Ahmedabad Satyagraha Essay

1612 words - 6 pages

Ahmedabad Satyagraha

DEFINITIONS
Ahimsa Usually translated as non-violence. ‘Action based on the refusal to do harm.’ Himsa means to wish to kill. A in front of himsa negates the word, therefore making it the renunciation of the will to kill or damage.
Tapasya Self-suffering. Suffering injury in one’s own person.
Satya Truth which implies love and firmness. Combined with Agraha is the title of the Indian movement "Satyagraha", a force that is born of Truth and Love or non-violence.
Sarvodaya "Uplift of all". The ideal society in which Gandhi worked towards. This was the primary objective of the satyagraha and the Gandhian movement.
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The above-defined concepts were evident in the Ahmedabad Satyagraha. The Ahmedabad Satyagraha began in the winter of 1917 in India. To give a brief overview of the dispute that led to the satyagraha, this occurred between Ahmedabad millowners and workers. In 1917, the plague struck Ahmedabad, and the millowners were fearful of decreased production. The millowners gave those workers, who worked during the plague a bonus, however, once the plague ended, the millowners withdrew the bonus. As soon as the crisis passed, wages returned to the pre-plague bonus level. The workers believed that the wages were too low to begin with and wanted the increase in wages to be permanent. The workers stated that the increase was needed because of the increase in the cost of living. The millowners disagreed and the workers went on strike.
The satyagraha was carefully planned. The demonstration was based on the concept of ahimsa, which means non-violence or the refusal to do harm. This was important because in order for the workers to get their demands met, they needed the millowners to understand their circumstances, and to not reluctantly give into the workers’ demands.
The employers are afraid that if the workers are given what they demand they would become insolent… The employers feel that conceding the workers’ demand would enhance the influence of their advisors on them…After all what will they get by defeating the workers? The reply is that they will get nothing but the workers’ discontent. The employers will always look with suspicion on the suppressed workers.

In order for the satyagraha to remain non-violent, it was important to keep the ten thousand millworkers busy. If they remained idle, they might have got into mischief. The workers were not allowed to gamble, sleep during the day, talk about the employers and the lockout, frequent teashops, or go to the mills during the lockout. They could not go to teashops because it was feared that they would spend their time gossiping and eating unnecessarily. This was not the image that the workers needed to portray to the millowners. Arbitrators for the workers, Mahatma Gandhi, Shri Shankerlal Banker and Shri Vallabhbhai Patel stated to the workers what they must do during satyagraha. If work needed to be done on their dwellings,...

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