Paper: General Studies Paper-I
Section: History of Modern India
Topic: History of India since 1857
What was Harijan Movement? Why and with what effect did Gandhiji launch individual Satyagraha?
When Ramsay Macdonald declared, in early 1932, the communal award based on the British policy of divide and rule, Gandhiji answered to this partition policy in a different way. He revived his old concern for gaining support from Harijans, Scheduled Castes and Tribes.
He opposed the Award which provided for separate Hindu Untouchable and Muslim electorates for the new Federal Legislatures, treating Hindus and Harijans as two separate entities. With the support of MC Rajah, he wanted a common electorate with reservation of seats for Harijans but it was opposed by Dr Amedkar. To press for his demand, Gandhiji began his epic fast on September 20th, 1932 in Yeravada prision.
It was a landmark in Harijan movement. Basically this movement was a movement to purify Hinduism and HIndu society. It aimed at elevating their status through the programmers like promotion of education, cleanliness and hygiene giving up eating of carrion and beef, giving up liquior and abduction of untouchability and temple entry. There was a wide campaign for opening all temples to Harijans and 8 January 1933 was observed as temple entry day.
When he was released from the prision , he conducted a Harijan tour, founded Harijan Sevak Sangh, condemned evil practice of untouchability and tried to propagate against it.
To achieve this objective he offered himself individual satyagraha to inspire his opponents to redouble their anti-untouchability work. As a part of the Individual Satyagraha he undertook two major fasts on 8th May and 16th August 1933. After the observations of the temple entry day many of the pilgrim centres of India were frequented by many cases, creeds and regional language groups and the punishment of the lowly came to be linked with nationalism and strengthened its appeal.
Analyze briefly the contribution of religious reform movements to the growth of extremist nationalist movement.
The religious reform movements fostered among Indians greater self-respect, self confidence and pride in their country. The religious reform movements helped many Indians to come to terms with the modern world. In fact they arouse to re cast the old religions into a new modern mould to suit the needs of new social groups of society.
In spite of having feeling of pride in the past they accepted the superiority of modern world in general and modern science in particular. As a result of the reformed outlook many Indians began to acquire a modern secular and national outlook undominated by consideration of caste and religions. As a result the sense of nationalism became vigorous. As Swami Vivekananda said that Knowledge unaccompanied by actions is meaningless, it inspired the Indians to fight for liberty, equality and fraternity thereby contributing towards the growth of extremist national movement.