Indigo by Louis Fischer
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INDIGO By :Louis Fischer POINTS TO REMEMBER: Rajkumar Shukla- A poor sharecrooper from Champaran wishing to meet Gandhiji. - Raj Kumar Shukla- an illiterate but resolute hence followed Gandhiji Lucknow, Cawnpore, Ahemdabad, Calcutta, Patna, Muzzafarpur & then Champaran. - Servents at Rajendra Prasad’s residence thought Gandhiji to be an untouchable. - Gandhiji considered as an untouchable because of simple living style and wearing, due to the company of Rajkumar Shukla. - Decided to go to Muzzafarpur first to get detailed information about Champaran sharecropper. - Sent telegram to J B Kriplani &stayed in Prof Malkani home- a government servant. - Indians afraid to show sympathy to the supporters of home rule. - The news of Gandhiji’s arrival spread- sharecroppers gathered in large number to meet their champion. - Gandhiji chided the Muzzafarpur lawyer for taking high fee. Champaran district was divided into estate owned by English people, Indians only tenant farmers. - Landlords compelled tenants to plant 15% of their land with indigo and surrender their entire harvest as rent. - In the meantime Germany had developed synthetic indigo –British landlords freed the Indian farmers from the 15% arrangement but asked them to pay compensation. - Many signed, some resisted engaged lawyers, and landlords hired thugs. - Gandhiji reached Champaran- visited the secretary of the British landlord association to get the facts but denied as he was an outsider. - Gandhiji went to the British Official Commissioner who asked him to leave Trihut, Gandhiji disobeyed, went to Motihari the capital of Champaran where a vast multitude greeted him, continued his investigations. - Visited maltreated villagers, stopped by the police superintendent but disobeyed the order. - Motihari black with peasants spontaneous demonstrations, Gandhiji released without bail Civil Disobedience triumphed. - Gandhiji agreed to 25% refund by the landowners, it symbolized the surrender of the prestige. - Gandhiji worked hard towards social economic reforms, elevated their distress aided by his wife, Mahadev Desai, Narhari Parikh. - Gandhiji taught a lesson of self reliance by not seeking help of an English man Mr. Andrews. NCERT QUESTIONS SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS Q1 Why is Rajkumar Shukla described as being ‘resolute’? Ans. Rajkumar Shukla ,an illiterate sharecropper, came all the way from Champaran district to Lucknow to invite Gandhi to visit his district. When Gandhi mentioned about his prior
engagements to go to Cawnpore and other parts of India, Shukla accompanied him everywhere. He also followed Gandhi to his ashram and stayed there for weeks till Gandhi asked him to meet him at Calcutta. Because of his strong will power and determination, he is described as being ‘resolute’. Q2.Why do you think the servants thought Gandhiji to be another peasant? Ans. As Gandhi was in the company of Rajkumar Shukla ,a poor yeoman ,the servants at Rajendra Prasad’s house assumed that he was another peasant. Moreover ,Gandhi’s emaciated looks and simplicity could have led to his mistaken identity. Q3.List the places that Gandhi visited between his first meeting with Shukla and his arrival at Champaran. Ans.Between his first meeting with Shukla and his arrival at Champaran ,Gandhi visited Cawnpur ,Calcutta ,Patna and Muzaffarpur. Q4.What did the peasants pay to the British landlords as rent? What did the British now want instead and why? What would be the impact of synthetic indigo on the prices of natural indigo? Ans. The British landlords compelled the peasants to plant 15% of the land with indigo and to surrender the entire harvest as rent. Now that Germany had developed synthetic indigo ,Britishers wanted the tenants to pay them compensation for being released from 15% agreement. As the demand of the natural indigo would reduce due to the advent of synthetic indigo, its price would go down. Q5.Why did Gandhi agree to a settlement of 25 percent refund to the farmers? Gandhi agreed to a settlement of 25% refund to the farmers to break the deadlock between the landlords and the tenants. For Gandhi the amount of the refund was less important than the fact that the landlords had been forced to return part of the money and with it, part of the peasants’ prestige. He wanted to establish that the landlords were not lords above law and their rule could be challenged. Q6.How did the episode change the plight of the peasants? The Champaran episode made the peasants aware of their rights and taught them courage. Apart from getting 25 percent of their compensation they got back their prestige. Within few years ,the British planters abandoned their estates , which reverted to the peasants. Indigo sharecropping disappeared. Q 7 How was Gandhi able to influence lawyers? Give instances Gandhi chided the lawyers for charging hefty fee from the peasants to fight their case. Later his words encouraged the lawyers to court arrest in case he was arrested. He also dissuaded
them from seeking Charles Andrews’ assistance in their battle against the injustice of the Britishers in order to be self reliant.
