Link between agrarian structure and agricultural growth in India, in a historical perspective

Q) Briefly explain the links between agrarian structure and agricultural growth in India, in a historical perspective. Why is it argued that agrarian reforms are critical to agricultural growth? What has been the record of implementation of agrarian reforms in India as a whole?

Ans: Colonialism was quite burdensome for Indian agriculture and affected it adversely, both in social and economic terms. From the self sufficient units villages in India were, until the advent of the British, it made Indian villages dependent on each other and on the state. Earlier villages raised crops, both food and non-food, that served their needs. But the British mandated, in certain areas, that only crops needed for British industries, like cash crops- opium, indigo and cotton- be grown and discouraged others. This changed the nature of agricultural produce from primary goods to manufactured goods, and though it served the selfish ends of the colonial government, it heavily bore down on Indian agriculture.

The British also introduced sweeping changes in the land revenue system, like the permanent settlement system, also called the zamindari system. Earlier zamindars in Bengal, Bihar & Orissa had been functionaries who merely held the right to collect revenue on behalf of the Mughal emperor and his representative. After the Permanent Settlement of Bengal in 1793, the question of incentivisation became central and the security of tenure of landlords was guaranteed; in short, the former landholders and revenue intermediaries were conferred proprietorial rights to the land they held. In addition, the land tax was fixed in perpetuity, so as to minimize the tendency by British administrators to amass a small fortune in sluiced-away revenue. Smallholders were no longer permitted to sell their land, though they could not be expropriated by their new landlords. By ensuring that zamindars’ lands were held in perpetuity and with a fixed tax burden they became a very desirable commodity, and in a way, the Permanent Settlement led to a commercialization of land and agriculture.

The monetization of the economy was in practice even before colonialism, but the British accelerated and accentuated the process and brought some fundamental changes in the wake, both in the production and consumption patterns.

Before the Britsh came to India, land was held jointly by communities or villages, and peasants enjoyed some sort of security of tenure with their land. But the British, with their two pronged strategy of extracting maximum possible revenue from agricultural land and produce, and also ensuring a steady supply of raw material for its industries back in England, found this system untenable to their goals and introduced the Zamindari, Mahalwari, and Ryotwari systems of land revenue.

The Zamindari system, mostly prevalent in erstwhile Bengal, Orissa and Bihar, made the collection of revenue the responsibility of a few big landlords, who came to be known as Zamindars. The Zamindars were to collect specific amounts of revenue, fixed through the Permanent Settlement system, and according to the size of the land holding, on behalf of the State and pass on such revenues to the State. This saved the British the trouble of administration, as all issues related to the collection of revenues were looked after by the Zamindars. This also led to the Zamindars becoming very powerful figures who enjoyed the patronage of the State and exacted whimsical amounts of revenue from the poor tillers (this practice of collecting abnormally high amounts of tax is called rack-renting). They also started subletting land to tenants, thereby introducing several levels of intermediaries. As a result, the tiller of the land had to pay almost 80%-90% of his produce as rent, and even then, had no security of lease over the land.

Under the Mahalwari system, land revenue was collected and paid by a circle of villages or a village as a whole.

The Ryotwari system, which was seen in large parts of Tamil Nadu, Punjab, etc, meant that the settlement was done separately for each plot of land, and every farmer had to pay individually and directly to the British. For instance, in the Vidarbha region, the average holding size was 60-70 acres, and owing to such large sizes, the British, after surveying the land, decided to sublet the land to landless tillers, again giving rise to intermediaries.

Now, the common features of all these three systems of land revenue were:

  1. Tenancy

  2. High rents

  3. Insecurity of tenure

However, a post independence review shows that Ryotwari regions have developed the most while Zamindari owned places have remained the most backward. This speaks volumes about the need and good of allowing the tiller to own the land, as only then, would he invest in and develop his land. On the other hand, the greater the number of intermediaries, the greater is the devolution of responsibility and the resulting devastation of the land. Non permanency of land tenure created a major disincentive to invest in agricultural implements, seeds, fertilizers, etc and this resulted in drastic reduction in productivity. Even soil fertility declined significantly.

