The chapter ‘Indigo’ is an excerpt based
on the interview of Mahatma Gandhi by Louis Fischer. It is a biographical story
related to the history of Pre Independence Era in India.
Louis Fischer, an American journalist is
known for his works ‘God that Failed’ and ‘The Life of Mahatma Gandhi’ which
was the strong basis for Academy Award winning film ‘Gandhi’.
writer shares Gandhi’s leadership, struggles and movements during Pre
Independence era, offering his tribute to Gandhiji and various
other freedom fighters and countless martyrs especially Raj Kumar Shukla, a
sharecropper from Champaran.
It also mentions about an important
episode which happened to become a turning point in the life of Mahatma Gandhi
and his struggle to get freedom and social and political justice.
chapters highlights that Gandhi’s life story was a great inspiration to all the
strugglers and freedom fighters and, motivated them not to give up ever. His
long and exhausting journey to freedom and justice gave everyone an undying hope
which pushed Raj Kumar Shukla to fight for his problems.
the chapter "Indigo," Mahatma Gandhi's journey to Champaran in 1917
is detailed, marking a significant episode in his life and the Indian
independence movement. Rajkumar Shukla, an illiterate peasant from Champaran,
approached Gandhi during the Indian National Congress party convention in 1916,
urging him to address the injustices faced by sharecroppers in his home
initially unaware of Champaran's plight, agreed to visit on Shukla's
insistence. The peasants, primarily engaged in indigo cultivation under
oppressive contracts with British landlords, sought relief. Gandhi's unique
approach involved staying at the house of a sympathetic lawyer, Rajendra
Prasad, who later became the President of the Congress party and of India.
resistance from British authorities and landlords, Gandhi persisted in his
investigations. He opted for civil disobedience, refusing to leave Champaran
despite an official notice. This led to a court summons, where Gandhi pleaded
guilty, emphasizing his "conflict of duties" between obeying
authority and serving the humanitarian cause.
peasants' spontaneous support outside the courthouse marked a turning point,
challenging the British authority and instilling courage in the local
population. The government, baffled by Gandhi's nonviolent resistance,
eventually dropped the case, marking the success of civil disobedience for the
first time in modern India.
and a group of lawyers then conducted a widespread inquiry into the farmers'
grievances, resulting in a commission of inquiry appointed by the
Lieutenant-Governor. The evidence against landlords was overwhelming, leading
to an agreement for partial refunds to peasants. Gandhi's insistence on a 50%
refund, rather than the expected full amount, aimed at breaking the landlords'
settlement, adopted unanimously, showcased the success of Gandhi's strategy.
Within a few years, the British planters abandoned their estates, and indigo
sharecropping ceased. Gandhi, not content with political victories, addressed
the cultural and social backwardness in Champaran by appealing for teachers and
initiating health and sanitation measures.
Champaran episode marked a turning point in Gandhi's life, demonstrating his
commitment to alleviating the daily struggles of the masses and promoting
self-reliance, Indian independence, and social reforms intertwined with
political activism. Gandhi's actions in Champaran exemplify his philosophy of
satyagraha and the practical application of nonviolent resistance in achieving
social and political change.
The chapter conveys that effective and efficient
leadership can help solve the most intricate problems and come out triumphantly
of the most difficult struggles. This leadership quality made Mahatma Gandhi
loved by the masses and he could attain India’s political freedom with support
of multitude of Indians who are equally motivated with the thought of freedom.
words and expressions
Peasant: small farmer
Sharecroppers: a tenant farmer who gives a part of
each crop as rent.
Yeoman: a man who cultivates a small piece of land
En route: on the way
Advocate: one who favours/supports
Chided: criticize, scold
Arable: land suitable for farming
Compensation: payment to complete the loss
Resisted: opposed, to be against something
Multitude: a large number of people
Maltreated: ill treated
Superintendent: Manager, supervisor
Authorities: officials, people in power
Q. Why did Gandhi consider the Champaran episode to
be a turning point in his life?
Ans. The Champaran episode relieved poor indigo peasant
from torturous burden they had to face and solved their problems. Gandhiji
received immense support from the peasant and other people. They only required
a strong leadership under which they all stood against cruel landlords.
Gandhiji considered this episode as a turning point in his life.