Indigo Summary Class 12 English. Summary with questions and answers. This chapter is about the champaran battle in which the British officials maltreated the peasants and how Gandhiji came to rescue them. The chapter ‘Indigo‘ of Class 12 English is written by the author Louis Fischer. Here you will find the Indigo Summary Class 12 English with questions and answers, with a small gist/explanation of the chapter.
Table of Contents
Indigo Summary Class 12 English: Introduction
When Gandhi Ji went to attend the December 1916 annual convention of the Indian National Congress party in Lucknow. At that time a peasant named Rajkumar Shukla came from champaran to visit Gandhi Ji. He insisted Gandhi Ji visit his district. Gandhi Ji never heard of that place but got to know that it was in the foothills of the towering Himalayas, near the kingdom of Nepal. Rajkumar Shukla was one of the sharecroppers of that place. Shukla was illiterate but resolute.
He attended the session to complain about the injustice of the landlord system in Bihar. He took someone’s advice to speak to Gandhi Ji. But Gandhiji had to visit other places so he told Shukla to wait for some time. During that time period Shukla accompanied Gandhi Ji everywhere. For weeks he never left Gandhi’s side. Then Shuka grew impatient and begged Gandhi Ji to fix a date. Gandhi Ji was impressed by Shukla’s determination and story. Then he fixed a date with Shukla and asked him to take him to his district after he finished visiting Calcutta.
Indigo Summary Class 12 English: Gandhiji’s way to Patna
After waiting for months, Shukla finally met Gandhi Ji and after Gandhi Ji was free both of them boarded a train to Patna. There Shukla led him to the house of a lawyer named Rajendra Prasad. Rajendra Prasad was out of town, so both of them waited for him. The servants of Rajendra Prasad’s house knew that Shukla was a poor sharecropper and thus he let him stay on the grounds with Gandhi Ji, whom they thought to be another poor man. They also thought that Gandhiji was untouchable.
Gandhi Ji decided to go to Muzaffarpur, which was on the way to Champaran. There he obtained more complete information about the conditions of the sharecroppers. He then sent a telegram to Professor J.B. Kripalani, of the Arts College in Muzzafarpur. Gandhi Ji stayed there for two days in the home of Professor Malkani, a teacher in a government school. The news of Gandhi’s advent and of the nature of his mission spread quickly through Muzaffarpur and to Champaran.
Sharecroppers from Champaran began arriving on foot and by conveyance to see him. Muzzafarpur lawyers called on Gandhi to brief him; they frequently represented peasant groups in court; they told him about their cases and reported the size of their fee. Gandhi scolded the lawyers for collecting big fees from the sharecroppers. The courts did very little good.
Most of the cultivable land in the Champaran district was divided into large estates owned by Englishmen and worked by Indian tenants. The chief commercial crop was indigo. The landlords compelled all tenants to plant three twentieths or 15 per cent of their holdings with indigo and surrender the entire indigo harvest as rent. This was done by long-term contract.
The landlords learned that Germany had developed synthetic indigo. They, therefore, obtained agreements from the sharecroppers to pay them compensation for being released from the 15 per cent arrangement. The sharecropping arrangement was annoying to the peasants, and many signed willingly. Those who resisted, engaged lawyers; the landlords hired criminals who forced the peasants. Meanwhile, the information about synthetic indigo reached the illiterate peasants who had signed, and they wanted their money back.
Ill-treatment of a peasant
Gandhi Ji later met many officials. But he could avail no information as they were not willing to share information with him. He proceeded to Motihari, the capital of Champaran. Several lawyers accompanied him. At the railway station, a vast crowd greeted Gandhi. He went to a house and, using it as headquarters, continued his investigations. Gandhi Ji went to see a place where a peasant was ill-treated.
Gandhiji in Court
But on his way, he was stopped by the police superintendent messenger. The Messenger drove Gandhi Ji home and he was sent an official notice to quit Champaran immediately. Gandhi Ji signed a receipt and told him that he would disobey the order and thus Gandhiji had to appear in the court the next day. The next day Gandhi ji telegraphed Rajendra Prasad to come from Bihar with influential friends. He also sent instructions to his ashram. He wired a full report to the Viceroy.
In the morning the town of Motihari went black with peasants. They did not know Gandhi Ji’s record in South Africa. They had just heard that a Mahatma who wanted to help them was in trouble with the authorities. When they went in thousands near court house it was the beginning of the liberation from the fear of British.
The officials felt powerless without Gandhiji’s cooperation. He helped them regulate the crowd. He was giving the peasants prove that the British can be challenged by the Indians. The government was shocked. The prosecutor requested the judge to postpone the trial. The authorities went to consult their superiors.