The princely states too paid astronomical sums of money to the colonial government as tribute, and they transferred this burden to the peasants in the form of high taxes, but reforms were introduced in some places as early as the 19th century too. Even then, development pattern remained highly uneven across the country. With oppressive land revenue systems, came debt bondage, usury (lending money at very high interest rates), child labor, bonded labor, etc. Traditional occupations declined and artisans lost their livelihood, resulting in all of them turning to agriculture for jobs, and thus there was a huge increase in the number of landless agricultural laborers.

The scenario was worsened by the gaping lack of government investment in health and education. Even where government options were available, there were fiscal constraints. This led Nehru to comment, in 1933, that the agrarian system had collapsed and a new organization of society was inevitable. While the growth of foodgrain production had taken place at 0.1% annually during 1896-1936, the population had grown at a much faster rate, with the result that annual per capita availability of food grains had fallen from 200 kg in 1918 to 150 kg in 1946.

POST INDEPENDENCE

Keeping all this in view, the makers of the 1st Five Year Plan agreed that the future of land ownership and cultivation constituted the fundamental issue for India’s development. The social and economic reorganization of India would depend on the way land reform was handled. And towards this end, the mobilization of land tenants was required so as to remove the politics involved in the envisaged land reforms.

The Congress Agrarian Reforms Committee was constituted in 1948, headed by J.C. Kumarappa. It recommended the elimination of intermediaries between the State and the tiller, it sought to specify the size of land holdings for future acquisitions, it specified the need for cooperative and joint farming, it endorsed collective farming on reclaimed land. But in the whole process, it failed to provide a concrete framework for agrarian reform, in as much as its recommendations and policies were rooted in assumptions rather than being based on solid evidence.

Unfortunately however, the leaders of Independent India worked within the ideational and legislative framework defined by the colonial rulers. At best, there were only incremental changes effected. This led to the continuation of the shortsightedness displayed by the British in ignoring the link between agrarian development and agrarian reform.

Constitutionally, agriculture is a state subject, and the Centre only lays down broad principles and the framework, while the implementation details are left to the individual states. This gave rise to regional differences, political and otherwise, in the way land reform and agricultural reform were addressed by the states. In the states, the dominant political class were big land owners, and hence, there was considerable opposition to any changes suggested in the size of the land holdings. As a result, land reforms were never really implemented. Till 1992, less than 2% of the total land had been redistributed, and if we leave out Kerala, West Bengal and Karnataka, that figure dwindles to less than 1%. Only about 3.8% of the total operated land saw tenants being given permanent occupancy rights.

This has acted as a major deterrent for agricultural growth in the country, and is an equally big drag on advancements in human development.

The 1st Five Year Plan emphasized on increasing investment in irrigation projects and on developing community development programs. Action however was hard to come by and after the Plan, irrigation investment dropped from 25% to 10% of the total Plan outlay. From the 2nd Plan onwards, the P.C. Mahalanobis influence started getting more and more pronounced and there was a total shift in emphasis towards heavy industries with a view to ensuring rapid economic progress.

But with the first major drought in mid 1950s, it became clear that current agricultural growth investments would not be sustainable and there was need for more reforms. The Govt invited the Ford Foundation to problem and offer recommendations to lift the status quo. The Foundation’s report, “India’s Food Crisis and Steps to Meet it”, outlined the following recommendations:

  1. Identify crops and areas with potential to grow and concentrate efforts and investment in those crops and areas.

  2. Technological solutions like High Yielding Variety (HYV) seeds, hybrid seeds, that would give rise to crops that had a shorter sowing and harvesting duration, that were short stemmed and hence stronger, photo insensitive and fertilizer sensitive.

The Ford Foundation advanced these suggestions without any reference to changes in land holding size. This made the recommendations easier to implement, and the Government, in doing so, brought forth the “Green Revolution” in the mid 1960s. Intensive Agricultural District Program (IADP) and Intensive Agricultural Area Program (IAAP) became buzzwords in the country.

