Peasant Movements in India
There are two views on peasant movements: one, that these movements originated only after independence and tare purely social and cultural in nature; two, these movements existed long before independence and were against colonial rulers as well as zamindars and money-lenders.
Read here about the complete list of Peasant Movements in India which is important for IBPS Bank Exams, RRB Railway Exams, UPSC, SSC. TSPSC, APSPSC and all Competitive Exams.
The Champaran Satyagraha (1917)
- The peasants were compelled by the European planters to grow indigo, which restricted their freedom of cultivation.
- The land rent was increased enormously.
- Gandhiji reached Champaran in 1917 accompanied by Babu Rajendra Prasad, Mazhar -ul-Huq, J.B. Kripalani, Mahadev Desai to conduct a detailed inquiry into the condition of the indigo peasants.peasant movements in india
- The baffeled district officials ordered him to leave, but he defied the order and invited trial and imprisonment.
- The payment of wages was meager to the peasants, which was not sufficient to earn their livelihood.
- The peasants of Champaran were living under miserable conditions and were suffering from abject poverty.
- This led the Government to apoint an Enquiry Committee in June 1917, with M.Gandhiji as one of its members.
The Bardoli Satyagraha (1928)
- In surat district , the Bardoli taluk was the centre of this intensely politicised peasant movement.
- In the year 1925, the taluka of Bardoli suffered from heavy floods and severe famine which affected the crops very badly. This situation led the farmers to face great financial troubles.
- At the same time, the Government of Bombay Presidency raised the tax rate by 30 per cent.
- The activists of Gujarat such as Narahari Parikh, Ravi Shankar Vyas, and Mohanlal Pandya had a talk with the village leaders and sought the help of the prominent Gujarati freedom fighter Vallabhbhai Patel.
- This led to the organisation of a ‘No-Revenue Campaign’ by the Bardoli peasants including women.
- The Government decided to crush the revolt.
- The Pathans and tax inspectors intruded into the houses of the farmers and took away their property which also included cattle.
- Finally, an agreement took place by the initiation of a Parsi member of the Bombay government. According to it, the government agreed to restore the confiscated property and also cancel the revenue payment for the year and also cancelled the raise of 30 per cent until next year.
- It was only after the Bardoli Satyagraha that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel became one among India’s important leaders.
Tebhaga Movement in Bengal
- In Bengal rich farmers (Jotedars) leased the farms to sharecroppers known as Bargadar or Bagchasi or Adhyar.
- It was a sharecropper’s movement, which demanded two-thirds for themselves and one-third for the landlord. The crop sharing system at that time was known as barga, adhi, bhagi, etc., and the sharecroppers were called as bargadars or adhiars.
- The Flood Commission, had recommended tebhaga, under that the Bargadars (sharecropper) should get 2/3 of crop share and the Jotedar (landlord) should get 1/3rd of crop produce share.
- The movement spread across the 19 districts of Bengal, but its intensity was more seriously felt in certain districts only. The police arrested the tenants and many of them were put behind the bars.
- This action made the tenants more furious and they started a new slogan to abolish the whole Zamindari system.
- Under the pressure of Tebhaga activists most of the landlords had come to terms with the Tebhaga peasants and withdrew the cases filed against them.
- The bill proposed to reform the bhagi system of the country, which caused the agrarian unrest.
- The Tebhaga movement, to an extent, was successful, as it has been estimated that about 40 per cent of the sharecropping peasants were granted the Tebhaga right by the landowners themselves.
- The main slogan of the movemnt was – ” nij kamare dhan tolo”.
- The movement was, however, less successful in the East Bengal districts. In 1948-1950, there was another wave of Tebhaga movement in these districts.
- However, the East Bengal State Acquisition and Tenancy Act of 1950 was passed due to the initiation of the movement.
- The Muslim league govenment led by the Suharwardy introduced the Bargardari Bill along with repression by force.
Indigo Revolt 1856-57
- Indigo was identified as a major cash crop for the East India Company’s investments in the 18th Century. Indigo had worldwide demand similar to cotton piece-goods, opium and salt. Indigo planting in Bengal dated back to 1777.
- European Indigo planters had a monopoly over Indigo farming. At that time, there were two systems of cultivation of Indigo viz. Nij system and Ryoti System.
- Under the Nij system, the European planters produced indigo directly on land which they directly controlled. Under Ryoti system, the planters forced the ryots or peasants to sign an agreement, so that they could get loans from planters to grow Indigo.
- The revolt began as the peasants stopped paying rents. In March 1859, the revolt became more organized when thousands of Ryots in Bengal refused to grow indigo. The revolt began from Govindpur village in Nadia district of Bengal where Biswas brothers gave up indigo cultivation.
- The European indigo planters left no stones unturned to make money. The farmers were totally unprotected from the brutal indigo planters, who resorted to mortgages or destruction of their property if they were unwilling to obey them.
- If any farmer refused to grow Indigo and started growing rice, he was kidnapped, women and children were attacked, and crop was looted, burnt and destroyed.
- The Indigo revolt in Nadia district of Bengal in 1859 and was led by Digambar Biswas and Bishnu Biswas who organised the peasants to resist the force of planter’s lathiyals (armed retainers).
- The Government thereby was forced to appoint a committee ‘Indigo Commission’ which was to look into the corrupt practices related with this system.
The Kheda Satyagraha (1918)
- As a result of severe drought in Khera District, Gujarat Sabha, consisting the peasants, submitted petitions to the higher authorities of the province requesting the suspension of the revenue assessment for the year 1919.
- However the government refused to reduce land revenue and insisted on its full collection.
- Gandhiji supported the peasants and advised them to withhold payment of revenue till their demand for its remission was met. Thus, the Kheda Satyagraha was started in March 1919 under the leadership of Gandhiji, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, N.M. Joshi, and several others.
- The peasants of Kheda signed a petition calling for the tax for this year to be scrapped in wake of the famine. They warned that if the peasants did not pay, the lands and property would be confiscated and many arrested. And once confiscated, they would not be returned even if most complied. None of the villages flinched.
- The revolt was astounding in terms of discipline and unity. Gujaratis sympathetic to the revolt in other parts resisted the government machinery, and helped to shelter the relatives and property of the protesting peasants.
- The Government finally sought to foster an honorable agreement for both parties. The tax for the year in question, and the next would be suspended, and the increase in rate reduced, while all confiscated property would be returned.
- Later it was decided that the rich Patidars peasants will pay up the land rent and the poor peasants were granted remissions.
If you have any updates about any days and dates that we should be included in this list of Peasant Movements in India, then please let us know in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.
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