Gandhi in Africa
Gandhi went to SA to fight on behalf of Dada Abdullah (Indian trader).
South Africa was White British colony i.e. It had number of white settlers in Africa.
They wanted cheap labour. Black African slaves were rebellious, violent and therefore not reliable.
Hence they recruited large number of labours from India (indentured labourers) i.e. to Mauritius, Carribean, S Africa. / 1st Indian diaspora.
Indians in SA were of 3 types.
Indentured labourers – cheap plantation workers
Long work hours, less wages, no pension or disability benefits.
Small part of salary was given upfront, while rest was given after 2/5/10/15 yrs. After which, they have right to go back or settle there.
British didn’t wanted them to settle and thus policies were devised to discourage it. There were restrictions on buying properties, they didn’t had voting rights etc.
Migrant settlers. Those labours who would settle in SA at the end of agreement.
Traders – e.g. Memon Brothers, Dada Abdullah.
During two decades of Gandhi’s stay in South Africa, he picked up a number of issues related to the plight of Indian workers in South Africa.
1892 – 1906
Moderate phase of Gandhian struggle.
Gandhi formed Natal Indian Congress in 1894 to pick up issues related to Indian workers in South Africa.
Started the journal INDIAN OPINION to write about the plight of Indian workers in South Africa.
He also started Tolstoy Farm / Phoenix farm where he stayed with his associates. These were self sufficient farms, practiced community living and Gandhi also emphasized on cleanliness there. That one should not shy to do cleanliness work.
Pleading loyalty to British, Gandhi formed Ambulance corps to provide medical assistance to British troops in the Boer wars in 1899 and Zulu wars in 1906. He was even awarded by British for his loyalty.
1906 – 1914
Extremist phase of Gandhian struggle. / Extremist doesn’t necessarily mean violent.
Gandhi shifted towards more assertive strategy, partly inspired by Bengal struggle in India and also realizing futulity of loyalist approach.
Gandhi was also inspired by David Thoreau who proposed the idea of Civil Disobedience.
His strategy is now to involve masses to oppose the imposition of unjust laws and break unjust laws.
1908, law for carrying ompulsory certificate was introduced and Gandhi organized public burning of Registration Certificates, following which British repealed the act. Gandhi formed ‘Passive Resistance Association’ to conduct the campaign.
1912, against the imposition of Poll tax of 3 pounds. And also settlement rights were allowed only in certain provinces. Gandhi carried out public march of 5000 Indian Coal mine workers from Natal to Transvassal province without payment of Poll tax. Ultimately Poll tax was called off.
1913, against Compulsory registration of Indian marriages according to Christian customs for those who are looking to settle in S Africa. This was also repealed. At this time Gandhi received support from India also e.g. Gopal Krishna Gokhale.
Significance of Gandhi in Africa
It Brought about a maturation of Gandhian political thought and convinced him about futility of moderate strategy and
Need to involve the masses directly. And also that to ensure mass participation, its required to pick up issues of masses.
It established a popular base for Gandhi within the Congress and enabled his quick rise within it.
Early Gandhian Struggles in India (1917-1918)
Champaran Satyagraha 1917.
Distr. In N Bihar. Where Britishers were forcing Indians to cultivate Indigo. It leads to decline of soil fertility.
Mr. Ramkumar Shukla, local congress leader requested Gandhi to intervene.
Indigo prices were falling, since synthetic dyes were being discovered.
Gandhi was banned from entering Champaran, Gandhi still entered and stayed for a month. Went from village to village.
Gandhi prepared report with congress members, calling off forced cultivation of Indigo (abolition of Tinkathia system – 3/20th of land holding should cultivate Indigo). And urged peasants not to pay taxes till Tinkathia system is abolished.
Acharya J B Kripalani was one of Gandhi’s colleague in Champaran investigation.
British appointed their own committee with Gandhi as its member and Tinkathia system was abolished.
Its treated as CDM since Gandhi broke the law by entering and cultivators were also asked to not pay taxes.
Ahmedabad mill strike 1918.
Anusuiya Sarabhai, a women leader (1st female trade union leader) of ATLA (Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association). She organized labour protests.
She approached Gandhi and requested him to lead the movement.
Gandhi had good relations with Mill owners.
Workers demands were – 1/3rd wage hike. And regulated work hours.
Mill owners on Gandhi’s persuasion agreed to 20% wage hike but workers were bent on 33% hike. Gandhi sat on hunger strike, and demands were fulfilled.
Plague bonus was also an issue. Workers wanted it to continue even when plague subsided. Since Cost of living had increased due to WW I.
Kheda Satyagraha 1918.
City in Gujarat, famous for Tobacco farming and on river Vatrak. It was under Ryotwari settlement system.
British govt. was trying to collect taxes in a drought/low productivity year although peasants were entitled to tax remission.
Gandhi and associates organized a rent strike and refused to pay taxes to British till British granted tax exemption.
British govt. called off tax collection.
/ Congress though picked up peasants issues, it was never against abolition of Jamindari system.
Kheda is treated as NCM since farmers were entitled to tax exemption.
Gandhi’s conception of Trusteeship.
/ 1917 Russian revolution happened.
Privat4e ownership of industry however owners are ‘trustees’ of wealth.
Profit is not a exclusive property of owners.
Profits must be used for welfare of working class.
If owners do not obey concept of trusteeship, there can be ‘non-violent’ protests.
/ CSR in contemporary times can be said to manifestation of Gandhian trusteeship concept.
/ Tata’s IISC, TIFR, TISS.
/ Giving back pledge, Philanthropic Capitalism.
