Freedom Struggle Of India: Parallel Developments In Freedom Struggle
The early attempts to organize labour were made by Sasipada Banerjee who set up a Working Man’s Club in 1870 and brought a monthly journal called Bharat Sharmjibi (Indian Labor) and N.M. Lokhandi started the Bombay Mill and Mill Hands Association along with an Anglo Marathi Weekly called Deenbandhu.
The early nationalists did not pay much attention to the working class as they did not want to create any divisions within the ranks of the people when the movement was in its infancy. But the early nationalists indirectly supported them by attacking the British industrial policies in the Councils and in the press.
But the first landmark in the working-class movement was the Swadeshi movement where labour was properly organized and fund collection, legal aid and strikes became very common. Strikes were organized mostly in industries with foreign capital. It was for the first time that the worker was involved with the wider political issues of the day as the strikes were organized throughout the country by nationalist leaders.
But with the onset of the Rowlatt Satyagraha and the Non-Cooperation Movement, the All India Trade Union Congress (A.I.T.U.C.) was formed in 1920 with Lala Lajpat Rai as its first President and Diwan Chamanlal as secretary, thereby integrating worker’s issues with the freedom struggle. The workers now began to work towards Swaraj which also meant Swaraj for the working class. Their seriousness was shown as many important leaders like Sardar Patel, C.R. Das and Nehru presided over A.I.T.U.C. sessions.
The Working Class And Trade Union Movement During The Freedom Struggle
The Membership of Trade unions expanded but a new dimension was added with the rise of left-wing organizations. Left-Wing leaders like S.A. Dange, Muzaffar Ahmed, P.C. Joshi etc. organized the Workers and Peasants Parties which joined the Congress and activated their labour movement. In 1926, the British passed The Trade Unions Act thus giving legal recognition to Trade Unions.
The Membership of Trade unions expanded but a new dimension was added with the rise of left-wing organizations. Left-Wing leaders like S.A. Dange, Muzaffar Ahmed, P.C. Joshi etc., organized the Workers and Peasants Parties which joined the Congress and activated their labour movement. In 1926, the British passed The Trade Unions Act thus giving legal recognition to Trade Unions.
But increasing Government repression and distancing of communists from the Indian National Congress dealt a blow to the worker’s movement. But, the Communists rejoined the AITUC in 1935 and Trade Unionism gathered a lot of momentum. It was further strengthened with the formation of popular Governments in 1937 where a lot of labour legislation was passed.
The trade union movement grew by leaps and bounds after the Quit India Movement and as freedom grew nearer, the number of strikes increased along with increased hopes for freedom.
Freedom Struggle Of India: Peasant Movements During Freedom Struggle
The Kisan Sabha Movement: The Talukdars of Avadh in the U.P. were very oppressive charging high rates of revenue, collected illegal levies, nazrana etc., which made the life of the peasants miserable. The price rise during and after the First World War added to the misery of the peasants. The Home Rule Movement in U.P. created political awareness and peasants organized themselves by forming Kisan Sabhas. The U.P. Kisan Sabha was established by Gouri Shankar Misra, Indra Narain Dwivedi and M.M. Malavya in 1918. A large number of its members enrolled themselves as members of Congress. But it was Baba Ramachandra who activated the movement by involving G.S. Misra and Jawaharlal Nehru actively in the movement.
The start of the Non-Cooperation Movement created a split and the non-cooperators led by Misra and Nehru formed the Avadh Kisan Sabha in October. 1920 and inspired the Kisans not to pay illegal levies and use the weapon of social Boycott while the cooperators adopted the methods of Constitutional agitation.
The movement spread to Raebareily, Faizabad and Sultanpur districts where violence erupted taking the form of looting granaries and bazaars led by local leaders. This led to severe Government repression by January 1921 but the peasants were also pacified by the Avadh Rent Amendment Act, passed in the council which gave little relief to the peasants.
Freedom Struggle Of India: Eka Movement
This was also a result of the charged political atmosphere during the NonCooperation Movement and Congress and Khilafat leaders inspired the peasants, resulting in the birth of the Ekta or Eka movement. The centres of this movement were in the northern districts of Hardoi, Baharaich and Sitapur. The grievances were the usual ones of higher revenue and oppression by revenue collectors. There was also a religious angle to the movement as the vow was taken after a dip in the Ganges not to pay excess rent and not to perform illegal labour. The movement developed under the leadership of Madari Pasi and other lower caste leaders. But the Eka movement did not believe in non-violence and its resort to violence was easily suppressed by the British.
Freedom Struggle Of India: Mappila Rebellion
It was a rebellion in Malabar by the dominant Muslim peasantry because of the oppression by the Hindu Jenmies – the landlords in form of ejections, high rents, illegal levies etc. The Malabar District Congress Committee met at Manjeri in April 1920 and supported the tenants’ cause. Prominent Congress and Khilafat leaders like Gandhi, Moulana Azad and Mohd. Ali visited the area and addressed meetings which gave a boost to the movement and integrated the movement with Non-Cooperation Movement. But the arrest of all top leaders in February 1921 like U. Gopalan, Yakub. Hasan, Moideen Koya etc., resulted in the leadership passing off into local hands. The Mappilas now began to exhibit signs of turbulence due to Government repression and a raid on a mosque along with an unprovoked police firing gave the movement a violent turn. In the initial states, only Jenmies and symbols of Government authority like Government offices. railway and police stations were attacked, and poor Hindus were rarely touched as their leader Kunhammed Haji was secular. But as the Government repression increased, the Hindus were forced to cooperate with the British and this strengthened the anti-Hindú sentiment among the conservative and ignorant Mappilas. The movement now assumed a communal colour with forced conversions and murder of Hindus in a sense of desperation. The communalization of the movement made Congress withdraw its support of the movement. The revolt was brutally crushed by the British through military operations taking a huge physical toll. The revolt also drained the Mappilas of the will to fight and they never rose to fight the British again in the future despite the growth of a powerful peasant movement under the left influence in the 1930s.
After the decline of the peasant movement in the 1920s, it rose again in the 1930s under the influence of socialism. After the withdrawal of the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1934, the peasants showed greater attempts to organize themselves as the movement had created a whole new generation of young militant cadres. The rise of the Communist Party of India (C.P.I) and the Congress Socialist Party (C.S.P) also gave a boost to the movement. Besides, the discontent all over India among the peasants due to the impact of the economic depression necessitated the need for the peasants to organize themselves on a national scale.
The establishment of the All India Kisan Sabha in Lucknow in 1936 with Swami Shahajanand as President and N.G. Ranga as Secretary marked the culmination of efforts to organize the peasants on a national scale. It brought out a bulletin called Kisan Manifesto, edited by Indulal Yagnik which greatly influenced the agrarian program adopted by the 1936 Faizpur Session and the manifesto of the Congress for the 1937 elections. The Kisan movement got a great boost with the coming of popular ministries as increased civil liberties permitted them to strengthen their organization. There were increasing efforts made to mobilize peasants by C.S.P. and C.P.I. activists by holding rallies and educating the peasants through lectures and cultural shows.
The movement was strong in provinces where the left organization was very strong, especially in Kerala, Andhra and Punjab. The Kisan movement accepted and based itself on the ideology of nationalism and its cadres and leaders carried the message of national freedom along with the organization of peasantry.