The Rowlatt Act came like a sudden blow. To the people of India, Promised extension of democracy during the War, the government step appeared to be a cruel joke. It was like a hungry man, expecting tread, being offered stones. Instead of democratic progress had come further restriction of civil liberties.
Unrest spread in the country and a Powerful agitation against the Act arose. During this agitation, a new leader, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, took command of the nationalist movement.
The new leader made good one of the basic weaknesses of the previous leadership. He had evolved in his struggle against racialism in South Africa a new form of struggle non- cooperation and a new technique of struggle satyagraha which could be put into practice against the British in India.
He had moreover, a basic sympathy for and understanding of the problems and psychology of the Indian peasantry. He was, therefore, able to appeal to it and bring it into the mainstream of the national movement. He was thus able to arouse and unite all sections of the Indian people in a militant mass national movement.