Seminar: "Champaran Satyagraha: Gandhiji’s Intervention in an Agrarian Situation"
Professor Rajmohan Gandhi, Distinguished Visiting Professor, HSS Dept, IITBombay will Chair the Session
Champaran Satyagraha is generally described as Gandhiji’s first significant non-political grassroots struggle for the cause of poor and exploited peasants in Champaran district in North Bihar located in the foot hills of Himalayas. British Planters had moved in to Champaran area in the early nineteenth century and took over the cultivation from gawky Zamindars and thekedars. The British planters forced the tenant farmers to cultivate indigo (Neel) *in three twentieth part of a Bigha of their operational holding. For about a hundred years the poor peasants suffered indignity, physical abuse and exploitation. The British administration was at best indifferent. The historical accounts tell us that there were rebel and revolts by farmers rich and poor with different interests, but the situation had not improved to any significant extent. Gandhiji intervened in 1917 and forced the British Administration to improve the condition substantially. The Champaran *Satyagrha*is adjudged as first important and successful application of Ahimsa and Satyagrahain protesting against tyrannical rule in British India. However, some research and scholastic writings including subaltern writings have interpreted and written the Champaran Satyagraha differently in the framework of agrarian and peasant movements in British India. It is argued that Gandhiji arrived on the scene when already farmers and leaders of the oppressed had rebelled against the order and were trying to seek fundamental redress. It is also argued that there were some rich peasants landlords and powerful local moneylenders who had their own vested interest in driving the European planters away and secure back their domain and dominance. Gandhiji’s role has been interpreted as the agent of the ‘haves’ class and the one who spoiled or relegated the revolution prospects in to oblivion.There is a need to revisit and analyse Gandhiji’s intervention in the Champaran Agrarian situation in the Gandhian thought framework. The present work is intendedto make a modest attempt in this direction.
About the Speaker:
Professor Sudarshan Iyengar, Ph.D. Economics, served as the Vice Chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad, (2005-14). He was Director of the Centre for Social Studies, Surat (2004-05), and Director of Gujarat Institute ofDevelopment Research (1999-2004). The major focus of his research have been Gandhian thought in new perspective, natural resource development and management, people’s institutions, and role of non-government organisations in development. He has participated in rehabilitation of tribal people displaced in the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Project. He was a volunteer in relief activities in the aftermath of the 2001 earthquake in Kachchh. He has published research articles in professional journals in English, Hindi and Gujarati, and contributed to book chapters, in addition to several co-authored and edited books. He is currently Vice Chairman, High Level Dandi Memorial Committee, and Member, Gandhi Heritage Mission, Ministry of Culture, Government of India. Prof. Iyengar is the Visiting Chair Professor in Gandhian Philosophy, HSSDepartment, IIT Bombay.