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http://kiddingtow n.com/indigo/ March 8, 2011
Who was Raj Kumar Shukla? Why did he want Gandhiji in Champaran? Raj Kumar Shukla was a peasant from Champaran. He was a sharecropper under the British landlords there. The sharecropping system had become a big trouble for all the peasants in Champaran and there was no one to help them. Shukla heard from someone that Gandhiji could solve their problems and therefore wanted Gandhiji in Champaran. What made Gandhiji accompany Raj Kumar Shukla to Champaran? Gandhiji had no plan to involve himself in any mass movements. But when he heard about the miseries of the Champaran peasants under the British landlords and that the Indian lawyers there didn’t do anything honestly for the peasants and having seen the determination and tenacity of Shukla, Gandhiji decided to accompany him to Champaran. How were Gandhiji and Raj Kumar Shukla treated by Rajendra Prasad’s servants? Why? Rajendra Prasad was an influential lawyer in Patna. Gandhiji had acquaintances with him too. But when he reached his home with Raj Kumar Shukla, he was not at home. His servants thought that Gandhiji was also an ‘untouchable’ as the peasants were generally considered and asked them to stay on the ground and refused to drink water from the well. Why did Gandhiji want to make a fresh enquiry into the sharecroppers' problem? Raj Kumar Shukla had given Gandhiji an exact account of the nature of problems in Champaran. But Gandhiji, being a seeker of truth, wanted to gather all the facts regarding the sharecroppers’ problems beyond what Shukla had imparted to him. What was extraordinary about Professor Malkani's accommodating Gandhiji in his home? Professor Malkani was a British Government professor at Muzzafarpur and Gandhiji fighting against the same government for freedom and home-rule. Generally no one harbored the advocates of home-rule for fear of the British and therefore Professor Malkani’s act was extraordinary. How did the Muzzafarpur lawyers look at Gandhiji's presence in Champaran? What did Gandhiji blame them for? The Muzzafarpur lawyers were of the opinion that the sharecropping issue would never be solved. The thought that this issue would be a long-term source of their income. So they convinced the poor, illiterate peasants that there would be justice for them. Therefore these lawyers were unhappy with Gandhiji’s arrival there to solve the sharecroppers’ issue. What was the cause of the Champaran sharecroppers' resentment? The sharecropping system began a long time before Gandhiji was called to involve. The peasants were already struggling under this. What aggravated the resentment was a new agreement the British landlords had made the peasants to sign to pay a big amount to get free from the old agreement. The landlords did this not to alleviate the peasant's struggles but because they learnt that Germany had developed synthetic indigo due to which the demand for natural indigo would decline. Why did Gandhiji discourage the peasants and the lawyers from going to the court of law? When Gandhiji saw that the illiterate peasants still relied on the Indian lawyers who promised justice
for them, he knew how foolish that was. Being himself a lawyer, Gandhiji saw that the poor Indians would not get justice as long as the law, prosecutors, courts, judge and the accused being British. Why were the sharecroppers ready to sign the agreement to pay the money to get released from the previous agreement to plant indigo? The peasants had already been suffering due to the age old agreement made by their forefathers. They could not do any other work than the cultivation of indigo and therefore remained poor. When they were told of the new agreement to pay a compensation to be released from the previous agreement, the peasants found it better. Why did the sharecroppers demand their money back? The British landlords were very shrewd and knew how to exploit the poor, unlettered Indian peasants. When they heard that the demand for natural indigo would soon fall and that the Champaran peasants would be free from the agreement, they exhorted/took money from them before the peasants knew the true story. But when the peasants knew the truth they realized that they were cheated and therefore wanted their money back. On what grounds was Gandhiji called an outsider? How did he react to that? India was not a federal nation at the time when Gandhiji reached Champaran. The country was scattered into kingly and princely states. Gandhiji belonged to the West of India while Champaran lay on the extreme East. Though Gandhiji considered India as a whole, the British ruled it divided and therefore Gandhiji came from outside Champaran, hence an outsider. Gandhiji felt angry to be considered an outsider and he wanted to show the British who was outsider and who was insider. Why was Gandhiji stopped on his way to the village where a peasant was maltreated? While in Champaran, Gandhiji heard that a poor peasant of another village had been beaten by the landlords’ men. Gandhiji and many of his followers went to see the situation. But Gandhiji was stopped by the police fearing that his presence along with many furious people and the sight of the maltreated peasant would cause a mutiny in Champaran. What did Gandhiji learn from the voluntary support of the villagers in Champaran? Gandhiji had never foreseen the support he would have got from the peasants of Champaran. He was not sure of the unity among this people but when he saw the voluntary support the uneducated peasants gave him Gandhiji learned that what India wanted was a strong leader and that he could certainly win the battle of Champaran. How were the British authorities held helpless during Gandhiji's trial? The day when Gandhiji was tried in the Tirhut court, thousands of villagers surrounded the courthouse announcing support