Why the Rowlatt Act was considered harmful to Indians?

            The Rowlatt Act was the legislation passed by the Imperial Legislative Council, and it was officially named as the Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act. It was passed on March 18th, 1919. The act was based on the report of Rowlatt committee, and it was also named after its president, British judge, Sir Sidney Rowlatt.



            The act aroused protests among Indians. It endangered the basic civil rights of people who participated in political activities against the government. This act gave enormous powers to the police for inspection and to arrest any person on any grounds without a warrant. It aimed at curtailing the freedom of the Indian citizens, and to suppress any nationalist uprising in the country.

The act injured the civil rights and even the nationality of the Indians. Gandhiji was extremely critical of this act. It caused the government to enact repressive measures against the Indian citizens.


Why did Gandhiji support the Khilafat Movement?

          When Gandhiji entered the Indian political scene, there was great communal disharmony among the people. Gandhiji asserted that Indians should be united to fight against the mighty imperial power of the British. It was in this background that the Khilafat issue came up.

          After Turkey was defeated in the First World War, its territories were divided among European powers. The Ottoman emperor in Turkey was also the Sultan-Khalifa of the global Muslim community. There was great worry among the Indian Muslims over the fate of the holy places of Islam which were under the custodianship of the Khalifa. Gandhiji feared that their resentment would turn into violent channels and he wanted to prevent this. Therefore, he offered to lead the Muslim community on this issue, if they accepted his nonviolent methods. His decision to help the Khilafat Movement was questioned by many. After the termination of the Khilafat Movement when Turkey gained a more favourable diplomatic position, communal riots started in many places in India, much to the displeasure of Gandhiji. 

Why did Gandhiji support the British in World War I?



          Many Indian soldiers flocked to participate in World War I. It was for them Gandhiji extended his support. This was partly due to the promise of the British government to reciprocate by supporting the Indian dream of Swaraj, after the end of World War I.

          The largely relocated Indian soldiers fought along with British soldiers. They struggled in numerous areas like Mesopotamia and Europe. Many lost their lives in the battles.

          Britain and her allies emerged victorious. But Indians lost their hearts as the British retreated from their promise of self-government after World War I. Instead of self-government, they offered minor reforms, but most of them were disappointing to Gandhiji and his followers. In short, Indians felt embittered.

          Then, it became clearer to Gandhiji and his men that the British would not free India, at any cost. 

Why is it said that Gandhiji’s first achievements came in Champaran?



The Champaran and Kheda agitations of Bihar and Gujarat in 1918 were the first golden feathers in Gandhiji’s crown.

What was the Champaran agitation? It was piloted by the local agrarians of Champaran in Bihar. They were enforced to cultivate indigo, whose demand had been declining over two decades and were forced to sell their crops at a fixed price.

Unhappy by this condition, they asked for Gandhiji’s help. Gandhiji proclaimed civil disobedience and his fight for justice was rewarded. The government compelled the landholders to refund a portion of the rent to the farmers and the enforcement on indigo cultivation was also abolished.

The Kheda Agitation took place when Kheda was affected by famine in 1918 and planters were demanding liberation from the levies.

Gandhiji, along with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel battled for this cause, using non-cooperation as a weapon. The deadlock lasted for five months as the authorities were not ready to compromise.

But finally, at the end of May 1918, the government relaxed the conditions of imbursement of the taxes up until the famine ended.


Why is it said that Gopal Krishna Gokhale had a remarkable influence on Gandhiji’s life?

            Gopal Krishna Gokhale was a social and political leader of the Congress party, known for his restraint and moderation and his determination to work inside the system. Gandhiji admired Gokhale a lot and his liberal outlook impressed him very much. Gandhiji knew Gokhale from his South African days. When he came back to India, Gandhiji went to see Gokhale. Gokhale urged him to get a better understanding of India’s present status and problems, so that he could practice Satyagraha in the Indian struggle for freedom.

            In his autobiography Gandhiji talked about Gokhale as his greatest supporter and guide. Gandhiji had an admiration for Gokhale being a political leader as well. He respected the principles of Gokhale. Gandhiji described Gokhale as being pure as crystal, gentle as a lamb, brave as a lion and chivalrous to a fault. But, regardless of Gandhiji’s extreme reverence for Gokhale, he also had differences of opinion with him. 

