Let’s learn about the Civil Disobedience Movement.

In 1929, the Indian National Congress had officially declared its main agenda as self-governance or ‘Swaraj’. A nationwide movement was planned as the start of this. Mahatma Gandhi was given the responsibility of planning and organizing the movement.

The Civil disobedience movement started with the breaking of the Salt law. Gandhi Ji walked the Dandi march and made salt from the seawater. He had intentionally chosen salt law as the starting point of this movement. Salt was a basic human need. It crosses the boundaries of religion, region, gender, or caste. The Dandi march was a great success. It was well covered by both national and international press. This event triggered a series of events nationwide.

Foreign liquor and opium generated a great amount of profit for the British empire. Just like salt, the making of opium was illegal. The British brought a lot of opium from the neighbouring country of China at a very low price. Opium addicts in India paid huge sums of money for it. The women and students raided these opium dens and liquor shops and closed them down. Women’s participation in this movement was at its high. The wives of addicted men came forth in this movement.

In eastern India, the Chowkidar Tax was the norm. Villagers used to pay tax to a chowkidar (guard) appointed by the government. In reality, these chowkidars were the informant of the government. Rajendra Prasad (India’s first president) and Bipin Chandra Pal started a movement named anti-chowkidar tax. Under this movement, the eastern Indian villagers refused to pay the Chowkidar Tax.

In the state of Uttar Pradesh, farmers refused to work in government-rented lands. Here the government used to give farming lands to poor farmers on a lease. By not working on it, farmers made sure the government loses as much as they did.

This event had already seen three times more women’s participation as compared to the Non-cooperation movement. The bigger positive of the movement was the involvement of students. Young student leaders were leading student unions into protests all around the country.

The movement was gaining momentum every day and hence the British had to convince Gandhi Ji to withdraw it. Lord Erwin invited Gandhi for a one-to-one talk. Later they agreed on certain terms and signed the Gandhi-Erwin Pact.
Mahatma Gandhi was also invited to the second round table conference held in London. In his absence, the British government made big efforts to take the winds out of the movement. They partially succeeded in slowing down the movement. Finally, it was officially ended by Gandhi Ji in the year 1934.

Civil disobedience was a tool to protest against the government way before India used it and remained so even after. But nowhere in the world, did such a large number of people became a part of it. Gandhi, who represented the best of India, knew that the solution to this situation cannot be achieved by talks and politics. Both Gandhi and India were ready to end the era of inferiority and innocence. Unjust laws were broken unapologetically, and unjust taxes were denied firmly. Unjust actions were called out bravely. An unjust empire was now ready to fall.

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