for their leader. With their limited police force, the British authorities were helpless in front of the mob fury. They were forced to seek Gandhiji’s help to save their face. Both Gandhiji and the British authorities learnt lessons during his trial. What were the lessons? Both Gandhiji and the British authorities were not aware of the unity and strength of the Indian peasantry till they witnessed it at the time of Gandhiji’s trial. Gandhiji learned from this that a leader was what India needed while the British became aware of the real threats to their existence in India. What were the two types of duties Gandhiji brought to a conflict? Being a lawyer himself Gandhiji amazed the lawyers and judge of the Tirhut Court with the accurate use of eloquence and law points. He said that he was involved in a conflict of duties: one with the law of the court and the other with his own conscience. He said he had to stand with his conscience
because he believed that serving people was more important than serving the law. How did Gandhiji make the judge grant/allow him bail? The crafty British judge wanted to postpone the trial so as to get Gandhiji without the cover and support of the peasants to put him behind the bars. Sensing this, Gandhiji declared that he was guilty and requested the court to grand him his punishment. at this point, the judge was forced to announce the verdict and released Gandhiji on bail. What was the immediate reaction of the Indian lawyers when Gandhiji sought their advice? Gandhiji was released on bail but was still in danger of being caught and tried in secret. Knowing this Gandhiji sought the advice of the Indian lawyers. The lawyers were already discontent with him and therefore said they would not mind if he went to prison. When did Gandhiji announce that 'the battle of Champaran was won?' What made him say so? The Indian lawyers behaved indifferently with Gandhiji when he was released on bail. But Gandhiji reminded them that they would lose support and trust of the peasants if they didn’t help him. He further explained that he was an outsider yet was going to jail for the peasants. At this crucial point the lawyers discussed among themselves and announced their support for Gandhiji. Having secured the support of the rich and poor, the educated and the uneducated, Gandhiji announced that the battle of Champaran was won. 'Civil disobedience had triumphed, the first time in modern India.' Comment. Gandhiji began his Civil Disobedient Movement in Champaran by refusing to leave the place as ordered by the police authorities. His arrest and trial followed. But finally the judiciary had to release Gandhiji and drop his case due to pressure from the peasants and thus his Civil Disobedient Movement became successful in Champaran. Why was Gandhiji ready to accept a meager compensation of only 25% of the money from the landlords? The Commission that was set up for solving the Champaran issue finally agreed to pay 25% of the money as compensation to the peasants who had been fooled by the British landlords. Gandhiji, being the only representative of the peasants, agreed to this suggestion of the Commission. Even though the amount was very less for the peasants, Gandhiji considered the agreement to be a mile stone as it was the first instance in the history of Indian freedom struggle when the British were forced to obey the Indians. Gandhiji foiled the Commission's hidden plans to help the British landlords by his tactful reply. Explain what were the Commission’s hidden plans. Even though the Commission seemed to be ready to solve the Champaran peasants, the British members of the commission had some hidden intention in mind. They were prepared either to foil the Commission or to save their money and prestige. It was for this that they disagreed to pay the 50% of the peasants’ money even though Gandhiji’s demand was more than just. Gandhiji outwitted their hidden plans by unexpectedly accepting their meager compensation amount. How was the Champaran episode a turning point in Gandhiji's life? When Gandhiji undertook his mission in Champaran he was least certain about the cooperation and unity of the people that would have turned out to be support for him. But the voluntary support they gave him at his trial opened his eyes and Gandhiji placed himself the leader that the whole of India needed and began his Freedom Struggle since then. Who was Charles Freer Andrews? Why did Gandhiji's friends want him in Champaran? Why was
Gandhiji against this? Charles Freer Andrews was an English man, a close follower of Gandhiji with similar ideas of a pacifist. He was a social worker in Champaran. When Gandhiji came to Champaran, Andrews was getting ready to go to his new destination. Gandhiji’s friends thought of stopping Andrews in Champaran for Gandhiji’s help. But Gandhiji read their minds and saw that they were depending on a foreigner for India’s freedom. To show them the meaning of self reliance, Gandhiji refused to ask Andrews to stay with him. Who was Charles Freer Andrews? Why did Gandhiji's friends want him in Champaran? Why was Gandhiji against this? Charles Freer Andrews was an English man, a close follower of Gandhiji with similar ideas of a pacifist. He was a social worker in Champaran. When Gandhiji came to Champaran, Andrews was getting ready to go to his new destination. Gandhiji’s friends thought of stopping Andrews in Champaran for Gandhiji’s help. But Gandhiji read their minds and saw that they were depending on a foreigner for India’s freedom. To show them the meaning of self reliance, Gandhiji refused to ask Andrews to stay with him. Gandhiji was a practical social worker. His activities in Champaran prove this. How? Gandhiji believed only in solutions: not in planning. Explain. 'Self-reliance, Indian independence and help to sharecroppers were all bound together.' Explain. (Not more than 150 words)