While this initiative was afoot, the country fell to two major droughts in1965-66 and 1966-67, which drove the introduction of new agricultural packages.

Till then, India received food aid from the US through a scheme called the PL-480. There was no food security and plus, the food aid was being used by the US as a strong political tool to further its free market policies. The US engaged in arm-twisting tactics by threatening to stop this aid from time to time.

The Green Revolution saved India from a ‘ship-to-mouth’ existence and helped it onward on the road to self sufficiency. Nonetheless, there are critics of the Revolution, who point to the mindless use of fertilizers resulting in soil leaching and increased pollution of the rivers, but the fact remains that food production rate had to overtake population growth at any cost. There are others who feel that the Green Revolution led to distortions in development of agrarian structures, and enormous increases in incomes of large land holding owners. Many also feel that the program was focused on food crops like rice and wheat, and other cereals and pulses were ignored. Even area-wise, the Revolution thrived in irrigated areas and some fertile areas got greater benefits. The Green Revolution was thus said to be ‘biased across crops, classes and regions’.

The govt then came up with other interventions in the form of price support, cheap credit and good marketing facilities. The Food Corporation of India (FCI) and the Agricultural Price Commission were formed in 1965.

Through (Minimum) Support Price, the govt assures farmers of a particular price for their produce, irrespective of market valuation. And Procurement Price, which is generally above Support Prices but lower than market prices, is the price at which the govt will procure, and the farmers will compulsorily have to sell their produce. The govt will then distribute this to areas of lower production. The Public Distribution System (PDS), also called Ration system in lay man language, involves a subsidy in procurement, transportation, storage and distribution.

The govt also subsidized the input side, by giving subsidies on fertilizers, power, diesel, petrol and irrigation to ensure that the farmers had all accompanying needs fulfilled to use high yielding variety of seeds.

The nationalization of 14 banks in 1969 also led to proliferation of rural and agricultural credit. By legislating that the nationalized banks had to lend 40% of all loans to the priority sector (agriculture, small scale industries, artisans, SC and STs, etc), the govt ensured that farmers got cheap and regular credit.

It was through all these steps that India was able to gain self sufficiency in food production, though not in distribution, by 1980s. In the early 1990s, the agriculture policy came in for severe criticism at the hands of World Bank, IMF and economists, who opined that the policy was flawed and needed restructuring. They criticized the unnecessary interventionist role played by the govt in the agriculture, due to which markets couldn’t function independently and freely. The farmer was deprived of better prices and at the same time, the govt exchequer was being heavily burdened by subsidies. They suggested that India could import rice and wheat and hence need not be self sufficient in food grain production, if it could export its fruits and vegetables.

In the nineties, the rate of growth of food grain production again fell below that of population growth and per capita consumption of food grains fell, the first time since colonial times. Alarmed by this, the govt promulgated the new agricultural policy in 1991. To ensure that farmers were not deprived of high prices, the govt followed a more export oriented policy. World prices were higher than Indian prices of food grains, but they were also very volatile and control lay in the hands of a few MNCs. Understandably therefore, when prices fell after the Kuwait war in the mid 90s, Indian prices remained higher and led to fears of inflation.

To attempt a correction, India signed the WTO Agreement of 1994, that regulated agricultural trade. Tariffs and quotas for imports were imposed to stress on free trade and liberalization. Subsidies were withdrawn and credit was made costlier with high interest rates. This made cultivation extremely costly and left farmers at money-lenders’ mercy. All these steps have led, over the years, to a worsening scenario of farmers’ conditions and farmer suicides are only a small manifestation of the overall agrarian crisis in the country today.

Several think tanks have advanced possible solutions to the crisis. Farmers should be incentivised to move out of food crops into high value crops like fruits, vegetables and cash crops and also to non crop food like meat, milk, etc. Support from food crops should be gradually withdrawn. But this doesn’t take into consideration the shifting consumption patterns in the country due to change in calorie consumption. Also the ratio of agricultural exports to total exports has come down over the years, proving that the WTO policies have indeed failed.

