Thursday 30 November 2023



                                By Louis Fischer


·       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’.

·       The 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.

·       This 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.

Summary /  Synopsis:

§  In 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 district.

§  Gandhi, 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.

§  Facing 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.

§  The 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.

§  Gandhi 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' prestige.

§  The 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.

§  This 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.

Difficult words and expressions

Convention: agreement

Delegates: Representatives

Peasant: small farmer

Emaciated: thin

Sharecroppers: a tenant farmer who gives a part of each crop as rent.

Resolute: determined

Tenacity: determination

Haunches: thighs

Yeoman: a man who cultivates a small piece of land

Pestered: harassed

En route: on the way

Advocate: one who favours/supports

Advent: arrival

Chided: criticize, scold

Arable: land suitable for farming

Contract: agreement

Compensation: payment to complete the loss

Irksome: irritating

Resisted: opposed, to be against something

Multitude: a large number of people

Maltreated: ill treated

Superintendent: Manager, supervisor

Wired: Telegraphed

Authorities: officials, people in power

Demonstrations: protest

Important Question answers

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. 

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