Categories Modern India

Q. असहयोग आन्दोलन के सकारात्मक एवं नकारात्मक पहलुओं का मूल्यांकन कीजिए। Evaluate the positive and negative programmes of Non Cooperation movement. [UPPSC-2002]

Q. असहयोग आन्दोलन के सकारात्मक एवं नकारात्मक पहलुओं का मूल्यांकन कीजिए। Evaluate the positive and negative programmes of Non Cooperation movement. [UPPSC-2002]


The Non-cooperation (1921-22) was the first nationwide mass agitation against colonial rule launched by Gandhiji The movement was launched on 1 August, 1920 from the Central Khilafat Committee platform. Later in September-1920, Gandhiji persuaded Indian National Congress to adopt a similar plan of campaign on three issues: Punjab wrong, Khilafat wrong and swaraj. At a special session of the Congress that was convened at Calcutta on 4-9 September 1920 Gandhi’s resolution on non-cooperation programme was approved. ©
The movement, Gandhi assured, would bring swaraj within one year. If that did not happen or if government resorted to repression, then a civil disobedience campaign was to be launched, involving non-payment of taxes.

The positive programmes of NCM:

  • The movement was non-violent in nature. The programme included among other-
    • surrender of government titles,
    • boycott of schools, courts and councils,
    • boycott of foreign goods,
    • encouragement of national schools, arbitration courts and khadi (homespun cloth).
    • court arrest
    • Resignation from government services
  • Various successful initiatives:
    • Collection of funds: The Tilak Swaraj Fund was oversubscribed, exceeding the target of rupees one crore.
    • Enrolment of members: membership drive was launched and Congress membership reached a figure roughly of 50 lakhs.
    • Distribution of charkhas: Charkhas were popularized on a wide scale and khadi became the uniform of the national movement.
    • Together with non-cooperation, there were other associated Gandhian social movements, which also achieved some success.
      • Temperance or anti-liquor campaign resulted in significant drop in liquor excise revenue in Punjab, Madras, Bihar and Orissa.
      • For the first time Gandhi had brought this issue to the forefront of nationalist politics by inserting in the historic 1920 resolution an appeal “to rid Hinduism of the reproach of untouchabiliry”.
  • Economic boycott was more intense and successful– the value of imports of foreign cloth dropped from Rs. 1,020 million in 1920-21 to Rs. 570 million in 1921-22.
    • Partly responsible for this success was trader participation, as the businessmen pledged not to indent foreign cloth for specific periods.
    • Small traders and merchants used their networks to promote hartal and generously donated money to the Tilak Swaraj Fund.
  • Geographical spread: It was a pan-British India movement. All regions like Punjab, Bengal, Bombay, Gujarat, Madras, Assam, United Province etc. participated.
  • The council election boycott was more or less successful. There was low turn out at the council election almost everywhere with the polling average being 5-8 per cent.
  • The movement politicised every strata of population-
    • The peasant and working class participation was impressive.
    • Working class participatio
      • There took place 300+ labour strikes.
      • A nationwide strike was observed on 17 November, the day the Prince of Wales arrived in India on an official visit.
      • In Assam, strikes in tea plantations, steamer services, Assam-Bengal Railways had been organised. J.M. Sengupta was a prominent leader in these strikes.
    • Peasant participation:
      • The flagging interest in the urban areas 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
      • Many local struggles such as
        • In U.P, Awadh Kisan Movement, Eka Movement was launched.
        • 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 organised a no-tax movement against union board taxes.
        • Peasant activities were also seen in Kheda (Gujarat), Kanika (Orissa) and some sporadic no-revenue campaign in South India.
    • Students: Thousands of students (90,000 according to one estimate) left schools and colleges and joined more than 800 national schools and colleges that had sprung up all over the country.
    • Women– First time women participated on large scale. Some prominent women involved were Basanti Devi, Urmila Devi, Suniti Devi, Ba Amman, Sarla Devi Chaudhurani, etc
    • There were lower-caste participation in Madras and Maharashtra, powerful tribal movements in Andhra delta and Bengal in the form of forest satyagraha, labour unrest in Madras, Bengal and Assam, traders’ participation in Bombay and Bengal.
    • In tribal areas, building on the existing traditions of dissent, local leaders organised movements against various localised grievances. e.g.
      • In the hills of Kumaun and Garhwal, a militant movement was organised against utar or forced labour and forest laws.The hillmen raised slogans in praise of Gandhi and Swatantra Bharat (inependent India), they exhibited a consciousness that was evidently broader than what we witnessed in the late nineteenth century.
      • In the Midnapur district of Bengal, Santhals were mobilised against the forest laws.
  • The emphasis of the movement was always on the unifying issues and on trying to cut across or reconcile class and communal disjunctions.
    • Hindu-Muslim alliance remained unshaken throughout the period, except in the Malabar region.
    • Muslim participation that gave the movement its truly mass character in many areas. Such participation of muslims was not seen in any other Gandhian movement against British.
  • Even after sudden official withdrawal on 11-Feb, 1922, in different localities it continued for some more time in pockets of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.