In conclusion, if drastic measures are not taken to improve the rate of growth of agriculture beyond the sub 1%-2% levels, and to diversify into other crops, India would become permanently import dependent by 2020.

Indus Valley Civilisation

MAJOR CITIES:

  1. Mohenjodaro in Sind

  2. Harappa in Pakistani Punjab

  3. Chanhudaro in northern Rajasthan

  4. Lothal in Gujarat

  5. Banawali in Haryana

  6. Surkotada in Gujarat

  7. Dholavira in Gujarat

Special Features

  1. Mohenjodaro

    • The largest of all Indus Cities.

    • Great Bath-the most important public place; remarkable for beautiful brickwork

    • Great Granary-the largest building.

    • Multi-pillared assembly hall and a big rectangular building.

    • Another building, identified as the temple.

  2. Harappa

  • The first Indus site to be discovered and excavated in 1921. The Indus civilization was originally called Harappan civilization after this site

  • Granaries-two rows of six granaries; these were the nearest buildings to the ever working floors-rows of circular brick platforms meant for threshing grain.

  • Barracks-rows of single roomed barracks, housed labourers.

  1. Chanhudaro

  • Only Indus city without a citadel.

  • Like Mohenjodaro it was also flooded more than once.

  • Discovery of a small pot which was probably an ink-well.

  1. Kalibangan

  • One of the two Indus cities which have both proto-Harappan and Harappan cultural phases.

  • Evidence of the earliest ploughed field in India in its proto-Harappan phase.

  • Discovery of platforms with fire altars.

  • Total absence of mother Goddess figurines.

  1. Lothal

  • The only Indus site with an artificial brick dockyard.

  • Evidence of the earliest cultivation of rice in the subcontinent.

  • Discovery of fire altars.

  1. Surkotada

  • The only Indus site where the remains of a horse have actually been found.

  • The only city to have a stone wall as fortification.

  1. Dholavira

  • The latest Indus city to be discovered (1990-91)

  • The only Indus city to have a middle town.

ECONOMY

AGRICULTURE

  • Main crops-wheat and barley; evidence for the cultivation of rice in Lothal and rangpur (Gujarat) only.

  • Other crops-Dates, mustard, sesamum, leguminous plants and cotton. Indus people were the first to produce cotton in the world.

  • Method of cultivation-the main crops (wheat and barley) cultivated as Kharif (summer) crops. Fields were not ploughed but dug up with a light toothed instrument.

CRAFTS:

  • Existence of specialized groups of artisans such as bronze smiths, goldsmiths, silversmiths (Harappans were the first to use silver in the world), brick-makers, stone-cutters, Seal-cutters, Weavers (of both cotton and wool cloth), boat-builders, terracotta-manufacturers, ivory-workers, etc.

TRADE AND COMMERCE:

  • Inter-regional trade with Rajasthan, Saurashtra, Maharashtra, South India, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

  • Foreign trade with Mesopotamia or Sumeria (modern Iraq), Central Asia, Afghanistan, Persia, Bahrain, etc.

  • Main imports consisted of precious metals like gold from south India and tin from Bihar and several semi-precious stones like lapis lazuli (Afghanistan), turquoise (Persia), Jade (Central Asia).

  • Main exports were several agricultural products and a variety of finished products such as cotton goods, pottery, ivory products, etc.

  • Literary as well as archeological evidence of trade links between the Sumerian and Indus people. The Sumerian texts refer to trade relations with ‘Meluha’ which was the ancient name given to the Indus region and they also speak of two intermediate stations called ‘Dilmun’ (Identified with Bahrain) and Makan (MakaranCoast). Discovery of many Indus seals and goods in Mesopotamia and of Mesopotamian seals and goods in Indus cities.

CULTURE

POLITY

  • No Clear-cut evidence about the nature of the polity; merchant rulers could have existed.

