Think As You Read
Question 1: Strike out what is not true in the following.
(i) Rajkumar Shukla was
- A sharecropper
- A politician
- A landlord
Answer: (b) A politician, (c) Delegate, (d) A Landlord
(ii) Rajkumar Shukla was
- Physically strong
Answer: (b) Physically strong
Question 2: Why is Rajkumar Shukla described as being ‘resolute’?
Answer: Initially, Gandhi did not give much importance to the issue raised by Rajkumar Shukla. But Rajkumar Shukla showed perseverance by following Gandhi to each subsequent programme. Finally, Gandhi relented to his demand of going to Champaran to take up the cause of indigo farmers. His perseverance made him resolute.
Question 3: Why do you think the servants thought Gandhi to be another peasant?
Answer: Gandhi was accompanying a poor peasant and even dressed like one. Very few people in that part of the country knew about Gandhi. So, the servants thought Gandhi to be another peasant.
Question 4: List the places that Gandhi visited between his first meeting with Shukla and his arrival at Champaran.
Answer: Cawnpore (Kanpur), Ahmedabad, Calcutta, Patna and Muzaffarpur
Question 5: What did the peasants pay the British landlords as rent? What did the British now want instead and why? What would be the impact of synthetic indigo on the prices of natural indigo?
Answer: As per the agreement, the peasants had to cultivate 15 percent of their land with indigo and give all the produce of indigo as rent to the landlord. After synthetic indigo began to come on scene, the British landlord wanted compensation in lieu of releasing the farmers from the 15 percent agreement. Synthetic indigo could have reduced the price of natural indigo.
Question 6: Why did Gandhi agree to a settlement of 25 percent refund to the farmers?
Answer: Gandhi thought that getting a certain amount of compensation should not be the main goal of farmers. He was just interested in the symbolic value of compensation as it signified a win for farmers. Moreover, the settlement could have worked as a morale booster for farmers and could have given them the confidence over their collective bargaining power. So, Gandhi agreed to a settlement of 25 percent refund to the farmers.
Question 7: How did the episode change the plight of the peasants?
Answer: The episode had positive effect on the peasants. They gained a confidence in their ability to fight against the oppressors.
Understanding the Text
Question 1: Why do you think Gandhi considered the Champaran episode to be a turning point in his life?
Answer: Before the Champaran episode, Gandhi was mainly occupied with politics in which he was dealing with leaders. The Champaran episode gave him an opportunity to deal with day-to-day problems of the masses. He got an opportunity to solve the problem of those who were powerless people and were always at the mercy of the powerful. The Champaran episode heralded the beginning to sowing the seeds of the freedom movement among the common people of India. This is the reason Gandhi considered the Champaran episode to be a turning point in his life.
Question 2: How was Gandhi able to influence lawyers? Give instances.
Answer: There are various instances in which Gandhi was able to influence lawyers. One instance is of Muzaffarpur where Gandhi chided the lawyers for charging hefty fees from poor farmers who consulted lawyers for court cases. He convinced the lawyers about futility of fighting it out in the court when the whole system was against the poor farmers.
The second instance is of Rajendra Prasad and other lawyers who went there to argue the case for Gandhi. When Gandhi asked about lawyers’ future plan after Gandhi’s imminent imprisonment, the lawyers said that they would go back for lack of suitable case for them. After that Gandhi convinced them to fight against the injustice meted out to farmers instead of just preventing the imprisonment of a known politician. That episode opened the eyes of the lawyers.
Question 3: What was the attitude of the average Indian in smaller localities towards advocates of ‘home rule’?
Answer: The average Indian in smaller localities was afraid of the British rule and nobody wanted to be seen to be acting against the colonial interests. So, people tried to maintain a distance from the advocates of ‘home rule’. Any person associated with the freedom movement was looked down upon by the mainstream society.
Question 4: How do we know that ordinary people too contributed to the freedom movement?
Answer: This story gives a good example of ordinary people’s contribution to the freedom movement. Rajkumar Shukla was an ordinary man who kept pestering on Gandhi to go to Champaran to fight for the cause of indigo farmers. There are many other examples from the freedom movement, like Kheda Satyagraha, Dandi March, etc.
Talking About the Text
Question 1: “Freedom from fear is more important than legal justice for the poor.”
Do you think that poor of India are free from fear after independence?
Answer: We have come a long way after independence. 75 years have elapsed but we cannot confidently claim that the poor of India are free from fear after independence. We still hear news of atrocities against people from the scheduled castes. Many workers are still being paid lower than the minimum wages. Majority of poor people don’t have access to basic facilities like healthcare and education. As per recent reports, India scores badly on Global Hunger Index and Human Development Index.
Question 2: Discuss the qualities of a good leader.
Answer: A good leader is not about giving grand speeches and making lofty promises. A good leader should be able to communicate with the masses and should understand the day-to-day problems of the masses. The leader should be able to instill confidence in the public, instead of instilling confidence in the leadership.
Things to Do
- Choose an issue that has provoked a controversy like the Bhopal Gas Tragedy or the Narmada Dam Project in which the lives of the poor have been affected.
- Find out the facts of the case.
- Present your arguments.
- Suggest a possible settlement.
Answer: You can write about the struggles of Tawa Matsya Sangh from Class 7. Following is the linkTawa Matsya Sangh