Indigo Summary

Author of Indigo

Louis Fischer

Theme of Indigo

Power of an effective leadership.

He wrote a biography the life of Mahatma Gandhi. This chapter is a part of the same book.

Characters in Indigo:

  1. Rajkumar Shukla: the peasant who Mahatma Gandhi about Britishers malpractices in the Champaran.
  2. Mahatma Gandhi: Freedom Fighter leader

Chapter Explanation:

  1. The author Louis Fischer first met Mahatma Gandhi at his ashram in Sewagram in 1942.

  2. Rajkumar Shukla first met Mahatma Gandhi in December 1916 annual convention of the Indian National Congress party in Lucknow.

  3. The problem faced by the people of Champaran. Under an ancient arrangement, the land of Champaran was divided into large estate owned by Englishman and each and every farmer have to grow indigo three twentieths or 15 per cent of their holdings, all the produce should be given to the government as rent.

  4. Rajkumar Shukla was a resolute, as he accompanied Gandhi everywhere. Mahatma Gandhi was impressed by his resistance.

  5. First both of them went to Patna, Bihar. There Shukla led him to the house of a lawyer named Rajendra Prasad.

  6. The servants of Dir. Rajendra prasad thought that Gandhi is also a peasant because of his outfit, Gandhi was not allowed to draw water out of well. According to them if a drop fell it will pollute the entire source.

  7. Then they went to Muzaffarpur to obtain more complete information about conditions.

  8. Gandhi telegrammed Professor J.B. Kriplani, of the Arts College in Muzaffarpur, whom he had seen at Tagore’s Shantiniketan school.

  9. Kriplani was waiting at the station with a large body of students.

  10. Gandhi stayed there for two days in the home of Professor Malkani, a teacher in a government school. ‘‘It was an extraordinary thing ‘in those days,’’. Those days nobody was ready to risk their life by giving shelter to a person who is enemy of government.

  11. When Gandhi came to know that lawyers were charging from farmers to represent their case in court, he scolded lawyers, that the farmers are already facing several problems, especially financial problems over which you are charging them to reclaim their own money from government.

  12. According the Gandhi the peasants are under fear of government, so court is useless.

  13. As the people came to know that germen developed artificial indigo, but in order to release themselves from the agreement, they have to pay compensation. Some agreed, while other did not.

  14. First, he visited the secretary of the British landlord’s association. The secretary told him that they could give no information to an outsider. Gandhi answered that he was no outsider.

  15. Next, Gandhi called on the British official commissioner of the Tirhut division in which the Champaran district lay. He advised Gandhi to leave Tirhut. But Gandhi did not leave.

  16. Then, he proceeded to Motihari, the capital of Champaran.

  17. A report came in that a peasant had been maltreated in a nearby village. Gandhi decided to go and see; the next morning he started out on the back of an elephant. He had not proceeded far when the police superintendent’s messenger overtook him and ordered him to return to town. The messenger drove Gandhi home where he served him with an official notice to quit Champaran immediately. Gandhi signed a receipt for the notice and wrote on it that he would disobey the order.

  18. In consequence, Gandhi received a summons to appear in court the next day.

  19. Gandhi telegraphed Rajendra Prasad to come with influential friends, and wired a full report to the viceroy.

  20. Next morning, thousands of peasants accumulated around the courthouse to revolt and show their anger to the government, it was the beginning of their liberation from fear of the British. they had merely heard that a Mahatma who wanted to help them was in trouble with the authorities.

  21. The British officials were powerless without Gandhi's cooperation.

  22. The government was baffled. The prosecutor requested the judge to postpone the trial. Gandhi protested against the delay.

  23. He told the court, in a “conflict of duties”— on the one hand, not to set a bad example as a lawbreaker; on the other hand, to render the “humanitarian and national service.

  24. The reason behind his disagreement of the order to leave“Not for want of respect for lawful authority, but in obedience to the higher law of our being, the voice of conscience.”

  25. The magistrate said that he would announce the sentence after two-hour recess and told Gandhi to furnish bail for those 120 minutes, Gandhi refused. The judge released him without bail.

  26. Gandhi asked the lawyers that what they will do if he will be imprisoned, they replied that they are there only to advice and help if he will be imprisoned there will be nobody to advice and help.

  27. Gandhi asked what about the farmers exploitation, they realised that Gandhi was totally a stranger then also he is ready for imprisonment to help the farmers, then going home without helping the farmers would be shameful for them who are resident and claimed to serve the peasants.

  28. Several days later, Gandhi received a written communication from the magistrate informing him that the Lieutenant-Governor of the province had ordered the case to be dropped.

  29. Depositions by about ten thousand peasants were written down, and notes made on other evidence.

  30. In June, Gandhi was summoned to Sir Edward Gait, the Lieutenant-Governor. Before he went, he met leading associates and again laid detailed plans for civil disobedience, if he should not return.

  31. As a result of the interview with Lieutenant-Governor, an official commission was appointed to inquiry into the indigo sharecroppers’ situation.

  32. Gandhi remained in Champaran for an initial uninterrupted period of seven months and then again for several shorter visits.

  33. When they saw the mountain of evidences they accepted to refund, the thought that Gandhi would ask for 100% but, he asked for 50%, but the representative of the planters offered to refund to the extent of 25 per cent, Gandhi accepted it.

  34. Later Gandhi explained the reason for the same, he said, the amount of refund was less important than the surrender of the British government, they did not only refund a part of money also surrendered a part of their prestige.

  35. In order to do something for social and economic backwardness of the people of Champaran:
    immediately. He appealed for teachers. Mahadev Desai and Narhari Parikh, two young men who had just joined Gandhi as disciples, and their wives, volunteered for the work. Several more came from Bombay, Poona, and other distant parts of the land. Devadas, Gandhi’s youngest son, arrived from the ashram and so did Mrs. Gandhi. Primary schools were opened in six villages. Kasturbai taught the ashram rules on personal cleanliness and community sanitation
    Health conditions were miserable. Gandhi got a doctor to volunteer his services for six months. Three medicines were available — castor oil, quinine, and sulphur ointment. Anybody who showed a coated tongue was given a dose of castor oil;anybody with malaria fever received quinine plus castor oil; anybody with skin eruptions received ointment plus castor oil.

  36. Gandhi kept a long-distance watch on the ashram. He sent regular instructions by mail and asked for financial accounts. Once he wrote to the residents that it was time to fill in the old latrine trenches and dig new ones otherwise the old ones would begin to smell bad.

  37. Charles Freer Andrews, the English pacifist who had become a devoted follower of the Mahatma, came to bid Gandhi farewell before going on a tour of duty to the Fiji Islands. According to Gandhi's lawyer friends a Britisher (Andrews) could help them in fight against Britishers, Gandhi replied, if we take his help then it will show weakness on our side.