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Indigo-Question and answers

Author: Louis Fischer


Long-answer-type questions:

Q.1.How did the Champaran episode prove to be a turning point in Gandhiji’s life? Explain with the reference to the text, ‘Indigo’.

Ans: Gandhiji recounts that it was the year 1916, when he was approached by a peasant, Rajkumar Shukla from Champaran during the annual meeting of the Indian National Congress in Lucknow. He wished Gandhiji to visit his state and look into the condition of sharecroppers there. Gandhiji learned that the areas of Champaran districts were divided into large estates owned by English men and were worked by the Indians worked as their tenant farmers and they had to pay 15 % of their land. Gandhiji reached their and started by trying to get together all the facts and met with resistance from the British. After the investigates by Gandhiji and the lawyers into the grievances of the farmers, it was decided by the Britishers that 25% of the money would be refunded. Gandhiji accepted the money offered to the farmer as refund even though he had demanded 50 % and thus the deadlock was broken. The farmers learnt that they too had rights and they became courageous. Within a few years the landlords relinquished their claims over the estates, which reverted back to the farmers.

Now Gandhiji embarked on a programme to reform the economic and cultural backwardness of the area. He appointed volunteers to teach the villagers. Kasturba taught the Ashram rules and personal cleanliness and community sanitation. He got a doctor to volunteer his services for six months to improve the health conditions of the people. They realized the value of self reliance. Some of Gandhiji’s and lawyer friends thought that it would be a good idea of Charles Free Andrews, an English pacifist, who was a devoted follower of Gandhiji and on a farewell visit, should stay and help.Gandhiji strongly opposed it. If they get an English man on their sides it would show the weakness of their heart. They must rely on themselves to win the battle. The Champaran episode gave Gandhiji self confidence, direction and an impetus to launch freedom movement throughout India. Thus this episode was a turning point in his life as well in India.

Q.2. How do we know that ordinary people too contributed to the freedom movement?

Ans: For the success of any movement, cooperation and participation of all is must. They make the movement not only a success but also lead to the pinnacle. When the peasants knew about Gandhiji, they reached Muzzafarpur. Gandhiji was ordered to appear in Motihari court on the following morning. Then the multitude of peasants blackened the town of Motihari. They knew that the Gandhiji, who wanted to help them, was in trouble with the authorities. It was perhaps the first kind of spontaneous demonstration of Indian against the Britishers. Seeing the situation beyond control, they sought his help to regulate the unprecedented crowd. The government was baffled. It has such an impact on the Government that the civil disobedience won for the first time in 1917 in modern India.

Side by side the Government had to appoint an official inquiry commission to find out the atrocities done over the peasants. As a result, the owners had to refund the money. This opened the eyes of all. People from every nook and corner of India participated in the freedom movement. Women too gave up their homely comforts and worked with their leader. There were mass movements like freedom struggle, salt movement, quit India movement, civil disobedience, satyagraha and the boycott of foreign goods, etc. Ordinary people were there at the back and call of their leader. Consequently, India became free on 15th August, 1947.


Short-answer questions:

Q.1.Why is Rajkumar Shukla described as being ‘resolute’?

Ans: Rajkumar Shukla is described as being ‘resolute’ because he was fully determined to take Ganhiji to Bihar. Being an illiterate and poor share-copper from Champaran, he had come to apprise and complain Gandhiji about the injustice of the land lord system. He was accompanied Ganhiji everywhere. Gandhiji was very much impressed by his tenacity and fixed time for Calcutta. Months passed in waiting, Shukla was sitting on his haunches at the fixed place in Calcutta, till Ganhiji was free. Finally both boarded a train to Patna.

Q.2. Why do you think the servants thought Gandhi to be another peasant?

Ans: Ganhiji and Rajkumar Shukla both reached the city of Patna. He led Gandhiji to the house of Rajendra Prasad. He was out of town. His servants knew Shukla as a poor sharecropper from Champaran who troubled Prasad to take up the cause of indigo. Gandhi went there with Shukla for the first time. So they took him to be another peasant.

Q.3. Why did Gandhi had to chide the lawyers of Muzzafarpur?


Why did Gandhi conclude that the lawyers should stop going to the courts?                     

Ans: During his stay at Muzzafarpur Lawyers told about the cases of poor peasants. They told about their cases and the size of fee. Gandhi chided them for collecting big fees from the sharecroppers. He suggested them to stop going to the law courts. He pointed out that the peasants were poor and fear stricken. It was urgent to make them free from fear.

Q.4. How did the development of German synthetic indigo became a source of great trouble in Champaran?

Ans: The British planters learnt of the synthetic indigo prepared in Germany. It was cheaper than the natural indigo. Being unprofitable the landlords wanted to free the peasants from the 15% agreement. For this they demanded compensation. Some signed willingly. Those who opposed engaged lawyers and the planters hired thugs. The illegal and deceitful collection of money started the trouble.

Q.5. How did we know that ordinary people too contributed to the freedom movement?

Ans: The success of the battle of Champaran, paved the path of the Indians to participate in the freedom movement. Women gave up their honestly comforts and worked with their leader. There were mass movements like freedom struggle, salt movement, Quit India movement and Satyagraha. These came ordinary people at the back and call of Gandhiji.

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