One of the greatest leaders that the world has ever seen, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, was a political figure, a social and political reformer, a humanist, a visionary and a spiritual leader, who took the country on the road to freedom. Gandhi, popularly known as the Mahatma, not only led the freedom struggle in India but also performed a pivotal role in the struggle of the Indians for civil rights in South Africa. Victimized by incidents of racial discrimination, Gandhi embarked on a crusade against injustice in South Africa that he continued the rest of his life.
The twenty long years that Gandhi lived in South Africa, had a considerable influence on the formation of his political ideologies and the philosophies of his life. It was in South Africa that Gandhi's stature gradually began to gain height. His experiences and activities in South Africa provided the necessary background for his subsequent emergence onto the Indian political scenario. His greatest achievement in South Africa was perhaps the unification of the heterogeneous Indian community that comprised of disgruntled merchants and the bonded laborers.
The ideological concepts with which Gandhi revolutionized the Indian political scenario were molded to a large extent in South Africa. The celebrated notion of Satyagraha emerged as a consequence of various influences that worked on him. He extensively read religious books on Hinduism, like the BhagwatGita, and Christianity in South Africa. The works of Henry David Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy, John Ruskin and Ralph Waldo, also had significant influences on his thoughts.
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The notion of non co-operation, as a civilian weapon to fight governmental tyranny was discussed by all these major writers, but it was Gandhi who gave practical shape to the concept. He was the first one to organize Satyagraha struggle in South Africa. For Gandhi the doctrine of Satyagraha entailed passive resistance and commitment to the forces of truth. His second weapon, non violence or ahimsa also evolved in South Africa. This cardinal principle of Gandhian philosophy was imbibed from Jainism and Vaishnavism. Gandhi showed to the world how non violence could be used as an ffective political tool to fight the injustices hurled by an oppressive government. For Gandhi, ahimsa entailed self control, swaraj or self rule, and chastity. Alongside, Gandhi embraced a philosophy that disapproved of the norms of Western civilization and conceived of moral reformation of the Indians. Gandhi's Arrival in South Africa Upon returning from England with a degree in law, Gandhi began a legal practice in Mumbai and Rajkot, Gujarat. However, he was unsuccessful to establish a career as a lawyer in both the places.
At this point, Gandhi received an offer from the firm Dada Abdulla Seth and Company, to be the legal representative of the firm in South Africa. Gandhi accepted the offer and set sail for a whole new world in April, 1893. In the month of May, 1893, Gandhi reached Durban. Accompanied by Dada Abdulla, one of the richest Indian traders in Natal, who also happened to be his employer, he went to visit the Durban Court. The European magistrate at the court instructed Gandhi to remove his turban. He not only disobeyed the commands of the magistrate but issued a protect letter to the press.
This was, however, just the lull before the storm. The final provocation took place during his journey to Pretoria from Durban shook the consciousness of the young lawyer to such an extent that he assumed a staunch position against racial prejudice. This incident played a major role in carving out the future course of Gandhi's life. As Gandhi was preparing to return to India, after the completion of his lawsuit, the news of a proposed bill, to be introduced by the Natal Government, reached him. This bill would lead to disenfranchising of the Indians in South Africa.
Pleaded by his fellow Indians, Gandhi remained back and took up the issue. Although the bill was passed inspite of Gandhi's attempts, his crusade continued for twenty long years. As part of his struggle, he drafted memorandums, distributed petitions and wrote to the newspapers. His activities in South Africa enabled him to gain an image as the patron of Indian civil rights and an important political leader. In the year 1896, Gandhi returned to India for a period of six months. During this period, he sought to present before the Indians, the pitiful situation f their fellow men in South Africa. However, Gandhi's activities were blown out of proportion by the press in South Africa. When he landed in South Africa, an agitated mob comprising of the whites, attacked him. As the news of this attack, spread rapidly, Joseph Chamberlain, enjoined the prosecution of the assailants. During his second phase of stay in South Africa, Gandhi adopted a simple mode of living, renouncing the lavish standards of living. When the Boer War broke out, Gandhi requested the Indian community, to extend their support to the British.
