Indigo – English Notes – Class XII

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  • Raj Kumar Shukla- A poor sharecropper from Champaran wishing to meet Gandhiji.
  • Raj Kumar Shukla- an illiterate but resolute hence followed Gandhiji to Lucknow, Cawnpore, Ahmedabad, Calcutta, Patna, Muzzafarpur & then  Champaran.
  • Servants at Rajendra Prasad’s residence thought Gandhiji to be untouchable.
  • Gandhiji considered as an untouchable because of simple living style and wearing(clothes), due to the company of Raj Kumar Shukla.
  • Decided to go to Muzzafarpur first to get detailed information about Champaran sharecropper.
  • Sent telegram to J B Kriplani &stayed in Prof Malkani home- a government servant.
  • Indians afraid to show sympathy to the supporters of home rule.
  • The news of Gandhiji’s arrival spread- sharecroppers gathered in large number to meet their champion.
  • Gandhiji chided the Muzzafarpur lawyer for taking high fee.
  • Champaran district was divided into estate owned by English people, Indians only tenant farmers.
  • Landlords compelled tenants to plant 15% of their land with indigo and surrender their entire harvest as rent.
  • In the meantime Germany had developed synthetic indigo –British landlords freed the Indian farmers from the 15% arrangement but asked them to pay compensation.
  • Many signed, some resisted engaged lawyers, landlords hired thugs.
  • Gandhiji reached Champaran- visited the secretary of the British landlord association to get the facts but denied as he was an outsider.
  • Gandhiji went to the British Official Commissioner who asked him to leave Trihut, Gandhiji disobeyed, went to Motihari the capital of Champaran where a vast multitude greeted him, continued his investigations.
  • Visited maltreated villagers, stopped by the police superintendent but disobeyed the order.
  • Motihari black with peasants spontaneous demonstrations, Gandhiji released without bail Civil Disobedience triumphed.
  • Gandhiji agreed to 25% refund by the landowners, it symbolized the surrender of the prestige.
  • Gandhiji worked hard towards social economic reforms, elevated their distress aided by his wife, Mahadev Desai, Narhari Parikh.
  • Gandhiji taught a lesson of self-reliance by not seeking the help of an English man Mr. Andrews.

The leadership shown by Mahatma Gandhi to secure justice for oppressed people through convincing argumentation and negotiation.

Contributions made by anonymous Indians to the freedom movement.


Q 1. Gandhi’s experience in Champaran and his success in improving a lot of the peasants establish him as a true leader. What values surface from this instance of Gandhi’s fight for the peasants?

Expected Answer

Belief in the cause



Integrity of character




Q2. ‘It was an extraordinary thing ‘in those days’, Gandhi commented for a government professor to harbour a man like me.’ Many ordinary people did extraordinary things to render our freedom struggle successfully. What do you think urged them to act in a way that most others did not?



Truth and honesty


Q3. Rajkumar Shukla, a poor, unassuming peasant became a catalyst for change by taking Gandhi to Champaran, an act which later culminated in the first successful instance of Civil Disobedience in India. What qualities do you think helped Shukla and Gandhi, respectively, to initiate one of the most powerful movements in the history of our national struggle?


Being resolute



Standing by truth and honesty


Q.1) Give a character sketch of Rajkumar Shukla.

Sharecropper, yeoman, poor, determined to take Gandhi with him, resolute and tenacious, comes to complain against landlords in spite of being illiterate.

Q.2) What was the ancient arrangement in Champaran?

The Champaran peasants were sharecroppers. Most of the arable land was divided into large estates owned by British and worked by Indian tenant farmers. The chief commercial crop was indigo. The landlords compelled the tenants to plant 15% of their land with indigo and surrender the entire harvest as rent.

Q.3) How did Gandhi break the deadlock? –

The British landlords expected Gandhi to demand repayment of the money in full which they had illegally taken from the farmers, but he asked for only 50% of it. They offered to refund 25% thinking that Gandhi and the farmers won’t accept this proposal and the court case won’t be solved. But Gandhi agreed to it and it was accepted unanimously by the commission and the deadlock was broken.

Q.4) What justification did Gandhi give for accepting 25% of the refund? How was his acceptance a lesson to both the landlords and peasants?-

Gandhi justified by saying that the amount was less important than the fact that the landlords had surrendered money and prestige in the court in front of the peasants and realized as a lesson that they were not lords above the law and their might which was unquestioned till now could be challenged by Indians. The farmers also learnt courage & that they had rights and defenders.

Q.5) Who were Prof. J. B. Kripalani & Prof. Malkani? What was an ‘extraordinary thing’ in those days & why?

Average Indians were afraid to show sympathy for advocates of Home Rule like Gandhi. So when Prof. Kripalani (of Arts College, Muzzafarpur) gave a welcome to Gandhi at the station at midnight & Prof. Malkani (Govt. school teacher) gave shelter to Gandhi at his house, Gandhi considers this as something extraordinary.

Q.6) When did Gandhi exclaim ‘The battle of Champaran is won?-

Rajendra Prasad recorded the consultations of lawyers like Brij Kishor Babu, Maulana Mazharul Huq & others. Gandhi asked them what they would do if he was arrested. They replied that they had come to advise & help him. If he went to jail there won’t be anyone to advise & so they would go home. When Gandhi wanted to know what would happen to the injustice on the sharecroppers in his absence, the lawyers consulted that Gandhi was prepared to go to jail for poor farmers in spite of being a stranger. If they having served the peasants, backed out, it would be a shameful desertion. So convinced by Gandhi’s words they decided to follow him into jail. Then Gandhi said ‘The battle—– won’ highlighting that his purpose was solved. He was successful in bringing about a change in people’s minds & gets them united & free from fear to protest against the injustice by the British.

