History Notes: Indian National Movement (1917-1930)

By Parnab Mallick|Updated : June 4th, 2021

In continuation with the previous articles on History Notes on Indian National Movement (1885-1905), & Indian National Movement (1905 - 1916), we have already discussed the emergence of Indian National Congress and important sessions of INC & presidents associated with them. We also discussed the Rise of Extremism, Partition of Bengal, Formation of Muslim League and many more important events. In this article, we will discuss the important events which occurred during the Indian National Movement (1917-1930). These notes will help you to score in upcoming SSC & Railways Exams.

In continuation with the previous articles on History Notes on Indian National Movement (1885-1905), & Indian National Movement (1905 - 1916), we have already discussed the emergence of Indian National Congress and important sessions of INC & presidents associated with them. We also discussed the Rise of Extremism, Partition of Bengal, Formation of Muslim League and many more important events. In this article, we will discuss the important events which occurred during the Indian National Movement (1917-1930). These notes will help you to score in upcoming SSC & Railways Exams.

History Notes: Indian National Movement (1917-1930)

The emergence of Gandhi in India

M K Gandhi returned from South Africa (where he had lived for more than 20 years) to India in 1915. There he had led a peaceful agitation against the discrimination meted out to Indians and had emerged as a respected leader. It was in South Africa that he developed his brand of Satyagraha. In India, he first used this tool against the British government at Champaran in Bihar.

Champaran Satyagraha (1917)

  • The first civil disobedience movement by Gandhi in the freedom struggle.
  • Persuaded by Rajkumar Shukla, an indigo cultivator, Gandhi went to Champaran in Bihar to investigate the conditions of the farmers there.
  • The farmers were suffering under heavy taxes and an exploitative system. They were forced to grow indigo by the British planters under the Tinkathia system.
  • Gandhi arrived in Champaran to investigate the matter but was not permitted by the British authorities to do so.
  • He was asked to leave the place but he refused.
  • He was able to gather support from the farmers and masses.
  • When he appeared in court in response to a summons, almost 2000 locals accompanied him.
  • The case against him was dropped and he was allowed to conduct the inquiry.
  • After peaceful protests against the planters and landlords led by Gandhi, the government agreed to abolish the exploitative Tinkathia system.
  • The peasants also received a part of the money extracted from them as compensation.
  • Champaran struggle is called the first experiment on Satyagraha by Gandhi.
  • It was during this time that Gandhi was given the names ‘Bapu’ and ‘Mahatma’ by the people.

Kheda Satyagraha (1918)

  • 1918 was a year of failed crops in the Kheda district of Gujarat due to droughts.
  • As per law, the farmers were entitled to remission if the produce was less than a quarter of the normal output.
  • But the government refused any remission from paying land revenue.
  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, under Gandhi’s guidance, led the farmers in protest against the collection of taxes in the wake of the famine.
  • People from all castes and ethnicities of the district lend their support to the movement.
  • The protest was peaceful and people showed remarkable courage even in the face of adversities like confiscation of personal property and arrest.
  • Finally, the authorities gave in and gave some concessions to the farmers.

Ahmedabad Mill Strike :

  • The next scene of Gandhiji's activity was in 1918 at Ahmedabad where an agitation had been going on between the labourers and the owners of a cotton textile mill for an increase of pay.
  • While Gandhiji was negotiating with the mill owners, he advised the workers to go on strike and to demand 35% increase in wages.
  • Having advised the strikers to depend upon their conscience, Gandhiji himself went on a "fast unto death" to strengthen the workers resolved to continue the strike.
  • The mill owners gave away and a settlement was reached after 21 days of the strike. The millowners agreed to submit the whole issue to a tribunal.
  • The strike was withdrawn and retrieval later awarded the 35% increase that the workers had demanded.
  • Ambalal Sarabhai's sister, Anasuya Behn, was one of the main lieutenants of Gandhiji in this struggle in which her brother and Gandhiji's friend was one of the main advisories. 

Rowlatt Act (1919)

  • In 1917, a committee was set up under the presidentship of Sir Sydney Rowlatt to look into the militant Nationalist activities
  • Rowlatt Act was passed in March 1919 by the Central Legislative Council
  • As per this Act, any person could be arrested on the basis of suspicion.
  • No appeal or petition could be filed against such arrests.
  • This Act was called the Black Act and it was widely opposed.
  • An all-India hartal was organized on 6 April 1919.
  • Meetings were held all over the country.
  • Mahatma Gandhi was arrested near Delhi.
  • Two prominent leaders of Punjab, Dr Satya Pal and Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew, were arrested in Amritsar.

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre (13 April 1919)

  • The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre took place on 13 April 1919 and it remained a turning point in the history of India’s freedom movement
  • In Punjab, there was an unprecedented support to the Rowlatt Satyagraha
  • Facing a violent situation, the Government of Punjab handed over the administration to the military authorities under General Dyer.
  • He banned all public meetings and detained the political leaders
  • On 13th April, the Baisakhi day (harvest festival), a public meeting was organized at the Jallianwala Bagh (garden)
  • Dyer marched in and without any warning opened fire on the crowd
  • The firing continued for about 10 to 15 minutes and it stopped only after the ammunition exhausted
  • According to the official report, 379 people were killed and 1137 wounded in the incident.
  • Rabindranath Tagore renounced his knighthood as a protest
  • The Jallianwala Bagh massacre gave a tremendous impetus to the freedom struggle.

