Effects of First World War on India
- The First World War led to a huge increase in defence expenditure.
- This was financed by war loans and by increasing taxes.
- Custom duties were raised and income tax was introduced to raise extra revenue.
- Prices of items increased during the war years.
- The prices doubled between 1913 and 1918.
- The common people were the worst sufferers because of price rise.
- Forced recruitment of rural people in the army was another cause of widespread anger among people.
- Crop failure in many parts of India resulted in acute shortage of food.
- Influenza epidemic further aggravated the problem.
- According to 1921 census people died because of famines and
Arrival of Mahatma Gandhi and Satyagraha
- Mahatma Gandhi returned to India in January, 1915.
- His heroic fight for the Indians in South Africa was well known.
- His novel method of mass agitation known as Satyagraha had yielded good results.
- The idea of Satyagraha emphasized the power of truth and the need to search for truth.
- In 1916, Gandhiji traveled to Champaran in Bihar to inspire the peasants to struggle against the oppressive plantation system
- Mahatma Gandhi advocated a novel method of mass agitation; called Satyagraha.
- This method was based on the idea that if someone is fighting for a true cause, there is no need to take recourse to physical force to fight the oppressor.
- Gandhiji believed that a satyagrahi could win a battle through non-violence, without being aggressive or revengeful.
Some early Satyagraha movements organized by Gandhiji :
- Peasants’ Movement in Champaran (Bihar) in 1916.
- Peasants’ Movement in Kheda district (Gujarat) in 1917.
- Mill workers’ Movement in Ahmedabad in 1918
Notes on Nationalism in India for Class 10th History
The Rowlatt Act (1919) :
- The Rowlatt Act was passed by the Imperial Legislative Council in 1919.
- The Indian members did not support the Act, but it was passed; nevertheless.
- The Act gave enormous powers to the government to repress political activities.
- It allowed detention of political prisoners without trial for two years.
- On 6th April, 1919; Gandhiji launched a nationwide Satyagraha against the proposed Rowlatt Act.
- The call of strike on 6th April got huge response. People came out in support in various cities, shops were shut down and workers in railway workshops went on strike.
- The British administration decided to clamp down on the nationalists.
- Several local leaders were arrested. Mahatma Gandhi was barred from entering Delhi.
Jallianwalla Bagh :
- On 10th April 1919, in Amritsar the police fired upon a peaceful procession. This provoked widespread attacks on government establishments.
- Martial law was imposed in Amritsar and the command of the area was given
to General Dyer.
- The infamous Jallianwalla Bagh Massacre took place on 13th April, the day on which Baisakhi is celebrated in Punjab
- A crowd of villagers came to participate in a fair in Jallianwalla Bagh. This was enclosed from all sides with narrow entry points.
- General Dyer blocked the exit points and opened fire on the crowd. Hundreds of people were killed in the incident.
- Public reaction to the incident took a violent turn in many north Indian towns.
- The government was quite brutal in its response. Things took highly violent turn.
- Mahatma Gandhi called off the movement as he did not want violence to continue.
- The Khilafat issue gave Mahatma Gandhi an opportunity to bring the Hindus and Muslims
on a common platform.
- The Ottoman Turkey was badly defeated in the First World War
- There were rumors about a harsh peace treaty likely to be imposed on the Ottoman emperor, who was the spiritual head of the Islamic world (the Khalifa).
- A Khilafat committee was formed in Bombay in March 1919 to defend the Khalifa.
- This committee had leaders like the brothers Muhammad Ali and Shaukat Ali.
- They also wanted Mahatma Gandhi to take up the cause to build a united mass action.
- At the Calcutta session of the Congress in September 1920, the resolution was passed to launch a Non-Cooperation movement in support of Khilafat and also for swaraj.
- In his famous book Hind Swaraj (1909), Mahatma Gandhi declared that British empire was established in India with the cooperation of Indians, and had survived only because of this cooperation.
- Indians refused to cooperate, British rule in India would collapse within a year, and swaraj would come.
- Gandhiji believed that if Indians begin to refuse to cooperate, the British rulers would have no other way than to leave lndia.
- Some of the proposals of Non-Cooperation Movement:
- Surrender the titles which were awarded by the British government.
- Boycott of civil services, army, police, courts, legislative councils and schools.
- Boycott of foreign goods.
- Launch full civil disobedience campaign, if the government persisted with repressive measures.
Differing Strands within the Movement :
- The Non-Cooperation-Khilafat Movement began in January 1921.
- Various social groups participated in this movement, each with its own specific aspiration.
- All of them responded the call of Swaraj, but the term meant different’ things to different people
- The peasants’ movement in Awadh was led by Baba Ramchandra. He was a sanyasi who had earlier
- in Fiji as an indentured labourer. The peasants were against the high rents and may other cesses, which demanded by talukdars and landlords.
- The peasants demanded reduction of revenue, abolition of begar, social boycott of oppressive landlords.
- Peasants : Tribal peasants gave their own interpretation of Mahatma Gandhi and the idea of swaraj.
- They were prevented from entering the forests to graze cattle, or to collect fruits and firewood.
- The new forest laws were a threat to their livelihoods. The government forced them to do begar on road construction.
- Many rebels from the tribal areas became non-violent and often carried guerrilla warfare against the British officials.
- In the Plantation The plantation workers were not permitted to leave the tea gardens without permission
- As per the Indian Emigration Act of 1859. When the news of Non-Cooperation Movement spread to the plantations, many workers began to defy the authorities.
- They left plantations and headed towards their homes
- But they got stranded on the way because of a railway and steamer strike.
- They were caught by the police brutally beaten up.