Civil Disobedience movement & Round Table Conferences - Civil Services Preparation Online! UPSC & IAS Study Material

Civil Disobedience movement & Round Table Conferences

by Devender

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To convey forward the order given by the Lahore Congress session, Gandhi introduced eleven requests to the Government and gave a final proposal of January 31, 1930, to acknowledge or dismiss these requests. These requests were called Gandhi’s Eleven Demands which were:

  • Reduce expenditure on Army and civil services by 50 percent
  • Introduce total prohibition
  • Carry out reforms in Criminal Investigation Department (CID)
  • Change Arms Act allowing popular control of the issue of the firearms license
  • Release political prisoners
  • Accept Postal Reservation Bill
  • Reduce rupee-sterling exchange ratio
  • Introduce textile protection
  • Reserve coastal shipping for Indians
  • Reduce land revenue by 50 percent
  • Abolish salt tax and government’s salt monopoly

  • Civil Disobedience Movement

    The government didn't respond positively to any of these demands and other members hence, Congress invested their full powers in Gandhi to launch the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM).

  • Dandi March (March 12 – April 6, 1930):
  • Gandhi with 78 members from Sabarmati Ashram, was to march from his headquarters in Ahmedabad through the villages of Gujarat for 240 miles. This march marked the beginning of CDM which began on 12 March 1930. Gandhi broke the salt law by picking up a handful of salt at Dandi on April 6. He also gave the following directions for future action:

  • Civil disobedience of the salt law should be started wherever possible
  • Foreign liquor and cloth shops can be picketed
  • Refuse to pay any kind of taxes
  • Lawyers to give up their practice
  • The public can boycott law courts by refraining from litigation
  • Government servants can resign from their posts
  • Everything should be done with one condition i.e. truth and non-violence as means to attain swaraj should be faithfully adhered to
  • If Gandhi get arrested, then local leaders should be followed
  • Britishers arrested many national leaders along with Nehru & Gandhi which provoked many protests in different parts of the country. Some of the major incidents were:

  • Surya sen's Chittagong Revolt Group did a raid on two armories and declared the establishment of a provisional government
  • Gaffar Khan from Peshawar who was also known as Badshah Khan and Frontier Gandhi started the first Pushto political monthly Pukhtoon and organized a volunteer brigade called "Khudai Khidmatgars". They were popularly known as the Red-Shirts. They were pledged to the freedom struggle & non-violence. Gaffar khan received Bharat Ratna by the Government of India in 1987.
  • In Sholapur, there was the fiercest response to Gandhi’s arrest. Textile workers went on a strike and they along with other residents burnt down liquor stores and destroyed government property like railway stations, police stations, municipal buildings, law courts, etc.
  • In Assam, a powerful agitation was organized against the infamous Cunningham circular which forced parents, guardians, and students to furnish assurances of good behavior
  • In Manipur and Nagaland, Rani Gaidinliu of Nagaland, at an early age of 13 started a revolt against foreign rule. She was captured in 1932 and sentenced to life imprisonment

  • Impact of Agitation:
  • It brought the import of foreign cloth and other items very low. The Government revenue from liquor, excise, and land revenue also fell and the elections to Legislative Assembly were hugely boycotted.

    Every section of the society from Students, Women, Tribal to Merchants, workers, Farmers participated in the CDM actively. Muslims also participated in this movement, however, their participation was not much due to appeals from Muslim leaders to stay away from the movement and active government encouragement to communal dissension.

    First Round Table Conference

    It happened from November 1930 to January 1931 and it was the first conference arranged between the British and the Indians where both would be equals. Congress and most of the business leaders boycotted this conference, however, Muslim League, the Hindu Mahasabha, the Liberals, and princes became part of it.

    Basically, every representative repeated that a constitutional discussion to which Congress was not a part was futile. Ambedkar asked for separate electorates for SC/ST during this conference.

    Gandhi – Irwin Pact

    Gandhi and all other members of the CWC were released unconditionally on January 25, 1931. The congress allowed Gandhi to start discussions with the viceroy which led to the famous Gandhi-Irwin pact or the Delhi pact. Irwin on the behalf of the government agreed on:

  • Immediate release of all political prisoners not convicted of violence
  • Remission of all fines not yet collected
  • Return of all lands not yet sold to third parties
  • Lenient treatment to those government servants who had resigned
  • Right to make salt in coastal villages for personal consumption (not for sale)
  • Right to peaceful and non-aggressive picketing
  • Withdrawal of emergency ordinances
  • However, two demands of Gandhi were turned down by the viceroy which were: Public inquiry into police excesses and the other one to change Bhagat Singh and his comrades' death sentence to life sentence. Gandhi on behalf of Congress agreed to end the CDM and join the next round table conference.

  • Karachi Congress Session:
  • A special session of Congress was held in March 1931 at Karachi to endorse the Gandhi-Irwin pact or Delhi pact. During this session, two resolutions were passed which made it memorable which were: one on Fundamental rights and another one on National Economic Programme.

    It was the first time that congress spelled out what swaraj would mean to the public and these Resolutions formed the basic political and economic platform of Congress in later years.

    Second Round Table Conference & Second Civil Disobedience Movement

    The second round table was held in London in December 1931 which was attended by Mahatma Gandhi. However, he had to return disappointed as no agreement could be reached on the demand of complete independence and on the communal question.

  • Result:
  • The result of coming Gandhi's disappointment was that the CDM resumed and the Government arrested Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel. The ban on the congress party was re-imposed.

  • Third Round Table Conference:
  • It happened in 1932 in which congress didn't take part. In 1933, the Government issued a White Paper, which became the basis for the enactment of the Government of India Act, 1935. Finally, Gandhi called off the CDM in April 1934.

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