Between 1920 and 1940 peasant organisations arose.
The first organisation to be founded was the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha (1929) and in 1936 the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS).
In 1936, at the Lucknow session of the Congress, All India Kisan Sabha was formed with Sahajanand as its first president.
It later issued a Kisan manifesto which demanded abolition of zamindari and occupancy rights for all tenants.
Indigo Rebellion (1859-62):
In order to increase their profits, the European planters persuaded the peasants to plant Indigo instead of food crops.
The farmers were discontent growing indigo because:
Low prices were offered for growing indigo.
Indigo was not lucrative.
Indigo planting decreased the fertility of the soil.
The peasants suffered at the hands of the traders and the middleman.
Consequently, they launched a movement for non cultivation of indigo in Bengal.
They were supported by the press and the missionaries.
Harish Chandra Mukherjee, a Bengali Journalist, described the plight of peasants of Bengal in his newspaper ‘The Hindu Patriot’.
Dinabandhu Mitra, Bengali writer and dramatist, in his play ‘Nil Darpan’ depicted the treatment of the Indian peasantry by the indigo planters. It was first published in 1860.
His play created a huge controversy which was later banned by the East India Company to control the agitation among the Indians.
The government appointed an Indigo Commission and issued an order in November 1860, notifying that it was illegal to force the ryots to cultivate indigo.
After the Indigo rebellion in Bengal indigo production collapsed in Bengal.
But the planters now shifted their operation to Bihar.
However, with the discovery of synthetic dyes in the late nineteenth century their business was severely affected.
Since natural indigo could not compete with it, indigo exports from India declined in value.
Due to reduced profitability, planters allowed the peasants to shift to other crops.
Pabna Movement (1870s-80s):
In larger parts of Eastern Bengal, landlords forcefully collected rents and land taxes, often enhanced for the poor peasants.
The peasants were also prevented from acquiring Occupancy Right under Act X of 1859.
In May 1873, an Agrarian League was formed in the Yusufshahi Pargana of Pabna district, Patna (East Bengal).
Rent strikes were organised, funds were raised and the struggle spread throughout Patna and to other districts of East Bengal.
The struggle was mainly legal resistance and little violence.
The discontent continued till 1885 when the Government by the Bengal Tenancy Act of 1885 enhanced the occupancy rights.
The struggle was supported by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, R.C. Dutt and the Indian Association under Surendranath Banerjea.
Deccan Riots (1875):
The Deccan peasants uprising was directed mainly against the excesses of the Marwari and Gujarati money lenders.
The ryots suffered heavy taxation wherein the land revenue was also raised by 50%
Social Boycott: In 1874, the ryots organised a social boycott movement against the moneylenders.
They refused to buy from the moneylenders’ shops and cultivate their fields.
The barbers, washermen, and shoemakers refused to serve them.
This social boycott spread rapidly to the villages of Poona, Ahmednagar, Solapur and Satara and was transformed into agrarian riots with systematic attacks on the moneylenders’ houses and shops.
The Government succeeded in repressing the movement.
As a conciliatory measure, the Deccan Agriculturists Relief Act was passed in 1879.
Moplah Rebellion (1921):
The Moplahs were the Muslim tenants inhabiting the Malabar region where most of the landlords were Hindus.
Their grievances centred around lack of security of tenure, high rents, renewal fees and other oppressive exactions.
The Moplah movement merged with the ongoing Khilafat agitation.
Mahatma Gandhi, Shaukat Ali and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad addressed Moplah meetings.
Many Hindus were seen by the Moplahs to be helping the British authorities. The anti-government and anti-landlord movement acquired communal overtones.
Communalization isolated the Moplah from the Khilafat & Non- Cooperation Movement.
The movement was called off by December 1921.
Eka Movement (1921)
The Eka Movement, also known as the Unity Movement, is a peasant movement that began in Hardoi, Bahraich, and Sitapur at the end of 1921.
It was founded by Congress and the Khalifat movement and was later led by Madari Pasi.
The main reason for the move was high rent, which in some areas was more than 50% of the recorded rent.
Oppression of thekedars entrusted with collecting rent, as well as the practise of share rent, contributed to this movement.
The assembled peasants vowed that they would pay only recorded rent would refuse to do forced labour,, they would not pay revenue without receipt.
This movement included small zamindars who were dissatisfied with the British government due to high land revenue demands.
Soon after, the Movement’s leadership shifted from Congress to Madari Pasi, a low caste leader who was not willing to accept nonviolence.
