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Difference Between Non Cooperation Movement and Civil Disobedience Movement

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  • Last Updated : 07 Apr, 2022

The beginning of the 20th century witnessed two crucial movements of freedom struggle, among which one was the Non-cooperation movement, and the other was the civil disobedience movement. This two-movement had a gap of a decade and held a significant position in the history of the Gandhian phase.

The Non-cooperation movement started in September, 1920. As a result, to seek justice against the Jallianwala tragedy, the injustice meted out to the Khalifa of Turkey and for the attainment of swaraj. Gandhi regarded it as a political programme and a religious movement to clean the Indian political life of corruption, terrorism, and fear of the white race. Gandhi believed that non-violence was essential for the perusal of the non-cooperation movement.

The historic march, marking the launch of the Civil Disobedience movement, began in March 1930, and Gandhi broke the salt law by picking up a lump of salt at Dandi on April 6. The violation of the law was seen as a symbol of Indian people’s resolve not to live under British-made rule and, therefore, under British rule. Gandhi openly asked the people to make salt from the seawater in their homes and violate the salt law.

Difference between the two Movements:

1. Spirit of Nationalism:

After the arrival of Gandhi in national politics, the Non-Cooperation Movement was the first mass movement that aroused nationalist feelings among the people and it was after a decade of freedom struggle, the civil disobedience movement took place. The Non-cooperation movement sowed the seeds of nationalism among the people, which was not seen in the Later Movement of Civil Disobedience.

2. Aim of Movements:

In the strong response to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and other violence in Punjab, Gandhi decided the main aim of the Non-cooperation movement was to induce the British to secure Swaraj for India, besides this, he assured that if his non-cooperation programme was fully implemented, then within one year India will get the Swaraj. At that time, they did not ask for complete Independence.

In the case of the Civil Disobedience Movement, the leaders demanded complete Independence. The Indian national congress declared the objective of the congress to be Poorna Swaraj on 29th Dec. 1929.

3. Methods Used in the Movements:

From the beginning of the Civil Disobedience Movement, it involved the violation of the law and in the non-cooperation movement, through Ahimsa or Non-Violence Indians challenged the economic and power structure of British authorities.

In the civil disobedience movement, Gandhi openly revolted against the salt tax. He has chosen the salt tax only because he knew that this tax affects every section of society. 

In the Non-cooperation movement, people boycotted schools, colleges office but did not revolt against government policies. During the civil disobedience movement, there was a decline in the form of protests involving the Intelligentsia, such as lawyers giving up practice, students giving up governmental schools to join national schools and colleges.

4. Area Confined:

The Non-Cooperation movement was confined to a limited area. It did not spread to the southern parts of the country and the remotest corner of the country.

The civil disobedience movement was confined to a larger area. At the same time, this movement was spread to other parts of the country. In Tamil Nadu, the movement was led by C. Rajagopalachari and in Malabar, it was led by K. Kelappan. The movement spread to the other parts like Assam, Bengal, Orissa and Bihar.

5. Involvement of different sections of the society:

Women: The Non-Cooperation Movement did not involve much participation of the women. The Movement was mainly confined to the upper-middle class. In the case of the Civil disobedience movement, the participation of women was on a broader scale, they picketed outside the shops selling foreign cloths, liquor shops etc. For Indian women, this movement was a liberating one, marking their entry into the public sphere.

Business-class: The involvement of the business class was absent during the Non-cooperation movement as they were afraid of labour unrest in their factories, while in the civil disobedience movement, prominent industrialists like Purushottam Das Thakurdas and G.D. Birla played an important role. Traders were very enthusiastic and cooperated with the Movement by boycotting the foreign goods and shops.

Peasants: In NCM, the peasants’ participation has been massive. This movement gave them an opportunity to express their real feelings against the Britishers as well as against the oppressive landlords. The peasant had the courage and in the case of CDM, the peasants of UP, Bihar and Gujarat actively involved themselves with the movement.

6. Government response: 

The Government was in no mood for negotiation and in an attempt to stop the Non-cooperation movement, police firings broke out at different places. There was a ban on public meetings and most of the leaders were arrested. It was also seen that Congress and Khilafat volunteer organizations were declared illegal.

The government attitude throughout 1930 was ambivalent as it was puzzled and perplexed. It was perplexed whether to use force or not. There were lathi charges and firing on unarmed crowds which left several wounded, while thousands of satyagrahis besides Gandhi and other Congress leaders were imprisoned. Looking at the vigour of CDM, the government withdrew the salt tax imposed on the people. 

7. Impact of the Movement: 

Gandhi was strictly against violence during the Non-cooperation movement and he halted the movement after the unexpected Chauri-Chaura incident which led to the death of 22 policemen. The Non Cooperation Movement aroused nationalist sentiments across the nook and corner of the country and politicized every strata of the population -the artisans, peasants, students, urban poor, women, and traders. It was this politicization and activation of millions of millions of men and women which imparted a revolutionary character to the national movement. 

The impact of the CDM was felt by the government. The imports of foreign cloths and other items fell and the government suffered a loss of income from liquor, excise and land revenue. The elections to the legislative Assembly were largely boycotted. 

8. Coincidence with other Movement:

The Non-cooperation movement coincided with different peasants movements like the Moplah revolt and the Eka movement, which gave a different strength. In contrast, the civil disobedience movement did not coincide with any significant labour or peasant uprising.

9. Position of the Congress: 

During the Non-cooperation movement, the congress was not that stronger but during the civil disobedience movement, the congress was institutionally stronger. They had now attained confidence, that India can attain complete independence and throw the British out of the country. The Nehru report published in 1928 was also an additional gain for the country.


The Non cooperation and the Civil Disobedience Movement had their own significance and end. The number of those imprisoned during the Civil disobedience movement was three times more than the non cooperation movement. By this, we can understand the intensity of people’s involvement in the Civil Disobedience movement was much larger than that of any Movement.

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