RELIGION

  • The chief male deity was the Pasaupati Mahadeva (first proto-Siva), represented in seals; he is surrounded by four animals (elephant, tiger, rhino and buffalo, each facing a different direction) and two deer appear at his feet; the chief female deity was Mother Goddess (Goddess of Earth), represented in terracotta figurines; prevalence of phallic (lingam) and yoni worship; worship of trees (Pipal) and animals (humpless bull) ; belief in ghosts and evil forces.

SCRIPT AND LANGUAGE

  • Pictographic script, called Boustrophedon Script found on seals; script has not yet been deciphered satisfactorily; no conclusive proof about its connection with either the Dravidian language of Sanskrit.

SEALS

  • Made of steatite (soft stone); the greatest artistic creations of the Harappans; their purpose was primarily to mark the ownership of property; each seal has a different emblem and a name or brief inscription.

TERRACOTTA FIGURINES

  • Figurines of men and women, birds and animals; used as toys as well as objects of worship.

IMAGES

  • Images of both metal and stone; the best metal specimen-bronze image of a nude woman dance at Mohenjodaro; the best stone specimen-steatite image of a bearded man at Mohenjodaro.

POTTERY

  • Widespread use of potter’s wheel; pots painted in various colours and decorated with human figures, plants, animals and geometrical patterns. Harappan glazed pottery was the first of its kind in the world.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES

  • Use of 16 or its multiples in weighting; authors of a linear system of measurement, whose unit was equal to one ‘angula’ of the Arthasastra.

ROLE PLAYED BY WOMEN IN INDIAN FREEDOM STRUGGLE

 

Introduction

The history of Indian Freedom Struggle would be incomplete without mentioning the contributions of women. The sacrifice made by the women of India will occupy the foremost place. They fought with true spirit and undaunted courage and faced various tortures, exploitations and hardships to earn us freedom.

When most of the men freedom fighters were in prison the women came forward and took charge of the struggle. The list of great women whose names have gone down in history for their dedication and undying devotion to the service of India is a long one.

Woman’s participation in India’s freedom struggle began as early as in1817 .Bhima Bai Holkar fought bravely against the British colonel Malcolm and defeated him in guerilla warfare. Many women including Rani Channama of Kittur, Rani Begam Hazrat Mahal of Avadh fought against British East India company in the 19th century; 30 years before the “First War of Independence 1857”

The role played by women in the War of Independence (the Great Revolt) of 1857 was creditable and invited the admiration even leaders of the Revolt. Rani of Ramgarh, Rani Jindan Kaur, Rani Tace Bai, Baiza Bai, Chauhan Rani, Tapasvini Maharani daringly led their troops into the battlefield.

Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi whose heroism and superb leadership laid an outstanding example of real patriotism .Indian women who joined the national movement belonged to educated and liberal families, as well as those from the rural areas and from all walk of life, all castes, religions and communities.

Sarojini Naidu, Kasturba Gandhi, Vijayalakmi Pundit and Annie Bezant in the 20th century are the names which are remembered even today for their singular contribution both in battlefield and in political field.

Women freedom fighters of India

The list of great women whose names have gone down in history for their dedication and undying devotion to the service of India is a long one. There are endless number of women who daringly fought for India’s freedom with their true spirit and undaunted courage and had faced various tortures, exploitations and hardships to earn us freedom that we enjoy today in our motherland India.

Below is a brief note on selected ten Women freedom fighters:-

1.Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi (19 November 1828 – 17 June 1858)

Rani Lakshmibai was one of the leading warriors of India’s freedom struggle who laid an outstanding influence on the succeeding women freedom fighters.

She used to go into the battlefield dressed as a man. Holding the reins of there horse in her mouth she used the sword with both hands. She fought valiantly and although beaten she refused to surrender and fell as a warrior should, fighting the enemy to the last. Her remarkable courage inspired many men and women in India to rise against the alien rule.

