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Gandhiji in Champaran Ahmedabad and Kheda

Gandhiji in Champaran Ahmedabad and Kheda: Champaran Satyagraha: Gandhiji’s first great experiment in Satyagraha came in 1917, in Champaran, in Bihar. European planters had involved the cultivators of Champaran in agreements that forced them to cultivate indigo on 3/20th of their holdings (known as the tinkathia system). Towards the end of the 19th century, German synthetic dyes forced indigo up of the market and the European planters of Champaran, keen to release the cultivators from the obligation of cultivating indigo, tried to turn their necessity to their advantage by securing enhancement in rent and other illegal dues as a price for the release. The resistance had surfaced in 1908 as well, but the exaction of the planters continued till Raj Kumar Shukla, a local man, decided to follow Gandhiji all over the country to pursued him to come to the Champaran to investigate the problem.

Gandhiji in Champaran Ahmedabad
Gandhiji in Champaran Ahmedabad

Accompanied by Babu Rajendra Prasad, Mazharul-Huq, J.B. Kripalani, and Mahadev Desai Gandhiji reached Champaran in 1917 Ford conducting a detailed enquiry into the condition of the peasantry. The infuriated district officials ordered him to leave Champaran, but he rejected the order and was willing to face trial and imprisonment. This forced the Government to cancel its earlier order and to appoint a committee of enquiry on which Gandhiji served as a member. Ultimately, the disabilities from which the peasantry was suffering were reduced and Gandhiji had won his first battle of civil disobedience in India.

Ahmedabad Mill Strike : The next scene of Gandhiji’s activity was in 1918 at Ahmedabad where an agitation had been going on between the labourers and the owners of a cotton textile mill for an increase of pay. While Gandhiji was negotiating with the millowners, he advised the workers to go on strike and to demand 35% increase in wages. Having advised the strikers to depend upon their conscience, Gandhiji himself went on a “fast unto death” to strengthen the workers resolved to continue the strike. The mill owners gave away and a settlement was reached after 21 days of strike. The millowners agreed to submit the whole issue to a tribunal. The strike was withdrawn and retrieval later awarded the 35% increase that the workers had demanded. Ambalal Sarabhai’s sister, Anasuya Behn, was one of the main lieutenants of Gandhiji in this struggle in which her brother and Gandhiji’s friend was one of the main advisories.

Kheda Satyagraha: in 1918, Gandhiji learned that the peasants of Kheda district in Gujarat were in extreme distress due to the failure of crops, and that their appeals for the remission of land revenue were being ignored by the government. As the crops were less than one fourth of the normal yield, the peasants were entitled under the revenue code to a total remission of the land revenue. Gandhiji organised Satyagraha and asked the cultivators not to pay land revenue till their demand for remission was met. The struggle was withdrawn, when the government issued instructions that revenue should be recovered only from those peasants who could afford to pay. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was one of the many young persons who became Gandhiji’s follower during the Kheda peasant struggle.

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