Modi’s “Chalo Champaran”, But Why Champaran?:- The Story Of India’s First Civil Disobedience Movement

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Modi's "Chalo Champaran", But Why Champaran:- The Story Of India's First Civil Disobedience Movement

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday joins the centenary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi’s Champaran Satyagraha. PM also resumed the final leg of program “Chalo Champaran’ means what the government claims to be India’s biggest Jan Andolan currently i.e. the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Its main goal is to achieve total sanitation coverage in India by October 2019.

Let us tell you that, “100 years ago, Mahatma Gandhi started Satyagraha from Champaran to fight the British rule and make our country free. Today, taking forward his ideas, we all are here to start the Swachh Satyagraha, with an aim to give Mahatma Gandhi a nation of his dreams by October 2, 2019 – a nation that is free from open defecation, diseases and garbage.”

 

Addressing nearly 20,000 “Swacchagrahis” or cleanliness ambassadors PM Modi said, “who have been camping in Motihari since a week to work on behavioural change among people of 38 districts of Bihar helped the state to achieve its Cleanliness target on priority.”

PM Modi added and told that “In last one week almost 8 Lakh 50 Thousand Toilets have been constructed in the state. I am very thankful to every Swacchagrahi for such an effort to speed up the dream project of the government.”

 

The Champaran Satyagraha

As Gandhi wrote in his autobiography, he did not even know of Champaran before this. Nonetheless, he came down to this district on April 10 of 1917 with a band of lawyers, including Dr Rajendra Prasad, to fight it out with the British.

There had been the Indigo Riots in 1859-60, but this was a new struggle altogether.

Preparations began. Gandhi and his lawyers travelled across the district to different villages, meeting farmers and taking note of their sufferings and complaints against the forced indigo cultivation.

Ever since Gandhi arrived in Champaran, the British rulers started keeping a close eye on his moves. Finally, on April 15, he was given an ultimatum at Motihari by the commissioner to leave Champaran.

champaran satyagharh
champaran satyagraha

To that, Gandhi responded that he wouldn’t leave, but was ready to bear “the penalty of civil disobedience”.

It was apparent now that Gandhi would be taken to jail for this resistance. As a response, scores of Champaran tenants turned up in protest outside the jail, police stations and courts.

In the end, troubled by this unusual form of resistance that spilt no violence, the government was forced to let go of Gandhi.

“The country, thus, had its first direct object-lesson in Civil Disobedience,” Gandhi wrote in his autobiography.

The struggle against forced indigo cultivation continued. Now, however, the possibility of Gandhi’s arrest was more imminent. But he put together a plan, a chain of people who would take over the work if he, or anyone after him, was arrested. This way, the struggle would go on, with or without him.

The struggle went on, the civil disobedience continued. The protests and hunger strikes ultimately ended with the abolishing of the cultivation of Indigo, or as it was known then, the tinkathia system.

The landlords under the British government were made to sign an agreement that granted the farmers more control over what they wanted to grow on their own lands, among other benefits.

tinkathiya system
tinkathiya system

It was during this movement when Gandhi was first referred to as Bapu and Mahatma, or so goes the legend.

As Gandhi wrote in his autobiography, he did not even know of Champaran before this. Nonetheless, he came down to this district on April 10 of 1917 with a band of lawyers, including Dr Rajendra Prasad, to fight it out with the British.

There had been the Indigo Riots in 1859-60, but this was a new struggle altogether.

Preparations began. Gandhi and his lawyers travelled across the district to different villages, meeting farmers and taking note of their sufferings and complaints against the forced indigo cultivation.

Ever since Gandhi arrived in Champaran, the British rulers started keeping a close eye on his moves. Finally, on April 15, he was given an ultimatum at Motihari by the commissioner to leave Champaran.

To that, Gandhi responded that he wouldn’t leave, but was ready to bear “the penalty of civil disobedience”.

source:-the telegraph
source:-the telegraph

It was apparent now that Gandhi would be taken to jail for this resistance. As a response, scores of Champaran tenants turned up in protest outside the jail, police stations and courts.

In the end, troubled by this unusual form of resistance that spilt no violence, the government was forced to let go of Gandhi.

“The country, thus, had its first direct object-lesson in Civil Disobedience,” Gandhi wrote in his autobiography.

The struggle against forced indigo cultivation continued. Now, however, the possibility of Gandhi’s arrest was more imminent. But he put together a plan, a chain of people who would take over the work if he, or anyone after him, was arrested. This way, the struggle would go on, with or without him.

The struggle went on, the civil disobedience continued. The protests and hunger strikes ultimately ended with the abolishing of the cultivation of Indigo, or as it was known then, the tinkathia system.

The landlords under the British government were made to sign an agreement that granted the farmers more control over what they wanted to grow on their own lands, among other benefits.

It was during this movement when Gandhi was first referred to as Bapu and Mahatma, or so goes the legend.

 

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