CBSE Class 12 English - Indigo

About the story: The story is an excerpt from his book "The Life of Mahatma Gandhi” the book has been reviewed as one of the best books written by times Educational Supplement.      

About the Author: He was born in Philadelphia and served as a  volunteer in the British army between 1918 and 1920. He was a journalist too and wrote for The New York  Times, the Saturday Review, and for European and Asian publications as well.

The theme of the story:

The story throws light upon the leadership shown by Mahatma Gandhi to get justice for the oppressed people through assertion and dialogue. It also lays emphasis on the contributions made by many unacknowledged Indians to the freedom movements.


The story highlights Gandhi’s efforts to help the poor peasants of Champaran. The most suitable land for growing crops in the Champaran district was owned by the Englishmen, where the Indian Tenants worked. Indigo was the major commercial crop and all the tenants were forced to plant  15% indigo and were supposed to surrender the entire indigo harvest as rent to the landlords.

Meanwhile, when Britishers did not need Indigo crop anymore because Germany had already developed synthetic indigo in order to release the peasants from the 15%agreement they demanded compensation. Some agreed while others didn’t agree to this. Rajkumar Shukla was one of the sharecroppers and he went to Gandhiji to seek some help and convince him to go to Champaran and help them against this long term injustice by the landlords. He followed Gandhi everywhere and strongly wanted Gandhi to fix a date out of his busy schedule to visit Champaran. 

Gandhiji was impressed by his determination and he finally decided to go along with him. They further went to Patna and Rajkumar took him to a lawyer named Rajendra Prasad. The servants of the lawyer’s house did not take Gandhiji seriously because he was dressed very modestly and he was mistaken as another peasant.  Shukla and Gandhi further went to Muzzafnagar to get a deeper insight into the sharecroppers of Champaran. 

A telegram was sent to J.B Kriplani while they stayed at the house of Prof. Malakani who was a government servant. British Government, on the other hand, punished those who gave shelters to national leaders or protestors of the government. Gandhi was popular already and his arrival and the way to resist the government orders were spread like a wildfire. Many people came to support him along with the lawyers and peasant groups. After Gandhiji’s scolding, the lawyers understood that their charges for fighting the case of peasants were very high and a poor peasant could not afford it

Gandhi finally reaches Champaran to meet the secretary of the British landlord association to get the facts and figures but he was not welcomed because he was addressed as an outsider by them. He was asked to leave Trihut after he visited the British Official Gandhi commissioner.  Gandhi instead went to Motihari the capital of Champaran to further investigate the problems of the people. Through negotiations he agreed on 25 % refund by landowners Gandhi collected fees from the sharecroppers and counseled the peasants to fight for their rights without fear and with confidence.

Finally, he succeeded in getting justice after fighting a yearlong battle. He also made arrangement for the education, health, hygiene for h families of the poor and taught them the lesson of self-reliance or and independence.