In 1901, Gandhi returned to India but he had to return to appear before Joseph Chamberlain, to plead the Indian case. However, he failed to win over the understanding of Joseph Chamberlain. It was also at this time that Gandhi resolved to lead a celibate life and took to reading Ruskin. Satyagraha in South Africa The first Satyagraha struggle that Gandhi launched in South Africa was against the background of the passage of Asiatic Registration Act by the government of Transvaal in 1907.
Realizing that his techniques of prayers and petitions had been rendered ineffectual, the tactic of passive resistance emerged as the new method of opposing. He urged the Indian community to disobey the Act and resort to picketing of the major offices like the permit offices. In 1908, in the month of January, Gandhi and other satyagrahis were jailed. Following this a movement commenced where the satyagrahis began to burn the certificates in a bonfire. In the month of September, Gandhi was arrested for the second time, this time sentenced for two months.
The following year, saw Gandhi once again behind the bars for three months. It is pertinent to mention here that Gandhi founded a small colony by the name Tolstoy Farm, where his fellow satyagrahis could lead a bare existence. The Indian women joined the Satyagraha struggle, with the pronouncement of the Supreme Court judgment that annulled all Muslim, Hindu and Zoroastrian marriages. As the women satyagrahis were arrested following their march to Newcastle, several Indian miners, under the guidance of Gandhi, decided to cross over Transvaal border, resorting to non violence means.
Even Gandhi's wife Kasturba Gandhi was included among the imprisoned women satyagrahis. In the year 1913, in the month of November, fifty seven children, one hundred and twenty seven women and two thousand and thirty seven men resumed the march. Following the 'blood and iron' policy adopted by government of South Africa, two Christian men Pearson and C. F Andrews were sent to aid Gandhi. This initiative was taken by Gopal Krishna Gokhale, one of the most prominent Indian politicians. The Viceroy of India, Lord Harginge, criticized the policies of the South African government.
Pressurized by London, negotiations commenced between South African Government and Gandhi. In an agreement that was finally arrived upon, certain concessions were made. The 13 taxes imposed on the previously indentured laborers were abolished, marriages performed according to Indian customs received legal acceptance and a domicile certificate, with the thumb impression of the holder, was adequate to permit entrance into South Africa. With a trail of significant achievements behind him, Gandhi finally returned to India in the year 1915, and within a brief p of time became the leader of the Indian Nationalism.
Champaran First Satyagraha Gandhi, the exponent of the Satyagraha movement, staged his first Satyagraha in Champaran, in Bihar. It was in 1917. The poor peasants, the indigo growers, of the district invited Gandhi to go there to see for himself the grievances of the much exploited peasants there. Champaran was on the North-western corner of the Bihar Province. The River Gandak flows through this area. The river changed its course from time to time, leaving large lakes along its dried up courses. It was along the banks of these lakes the indigo factories were set up.
There were two towns and three thousands villages in Champaran. 98 per cent of the people out of the 2 million lived in villages. And most of them were Hindus. Indigo farming was going on there for almost two centuries. In the beginning, the land was owned by the local people. But the white people from Britain grabbed the land and instead of the traditional sugar cane cultivation, the land grabbers compelled the people to enter into indigo cultivation. The British Indigo planters coerced the poor people to grow indigo on 15 per cent of their land and part with the whole crop for rent.
Indigo cultivation was profitable only for the British. The local peasants had only misery and penury and poverty. It was on hearing about this predicament of the poor farmers there that Gandhi decided to go there. He left for Champaran along with a Bihari called Rajkumar Shukla. Babu Rajendra Prasad, who was to become the chairman of the Constituent Assembly for drafting a constitution for the new Republic of India, and who became the first President of the Republic of India, was not there, as he was practicing in the far away Patna as an advocate.
While accepting participants and help from other parts of India, Gandhi insisted that no other district or province revolt against the Government, and that the Indian National Congress not get involved apart from issuing resolutions of support, to prevent the British from giving it cause to use extensive suppressive measures and brand the revolts as treason. In Champaran Gandhi established an ashram in Champaran, organizing scores of his veteran supporters and fresh volunteers from the region.
