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About Gandhi:

Birth: 2nd October 1869 in Porbandar (Gujarat)

Profile: Lawyer, politician, social activist, and writer who became the leader of the nationalist movement against the British rule of India.

Satyagrah: In South Africa (1893-1915), he successfully fought the racist regime with a novel method of mass agitation, which he called satyagraha. The idea of satyagraha emphasized the power of truth and the need to search for truth.

It suggested that if the cause was true, if the struggle was against injustice, then the physical force was not necessary to fight the oppressor. Without seeking vengeance or being aggressive, a satyagrahi could win the battle through nonviolence. Appealing to the oppressor’s conscience could achieve this. It required persuading people, including the oppressors, to see the truth rather than enforcing acceptance through violence.The ultimate triumph of truth was expected to result from the struggle.

The International Day of Non-Violence is observed on 2nd October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.

The authorities award the Gandhi Peace Prize for accomplishing social, economic, and political transformation through non-violence and other Gandhian methods.

Return to India: He returned to India from South Africa on 9th January 1915.

About Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD):

9 January commemorates the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa to India in 1915. To mark this day, the tradition of celebrating Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) started in 2003. 1st PBD Convention was organised on 9 January 2003 to mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community to the development of India.

Since 2015, under a revised format, PBD Convention has been organised once every 2 years.

The 17th PBD Convention will be held from 8 – 10 January 2023 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. The theme of the 17th PBD is “Diaspora: Reliable Partners for India’s Progress in Amrit Kaal”.

Champaran Movement 

Champaran is a district in North Western Bihar.  It formed part of the Tirhut division in the province of Bihar and Orissa in British India. Indigo cultivation in Champaran goes back to the late 18th century. It was in 1813, however, that the first indigo factory was founded at Bara village.

By 1850, indigo had become the predominantly produced crop in Champaran, replacing even sugar.

(Indigo Planter office source: Gandhi in Champaran :D. G Tendulkar)

Reason Behind the Protest in Champaran:

The predominant system of Indigo cultivation in Champaran was the tinkathia system.

 In this, the ryot was under an obligation to cultivate three katas per bigha of his land with indigo i.e., 3/20th of his landholding (1 beegha= 20 katas). 

The indigo factory owners (planters) executed this without legal grounds and solely based on their wishes.

Moreover, post-1900, because of competition from the European synthetic indigo, the indigo factories in Bihar started facing a decline. To escape losses, the planters began canceling their agreements with the ryots to grow indigo. To release them from this obligation, they charged a tawan i.e., damages as high as Rs. 100 per bigha. The authorities made hand notes and mortgage bonds at an interest rate of 12 percent per annum if the ryots were unable to make a cash payment.

Planters also suffered harassment and oppression at the hands of factory servants. All this resulted in demonstrations against indigo cultivation in Champaran twice. First, in 1867 when the tenants of the Lalsariya factory refused to grow indigo. Since the redressal of the grievances was not satisfactory, a second demonstration emerged in 1907-08 which witnessed unrest and violence in Sathi and Bettiah against the tinkathia system.

Pioneer of the Movement:

The resentment surrounding indigo cultivation compelled Raj Kumar Shukla, a well-off agriculturist to persuade Mahatma Gandhi to visit Champaran and work for the oppressed peasants. Along with Brajkishore Prasad, a reputed Bihari lawyer who fought cases for the tenants, Shukla first met Gandhi at Lucknow where he had come to attend the Annual Congress Meet of 1916. Initially, Gandhi seemed unimpressed by both of them and clearly stated that unless he saw the situation for himself, he would not do anything.

He followed Gandhi to Kanpur and Sabarmati. Gandhi finally agreed to visit Champaran. 

(Gandhi and his wife Kasturba Gandhi on their return from South Africa to India in 1915.)

Note: In Champaran Movement Gandhi was assisted by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Anugrah Sinha, Sant Raut, and Pir Younis.

(Sitting (L-R): Rajendra Prasad and Anugrah Narayan Sinha. Standing (L-R): local advocates Ramnavmi Prasad and Shambhusaran Varma.)

Gandhiji and Champaran Satyagraha

Gandhiji, accompanied by Raj Kumar Shukla, arrived in Champaran in 1917. Despite a notice from the District Magistrate to leave, Gandhi disobeyed and faced a summons to court.

Facing the magistrate, Gandhi refused to leave, emphasizing his commitment to humanitarian and national service in Champaran. He urged the crowd to remain peaceful, emphasizing non-violent actions.

Despite the magistrate’s offer to withdraw the case if Gandhi left, he insisted on staying, making Champaran his home. The crowd dispersed peacefully, and the government eventually withdrew the case, allowing Gandhi to remain.

Gandhi, residing in Bettiah village, studied the grievances of peasants by visiting numerous villages. He recorded statements from 8,000 indigo cultivators, identifying ignorance as a key factor in their repression by European planters.

To address economic and educational conditions, Gandhi established the first basic school in Barharwa Lakhansen village. Gandhi established additional schools in Bhitiharwa and Madhuban in West Champaran, aiming to uplift the people.

The government appointed a committee of inquiry in June 1917. The Champaran Agrarian Act of 1917 and executive orders followed, implementing recommendations and providing concessions for rent enhancement limits.


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