Notes on Gandhi and the Non-Cooperation Movement, 1920

The repressive attitude of the British Government led Mahatma Gandhi to launch Non-Cooperation Movement against it. He served notice to the Viceroy on 1 July that since the issue of Khilafat and Jallianwala Bagh massacre had not been satisfactorily solved, he would resort to Non-Cooperation Movement after the expiry of one month. As government paid a deaf ear to his notice, so he started the Non-Cooperation Movement from 1 August, 1920.

By Non-Cooperation Movement, Gandhi meant a peaceful rebellion. In September 1920, the old veteran leaders of the Congress like Annie Besant, Motilal Nehru, C. R. Defect. Opposed the idea of Mahatma Gandhi but however, he appealed the Congress to adopt his policy of 'progressive, non­violent, non-cooperation' which the Congress could not deny.

The Non-Cooperation Movement included Swadeshi as its prime move. Accordingly, a sum of one crore was to be collected for the Tikal Memorial Swaraj Fund. It introduced 20 lakhs of Charkhas in Indian family for popularizing Khaddar among the Indians. For achieving that end he even ordered to burn foreign clothes.

The programme of Non-Cooperation Movement was multidimensional. It included the following fourteen-point programme:

1. Surrender of all titles and Government posts

2. Boycott of Government schools and colleges

3. Boycott of all functions of the British Government

4. Boycott of law courts

5. Non-cooperation with the Act of 1919

6. Boycott of all foreign articles

7. Giving up the policy for Indian soldiers in Mesopotamia

8. Formation of Nay Panchayats

9. Development of small scale industry

10. Development of communal harmony

11. Use of Swadeshi articles

12. Establishment of national schools

13. End of untouchability and caste-system

14. Adoption of non-violence in the whole country.

The boycott programme had its tremendous impact upon the people of India. Gandhi himself surrendered the title of Kaiser-i-Hind. Chita Raman Das, Motilal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad; Jawaharlal NH etc. left their legal practices. Students started to boycott the Government or Government aided institutions. The All-India College Students Conference held at Nagpur on 25 December, 1920 under the chairmanship of Lala Lajpat Rai accepted the proposal with great enthusiasm.

The most spectacular achievement of the boycott programme was seen during the visit of the Prince of Wales to India on 17 November, 1921. He was greeted by the Indians with black flags. A countrywide Harte was observed and more than 60,000 people were arrested.

The British took repressive measures to deal with the situation. It made people more violent. In the meanwhile, the Moplah uprising in Kerala, disturbance at Barolo, Calcutta etc. made the situation worse. On 5 February, 1922 the police opened fire to disperse an angry mob at Chari-Chakra in U.P. and the violent people burnt the police station and 22 policemen met their end. This broke the morale of Gandhi and he withdrew the Non-Cooperation Movement on 6 February, 1922.

Coming to the critical appraisal of the Non-Cooperation Movement of 1920-22, it can be stated that it achieved some success in implementing its programme. For a short period, it gave a toe challenge to the British authority. Its immediate suspension diminished the public enthusiasm. The boycott of the educational institutions and law courts was not successful in the long run.

When Khilafat was withdrawn from Turkey, the problem of the Muslims and the Non-Cooperation Movement received poor response from them. However, the result of this movement was far-reaching. For the first time, Gandhi created defiant public to oppose the British rule which became a regular feature in the forthcoming years. Though, Gandhi and promise of Swarajya within a year was not fulfilled but the movement created aspiration in the minds of Indian people for attaining Swaraj in future.