Peasant Movements in India – History Study Material & Notes

Peasant Movements in India – History Study Material & Notes -Peasant Movements in India – All About peasants movements Happened in Indian history .

Peasant Movements in India – History Study Material & Notes

For benefit of aspirants of various exams where general studies form a part of syllabus, the following quick notes for peasant movements in India will be very beneficial for revision. Please keep visiting this section for regular updates in study material.Peasant Movements in India – History Study Material & Notes

Under colonialism, Indian peasantry was impoverished and suffered from variety of problems like high rents, arbitrary evictions, illegal tax levies and unpaid labour in zamindari regions. Eventually, the peasants started to resist this exploitation and took desperate measures at several places. these activities came to be known as peasant uprisings or peasant movements in India during the freedom struggle from 1857-1947.

Peasant Movements in India – History Study Material & Notes

The Indigo Revolt (1859-60):

  • It was directed against European planters who exploited the local peasants by forcing them to take advances and sign fraudulent contracts according to which the peasants were compelled to grow Indigo, rather than the more profitable rice.
  • The revolt began in Govindpur village in Nadia district, Bengal and was led by Digambar Biswas and Bishnu Biswas who organised the peasants into a counter force to deal with the planters lathiyals (armed retainers).
  • In April 1860 all the cultivators of the Barasat sub­division and in the districts of Pabna and Nadia resorted to strike. They refused to sow any indigo. The strike spread to other places in Bengal. The revolt enjoyed the support of all categories of the rural population, missionaries and the Bengal intelligentsia.
  • This was vividly portrayed by Deen Bandhu Mitra in his play, Neel Darpan enacted in 1869.
  • It led to the appointment of an Indigo Commission in 1860 by the government by which some of the abuses of Indigo cultivation was removed.Peasant Movements in India – History Study Material & Notes

II. The Pabna Movement (1872-76):

  • The peasantry in East Bengal was oppressed by the zamindars.
  • They frequently evicted, harassed, and arbitrarily enhanced the rent through ceases (abwabs) and use of force.
  • The zamindars also prevented the peasants from acquiring the Occupancy rights under the Act of 1859.
  • In the Yusuf zahi Pargana of Pabna district, Bengal, an Agrarian League was formed in May 1873.
  • The tenants refused the enhanced payments and the peasants showed legal resistance against the zamindars in the courts.

III. The Deccan Peasants Uprising (1875):

  • The Deccan peasants uprising was directed mainly against the excesses of the Marwari and Gujarati money lenders.
  • Social boycott of moneylenders by the peasants was later transformed into armed peasant revolt in the Poona and Ahmadnagar districts of Maharashtra.
  • The peasants attacked the moneylender’s houses, shops and burnt them down.
  • Their chief targets were the bond documents, deeds and decrees that the money lenders held against them.
  • By June 1875 nearly a thousand peasants were arrested and the uprising completely suppressed.
  • The Government appointed the Deccan Riots Commission to investigate into the causes of the uprising.
  • The ameliorative measure passed was the Agriculturists Relief Act of 1879 which put restrictions on the operations of the peasants land and prohibited imprisonment of the peasants of the Deccan for failure to repay debts to the moneylenders.

IV. The Punjab Peasants Discontent (1890-1900):

  • Peasant discontent in Punjab occurred due to rural indebtedness and the large scale alienation of agricultural land for non-cultivating classes.
  • The Punjab Land Alienation Act, 1900 was passed to prohibited the sale and mortgage of lands from peasants to moneylenders. This gave Punjab peasants partial relief against oppressive land revenue demand by the authorities.

V. The Champaran Satyagraha (1917):

  • The peasantry on the indigo plantations in the Champaran district of Bihar was excessively oppressed by the European planters. They were compelled to grow indigo on at least 3/20th of their land (tinkathia system) and to sell it at prices fixed by the planters.
  • Accompanied by Babu Rajendra Prasad, Mazhar -ul-Huq, J.B. Kripalani, Narhari Parekhand Mahadev Desai, Gandhiji reached Champaran in 1917 and began to conduct a detailed inquiry into the condition of the peasantry.
  • The infuriated district officials ordered him to leave Champaran, but he defied the order and was willing to face trial and imprisonment.
  • Later the Government developed cold feet and appointed an Enquiry Committee (June 1917) with Gandhiji as one of the members.
  • The ameliorative enactment, the Champaran Agrarian Act freed the tenants from the special imposts levied by the indigo planters.

