<<  Noncooperation Movement 1920-22 * Assam  >>
Public bonfires of foreign cloth, even Bhagat Singh involved

Public bonfires of foreign cloth, even Bhagat Singh involved. Picketing of shops selling foreign cloth Import of foreign clothes halved during NCO - power of mass movement Nationalists expected to wear khadi (handspun and handwoven cloth- Indian) > employment and self-sufficiency in rural areas. Emphasised dignity of manual labour –Congress supporters were supposed to spin regularly (in film Gandhi always spinning). Showed Indian unity, and capability. Gandhi saw it as a uniform- white so always had to washed = clean = pure. Quickly became a symbol of anti-British feeling and nationalist commitment. For many, was their first contact with national movement. Sense of empowerment and involvement. Pride. Those who wore it became a target of police attention. Pupils at government schools were not allowed to wear it. Movement escalated in second-half of 1921 Main areas of strength: * Uttar Pradesh. January- March 1921, peasants attacked zamindars in Awadh. Protesting against high prices. Clashes with police and Kisan Sabhas were formed which Gandhi condemned because he argued that the peasants should fight the government, not fellow-Indians. Jawharalal Nehru began his political work in this movement. Eventually this led to the Awadh Rent Act of 1921 which gave greater security to peasants (useful to have lawyers on board, can articulate and argue well) * Bihar. This was a very strong movement. It also became violent at times such as when peasant’s were claiming to be Gandhi’s disciples but it did force merchants to lower prices. (problems of peasant belief in Gandhi as miracle man, didn’t fully comprehend his Satygraha. Power of personality and charisma, brilliant- quote from official, but also a problem.) * Punjab. Many Sikh peasants were involved (not religiously exclusive) in this protest. They demanded that control over their temples (gurudwaras) be taken out of the hands of corrupt priests who were backed by the British, and should instead be replaced by popular control (the Akali Movement) * Bengal. Big strike in Calcutta jute mills in 1921, due to cut-backs for workers. Strong Hindu-Muslim unity in this strike (quite unique). In Midnapor District, peasants refused to pay their tax to the district board after it tried to increased taxes. It was mainly the richer peasants who were involved (point made by R. Kumar about mill strikers in Bombay, the great textile strike of 1919). In late 1921 this escalated into a no-rent campaign by tenants against zamindars. Some Santals looted markets and zamindar-owned forests, and in February 1922, Santals attacked police wearing Gandhi caps, which they claimed made them immune to bullets (miracle man again and lack of understanding of Gandhian doctrine).

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