Khilafat Movement

  • The chief cause of the Khilafat Movement was the defeat of Turkey in the First World War.
  • The harsh terms of the Treaty of Sevres (1920) were felt by the Muslims as a great insult to them.
  • The whole movement was based on the Muslim belief that the Caliph (the Sultan of Turkey) was the religious head of the Muslims all over the world
  • Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, M.A. Ansari, Saifuddin Kitchlew and the Ali brothers were the prominent leaders of this movement.
  • Mahatma Gandhi was particularly interested in bringing the Hindus and the Muslims together to achieve the country’s independence.
  • The Khilafat Movement merged with the Non-Cooperation Movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi in 1920:

Non-Cooperation Movement (1920-1922)

  • Non-Cooperation Movement was a sequel to the Rowlatt Act, Jallianwala Bagh massacre and the Khilafat Movement
  • It was approved by the INC at the Nagpur session in December 1920.
  • The programmes of the Non-Cooperation Movement were:
    • Surrender of titles and honorary positions
    • The resignation of membership from the local bodies.
    • The boycott of elections held under the provisions of the 1919 Act
    • The boycott of government functions.
  • The boycott of courts, government schools and colleges.
  • The boycott of foreign goods
  • Establishment of national schools, colleges and private panchayat courts.
  • Popularizing Swadeshi goods and khadi
  • National schools such as the Kashi Vidyapeeth, the Bihar Vidyapeeth and the Jamia Millia Islamia were set up.
  • No leader of the Congress came forward to contest the elections for the Legislatures
  • In 1921, mass demonstrations were held against the Prince of Wales during his tour of India.
  • Most of the households took to weaving cloths with the help of charkhas.
  • But the whole movement was abruptly called off on 11th February 1922 by Gandhi following the Churi Chaura incident
  • In the Gorakhpur district of U.P. Earlier on 5th February, an angry mob set fire to the police station at Churi Chaura and twenty two police men were burnt to death

The significance of the Non-Cooperation Movement

  • It was the real mass movement with the participation of different sections of Indian society
  • such as peasants, workers, students, teachers and women.
  • It witnessed the spread of nationalism to the remote corners of India.
  • It also marked the height of Hindu-Muslim unity as a result of the merger of Khilafat movement.
  • It demonstrated the willingness and ability of the masses to endure hardships and make sacrifices.

Swaraj Party

  • The suspension of the Non-Cooperation Movement led to a split within Congress in the Gaya session of the Congress in December 1922.
  • Leaders like Motilal Nehru and Chittaranjan Das formed a separate group within the Congress known as the Swaraj Party on 1 January 1923.
  • The Swarajists wanted to contest the council elections and wreck the government from within
  • The Swaraj Party gained impressive successes.
  • In the Central Legislative Council Motilal Nehru became the leader of the party whereas in Bengal the party was headed by C.R. Das.
  • It demanded the setting up of responsible government in India
  • With the necessary changes in the Government of India Act of 1919.
  • The party could pass important resolutions against the repressive laws of the government.
  • After the passing away of C.R. Das in June 1925, the Swaraj Party started weakening.

Simon Commission

  • In November 1927 the British Government appointed the Simon Commission to look into the working of the Government of India Act of 1919 and to suggest changes.
  • The Commission consisted of Englishmen without a single Indian representative
  • The Commission arrived in India in Feb 1928 and was met with countrywide protests.
  • Even the majority of the members of the Central Legislative Assembly boycotted the Commission.
  • Anti-Simon Committees were formed all over the country to organize demonstrations and hartals wherever the Commission went.
  • Peaceful demonstrators were beaten by the police at many places. Lala Lajpat Rai was assaulted and soon after died.

Nehru Report (1928)

  • In the meanwhile, the Secretary of State, Lord Birkenhead, challenged the Indians to produce a Constitution
  • The challenge was accepted by the Congress, which convened an all-party meeting on 28 February 1928
  • A committee consisting of eight was constituted to draw up a blueprint for the future Constitution of India.
  • It was headed by Motilal Nehru

The Report favoured:

  • Dominion Status as the next immediate step
  • Full responsible government at the centre.
  • Autonomy to the provinces
  • Clear cut division of power between the centre and the provinces.
  • A bicameral legislature at the centre.
  • Mohammad Ali Jinnah regarded it as detrimental to the interests of the Muslims
  • Jinnah convened an All India Conference of the Muslims where he drew up a list of Fourteen Points as Muslim League demand. 

Civil Disobedience Movement (1930-1934)

  • In the prevailing atmosphere of restlessness, the annual session of the Congress was held at Lahore in December 1929.
  • During this session presided over by Jawaharlal Nehru the Congress passed the Poorna Swaraj resolution
  • Moreover, as the government failed to accept the Nehru Report, Congress gave a call to launch the Civil Disobedience Movement.
  • The Congress had also observed January 26, 1930, as the Day of Independence.
  • The same date later became the Republic Day when the Indian Constitution was enforced in 1950.

The Dandi March

  • On 12th March 1930, Gandhi began his famous March to Dandi with his chosen 79 followers to break the salt laws.
  • He reached the coast of Dandi on 5 April 1930 after marching a distance of 200 miles
  • On 6 April formally launched the Civil Disobedience Movement by breaking the salt laws.
  • On 9 April, Mahatma Gandhi laid out the programme of the movement which included the making of salt in every village in violation of the existing salt laws;
  • Picketing by women before the shops selling liquor, opium and foreign clothes;
  • Spinning clothes by using charkha fighting untouchability;
  • Boycotting of schools and colleges by students and resigning from government jobs by the people
  • Soon, the movement spread to all parts of the country. Students, workers, farmers and women, all participated in this movement with great enthusiasm. 


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