He organized a detailed study and survey of the villages, accounting the atrocities and terrible episodes of suffering, including the general state of degenerate living. Building on the confidence of villagers, he began leading the clean-up of villages, building of schools and hospitals and encouraging the village leadership to undo purdah, untouchability and the suppression of women. He was joined by many young nationalists from all over India, including Brajkishore Prasad,Rajendra Prasad, Anugrah Narayan Sinha, Ram Navami Prasad and Jawaharlal Nehru.
But his main assault came as he was arrested by police on the charge of creating unrest and was ordered to leave the province. Hundreds of thousands of people protested and rallied outside the jail, police stations and courts demanding his release, which the court unwillingly did. Gandhi led organized protests and strike against the landlords, who with the guidance of the British government, signed an agreement granting more compensation and control over farming for the poor farmers of the region, and cancellation of revenue hikes and collection until the famine ended.
It was during this agitation, that Gandhi was addressed by the people as Bapu (Father) and Mahatma (Great Soul). In Kheda In Gujarat, Gandhi was only the spiritual head of the struggle. His chief lieutenant, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and a close coterie of devoted Gandhians, namely Narhari Parikh, Mohanlal Pandya and Ravi Shankar Vyas toured the countryside, organized the villagers and gave them political leadership and direction.
Many aroused Gujaratis from the cities of Ahmedabad and Vadodara joined the organizers of the revolt, but Gandhi and Patel resisted the involvement of Indians from other provinces, seeking to keep it a purely Gujarati struggle. Patel and his colleagues organized a major tax revolt, and all the different ethnic and caste communities of Kheda rallied around it. The peasants of Kheda signed a petition calling for the tax for this year to be scrapped in wake of the famine. The government in Bombay rejected the charter.
They warned that if the peasants did not pay, the lands and property would be confiscated and many arrested. And once confiscated, they would not be returned even if most complied. None of the villages flinched. The tax withheld, the government's collectors and inspectors sent in thugs to seize property and cattle, while the police forfeited the lands and all agrarian property. The farmers did not resist arrest, nor retaliate to the force employed with violence. Instead, they used their cash and valuables to donate to the Gujarat Sabha which was officially organizing the protest.
The revolt was astounding in terms of discipline and unity. Even when all their personal property, land and livelihood were seized, a vast majority of Kheda's farmers remained firmly united in the support of Patel. Gujaratis sympathetic to the revolt in other parts resisted the government machinery, and helped to shelter the relatives and property of the protesting peasants. Those Indians who sought to buy the confiscated lands were ostracized from society. Although nationalists like Sardul Singh Caveeshar called for sympathetic revolts in other parts, Gandhi and Patel firmly rejected the idea.
The Government finally sought to foster an honorable agreement for both parties. The tax for the year in question, and the next would be suspended, and the increase in rate reduced, while all confiscated property would be returned. Gujaratis also worked in cohesion to return the confiscated lands to their rightful owners. The ones who had bought the lands seized were influenced to return them, even though the British had officially said it would stand by the buyers Non-Cooperation Movement The Non-Cooperation Movement was a significant phase of the Indian struggle for freedom from British rule.
This movement lasted from September 1920 to February 1922. It was led byMahatma Gandhi and was supported by the Indian National Congress. It aimed to resist British occupation in India through non-violent means. Protestors would refuse to buy British goods, adopt the use of local handicrafts, picket liquor shops, and try to uphold the Indian values of honour and integrity. The Gandhian ideals of Ahimsa or non-violence, and his ability to rally hundreds of thousands of common citizens towards the cause of Indian independence, were first seen on a large scale in this movement.
Among the significant causes of this movement were colonial oppression, exemplified by the Rowlatt Act and Jallianwala Bagh massacre, economic hardships to the common man due to a large chunk of Indian wealth being exported to Britain, ruin of Indian artisans due to British factory-made goods replacing handmade goods, and popular resentment with the British over Indian soldiers dying in World War I while fighting as part of the British Army– , in battles that otherwise had nothing to do with India.