Q8.What was the attitude of the average Indian in smaller localities towards advocates of ‘home rule’? Being afraid of inviting the wrath of the Britishers, the average Indian in small localities were reluctant to show any sympathy towards the advocates of ‘home rule’. LONG ANSWER QUESTIONS Q 1 Why do you think Gandhi considered the Champaran episode to be a turning point in his life? Ans. The Champaran episode began as an attempt to alleviate the distress of a large number of poor peasants. But it became a turning point in Gandhi’ life.It build up Gandhi confidence that the British rulers could be made to bend and concede a popular demand. He declared that British could not order him in his own country. It was during this struggle in 1917 that he decided to urge the departure of the British. When he came to Champaran, he was appalled to see fear –stricken peasants and injustice of landlord system in Chamaparan. His readiness to go to jail for the sake of seeking justice instilled courage among ordinary people and motivated the lawyers for court arrest . He led civil disobedience by refusing to leave Champaran even after he got the official notice. Civil disobedience triumphed for the first time when the case for disregarding the official order against him was dropped. Britisher’s agreement to pay 25 percent of the compensation made him and the peasants confident. It made the peasants realise that they had rights and defenders and he established that the authority of the British could be challenged. He taught the lawyers a lesson of self reliance by dissuading them from seeking the assistance from an English man, Charles Andrew. Gandhi never contended himself with larger and political solutions. He also made endeavour to bring about cultural and social upliftment in the village. Q2.How do we know that ordinary people too contributed to the freedom movement? The author mentions several ordinary people who contributed to the freedom movement. Rajkumar Shukla was instrumental in arranging Gandhi’s visit to Champaran. Proffesssor Malkani , despite being a government servant, harboured Gandhi when he arrived at Muzzafarpur. When the news of Gandhi’s advent spread through Muzzafarpur and Champaran , Sharecroppers from Champaran began arriving on foot to see their champion.Their gathering in huge number at Motihari was the beginning of their freedom from the fear of the British. The lawyers also agreed to court arrest in case Gandhi went to Jail. Gandhi and the lawyers conducted a detailed inquiry into the grievances of the farmers. They prepared cases for about ten thousand peasants and collected relevant documents.
Moreover the masses volunteered to help in bringing cultural and social reforms in the village. The two young men ,Mahadev Desai and Narihari Parikh and their views volunteered to work. Several people came from Bombay ,Poona and other distant parts of the land. Devadas ,Gandhi’s youngest son arrived from the asharam. Kasturbai taught ashram rules on personal cleanliness and community sanitation. EXTRA QUESTIONS SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS Q1.Why did Rajkumar Shukla go to meet Gandhi? (CBSE 2008) Ans. Rajkumar Shukla came to meet Gandhi at the December1916 Congress Session in Luknow to complain about the injustice of the landlord system of Bihar and to invite him to visit his district. Q2. What was the conflict of duties in which Gandhi was involved? (Question Bank ,NCT) Ans. In court, Gandhi pleaded guilty for having disobeyed the official notice to quit Champaran. He read out a statement claiming he was involved in a conflict of duties. He clarified that he disobeyed not to break law and set a bad example but to render the humanitarian and national services for which he had come to Champaran.
