Q. 205.0( 1 Vote )

Mahatma Gandhi declared that Swaraj would not come for hundred years if untouchability was not eliminated. What is the implication of the statement? Evaluate the role of Gandhiji in elevating the position of the untouchables.

OR

Explain the features of the boycott and Swadeshi Movement.

Answer :

The term ‘Swaraj’ means self-government or in the context of India-’Independence of India’. Untouchable was a member of a large group that was segregated from the rest of the country. It was traditionally believed that any person who touches an untouchable becomes defiled. They were ridiculed and harassed by certain rich sections of the society. For a long period, the political leaders had ignored their plight. It was Gandhiji who recognized them and tried to improve their conditions.


Gandhiji worked extensively to elevate the positions of the untouchables. Some of his efforts are highlighted below:


1. It was the first time that Gandhiji had coined the term ‘Harijans’ and did not use the word ‘Untouchables’. The term ‘Harijans’ mean the children of God.


2. In 1932, when Gandhiji was in Yervada jail, he went on a fast as a form of protest against the mistreatment faced by the Untouchables.


3. When this news broke to the rest of India, an urgency of the situation was realized. The temples, wells and other public places were thrown open to them. Many leaders met the untouchables and Gandhiji broke his fast.


4. A new organization called ‘Harijan Sevak Sangh’ and a newspaper called ‘Harijans’ for set up.


5. In November 1933, he fought this system by marching 12500 miles for 9 months.


6. He cleaned toilets to signify their work and persuaded the high-class citizens to make amends.


7. He signed the Poona Act under which certain seats were reserved for them in the Provincial and Legislative councils.


Untouchability was a major social evil that prevailed in the society for a long. Gandhiji was the first to fight it and help them have a dignified status in the society. He focused on removing with great zeal and undertook many efforts for the same.


OR


The term ‘Swadeshi’ means ‘one’s own country’. This movement was a protest movement to gain freedom from the Britishers. This also paved the way for the Boycott movement. In this movement, people boycotted the foreign shops and the items that were imported from abroad.


The key features of Swadeshi and Boycott movement are


1. The Swadeshi movement was launched in three phases -


● 1850-1904 - The First Swadeshi movement


● 1905-1914 - Began with the partition of Bengal


● 1918-1947 - Led by Gandhiji


2. The public notice of proposal of the partition of Bengal, by Lord Curzon, was given in 1905. 500 meetings were held in Bengal, and 50000 copies of pamphlets were distributed. The Indians were outraged at this.


3. The Indians tried to stop this partition by making appeals, protesting and conferences, but in vain.


4. The leaders of the anti-partition groups decided to boycott all the items of the West and use only items made in India. People began burning the clothes, closed down the foreign shops and stopped purchasing imported sugar.


5. This helped to cause a decline in the use of Manchester cotton, for which Bengal was the richest market. It also helped in the development of many small industries in India.


6. The cotton mills of Bombay and Ahmedabad, the weaving industry of Bengal and many other small industries flourished during this period.


7. The students actively participated in this movement. They often protested against the Britishers. The Britishers then declared that any school or college found involved in such activities would be disaffiliated or its funding would be withdrawn. If any student is found to be protesting, he would be declared ineligible for government service.


8. The four leading newspapers of Calcutta- the Bengalee, the Amrita Bazaar Patrika, the Indian Mirror and the Hindu Patriot protested against this division of Bengal. The vernacular newspaper also displayed hostility against this movement.


There is no accurate data or result regarding the final effects of these two movements. But it is sure that the British import gradually fell for the initial 2-3 years. Although the Swadeshi movement was started only to boycott foreign goods, it indirectly helped to revive the indigenous industries. Gandhiji has emphasized one particular feature related to this movement. He said that this movement had helped the people to raise their voices and challenge the authorities against their wrongdoings.


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