Many movements and revolts have been observed during the Indian freedom struggle. Non-Cooperation Movement was one among them. The outline of the movement was drawn by the Indian National Congress under the guidelines of Mahatma Gandhi. The non-cooperation movement affected the mass people on a large scale. People from the age group of 7 years to 70 years from all sects had participated in the movement with great enthusiasm. This movement achieved its success because of the dissatisfaction and annoyance to the British Government. Every Indian dreamt for the Independence.
Meaning and Objective of Non-Cooperation Movement
As was its name so was its meaning i.e. not supporting the government by adapting non-violence means. The main objective of this movement was not to help the British Government in ruling the nation. It was strictly resolved that any kind of violence was not allowed in opposing the British.
Gandhiji and the other top leaders of Congress sought to interrupt the British by not cooperating them to run the Government such as the total boycott of schools and colleges, offices, prizes awarded by the British, use of foreign made goods, and by using Hindi as the language of communication and to use cloths made in India. The word Swadeshi was coined during that period.
Reasons behind Non Cooperation Movement
When there was dissatisfaction and annoyance among all the classes and sects of Indian society then it was strictly needed to upsurge a movement that could shake the roots of the British Rule. There were too many reasons behind the Non-cooperation Movement but Rowlatt Act, Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, Marshal Law in Punjab, Khilafat Movement, and increasing rates of commodity items, drought and the epidemics were the principal ones. These were the reasons why it was supported by everyone in the mid of 1920-22 in the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress.
On 13th April, 1919 Jallianwala massacre had filled anger and annoyance among the whole nation. Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindra Nath Tagore had returned their titles of Keshar-E-Hind and the Knighthood. The Government of India act had been passed on the recommendation of the Proposal of Montague- Chelmsford in which the dual-management rule was determined. It was determined that the elections of the Upper House would be held directly.
However the Executive Assembly had no control on the governor General and the executive council. The nationalists didn’t like this and in the special session of the Congress in Mumbai in August, 1918 the reform was totally opposed by all and they put the demand of self-government. Apart from this the Rowlatt Act also came into existence, according to which any person could be punished for two years imprisonment without a trial if any controversy aroused against him. Gandhiji was not in this favour and opposed it.
Launch of the Non-Cooperation Movement
People were annoyed by the oppressive policies of the British and wanted to take some hard and strict political actions. Meanwhile the Economic Problems of the people put some more fuel to the fire. On 1st August, 1920 the non-cooperation movement was finally started and Lala Lajpat Rai had taken his last breath after being severely wounded in a baton charge by police in Lahore. Actually the outline of the non-cooperation Movement was prepared in the Congress session at Nagpur. Some changes in the Indian National Congress had also been observed that are given below:
- The Indian National Congress had booked up its goals and objectives for the self-governance in a peaceful and legal manner.
- A 15 member working committee was formed to watch upon the daily matters.
- The Provincial Congress Committees were formed on the basis of linguistic differences.
- The membership charge was decreased for the poor.
- It was strictly pledged to use Hindi as their working language.
Appeal of Congress
The Indian National Congress contributed a lot in the comprehensive success of the non-cooperation Movement because the Congress had prepared such a platform from where the main objectives and thoughts of the congress leaders were conveyed to the public. The Indian National Congress had appealed to the people for the followings:
- All the awards and titles given by the British at local to executive level have to be returned so that the British could feel the insult and this would increase the self-respect among every Indian.
- The congress counseled its people not to attend any Government or semi-government programs to make them feel that they were foreigners and the main goal of the movement was to send the British back.
- The parents need to remove the registration of their wards from the schools and colleges which were established or control by the British.
- It was also added that the Indians should have to establish more educational or other institutions so that the dependency on British would be decreased.
- The Congress appealed the people to boycott the courts and the lawyers.
- The leaders of the Congress understood the ‘divide and rule policy’ of the British and tried to unite Hindus and Muslims both for the greater upsurge and full non-cooperation with the British rule.
- In between 1921-22, some national institutes in India were established, like Gujarat Vidyapeeth, Bihar Vidyapeeth, Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth, Kashi Vidyapeeth, Bengal National University, Zamia Milia in Delhi were among many others. In these institutions the lessons of nationality were taught.
Development of the Movement:-
The Indian national congress in the leadership of Gandhiji had started the Non-cooperation Movement and appealed to the people of India not to cooperate in any action taken by the British. He motivated the Indian people to open their Institution and to boycott every actions of the British rules in non-violence way and Satyagraha. The moment started intensifying and gradually spread all over in the country. Let see its development through the following points:-
- Mahatma Gandhi visited all part of the country with Ali brothers. Many rallies and political meetings were held and the speeches of Gandhi inspired the students resulting in their enrollment in the Indian Institutions.
