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Kerala Plus Two History Chapter Wise Questions and Answers Chapter 12 Mahatma Gandhi and the Nationalist Movement (Civil Disobedience and Beyond)
Who was the political guru of Gandhi?
In which Satyagraha did Gandhi intervene for the workers?
The law that empowered the British to arrest and imprison without trial?
Following which incident did Gandhi withdraw his Non¬Cooperation Movement?
In which Meeting did the Congress declare Poprna Swaraj?
Who is the leader known as Frontier Gandhi?
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan
The Last Plan that tried to maintain India’s Unity?
June 3 Plan
Historian Chandran Devanesan says that Gandhi was made by South Africa. Evaluate this statement.
In 1893, Gandhi went to South Africa as the legal advisor of a Gujarati Business Firm. He spent two decades there. During that time he became the undisputed leader of the Indians there. He led the fight against the racial discrimination policy of theSouth African government.
Historian Devanesan says that Gandhiji was made in South Africa because of the following:
a) It was here that Gandhi formulated his non-violent method of protest was known as satyagraha.
b) It was here that Gandhi tried to encourage religious tolerance.
c) It was here that he demanded to end the discrimination against women and lower classes
During a classroom discussion, a student said that, the speech of Gandhi in the Banaras Hindu University pointed to his ideas and activities. Do you agree with this? Justify.
Gandhi began his speech by severely criticizing the upper classes of India. He accused them of neglecting the poor working-class people. He praised the glorious inaugural function of the Banaras Hindu University. He then talked about the disparity between the people fortunate enough to attend the function and the millions of people who had no chance of attending such functions. He told the rich and the specially invited guests to contribute their ornaments for the welfare of the poor people in India.
He then told them that India won’t be really free when there is such a huge disparity between the rich and the poor. He added that by exploiting the work of the peasants or helping in such exploitation, autonomous government or freedom will be meaningless. Only through farmers, India can be free. Advocates, doctors, the rich and landowners won’t bring us freedom. The inauguration of the Banaras Hindu University was a time for celebration.
The University was established by using the money and efforts of Indians. Gandhi, in his speech, was trying to show the absence of farmers and workers, who formed the vast majority of Indians, on such an important occasion. His Banaras speech was to show that the Indian National Movement had become a movement of the upper-class people.
Which were the early Satyagrahas of Gandhiji? How did they help Gandhiji in his entry to Indian politics?
Gandhiji’s first Satyagraha was that of Champaran in Bihar. The indigo farmers there were exploited by the European estate owners. The farmers were forced to cultivate indigo in place of other crops. Then they were forced to sell the indigo at the prices determined by the estate owners. In 1917, Gandhi went to Champaran and studied in detail about the pathetic situation of the farmers there. Authorities asked Gandhi to go away from the place but he did not obey. He continued his research. He wanted to ensure that the farmers could cultivate what they wanted and not what others wanted. Ultimately, the government appointed a Commission. The Commission approved most of the demands of the farmers. Gandhi succeeded in his first attempts at Satyagraha.
In 1918, Gandhiji led two protest movements. One was in Ahmedabad and the other was in Kheda. Gandhi interfered in a dispute between the workers and the owners of a cloth mill in Ahmedabad. In 1919, the workers embarked on a strike demanding increased wages. Gandhi took up this issue. He started a fast unto death demanding increased wages to the workers and better working conditions for them. The mill owners were ready to negotiate. The wages of the workers were increased by 35%.
In Kheda Gandhi fought for the farmers. Because of a serious draught, farmers in Kheda had a serious problem as their crops were damaged. Gandhi told the farmers not to give taxes until some reductions in the taxes were made. Finally, the government approved the demand of the farmers and Gandhi ended his satyagraha.
- The Champaran, Kheda and Ahmedabad satyagaha of Gandhi were a preparation for his entry into Indian National Movement. These activities helped him in understanding the problems of the people.
- They helped Gandhi to have close contacts with people. The sympathy he showed to the poor people helped him to get a place in their hearts.
All the early struggles of Gandhiji were local ones. Soon the British themselves gave him a chance to have a bigger platform for his working. Some incidents in 1919 led Gandhi to be in the forefront of the Indian National Movement.
The Non-Cooperation Movement was the first strong fight of Gandhi against the British. Discuss the causes, the processes, the direction and the results of the Non Cooperation Movement.
The Non-Cooperation Movement was the first strong moment of Gandhi against the British. It was part of Gandhi’s concept of non-violence. In the beginning he co-operated with the British. He believed in their sense of righteousness. He showed his loyalty to the British in the First. World War by asking the Indians to join the British army. But some developments in 1919 made Gandhi change his attitude. The Rowlett Acts, Jalian Wala Bagh tragedy, the Khilafat Movement etc. were some of them.
