Bring out the constructive programmes of Mahatma Gandhi during Non-Cooperation Movement and Civil Disobedience Movement. UPSC GS Paper 1 2021, 15 Marks

Q12. असहयोग आन्दोलन एवं सविनय अवज्ञा आन्दोलन के दौरान महात्मा गाँधी के रचनात्मक कार्यक्रमों को स्पष्ट कीजिए । (250 शब्दों में उत्तर दीजिए)

Q12. Bring out the constructive programmes of Mahatma Gandhi during Non-Cooperation Movement and Civil Disobedience Movement. (250 words) 15 Marks


The constructive programme was the product of Gandhi’s vision of a non-violent society. It grew out of the knowledge he had grasped of the naked reality of our country at that time through his intense travels throughout the nation. These programmes were not a passing thought but a creation of well-planned and thoughtful strategy of his mind. It was Gandhi’s firm conviction that self-reliant villages form a sound basis for a just, equitable and non-violent social order, which can be a guiding principle for all citizens, constructive workers and policy makers in India

In 1920 Gandhi launched the constructive programmes through the Congress. Gandhi aimed at re-generating a new society on a non-violent basis by empowering the masses through training and discipline in constructive programmes, and to achieve the same, he laid increasing stress on the necessity of working on this programme by any Satyagrahi. He said, “Civil disobedience is not absolutely necessary to win freedom through purely non-violent effort, if the cooperation of the whole nation is secured in the constructive programme.”

Gandhi did not follow a particular pattern in giving the programmes but he placed the issues according to their necessity. Through these programmes, he tried to touch many spheres of life, and many of them encompass more than one field of life, i.e. economic, political and social. We now discuss the agenda and aspects of the main programmes here.

Components of Gandhi’s constructive programme during Non-cooperation and Civil Disobedience movements:

Communal unity:

According to Gandhi, communal unity does not merely mean political unity but should be an unbreakable unity of hearts, and can be achieved only by living like people and living with them as they live. This was what Gandhi did and achieved. That is why he wanted every Congress man to be one with the people and to represent in his own person every Hindu and non-Hindu to achieve such a unity. He wanted them to cultivate personal contacts and friendship with people of different faith other than his own, and to have the same respect for their faith as for his own.

Removal of Untouchability:

Gandhi held that untouchability was a blot and curse upon Hinduism. It was an age-old social evil which had to be removed to establish social equality in the society. Gandhi endeavoured to abolish this evil. He started the ‘Harijan’ newspaper to explain his ideas to people and he travelled throughout the country to raise funds for Harijans. He also accommodated a Harijan family in his Kochrab ashram, thereby courting discontent of ashramites and an economic boycott from the rich.

Promotion of Khadi:

Gandhi presented Khadi as a symbol of nationalism, economic freedom, equality and selfreliance. It was his belief that reconstruction of the society and effective Satyagraha against the foreign rule can be possible only through Khadi. Khadi is the core of the constructive activities as recommended by him. He called Khadi the sun of the solar system of the village economy. According to him there could be no Swaraj without universal and voluntary acceptance of Khadi. In his scheme of reconstruction for free India, villages should no longer depend on cities. In the task of village upliftment, he gave first priority to khadi and other village industries. India being a country of agriculture, the farmers spend half the year without work in idleness. So Gandhi thought spinning was the best option for them as productive activity.


In Gandhi’s scheme of constructive programme, prohibition was a vital social and moral reform. Gandhi attached much importance to this because the people in villages and cities would be incapable of moral effort which was necessary for Satyagraha unless they were free from the grip of intoxicants. He also felt that women and students had a special opportunity to advance this reform. By acts of loving service they could acquire on addicts a hold which would compel them to listen to the appeal to give up the evil habit.

Village industry:

For Gandhi, Khadi is the sun of the village solar system and other village industries are the planets. Khadi takes the Central place in the upliftment of village economy. Without khadi, the other industries cannot grow. Similarly, without the revival of other essential industries khadi cannot make satisfactory progress. In order to make the villages selfreliant, the development of both the industries is essential as they are inter-dependent. Village economy remains incomplete without the revival and growth of other cottage industries such as hand-grinding, hand pounding, paper, soap etc. The development of such industries will make the villages self-sustained units and will end the exploitation of the villages by the cities.

Basic education:

Gandhi was clear that the education of citizens is a backbone of any society. So he envisaged a new educational system for non-violent society of his dream and experimented it for many years. Basic Education should be connected with life and should lead to the development of mind, body and soul. It was Gandhi’s unflinching faith that there are abundant power and potentiality in children. The nature and surroundings of society in which the children are born and brought up can itself be very educative for their life and development. They can learn many things by dealing with practical work and by direct experiences

Upliftement of Women:

In his mission of Swaraj, Gandhi needed the cooperation of women, kisans, labourers and students. So, he had planned to work amongst them through constructive programme, which was a concrete plan to generate awareness in them and get their support in the freedom struggle. He believed that the movement cannot succeed without the active participation of women.

Economic equality:

Gandhi holds that economic equality is the master key and the only solution to non-violent independence. So long as there is a gulf between the rich and the poor the construction of non-violent society is clearly impossible. A violent and bloody revolution is bound to happen unless there is a voluntary abdication of rich. Therefore, Gandhi suggests the way of equal distribution of wealth through his theory of Trusteeship, which implies that the rich people are not the owners of their wealth but they are only trustees.


India being an agricultural country, kisans are in majority in its population. Gandhi believed that if they are made conscious of their strength, no power on earth can resist them. The effective method of organising kisans is displayed by Gandhi’s kisan movement in Champaran, Kheda, Bardoli and Borsad.


Gandhi considers Ahmedabad non-violent labour union as a model for India to copy. Labour should have its own unions. The Union should have its own schools, hospitals and a crèche for workers’ children. It should also have a maternity home, its own printing press, khadi depot and residential quarters. Moreover, the union should run night schools for the general and scientific education of workers. They should teach the workers the science of conducting a successful strike. Besides, capital should be labour’s servant and not the master. The aim of constructive programme was to elevate the status of labour


According to Gandhi, the current education is unnatural and to acquire knowledge in foreign language in the place of mother tongue is a waste of time for students. Gandhi set out a clear programme to train and prepare the students, who are the future leaders of the nation, as to what they should do and should not do. Students, in his opinion, should keep away from party politics, political strikes and coercive and secret ways. They should take to spinning, use khadi and village products, learn the national language and enrich their mother tongue.

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