The Gandhi Era of the Indian Independence Movement Begins with the Non-Cooperation Movement
The non-cooperation movement (Hindi: असहयोग आन्दोलन), was the first-ever series of nationwide people's movements of nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience, led by Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress.
The Movement opened the Gandhi Era in the Indian Independence Movement and took place from September 1920 until February 1922.
The Rowlatt Acts were legislation that imposed authoritarian restrictions upon Indian people. The notion of habeas corpus was discarded, and the police and army were empowered to search and seize property, and detain and arrest any Indian without the slightest need for evidence. Promulgated by the British Parliament, the Viceroy and the Imperial Legislative Council, they were to be enforced on April 6, 1919.
Furthermore, many Indians were already infuriated by the British authorities' decision to send Indian soldiers to World War I without the slightest consultation with the Indian people in any manner or form.
The calls of liberal and moderate political leaders like Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Annie Besant, Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Bal Gangadhar Tilak for Home Rule were accompanied only by petitions and major public meetings. They never resulted in disorder or obstruction of government services.
The programme of "non-violent non-cooperation" included the boycott of councils, courts and schools, set up by the British and of all foreign cloth. With some naiveté Gandhi claimed that his movement was not unconstitutional: In his dictionary, constitutional and moral were synonymous terms. The British saw that the success of "non-cooperation" would paralyse their administration. Lord Chelmsford, the Viceroy, tried to kill with ridicule "the most foolish of all foolish schemes", which would "bring ruin to those who had any stake in the country". A number of eminent "moderate" politicians joined official critics in underlining the risks of mass non-cooperation as proposed by Gandhi.