What was the Need of Non-Cooperation Movement?
- The discontent among the masses against the British Government was increasing due to the regressive policies. The year 1919, however, proved to be the nail in the coffin due to the following reasons:
- The economic situation in the post-war period led to hardship for the masses. Rising prices, decreasing production, among other reasons, made the lives of people miserable.
- The Rowlatt Act, imposition of martial law, and the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre assured people that British Government is completely insensitive towards them.
- Moreover, the report by Hunter Commission about the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre has only put fuel to the fire.
- The Montagu-Chelmsford reforms failed to guarantee a right to self-government to Indians by introducing the concept of Dyarchy.
- These issues saw certain developments at the ground level that included common political action by both Hindu and Muslim communities.
- Lucknow Pact, Rowlatt Act agitations, growth of radical national Muslims, emboldened the anti-imperial sentiments and, the situation was ripe to give it the right direction.
- Muslims of our country were upset with the way Khalifa, their supreme leader in Turkey, was treated by the Britishers after World War 1.
- The Khilafat Committee was formed under the leadership of Ali Brothers—Shoukat Ali and Mohammad Ali—to persuade the Government to undo the wrongs by:
- Retaining the Khalifa’s control over sacred Muslim places and
- Leaving Khalifa with sufficient territories under its control.
- When their demands went unmet, a radical trend emerged and, it was decided to stop all cooperation with the British.
- All India Khilafat Committee was established and Gandhiji was made its President.
- This committee became a platform to unite the masses and an all-India movement was just waiting for a call from its leader.
Stand of Congress
- Gandhiji wanted to start an all-India movement by raising the Khilafat issue.
- Congress, however, was sceptical of this strategy.
- Tilak, in particular, was not in favour of starting a movement on a religious cause.
- Also, he was having doubts about Satyagraha as a political instrument.
- He also opposed the boycott of the council as a provision of the movement.
- Despite these reasons, Congress supported the non-cooperation program due to the following reasons:
- They realised that it was the right opportunity to strengthen Hindu-Muslim unity. Moreover, never before has such a diverse section of the population came together for a common cause.
- Congress lost faith in the constitutional struggle and, they also felt discontent among the masses.
- Muslim League gave full support to Congress on the political front.
- Gandhiji argued that the Punjab wrongs were overshadowed by the Khilafat issue and he would soon initiate a nationwide movement.
The Non-Cooperation Movement
- In August 1920, the movement was formally launched, with the objectives to remove the Punjab and Khilafat wrongs and to establish Swaraj.
- The programme included a boycott of schools, colleges, law courts, foreign-made goods, among others. Legislative councils too were boycotted, though with opposition from leaders like C.R.Das, who eventually agreed to the proposal.
- A call for non-violence was given and, people stopped their work and supported Gandhiji’s call.
- Swadeshi goods were promoted and, hand-spinning (charkha) became a household article.
People’s response to Non-Cooperation Movement
- Students left their schools and colleges and participated in the movement in large numbers.
- Businessmen supported the call for an economic boycott as they were benefiting from the Swadeshi movement.
- The movement was supported by peasants.
- Women supported the movement and took an active part in picketing.
- Tilak Swaraj Fund was announced by Gandhiji. The fund was aimed at collecting Rs. 1 crore to support India’s struggle for independence.
How did the Government respond?
- The Government responded with brute force and police resorted to firing in many places.
- Congress and Khilafat members were declared illegal.
- Except for Gandhiji, all the leaders were arrested.
Withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation Movement
- In 1922, at Chauri Chaura, UP, a violent mob killed more than 20-policemen. Witnessing the increasing violence, Gandhiji was shocked and decided to withdraw from the movement.
- National leaders like R. Das, Motilal Nehru, Subhash Bose, Jawaharlal Nehru were unhappy with this decision.
- Gandhiji was arrested and sent to jail for six years.
Why did the Non-Cooperation Movement fail?
- The Government showed no intention to negotiate and, the movement started showing signs of fatigue after few days.
- In 1922, Mustafa Kamal Pasha led Turkey and made it a secular state. It made the issue of Khilafat redundant.
- The call for resignation from government services was not taken seriously in politically active places like Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras.
- The incident of Chauri-Chaura made it evident that people had not understood the message of their leader.
Impact of the Non-Cooperation Movement
- The movement helped in bringing people, from every section of the society, out of their homes. It penetrated the message of nationalist leaders to every nook and corner of the country.
- National institutions like Gujarat Vidyapith, Kashi Vidyapith, Bihar Vidyapitha, the Bengal National University, Jamia Milia Islamia and the National Muslim University were established to give the idea of Swadeshi a strong base.
- The movement helped bring people together and help them understand their common oppressor.
- On the economic side, the import of foreign goods halved between 1921 and 1922.
- One of the most critical impacts was a loss of fear among the masses for the otherwise considered massive repressive force.