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Non Cooperation Movement


Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good -Mahatma Gandhi

The Non-Cooperation Movement was pitched in under leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress from September 1920 to February 1922, marking a new awakening in the Indian Independence Movement.

Gandhiji realised , after a series of events, including the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, that there was no chance of receiving fair treatment from the British, so he planned to withdraw the nation's cooperation from the British Government, thereby launching the Non-Cooperation Movement and disrupting the administrative structure of the country. This movement was a tremendous success since it inspired millions of Indians. This movement nearly shook the British government.


  • Rowlatt act and suppression of civil liberties.

  • The massacre in Jallianwala Bagh

  • Extreme disappointment and despair resulting from the Hunter commission's report

  • Economic hardship resulting from World War I

  • The ongoing Khilafat movement as a chance to bring Hindus and Muslims together.


From 4-9 September 1920, a special session of the Congress was held in Calcutta, where Gandhi's resolution on the noncooperation agenda was accepted despite a qualifying amendment from Bipin Chandra Pal of Bengal and despite opposition from old guards such as C.R. Das, Jinnah, and Pal.

The programme provided for-

  • surrender of government titles

  • boycott of schools, courts and councils

  • boycott of foreign goods

  • encouragement of national schools

  • arbitration courts and khadi (homespun cloth)

  • Abandonment of inviolability

  • Strict adherence to nonviolence

The programme was then approved at the December 1920 session of the Congress in Nagpur. Gandhi ji promised that the revolution will deliver swaraj within a year. If that did not occur or if the government resorted to repression, a campaign of civil disobedience involving nonpayment of taxes was to be initiated.

In order to transform the movement into a true mass organisation, the resolution also called for a dramatic reorganisation of the congress through the establishment of district and village-level groups. 4 anna membership was launched so that more and more poor people could join the Congress Reorganization of the Provincial Congress Committees so that now they would be organised on linguistic basis. The intention was to bring it closer to the masses.


Gandhi ji called off the movement abruptly after the chauri chaura incident in February 1922. (Chauri Chaura event in which 22 police officers were burned to death)

He believed that the movement was becoming increasingly violent in several locations and that the satyagrahis were not prepared for a mass movement. He felt that use of violence can backfire as this would give legitimacy to Britishers to unleash terror on unarmed Indians. He was devoted to the principles of nonviolence.

According to Bipan Chandra, the underlying cause for the movement's retreat was Gandhiji's desire for a dignified exit as the masses grew weary.

There were commununal undertones, incidents in several regions, including as the Mappila insurrection in Malabar, which Gandhi ji did not want to take on a sectarian hue at any cost. And the Khilafat issue was beginning to fade and so does the Muslim participation.


Though the movement was a failure in terms of its stated goals and the promises made by the INC and Gandhi, the Non Cooperation Movement NCM) was successful in that Gandhiji was able to organise the masses against the British Raj, and the British came to realise that their rule is not unchallengeable.

Non-cooperation, wrote Mahatma Gandhi’s American biographer Louis Fischer, became the name of an epoch in the life of India and of Gandhiji. Noncooperation was sufficiently negative to be peaceful yet sufficiently positive to be effective. It required denial, sacrifice, and self-control. It was preparation for independence. The British Raj was rattled to its foundations for the first time since the revolt of 1857 due to the non-cooperation movement.


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