- In Bengal, C.R. Das had taken the charge and raised the movement where the movement achieved its peak.
- Lala Lajpat Rai had contributed a lot in this movement in Punjab and the educational boycott was successful there.
- The impact of Gandhi’s appeal was largely seen as Indian lawyers were boycotting the courts and denied to take cases. C.R.Das, Motilal Nehru, M.R. Jaikar, Saiffuddin were among the lawyers who had refused to work in British courts.
- The boycott of foreign made clothes was a great success of the movement. The liquor shops were also picketed.
- The whole country was aware with the word ‘Swadeshi’ and it was a major component of the Non-cooperation Movement.
- Mahatma Gandhi had insisted on Khadi and Spinning wheel for Swadeshi clothes and in the meantime it had been resembled as a uniform of the movement.
- Gandhiji had formed “Tilak Swaraj Fund” for economic support for the movement and in only 6 months approx. INR 1 crore had been collected in the fund.
- The collected money was used in demonstration and strike during the visit of the Prince of Wales in 1921.
- Jinna had told to the people in Karachi in the Khilafat Congress meeting that working for the British was against the religion, and Gandhiji supported this.
- In Medanipur district of Bengal a campaign against Union Board of Taxes and in Andhra Pradesh a No Tax Movement was launched. People refused to pay taxes.
- Under the guidelines of Jawaharlal Nehru, the farmer union in U.P. had also participated in the non-cooperation Movement.
- The tea workers had denied to work in tea gardens and declared a strike in Assam.
- In Andhra Pradesh the dis-obedience of Forest Act was seen.
- An Akali movement was observed in Punjab.
The Movement was Classified into Four Stages:
- January to March, 1921:- Student and advocates were motivated to leave their institutions.
- April to July, 1921:- On 28-30 July, in the meeting of Indian National Congress in Mumbai aggressive mood was adopted and volunteers were appealed to resister their arrest.
- August to February, 1920:- During that period the Movement had so intensified that the British Government was on its knees.
- February, 1920:- After the incident of Chauri-Chaura Gandhiji had suddenly declared the end of the Movement on 11 February, 1922.
Reasons behind the End of the Movement
In the mid of 1921 the Non-cooperation Movement had reached its zenith. The public and the congress leaders were waiting for Gandhiji’s next step. The top leaders of the Congress requested Gandhiji to start the “Civil Dis-obedience Movement”. Gandhiji accepted the demand and recommended that the Civil Dis-obedience Movement would start from Bardoli, Surat. He wanted to maintain peace in rest of the country at that time. But the Chauri-Chaura incident had change the whole scenario before the beginning of the Civil Dis-obedience Movement.
On 5th February 1922, the extremist volunteers and nationalists had attacked a police station in Chauri-Chaura, Gorakhpur and put 22 policemen on fire. The police station was also plundered. Annoyed with the incident Gandhiji had called off the Non-cooperation Movement.
Consequences of Non Cooperation Movement
Although the Non-cooperation Movement couldn’t become successful to touch its goal yet some important changes and results had been observed. That is given here under:
- It was proved beneficial for the Congress. The power of the Congress was increased and people began to rely on Gandhi’s decision more.
- The movement had initiated the feeling of Swaraj among the people and more people supported the Congress.
- It was the first opportunity for the people to ensure their direct participation in the freedom struggle that were exploited at a large scale.
- The movement was uniformly spread in all parts of the country.
- Muslims had also been participated in the movement. The Hindu-Muslim unity had given strength to the movement.
- Many people were annoyed with Gandhi’s decision to stop the Non-Cooperation Movement but they accepted it happily because of the deep respect for Gandhiji and his policies.
- All people had filled with the consciousness about their rights and freedom.
- The mentality of slavery was being eradicated among the people and they were getting the inspiration of devotion and struggle.
- The top leaders of the Congress along with Bipin Chandra Pal had declared the end of the movement but said that war for freedom would continue.
The Non-cooperation Movement was a campaign in the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and on the guideline of the Congress, in which all the sects of the community, every age group, all religions participated. Especially the workers and the farmers had the opportunity to take part in a national movement. This movement had provided a firm ground for the Congress that enhanced its power and position.
When Gandhiji declared to postpone the Non-cooperation Movement, a part of Congress leaders were divided into two parts. Large scale dissatisfaction was felt on that time but soon it was ended. Black Flags were shown to Simon Commission in 1927. According to Gandhi Erwin Pact 1929 it was said that the Sovereignty was allotted to India but British had taken a U-turn that made Gandhi and others displeased and Gandhi had just declared the beginning of the Civil Disobedience Movement.
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