The calls of early political leaders like Mohammad Ali Jinnah (who later became communal and hardened his stand), Annie Besant and Bal Gangadhar Tilak (Congress Extremists) for rule were accompanied only by petitions and major public meetings. They never resulted in disorder or obstruction of government services. Partly due to that, the British did not take them very seriously. The non-cooperation movement aimed to ensure that the colonial economic and power structure would be seriously challenged, and British authorities would be forced to take notice of the people's demands. Here we should know that many evolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad were supporters of this very movement but were really dissatisfied by the dismissing of movement by Gandhiji. Civil Disobedience Movement Under the leadership of Gandhiji, the Civil Disobedience Movement was launched in AD 1930. It began with the Dandi March. On 12 March 1930, Gandiji with some of his followers left the Sabarmati Ashram at Ahmedabad and made their way towards Dandi, a village on the west coast of India. After travelling for twenty-five days and covering a distance of three hundred and eighty-five kms, the group reached Dandi on 6 April 1930.
Here, Gandhiji protested against the Salt Law (salt was a monopoly of the government and no one was allowed to make salt) by making slat himself and throwing up a challenge to the British government. The Dandi March signified the start of the Civil Disobedience Movement. The movement spread and salt laws were challenged in other parts of the country. Salt became the symbol of people’s defiance of the government. In Tamil Nadu, C Rajagopalchari led a similar march from Trichinopoly to Vedaranyam. In Gujarat, Sarojini Naidu pretested in front of the slat depots.
Lakhs of people including a large number of women participated actively in these protests. The Civil Disobedience Movement carried forward the unfinished work of the Non-Cooperation Movement. Practically the whole country became involved in it. Hartals put life at a standstill. There were large-scale boycotts of schools, colleges and offices. Foreign goods were burnt in bonfires. People stopped paying taxes. In the North-West Frontier Province, the movement was led by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, popularly known as ‘Frontier Gandhi’. For a few days, British control over Peshawar and Sholapur ended.
People faced the batons and bullets of the police with supreme courage. No one retaliated or said anything to the police. As reports and photographs of this extraordinary protest began to appear in newspapers across the world, there was a growing tide of support for India’s freedom struggle. The Civil Disobedience Movement led by M K Gandhi, in the year 1930 was an important milestone in the history of Indian Nationalism. There are three distinct phases that mark the development of Indian Nationalism. In the first phase, the ideology of the moderates dominated the political scenario. This was ollowed by the prominence of the extremist ideologies. In the third phase of Indian Nationalism the most significant incident was the rise of MK Gandhi, popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi, to power as the leader of Indian National Movements. Under his spirited guidance, the National Movements of the country took shape. The Indians learnt how apparently philosophical tenets like non violence and passive resistance, could be used to wage political battles. The programs and policies adopted in the movements spearheaded by Gandhi reflected his political ideologies of ahimsa and Satyagraha.
While the Non-Co-Operation Movement was built on the lines of non violent non co operation, the essence of The Civil Disobedience Movement was defying of the British laws. Through his leadership to the National Movements, he not only buttressed his political stance but also played a crucial role in unification of the country, awakening of the masses, and bringing politics within the arena of the common man. Factors Leading to the Civil Disobedience Movement The prevalent political and social circumstances played a vital role in the launching of the Civil Disobedience Movement.
The Simon Commission was formed by the British Government that included solely the members of the British Parliament, in November 1927, to draft and formalize a constitution for India. The chairmanship of the commission rested with Sir John Simon, who was a well known lawyer and an English statesman. Accused of being an 'All-White Commission', the Simon Commission was rejected by all political and social segments of the country. In Bengal, the opposition to the Simon Commission assumed a massive scale, with a hartal being observed in all corners of the province on February 3rd, 1928.
On the occasion of Simon's arrival in the city, demonstrations were conducted in Calcutta. In the wake of the boycott of the recommendations proposed by Simon Commission, an All-Party Conference was organized in Bombay in May of 1928. Dr MA Ansari was the president of the conference. Motilal Nehru was given the responsibility to preside over the drafting committee, appointed at the conference to prepare a constitution for India. Barring the Indian Muslims, The Nehru Report was endorsed by all segments of the Indian society.
The Indian National Congress pressurized the British government to accept all the parts the Nehru Report, in December 1928. At the Calcutta Session of the Indian National Congress held in December, 1928, the British government was warned that if India was not granted the status of a dominion, a Civil Disobedience Movement would be initiated in the entire country. Lord Irwin, the Governor General, after a few months, declared that the final objective of the constitutional reforms was to grant the status of a dominion to India.
