Civil Disobedience Movement
Civil Disobedience Movement: A pivotal moment in the Indian Nationalist movement was the civil disobedience movement. The civil disobedience movement is credited with helping India achieve freedom in numerous ways. It was noteworthy in many respects because it was a movement that reached the cities and saw the involvement of women and people from lower castes. The Civil Disobedience Movement began with Gandhi’s well-known Dandi March. Gandhi set out on foot from the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad on March 12, 1930, with 78 other Ashram members for Dandi, a village on India’s western seacoast about 385 kilometres from Ahmedabad. On April 6, 1930, they arrived in Dandi.
Check: Khilafat Movement
What is Civil Disobedience Movement?
Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March served as the catalyst for the start of the Civil Disobedience Movement. In March 1930, Gandhi and 78 other ashram members set off on foot for Dandi, a village on Gujarat’s western seaboard, from the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmadabad.
On April 6, 1930, they arrived in Dandi, where Gandhi violated and broke the Salt Law. Since salt production in India was a monopoly of the British Government, it was regarded as illegal. The Civil Disobedience Movement gained significant support thanks to the Salt Satyagraha, and the Salt March represented citizens’ opposition to British government policy.
Check: Non Cooperation Movement
Civil Disobedience Movement Causes
These were some of the main reasons that paved the way for the Civil Disobedience Movement.
- The formation of the Simon Commission
- The rejection of the demand for Dominion Status
- The demonstrations against the detention of social revolutionaries, etc.
The British government’s lack of genuine interest in giving Dominion Status was evident to the nationalist leaders. In an emergency meeting held in Lahore in December 1929, the INC under Jawaharlal Nehru’s leadership announced PurnaSwaraj, or “Complete Independence,” as the Congress’s main objective.
The Congress Working Committee (CWC) was authorized by the Lahore Congress of 1929 to start a campaign of civil disobedience, which included not paying taxes. And at Sabarmati Ashram in 1930, Gandhi was given full authority by the CWC to start the Civil Disobedience Movement whenever and wherever he chose. Additionally, it enabled Mahatma Gandhi the freedom to start a national campaign of civil disobedience whenever and wherever he pleased.
Civil Disobedience Movement Start
Viceroy Irwin received a letter from Mahatma Gandhi on January 31, 1930, in which he outlined and imposed eleven demands. The most compelling of all the requests was to do rid of the salt tax, which is paid for by both the rich and the poor. By March 11th, the demands had to be satisfied, or Congress will start a campaign of civil disobedience. 78 of his dependable volunteers marched with Mahatma Gandhi in the well-known salt march.
The march travelled more than 240 kilometres from Gandhiji’s ashram in Sabarmati to the coastal town of Dandi in Gujarat. He landed in Dandi on April 6 and ceremonially breached the law by salting seawater by scalding it. This movement served as the catalyst for the Civil Disobedience Movement.
Check: Quit India Movement
Civil Disobedience Movement Impact
Defiance from the regulations swept across the nation after Gandhi symbolically broke the salt laws at Dandi. Students, women, tribals, businesspeople, labourers, and peasants from all walks of life participated in CDM, and a number of provincial salt laws were disobeyed under the direction of different leaders. C. Rajagopalachari in Tamil Nadu, K. Kelappan in Malabar, Sarojini Naidu and Manilal Gandhi in Dharasana Salt Works (Gujarat), and others led the Salt Satyagraha.
Rajgopalchari in Tamil Nadu led a comparable march from Trichinopoly to Vedaranyam, following in Gandhi’s footsteps. The agitation in Darasana, Gujarat, was led at the same time by notable congresswoman Sarojini Naidu. Over 300 Satyagrahis suffered serious injuries as a result of a lathi attack by the police.
There were protests, hartals, a boycott of imported goods, and later, a refusal to pay taxes as a result. This initiative drew one lakh people, including women. A massive police force with steel-tipped lathis pummelling non-resisting Satyagrahis (protesters) until they fell down, but a group of 2000 volunteers defied the salt laws at the Dharasana salt plant, which is notable for the scope of its peaceful resistance.
Civil Disobedience Movement British Government’s Response
In November 1930, the British government called the first round table conference to discuss the reforms proposed by the Simon Commission. However, the Indian National Congress chose to boycott it. Indian princes, the Muslim League, the Hindu Mahasabha, and a few others attended the summit. Nothing, though, came of it. The British understood that without Congress’ involvement, no substantive constitutional changes would be made.
Viceroy Lord Irwin tried to convince Congress to participate in the second round table congress. Gandhi and Irwin came to an arrangement in which the government promised to free all political prisoners who weren’t accused of using violence, and Congress promised to put an end to the civil disobedience movement.
Vallabhbhai Patel presided over the Karachi session in 1931, where it was determined that the congress will take part in the second round table congress. Gandhi was the delegate for the September 1931 session.
Why was salt chosen by Gandhiji as a weapon?
Because salt was considered to be a basic right of every Indian, it was chosen to represent the beginning of the civil disobedience movement. Gandhi once famously said, “There is no other product besides water that the government can tax in order to feed the millions of people who are starving, as well as the sick, the injured, and the totally defenceless. It is the cruellest poll tax that man has ever devised.”
Salt made a quick connection between the swaraj ideal and a very genuine and common complaint of the rural poor (and with no socially divisive implications like a no-rent campaign). Similar to khadi, salt gave the poor a small but psychologically significant source of income through self-help and gave urban believers a chance to symbolically relate to widespread misery.
Civil Disobedience Movement Limitations
The following were the limitations of the Civil Disobedience Movement:
- The movement ignored the untouchables.
- Because Muslim political organisations do not participate, the gap between Hindus and Muslims widened.
- Muslim’s demand for special seats led to disputes between Congress and Muslims.
- A large number of Muslims have been turned away from the conflict because they were afraid of becoming a minority group in India.