She was a symbol of bravery, patriotism, self respect, perseverance, generosity and resistance to British rule. She fought till her last breath for the welfare of women in the country and for the noble cause of India’s independence. 
2.Sarojini Naidu(February 13, 1879 – March 2, 1949)


Sarojini Naidu, the Nightingale of India, was a distinguished poet, renowned freedom fighter and one of the great orators of her time. She was elected as the president of Indian National Congress. The dynamic phase of Sarojinis career was from 1917-1919. She campaigned for the Khilafat Movement.

When Gandhi launched the Civil Disobedience Movement, she proved a faithful lieutenant. With great courage she quelled the rioters, sold proscribed literature, and addressed frenzied meetings on the carnage at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar.In 1930 when Mahatma Gandhi chose her to lead the Salt Satyagraha the stories of her courage became legion. After Gandhi’s arrest she had prepared 2,000 volunteers under the scorching sun to raid the Dahrsana Salt Works, while the police faced them half a mile up the road with rifle, lathis (canes) are steel tipped clubs. 

She gave up writing poetry and fully devoted herself to emancipation of women, education, Hindu-Muslim unity etc. She became a follower of Gandhiji and accompanied him to England. Whenever in England, she openly criticized British rule in India which caught the attention of scholars and intellectuals.

3. Madam Cama (24 September 1861– 13 August 1936.)


Madam Cama fought for the freedom of the country till the last in her own way, and helped many revolutionaries with money and materials. She unfurled the first National Flag at the International Socialist Conference in Stuttgart (Germany) in 1907.She declared “This flag is of Indian Independence! Behold, it is born! It has been made sacred by the blood of young Indians who sacrificed their lives. I call upon you, gentlemen to rise and salute this flag of Indian Independence. In the name of this flag, I appeal to lovers of freedom all over the world to support this flag.” A thousand representatives from several countries were attended. She traveled a lot of places including America and propagate Americans about Indians struggling for Independence.

4 Begum Hazrat Mahal (1820—1879)


Begum Hazrat Mahal was a great Indian freedom-fighter who played a major role during India’s First War of independence (1857-58). She was also known as the Begum of Awadh (Oudh) and was the wife of the then Lucknow ruler, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah.

she led a band of her supporters against the British, and was even able to seize the control of Lucknow. She worked in close association with other leaders of the India’s First War of Independence, including Nana Sahib. Begum was not only a strategist but also fought on the battlefield. When the forces under the command of the British re-captured Lucknow and most part of the Awadh, she was forced to retreat. When her forces lost ground, she fled Oudh and organized soldiers again in other places. She turned down all offers of amnesty and allowances by the British rulers.

Finally, she took refuge in an asylum in Nepal, where she died in the year 1879. To acknowledge her endless effort in fighting for the freedom of country, the Government of India issued a stamp on 10th May 1984.

5 .Annie Bezant (October 1, 1847 – September 20, 1933)


Annie Besant an Irish lady the leader of the Theosophical Society joined the Indian National Congress and gave it a new direction.

She was the first woman president of the Congress and gave a powerful lead to women’s movement in India. She soon became a leading labour organizer, strike leader and reformer. She also became involved in Indian Nationalism and in 1916 established the Indian Home Rule League of which she became President. She started a newspaper, “New India”, criticized British rule and was jailed for sedition. She came to be associated with rationalistic congress group of workers who did not appreciate Gandhi’s views.

She got involved in political and educational activities and set up a number of schools and colleges, the most important of which was Central Hindu College High School at Banaras which she started in 1913.


6 .Arun Asaf Ali (July 16, 1909,—July 29, 1996)


Aruna became an active member of Congress Party and participated in public processions during the Salt Satyagraha. She was arrested on the charge that she was a vagrant and hence not released in 1931 under the Gandhi-Irwin Pact which stipulated release of all political prisoners. Other women co-prisoners refused to leave the premises unless she was also released and gave in only after Mahatma Gandhi intervened. 

In 1932, she was held prisoner at the Tihar Jail where she protested the indifferent treatment of political prisoners by launching a hunger strike. Her efforts resulted in an improvement of conditions in the Tihar Jail but she was moved to Ambala and was subjected to solitary confinement. She edited ‘Inqulab’ a monthly journal of the Indian National Congress.

