Indian Peasant Movements

BPSC
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Peasant Movements in India are a part of social movements against British atrocities in the 18th and 19th centuries of the British Colonial Period. These movements had the sole purpose of restoring the earlier forms of rule and social relations

Introduction

  • Recently the new Agricultural Acts have been introduced by the government.
  • As a result of these Acts, the anger of the farmers has come out as a demonstration in the whole country.
  • The farmer is not only the food provider of the country but they have also contributed significantly to India’s freedom movement
  • There are many times in modern Indian history when the farmers have put their demands before the governments by agitating at different times.
  • Peasant Struggles:
    • In these struggles, the peasants emerged as the main force, fighting directly for their own demands.
    • The movements in the period between 1858 and 1914 tended to remain localised, disjointed and confined to particular grievances, contrary to the movements after 1914.

Peasant Struggles:

  • In these struggles, the peasants emerged as the main force, fighting directly for their own demands.
  • The movements in the period between 1858 and 1914 tended to remain localised, disjointed and confined to particular grievances, contrary to the movements after 1914.

Causes of the movements

  • Peasants were evicted from their lands
  • The rent that the peasants had to pay for their lands was increased
  • Atrocities by the Moneylenders
  • Peasants’ traditional handicrafts were ruined
  • The ownership of land was taken away from peasants during Zamindari rule
  • Massive Debt
  • Colonial Economic Policies- The economic policies of British government used to protect the landlords and moneylenders and exploited the peasants. The peasants rose in revolt against this injustice on many occasions.
  • Land Revenue System was not favouring the peasants

Peasant organization

  • The first organisation to be founded was the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha (1929) and in 1936 the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS).
  • In 1936, at the Lucknow session of Congress , All India Kisan Sabha was formed with Sahajanand as its first president.
  • It later issued a Kisan manifesto which demanded abolition of zamindari and occupancy rights for all tenants.

list of Peasant Movements

Indigo movement: 

  • This movement started in 1859 in Govindpur village of Bengal. The farmers of Bengal wanted to cultivate rice in their fields but European were forcing them to cultivate indigo.
  • In this situation, the peasants led by local leaders Digambar Vishwas and Vishnu Vishwas started a movement.
  • All farmers, either Hindus or Muslims, were involved in this movement. 
  • Finally, the government had to close the indigo plant and the government constituted the indigo commission in 1860 and ordered an inquiry. 
  • The decision of the Commission was in favor of the farmers.
  • This movement is described by Deenbandhu Mitra in his play Neeladarpan. And Harish Chandra Mukherjee, a Bengali Journalist, described the plight of peasants of Bengal in his newspaper ‘The Hindu Patriot’.

Pabana Movements

  • larger parts of Eastern Bengal, landlords forcefully collected rents and land taxes, often enhanced for the poor peasants.
  • The peasants were also prevented from acquiring Occupancy Right under Act X of 1859.
  • In May 1873 an Agrarian League was formed in the Yusufshahi Pargana of Pabna district, Patna (East Bengal).
  • Rent strikes were organised, funds were raised and the struggle spread throughout Patna and to other districts of East Bengal.
  • The struggle was mainly legal resistance and little violence.
  • The discontent continued till 1885 when the Government by the Bengal Tenancy Act of 1885 enhanced the occupancy rights.
  • The struggle was supported by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee R.C. Dutt and the Indian Association under Surendranath Banerjea.

Deccan Revolt:

  • The agrarian movement was not confined to North India alone, but it also spread to the south as the moneylender in Maharashtra’s Poona and Ahmednagar districts were exploiting the peasants, with the government raising the tax under the Ryaytwari system.
  • The taxes raised due to the American civil war of 1864, were not reduced even after the end of the war, then the anger of the farmers increased.
  • same time, in December 1874, a moneylender Kaluram obtained a decree auctioning the house against the farmer (Baba Sahib Deshmukh).
  • On this, the farmers started the movement. In this, farmers refused to buy goods from Mahajan, moneylender shops, work in their homes, and work in their fields.
  • To pacify this movement, the government protected farmers against moneylenders by the “Deccan Farmers Relief Act”.

Champaran Satyagraha (1917)

  • peasantry on the indigo plantations in the Champaran district of Bihar was excessively oppressed by the European planters and compelled to grow indigo on at least 3/20th of their land and sell it at prices fixed by the planters.
  • In 1917, Mahatma Gandhi reached Champaran and began to conduct a detailed inquiry into the condition of the peasantry.
  • He defied the orders of district officials for leaving Champaran.
  • In June 1917, the Government appointed an enquiry committee with Gandhiji as one of the members.
  • The enactment of the Champaran Agrarian Act, 1918 freed the tenants from the special imposts levied by the indigo planters.

Moplah Rebellion (1921)

  • This peasant revolt was against the landlords.
  • The Mopla farmers were from the Muslim community and the zamindars belonged to the Hindu community, so the colonial government attempted to give this movement a communal frame.
  • Initially this rebellion was against the British rule. This movement was supported by leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Shaukat Ali, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. ‘Ali Musaliyar’ was the main leader of this movement.
  • This movement was contemporary to the non-cooperation and Khilafat movement.

Kheda Satyagraha

  • In 1918, the crops failed in the Kheda district of Gujarat but the government refused to remit land revenue and insisted on its full collection.
  • Gandhiji along with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel supported the peasants and advised them to withhold payment of revenues till their demand for its remission was met.
  • The satyagraha lasted till June 1918. The Government conceded the demands chiefly directed against the Government.
  • In 1918, the crops failed in the Kheda district of Gujarat but the government refused to remit land revenue and insisted on its full collection.
  • Gandhiji along with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel supported the peasants and advised them to withhold payment of revenues till their demand for its remission was met.
  • The satyagraha lasted till June 1918. The Government conceded the demands

Bardoli Satyagraha (1928):

  • This movement also started due to an increase in taxes. It started in 1928 in Bardoli, Surat.
  • Sardar Ballabhbhai Patel emerged as a national leader in this movement.
  •  this, he refused to pay taxes and also used social boycott of the farmers who paid the tax to the government.

Significance of the Movements

During colonial rule, many times farmers have agitated for their demands. But after independence, the agitations or their movements that took place in the name of farmers were more violent and inspired by politics. At this time in India, there is a government elected by the people of India, it is different from the colonial exploitative trends, so the problems of the farmers will be redressed soon.

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