Following this declaration, Gandhi along with other national leaders requested the Governor General to adopt a more liberal attitude in solving the constitutional crisis. A demand was made for the release of the political prisoners and for holding the suggested Round Table Conference for reflecting on the problems regarding the constitution of the country. None of the efforts made by the Congress received any favorable response from the British government. The patience of the Indian masses were wearing out. The political intelligentsia of the country was sure that the technique of persuasion would not be effective with the British government.
The Congress had no other recourse but to launch the Civil Disobedience Movement. In Bardoli, the peasants had already taken to Satyagraha under the guidance of Sardar Patel in the year 1928. Their non tax agitations were partially successful. The Congress took the decision to use the non violent weapon of Satyagraha on a nation wide scale against the government. The Launch of the Civil Disobedience Movement MK Gandhi was urged by the Congress to render his much needed leadership to the Civil Disobedience Movement.
On the historic day of 12th March 1930, Gandhi inaugurated The Civil Disobedience Movement by conducting the historic Dandi Salt March, where he broke the Salt Laws imposed by the British Government. Followed by an entourage of seventy nine ashramites, Gandhi embarked on his march from his Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi that is located on the shores of the Arabian Sea. On 6th April 1930, Gandhi with the accompaniment of seventy nine satyagrahis violated the Salt Law by picking up a fistful of salt lying on the sea shore. They manually made salt on the shores of Dandi. Dandi Salt March had an immense impact on the entire nation.
Each and every corner of the country was gripped in a unique fervor of nationalism. Soon this act of violation of the Salt Laws assumed an all India character. The entire nation amalgamated under the call of a single man, Mahatma Gandhi. There were reports of satyagrahas and instances of law violation from Bombay, Central and United Provinces, Bengal and Gujarat. The program of the Civil Disobedience Movement incorporated besides the breaking of the Salt Laws, picketing of shops selling foreign goods and liquor, bonfire of cloth, refusal to pay taxes and avoidance of offices by the public officers and schools by the students.
Even the women joined forces against the British. Those from orthodox families did not hesitate to respond to the call of the Mahatma. They took active part in the picketing exercises. Perturbed by the growing popularity of the movement, the British government imprisoned Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, in a bid to thwart it. Thus, the second struggle for attaining Swaraj launched by the Congress, under the able guidance of Mahatma, served the critical function of mobilizing the masses on a large scale against the British. Gandhi-Irwin Pact
In the March of 1930, Gandhi met with the Viceroy, Lord Irwin and signed an agreement known as the Gandhi-Irwin Pact. The two main clauses of the pact entailed; Congress participation in the Round Table Conference and cessation of The Civil Disobedience Movement. The Government of India released all satyagrahis from prison. Renewal of the Civil Disobedience Movement Gandhi attended The Second Round Table Conference in London accompanied by Smt. Sarojini Naidu. At this Conference, it was claimed by Mahatma Gandhi that the Congress represented more than eighty five percent of the Indian population.
Gandhi's claim was not endorsed by the British and also the Muslim representative. The Second Round Table Conference proved to be futile for the Indians and Gandhi returned to the country without any positive result. The political scene in India thereafter assumed an acute dimension. The Viceroy, Lord Willingdon, in the absence of Gandhi, adopted the policy of repression. The Gandhi-Irwin Pact was violated and the Viceroy took to the suppression of the Congress. The Conservative party, which was in power in England, complied with the decision to assume a repressive stance against the Congress and the Indians.
The Congress was held responsible by the government to have instigated the 'Red Shirts' to participate in The Civil Disobedience Movement, led by Khan Abdul Ghaffar and provoking the cultivators of U. P to refuse to pay land revenue. Adding to this was the serious economic crisis that took hold of the country. Under such circumstances, the resumption of The Civil Disobedience Movement was inevitable. The Congress Working Committee took the decision to restart The Civil Disobedience Movement, as the British government was not prepared to relent.
