Enumerate the peasant movements before the Gandhian phase. Also examine the impact of peasant movements during freedom struggle.
Peasant movement is a social movement involved with the agricultural policy, which claims peasants rights. Peasant movements have a long history that can be traced to the numerous peasant uprisings that occurred in various regions in India. Early peasant movements were usually the result of stresses in the feudal and semi-feudal societies, and resulted in violent uprisings. More recent movements, fitting the definitions of social movements, are usually much less violent, and their demands are centered on better prices for agricultural produce, better wages and working conditions for the agricultural laborers, and increasing the agricultural production.
Peasants revolt before Gandhian phase
Indigo revolt of 1859-1860:
- European planters persuaded the peasants to plant indigo instead of food crops. They provided loans at a very high interest. The price paid by the planters was meagre, only 2.5% of the market price.
- The farmers were totally unprotected from the indigo planters, who resorted to mortgages or destruction of their property if they were unwilling to obey them. Under this severe oppression, the farmers resorted to revolt.
- Some lords forcefully collected rents and land taxes, often enhanced for the poor peasants and also prevented the tenants from acquiring Occupancy Right under Act X of 1859.
- Due to the decline in the production of Jute in the 1870s, the peasants were struggling with famine. Some of the lords declared an enhancement of land taxes and that triggered the rebellion.
- In May and June 1875, peasants of Maharashtra in some parts of Pune, Satara and Ahmednagar districts revolted against increasing agrarian distress.
- The rioters’ specific purpose was to obtain and destroy the bonds, decrees, and other documents in the possession of the moneylenders.
Impact of peasant movements
- They created awareness among the Indians.
- The peasants developed a strong awareness of their legal rights and asserted them in and outside the courts.
- The Government appointed an indigo commission to inquire into the problem of indigo cultivation. Based on its recommendations, the Government issued a notification in November 1860 that the ryots could not be compelled to grow indigo and that it would ensure that all disputes were settled by legal means
- People felt a need to organise and fight against exploitation and oppression.
- Various KisanSabhas were formed to organise and agitate for peasants demands during Non-Cooperation Movement.
- The ideology of non-violence had given much strength to the peasants who participated in the movement. The movement also contributed to the growth of nationalism.
The economic policies of the British adversely affected the Indian peasants under the British government, protecting the landlords and money lenders while they exploited the peasants. The peasants rose in revolt against this injustice on many occasions.