Champaran Satyagraha, Kheda Satyagraha, and the mill-workers’ strike in Ahmedabad

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Takeouts from ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme on All India Radio on 26.03.2017

  • Exactly one hundred years ago on the 10th of April, 1917, Mahatma Gandhi had launched the Champaran Satyagraha.
  • This year marks the centenary of the Champaran Satyagraha. In India’s struggle for freedom, Gandhian thought and Gandhian practice became manifest for the first time in Champaran.
  • This was a turning point in the entire journey of India’s freedom struggle, especially in the context of the methodology of the struggle.
  • This was the period when, in the Champaran Satyagraha, Kheda Satyagraha, and the mill-workers’ strike in Ahmedabad, the deep impact of Mahatma Gandhi’s thoughts and practices was amply and clearly visible. Gandhi returned to India in 1915, and in 1917, he went to a small village in Bihar and gave the country a new inspiration.
  • We cannot evaluate the Champaran Satyagraha on the basis of the image of Mahatma Gandhi that we cherish in our hearts today. Just imagine that one man, who came to India in 1915, and had been in the country for barely two years.
  • The country didn’t know of him, he bore no influence then; it was just the beginning. We can only imagine the hardships that he must have endured, how hard he must have had to toil. And it was the Champaran Satyagraha that brought to the fore, Mahatma Gandhi’s organisational skills, and his strong ability to gauge the pulse of Indian society.
  • Mahatma Gandhi, through his demeanour and deeds, could inspire the poorest of the poor, the most illiterate, to unite and come together out into the open for the struggle against the British Rule; this was a manifestation of an incredible inner strength, through which we can experience the vastness of Mahatma Gandhi’s great persona.
  • But if we reflect upon the Gandhi of a hundred years ago, the Gandhi of the Champaran Satyagraha, that would be a subject of deep study for anyone about to enter public life.
  • We can all learn from Gandhi Ji what it means to begin a life of public service, how hard one has to work, as Gandhi did. And that was the period when all the stalwarts, that we hear about today: Rajendra Babu, Acharya Kripalani Ji, and others were all sent to the villages by Gandhi Ji.
  • Ways and means to connect with the people and lending hues of freedom to their day to day work were taught. And the British were simply unable to comprehend Gandhi Ji’s unique style of working, which encompassed both struggle and creation together.
  • In a way, Gandhi created two sides of the same coin; one being struggle and the other, creativity. To get themselves arrested voluntarily to fill jails, on the one hand, and on the other to immerse themselves in creative work. Gandhi’s style of working had an incredible balance.
  • What the word, ‘Satyagraha’ means, what disagreement can mean, what Non-Cooperation in the face of such a vast Empire could be –Gandhi Ji established a completely new vision of resistance, not through mere words, but through a successful experiment.
  • Today, as the nation observes the centenary of the Champaran Satyagraha, the immense power of the common man, so visible in the struggle for freedom, manifests again in the journey from Swaraj to Suraaj, the resolve, the perseverance of the 125 crore countrymen, following the tenet of ‘Sarvyajan Hitaay, Sarvajan Sukhaay’ i.e. for the benefit of all, for the happiness of all, and the ceaseless enterprise to achieve something for the country, the society, would bring about the realisation of the dreams of the great souls who laid down their lives for the sake of Freedom.

Source: PIB