Q.1 (c) “The active participation of Aruna Asaf Ali in 1942 movement symbolized the role of women in India’s freedom struggle”. Critically evaluate.
Aruna Asaf Ali was a woman freedom fighter who in a short time gained prominent position among the freedom fighters.She was inclined towards Socialism.
During civil disobedience movement she broke the salt law and was imprisoned. She was not released under Gandhi – Irwin pact 1931 by stating her as a vagrant. She launched a hunger strike in Tihar jail in 1932 against the indifferent treatment of political prisoners but she was moved to Ambala jail but was later released.
On august 8 1942 Bombay session congress passed quit India resolution. British arrested all the prominent leaders of the congress working committee and thus tried to pre-empt the movement from success. Aruna Asaf Ali presided over the remainder of the session on 9 August and hoisted the Congress flag at the Gowalia Tank maidan. This marked the commencement of the movement. Infuriated by her strong rebellious action, the police attacked the assembly, targeting tear gas at the people and trampling the flag that she had hoisted. However, the damage was done as there were sparks of protests and demonstrations all over the country.
The Quit India Movement of 1942 was different from rest of the movements of freedom struggle because: 1. It lacked Organized Leadership 2. It was spontaneous 3. There was clarity on Objectives but not on Methods 4. Oppression by Government was at its heights 5. There were moral dilemmas and differences in ideologies.
Amid all these difficulties, Aruna Asaf Ali’s work in the movement symbolized the courage and commitment of a woman towards liberating the nation.
With the aim to organize the resistance movement, she moved from Bombay to Delhi. However, with the danger of being caught by the police who hunted for her, she went underground, thus escaping seizure. It was while being underground that she edited Congress party’s monthly magazine ‘Inquilab’. In 1944, he urged the Indian youth to stop the futile discussion of violence and non-violence and participate actively in the freedom struggle. She even turned down Gandhi’s advice to surrender while leading underground revolutionary activities.
The earlier involvement of women was more of a supportive nature with instance that rose them to level as leadership seen as occasional. But, by the time of Quit India Movement, the active participation of women like Aruna Asaf Ali have proved again and again of the higher responsibilities women can assume for nation. It was this gallant behaviour that earned her the title of ‘Heroine of 1942’ movement.
Though the role played by her symbolized the role of women in India’s freedom struggle, role of women was quite limited and mostly of supporting nature. When non-cooperation movement started in 1921, Gandhi initially prescribed a limited role for women, i.e., that of boycott and swadeshi. Even in Civil Disobedience Movement, Gandhi did not want to include women in his original core group of volunteers on the Dandi march. The Congress never included women in any decision making process. A frustrated Sarala Devi therefore had to lament that Congress wanted them to be law breakers only and not law makers.
Other shortcoming was that even the participation of women in anti-imperialist movement increased, they did not use the occasion to raise issues that affected them as women like social and economic discrimination vis-a-vis men.