Q3.When did Gandhi say ‘The battle of Champaran is won ? (Question Bank ,NCT) Ans. When the lawyers reconsidered their decision about their course of action in case of Gandhi’s arrest and volunteered to court arrest for the cause of sharecroppers, Gandhi felt pleased and said ‘The battle of Champaran is won’ Q4. “Civil disobedience had triumphed the first time in India” . How did it happen ? (Question Bank ,NCT) Ans.When Gandhi disobeyed official order to quit Champaran , a case was initiated against him for disregarding the orders. The spontaneous demonstration of thousands of peasants around the courtroom baffled the officials. Not knowing how to handle the case , the judge postponed the judgement for few days. Then finally few days later, the case was dropped by Lieutenant Governor himself.So civil disobedience triumphed for the first time in India. Q5 What did Gadhiji say to his friends when they suggested that Charles Andrews should be retained for the sake of the Champaran movement ? (Question Bank ,NCT) Ans.Gandhi vehemently opposed the lawyer’s suggestion to seek Andrew’s assistance and said that taking the support of an Englishman would reveal the weakness of their hearts. He urged his friends to rely upon themselves to win the battle.
LONG ANSWER QUESTIONS Q1 Justify the appropriateness of the title ‘Indigo’ to this extract. The title ‘Indigo’ focuses our attention on the central issue of the chapter –exploitation of indigo sharecroppers at the hands of cruel British planters. Britishers compelled them through a long term agreement to plant indigo on 15 percent of their land and surrender the entire harvest as rent. After the development of synthetic indigo by Germany , The British planters extracted money from the peasants as compensation from being released from the 15 percent agreement. The peasants who wanted their money back filed civil suits. Rajkumar Shukla persuaded Gandhi to take up the case of Indigo sharecroppers. So indigo sharecropping exemplifies the injustice of the Britishers and Indians’ submission to British authority. The exploitation of indigo sharecroppers led Gandhi to arrive in Champaran to alleviate their distress. Peasants not only got back the compensation but also became courageous and confident. They learnt the lesson of self reliance. The Champaran movement that centred on indigo sharecropping led to social and cultural upliftment of the peasants.Their education , health and hygiene received due attention. Thus the title ‘Indigo’ is highly suggestive and appropriate. Q2 How did Gandhi use Satyagraha and non-violence to achieve his goal? Ans. Non violence and satyagraha were the weapons used by Gandhi to secure justice for oppressed peasants of Champaran. He adopted legal ,moral and democratic path of negotiation. Gandhi refused to leave Tirhut division in which Chamaparan district lay despite being told by the British official commissioner to do so. Later he defied the official order to leave Chamaparan for which he received summon to appear in the court. When the British authorities could not regulate the unmanageable crowd at Motihari , he pacified the crowd in polite and friendly way. Thus he gave concrete proof of the power of satyagraha and non violence. In the court he clarified that he did not want to set a bad example as a law breaker but intended to render humanitarian and national service..His convincing argumentation baffled the magistrate who released him without the bail. Later he fought the case of the peasants peacefully by collecting evidences and the documents pertaining to the case. When the Britishers agreed to pay the compensation he peacefully negotiated with the landlords and accepted 25 percent of the amount due. So the peasants got a partial refund of the compensation with the use of satyagraha and nonviolence. Q3. How did Rajkumar Shukla prove to be an important link between Gandhi and his Champaran campaign?
Rajkumar shukla was a poor and emaciated sharecropper from Champaran. Though he was poor and illiterate he was determined to oppose the injustice of the British planters. He used to seek legal recourse to get justice and was in constant touch with Rajendra Prasad ,an eminent lawyer. He came to December 1916 annual convention of the Indian National Congress party in Lucknow to meet Gandhi as someone had told him that Gandhi Gandhi could give a solution to their problems. He complained about the injustice of landlord system in Bihar and invited Gandhi to visit his district. When Gandhi mentioned about his prior engagements to go to Cawnpore and other parts of India, Shukla showed tremendous patience and perseverance and accompanied him everywhere. He also followed Gandhi to his ashram and stayed there for weeks. Impressed by his determination and tenacity Gandhi promised to meet him at Calcutta on a particular date. Few months later Shukla arrived at Calcutta and took him to Champaran. So, Rajkuma Shukla’s strong will power and painstaking efforts were instrumental in arranging Gandhi’s visit to Champaran and thus improving the plight of the poor peasants.