- India’s struggle for independence by Bipin Chandra
- The question wants us to probe into the Rajkot Satyagraha, discuss its background, its outcomes and how it conspicuously highlighted the paradoxical situation existing in the Princely states.
- In the introduction write a few introductory lines about the Rajkot Satyagraha. E.g mention the reasons behind Rajkot Satyagraha- protest against the Raja.
- In the main body discuss the outcome of the Satyagraha. E.g Despite the apparent failure, the Rajkot Satyagraha had a powerful politicizing influence on the people of the States, especially in Western India; It brought clear to the Princes that they survived only because of the British support etc.
- Then discuss the differences between British India and the Princely States in terms of civil liberties, political backwardness etc. E.g The ultimate protection provided by the British enabled the rulers of the States to withstand popular pressure; The great differences in the political conditions between British India and the States, and between the different; States themselves, the general lack of civil liberties including freedom of association, the comparative political backwardness of the people, and the fact that the Indian States were legally independent entities; the Indian States were legally independent entities, these were understandable restraints imposed in the interest of the movements in the States as well as the movement in British India;
- Conclude by summarizing the whole discussion
A turning point in the history of western India princely states, the Rajkot Satyagraha of 1938-39 is an event of sub-continental significance.
- Most of the princely states were autocratically ruled. The economic burden on the people was heavy with high taxation, education and social services were backwards and civil rights were restricted.
- State revenues were expended on the luxurious lifestyles of the rulers and since the British provided immunity from domestic and external aggression, they felt free to ignore the interests of the people.
- The British government expected the states to support them in their imperialistic policies, thereby acting against the development of nationalist sentiments.
- The people under the British provinces were given some political rights and participation in the administration after the acts of 1919 and 1935. The people under the princely states did not have the rights equal to the rights enjoyed by the British provinces.
- The onset of the nationalistic movement in British rule also had an impact on the people of the princely states .many revolutionary nationalists fleeing British authority came to the princely states in the first and second decades of the 20th century and initiated political activities there
- Under the national movement, the subjects of the princely states established people’s organisations.
- It represented the first major attempt to secure constitutional change through mass civil disobedience.
- Rajkot also was the first serious test of the Congress ability to carry the fight against British into princely India and of princely India’s readiness to take part in the All India struggle.
- It was a test of the indirect support given by the paramount power to the princes and of the durability of the latter against the nationalists.
- It was a test of the methods of Gandhi in a yet untried political environment.
- Rajkot Satyagraha showed the complexity of the situation in princely states with paramount power always ready to interfere in its own favour but ever willing to use legal independence of the rulers as an excuse for non-interference.
- Though Rajkot satyagraha was a failure it exercised a tremendous politicising effect on the people of states. It also demonstrated to the rulers of the states the power of popular resistance and encourages many states to integrate with India after independence.
- In Hyderabad, a powerful people’s movement built up.
- In Kashmir people organised themselves
- It made it clear to the Princes that they survived only because of the British support etc.
The significant aspect of this event by Gandhi’s own admission is a test that failed as he could not change the heart of the ruler and the British government took severe repressive action.