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Civil Disobedience Movement, Causes, Impacts, Limitations

A pivotal moment in the Indian Nationalist movement was the civil disobedience movement.  The Civil Disobedience Movement began with Mahatma 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.

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Civil Disobedience Movement Overview

Civil Disobedience Movement Overview

Time Period 1930-1934
Leader Mahatma Gandhi
Objective Protest against British salt monopoly and taxes, demand for complete independence
Key Event Dandi March (Salt March) initiated by Gandhi on March 12, 1930
Method of Protest Civil Disobedience, Non-violent Resistance
Salt Satyagraha Symbolic production and selling of salt without paying taxes, breaking the salt laws
Boycott of British Goods Indians boycotted British goods and institutions
Non-Cooperation People refused to cooperate with British authorities, surrendered titles and honors
Women’s Participation Significant involvement of women in protests and marches
Repression British response included arrests, imprisonments, and use of force
Outcome Increased political awareness, international attention, and negotiations with British
End of Movement Officially called off by Gandhi in 1934
Legacy Contributed to India’s independence movement, emphasized non-violent resistance

What is Civil Disobedience Movement?

The Civil Disobedience Movement is a peaceful protest strategy against unjust laws or policies, popularized by Thoreau and Gandhi. Participants intentionally break laws, typically in a nonviolent manner, to challenge authorities and advocate for change. Key features include nonviolent resistance, conscious law-breaking, acceptance of legal consequences, and appeals to morality. This tactic has been instrumental in various movements globally, including civil rights, social justice, and political reform. By openly defying unjust laws, individuals or groups aim to bring attention to their cause and inspire others to join in challenging oppressive systems through peaceful means.

Causes of Civil Disobedience Movement

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. 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 Year and Viceroy Irwin

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 get 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 would 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.

Impact of Civil Disobedience Movement

The Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) had a significant impact on India’s struggle for independence. It was a turning point in the movement, and it forced the British to take the Indian demand for independence more seriously. The CDM was not immediately successful in achieving Indian independence.

However, it was a major step towards that goal. It weakened British authority and laid the groundwork for India’s eventual freedom. Here are some of the key impacts of the CDM:

  • It popularized new methods of nonviolent resistance. The CDM was the first time that Gandhi’s principles of nonviolence were used on a large scale in India. The movement involved a variety of nonviolent tactics, such as boycotts, strikes, and civil disobedience. These tactics were effective in disrupting British rule and raising awareness of the Indian independence movement.
  • It united Indians from all walks of life. The CDM brought together people from different religions, castes, and social classes. It also attracted the participation of women and children. This unity was a major source of strength for the movement.
  • It weakened British authority. The CDM showed the British that the Indian people were determined to achieve independence. It also led to the loss of British revenue and the erosion of British prestige.
  • It laid the groundwork for Indian independence. The CDM helped to prepare India for independence. It showed that Indians were capable of organizing and carrying out a mass movement. It also helped to raise international awareness of the Indian independence movement.

British Government’s Response on Civil Disobedience Movement

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 would 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.

Limitations of Civil Disobedience Movement

Despite its significant impact on India’s struggle for independence, the Civil Disobedience Movement had certain limitations:

  • The movement primarily involved the urban middle class, while the peasantry and other marginalized groups remained largely uninvolved. This limited the movement’s reach and its ability to mobilize the masses.
  • 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.
  • The movement faced challenges in reconciling the aspirations of different sections of society.
  • The movement primarily focused on specific grievances and demands, but it did not address the underlying structural inequalities that perpetuated British rule. This limited the movement’s long-term impact.
  • The movement heavily relied on the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. His charisma and influence were crucial in mobilizing support, but the movement’s effectiveness diminished when he was imprisoned or absent.

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Civil Disobedience Movement FAQs

Civil Disobedience Movement date?

The civil Disobedience Movement was started in 1930, on March 12.

How many people participated in Dandi March?

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.

Where was Dandi March started?

Mahatma Gandhi launched the Dandi March on March 12, 1930. From his Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad to Dandi, a seaside town in Gujarat, was a nearly 385-kilometre march.

What was the main cause for Dandi March?

The 1882 Salt Act gave the British a monopoly over salt manufacturing and allowed them to start taxing salt heavily. On March 12, 1930, from Sabarmati Ashram, Mahatma Gandhi and his supporters began the Dandi March to protest this salt tax.

When did CDM start and end?

On July 14, 1933, Gandhi Ji discontinued the mass Satyagraha, but on April 7, 1934, the campaign came to an end completely. Although the civil disobedience movement may not have had a successful outcome, it was crucial as India regained its power and confidence to oppose the British.

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