sulabh swatchh bharat

Saturday, 21-October-2017

THE NEED FOR A NEW UNDERSTANDING OF CHAMPARAN

Mahatma Gandhi made sure that by 1942 British Indigo planters had to leave Champaran in a bloodless coup

The need is to look at the Champaran satyagraha in a new light because Gandhi had invested a great deal of energy, time and resources in the same. He had included the assistance of many supporters. It was the beginning of many new projects. Gandhi’s visit to  was a historical event but this experiment was in many ways unique. In addition to establishing Gandhi’s strength, it also proved to be the story of a public’s strength to rise up against injustice. It was also the story of Gandhi’s own efforts to establish a relationship with the hundreds and thousands of people and their problems, the people who spontaneously placed their trust in him. Champaran was a new place for Gandhi, also the support from people who had invited him there had its clear limitations. The society was fragmented into castes and groups. The administration supported Nilhe had spread their net everywhere, and the zamidars oppression was visible in every matter.

On his own, Gandhi had come with some preparation. Some party workers along with Kasturba were in a position to come with some resources and monetary help. His experience of social-political work in South Africa too was in his mind. It  definitely makes an interesting and inspiring story to see how his stay Champaran sorted out the varied issues : there was no experienced worker not just in Champaran but entire Bihar, for every one coming from outside there was one servant and cook to accompany him, unknown territory, difficult weather, problems with dialect and language and so on. It is to be imagined how Gandhi toured in the area during April’s hot weather, how he convinced the leaders to eat together, how he persuaded the famous lawyers to give up their career and how he linked up the major subjects of education, health and sanitation with the movement against nilhe.

When Gandhi went to Calcutta with Rajkumar Shukl he had with him only a small  bundle of bedding, some papers and a box of peanuts and dry fruits because at this time he did not eat any grains or milk. He had informed some people in Ahmadabad Ashram and some friends about his planned visit to Champaran. In Calcutta people known to Bhupendra Nath Basu had some inkling of this plan but body in Bihar knew about it. In his letter to Maganlal Gandhi on reaching Muzaffarpur speaks about the difficulty he faced in Patna. Although Gandhi had begun to write letters regularly and his programs were fixed up much in advance, few people had information about his plans. Another big step that Gandhi took in Champaran was that he linked up a regional anguish to the national movement. He brought awareness, action and freedom for half the population which was trapped in ignorance and invisibility. Prior to this, there had been no beginning for any grass-root movement not only in Bihar but also the entire country. Gandhi brought Congress into the arena through Champaran and also a region into the national picture. The more aware people in Champaran like Rajendra Babu, Brijkishore Prasad, Rajkumar Shukl, Ramnavami Prasad, Gorakh Prasad, Peer Mohammad Munis and Harbans Sahai had heard about the Congress and wanted to be part of it. Gandhi’s movement made them active Congress men and warriors in the national movement. All these people consider themselves to be blessed that Gandhi introduced them to the real rural India and the real problems of the country and also introduced them to a new path to solve these problems, away from the hassles of legalities and the court.

Champaran emerged at the top in following Gandhi’s creative experiments. Although one of the poorest areas it proved to be the most resourceful in this respect and there was no suspicion of violence in any phase. In 1942 the English administration almost disappeared from Champaran but without any trace of violence. It also happened that the British power which 25 years ago had witnessed the guts of the Champaran people, did not dare to inflict atrocities in the region. Some violence did take place in certain regions of Bihar during partition but as soon as Gandhi arrived there not only did the riots ceased but the perpetuators of violence rush to the forefront to maintain peace. Gandhi himself found this to be the foundation of his belief in the basic goodness in of human beings and also throwing in everything into the process of maintaining peace. Gandhi had traveled absolutely alone not only to Champaran but also to Bihar. In a month or two he made disciples and supporters beyond count. These included lawyers who charged fees up to 10 thousand but agreed to do clerical work and Bhojpuri translation from English/Hindi, only for Gandhi’s sake. After this they did not find it inconvenient to walk 10 miles, wash clothes, clean utensils, sleep on floors and travel in 3rd class. They were ready to go to jail and be caned, and accept one or two all others became Gandhians for life. These also included the people who had participated in non-Gandhian manner within and outside Champaran. Rajendra Prasad, Kriplani and others took on major roles in the national politics while men like Anugrah Babu and Ramdayalu Babu played important role in Bihar politics. Brijkishore Prasad, Shambhu Sharan Verma and Rajkumar Shukl did remain alive to shoulder bigger responsibilities late but remain Gandhians and nationalists to their last breath. Prajapati Mishra, Vipin Behari Verma, Vibhuti Mishra, Kedar Pandey, Kamal Nath Tiwari and hundreds of others became active during this movement and worked for the country and for Gandhi throughout their life.