Solution: Daily Problem Practice [Modern India: Week 26]- 9 April
Q. “If the Nehru Report had been one entry point for Gandhi once again into the congress-led nationalist politics the other entry point was the Bardoli satyagraha of 1928.” Comment. [10 Marks]
After Non-cooperation Movement, Gandhiji since his release from prison in 1924 remained aloof from direct politics and concentrated his energies on constructive programmes, such as untouchability removal campaign, promotion of use of charkha as a mark of self-help etc. The colonial government considered him spent force, politically.
Nehru Report as a entry point for Gandhi once again into the congress-led nationalist politics:
- Indian politics was galvanised again after Non-cooperation Movement from late 1927 when a Tory government in London appointed an all-white Statutory Commission under Sir John Simon to review the operation of the constitutional system in India.
- Non-inclusion of Indians in the commission provoked protests from all the political groups in India and resulted in a successful nationwide boycott-participated by both Congress and the Muslim League. When the Simon Commission arrived in the country in early 1928, it was greeted with slogans like “Go Back Simon”.
- Morilal Nehru in this context started negotiating for a joint Hindu-Muslim constitutional scheme as a fitting reply, and at an all parties conference in Lucknow in August 1928 the Nehru Report was finalised. It was a bunch of uneasy compromises and therefore stood on shaky grounds. Its final fate was to be decided at the forth coming Calcutta Congress in December 1928, and Motilal wanted Gandhi to throw his weight behind the scheme, so that it was accepted smoothly by the Congress. But for Gandhi swaraj was not a constitutional matter that the British could give; for the attainment of swaraj, he had been mobilising the masses outside the Congress.
- The opposition to the Nehru Report had become stronger.
- It contained a constitutional scheme that proposed dominion status for India, which was opposed by a radical younger group led by jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose. Both Nehru and Bose were in favour of complete independence.
- Even Muslim opposition to the report was increasing, as groups headed by Jinnah and Aga Khan repudiated it.
- So Gandhi proposed a compromise resolution, which adopted the Nehru Report, but said that if the government did not accept it by 31 December 1930, the Congress would go in for a non-cooperation movement to achieve full independence. Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Bose were still unhappy; but when Gandhi as a further concession cut down the time limit to 1929, the resolution was passed.
- In the open session also Gandhi’s compromise resolution was carried, while Bose’s amendment demanding complete independence was lost. Thus Gandhi once again came to dominate the Congress, but as Judith Brown says, he wanted to assume leadership only on his own terms.
- So he had a second resolution passed which contained a detailed programme of constructive work. It involved revival of organisational work, removal of untouchability, boycott of foreign cloth, spread of khadi, temperance, village reconstruction and removal of disabilities of women. It was through this constructive programme that Gandhi hoped to achieve true swaraj. But one important issue that this constructive programme did not touch was Hindu-Muslim unity.
Bardoli satyagraha of 1928 as other entry point for Gandhiji in national politics:
- Bardoli taluka of Surat district in Gujarat was meant to be the site of a no-tax campaign during the Non-cooperation movement. It could not take place as the movement was withdrawn due to violence in Chaura Chauri. But in 1928, Bardoli satyagraha brought Gandhi once again in limelight.
- When Bombay government in 1927 raised the land revenue by 22 percent, a no-revenue campaign was started in Bardoli.
- The Bardoli satyagraha was launched on 4 February 1928 by Vallabhbhai Patel, the president of the Gujarat Congress Committee, with the blessings of Gandhi: Though Patel organised the movement on the spot with the help of local mediators, it was actually Gandhi’s movement, as his image was constantly used for political mobilisation, both among the Patidar peasants and Kaliparaj tribals.
- Earlier the local leaders Kunvarji and his brother Kalyanji Mehta had carried on their constructive programmes in an area, which was ideally suited to become an important stronghold of Gandhian politics.
- The movement was widely reported in the national press, as it was a spectacular success. A judicial inquiry was initiated, on the basis of which enhanced revenue rates were cut down, confiscated lands were returned and finally revenue revisions were abandoned, at least for the time being.
- The success of the Bardoli satyagraha brought Gandhi once again into the limelight. It proved his point that satyagraha was more effective than the constitutional methods.
As Judith Brown has remarked, “Bardoli lifted Gandhi out of the depression”;” and the Calcutta Congress of December 1928 witnessed his re-emergence as a national leader.
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