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Civil Disobedience Movement

The Civil Disobedience Movement marks a crucial moment in India’s fight for independence. Civil Disobedience Movement portrays the power of peaceful protest. The protest was led by Mahatma Gandhi, which turned into a historic movement that fostered unity, resilience, and collective action among millions of Indians. Its primary goal was to oppose British rule by intentionally breaking unjust laws.

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    Civil Disobedience Movement History

    The Civil Disobedience Movement began in 1930 and was led by Mahatma Gandhi. The movement was based on the principle of defying British regulations. The movement began with the Dandi March, also known as the Salt Satyagraha. During this March, Mahatma Gandhi walked from the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. The march was Gandhi’s direct action campaign against the British salt tax, which he considered exploitative and oppressive.

    On April 6, 1930, Gandhi broke the British salt laws, sparking large-scale civil disobedience by millions of Indians. The Civil Disobedience Movement lasted from 1930 to 1934 and was a significant milestone in the Indian independence movement.

    Features of Civil Disobedience

    Civil disobedience is a peaceful protest involving deliberately disobeying unjust laws or policies. Here are the features of the Civil Disobalance movement:

    Boycotting Foreign Goods and Protesting Liquor Shops: During the movement, people stopped buying foreign clothes and protested against liquor shops.

    Involvement of Women and Youth: Many people from different parts of society joined the movement, making it a big movement involving many people. Leaders like Kasturba Gandhi, Kamladevi Chattopadhyay, Avantikabai Gokhale, Lilavati Munshi, and Hansaben Mehta led the protests.

    Boycotting British Goods and Promoting Indian Products: There was a widespread refusal to buy British goods and services and support British institutions. People were encouraged to buy Swadeshi (Indian-made) products.

    civil disobedience

    Causes of Civil Disobedience Movement

    The Civil Disobedience Movement in India was an important strategy for independence from British colonial rule. Several causes of civil disobedience movement contributed to its emergence:

    Formation of the Simon Commission: The establishment of the Simon Commission, which consisted entirely of British members and lacked Indian representation, triggered discontent among Indians who felt their voices were ignored.

    Rejection of Dominion Status: The British government’s refusal to grant Dominion Status even after the independence. Many Indians want to demand complete self-rule.

    Disillusionment with British policies: Many people lost faith in the British government’s decisions. Many individuals felt the British policies were unfair and cruel, making more people support the Civil Disobedience Movement.

    Salt Tax oppression: The British salt tax was very unfair to Indians, especially those who were poor. It showed how the British were taking advantage of their power to make money, and it became a big reason why people fought against colonial rule.

    Civil Disobedience: Dandi March

    The Dandi March, also known as the Salt Satyagraha, was a significant event during India’s struggle for independence from British colonial rule. The march began at Sabarmati Ashram and ended in Dandi, a coastal village in Gujarat. Gandhi and 80 satyagrahis walked 240 miles to Dandi, walking about 12 miles daily and reaching their destination in three weeks. Along the way, thousands of people from all over India joined the march. Sarojini Naidu joined Gandhi on the march. The salt law monopolised the manufacturing and sale of salt in British India. People were not allowed to make salt at home and were forced to buy salt from shops at high prices.

    On March 12, 1930, Gandhi and 78 satyagrahis, representing India’s diverse regions, castes, creeds, and religions, embarked on a journey to the coastal village of Dandi in Navsari district, Gujarat.

    Civil Disobedience: Salt Satyagraha Movement

    The Salt Satyagraha was a large-scale act of civil disobedience led by Mahatma Gandhi in protest against the salt tax imposed by the British government in India. Starting from Sabarmati Ashram on March 12, 1930, Gandhi led many people to Dandi, a coastal village in Gujarat, to openly defy the salt law by producing salt from seawater.

    Gandhi’s picking up a piece of natural salt at the end of the Dandi March symbolised resistance against these unjust laws.

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    Effects of Civil Disobedience Movement

    In the movement led by Mahatma Gandhi, there were significant effects of civil disobedience movement.

    • The movement effectively contributed to the struggle for independence, instilling fear in the British administration and laying the groundwork for future movements.
    • The government responded to resistance by abolishing the salt tax and reducing imports of clothing and cigarettes.
    • The government also lowered land and liquor excise revenues.
    • The significant roles of women and students were highlighted for the first time, with prominent leaders such as Kasturba M. Gandhi, Avantikabai Gokhale, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, Hansaben Mehta, and Lilavati Munshi actively participated in Satyagraha efforts.

    Limitations of Civil Disobedience Movement

    The movement also faced some major drawbacks due to several reasons. Here are the limitations of the civil disobedience movement

    Untouchables Overlooked: Despite their significant presence within Indian society, untouchables were often sidelined during the Civil Disobedience Movement. Dalit leaders advocating for alternative political solutions found limited support and participation among their community members.

    Widening Hindu-Muslim Divide: The movement observed a significant rift between Hindus and Muslims. This intensified the pre-existing tensions. Muslim political organisations hesitated to fully participate and opted to refrain from active involvement. High disagreements arose over Muslim demands for special representation, further deteriorating relations with Congress.

    Conflicting Aspirations: The Civil Disobedience Movement attracted participants from diverse backgrounds, each with their aspirations and goals. However, this diversity also led to clashes as differing visions for India’s future collided, resulting in internal discord and hindering the movement’s effectiveness.

    Difference Between Non-Cooperation Movement and Civil Disobedience Movement

    Here are the difference between non cooperation movement and civil disobedience movement

    Aspect Non-Cooperation Movement Civil Disobedience Movement
    Leader Led by Mahatma Gandhi Also led by Mahatma Gandhi
    Period 1920-1922 1930-1934
    Objective Boycott of British institutions and goods, withdrawal of cooperation with the British government Non-violent resistance against specific laws and policies of the British government
    Trigger Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Khilafat Movement Imposition of salt tax, dissatisfaction with the Round Table Conferences
    Methods Boycotts, strikes, protests Civil disobedience, non-violent protests, boycotting British goods
    Participants People from all walks of life, including peasants, workers, and students Wide participation, including women and lower castes
    Outcome Partial success in mobilising masses, but ended abruptly after the Chauri Chaura incident Contributed to the growth of nationalist sentiment, increased government repression, eventual compromise and negotiation leading to some reforms
    Legacy Laid the foundation for future mass movements, increased political awareness among Indians Inspired further civil disobedience movements, enhanced Gandhi’s stature as a leader

    FAQs on Civil Disobedience Movement

    Did the Civil Disobedience Movement achieve success?

    Yes, the movement brought together different groups of people in India to oppose British rule. India's fight for independence also attracted worldwide attention.

    What was the most significant act of civil disobedience?

    One of the most renowned and impactful acts of civil disobedience was Mahatma Gandhi's Salt March.

    Who were the notable figures in the Civil Disobedience Movement?

    Mahatma Gandhi led the movement. However, other key figures, such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, Sarojini Naidu, and Maulana Azad, played important roles.

    What is the meaning of civil disobedience?

    Civil disobedience is peacefully refusing to follow certain laws to protest against something unfair. It's a non-violent way to demand change or highlight an issue, without resorting to violence.

    What was the biggest act of civil disobedience?

    The Salt March by Mahatma Gandhi in 1930 is often seen as the biggest act of civil disobedience. Gandhi led a march to make salt from the sea, breaking British law, to protest against the salt tax. This act played a crucial role in India's fight for independence, showing how peaceful protest can lead to significant change.

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