In the year 1920, in the history of the struggle of India for independence, a new era had begun with the non cooperation movement. This movement was formally launched on August 1, 1920 depending on the principles of boycott and non-violence.
What was Non Cooperation Movement?
To drive the British out of the country, Mahatma Gandhi started the Non-cooperation movement in the year 1920. This movement was a declaration of non-violent and peaceful war against the extremely cruel acts of the British government which had gone back on its words. This movement meant active denial to obey the regulations and laws passed by the government. The salient features of this movement were
- To all the Indians, an appeal was made to boycott the election of legislatures, the educational institutions and the law courts and surrender their titles.
- In the beginning, it was thought that this would be sufficient to emphasis upon the government, the need for more amenities and greater reforms in the administration of the country.
- It was planned that, if they were not successful in bringing down the government, the tax payment would be refused.
The Congress strongly asserted that they need Swarajya and they wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than that. So, the Congress had taken a revolutionary step for the first time. An organization which was joined to constitutional implies had now taken a revolutionary policy and was even ready to struggle for a self rule detaching all the relations from the British government in case they do not grant it willingly.
Causes of the Non Cooperation Movement
Disillusion at the end of war
- During the war, there were few Indians who didn’t want to collaborate with the government.
- But, Gandhiji thought it wouldn’t be proper to take advantage of the rulers’ weak position.
- As part of the British empire, India involved in the World War I.
- For its own interest, the government of British used India’s manpower, money and wealth.
- In various war fronts, about 12,50,000 soldiers of India represented the British and numerous soldiers sacrificed their lives.
- As war subscription, they have donated about 6 crores and 21 lakh pounds.
- The Indians thought that they would be granted autonomy in return to their valuable services to the British government.
- But they were greatly disappointed as they were not granted autonomy by the British. It was the main cause to start the Noncooperation movement by Gandhi.
Home Rule movement
- To see the British government adopting oppressive measures, Indians were greatly disappointed. Besant and Tilak started the Home Rule movement in response to this.
- The Muslim league and the Congress were brought together by the Lucknow Pact. in 1916, the return of extremists to the Congress had given it a militant character.
- This movement actually prepared the ground for the Non-cooperation movement.
The Economic distress caused by World War I
- To the Indians, the World War I had brought a great economic distress. The real scheme of reforms fell far short of the demands of the nationalists.
- The economic condition took a turn for worse at the end of the war. The prices were hit. The prices of sugar, clothes etc, began to soar. The agricultural products’ price did not increase.
- Due to the impact of the war, the peasants and workers suffered greatly. The unemployed workers lived in half starvation.
- For shedding the blood of Indians, not only the politicians, even the peasants and the soldiers claimed compensation according to Louis Fischer.
Montague – Chelmsford Act
The Congress was not satisfied by the Mont-Ford Act in the year 1919. The real plan of reforms fell short of the demands of the nationalists.
Impact of Rowlatt Act
- The Indian politics took a new turn due to the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy and the passing of Rowlatt Act. Gandhiji was firm regarding the non-cooperation movement.
- Upon the liberty of Press and speech, the Rowlatt Act strived to put a restriction. This was a caution indicating greater repressive measures from the British government.
- The whole of India rose in resentment against the British government and all around the country, there was a wave of an agitation like a wild fire.
The Khilafat Movement
- The leaders of the Khilafat movement were informed that they shouldn’t expect more. This had lead to the acceptance of the suggestion of non-cooperation by the Khilafat Committee and they asked Gandhiji to lead the non-cooperation movement.
- People were becoming impatient for action, so, the congress had to take some serious action. To decide on its course of action, the All India Congress Committee held a meeting.
- The Congress confirmed the resolution of beginning the non-cooperation movement during the Nagpur session.
- It was assured by Gandhiji to the nation that Swaraj would be attained within a year.
Importance and Result of Non Cooperation Movement
- The non-cooperation was a failure apparently as Swaraj was not attained within a year as Gandhiji assured.
- This movement had actually withdrawn because of Chauri Chaura incident.
- Gandhiji was arrested on March 10, 1922 for publishing the seditious materials and was imprisoned for 6 years. Other leaders were also arrested.
- However, the importance of the non-cooperation movement cannot be repudiated.
- After the Great Rebellion of 1857, the non-cooperation movement under the leadership of Gandhiji was a huge mass movement.
- India saw a leader for the first time who had the capability to fight face to face. Gandhiji had “the gift of fight” according to Marjorie Sykes.
Immediate Good Results and Significance
- Due to the programme of boycott, the mill-owners of India earned a good profit. From England, the import of sugar decreased considerably.
- Within 6 months, the import of cotton-goods from England decreased from 2.8 crores to 6.7 crores. The import of Iron decreased to 50% in a similar way.
Political Importance of Non Cooperation Movement
- Among the masses, the popularity of the movement and the Congress has increased considerably.
- It was demonstrated with the non-cooperation movement that the Indian National Congress had commanded the sympathy and support of the large sections of the people of India.
- This movement had its influence throughout the nation. There were very few areas that had no influence of the non-cooperation movement and there were areas that were very active.
Participation of Muslims in Non Cooperation Movement
In the movement, the maintenance of communal harmony and the participation of Muslims was also a great achievement. The mass character to the movement was given by the participation of Muslims.
Success in Several Cases
The non-cooperation movement was regarded as an acid test to the people according to R.C. Majumdar. In various cases, this movement was a great success.
- The people had become very conscious of their political right.
- The administration of the British made the people lose their trust.
- The people have become extremely confident of self-reliance.
- In the minds of the people, the British government had failed to create fear.
- Throughout the nation, the non-cooperation movement induced an unmatched enthusiasm. In the history of the World, the non-cooperation movement was the 1st movement without the usage of any kind of weapon.
- To the people’s desire for freedom, this movement had given a new complexion. In the history of freedom movement of India, this movement marked the inception of a new phase.
- Between 1930 and 1934, the commitment of Gandhiji to non-violence was redeemed when tens of millions of people revolted again in the Salt Satyagraha and this had become very famous because of the adherence of India to non-violence.
- The demands of the Indians were met as the Satyagraha ended in success. The Congress party was regarded as a representative of the people of India.