Solution: Daily Problem Practice [Modern India: Week 25]- 5 April
Q. “The non-cooperation movement was more effective where the peasants had already organised themselves.” Justify with the help of examples. [10 Marks]
Noncooperation movement (NCM) was a significant phase of the Indian independence movement from British rule in 1920–22, organized by Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi, to induce the British government of India to grant swaraj to India.
In different regions the movement took different shapes. In all the regions the movement was initially confined to the cities and small towns, where it was primarily dependent on middle class participation that gradually declined.
NCM and peasants:
- The flagging interest in the urban areas during Non-cooperation movement soon shifted the focus of the movement to the countryside. It was here that the movement took widely variable shapes depending on the structures of peasant societies.
- The non-cooperation movement was most effective where the peasants had already organised themselves.
- In Awadh district of UP a radical peasant movement was being organised since 1918-19 against the oppressive taluqdars. This peasant militancy, organised at the grassroots level by local leader Baba Ramchandra, was later harnessed by the UP Kisan Sabha which was launched in February 1918 in Allahabad.
- By June 1919 the Kisan Sabha had 450 branches and the UP Congress tried to tap into this reservoir of peasant militancy by tagging the movement to the Non-cooperation campaign in the province.
- In north Bihar too, the Congress movement became most powerful in those areas which witnessed the previous anti-planter agitation, Swami Viswananda’s campaign and Kisan Sabha acrivities.
- In the Midnapur district of Bengal the Mahishya peasants had been organised in 1919 against the Union Board taxes by a local leader B.N. Sasmal; later on this movement too merged into the non-cooperation campaign.
- In certain regions of Orissa, like Kanika for example, the existing tradition of anti-feudal demonstrations continuing since the nineteenth century, was later on incorporated into the non-cooperation movement.
- In the Kheda district of Gujarat, the Patidar peasants had already launched a successful no-revenue campaign in 1918 and they were again preparing for another round of stir; this district for obvious reasons, therefore, became the strongest bastion of non-cooperation movement.
- South India:
- In south India, between December 1921 and February 1922 there was a “brief and sporadic” no-revenue campaign in the Godavari, Krishna and Guntur districts in the Andhra delta.
- Here the village officials, through whom the revenue was collected, resigned and the peasants hoping for a collapse of the government, stopped paying the revenue. But when the government instituted an inquiry into their grievances and threatened to arrest the leaders who would not give up, the agitation subsided within weeks.
In other areas, where there was no pre-history of peasant mobilisation, the response of the countryside was rather muted. This shows that it was also the internal dynamics of the regions that accounted for the success of the non-cooperation movement apart from the Congress mobilising peasantry into an organised nationalist campaign.
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