VI. The Kheda Satyagraha (1918):

  • The Kheda campaign took place in Kheda district of Gujarat directed against the Government.
  • In 1918, the crops failed in the Kheda districts in Gujarat due to low rains but the government refused to let go of the land revenue and insisted on its full collection of revenue.
  • M. Gandhi along with Vallabhai Patel came in support of the peasants and led them to withhold all revenue payment till their demand for remission was fulfilled.
  • By June 1918, Government had to concede the demands of the satyagrahi peasants.

VII. The Moplah Rebellion (1921):

  • In August 1921, peasant discontent erupted in the Malabar district of Kerala.
  • Here Moplah (Muslim) tenants rebelled.
  • Their grievances related to lack of any security of tenure, renewal fees, high rents, and other oppressive landlord exactions.
  • In 1920, the Khilafat Movement took over the tenant rights agitation (which had been going on in the Malabar region since 1916) after the Congress Conference held at Manjeri in April 1920. The arrest of established leaders of the Congress and the Khilafat movement left the field clear for radical leaders.
  • In the first stage of the rebellion, the targets of attack were the unpopular jenmies (landlords), mostly Hindu, the symbols of Government authority such as courts, police stations, treasuries and offices, and British planters.
  • But once the British declared martial law and repression began in earnest, the character of the rebellion underwent a definite change. It took communal tones because the class divide approximated the communal divide. The movement was severely depressed by December 1921

The Bardoli Satyagraha (1928):

  • The Bardoli Satyagraha (1928) in the state of Gujarat, India was a major episode of civil disobedience and revolt in the Indian Independence Movement. Its success gave rise to Vallabhbhai Patel as one of the greatest leaders of the independence struggle.
  • In surat district , the Bardoli taluk was the centre of this intensely politicised peasant movement.
  • It was led by Vallabhai Patel.
  • The locals gave him the title of “Sardar” for his leadership.
  • Under Patel, the Bardoli peasants resolved to refuse payments of the revised assessment until the Government appointed an independent tribunal or accepted the current amount as full payment.
  • Bardoli Satyagraha Patrika was brought out to mobilise public opinion.
  • An intelligence wing was set up to make sure all the tenants followed the movement’s resolutions.
  • Those who opposed the movement faced a social boycott.
  • Special emphasis was placed on the mobilisation of women.
  • K.M. Munshi and Lalji Naranji resigned from the Bombay Legislative Council in support of the movement.
  • By August 1928, massive tension had built up in the area. There were prospects of a railway strike in Bombay.
  • Gandhi reached Bardoli to stand by in case of any emergency.
  • The Government was looking for a graceful withdrawal now.
  • It set the condition that first the enhanced rent be paid by all the occupants (not actually done).
  • Then, a committee went into the whole affair and found the revenue hike to be unjustified and recommended a rise of 6.03 per cent only.

IX. Tebhaga Movement (1946):

  • In Bengal rich farmers (Jotedars) leased the farms to sharecroppers known as Bargadar or Bagchasi or Adhyar.
  • The Flood Commission, had recommended tebhaga, under that the Bargadars (sharecropper) should get 2/3 of crop share and the Jotedar (landlord) should get 1/3rd of crop produce share.
  • Tebhaga movement was aimed at getting the recommendations of Flood Commission implemented through mass struggle.
  • It was led by – Bengal Provincial Kisan Sabha, against the zamindars, rich farmers (Jotedars), moneylenders, local bureaucrats and Traders.
  • The main slogan of the movement was – ” nij kamare dhan tolo”.
  • The Muslim league government led by the Suharwardy introduced the Bargardari Bill along with repression by force.
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