Gandhi resumed the movement in January 1932 and appealed to the entire nation to join in. The Viceroy was also informed of the stance assumed by the Congress. Four ordinances were promulgated by the government to deal with the situation. The police was given the power to arrest any person, even on the basis of mere suspicion. Sardar Patel, the President of Congress and Gandhi were arrested, along with other Congressmen. The second phase of The Civil Disobedience Movement lacked the organization that marked its first phase.
Nonetheless the entire nation put up a tough fight and the movement continued for six months. Gandhi commenced his twenty one days of fast on May 8th, 1933, to make amends for the sins committed against the untouchables by the caste Hindus. The Civil Disobedience Movement was suspended, when Mahatma Gandhi withdrew mass Satyagraha on July 14th 1933. The movement ceased completely on April 7th 1934. Although The Civil Disobedience Movement failed to achieve any positive outcome, it was an important juncture in the history of Indian independence. The leadership of Mahatma Gandhi had a beneficial impact.
The warring factions within the Congress united under the aegis of The Civil Disobedience Movement, led by Mahatma Gandhi. Satyagraha was put on a firm footing through its large scale usage in the movement. Last but not the least India rediscovered its inherent strength and confidence to crusade against the British for its freedom. Quit India Movement The ascendancy of Mahatma Gandhi in the political scenario of pre Independence India, bears a close relationship to the roles that he discharged in the three National Movements; namely The Non Co-Operation Movement, The Civil Disobedience Movement and The Quit India Movement.
All the three movements were structured following the celebrated political ideologies of Gandhi. Satyagraha or passive civilian resistance and ahimsa or non violence became the unique weapons of Indian National Movements. However, The Quit India Movement departed significantly from the preceding movements in that it lacked organization and widespread violence became a common feature of the movement. Nevertheless, The Quit India Movement occupies a special place in the history of Indian struggle for freedom for taking the final step towards India's independence under the able leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.
Gandhi's inspiring statement - "We shall either free India or die in the attempt; we shall not live to see the perpetuation of our slavery" ignited the sentiments of Indians across the nation. Factors Contributing to the Launch of Quit India Movement In 1939, with the outbreak of war between Germany and Britain, India was announced to be a party to the war for being a constituent component of the British Empire. Following this declaration, the Congress Working Committee at its meeting on 10th October, 1939, passed a resolution condemning the aggressive activities of the Germans.
At the same time the resolution also stated that India could not associate herself with war as it was against Fascism. There was hardly any difference between British colonialism and Nazi totalitarianism. Responding to this declaration, the Viceroy issued a statement on October 17th wherein he claimed that Britain is waging a war driven by the motif to strengthen peace in the world. He also stated that after the war, the government would initiate modifications in the Act of 1935, in accordance to the desires of the Indians.
Gandhi's reaction to this statement was; "the old policy of divide and rule is to continue. The Congress has asked for bread and it has got stone. " According to the instructions issued by High Command, the Congress ministers were directed to resign immediately. Congress ministers from eight provinces resigned following the instructions. The resignation of the ministers was an occasion of great joy and rejoicing for leader of the Muslim League, Mohammad Ali Jinnah. He called the day of 22nd December, 1939 'The Day of Deliverance'. Gandhi urged Jinnah against the celebration of this day, however, it was futile.
At the Muslim League Lahore Session held in March 1940, Jinnah declared in his presidential address that the Muslims of the country wanted a separate homeland, Pakistan. In the meanwhile, crucial political events took place in England. Chamberlain was succeeded by Churchill as the Prime Minister and the Conservatives, who assumed power in England, did not have a sympathetic stance towards the claims made by the Indians. In order to pacify the Indians in the circumstance of worsening war situation, the Conservatives were forced to concede some of the demands made by the Indians.
On August 8th, the Viceroy issued a statement that has come to be referred as the "August Offer". However, the Congress rejected the offer followed by the Muslim League. In the context of widespread dissatisfaction that prevailed over the rejection of the demands made by the Congress, Gandhi at the meeting of the Congress Working Committee in Wardha revealed his plan to launch Individual Civil Disobedience. Once again, the weapon of Satyagraha found popular acceptance as the best means to wage a crusade against the British. It was widely used as a mark of protest against the unwavering stance assumed by the British.