The negative programmes of NCM:

  • Many liberal leaders like C.R. Das, Jinnah had opposed the idea of non-cooperation movement. They thought that the program was too radical.
  • In different regions the movement took different shapes. In all the regions the movement was initially confined to the cities and small towns and then spread to countryside.
    • In many cases, such as in the small towns of Gujarat, mobilisation depended on local issues, like temple politics, control over municipalities or control over educational institutions or in the south Indian towns grievances against rising municipal taxes or the income tax.
    • In some other areas, mobilisation to an extent depended on personal influence of local leaders, such as C.R. Das in Bengal, whose personal sacrifices— giving up a lucrative legal practice, for example-inspired the younger generation.
    • In Punjab, the Akali movement has been described as representing “the largest and longest application of the Gandhian programme of satyagraha, or non-violent resistance.” However, the main theme of this movement had very little direct relevance to his non-co-operation programme.
    • Of the four linguistic regions in south India, three were effectively brought into the movement, while Karnataka remained unaffected.
    • The area, where there was no pre-history of peasant mobilisation, the response of the countryside was rather muted. This shows that it was the internal dynamics of the regions that accounted for the success of the non-cooperation movement, rather than the Congress mobilising an as yet inert peasantry into an organised nationalist campaign.
    • The tribal movements were organised on local issues and had very little in common with the aims and forms of the Gandhian movements. Sometimes, these movement also turned militant and then the Congress became lukewarm in its support.
    • Thus, the specific structure of community, the local situations and the nature of existing organisation, determined the extent of mass militancy. which leadership tried to control but without success. What passed as a Gandhian mass movement actually contained with it various levels of consciousness informed by different visions of freedom.
  • In Madras, council election boycott was not so successful. Very few candidates actually withdrew and the justice Party returned as a majority party in the legislature.
  • Middle-class participation was not spectacular, as revealed in the figures for school, colleges and court boycotts. Also, The development of national schools and arbitration courts and khadi did not succeed everywhere either.
    • In Nagpur division, for example, the inadequacy of national schools forced students to get back to government educational institutions.
    • As arbitration courts became defunct, lawyers got back to their usual legal practice.
    • In most areas, khadi was 30 to 40 per cent more expensive than mill cloth, resulting in its unpopularity among the poor people.
  • The larger Indian capitalists opposed the non-cooperation programme and remained pro-government from the very beginning. The enthusiasm of smaller traders and merchants also subsided gradually.
  • Despite being mentioned in the 1920 resolution, the anti-untouchability campaign, remained a secondary concern for the Congressmen.
  • Gradually, the movement became more militant, with the beginning of boycott and organisation of public bonfires of foreign cloth.
    • Rabindranath Tagore criticised Gandhi for organisation of public bonfires of foreign cloth.
  • On the day of the arrival of Prince of Wales Bombay witnessed the outbreak of the first violent riot of the movement, targeting the Europeans, Anglo-Indians and the Parsis in the city. Gandhi was incensed; full-scale civil disobedience or a no tax campaign.which was planned to be launched in 1922, was postponed.
  • The masses often crossed the limits of Gandhian creed of non-violence.
    • While chanting Gandhi’s name, peasants participated in activities, which easily crossed the threshold of Gandhian ideals. The Tribal peasants of Bengal looted markets and fisheries and violated forest laws; prisoners broke the prison gates.
    • In north Bihar, where the lower caste poor peasants were the most militant, messianic expectations led to a series of market looting incidents.
    • Gandhi himself condemned the unruly mob, but failed to restrain them. And this was the main reason why he hesitated to begin a full-fledged civil disobedience or a no-revenue campaign.
    • The final threshold was reached in the Chauri Chaura incident in Gorakhpur district of Utrar Pradesh on 4 February 1922, when villagers burned alive twenty-two policemen in the local police station.
    • This event prompted Gandhiji to withdrawn on 11 February 1922.
  • The Hindu-Muslim unity in this movement was based on religious issue. Moreover, for Khilafat leaders the Gandhian creed of non-violence more as a matter of convenience to take advantage of Gandhi’s charismatic appeal, rather than as a matter of faith.
    • By bringing in the ulama and by overtly using a religious symbol, the movement evoked religious emotions among the Muslim masses.
    • Violent tendencies soon appeared in the Khilafat movement, as the masses lost self-discipline and the leaders failed to control them. The worst-case scenario was the Moplah uprising in Malabar, where the poor Moplah peasants, emboldened by the Khilafat spirit, rose against the Hindu moneylenders and the state.
    • By the end of 1921, with the outbreak of the Moplah uprising in Malabar, followed by other communal riots in various parts of the subcontinent in 1922-23, there was a visible breach in the Hindu-Muslim alliance.
    • The symbol itself, around which Muslim mass mobilisation had taken place, soon lost its significance, as a nationalist revolution in Turkey abolished monarchy or the Khilafat in 1924.
    • The Khilafat movement hereafter died down, but the religious emotions which it had articulated continued to persist, matched by an equally militant Hindu radicalism.

Gandhiji had promised Swaraj within a year if his programme was adopted. But the year was long over, the movement was withdrawn, and there was no sign of Swaraj. Even though, its success was bound to be limited because of weak aspects, the movement was not failure. It demonstrated the ability of congress to organise nationwide mass movement and spread the idea of nationalism to almost all sections. The movement was successful enough to break the back of British rule, and possibly even the catalyst for the movement that lead to independence in 1947. ©

Leave a Reply