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Modern History / Movements and Revolts

Peasant Movements in India during British Rule

The main reasons for peasant movements in India during British rule were forcible cultivation of commercial crops like Indigo and droughts and famines that caused reduction in production. Relief measures were not taken by the British and even taxes were not reduced.

Indigo Revolt (1859-1860)

  • The revolt was started by Indigo cultivators in Bengal. The main leaders of Indigo revolt were two brothers, Bishnu Biswas and Digambar Biswas.

  • Intellectuals who supported the revolt were Harish Chandra Mukherjee (editor of the journal, Hindu Patriot) and Dinabandhu Mitra (wrote Bengali drama, Neel Darpan).

  • In 1860, forcible cultivation of Indigo was prohibited as a result of this revolt.

  • Later in 1880, the first Famine Commission was constituted under the chairmanship of Sir Richard Strachey.

Champaran Satyagraha (1917)

  • It was also related to Indigo cultivation. Tinkathia ( 3/20th ) system was in force in Champaran, a district in Bihar. A cultivator has to reserve 3/20th of the land for Indigo cultivation.

  • The main leader of this revolt was Mahatma Gandhi. It was the first movement in India taken by Gandhi. Other leaders, who were associated with it, were Babu Rajendra Prasad, J.B. Kripalani, Anugrah Narayan and Mahadev Desai (who later became secretary to Gandhi).

  • As a result of this movement, Tinkathia system was abolished by the British.

Kheda (or Khaira) Movement (1918)

  • There was drought in Kheda area of Gujarat. Average agricultural production was less than 25%. As per revenue laws, if the production is less than 25%, there shall not be any taxes. But, officers were forcibly collecting the revenues.

  • The leader of this movement was also Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi started an organization called Gujarat Sabha to fight for Kheda Satyagraha. Gandhi was the President and he was assisted by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Indulal Yagnik.

  • The movement became success and the Government decided not to collect taxes.

Moplah (or Mappila) Movement (1921)

  • Moplah is the name of the poor Muslim peasants of Kerala working on the lands of Hindu Zamindars. The movement was against Zamindars. It was an agrarian movement which got transformed into a communal movement.

  • Gandhi gave complete support to the Moplah movement and asked Moplahs to take up Satyagraha. Leaders who supported Moplah movement were Mahadev Nayar, Gopala Menon and Yakub Hasan.

  • In the second stage, the Congress leaders, who supported the movement were arrested (as there was National Movement going on).

    The leadership went into the hands of conservative sections of Moplahs. Along with houses, temples were also attacked. The leaders in the second stage were Ali Musliyar, Kalathingal Mammad and Kunjahammed Haji.

  • Britishers suppressed the movement with force as Congress withdrew support to Moplah movement. Around 10000 Moplahs were killed. After that Moplahs never participated in any movement.

Bardoli Satyagraha (1928)

  • The movement was started in Bardoli in Gujarat. It was against the unjust enhancement (by 22%) of land revenue.

  • The main leader of this movement was Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

  • The movement became successful and the tax enhancement was withdrawn.

Peasant Associations (Kisan Sabhas)

  • UP Kisan Sabha (1918) - It was founded by Gowri Shankar Mishra, Indra Narayan Dwivedi and Indulal Yagnik with the help of Madan Mohan Malaviya.

  • Oudh Kisan Sabha (1920) - It was founded by Baba Ramachander. Jawaharlal Nehru assisted him.

  • Bihar Kisan Sabha (1929) - It was founded by Swami Sahajananda.

  • Andhra Provincial Ryot Association (1928) - It was founded by N.G. Ranga.

  • All Indian Kisan Sabha (1963) - It was started at Lucknow. Swami Sahajananda was the first President and N.G. Ranga was the first General Secretary.