When did Gandhiji come to India from South Africa?



          Gandhiji was a popular figure when he returned to India from South Africa. He returned along with his family in 1915. He received a warm welcome from his people.

          Gandhiji was not aware of the existing conditions and key problems in India. So, he was certain to not to campaign for the rights of Indians until he got to know the context clearly. Gandhiji built an ashram at Sabarmati in the heart of Ahmadabad. About 200 people including men and women promised to live in the ashram, according to the principles of Gandhiji. They had to follow a simple vegetarian diet, with prayer and social service. There were no luxuries. Weaving was their major vocation. Gandhiji encompassed the castaways also. This caused great disapproval among the inhabitants of the ashram itself.

          Even in the contemporary world, there are ashrams around India, where people still follow the Gandhian philosophy of life. 

Why is it said that Gandhiji was greatly influenced by John Ruskin?

               John Ruskin and his magnum opus ‘Unto This Last’ was an influential force in Gandhiji’s life. Ruskin argued in his writing that true wealth is not earning more and more money but accustomed more to peace in one’s life. He also held that being peaceful is more imperative than being powerful.

               Motivated by this idea, Gandhiji began a farm outside Durban -the Phoenix settlement. It was Gandhiji’s first experimental ashram. In the ashram, Gandhiji and his supporters lived a life of no luxuries. They cultivated and ran a printing press for the Indians to express their opinions. They published a weekly journal founded by Gandhiji. It featured informative articles on various topics like politics, diet, health and sanitary habits. 



               The Tolstoy Farm was another community started by Gandhiji near Johannesburg. Gandhiji urged proper hygiene in his ashrams, as he believed that being hygienic is important for a healthy spiritual life. 

Why is it said that Satyagraha as a weapon was first experimented in South Africa?





             Gandhiji was an ardent believer of Satyagraha as a powerful weapon. The word Satyagraha means truth-force. It embraces civil disobedience and a relentless pursuit for truth and peace. This inspirational concept, which completely changed the face of Indian struggle for independence, was first tested in South Africa. Gandhiji proposed certain rules for satyagrahis to follow. He trained the Indians during the South African passive resistance campaign. In short, this was a trial run for his future campaigns.

            No worship of violence and belief in suffering the insults patiently etc. are the mottos of a satyagrahi. Satyagraha does not aim at humiliating rivals, but aims to soften their heart by peace. Satyagraha was fruitful in South Africa and along with this, Gandhiji practiced self-reliance. It was compulsory for him that his family should also be self-reliant. He used to wash his cloths by himself. He cut his own hair and that of his children as well.

            In short, it is clear that the Indian freedom struggle was a much bigger test for Gandhiji and his idea of Satyagraha. 

Why is it said that the Indian Ambulance Corps formed by Gandhiji did a commendable service during the Boer War?

            Gandhiji raised an ambulance corps during the Boer War. The corps comprised of 1,100 volunteers, out of them, 300 were free Indians and the rest were bonded labourers. It was a heterogeneous group that included barristers, accountants, artisans and workers. They were used as stretcher bearers. Indians were of great support to the British. The service they delivered in the Battle of Spion Kop was laudable.

            It was Gandhi’s mission to instigate in them the essence of service mindedness to their oppressors. In the Zulu campaign also, Gandhiji helped the government by organizing another Indian ambulance corps. They had to parade up to 64 kilometres a day to nurse a chain of beaten and injured Zulus. Many Indian leaders were awarded the Queen’s South Africa medal for their selfless service in the Boer War. 

Who fought the Boer War?




        Do you know who the Boers are? ‘Boer’ is the Dutch word for farmer. It was used to designate the progenies of the Dutch speaking settlers of the Eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 18th century.

          Boer War was fought between the British and Boers. This war was a symbol of the imperialistic greed of the British over its colonies. The British decided to mine gold and diamonds in the land of Boers. The Boers became so offended by this decision, that they declared a war against the British. Eventually, the Boers lost the war against the British.

