjab, some protests descended into violence. Government repression was brutal, most infamously in Amritsar, where at least 379 people were killed.
Khilafat Movement A movement among Indian Muslims aimed at pressuring the British into protecting the Ottoman Sultan, who as Caliph was head of the Islamic world, following the First World War. Gandhi agreed to champion the movement, something which won him much Muslim support, which was a great help in his non-cooperation campaign of the early twenties. A growth in communalism and the eventual collapse of the Khilafat Movement led to more Hindu-Muslim animosity from the mid-twenties onwards.
Non-cooperation Gandhi was handed leadership of Congress in 1921 and he changed it from a debating society into an instrument for non- cooperation. The 1922 campaign envisaged: boycotts of courts and schools, resignations from Indian civil servants, boycott of foreign cloth, the adoption of hand-spinning Small, tightly controlled acts of civil-disobedience also planned The boycott of foreign cloth was a success, but the other elements less so. Nevertheless it marked the first major mass mobilisation of people for independence. There were outbreaks of violence once more, showing the limits to which Gandhi was able to control the actions of people who were seen as his followers.
Gandhi’s arrest and imprisonment Following the massacre of 22 police constables Gandhi called off non-cooperation in February 1922. Soon after he was arrested and sent to prison. He was released in February 1924 Both Gandhi and Congress switched their focus away from campaigns of non-cooperation. Congress sought to gain independence through constitutional means, and Gandhi returned to his so-called ‘constructive work’.
The Nehru Report In 1927 the commission reviewing the results of reforms in India in order to determine if she ought to be granted more autonomy failed to include a single Indian. In response some delegates of the Congress drew up the Nehru Report, a draft constitution for India as an autonomous dominion within the Empire. Gandhi brokered a deal between moderates and radicals which involved giving the British until the end of 1929 to accept the Nehru Report or launching a nonviolent campaign for full independence
The Salt Satyagraha The British did not respond, and so Gandhi launched his salt satyagraha. The salt tax was chosen as the focus of civil-disobedience because it was clearly unjust, but also because it didn’t threaten the raj so much as to illicit an overly brutal response. The centre-piece of the campaign was Gandhi’s three-week salt march to Dandi, on the coast, to make his own salt. He was accompanied by 12,000 people. Salt-making took place nationwide, especially in coastal Bengal, Madras and Mumbai. The authorities eventually resorted to violence. In 1931 the Delhi Pact marked the end of the campaign
WWII, ‘Quit India’ and independence In the mid thirties Gandhi returned to his constructive work and Congress returned to the pursuit of independence by constitutional means. The declaration of war on Germany without consultation of Indian opinion saw Congress move once again into open opposition to the government. The ‘Quit India’ campaign led to a violent rebellion with 1,000 killed and 100,000 people arrested. India and Pakistan were granted independence in 1947, though Gandhi was bitterly disappointed that they hadn’t remained united. In 1948 he was assassinated by a Hindu communalist.