New Delhi : On the centennial year of Champaran and Kheda agitations helmed by Mahatma Gandhi, Prime Minister Narenda Modi on Sunday reminded the countrymen of the great leader's arrival in public life at a time which was a "turning point".
The arrival of Gandhi in public life in 1917 "was a turning point from the point of view of struggle (for independence)", Modi said during his radio address 'Mann ki Baat'.
He implored people to imagine the hard work and immense enterprise that Gandhi must have put to use when he marshalled these agitations in Champaran and Kheda, having only been in India for two years.
He cited the agitations as a text-book example of "how to begin in public life", for Gandhi's display of his "organisational skills, knowing the pulse of people placed at the bottom rungs", and of using other great leaders such as Rajendra Prasad in the movement.
"British at the time were confounded by Gandhi's ways... who practised 'sangharsh and srijan' (struggle and creation) as modes of agitation," Modi said.
A foreign-returned Gandhi led the two movements in Champaran (Bihar) and in Kheda district (Gujarat) against the oppressive British commercial and trade practices.
He brought the farmers of Champaran together who were forced to cultivate indigo for the British to export instead of food-crops, of which they were in dire need.
During the struggle at this time, he asked people not to demand 'swaraj' (self-rule) yet, but to campaign against the exploitative tax system and administration.