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.

Gandhi’s Eleven Demands

To carry forward the mandate given by the Lahore Congress, Gandhi presented eleven demands to the Government & gave an ultimatum of January 31, 1930 to accept or reject these demands.

  • Reduce expenditure on Army and civil services by 50 per cent.
  • Introduce total prohibition.
  • Carry out reforms in Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
  • Change Arms Act allowing popular control of issue of firearms licence
  • Release political prisoners.
  • Accept Postal Reservation Bill.
  • Reduce rupee-sterling exchange ratio
  • Introduce textile protection.
  • Reserve coastal shipping for Indians.
  • Reduce land revenue by 50 per cent.
  • Abolish salt tax and government’s salt monopoly.

Causes of the CDM:

  • The Congress declared that if the government did not accept a constitution based on the dominion status within a year, it would adopt ‘Purna 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 objective 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.
  • According to some authors, 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.

Methods of Protest:

  • 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.

Impact of Civil Disobedience Movement

According to the wish of Gandhiji, the Congress withdrew the Civil Disobedience in 1934

  • The Congress swept the polls in most provinces in 1937.
  • The Left alternative emerged, for the Movement had aroused expectations, which Gandhian strategy could not fulfill.
  • 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.
  • At the level of leadership, Nehru and Bose voiced the new mood, emphasising the need to combine nationalism with radical social and economic programmes.
  • Some Congress activists formed a socialist group within the party in 1934.
  • Kisan Sabhas with anti-zamindar programmes developed rapidly in provinces like Bihar and Andhra.

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