The Non-Cooperation Movement had three aims:
- Find a solution to the Punjab problem.
- Solve the Khilafat issue.
- Gain swaraj.
Non-Cooperation Movement was a political process based on non-violence. It had both constructive and destructive procedures. These were the constructive things:
- Swadeshi propaganda
- Abolition of untouchability
- Promotion of Hindu-Muslim unity
- Prohibition (of alcohol)
- Nationalization of education
- Encouraging the use of the spinning wheel (charkha) and khadi
The negative things were rather extreme in nature. The main thing was boycott.
- Boycott government educational institutions, courts, assemblies, etc.
- Boycott official functions
- Boycott foreign clothes and goods
- Give up government jobs, titles, positions and rewards
- Refuse to give taxes
The exhortations of Gandhiji had great effect. Students boycotted government institutions. Thousands of workers in cities and towns went on strike. Official records show that in 1921 there were 396 strikes involving 6 lakh workers. 7 lakh working days were lost. In the Non-Cooperation Movement, women and farmers took active part. Many women came out of their purdah to take part in the protests.
The Movement spread even to villages. The forest dwellers in Andhra Pradesh broke the forest laws. Farmers of Awadh and Bihartook part in the struggle by refusing to pay taxes. The farmers of Kumaon (Uttarakhand) refused to carry the goods of the Colonial officers. Often these protests were done against the instructions of regional leaders. Instead of taking orders from higher authorities, they refused to cooperate with the Colonial administration.
The greatest success was in the boycott of foreign clothes. People went from house to house, collecting foreign clothes and burnt them in public. People encouraged the use of local goods (swadeshi). The most dramatic events of the Non-Cooperation Movement were the boycotts during the visit of the Prince of Wales to India. When he landed in India in November 1921, what he met with were hartals and protest marches. People boycotted him wherever he went.
The government tried all means to suppress the Movement. All leaders except Gandhiji were arrested. Thousands were jailed. Police often fired at the protesters. But all these repressive measures only increased the strength of the Movement.
The Chauri-Chaura incident was big jolt to the Movement. Gandhi was forced to stop the Movement. Violence in Chauri-Chaura occurred when police fired at a procession of farmers. The enraged farmers attacked the Chauri-Chaura police station and burnt it. 22 policemen were killed. This shocked Gandhiji. He realized that people were not yet ready to fight using non-violence. On 22 February 1922, he decided to withdraw the Non-Cooperation Movement. He said that no provocation would justify the killing of the 22 policemen.
- The Non-Cooperation Movement was a significant milestone. In the biography of Mahatma Gandhi, Louis Fischer (American) says that the Non-Cooperation Movement was big turning point in the history of India and also the life of Gandhi. It combined denial, sacrifice, and self-control. Fischer says it was some kind of training for autonomy.
- After the 1857 Revolt, this was the first incident that shook the foundation of the British Raj.
- During this Movement, thousands of Indians were imprisoned. People gained the strength to withstand persecutions and tortures.
- In fact, it was India’s first most popular Movement. It was through this, the national struggle gained momentum and became such a huge movement. All kinds of people took part in it. Congress became a popular organization.
- It created awareness among people against evils like untouchability and alcoholism. It encouraged national education and use of local goods.
- It paved the way for the formation of the Swarajist Party.
How did the farmers see Gandhi? Why was it possible for Gandhi to become very close to people?
By 1922, Gandhi was able to make the Indian Nationalism a highly popular Movement. Until then it was a Movement of intellectuals and professionals. But soon, with the efforts of Gandhi, thousands of farmers, artisans and workers joined the Movement. Many of them started calling Gandhi ‘Mahatma’ showing him their respect. He was not like other leaders who preferred to keep some distance from people. He sympathized with them and became one of them. He lived like them, and dressed like them. He also spoke in their language.
To start his Civil Disobedience Movement, why did Gandhi choose breaching the Salt Law?
Gandhi planned a new way of struggle against the British. This was the Civil Disobedience Movement. He said he would start it by breaking the Salt Law. Salt Law was one of the laws that Indians hated most. This law made the making and selling of salt a government monopoly.
Although each household needed salt, the government did not allow anybody to make it even for personal use. People were forced to buy salt at a high price from shops. The government also doubled the salt tax. The anger of the people increased. Gandhi knew that salt tax was more harmful to people than other taxes.
Gandhi’s move to breach the salt law was a strategic one. He knew by this he could make the people fight against the government. Thus salt law became an important landmark in India’s freedom struggle.
Why was the spinning wheel chosen as a national symbol?
