Peasant Movements in India- Causes and Significance of Peasant Movements


During the British rule in India, Indian peasants tried to stop their exploitation and fought back against it. Their struggle against exploitation took various forms and is studied under the topic peasant movements. These movements are listed below.

Problems and Difficulties faced by Peasants in British India

  • In Zamindari areas:
    • High rents
    • Illegal levies
    • Arbitrary evictions
    • Unpaid labour
  • Heavy land revenue was levied by the government itself in Ryotwari areas.
  • Increasing indebtedness of peasants

Causes of Peasant Movements in British India:

  • Economic policies of colonial government:
    • British government’s economic policies exploited the peasants and benefited moneylenders and landlords.
    • Under the Permanent Settlement, Ryotwari, Mahalwari, and Zamindari, the peasants were exploited.
    • The peasants were left at the mercy of the zamindars, who tortured them.
    • They forced them to pay the unlawful debts, because the British government sought greater profits.
  • Ruin of traditional handicraft industries causing overcrowding of land:  
    • Traditional handicraft industries were destroyed by British economic policies, which led to a change in ownership.
    • As a result, agricultural land became overburdened, and peasants became severely indebted and impoverished.
  • New revenue system for land:
    • The zamindars increased their demands for rent from the tenants.
    • The revenue requirement in permanently occupied areas was kept at a very high level.
    • There was a provision for periodic review in the Ryotwari areas.
    • This meant that rent would rise every few years.

List of Peasant Movements: Year, Region, Leaders, and Other Details

S. No.

Movement

Years

Region

Leaders/

Participants

Other Details

1.

Titu Mir’s movement

1782-1831

West Bengal

Mir Nathar Ali (Titu Mir)

In opposition to landlords who were Hindus and imposed beard-tax on Farazis.

2.

Pagal Panthis Movement of Garo & Hajong tribes

1825-1835

Mymensingh, formerly in Bengal

Karam Shah & Tipu Shah

In opposition to an increase in rents.

3.

Moplah uprisings

1836-1854

Malabar

-

In opposition to an increase in demand for revenue & field size reduction.

4.

Indigo revolt

1859-1860

Nadia

Degambar & Bishnu Biswas

Against conditions put by European indigo planters.

5.

Deccan Peasants’ Uprisings

1875

Kardeh village & Poona, Maharashtra

Maratha peasants

Opposed corrupt activities by Gujarati & Marwari leaders.

6.

Ramosi Uprising

1877-1887

Maharashtra

Wasudeo Balwant Phadke, Ramosi peasants

Britishers did not take anti-famine steps.

7.

Pabna Agrarian uprising

1873

Pabna, East Bengal, presently in Bangladesh

Shambhu Pal, Shah Chandra Roy, Khoodi Mollah

Against zamindars

8.

Champaran Satyagraha

1917

Bihar

Peasants of Champaran

Peasants were being forced to grow indigo on 3/20 of land. This was known as Tinkathia system.

9.

Kheda Satyagraha

1918

Gujarat

Peasants of Kheda

Failure of crops and refusal by authorities to grant remission.

10.

Bardoli Satyagraha

1928

Surat, Gujarat

Supported by Vallabhbhai Patel

In opposition to an increase in revenue by 22% by Bombay government.

11.

Eka movement

1921-1922

Sitapur, Hardoi and Barabanki districts

People of Ahir and Pasi castes

In opposition to increase in rents.

12.

Bakasht Movement

1936

Bihar

-

In opposition to policies of zamindars with regard to occupancy rights.

There were differences between 19th and 20th century Peasant movements in terms of leadership, extent of movement, and objective. Colonialism was not one of the targets of the peasant movements in 19th century, however, there was a rise of anti-colonialism feelings among the peasant movements in 20th century. In 19th century, there was no formal organisation, unlike 20th century where formal organizations of kisans emerged in rural India like All India Kisan Sabha was formed in 1936.

Significance of the Peasant Movements

  • The revolts created awareness among the Indians especially peasants regarding their legal rights.
  • The peasant movements inspired other revolts like Revolt of 1857.
  • The Peasant movements led to unity among the peasantry including the landless labourers. 
  • Peasants were directly fighting for their rights and their demands were heard as evident from the Indigo revolt, Bardoli satyagraha, Pabna revolt, etc. 
  • The Peasant Movements led to post-independence agrarian reforms like Abolition of Zamindari, land ceiling, etc. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Peasant Movements in India

In which region did Titu Mir’s movement occur?

Titu Mir’s movement took place in West Bengal during 1782-1831.

Who were the leaders of Pagal Panthis Movement of Garo & Hajong tribes?

Karam Shah and Tipu Shah were the leaders of Pagal Panthis Movement of Garo & Hajong tribes.

In which year did Indigo revolt take place?

Indigo revolt took place in 1859 -1860 against conditions imposed by European indigo planters.

Why did Ramosi uprising occur during 1877-1887 in Maharashtra region?

During 1877-1887 in Maharashtra region, Ramosi uprising occurred as the Britishers did not take anti-famine steps.

In which year was Champaran Satyagraha organised?

Champaran Satyagraha was organised in 1917 by peasants of Champaran, Bihar.

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Panna district of Madhya Pradesh is famous for which mineral? / मध्य प्रदेश का पन्ना जिला किस खनिज के लिए प्रसिद्ध है? 


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