Since Gandhi kept away workers from masses, he was also popular among capitalist class.
Gandhian ideology in Indian freedom struggle.
In Kheda in Champaran, Gandhi primarily picked up the issues of peasants i.e. agrarian masses and argued for lowering burden of taxes on peasantry.
In Ahmedabad, the workers demand for better wages is resolved through a negotiated settlement under the concept of trusteeship.
Through his initial struggles, Gandhi argued for a re-shift in Congress strategy with dedicated focus upon mass involvement.
Gandhi thus emphasized that the objective of freedom is unlikely to be achieved without mass involvement for which Congress need to pick up issues of masses.
1918 – WW I came to an end.
Proposed further devolution of powers under GOI Act 1919 with the objective of establishing ‘self rule’.
Govt of India Act 1919
Rowlatt Act was introduced on the recommendations of Sedition Committee.
Any individual suspected of being involved in anti-British activity will be
Jailed without warrant.
Without being produced in court, by police.
Congress and Indian nationalist were critical of Rowlatt act that it suspended idea of Habeas Corpus.
It was meant to curb all political dissent.
Congress decided to launch ‘Anti-Rowlatt Satyagraha’ following which martial law was imposed in many provinces.
Jalionwala Bagh incident.
It involved mass shooting on unarmed protestors who had assembled in Jalionwala Bagh on Baisakhi and partly demanded release of leaders Saiffudin Khitchlew and Satyapal Singh.
More than 350 people were killed and Congress demanded an enquiry into the excessive use of force following which British appointed the Hunter Commission.
However Hunter Commission (Disorders enquiry commission) 1919, absolved General Dyre of all responsibilities and did not find any excessive use of force.
Later Udham Singh (Ram Mohamed Singh Azad) killed O’Dwyer in Britain 20 yrs later, who was Lieutenant Governor of Punjab from 1912-1919.
1917 Khilafat Issue
Removal of Caliph (ruler of Ottoman empire) after WW I, who was considered as religious leader of Muslims.
Muhammad Ali and Shaukat Ali, leaders of ML picked up this issue.
Khilafat Non Cooperation Movement
Failure of GOI Act 1919 to bring desired reforms.
Rowlatt Act of 1919. It aimed to give vast powers to Police to imprison an individual even suspected of being involved in anti-British activity.
Congress and Gandhi started anti Rowlatt Satyagrahas.
Congress also decide to boycott elections of 1919 under new act.
Jalionwala Bagh Massacre.
Martial law was imposed in Amritsar, which prohibited public gathering.
On Baisakhi, numerous unarmed individuals had assembled in Jalionwala Bagh, demanding the release of Saifuddin Khichlew and Satyapal Singh.
General Dyre carried out firing, 300+ people were killed.
Congress Strongly protested and demanded police inquiry. -> Hunter Commission.
Hunter Commission report.
It absolved General Dyre of all responsibilities.
High prices due to WW I.
A special session was called in Calcutta in 1920 and resolution for NCM was approved.
Later in Nagpur session 1920, a resolution was passed to launch Khilafat-NCM & Gandhi was declared as a leader.
Gandhi promised that ‘within a year independence can be achieved if NCM was implemented with discipline.’
Gandhi proposed involvement of masses through
Promotion of Boycott of British goods.
Adoption of Swadeshi – Khadi.
Setting up Indian run Schools.
Almost a year into mass public protests, independence was nowhere in sight and Gandhi now threatened to launch the Civil Disobedience Movement.
However in 5 Feb 1922, Chauri Chaura incident (UP, Gorakhpur) happened and more than 20 policement were killed due to use of force by the violent protestors.
Despite much opposition from within, especially the younger generation of Congress, Gandhi insisted to call off movement. Given his ideological stand and also fearing a violent crackdown by British of the movement.
Khilafat issued had also been subsided by that time. Caliph was removed by people themselves.
There was also fatigue in the people.
Despite failure, the movement helped to build nationalist consciousness.
1922, Gandhi pleaded guilty of trying to overthrow the British rule and argued that ‘if given a chance, he would do so again and what in law appears to be an illegal act, to him was the moral duty of citizens’. Gandhi was charged with Sedition and given jail term of 6 yrs.
Released in Feb 1924.
Tilak Swaraj Fund was established in 1921 to support NCM. Indian Capitalist like G D Birla, Jamanalal Bajaj also contributed to this fund.
JL Nehru began his political career at same time.
Involved masses through UP Kisan Sabha. Involved Peasants in NCM.
Bose also began his career at this time.
Worked alongside C R Das to implement NCM.
C R Das was also known as Deshbandhu.
Akali Movement 1920s
Movement to free Gurudwaras from the control of ingorant and corrupt mahants (priests).
Group of volunteers (jathas) were organized.
Freeing Golden temple was early success. SGPC (Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee) of 175 members was chosen to manage golden temple.
They also were part of NCM of 1920s. Many leaders were common and Akalis also adopted Non violent methods.
Under impact of NCM and Khilafat movement, nationalist consciousness was awakened and it led to numerous states’ people organizations sprouting up in parts of India
This process came to head in Dec 1927 with convening of All India States’ People Conference (AISPC) attended by 700 political workers from states.
Men chiefly responsible for this initiative were Balawantrai Mehta, Maniklal Kothari and G R Abhyankar.
Leaders like Surendranath Banerjee ledt Congress around 1918 and formed Liberal Federation. They came to be known as Liberals and played minor role in politics thereafter.
In 1921 Chamber of Princes was created to enable princes to meet and discuss under British guidance matters of common interest..