Conquest of India
Early Resistance to British Rule
Nationalism in India
Indian Freedom Struggle Under Gandhiji
Social Reforms in British India
Partition of India
Other Important Topics

24. Non Cooperation Movement | 1920 – 21

The Non – Cooperation Movement has had four main causes:

1. Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and Resultant Punjab Disturbances
2. Dissatisfaction with Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms
3. Rowlatt Act4. Khilafat Agitation


  • Turkey had aligned itself in the First World War with Germany – led Axis powers that were defeated by Great Britain – led Allied powers. The political – conscious Muslims were critical of British and their allies treatment of the Turkish (Ottoman) Empire that had divided it and properly removed Thrace from Turkey.
  • The Muslims also regarded the Sultan of Turkey as the Caliph or the religious head of the Muslims and they strongly felt that his position over the Muslim religious places should not be undermined.
  • Under the leadership of the Ali Brothers (Maulana Mohammed Ali and Maulana Shaukat Ali), Maulana Azad, Hakim Ajmal Khan and Hasrat Mohani, and countrywide Khilafat agitation, a Khilafat Committee was soon formed. The All – India Khilafat Conference held in November 1919 in Delhi decided to withdraw all government cooperation if the government did not meet its demands.
  • Mahatma Gandhi saw the Khilafat agitation as “an opportunity not to unite Hindus and Muslims in a hundred years time.” Also, the Muslims League gave full support to the National Congress and its political agitation.
  • In early 1920, Gandhi declared that the Khilafat question overshadowed the constitutional reforms and the Jallianwala massacre and announced that he would lead a non – cooperation movement if the terms of peace with Turkey did not satisfy the Indian Muslims.

The launch of the Non-Cooperation Movement

The above mentioned causes resulted in unrest among the masses anxious to take political action against the British government. Only added fuel to the fire was the economic hardship suffered by ordinary Indians. On August 1, 1920, the Non – Cooperation Movement was officially launched.

Congress Nagpur session in December 1920 defined the Non – Cooperation program clearly in detail. Following changes to the Indian National Congress Constitution at the December 1920 Nagpur Session:1. The Congress goal has been shifted from achieving self – government through constitutional and legal means to achieving Swaraj through peaceful and legitimate means.2. The Congress now had to have a 15-member Working Committee to look after its daily affairs.3. Linguistically, Provincial Congress Committees were to be organized now.4. The membership fee was reduced to 4 years per year to make it possible for the poor to join.5. Congress was to use Hindi as far as possible.

The non – cooperation movement method and spread

  • Together with the Ali brothers, Mahatma Gandhi undertook a nationwide tour of numerous student and political worker rallies and meetings. This led to thousands of students leaving schools and colleges to join over 800 national schools and colleges throughout the country.
  • The educational boycott in Bengal was especially successful. C.R Das played an important role in promoting the movement and Subhash Bose became the head of the Calcutta National Congress. The educational boycott was also very successful in Punjab, and Lala Lajpat Rai played the leading role here.
  • The other successful boycott observed was lawyers such as C.R Das, Motilal Nehru, M.R Jaykar, Saifuddin Kitchlew and others boycotting the law courts
  • However, the Non – Cooperation Movement’s most successful item was the foreign cloth boycott. A major form of the boycott was also the picketing of shops selling foreign cloth. Liquor shops were also picketing.
  • Gandhi and Congress put a lot of stress on handspun Khadi in support of domestic textiles. Charkhas were widely popularized and khadi became the national movement’s uniform.
  • In July 1921, at the All India Khilafat Conference in Karachi, Mohammed Ali declared that continuing in the British Army was ‘ religiously unlawful for the Muslims. Gandhi repeated Mohammed Ali’s exhortation, adding that every civilian and army member should sever links with the repressive British government.
  • A movement against Union board taxes has been launched in the Midnapore district of Bengal. No – tax movements were also organized in the Andhra district of Guntur in Chirala – Pirala and Pedanandipadu taluka.
  • In U.P, where a powerful Kisan Sabha movement was underway, Jawaharlal Nehru led the non – cooperation movement among others.
  • The Non – Cooperation and Khilafat propaganda in the Malabar region of Kerala helped to arouse Muslim tenants, called the Moplahs, against their renters, but the movement sometimes took on a common colour.
  • In Assam, tea plantation labourers went on strike. While Andhra became popular with defiance of forest laws.
  • The Akali movement took place in Punjab as part of the Non – Cooperation Movement to wrest control of the gurudwaras from the corrupt mahants (priests)

Impact of the Non-Cooperation Movement

Despite the failure of the Non – Cooperation Movement to achieve its primary goal of Swaraj, it has succeeded on many other counts highlighted below:1. The National Congress has shown that it represents the country’s majority opinion. It can not be charged with representing a ‘ microscopic minority ‘ anymore.’2. The movement’s geographical spread was also nationwide. While some areas were more active than others, few areas, if any, remained entirely passive to the call for non – cooperation.3. The Non – Cooperation Movement was the masses ‘ first opportunity to participate in politics and combat injustice and economic hardship caused by years of foreign rule.4. Notwithstanding the incidents of Malabar, which were not seen later during the Civil Disobedience Movement, there was considerable involvement of Muslims in the movement and the maintenance of communal harmony. Read more:-Non Cooperation Movement

Also read:-Rowlatt Act .