On August 8, 1942, the AICC passed the Quit India resolution at the Bombay session. The government responded by arresting the major leaders and all members of the Congress Working Committee and thus tried to pre-empt the movement from success. Aruna Asaf Ali presided over the remainder of the session on 9 August and hoisted the Congress flag and this marked the commencement of the movement. The police fired upon the assembly at the session. Aruna was dubbed the Heroine of the 1942 movement for her bravery in the face of danger and was called Grand Old Lady of the Independence movement in her later years.

7 .Usha Mehta (March 25, 1920 – August 11, 2000)


Usha Mehta is remembered for broad casting the Congress Radio, and called her the Secret Congress Radio, an underground radio station, which was functioned for few months during the Quit India Movement of 1942.
 

She is also known as child leader as in 1928, eight-year-old Usha participated in a protest march against the Simon Commission and shouted her first words of protest against the British Raj: “Simon Go Back.” As a child, she did not comprehend the significance of her actions except that she was participating in a movement to free her country under the leadership of Gandhi. She and many other children participated in morning protests against the British Raj and picketing in front of liquor shops.

During the Quit India Movement, Usha quickly became a leader. She moved from New Delhi to Mumbai, where she hoisted the tricolor on August 9, 1942 at Gawalia Tank Ground.

8. Kasturba Gandhi (April 11, 1869 – February 22, 1944)


Kasturba Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s wife worked with him for many years. She was a leader of Women’s Satyagraha for which she was imprisoned. She helped her husband in the cause of Indigo workers in Champaran, Bihar and the No Tax Campaign in Kaira, Gujarat. She was arrested twice for picketing liquor and foreign cloth shops, and in 1939 for participating in the Rajkot Satyagraha.

She many times took her husband’s place when he was under arrest.

Kasturba suffered from chronic bronchitis. Stress from the Quit India Movement’s arrests and ashram life caused her to fall ill. After contracting pneumonia, she died from a severe heart attack on February 22, 1944. She died in Mahatma Gandhi’s arms while both were then in prison. 

9 .Kamala Nehru 1899–1936)


Kamala Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru’s wife gave full support to her husband in his desire to work actively for the freedom struggle. In the Nehru home town of Allahabad, she organized processions, addressed meetings and led picketing of liquor and foreign cloth shops. She played a prominent part in organizing the No Tax Campaign in United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh). 

In the Non Cooperation movement of 1921, she organized groups of women in Allahabad and propagated use of khadi cloths. When her husband was arrested, to prevent him delivering a “seditious” public speech, she went in his place to read it out. She was twice arrested by British authorities. 

Kamala died from tuberculosis in Switzerland while Jawaharlal Nehru’s was in prison. She spent some time at Gandhi’s ashram with Kasturba Gandhi.

10. Vijaya Lakshmi Pundit (August 18, 1900 – December 1, 1990)


She is the daughter of Motilal Nehru, was the president of Congress and brother Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister. She was inspired by Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi and impressed by Sarojini Naidu. She entered the Non Co-operation Movement to fight against the British rule.

Vijaya Lakshmi Pundit represented India in many of the conferences abroad. She attended numerous public lectures and challenged the British dominated delegate’s rights to represent India therein. She was a great fighter and took parts in many of the freedom movement .She was arrested in 1932 and sentenced to one year’s rigorous imprisonment. She was arrested in 1940 and yet again during the Quit India Movement in 1942.

Conclusion

After a century of revolutions, struggle, blood shedding, Sathyagrahas and sacrifices, India finally achieved independence on August 15, 1947. The Hindus, the Muslims, the Sikhs, the Christian and all the other brave sons and daughters of India fought shoulder to shoulder to throw out the British.

Women shouldered critical responsibilities in India’s struggle for freedom. They held public meetings, organized picketing of shops selling foreign alcohol and articles, sold Khadi and actively participated in National Movements. They bravely faced the baton of the police and went behind the iron bars. Hundreds and thousands of Indian women dedicated their lives for obtaining freedom of their motherland