Causes, Effects and Significance of Civil Disobedience Movement in India

Civil Disobedience Movement

The Lahore Congress of 1929 authorized the Working Committee to launch a programme of civil disobedience. Gandhiji was invested with full powers to launch the Civil Disobedience movement. He gave his ultimatum to Lord Irwin on 31 January 1930. His ultimatum being ignored the Civil Disobedience was launched.


The Congress declared that if the government did not accept a constitution based on the dominion status within a year, it would adopt ‘Purana Swaraj’ as its goal.

In 1929, having a meeting with Ramsay Macdonald, the Prime Minister of England, Lord Irwin returned to India and declared that the object of the British Government was to grant India dominion status. But the Prime Minister under pressure of the conservative leaders, failed to keep his promise. When Gandhiji met Lord Irwin in December 1929, the latter refused to make any commitment regarding dominion status.

In utter despair Gandhiji said, ‘I have burnt my boat’. The country became prepared to fight for ‘Purana Swaraj’.

According to Amales Tripathi, the main cause of the Civil Disobedience movement was worldwide economic depression during the period 1929-1930. Young leaders of the Congress became impatient for a movement. The revolutionaries were not sitting idle. The organizations of the works and the peasants gathered strength under organizations of the workers and the peasants gathered strength under the leadership of the communists. All these events led Gandhiji to feel the necessity of launching Civil Disobedience movement.


The Civil disobedience movement started with Gandhiji’s historic ‘Dandi March’. Gandhiji walked 240 miles through villages of Gujarat. He reached Dandi on 6 April 1930. He inaugurated the Civil Disobedience movement by picking up a handful of salt. Gandhiji and other prominent leaders were arrested. Their arrest led to a mass demonstration. In Peshawar, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan took an active role.

Effect of the movement:

Civil Disobedience in different forms continued in different provinces. Special stress was laid on boycott of foreign good.

In eastern India, payment of chowkidari tax was refused. This no-tax campaign became very popular in Bihar.

In Bengal, J.N. Sengupta defied Government laws by reading openly the books banned by the government. Defiance of forest laws assumed a mass character in Maharashtra.

The movement had taken a fire hold in provinces of U.P., Orissa. Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Assam.

The Gandhi-Irwin Pact and the Second Round Table Conference having failed, the movement was resumed with new zeal.

Government’s repressive measures:

The government adopted severe repressive measured. About 60000 persons passed through jail in course of the movement. The police killed two prisoners in Hijli Detention Camp.

At Bundur, T.N. Naidu was beaten unconscious. The Congress was declared an illegal organization. Punitive taxes were imposed.


According to the wish of Gandhiji, the Congress withdrew the Civil Disobedience in 1934. Though the movement failed but it had great significance.

The movement marked an important state in the progress of the freedom struggle.
The movement received global attention.
Imports from Britain had fallen considerably.
The participation of the Muslims was significant.
Even middle and upper class Muslim women were active.

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