Non-Cooperation Movement: Causes, Features and Facts

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Non-cooperation Movement: Causes, Characteristics and Facts

The Non-Cooperation Movement, launched by Mahatma Gandhi on August 1, 1920, served as a powerful Satyagraha movement against the oppressive rule of the British Empire. The aim of this nationwide movement was to non-violently protest against the unjust laws and acts implemented by the British government. At the core of this movement was the mantra of Swaraj, which stood as the ultimate goal. To demonstrate their resolve, people actively participated in boycotting British goods and promoting the use of locally made handmade products.

The Non-Cooperation Movement was a significant moment in India’s freedom struggle, as it brought together people from different walks of life in united resistance against British oppression. This included a number of actions including boycotting government institutions, schools and courts. The emphasis on nonviolence was an important aspect of the movement, with Gandhi emphasizing the power of passive resistance and civil disobedience as effective tools for change.

The movement gained significant momentum and widespread support from the public, with people actively participating in various acts of civil disobedience. The withdrawal of cooperation from British institutions attacked the core of their authority and challenged their legitimacy to rule India.

Why non-cooperation?

As Gandhiji wrote in his book “Hind Swaraj”, the British could settle in India only with the cooperation of Indians. Therefore, if Indians refused to cooperate, we could achieve Swaraj leading to the collapse of the British Empire.

Khilafat Movement

Gandhiji knew that no comprehensive movement in India could be organized without the unity of Hindus and Muslims. World War I had recently ended with Turkey’s defeat. Muslims respected the Caliph, the spiritual head of the Islamic world. Since there were rumors of imposing a harsh peace treaty on the Caliphate, a Khilafat Committee was formed in Bombay in March 1919 to protect the powers of the Caliphate.
Therefore, the Muslim brothers, Muhammad Ali and Shaukat Ali, started an anti-British movement and discussed the possibility of united collective action with Gandhiji. At the Calcutta session of the Congress held in September 1920, Gandhiji persuaded other leaders to launch a non-cooperation movement in support of the Khilafat as well as Swaraj.

Due to non-cooperation movement

  • Rowlatt Act- Under the Rowlatt Act, passed in 1919, fundamental rights such as freedom of expression were curbed and police powers were increased. this act During Lord Chelmsford’s tenure as Viceroy was passed, which gave the government sweeping powers to suppress political activities in the country, and allowed the detention of political prisoners without trial for up to two years. The act was criticized as “satanic” and tyrannical.
  • Jallianwala Bagh massacre- Jallianwala Bagh incident took place on 13 April 1919. General Dyer opened fire on thousands of people gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, killing hundreds. His aim, as he later declared, was to produce a ‘moral influence’ on the people.
  • First world war- The war created a new economic and political situation in the country. Defense expenditure was greatly increased, customs duties were increased and income tax was introduced. Prices doubled during the years between 1913 and 1918, causing extreme hardship for the common people. Crops failed in many parts of India, resulting in severe food shortages. There was also an influenza epidemic at this time. Even after the war ended, the hardships of the people continued and no help was provided by the British.

Features of non-cooperation movement

  • The essential feature of the Non-Cooperation Movement was that initially only non-violent means were adopted to fight against the atrocities of the British.
  • The movement gained momentum by returning titles granted by the government, and by boycotting the civil services, army, police, courts and legislative councils, schools, and foreign goods.
  • Foreign goods were boycotted in the country, liquor shops were closed and foreign clothes were burnt.
  • Motilal Nehru, C.R. Many lawyers like Das, C. Rajagopalachari and Asaf Ali left their practice.
  • This caused imports of foreign cloth to fall sharply between 1920 and 1922.
  • As this movement spread, people started abandoning all imported clothes and started wearing only Indian clothes, which increased the production of Indian textile mills and handlooms.

For what reason did the non-cooperation movement slow down?

  • People with their own sense of Swaraj became violent in different parts of the country.
  • Chauri Chaura Movement: On 5 February 1922, angry farmers attacked a local police station in Chauri Chaura, UP. Two policemen were killed in this incident. At this time the farmers were instigated as the police opened fire on their peaceful demonstration. Due to this Gandhiji withdrew the non-cooperation movement.

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