As a result, the movement lost contact with the nationalist class.
The Eka Movement came to an end in March 1922 as a result of severe repression by authorities.
All India Kisan Sabha (1936)
The All India Kisan Sabha (also known as the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha) is the peasant or farmers’ wing of the Communist Party of India, an important peasant movement founded in 1936 by SahajanandSaraswati during the Indian National Congress Lucknow Session in 1936.
April 1936, Swami Sahjanand Saraswati was elected president, and N.G. Ranga was appointed general secretary.
A kisan manifesto was issued, and a periodical was launched under the direction of Indulal Yagnik.
The AIKS agenda had a strong influence on the Congress manifesto (particularly the agrarian policy) for the 1937 provincial elections.
The goal of All India Kisan Sabha was to abolish landlordism and provide free land to agricultural and other rural laborers.
To raise the rural masses’ standard of living while also developing agriculture and industry.
It wanted to put an end to the exploitation of agricultural and other rural laborers.
Bardoli Satyagraha, 1925
The Bardoli Taluk in modern-day Gujarat was hit by floods and famines in 1925, which adversely affected crop yield. This affected the farmers financially.
Ignoring the plight of the farmers, the Bombay Presidency increased the tax rates by 22%.
Despite petitions and appeals from civic groups and farmers to review this unjust hike in tax rates in lieu of the grave situation, the government decided to go ahead with tax collection.
In January 1928, farmers in Bardoli invited Vallabhai Patel to launch the protest movement wherein all of them resolved not to pay taxes.
Gandhiji also lend support to the movement through his writings in ‘Young India’ magazine.
Patel divided the taluk into camps and organised hundreds of men and women under the camps.
The volunteers came from Hindu, Muslim and Parsi communities also.
A large number of women took active part in the movement. It was these women who gave Patel the moniker ‘Sardar’.
Peasants were asked to take oaths in the name of god that they would not pay the taxes.
Those who paid taxes or were supportive of the British were socially boycotted.
They also worked for the betterment of the Kaliparaj caste (farmers who worked as landless labourers).
They resisted eviction and confiscation (jabti) in unique ways.
K M Munshi and Lalji Naranji resigned from the Bombay Legislative Council.
Although the movement was local, it received nation-wide attention and support.
Fearing things could go out of hand, the government set up the Maxwell- Broomfield commission to look into the matter.
The revenue was reduced to 6.03%.
The peasants were returned their confiscated land.
Patel emerged as a national leader after the success of the Bardoli Satyagraha.
AMBEDKAR AND MAHAR MOVEMENT
In April 1923, Dr B. R. Ambedkar returned to India after completing his studies abroad.
By the time he came back, he had equipped himself fully to wage war against the practice of untouchability.
To bring about a new socio-political awareness among the untouchables, Babasaheb Ambedkar established the "Bahishkrit Hitkarini Sabha" (Outcaste Welfare Association) on 20 July 1924 in Bombay.
The members were drawn from the Mahars, Chambhars, and Matangs castes.
This Sabha was a central institution for removing the difficulties of the untouchables and placing their grievances before the Government.
The founding principles of the Sabha were: "Educate, Organise and Agitate"
In 1924, Babasaheb Ambedkar began Mahar’s Sanskritisation process.
But, after realising that the Hindus would not grant equal religious rights to the untouchables, he embarked on a new revolutionary campaign.
The problems of the untouchables were centuries old and difficult to overcome. Their entry into the temple was forbidden. They could not draw water from public wells and ponds. Their admission to the school was prohibited.
In 1927, Dr B. R. Ambedkar led a Satyagraha campaign in Mahad. He led the Mahad March at the Chowdar Tank at Colaba near Bombay to give the untouchables the right to draw water from public tanks, where he burnt copies of the ’Manusmriti’ publically.
Ambedkar and a group of protestors drank the water to show their displeasure with untouchability.
The Kalaram Temple Entry Movement led by B. R. Ambedkar in 1930 at Kalaram temple in Nasik is another landmark in the struggle for human rights and social justice.
The Mahar Movement aimed to oppose Hindu hierarchy and inequality.
The Mahars fought against Hindu dominance under the leadership of B. R. Ambedkar, and thousands of them converted to Buddhism.
They demanded the same rights as other castes to use public water tanks, enter the temple, and educational and Occupational rights.
The Movement created a sense of unity among the lower and untouchable castes.