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
    epidemic.

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.

Khilafat Movement:

  • 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.

Non-Cooperation Movement:

  • 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.

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