How the National Movement in India Between 1920 to 1935 Shaped the Country's Future (PDF)
The national movement in India between 1920 to 1935 was a crucial period in the history of the country's struggle for independence from British colonial rule. It witnessed the emergence of various political and social forces that challenged the authority and legitimacy of the British Raj and paved the way for the final phase of the freedom movement.
In this article, we will explore some of the major events and developments that took place during this period and how they influenced the course of the national movement in India. We will also provide a link to download a PDF version of this article for further reading.
The Non-Cooperation Movement (1920-22)
The Non-Cooperation Movement was launched by Mahatma Gandhi in 1920 as a response to the Rowlatt Act and the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919. The movement aimed to boycott all forms of cooperation with the British government, such as attending schools, colleges, courts, offices, paying taxes, buying foreign goods, etc. The movement also encouraged the promotion of swadeshi (indigenous) products, khadi (hand-spun cloth), and Hindu-Muslim unity.
The movement gained widespread support from various sections of society, such as peasants, workers, students, women, and even some princes and landlords. It also witnessed mass civil disobedience campaigns in various regions, such as Bardoli Satyagraha in Gujarat, Khilafat Movement among Muslims, Moplah Rebellion in Kerala, etc. The movement shook the foundations of the British Raj and demonstrated the power of non-violent resistance.
However, the movement also faced some challenges and limitations, such as violence by some participants, lack of coordination among different groups, repression by the British authorities, etc. The movement was abruptly called off by Gandhi in 1922 after the Chauri Chaura incident, where a mob of protesters killed 22 policemen by setting fire to a police station. The sudden withdrawal of the movement led to disillusionment and frustration among many activists and supporters.
The Swaraj Party and the Legislative Politics (1923-27)
After the suspension of the Non-Cooperation Movement, some leaders of the Indian National Congress, such as C.R. Das and Motilal Nehru, formed a new party called the Swaraj Party in 1923. The party decided to contest the elections to the provincial and central legislative councils under the Montague-Chelmsford Reforms of 1919. The party aimed to use the councils as a platform to obstruct and criticize the British policies and demand more autonomy and rights for Indians.
The Swaraj Party performed well in the elections of 1923 and 1926 and won a significant number of seats in various provinces. The party members used various tactics to disrupt the functioning of the councils, such as boycotting sessions, moving adjournment motions, demanding budget cuts, etc. The party also raised important issues such as civil liberties, communal representation, constitutional reforms, etc.
However, the party also faced some challenges and limitations, such as internal divisions among its leaders, lack of mass support and mobilization, limited scope and powers of the councils, etc. The party gradually lost its relevance and influence after the death of C.R. Das in 1925 and the emergence of new political trends and movements in India.
The Rise of Revolutionary Terrorism (1924-35)
Another important development during this period was the rise of revolutionary terrorism as a form of resistance against British rule. Some young nationalists who were dissatisfied with Gandhi's non-violence and withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation Movement resorted to violent methods such as assassinations, bombings, robberies, etc. to create terror among British officials and inspire patriotic sentiments among Indians.
Some of the prominent revolutionary groups that emerged during this period were Hindustan Republican Association (HRA), later renamed as Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA), Anushilan Samiti, Abhinav Bharat Society, etc. Some of the famous revolutionaries who were associated with these groups were Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan, Surya Sen, Jatin Das, etc.
The revolutionaries carried out
withdrawal of Gandhi from active politics, emergence of new leaders and ideologies, etc. The movement was revived by Gandhi in 1930 with the launch of the Civil Disobedience Movement.
The Civil Disobedience Movement (1930-35)
The Civil Disobedience Movement was a more radical and widespread phase of the anti-colonial struggle than the Non-Cooperation Movement. It involved the defiance of various laws and regulations imposed by the British government, such as salt tax, forest laws, revenue laws, etc. The movement aimed to paralyse the British administration and force them to negotiate with the Indian leaders.
The movement began with Gandhi's famous Dandi March in March 1930, where he walked 241 miles from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi on the Gujarat coast, along with 78 followers, to break the salt law by making salt from sea water. The march captured the imagination of millions of Indians and inspired them to join the movement. Thousands of people followed Gandhi's example and made or sold salt illegally. They also boycotted foreign cloth, liquor, schools, colleges, courts, etc.
