Gandhi’s arrival in the Indian Independence Struggle has led to many significant movements and has given strength to many voices. The period from 1917 to 1947 is considered to be the Gandhian period in the history of the Indian national movement. The Gandhian phase of the Indian freedom struggle is undoubtedly notable for the vision that Gandhi imparted to the masses and he led freedom fighters through truth and non-violence. During this phase, we witness the rise of different voices with different ideologies. It was seen that these voices together helped India to attain freedom against British Rule.
Voices that have strengthened and enriched the movement are:
1. Khilafat Movement:
The United “Khilafat Non-Cooperation movement” was the first all-India movement against British rule. He saw a unique degree of Hindu-Muslim cooperation and made Gandhi and his nonviolent protest (satyagraha) technique at the center of the Indian nationalist movement.
This movement made Gandhi and the Muslims work together against the British for the first time. Muslims and Hindus are bound to each other and coordinate their actions with each other. This was the first step towards independence. The Khilafat movement made the Muslims realize that they had their political position and could unite and work against the British.
2. Socialist ideology:
The idea of socialism arose from the October revolution of 1917. The influence of the Russian revolution was felt in India also. Leaders like J.L Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose propagated socialist ideas in Indian territory. In the Haripur session of the congress of 1938, the socialist concept of planning was for the first time adopted.
Significant events in Indian politics took place in 1922-28. The immediate withdrawal of support for the Non-Aligned Movement demoralized the nationalist ranks. In addition, significant differences arose between the leaders, who had to decide how to prevent the movement from becoming dormant. A School of Thought, K.R. Das and Motilal Nehru advocated a new direction of political activity in the changed circumstances.
They argued that the nationalists should boycott the Legislative Councils, join them, obstruct their work according to their government plans, highlight their weaknesses, and engage in political struggle. It should be turned into an arena and thus create enthusiasm among them the masses. This time people emphasized the need for constructive programs for restraint, Hindu-Muslim unity, abolition of untouchability, and grassroots labour between the rural and the poor.
4. Hindu Nationalist:
Hindu Mahasabha and Rashtriya Sevak Sangh campaigned for Hindu political unity and took steps to educate Hindus and improve their economic conditions. It also fought for the country’s independence against British rule by following its policies and in 1923, as a political ideology, the term ‘Hindutva’ was articulated by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.
The Gandhian phase would be incomplete without the works of the revolutionist. Revolutionists like Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Ramprasad Bismil played a significant role in arousing nationalist feelings in the people’s hearts. Though these revolutionists were different from the Gandhian ideology, their role in shaping the people’s minds is significant in its sphere. In 1930, the Chittagong Armoury Raid case of Surya Sen had different importance in the period of the Gandhian phase.
In India’s struggle for freedom, women played a vital role, and the history of the Indian struggle would be incomplete without bringing into light the contribution of women. Indian women will be the first victims. When most men were freedom fighters in jail, women came out and took over the fight. He fought not with dread but with a true spirit and faced many kinds of torture, exploitation, and hardship for our freedom. Sushila Nair, Princess Amrit Kaur, Sarla Devi, Muthulakshmi Reddy, Sucheta Kriplani, and Aruna Asaf Ali were the prominent names among the women who took part in the nonviolent movement. Mahatma Gandhi’s wife, Kasturba Gandhi, and Nehru’s family members, Kamla Nehru, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, and Swarup Rani, also participated in the national movement, during that time; in Lahore, Lado Rani Zutshi and his daughters Manmohan, Shyama, and Janak led the national movement.
Gandhi specially appointed Sarojini Naidu to raid the Dharasana Salt Factory in May 1930. Along the way, Kamala Devi spoke at synagogues, made salt, and poked at exotic clothing and beverage stores. During this, Nari Satyagraha Commission, Women’s National Association, and Mahila Dharna Parishad played an important role.
7. Workers and Trade Union:
The Gandhian phase gave birth to a genuine trade union movement in India. It was organized on the model of trade unions in industrialized countries. Deterioration in living conditions due to World War I and conflict with the outside world increased the awareness of the working class. Such situations provided fertile ground for the development of the movement.
The role of students in the Gandhian phase has been praiseworthy. Students led processions, strikes, and mass arrests in Punjab, Bengal, America, and Bombay. This was the period of the most active political movement of Indian students. Quit India Movement got maximum student support.
9. Business class:
The business class played a significant role in the Gandhian phase of the freedom struggle. They actively participated in the Non-Cooperation Movement, Civil Disobedience Movement, and also in the Quit India Movement. Industrialists like Tata, Chidambaram Pillai, and others played the role of trustees as envisaged by Gandhiji and actively participated in the Indian Freedom Struggle.
The Gandhi phase enriched the national movement with broader social participation, lacking in the middle and extreme phases of the struggle. This multidimensional nature of the movement proved to be a plus point in India’s struggle for freedom when every unheard voice was finally heard.
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