Q.7) How did Gandhi keep a watch on his ashram in Sevagram?

He sent regular instructions by mail asking for financial accounts. He also wrote to residents to dig new latrine trenches & fill the old ones to avoid bad smell.

Q.8) ‘The Champaran episode was a turning point in Gandhi’s life’. Explain.

This was from where he first began his journey of fame & success as a ‘Mahatma’. He started urging the British to leave India & Civil Disobedience movement won for the first time. Gandhi & others realized its utility as a weapon against the British.

Q.9) What was the result of the 4 long interviews between Gandhi & Edward Gait?

As a result, an official enquiry commission was appointed to inquire into the situation of the indigo sharecroppers. It consisted of landlords, Govt. officials & Gandhi as the sole representative of the peasants.

Q.10) ‘The whole area throbbed with activity’. Comment. How did Gandhi remove the grievances of the farmers?

Gandhi conducted a far-flung inquiry into the grievances of the farmers. Depositions by about 10,000 peasants were written down & notes were made on other evidence against the British landlords to be presented in the court. The area of Motihari was also alive with the protests of landlords & so throbbed with activity.

Q.11) What was the typical Gandhi pattern of politics? ‘Gandhi’s politics were intertwined with the practical day-to-day problems of the millions’. Justify. –

a) His politics were intertwined with the practical day-to-day problems of the people. His loyalty was not to abstractions but to living human beings.
b) He never contended with large political & economic solutions but wanted to remove the social & cultural background of places like Champaran.
c) His efforts were not to bring about a change in the British govt. initially but to provide freedom to the farmers from the injustice of the landlords.
d) He tried to mould a new free Indian who could stand on his feet & make India free.
e) He didn’t seek a prop in a British (Charles Andrews) to win the battle against the British but taught a lesson in self-reliance.

Q.12) ‘The story teems with contributions from unsung heroes of the freedom struggle’. Comment.

Write about the contribution of Rajkumar Shukla (illiterate but dared to come to Lucknow to protest against the landlords), Prof. Kripalani & Malkani, Mahadev Desai, Narhari Parikh & their wives, Devadas, doctor who volunteered his services for 6 months & lawyers like Brij Kishor Babu, Maulana Mazharul Huq, etc.

Q.13) How according to Rajendra Prasad did Gandhi teach them self-reliance?

Gandhi’s friends thought to have Charles Andrews in Champaran but Gandhi told them not to seek a prop in an Englishman as it was a weakness of their heart. He said that their cause was just & they should rely on themselves to win the battle. Thus he taught them self-reliance by reading their minds & was against Andrews staying in Champaran.

Q.14) What was the ‘beginning of liberation from fear’? How did it come about? – When Gandhi didn’t obey the orders of the Police Superintendent to quit Champaran, he received summons to appear in court the next day. The peasants in & around Motihari didn’t know Gandhi’s records in S. Africa, but had heard that a Mahatma who wanted to help them, was in trouble with the authorities. Their spontaneous demonstration in thousands around the court was the beginning of their liberation from fear of the British. Due to this the govt. officials were baffled & postponed the trial & released Gandhi without bail. They had to take his help to regulate the angry crowd, which he politely did. He also proved to them that their might which was dreaded & unquestioned till now could be challenged by Indians any time.

Q.15) Describe the social work Gandhi & his followers undertook to do in Champaran for its social & cultural upliftment. How did Gandhi & his family help in establishing schools & improving health conditions in Champaran?Education – Appealed for teachers. Mahadev Desai & Narhari Parikh volunteered with their wives. Many others joined from Bombay, Poona & other distant parts of the country. Gandhi’s wife Kasturbai & youngest son Devadas arrived from the ashram. Primary schools were opened in 6 villages.

Health & Hygiene – Kasturbai taught rules on personal cleanliness & community sanitation. Gandhi got a doctor to volunteer his services for 6 months. 3 medicines were available – Castor oil, Quinine & Sulphur ointment.

Q.16) Gandhi’s loyalty was not to abstractions; it was a loyalty to living human beings. Discuss with reference to the lesson ‘Indigo’.


– Champaran episode exemplifies Gandhi’s loyalty to human beings and not ideologies. His politics was entwined with practical day-to-day problems of the millions

-had gone there at the persistent plea of a peasant Rajkumar Shukla, not to defy the British but to alleviate the distress of indigo farming sharecroppers who were being cheated by them.

– he realized that courts could not bring justice to them as they were so crushed and fear-stricken.

-won them compensation – proved to them that they had rights and defenders, thus gave them the courage to stand up for their rights.

– was not content with a political and economic victory. He immediately set about addressing the social and cultural backwardness in Champaran.

-under his leadership, Mahadev Desai, Narhari Parikh, their wives and others including his son volunteered for work-  opened primary schools in six villages, and his wife Kasturbai taught personal cleanliness and community sanitation. A volunteer doctor dispensed basic medicines.

– His mission was to mould a new free Indian who could stand on his own feet and free India. He discouraged them from using Charles Freer- an Englishman as a prop for their cause. Self-reliance, Indian independence and help to sharecroppers were all bound together.


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