The movement also witnessed mass civil disobedience campaigns in various regions, such as No Tax Campaign in Gujarat, Salt Satyagraha in Tamil Nadu, Forest Satyagraha in Maharashtra and Central Provinces, etc. The movement also saw the participation of women, workers, peasants, tribals, students, etc. The movement also gave rise to new forms of protest, such as prabhat pheris (morning processions), hartals (strikes), bonfires of foreign cloth, etc.
However, the movement also faced some challenges and limitations, such as violence by some participants and police brutality, lack of coordination among different groups and regions, repression by the British authorities,
arrest and imprisonment of many leaders, emergence of new leaders and ideologies, etc. The movement was suspended by Gandhi in 1931 after the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, which provided for the release of political prisoners, the right to make salt for personal use, and the participation of Indian representatives in the Second Round Table Conference in London. However, the conference failed to reach any agreement on the constitutional reforms and the movement was resumed in 1932.
The movement also witnessed some important developments during this period, such as the emergence of the Congress Socialist Party (CSP) within the Congress, which advocated a more radical and anti-imperialist agenda; the formation of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), which mobilized the peasants for agrarian reforms; the rise of the Communist Party of India (CPI), which supported the working class struggles and opposed the colonial rule; the participation of women in various forms of protest, such as picketing, courting arrest, etc.; the involvement of students and youth in various activities, such as spreading propaganda, organizing meetings, collecting funds, etc.; and the emergence of new leaders, such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, Jayaprakash Narayan, etc.
The Civil Disobedience Movement was a significant milestone in the history of the national movement in India. It demonstrated the strength and unity of the Indian people against the British rule. It also forced the British government to acknowledge the legitimacy and popularity of the Indian National Congress and its demands. It also prepared the ground for the next phase of the freedom struggle.
The movement was finally withdrawn by Gandhi in 1934 after the failure of the Third Round Table Conference and the enactment of the Government of India Act 1935, which provided for provincial autonomy and a federal structure of the Indian polity.
The Role of Subhas Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army (1935-45)
One of the most charismatic and influential leaders of the national movement in India between 1920 to 1935 was Subhas Chandra Bose, popularly known as Netaji or leader. Bose was a radical nationalist who advocated complete independence from British rule by any means necessary. He was also a socialist who envisioned a free India based on social justice and equality.
Bose became the president of the Indian National Congress in 1938 and 1939, but he had differences with Gandhi and other leaders over the strategy and tactics of the freedom struggle. He resigned from the Congress in 1939 and formed a new party called the Forward Bloc. He also tried to mobilize the masses for a mass civil disobedience movement against the British rule.
When the Second World War broke out in 1939, Bose saw an opportunity to take advantage of the British weakness and seek foreign help for India's liberation. He escaped from India in 1941 and reached Germany via Afghanistan and Soviet Union. He met Adolf Hitler and other Nazi leaders and sought their support for India's freedom. He also established a Free India Centre in Berlin and a Free India Radio to broadcast his messages to India.
In 1943, Bose left Germany and reached Japan via submarine. He took over the leadership of the Indian National Army (INA), which was a force of Indian soldiers who had been captured by the Japanese in Southeast Asia. He reorganized and expanded the INA with the help of Indian civilians and prisoners of war. He also formed a provisional government of free India in Singapore and declared war against Britain and its allies.
The INA launched a military campaign against the British forces in Burma and India with the slogan \"Chalo Dilli\" (On to Delhi). The INA also received support from some sections of the Indian population, especially in Bengal and Assam. However, the INA faced many challenges and limitations, such as lack of proper training, equipment, supplies, coordination, etc. The INA also suffered heavy casualties and losses due to British counter-attacks, disease, hunger, etc.
The INA's advance was halted at Kohima and Imphal in 1944 and it was forced to retreat. Bose himself escaped to Taiwan, where he reportedly died in a plane crash in 1945. The INA's fate was sealed with the surrender of Japan in 1945.
The role of Subhas Chandra Bose and the INA was a significant one in the history of the national movement in India. It demonstrated the courage and patriotism of many Indians who were willing to sacrifice their lives for their country's freedom. It also exposed the cracks and weaknesses of the British empire and its moral authority. It also inspired many Indians to join or support the freedom struggle.
The national movement in India between 1920 to 1935 was a complex and diverse phenomenon that involved various political and social forces, ideologies and strategies, leaders and followers, successes and failures. It was a movement that shaped the destiny of India and its people. It was a movement that challenged the British rule and asserted the right of Indians to self-determination. It was a movement that created a sense of national identity and unity among Indians. It was a movement that paved the way for the final phase of the freedom struggle and the attainment of independence in 1947. d282676c82