Champaran Satyagraha 1917
Gandhiji dangled between India and South Africa for many times till January 1915, when he arrived in India and remained here till his death. The date of his arrival is celebrated today as Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas.
- His first major public appearance in India was at the opening ceremony of the Banaras Hindu University in February 1916.
In the next two years he involved in some significant struggles that made him the undisputed leader of India’s masses.
- The Champaran Satyagraha of 1917 was Mahatma Gandhi’s first Satyagraha.
- Champaran and Kheda Satyagraha were the events which later put Gandhi on the front seat of Indian National Revolution and made Satyagraha a powerful tool.
The peasants (bhumihars) of the Champaran and other areas of North Bihar were growing the Indigo under the tinakathia system. Under the tinakathia system the peasants were bound to plant 3 out of 20 parts of his land with indigo for his landlord.
- This means that out of 20 khatas which make an acre, they had to dedicate 3 khatas for indigo plantation. This was the root cause of the trouble. They had to lease this part in return to the advance at the beginning of each cultivation season. The price was too less and was fixed on the area cultivated rather than the crop produced. They were actually being cheated by the English planters.
The planters had agreed to the peasants to relive them from the lease contracts but demanded heavy compensations which they were not able to pay. One local peasant leader Rajkumar Shukla had invited Mahatma Gandhi to visit Champaran. Gandhi ji arrived in Champaran but was later ordered by the District magistrate of Champaran W B Heycock to leave the district. Gandhi ji refused and persisted. He decided to commit Satyagraha. He proceeded towards the Champaran. The commissioner of tirhut division ordered Gandhi’s arrest but Government of India cancelled the arrest because it did want to make him a hero.
- He was left at liberty to pursue his investigations into the peasant’s grievances. Later the Champaran Agragarian committee was constituted and Gandhi was offered a seat in it.
The psychological impact of this Satyagraha was outstanding. Gandhi became Lord Rama of the peasants who demolished the demons (planters) J People got a holy man” Gandhi Baba” in Gandhi who could cure all their problems.