Popular Struggles and Movements

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Popular Struggles and Movements

While preparing for a competitive exam that involves reading Social Sciences, we come across various topics on History. Among other topics, India’s struggle to independence comprises a major portion of the subject. Most of the movements were led and organized by Mahatma Gandhi who is a key figure in the history of India’s independence. The education of Mahatma Gandhi is crucial to understanding the transformation of him as the driving force behind the popular struggles and movements in Indian history. 

Swadeshi Movement

The Swadeshi Movement was officially launched on August 7, 1905, at the Calcutta Town Hall in Bengal. Swadeshi Movement was pioneered by Bal Gangadhar Tilak to encourage masses on using goods produced in India. The Boycott Movement was launched alongside the campaign. After the British Government decided the partition of Bengal, in 1905, the Indian National Congress initiated the movement in the province of Bengal. Regarded among the popular struggles and movements in Indian history, it stressed the need for boycotting British-made goods. The campaign soon spread all over the country and people started anti-partition and anti-colonial movements in 1909. Also known as ‘Vandemataram Movement,’ it led to the formation of many secret associations which later became the part of the country’s significant movements. The key people in the movement apart from Bal Gangadhar Tilak included Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai, Aurobindo Ghosh, Chidambaram Pillai, Babu Genu etc.

Satyagraha Movement

One of the most popular struggles and movements, the Satyagraha Movement was started by Gandhiji after he came back from South Africa. Satyagraha Movement, which played a central role in the independence of India from ‘British Raj’ became his philosophy of life. Based on the concept of Ahimsa or non-violence, the movement at various instances became significant in the path to India’s independence.

The four important Satyagraha Movements led by Mahatma Gandhi are briefly discussed below:

Champaran Satyagraha – 1917

Persuaded by Raj Kumar Shukla to study the conditions of the Indigo Plantation workers in Champaran, a district in Bihar, Gandhiji concluded that planters who asked farmers to grow indigo in 3/20th of their land holdings were violating their rights. That led Gandhiji to start a movement known as Champaran Satyagraha in 1917. 

Ahmedabad Satyagraha – 1918

This time Gandhiji stood by the workers whose wages were reduced by the mill owners. Due to plague, mill owners had increased the wages by 75% to attract the workers. But when the plague was over, the owners reduced the pay to 20% which was met with strong opposition from the workers who demanded the pay hike to be kept at 50%. Gandhiji tried to persuade the mill owners. But when they refused, he asked workers to go on strike and he joined them and later went on a fast. The mill owners then agreed to 35% increment in the salaries of the workers. 

Kheda Satyagraha – 1918

Kheda Satyagraha was meant to help the stressed farmers whose crops were hit by drought but the government was pressurizing them to pay their taxes in full. Gandhiji and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel led the movement to convince British officials of the farmers’ plight which the officials refused. He asked farmers to fight till death for the injustice inflicted upon them by East India Company. 

Rowlatt Satyagraha – 1919

In the name of curbing terrorism, the British had introduced a bill that curtailed the liberties of Indians and allowed the arrest of Indians without warrant and detention for two years. To oppose this, Gandhiji called for a nation-wide strike. The movement turned violent and was called off on 18th April 1919 after the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre on 13th April 1919.

Non-Cooperation Movement

Considered among the popular struggles and movements, the Non-cooperation Movement was the first organized mass movement organized by Mahatma Gandhi to supplement the idea of Satyagraha which aimed at opposing the British rule in India. Started on 1 August 1920, the movement gained momentum after the British-led troops killed several hundred Indians. The movement was non-violent in nature which helped it gain support from across the country. Non-cooperation Movement involved a number of organized activities in which Gandhiji asked people to boycott British rule by giving up working for them, having business with them and even stop using their goods. The movement was supplemented by Satyagraha and Swadeshi Movement. Gandhiji stressed on giving up any activity that was to support the British economy. 

Civil Disobedience Movement 

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Launched on 12 March 1930, the Civil Disobedience Movement was pioneered by Mahatma Gandhi. He went to British Viceroy Lord Irwin with his 11 demands which stressed on removing the evils of the British rule. He threatened the government that if the demands are not met, the salt laws would be violated. The movement became one of the popular struggles and movements of that time. The 11 demands made by Gandhiji included:

  1. Prohibit intoxicants
  2. Change the ratio between the rupee and the sterling
  3. Reduce the rate of land revenue
  4. Abolition of the salt tax
  5. Reduce military expenditure
  6. Reduce expenditure on civil administration
  7. Impose custom duty on foreign cloth
  8. Accept the Postal Reservation Bill
  9. Abolish the CID department
  10. Release all political prisoners
  11. Issue licenses of arms to citizens for self-protection

Here is the list of other movements and struggles including the recent ones that are important in competitive exams:

  • Quit India Movement – 1942
  • Chipko Movement – 1973
  • Narmada Bachao Andolan – 1985
  • Nirbhaya Movement – 2012

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Hopefully, by now you are aware of the popular Struggles and Movements in the Indian history. Whether preparing for IAS or any other administrative exam, Indian History covers a major chunk of it. If you are planning to prepare for a competitive exam, Leverage Edu can provide you with the best counselling to ace the exam. 

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