Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Indigo is choice of Gandhi

When I first visited Gandhi in1942 at his ashram in Sevagram,in centerl India,he said ,''will tell you how it happened that I decided to urge the departure of the British. It was in 1918."
He had gone to the December 1916 annual concention of the Indian National Congress party in Lucknow. There were 2,301 delegates and many visiteors. During the proceedings , Gandhi recounted ,"a peasant in India , poor and emaciated , looking like any other peasant .it was the foothhills of the towering Himalayas , near the kingdom of Nepal.

Under an ancient arrangement , the Champaran peasants were sharecroppers . Rajkumar Shukla was one of them . He was illiterate but resolute . He had come to the congress session to complain about the injustice of the landloard system in Bihar , and somebody had probably said ,"Speak to Gandhi ."

Gandhi told Shukla he had an appointment in Cawnpore and was also committed to go to other parts of India . Shukla accompanied him everywhere . Then Gandhi returned to his ashram . For weeks he never left Gandhi's side .

"Fix a date ,"he begged.

Impressed by the sharecropper's tenacity and story Gandhi said ,"I have to be in Culccutta on such -and-such a date . Come and meet me and take me from there ."

Months passed. Shukla was sitting on his haunches at the appointed spot in Calcutta when Gandhi arrived ; he waited till Gandhi was free . Then the two of them boarded a train for the city of Patna in Bihar . There Shukla led him to the house of a lawyer nwmed Rajendra Prasad who later became  President of the Congress party and of india . Rajendra Prasad was out of town , but the servants knew Shukla as a poor yeoman who pestered their master to help the indigo sharecroppers. So they let him stay on the grounds with his companion , Gandhi ,whom they took to be another peasant. But Gandhi was not permitted to draw water from his bucket pollute the entire source ; how did they know that he was not an untouchable?

Gandhi decided to go first to Muzzafarpur,which was en  route to Champaran , to obtion more complete information about conditions than Shukla was capable of imparting . He accordingly sent a telegram to Professor J.B.Kripalani , of the Arts College in Muzzarpur ,whom he had seen at Tagore's Shantiniketan school. The train arrived at midnight ,15 april 1917. Kripalani was waiting at the station with a large body of students . Gandhi stayed there for two days in the home of Professor Malkani , a teacher in a government school .
"It was an extraordinary thing 'in those days ,"Gandhi commented ,"for a government professor to harbour a man like me". In smaller localities , the Indians were afraid to show sympathy for advocates of home -rule.

The news of Gandhi's advent and of the nature of his mission spread quickly through muzzafarpur and to Champaran. Sharecroppers from Champaran begane arriving on foot and by conveyancy to see their champion . Muzzafarpur lawyers called on Gandhi to brief him;they frequently represnted peasant groups in court; they told him about their cases and reported the size of their fee.
Gandhi chided the lawyers for collecting big fee from the sharecroppers .He said ,"I have come to the conclusion that we should stop going to law courts . Taking such cases to the courts does little good . Where the peasants are so crushed and fear-stricken , law courts are useless.The relief for them is to be free from fear."

"He had read our minds correctly ,"Rajendra Prasad comments ,"and we had no reply ...Gandhi in this way taught us a lesson in self- reliance".
Self - reliance ,Indian independence and help to sharecroppers were all boud together.

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