Non-Cooperation Movement 1920-1922

In the previous post, we have read about the Montagu-Chelmsford Reform of 1919. This act increased dissatisfaction among the masses. Gandhi wrote to the Lord Reading to have a look on the pity condition of Indians. But, government was not in the mood of doing anything.

It was because of the World War-I dynamics. Actually, Britain and allied parties won the World War-I. But still, there was after war crisis in Europe. Because of which economic crisis arose in Europe. Obviously, Britain too was affected by this. So, in this condition when Master (Britain) was in trouble and Masses (Indians) were suffering from the exploitation. Gandhi became the leader of masses.

So, from here started the political stunts by Gandhi in India. Why am I saying it as political stunts?? We shall get the answer to this question in the coming paragraphs.

Non-Cooperation Movement

Non-Cooperation Movement of 1920-1922 was the beginning of political stunts in India. Because Gandhi declared Swaraj would be attained in one year by Indians.

Actually, Government was not ready to listen to the sufferings of people. So, in this situation, Gandhi declared to take Swaraj from the government. Though Gandhi was very clear to the fact that this was not going to happen in coming 20 years. Then also he talked about Swaraj because it seems to have the motive to attract the masses.

Non-Cooperation Movement: First Mass Movement

Non-Cooperation Movement proved first true mass movement in India. Because it saw the participation of every section of the India. All the masses participated in the movement with a great enthusiasm. Reasons behind this was,

Swadeshi Movement v/s Non-Cooperation Movement
Swadeshi Movement v/s Non-Cooperation Movement
  • Presence of Gandhi as a Leader. Gandhi understood the feeling of masses and in a true sense, he was the real mass mobiliser.
  • Role of National Educational Council established in 1906.
  • The most important reason was Gandhi took local issues on National Platform.

So, in this way, he succeeded in allying personal interests with National interests. Like,

Personal Interests allied with Non-Cooperation Movement
Personal Interests allied with Non-Cooperation Movement

Nagpur Session of INC 1920

Non-Cooperation Movement proved to be the rebirth of Congress because Nagpur Session of 1920 led to stratification of Congress. The below diagram shows the stratification of Congress.

Stratification of Indian National Congress
Stratification of Indian National Congress

This was the de-meritisation of Indian National Congress. So, Congress from the party of elites turned into Aam-Admi Party. (Not the current one. 😀 ) 😉

Boycott Method of Gandhi

In the Nagpur Session of the INC, Gandhi redefined the boycott method of extremists. The boycott was the weapon of extremists. But Gandhi used it in his own style. Like,

  • Funeral Pyre of foreign goods. This step of Gandhi had such a big impact that import of 1billion from Britain came down to 57 million.
  • National Education became again the target of Gandhi. But this time Gandhi emphasised on Higher Education. So, which led to the establishment of National Colleges. So, in this field, Lala Lajpat Rai was active in Punjab and Subhash Chandra Bose was active in Bengal.
  • Quitting of jobs and profession. In which leaders like Dr Rajendra Prasad, Motilal Nehru, Chitranjan Das left legal practices.

Khilafat Issue

After Mohammad Saheb, Caliph was religious and political head of the Muslims in the entire world. During this time Turkey was the prime seat of Caliph because of the presence of Ottoman Empire. But after the defeat of Ottoman Empire in World War-I, Britain not only misbehaved with Caliph but also snatched away Jerusalem from him.

So, this was the pain for Turkey and Muslims all over the world. Therefore, in India, Ali Brothers, Shaukat Ali and Mohammad Ali started Khilafat Movement in 1919. The first session of this committee held in Allahabad in the same year of Non-Cooperation Movement. So, Gandhi was invited as chief guest.

Here, Gandhi declared, whenever Non-Cooperation Movement would start Khilafat Movement would be a part of it. This was the master stroke by the Gandhi. Because,

Khilafat Movement and Role of Gandhi
Khilafat Movement and Role of Gandhi


Non-Cooperation Movement lasted for the approximately 2years. Actually, Gandhi followed the philosophy of Struggle-Truce-Struggle. So, he wanted to stop the Non-Cooperation movement as it would have taken so long time that people will not remain enthusiastic.

During Ahmedabad Mill Strike, he faced this issue with the mill workers. Mill workers after some time left him alone to fight. Gandhi did not want this to be repeated in case of Non-Cooperation Movement. So, he was searching for the cause to end the Non-Cooperation Movement.

Whereas British Government was facing troubles from all sides. It was because, after the World War-I, they were facing financial crisis. On the other hand, they were facing losses of import of British goods in India due to the Non-Cooperation Movement.

So, British Government was in the mood to crush the Movement due to the presence of Capitalists and Business class. In short, both the Gandhi and Government wanted an issue to dismiss the Non-Cooperation Movement and this reason came with the Chauri-Chaura Episode in Northern Province.

Chauri-Chaura Episode

Chauri-Chaura Incident
Chauri-Chaura Incident

The attack and burning of Police officials in Chauri-Chaura was a step against the government. So, this gave ground to the government to retaliate against the movement. Whereas, it seems Gandhi proved smarter than the government. As Government would take any action, Gandhi himself declared the end of the Non-Cooperation Movement, as he said, “I do not have faith in violence”.

Gandhi faced the brunt of this as he was caught and imprisoned for 6 years (Yervada Jail) on superficial grounds. So, when Boss (Gandhi) leaves the ground/platform, followers (Masses) generally face trouble. Like,

  • When Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana, Buddhism became and religion and got divided into two sects, Hinayana and Mahayana. After some time a new sect also emerged it was Vajrayana.
  • When Mahavira attained Nirvana, Jainism also divided into two sects, Dighambara and Shwetambara.
  • So as in case of Islam. When Mohammad Saheb died, Muslims divided into two sects, Shia and Sunni. The fight between these two sects is well known to all the people. The Central Asia and the Middle East is facing bloody wars because of the rivalry between these two sects.

A similar fate was met by the Congress when Gandhi was imprisoned for 6years. Congress divided into two groups Swarajists and Gandhiates or Pro-changers and No-changers.

In the next coming post, we shall read about the Swarajists and Gandhiates. Till then enjoy learning from past and embrace the present and build strategies for future.

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