Release of Gandhiji
Gandhiji protested against the delay. But after a lot of conflicts the judge released him without bail. After the court reconvened, the judge said he would not deliver the judgement for several days and Gandhiji was allowed to remain at Liberty.
Rajendra Prasad, Brij Kishore Babu, Maulana Mazharul Huq and several other prominent lawyers had arrived from Bihar. They conferred with Gandhiji. They asked him what they would do if he was sentenced to prison. Gandhiji asked them why they thought so. Then the senior lawyer replied that they had come to advise and help him. And if he went to jail there would be nobody to advise them and they would go home.
Winning the battle of Champaran
Gandhiji asked what would happen to the injustice of the sharecropper if he was in prison and the others went home. The lawyer then discussed between themselves that Gandhiji was just a stranger and still he was prepared to go to prison for the sake of the peasants. If they are on the other hand, not only residents of the adjoining districts but also those who claim to have served the presence, would go home it would be a shameful thing. So, they told Gandhiji that they were also ready to follow him to jail, if Gandhiji went to jail.
Gandhiji then exclaimed that the battle of Champaran had already been won.
After several days Gandhiji received the letter from the magistrate that the Lieutenant Governor of the province had ordered the case to be dropped.
Triumph of Civil Disobedience
Civil disobedience had triumphed for the first time in modern India. Gandhiji and the lawyers now proceeded to conduct a huge enquiry into the grievances of the farmers. About ten thousand peasants gave evidence and told them about their misery. In June, Gandhiji summoned Sir Edward Gait, the Lieutenant Governor.
Before he went, he met the leading associates, he laid detailed plans for civil disobedience if he should not return. Moreover, Gandhiji had four protracted interviews with the Lieutenant Governor who then appointed an official commission to enquire into the situation of Indigo sharecroppers. Meanwhile, the commission consisted of landlords, governor officials, and Gandhiji as the sole representatives of the peasants. Gandhiji remained in Champaran for an initial uninterrupted period of 7 months and then again for several shorter visits.
Refund to the peasants
The official enquiry then promised to make refunds to the peasants. They thought Gandhi Ji would demand repayment of the full money which they had illegally extracted from the sharecroppers but he only asked 50%. The planter’s representatives offer a refund of 25% only. Gandhiji explained that the amount of the refund was less important than the fact that the landlord’s wanted to surrender a part of the money with a part of their prestige.
The peasants were before afraid of the landlords but now, they knew that they had rights and defenders. They learned courage. Within a few years the British planters abandoned their states which led to the disappearance of the Indigo share cropping.
Helping the social backwardness
Then Gandhi Ji saw the cultural and social backwardness in the Champaran village. He wanted to do something about it immediately. He with his disciples like Mahadev Desai and Narhari Parikh and their wives, Devadas, Gandhiji’s youngest son and Kasturba volunteered for the work. Several more came from distant lands.
The Champaran episode was a turning point in Gandhiji’s life but did not begin as an act of defiance. It grew out as an attempt to eliminate the distress of large numbers of poor peasants.
Indigo Summary Class 12 English: Conclusion
When a British disciple of Gandhiji, Charles Freer Andrews, asked the Champaran people if he could fight for them against the British, people rejoiced. But Gandhiji taught them a lesson of Self-Reliance and to win the fight on their own.
Above all, Self-Reliance, Indian independence and help to share croppers were all tied together.
Indigo Summary Class 12 English: Questions and Answers
1. Why do you think Gandhi considered the Champaran episode to be a turning-point in his life?
Ans. Champaran episode helped the people to know their self-worth and their rights. Therefore, Gandhi considered the Champaran episode to be a turning-point in his life.
2. How was Gandhi able to influence lawyers? Give instances.
Ans. Gandhiji was willing to go to prison for the sake of the peasants. He was a stranger to the peasants and to the land of Champaran. Gandhiji was also polite and gentle. He also came a long way to help these peasants. This made the lawyers influenced by him.
3. What was the attitude of the average Indian in smaller localities towards advocates of ‘home rule’?
Ans. The Indians in the British colonizing era were really scared of them. They did not have the belief that they had rights and could not stand up for themselves.
4. How do we know that ordinary people contributed to the freedom movement too?
Ans. Ordinary people such as Rajkumar Shukla were the ones who brought this injustice to the light. Mahadev Desai and Narhari Parikh were two young men who helped in educating the village. The peasants in group went to the court which scared the British officials.
Above all, all of them contributed to the freedom movement and everyone deserves credit.