- Among the most pivotal moments in the Indian freedom struggle was the Bardoli Satyagraha of 1928.
- The movement was a truly participative and secular peasants movement guided by Sardar Vallabhai Pateland Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the non-violent Bardoli Satyagraha laid the blueprint of what followed.
- For four months starting from February 1928, farmers from 137 villages in this 600-sq-km taluka of Surat district, Gujarat, not only challenged the British colonial administration and won but also played a part in reinvigorating the freedom struggle after the mass Non-Cooperation Movement (1920-22) fell apart
- Also, the movement was further went on to pave way for the Civil Disobedience Movement, two years later, highlighted by the game changing Dandi March
Causes that led to the Resolution
- The trigger was the Bombay Presidency’s Government decision to impose an exorbitant 30% increase in land revenue assessment
- The decision came at the behest of government’s belief that farmers in the region were more prosperous, alongside an appreciable rise in land and produce prices, along with the belief that the condition of bonded and landless labourers had improved as well
- However, the bureaucratic assessment of the ground situation was very different from reality
- When the demands of the farmers were ignored, farmer representatives reached out to Sardar Patel, who in the past had prior experience of leading Satyagrahas
How did the struggle unfold?
- When the Governor of Bombay ignored Patel’s letter asking to reduce taxes, he then instructed all the farmers of Bardoli taluka to refuse payment of their taxes
- Aided by Narhari Parikh, Ravi Shankar Vyas and Mohanlal Pandya, he divided Bardoli into several zones, each with a leader and volunteers specifically assigned
- Patel instructed the farmers to remain completely nonviolent and not to respond physically to any incitements or aggressive actions from officials
- The Government then began supressing the revolt:
- The government began to auction the houses and the lands
- Bands of Pathans were gathered from northwest India to seize the property of the villagers and terrorize them
- In 1928, an agreement was finally brokered
- It agreed to restore the confiscated lands and properties, to cancel revenue payment for the year and to cancel the 22% raise until after the succeeding year.
- The government had appointed the Maxwell-Broomfield Commission to look in to the matter
- After a rigorous survey, the raise in taxes was decided to be just 6.03%
- However, the basic problems of the peasants were left unsolved, and bonded labour continued
Significance of Bardoli Movement
- Unity in dissent
- The movement received widespread support from Patidars, Anavil Brahmins and Baniyas, besides some Muslim and Parsi landowners, along with suppor from Deprived classes as well
- The turning point
- Once the Non-Cooperation Movement came to an end, Bardoli continued to see the emergence of different centres propagating activities like the production of khaddar, uplifting the Dalit and other deprived communities and the enforcement of prohibition
- Thus, the resolution in its essence prepared masses for next round of agitation
- Subhash Chandra Bose pre-judged this event as a precursor to a larger battle that Gandhi would wage
- The momentum from the Bardoli victory aided in the resurrection of the freedom struggle nationwide
- As a continuation of struggle against the British, the Congress in 1930 would declare Indian independence, and the Salt Satyagraha would be launched by Gandhi
- Patel credited Gandhi’s teachings and the farmers’ undying resolve, and people across the nation recognised his vital leadership. It was women of bardoli who bestowed the title Sardarfor the first time
- It was after Bardoli that Sardar Patelbecame one of India’s most important leaders