Topic: modern Indian history
1) The charkha was Gandhi’s attempt to crystallise the very deep paradox of an Indian economy and culture in the hands of Western imperialism. Comment.(250 words)
Why this question
The article talks about how British used the textile industry as a tool of economic imperialism and made full use of it, at India’s cost. The article then talks about how Gandhi recognised that domination of British in textile industry in India was not only economic exploitation but domination over the spirit of Indians and thus he emphasized on Swadeshi and the power of charkha. The question expects us to discuss these issues and comment on them.
Key demand of the question
The question expects us to bring out how British dominated textile trade in India and used it to prosper at the cost of India’s resources and in the process negatively affected the life of many Indian skilled craftsmen. Thereafter, it expects us to bring out how Gandhi through the symbolism of charkha and the message of Swadeshi fought against this domination and the impact it had.
Comment – When you are asked to comment, you have to pick main points and give your ‘opinion’ on them based on evidences or arguments stemming from your wide reading. Your opinion may be for or against, but you must back your argument with evidences.
Structure of the answer
Introduction – explain that the theory of economic drain has been put forward by several historians and explain that charkha symbolised the power of Swadeshi – the most valiant resistance against the capture of domestic textile industry.
- Explain how the British systematically dismantled the cotton mill industry of India and reduced Indian trade in this segment, destroyed economic opportunities for Indians and reduced India to a position of exporter of raw material.
- Highlight the impact it had on poverty and economic underdevelopment of India.
- Explain that Gandhi understood the ghostliness of an industry that had mummified weavers into power looms. And one of the first strikes he led was at a cotton mill in Ahmedabad in 1918. Discuss the steps he took and analyze its impact. Highlight the opposition to his policies. by the 1930s, the Mahatma, passionate about exorcising the ghosts of previous centuries, wanted to boycott not only British-manufactured cotton, but also cotton produced in Indian mills. Even though two of his most notable companions, Ghanshyam Das Birla, a cotton magnate, and Jawaharlal Nehru, opposed this theatrical idea of swaraj.
Conclusion – Comment on the power of charkha and the impact it had on the freedom struggle.