Open In App
Related Articles

What was the role of Mahatma Gandhi in the Champaran Movement?

Improve Article
Save Article
Like Article

Champaran was a district in the Indian state of Bihar, which is now divided into two districts: East Champaran and West Champaran. The first Satyagraha movement inspired by Mahatma Gandhi occurred in Champaran in 1917. The Champaran Satyagraha was the first to begin, but the term Satyagraha was originally used in the anti-Rowlatt Act movement.

Indigo plantation in Champaran

It was a permanent settlement region made up of big zamindari estates ruled by wealthy and powerful landlords. Most of the villages were leased by zamindars to thikadars, the most powerful of whom were European Indigo Planters. Even though the planters only had a temporary lease, they were able to collect rent from the peasants as well as exercise civil and criminal jurisdiction. Champaran has been growing indigo since the late 18th century. However, the first indigo industry was established in Bara village in 1813. By 1850, indigo had surpassed sugar as the most commonly grown crop in Champaran. Many landless serfs, bonded workers, and farmers were forced to plant indigo and other cash crops instead of the food crops they needed to survive. The peasants had to adopt the “panchkathiya” method, which mandated indigo to be planted on five katas of the field in a bigha. The farmers were paid a very low price for these items. They were repressed by the landlords’ ruthless militias and offered pitiful recompense, leaving them in poverty. Even though they were amid a severe famine, the British government imposed a high tax on them and insisted on raising it. The villagers in Champaran were finding it increasingly difficult to cope without food and money.

Local Agitation

Sant Rawat, Sheikh Gulab, Pir Muhammad Munis, Harbans Sahay, and Lomrah Singh, among others, challenged the “panchkathiya” system and were instrumental in bringing some concessions. With this, the “tinkathiya” method became the standard (three, instead of five, kathas of land were to be planted with indigo). Raj Kumar Shukla was unhappy with the deal and wanted to change Champaran’s inconvenient farm labor system where they were unable to provide the food they required, and their indigo payments were insufficient.

Introducing it to Gandhi  

Ganesh Vidyarthi was the one who told Shukla about Gandhi’s work in Africa. Brajkishore Prasad and Rajendra Prasad, two sympathetic Patna lawyers, recommended that he meet Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who was in Lucknow for the Congress’s 31st session. Gandhi was ignorant of this until Rajkumar Shukla approached him and told him about the plight of the Champaran people. He asked Gandhi to visit the location and observe the situation for himself. Gandhi was unable to attend there due to a lack of time as he had to participate in the Congress convention in Lucknow, Rajkumar Shukla trailed him around, pleading for him to come to Champaran and rescue the beleaguered peasants. The Champaran Satyagraha began when Gandhi finally pledged to visit the area after visiting Calcutta. Mahatma Gandhi led India’s first civil disobedience movement in response to the injustices meted out to tenant farmers.

Gandhiji’s role

With Gandhiji’s handpicked squad of great lawyers like Babu Braj Kishore Prasad and  Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha, a complete inquiry and assessment of the villages were done. This accounted for the general state of degenerate living, brutalities, and terrible episodes of indigo farmer suffering. An ashram was established by Gandhi established.

He went to several villages. He interrogated and documented the statements of almost 8,000 peasants. In this way, he was able to fully comprehend their grievance and the underlying causes. Hundreds of ryots from many communities gathered to express their dissatisfaction with the indigo cultivation system. He concluded that the cultivators’ illiteracy was among the key reasons why the European planters were able to control them. Gandhi formed voluntary organizations to improve the economic and educational situations of the people.

The Effect of The Satyagraha

The Bihar Planters’ Association was adamantly opposed to the probe, claiming that it provided a skewed picture and could incite ryots hostility against them. They requested that Gandhi’s investigation be halted and that, if necessary, the government itself conduct an unbiased investigation. As public pressure for the government to establish a Commission of Inquiry grew, the Lieutenant Governor in Council decided to convene a Committee of Inquiry to investigate and report on the agrarian situation in Champaran. Gandhiji was named as one of the group’s members. 

The Committee began working in mid-July and gave its report to the Government on October 4th, 1917, after a three-month period.  Its main recommendations were as follows: 

  1. The tinkathiya system should be abolished. 
  2. If someone agrees to grow indigo, the agreement should be voluntary, the time should not exceed three years, and the decision to choose the field where indigo will be cultivated should be left to the ryots. 
  3. The ryots who paid the factories tawan would receive one-fourth of it back. Fourth, abwab (illegal cesses) should no longer be implemented.

The government adopted almost all the Inquiry Committee’s recommendations. It also passed a resolution to put the suggestions into action. Based on this report, the Champaran Agrarian Bill was introduced in the Legislative Council on 29th November 1917. The Bill was eventually enacted in 1918, and it became the Champaran Agrarian Act.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the role of Gandhiji in Champaran Satyagraha?

The role of Gandhiji in the Champaran Satyagraha was to organise protests and strike against the autonomy of landlords, who with the guidance of British government came to sign an agreement of granting more compensation and also control over farming for poor farmers of region.

Who called Gandhi Mahatma for Champaran Movement?

Mahatma Gandhi was called to Champaran by Raj Kumar Shukla and Sant Raut.

What was the role of Mahatma Gandhi?

The role of Mahatma Gandhi was employment of nonviolent resistance for leading a successful campaign in India’s independence from the British rule.

Which leaders joined Gandhiji in the Champaran Satyagraha?

Gandhiji was joined by eminent lawyers like Brajkishore Prasad, Rajendra Prasad, Acharya Kripalani in the movement.

Which movement did Gandhiji start?

Civil disobedience movement was started by Gandhiji on 1930.

Last Updated : 14 Sep, 2023
Like Article
Save Article
Similar Reads
Related Tutorials