Gandhi was very critical of machines saying that they made people their slaves and they took away employment opportunities of people. He objected to the extensive use of machines and technology. He saw the spinning wheel as a symbol of humanity. He though that the spinning wheel brought extra income to people and made them self-sufficient and self- reliant.
What were the contents (agenda) of the Round Table Conferences?
The Dandi March opened the eyes of the British. They realized the need to give more representation to the Indians in the government. With this aim, the British government called for Round Table Conferences in London. The first Round Table Conference (RTC) was summoned when the Civil Disobedience Movement was going on. It was in 1930. But it was boycotted by all-important political leaders of India. Congress also boycotted it. Thus the first RTC was without any use.
In September 1931, the 2nd RTC was summoned in London, Gandhi said Congress would represent India. But this was objected by 3 groups-Muslim League, the local kings and Ambedkar.
- The Muslim League claimed that it represented the interests of the Muslims.
- The local kings said that in their kingdoms, Congress, had no support.
- B.R. Ambedkar, who was a lawyer and thinker, said that Congress did not represent the lower class people.
In November 1932, the British Government summoned the 3rd RTC. Congress representatives did not attend this Conference. This Conference formulated certain principles regarding the future Indian Constitution. It was on the basis of these that the India Act of 1935 was passed.
a) The India Act of 1935 marked the beginning of the Representative government in India. There were basic changes in the Provinces. It ended dual administration and brought in provincial autonomy.
b) This Act allowed the right to vote in a limited manner. In 1937, there were elections to the Provinces. Congress got big victories. In 8 of the 11 Provinces, Congress was able to form ministries. Even then Congress Ministers were to work under the British Governor’s supervision and control.
Describe the importance of the 1929 Lahore Meeting of the Congress.
The Annual Meeting of the Congress was held in Lahore in December 1929. It was a historic meeting. Here are the reasons for its importance.
- Jawaharlal Nehru was elected as the President of the Congress. It was an indication that the leadership of the Congress was going into young hands.
- It passed a resolution saying that the ultimate aim of the Congress was ‘Poorna Swaraj’.
- It decided to celebrate 26 January 1930 all over India as the Day of Independence.
- It decided to embark on Civil Disobedience Movement under Gandhiji.
Evaluate the background and nature of Quit India Movement.
After the failure of Cripps Mission, Gandhiji decided to start his third phase of struggle against British rule. This is known as Quit India Movement. It started in August 1942. The immediate cause of this Movement was the failure of the Cripps Mission. Gandhi demanded that the British should leave India peacefully and in a timely manner. Congress accepted that idea. On 8 August 1942, Congress met at Bombay and passed a resolution asking the British to quit India. The resolution made it clear that to make the British go away, a struggle would be organized under Gandhi. This struggle is known as Quit India Movement. Gandhi asked the people to come into the open with the slogan ‘Do or Die’.
- It was a popular movement. Thousands of ordinary people came with their support. Youths were ready to quit colleges and go to jail.
- It showed the willingness of the people to suffer for freedom and to go to any extent to achieve freedom.
- It made the British realize that their days were numbered. It forced them to negotiate the transfer of power.
- It brought world’s attention to the Indian struggle for freedom.
How far are autobiographies useful for recreating history? What are their limitations?
Autobiographies are a great source for formulating history. They give us a description of the past. When we read and interpret autobiographies, we ought to be careful. Autobiographies talk of past things. They are written from memories. Writers of autobiography would want readers to evaluate their lives in a particular way.
- Autobiography means that a writer is presenting a picture of himself for the readers to evaluate him. Most often writers of autobiographies don’t write those things that will harm their good image. They might also exaggerate the good things.
- Therefore we have to look for things the writers have not said in their autobiography. We should also find the reason for their silence on certain issues. We should know if the silence was deliberate or accidental.
- However, the “The Story of My Experiments with Truth”, the autobiography of Gandhi, overcomes some of these limitations of common autobiographies.
Gandhiji did not take part in the Independence Day Celebrations. Why?
Gandhiji did not take part in the Independence Day Celebrations that took place on August 15, 1947. He was then in Calcutta. He did not take part in any celebration or raise the Indian National Flag. Instead, he fasted for 24 hours. His was a life-or-death struggle for independence. But when freedom came, a big price had to be paid. The country was divided into two. The Hindus and Muslims murdered one another. Gandhiji did not want such freedom. B.G. Tendulkar, the biographer of Gandhiji, tells us how he was working during the Partition period. In September and October Gandhi was visiting hospitals and refugee camps comforting the suffering people there. He exhorted the Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims to let bygones be bygones, to forget and forgive, and live in peace and harmony.