          Surprisingly, the Indians in South Africa, along with Gandhiji, supported the British, during the war, though they sympathized with the condition of the Boers.

          This was because they believed that only then could they survive or earn their rights in the territory of Britain. The services provided by the Indians in the Warfield were appreciated by the British officers. 

Why is it said that the place called Natal, and the Natal Indian Congress shaped Gandhiji as a leader?

            Gandhiji while living in a place called Natal in South Africa, founded an organization known as the Natal Indian Congress. He was a tireless secretary of the congress. The prime aim of the congress was to unify Indians and make them aware of their rights. They struggled against the discrimination Indians faced at the hands of British. The constitution of the organization was officially launched on 22nd August,1894.

            In its infant years, the Natal Indian Congress submitted many petitions for changes in the discriminatory laws. Gandhiji imparted a harmonious spirit in the diverse Indian community. He plied all the government offices, legislature and the media with logical statements of the grievances of the Indian community. Gandhiji and his organization stood for the cause of the upliftment of the Indian working class. Thus it became a burning issue in newspapers like ‘The Times of London’ and ‘Englishman’ of Calcutta. 

Why is it said that a train journey in South Africa changed Gandhiji’s life forever?




           Gandhiji got to know about the condition of Indians living there and soon, he experienced the horror of the conditions himself.

            One day, Gandhiji was on a business trip from Durban to Pretoria. He purchased a first class ticket. Soon after Gandhi settled into the first-class carriage, a European passenger on that train complained to the conductor that an Indian was on board. This white man was very reluctant to share his compartment with Gandhiji. Gandhiji was told to move out of the compartment. He was pushed out of the train by the railway officials, along with his luggage.

            Gandhiji spent the whole night in the station, shivering in the cold. He then took the firm decision to fight against racial discrimination. This journey was a turning point in the life of Gandhiji.


What was the condition of Indians in South Africa like, at the time of Gandhiji’s arrival?

            Racial discrimination was common in the then South African society. Thousands of people were denied their basic rights on the basis of their skin colour. Indians migrated to South Africa to work in the British plantations and farms. The driving force behind their migration was mainly monetary benefits, but the condition of the Indians was very poor compared to their lives in India. They had to struggle to get a meager amount of money and even a loaf of bread.

            But some of them were able to overcome these struggles and become as successful as the whites and they became a source of fear for the whites. The whites tried hard to exterminate the Indians in many ways. Various laws were introduced to attack the Indians and to curtail their fundamental rights. This racial segregation in a way touched every aspect of their life. Indians were given the status of ‘coolies’. Merchants were mocked as coolie merchants. For pretty long years, coloured people could ride only in third class cars on South African trains.


How did Gandhiji land up in South Africa?

               After his return from London, Gandhiji hunted for a job. He moved to Bombay, hoping to build up a career, but he could not find success there as a lawyer. Life became even more troublesome when he tried to be a part of a court case related to his brother, Laxmidas. That is when he received a job offer from an Indian business firm in South Africa named Dada Abdulla & Co. He had no choice other than to accept it.

               He started his journey to South Africa in April, 1893. This was a turning point in his life. He came to finish a single assignment, but was to stay there for twenty-one years.

               On reaching South Africa, he was horrified to realize the condition of Indians there. This was a time when many Indians in Africa were deprived of their fundamental rights, because of their skin colour. While practicing law, Gandhiji began to work for the Indians in South Africa. 

How did Gandhiji overcome the initial difficulties in England?

          In simple words, Gandhiji overcame these initial difficulties with sheer willpower. He made efforts to blend into the ways of English society.

          He tried to modify his attire. He even asked his brother to send him a gold watch and made changes in his hairstyle by parting it. Gandhiji also collected a top hat, evening suit and walking stick.

          Can you believe that in spite of his meager budget, he signed for dance lessons which he quit later, as he could not cope with them?

          He thought that mastering the violin was a better option, so he invested money in that. He even attended classes in public speaking.

          He also decided to take up the London matriculation exam with his studies. But the courses at University College London were not simple.

          Gandhiji finally passed his law examinations in January, 1891 and enrolled as a barrister. Thus his student years in London came to an end and he sailed for India on 12th June, 1891.