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What is Non Cooperation Movement?
Mahatma Gandhi organized the Non-Cooperation Movement from 1920-1922, to persuade the British government of India to grant India Swaraj or self-rule. Non-Cooperation Movement was one of Gandhi’s earliest planned instances of the widespread Civil Disobedience Movement (Satyagraha). The Non-Cooperation Movement is said to have existed between September 1920 and February 1922. It represented the beginning of a new chapter in the struggle for Indian independence. The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919 served as the catalyst for the Non-Cooperation Movement’s inception, which was later suspended due to the 1922 Chauri Chaura Incident.
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|Lala Lajpat Rai
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Non Cooperation Movement by Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi was the main proponent of the Non Cooperation Movement. He published a manifesto in March 1920 outlining the movement’s nonviolent noncooperation doctrine. With the help of this manifesto, Mahatma Gandhi hoped to eradicate untouchability from society by encouraging people to adopt Swadeshi ideas and practices, such as hand spinning and weaving. In 1921, Gandhi traveled the country elaborating on the movement’s principles.
Causes of Non Cooperation Movement
The Non-Cooperation Movement, a significant phase in India’s struggle for independence, was initiated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1920. The movement aimed to resist British colonial rule through non-violent means. Here are the key causes of the Non-Cooperation Movement:
- Jallianwala Bagh Massacre (1919): The brutal massacre by British troops in Amritsar, where hundreds of unarmed Indians were killed, deeply angered and radicalized the Indian populace.
- Rowlatt Act (1919): Enacted by the British, the Rowlatt Act allowed for the arrest and detention of Indians without trial, leading to widespread opposition.
- Khilafat Movement (1919-1924): Indian Muslims were agitated over the treatment of the Caliph in Turkey by the British after World War I. Gandhi saw an opportunity for Hindu-Muslim unity and linked the Khilafat cause with the independence movement.
- Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms (1919): The reforms were considered inadequate as they fell short of Indian aspirations for self-rule. Dissatisfaction with the constitutional reforms fueled anti-British sentiments.
- Economic Exploitation: Heavy taxation, especially on salt, and economic exploitation by the British caused widespread distress among Indians, particularly peasants.
- Failure of the Jallianwala Bagh Inquiry: The failure of the Hunter Commission to hold Brigadier General Dyer accountable for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre intensified resentment.
- Gandhi’s Influence: Mahatma Gandhi emerged as a charismatic leader advocating non-violent resistance. His philosophy of non-cooperation found resonance among the masses.
- Desire for Swaraj (Self-Rule): The call for complete independence gained momentum as Indians aspired to govern themselves without British interference.
- Peasant Discontent: The agrarian community faced economic hardships, and the Non-Cooperation Movement provided an avenue for them to express their grievances.
- Boycott of Institutions: Indians were encouraged to boycott educational institutions, law courts, and government jobs as a means of non-cooperation.
- Symbolic Acts: Symbolic acts such as returning honors and titles conferred by the British government showcased defiance and rejection of colonial authority.
- Mass Participation: The movement witnessed widespread participation from different sections of society, making it a mass movement with broad public support.
The Non-Cooperation Movement marked a turning point in India’s struggle for independence, fostering a spirit of unity and resistance against British rule.
Implementation of Non-Cooperation Movement
Essentially, the Non-Cooperation Movement was a non-violent, non-violent protest against the Indian government of the British. As a form of protest, Indians were asked to renounce their titles and resign from their appointed positions in the local bodies. People were asked to quit their government jobs and remove their kids from institutions that were under government control or that received government funding. People were urged to refrain from purchasing foreign goods, exclusively utilize products created in India, boycott legislative council elections, and abstain from enlisting in the British army.
It was also intended that if the preceding measures did not produce the desired effects, people would stop paying their taxes. Swarajya, or self-government, was also desired by the Indian National Congress (INC). To accomplish the demands, only absolutely nonviolent methods would be used.
For the first time, the INC was willing to abandon constitutional measures to obtain self-rule, making the Non Cooperation Movement a crucial moment in the independence campaign. If this campaign was carried out to its conclusion, Gandhi had promised that Swaraj would be accomplished in a year.
Why Non-Cooperation Movement Called Off?
Following the Chauri Chaura Incident in February 1922, Mahatma Gandhi decided to put an end to the campaign.
During a clash between the police and movement protesters in Chauri Chaura, Uttar Pradesh, a violent crowd set fire to a police station, killing 22 police officers. Mahatma Gandhi stopped the Non-cooperation movement, stating that the populace was not prepared to overthrow the government through Ahimsa. Several influential figures, like Motilal Nehru and C. R. Das, opposed stopping the campaign because of isolated acts of violence.
Significance of Non Cooperation Movement
- As promised by Gandhi, Swaraj did not become a reality in a year. However, lakhs of Indians engaged in a public, nonviolent protest against the government, making it a real widespread movement.
- The British government was stunned by the size of the movement, which caused it to shake. It featured participation from Muslims and Hindus, demonstrating the country’s overall unity.
- The non-cooperation campaign helped the Congress Party gain public support.
- As a result of this campaign, people were more aware of their political rights. They had no apprehensions about the government. Numerous people voluntarily flocked to prisons.
- Due to the boycott of British goods during this time, Indian merchants and mill owners made considerable profits. Khadi received a promotion.
- During this time, fewer British pounds of sugar were imported. Gandhi’s status as a populist leader was also reinforced by this movement.
Effects of Non-Cooperation Movement
- People from many regions of the country gave the outstanding leaders who supported the cause their full cooperation.
- The business people backed the movement because the nationalist utilization of the Swadeshi movement had benefited them.
- Participating in the movement provided peasants and members of the middle class with an opportunity to express their opposition to British rule.
- Women actively protested and took part in the Non-Cooperation Movement as well.
- The Gandhian movement was supported by plantation workers who were forbidden from leaving the tea gardens and the plantation fields.
- Many people also gave up the titles and honours bestowed upon them by the British crown. People had begun to protest against British government-run courts, schools, and institutions.