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Constructive Programmes of Mahatma Gandhi During Non-Cooperation Movement and Civil Disobedience Movement

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  • Last Updated : 25 Feb, 2022

Mahatma Gandhi took a very important role in the Civil disobedience and the Non-cooperation movement to obtain freedom from British rule. These movements were one of the biggest mass movements for Independence. The combining factor to both Civil disobedience and Non-Cooperation was the idea of Swaraj i.e. self-rule. To make these movements prevalent and effective, Gandhi asked people to become self-reliant to fight for their freedom. These programs were the skeleton structure for these movements; helped in uniting the people of India and bring momentum to the Indian freedom struggle. It restored dignity among Indians and evoked them with patriotism. 

To achieve Swaraj, in 1941, he wrote a book “Constructive Program” and through this book, he suggested different topics which were supposed to make the masses more independent and provide them with a better lifestyle.

1. Communal Unity

  • Britishers were excellent in divide and rule policy. In such a case, one of the main aspects for Gandhiji was to fill the gap between different religions and bring them together for a united struggle. Gandhiji brought the Non-Corporation and restoration of the Khilafat movement together, binding two major religions of India.
  • Gandhi vouched for “Unbreakable heart unity”. He asked congressmen to cultivate personal friendships with people from different religious faiths and respect every community like his own.
  • No separate rooms for Hindu and non-Hindu students, Inhibition of communal schools, and the overall prohibition of discrimination based on religion were encouraged.
  • There was equal participation of people from different religions in the political sphere. The legislative assemblies were the center of political power. It was essential to have a substantial representation of people from diverse communities. Gandhiji asked Congress to put up candidates from the religious minorities.

2. Popularization of Khadi and Village Industries

  • The use of Khadi was not only to produce indigenous textile but also to promote the idea of the Swadeshi mentality. It averted the exploitation of thousands of textile workers by providing cheap and self-contained alternatives. It provided women with a new way to earn their livelihood by producing and selling khadi-based textiles.
  • The feel of homegrown clothes provided identity to individuals and restored their self-esteem. Khadi worked as a symbol of unity, provided economic freedom, and spread the idea of self-sustainability in the far-off villages.
  • Thousands of spinning wheels were distributed in the villages to people from different castes and religions. Congressmen were given broad rules for the production, promotion, and distribution of Khadi by Gandhiji.
  • Along with Khadi, there was enough stress upon establishing village-based industry to promote economic liberation. Like, Industries of soap making, paper making, and matchmaking to fulfill the demands from villages.
  • Gandhi also made, Khadi a national symbol. A symbol for indigenous identity. Due to the popularity of the Civil Disobedience movement, a nationwide boycott of foreign goods stayed for years. Public burning of foreign clothes, denouncing the despotic foreign culture, and opting for made-in-India products was a regular event.

3. Rural Sanitation and Education in Health and Hygiene

  • The message of sanitation was not only for the environment but for the mind too, in the sense of purifying one’s mind from evil thoughts and enabling an individual to practice nonviolence. Gandhiji wanted people to be spiritually liberated and own a purified conscience.
  • Along with the practice of hygiene, education in health and hygiene was also a central focus of the constructive program for a well-ordered society. People needed to obtain health knowledge to improve the practice of hygiene and prevent various diseases.
  • Various practices like- breathing fresh air, establishing a balance between body and mind, standing erect, and consuming clean food and water were proposed through the constructive programs.

4.   Emancipation of Women and Role of Adult education 

  • Gandhi’s idea of Satyagraha emancipated women all over the nation. There was huge participation of women in civil disobedience and the Non-Cooperation Movement. Women stood at the forefront not only in villages but in cities too. In villages, they were involved in activities like, making khadi products, educating people, and spreading awareness about village sanitation. In the cities, they participated in the protests and attained high positions in congress.
  • Congressmen were asked to treat their wives as equal partners in the national cause and begin by empowering women from their own houses. Men, Women, Mothers, and Daughters were expected to obtain liberal education and progressive ideas.
  • Education was the foundation of Swaraj for Gandhi. The new education program was aimed at the cultural and social context within India contrary to the Eurocentric education policy.
  •  According to Gandhi, Adult political education was needed in villages as well in cities to develop a consciousness against the foreign rule and build the civil disobedience movement stronger.

5. Improving the plight of Kisaan and Laborers

  • India was an agrarian society and to make political independence more impactful, Gandhi believed if Farmers were made politically aware, it would result in a prominent nonviolent movement against Britishers. 
  • Gandhi’s Kisaan movement in Champaran, Kheda, Bardoli, and Borsad exemplified an effective method of organizing Farmers. He asked to create a separate department to address specific problems related to farmers.
  • Gandhi immensely valued the Ahmedabad labor union and their use of nonviolent strikes. He hoped to regulate all the labor unions on a similar model and make an All India Union unite people together.

6. Mass Student Participation

  • Gandhi saw students as the future of the country. During various movements against the British govt, students in mass numbers left school and colleges and became part of those movements. The involvement of students in the protests brought a new strain of thoughts and huge gatherings in public attendance.  
  • Students organized huge processions against the government. They also boycotted foreign goods and clothes. They led a powerful agitation against the Cunningham circular which asked students and their parents to submit undertaking of good behavior.
  • Through this program, Gandhiji  instructed students to do the following things: 
    – Learn the national language and enrich their mother tongue.
    – Use and promote khadi and village products.
    – Remove untouchability and communalism from their soul.
    – Clean the neighborhood villages and educate people.  
    – Behave nicely with the female fellow students.

7. Harijan Sevak Sangh

  • Mahatma Gandhi’s grave concern was the practice of untouchability in Hinduism. For the abolition of untouchability, he urged individuals to approach orthodox Hindus with “friendliness”.  To attain Swaraj, Harijans were to be befriended and included in the civil disobedience and noncooperation movement.
  • To follow this path institutionally, Gandhiji founded Harijan Sevak Sangh in 1932 to eradicate untouchability and uplift the depressed classes.

8. Prohibition of Alcohol and Opium

  • Gandhiji said, if India’s people were to have a conscious and Protracted protest, the “curse of intoxicants and narcotics” had to be eradicated. He asked people from medical backgrounds to make an effective contribution in helping people overcome their addiction. Women and students were requested to morally pursue addicts to give up the bad habits.
  • Congressmen were asked to set up recreational booths to provide cheap and healthy refreshments and physical activities for the laborers so that they don’t end up falling for alcohol.
  • Call for a prohibition of alcohol brought the addicts back to society, strengthened the freedom struggle, and bound families together.


Through these constructive programs, Gandhi persuaded every individual to play their part in their capacity for movements like Civil disobedience and the Noncooperation movement. It was not just against Britishers but also social and moral injustices. By constructing new centers of learning, Gandhi laid the groundwork for Swaraj and reached even the isolated rural communities. It played a pivotal role in the nonviolent campaign for India’s independence and helped the Satyagraha movements to achieve their goals.

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