General Studies Paper 1 (Modern History): Civil Disobedience Movement


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Syllabus: General Studies Paper 1 (Modern History)


In what way did the Civil Disobedience Movement influence different provinces of India? How did it foster peasant movement in India? Explain.


The civil disobedience movement of 1930-31, then marked a critically important stage in the progress of the anti-imperialist struggle .Under the leadership of Gandhiji, the Civil Disobedience Movement was launched in 1930. It began with the Dandi March.  Gandhiji protested against the Salt Law (salt was a monopoly of the government and no one was allowed to make salt) by making slat himself and throwing up a challenge to the British government. There was agitation against land revenue, abolition of salt tax, cutting down military expenditure, levying duty on foreign cloth, among others, throughout India.


Factors responsible for Civil disobedience movement:

  • Social and political situation:
    • The unrest social and political situation helped in launching of civil disobedience movement.
  • Anti simon commission:
    • this commission which was formed by British government o 1927 to formalize constitution of India which was fully of British members, due to this Indian national congress and other political and social organisations rejected the commission and named it  as  white commission.
  • Nehru report rejection:
    • In 1928 A new constitution was prepared by the committee which was headed by Motilal Nehru in Calcutta 1928.   Indian national congress demanded British government to accept NEHRU’S Report.
    • The main theme of the report was to get the DOMINION status to India. This is one of the important cause for the civil disobedience movement
  • Protest against the arrest of social revolutionaries.


Influence of Civil Disobedience Movement on different provinces of India:

Civil Disobedience in different forms continued in different provinces. Special stress was laid on boycott of foreign good. With Gandhi’s symbolic breaking of salt laws at Dandi, defiance of salt laws started all over the country. Every section of society as Students, Women, Tribals, Merchants and Petty Traders, Workers & Peasants took active part in CDM.

  • In Peshawar, Badshah Khan organized Khudai Khidmatgar, a voluntary brigade of Red Shirts. The pledge for freedom was so massive there that the whole city was virtually in the hands of the crowd for a week.
  • In Sholapur, the textile workers went on strike. A virtual parallel government was established there.
  • In Gujarat, a determined no tax movement was organized. Villagers left villages and camped in the open places to boycott land taxes.
  • A peaceful salt Satyagraha and marches were organized in Tamilnadu by C Rajagopalachari, Malabar by K Kelappan, Bengal, Karnataka and Orissa. In Andhra, salt camps came up in districts as head quarters of salt Satyagraha.
  • In Gujarat, Sarojini Naidu protested in front of the salt depots.Lakhs of people including a large number of women participated actively in these protests.
  • Eastern states like Bengal, Bihar and Orissa saw boycott of chowkidari tax and union board tax.
  • In Assam a powerful movement built against ‘Cunningham Circular.’
  • United Province saw a massive no rent campaign.
  • The movement also popularized a variety of forms of mobilization like Prabhat Pheris, Patrikas, and Magic Lanterns by band of men and women going to villages singing nationalist songs were organised.
  • Even children were organised into Vanara Senas. Women forming Manjari Senas picketed before liquor shops.
  • In Manipur and Nagaland, at the young age of thirteen, Rani Gaidinliu of Nagaland raised the banner of revolt against foreign rule. She was captured in 1932 and sentenced to life imprisonment
  • In Chittagong, Surya Sen’s Chittagong Revolt Group carried out a raid on two armouries. It declared the establishment of a provisional government.
  • Provisional Governments were established in Ballia in UP by Chittu PandeySatara in Maharashtra. 


How CDM bring up peasant movement in India

The Civil Disobedience Movement gave a new dimension to the peasant movement .In 1930s nationwide awakening of peasants was largely the result of the combination of particular economic and political developments. The great depression that began to hit India from 1920 -30 and new phase of mass struggle launched by Indian national congress.

  • The depression brought agricultural prices crashing down to half of less of their normal levels dealt a severe blow to the already impoverished peasants burdened with high taxes and rents.
  • Therefore the peasants were placed in a situation where they had to continue to pay taxes, rents and debts at pre-depression rates while their incomes continued to spiral steadily downward.
  • The civil disobedience movement was launched in this atmosphere of discontent in 1930s and in many parts of the country it soon took on the form of no-tax and no-rent campaign.
  • Peasants emboldened by the recent success of the Bardoli Satyagraha (1928) joined the protest in large numbers.
  • In Bihar and Bengal powerful movements were launched against the hated chowkidar tax by which villages were made to pay for the upkeep of their own oppressors.
  • In Punjab a no-revenue campaign was accompanied by the emergence of Kisan Sabhas that demanded a reduction in land revenue and water rates and the scaling down of debts. 
  • Faizpur session was the first session of INC in a rural area. It was presided over by Jawaharlal Nehru. Sane guruji worked hard to make in a success. The resolutions passed were related to peasant welfare, minimum wage for landless agriculture labour.
  • It also led to the rise of the leftist parties in the country, starting with the Congress Socialist party in 1934, which held the motive of introducing radical reforms in the society, with the involvement of peasants and leading the awareness drive in the country.
  • Seeing such an uproar in the peasant activities, the government also passed a number of reforms for debt relief, restoration of lands lost due to acquisition and non repayment of revenues during famines, which further encouraged the peasants to push for more reforms.
  • The tebhanga agitation was the most popular. The share cropper of Bengal demanded that the share of jotedar of the produce should be reduced from half to one third. Also the cultivators wanted to store the produce in their godown’s and not of the jotedar’s.



The civil disobedience movement it was an important juncture in the history of Indian independence. Civil Disobedience eroded the hegemony of the government. Though the government resorted to repression and arrest, yet it was puzzled and perplexed as how to quell the massive unrest. It forced the British to reconcile with the Congress. Before brought to an end by the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, the movement had its desired effect on political sphere. It also gave rise to a host of peasant movements to improve the conditions of peasants in India. India rediscovered its inherent strength and confidence to crusade against the British for its freedom.


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