Vinoba Bhave, a follower of Gandhi, was selected by him to initiate the movement. Anti war speeches ricocheted in all corners of the country, with the satyagrahis earnestly appealing to the people of the nation not to support the Government in its war endeavors. The consequence of this satyagrahi campaign was the arrest of almost fourteen thousand satyagrahis. On 3rd December, 1941, the Viceroy ordered the acquittal of all the satyagrahis. In Europe the war situation became more critical with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the Congress realized the necessity for appraising their program.
Subsequently, the movement was withdrawn. The Cripps' Mission and its failure also played an important role in Gandhi's call for The Quit India Movement. In order to end the deadlock, the British government on 22nd March, 1942, sent Sir Stafford Cripps to talk terms with the Indian political parties and secure their support in Britain's war efforts. A Draft Declaration of the British Government was presented, which included terms like establishment of Dominion, establishment of a Constituent Assembly and right of the Provinces to make separate constitutions.
These would be, however, granted after the cessation of the Second World War. According to the Congress this Declaration only offered India a promise that was to be fulfilled in the future. Commenting on this Gandhi said; "It is a post dated cheque on a crashing bank. " Other factors that contributed were the threat of Japanese invasion of India, rule of terror in East Bengal and realization of the national leaders of the incapacity of the British to defend their India. Gandhi's Call for Quit India Sir Stafford Cripps left the country amidst unprecedented excitement.
Immediately after the return of Sir Stafford Cripps, Gandhi announced 'Quit India' as the war cry for the Indians. To quote Gandhi, "The presence of the British in India is an invitation to Japan to invade India. Their withdrawal removes that bait............ ". Gandhi realized that the time was ripe to take some strong and quick actions. He wrote a series of articles in Harijan where he urged the people to rise in action. He was in favor of resorting to direct action. In order to give effect to the Mahatma's views, The Congress Working Committee adopted the well known 'Quit India' Resolution, on July 14th 1942 at Wardha.
The All India Congress Committee accepted this resolution with some modifications, on 8th August, 1942 in Bombay. The very next day, on 9th August, eminent Congress leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Vallabhbhai Patel, Jaeaharlal Nehru and Abul Kalam Azad were arrested. The masses were left without any guidance. Gandhi's 'do or die' call for the people created an upheaval in the country. But at the same time, Gandhi mentioned specifically that mass movement should be conducted following non violent means.
The Viceroy, Lord Linlithgow, adopted a policy of harsh repression all over the country and gory instances of British atrocities abounded all over. This ruined the atmosphere of non violence in the country. Unlike the other two movements, the Non-Co-Operation and the Civil Disobedience Movement that unleashed under the aegis of Mahatma Gandhi, the Quit India Movement captures the quintessence of a 'spontaneous' rising by the people. The Quit India Movement, inaugurated at the call of the Mahatma, unfolded in four phases. In the first phase there were strikes, processions, demonstrations and processions.
This phase lasted for a period of three to four days and commenced from the day of Gandhi's arrest on August 9th, 1942. The factory and mill workers rose to the cause and displayed maximum vigor and enthusiasm. The government took recourse to repressive measures to subdue the movement. In an incident of open fire in Bombay, the casualties included large number of women and children. Raids of municipal and government buildings characterized the second phase of the movement. Police stations, post offices and railway stations were attacked and set ablaze.
Attempts were made by the agitated mobs to capture court buildings. Troops fired to control mob fury. September 1942, marks the beginning of the third phase of the movement. It is said that during this phase of the movement, the mob threw bombs on the police in Madhya Pradesh, Bombay and Uttar Pradesh. With the emergence of the movement into the fourth phase, it gained back its peaceful character and extended till Mahatma Gandhi was released from prison in May, 1944. Quit India movement was Gandhi's final bid to secure India's independence.
Although, many diverse political ideologies crowded the scenario of Indian National Movement at that time, yet it was the Satyagraha adopted by Gandhi that finally had the most telling effect in challenging the British authorities. India was at the very threshold of Independence by the end of the Quit India movement and Gandhi's long cherished dream was about to be realized. Quit India movement sealed the success for satyagraha as a policy of political resistance, and Gandhi's role as the chief moving force behind India's Independence came to be universally accepted, although dark clouds of a communal fissure still lurked in the background.
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