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Gandhiji's First Important Non-political Grassroots Struggle Was Champaran Satyagraha

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This article is based on Indian history. Champaran Satyagraha is an example of Gandhiji's greatest work.

Only one person who helped the poor farmers.

Only one person who helped the poor farmers.

What Was The Champaran Satyagrah Of 1917?

The Champaran Satyagraha is located in the Champaran district of northern Bihar at the foot of the Himalayas. It was the story of Gandhiji's first important non-political grassroots struggle for the cause of poor and exploited peasants. With the advent of indigo (Neel) factories, numbering around 70, British cultivators invaded the Champaran region in the early nineteenth century. Cultivation was taken over by village landlords and contractors.

British planters encouraged tenant farmers to plant indigo trees on one-third of their land, i.e. one-third of a hectare of land. So it came to be known as the Teen Kathia System. But the planters chose the best part of the land for indigo (Neel) cultivation. He agreed to pay a very low price for indigo production, which failed to cover the cost of cultivation. In this, for almost a hundred years, poor farmers had to endure anger, physical abuse and exploitation. But the British administration was indifferent in this regard.

In 1897 the synthetic indigo on the world market had a very adverse effect on the production of organic indigo. But now a new wave of exploitation of farmers has started. These losses were recovered from poor farmers. They were given the option to give up indigo cultivation by paying higher rent for the land. But the farmers tried to resist but they were brutally crushed. The British administration then launched an inquiry into the matter but it was nothing factual. In early 1917, Gandhiji adopted the path of Satyagraha. This has had a positive effect on the minds of Dalit and poor farmers elsewhere in the country.

Rajkumar Shukla, an illiterate but aware Indigo farmer from Murlibharhawa village in Betia sub-division of Champaran district, had decided to fight the serious issue of indigo farming. He was a victim. But he rose up against the British planters and factory management and was severely punished. But he had heard of Gandhiji's work in South Africa, and he may have felt intuitively that Gandhiji's direct leadership would have an impact on his field and bring him justice. He knew that that Gandhiji had left for Pune, he went to the Kocharab Ashram in Ahmedabad to meet him. But as he did not have money to go to Pune, he returned home.

In December 2016, Shukla joined the Lucknow Congress. In front of the Congress leaders, he defended the farmers. When he knew that Gandhiji was present in the Congress there. Shukla met Gandhiji and told him all the facts. Finally, on April 9, 1917, Gandhiji left Kolkata for Patna by train.

In Photo, Gandhiji talking with people and farmers harvesting the indigo crop.

In Photo, Gandhiji talking with people and farmers harvesting the indigo crop.

Gandhiji's Role About Peasents

Gandhiji realized that this problem was very serious, so he stayed there for the next one year. Mazharul Haq was a friend of Gandhiji in London. He helped Gandhiji a lot in Patna and suggested that Gandhiji should go to Muzaffarpur to know more. When Gandhiji reached Muzaffarpur, J. B. Kripalani gave him a grand welcome with his students and later became his close associates. Under the leadership of Babu Brajkishore Prasad, many eminent lawyers also joined Gandhiji.

One of them was Babu Rajendra Prasad, a brilliant lawyer, who eventually became the first President of the Republic of India. Gandhiji immediately understood the nature of the problem and informed the band of lawyer friends who were committed to help for the cause, "I will not use your legal knowledge much ... I need the help of a clerk and help with the explanation. I may even be imprisoned. "It can take a long time and there is no reward. It has to be done out of love and service."

Gandhiji's visit was viewed with suspicion by the local administration and a local ordinance was issued to prevent him from investigating. The district magistrate told Gandhiji that he should leave the area immediately or face imprisonment. But Gandhiji gently refused to leave the district until the inquiry was completed. Gandhi wrote a letter to the Viceroy's private secretary informing him that he was returning the Kaiser-El-Hind gold medal given to him in South Africa for his humanitarian service to the British monarchy.

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News of Gandhiji's disobedience to the government order spread like wildfire, with farmers crowding the city of Motihari from midnight. Gandhiji went to the Magistrate's Court with his friends and then there was a huge crowd. All the poor farmers in Bihar were ready to go to jail for him. The British government was horrified to see their courage and fearlessness towards the mighty British government. It could only be a Mahatma who was willing to suffer for others.

Gandhiji's intention had honestly. Gandhiji and his friends helped the police in managing the crowd gathered in and around the court. But the magistrate was confused by the situation and the public prosecutor said it would take some time to get witnesses. Gandhiji intervened and said it was not needed. The farmers had invited them to inquire into the situation and so they were obliged to do so. He did not break the law.

In Champaran Satyagrah, Gandhiji collected the people and enlightened them.

In Champaran Satyagrah, Gandhiji collected the people and enlightened them.

Gandhiji's Enlightening The People And Succeed Champaran Satyagrah

Between April and June 1917, the peasantry in the whole of Bihar was awakened. But the district administration was about in worried. Now, however, the British planters realized their defeat and put collective pressure on the Governor of Bihar to stop Gandhi. In June, the governor summoned Gandhi and asked him to suspend work and submit a report. Gandhiji agreed to submit an interim report but refused to close the inquiry. After receiving the preliminary report, the governor set up a committee in which he invited Gandhiji to join as a member representing the farmers.

Gandhi agreed on one condition that he would be allowed to present himself as the aggrieved party. Gandhiji and his team had collected about 12,000 cases with evidence and their presentation was very effective. The Committee unanimously submitted its report in October 1917 with recommendations. But the Planters Association protested and tried to stop the report from being accepted.

But the report was accepted and on 4 March 1919 a bill was introduced in the Bihar Parishad which soon became law. The notorious Teen Kathia was gone and the tenant farmers were relieved in many other respects. He asked the British planters and factory owners to return 25 per cent of the tawan they collected to the farmers.

An important feature of the Champaran Satyagraha was that Gandhiji's Satyagraha was constructive. But seeing the complete lack of education and literacy of the people there, Gandhiji became sad and depressed. He felt that the need to educate and literate people. He invited volunteers from Ahmedabad Ashram and other places including Kasturba and two other women. All of them are involved in the cleaning work by involving the local community and running schools for the children. The people of Bhitiharwa village still maintain the school building as a memorial to Kasturba.

Gandhiji clearly achieved some things through the Champaran Satyagraha. The most important achievement was that Gandhiji clearly tried to remove the deep fears of the British king from the minds of the poor rural people of the country. Gandhiji also showed that with the struggle, volunteers and public servants must simultaneously participate in an effective constructive program that creates a new society. The world saw India awakening with the Champaran Sayagraha.

Champaran Satyagrah

© 2021 Jaya


MG Singh from UAE on October 03, 2021:

I liked reading your article but Gandhi brought in defeatism into Hindu culture There are always two sides to a coin I think Gandhi's influence was not good for India and Hindus as non-violence and satyagraha do not lead a race or nation forward. Thank you for writing your opinion. I appreciate it.

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