National Movement

Advent of Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi returned from South Africa in 1915. Because of his movements against racial restrictions in South Africa, he had already become a respected leader.

Mahatma Gandhi first wanted to understand the people, their needs and overall situation in India. Hence, he spent his first year in India in travelling throughout the country.

His earliest participation in local movements was in Champaran, Kheda and Ahmadabad.

The Rowlatt Satyagraha

The Rowlatt Act was passed in 1919. The Act curbed the freedom of expression and strengthened police powers. Gandhiji gave a call for a satyagraha against the Rowlatt Act. He asked the people to observe 6 April 1919 as the day of non-violent opposition to this Act. Satyagraha Sabhas were set up to launch the movement.

The Rowlatt Satyagraha became the first all-India struggle against the British government. However, it was mainly restricted to the cities. Many demonstrations and hartals took place in the country. The government used brutal measures to suppress the revolt. The Jalianwala Bagh massacre was one example of such brutal measures. Rabindranath Tagore renounced his knighthood in protest of Jalianwala Bagh incident.

Khilafat agitation and the Non-Cooperation Movement

After the First World War, a harsh treaty was imposed on the Turkish Khalifa. The leaders of the Khilafat Agitation; Mohammad Ali and Shaukat Ali wanted to associate with the Non-Cooperation Movement. The Muslims wanted the Khalifa to retain control over Muslim sacred places in the erstwhile Ottoman Empire. Gandhiji supported the Khilafat Movement.

The Non-Cooperation Movement gained momentum through 1921-22. Thousands of students left schools and colleges to join the movement. Many eminent professionals gave up their profession to join the movement. Bonfires of foreign cloths were burnt. The boycott of foreign cloths resulted in imports falling drastically between 1920 and 1922.

People’s initiatives

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