Solutions to   Ch -5 INDIGO

by Louis Fischer

Class 12 :Flamingo Ch -5 -Questions/ Answers

Understanding the text.

Q1. Why did Gandhi consider the Champaran episode to be a turning point in his life?

Ans. Gandhi went to Champaran in 1917 to solve the problems of sharecroppers and it was there that he raised his voice against the injustice by the British landlords in Champaran. He told the secretary of British Landlord’s Association that he was not an outsider in his own country. For disobeying official orders he was summoned to the court. Peasants came in thousands to Motihari to protest against Gandhi’s trial. This was a proof that the power of the British can now be challenged by the Indians. Civil disobedience triumphed for the first time in India when Gandhi was set free.

As a result of Gandhi’s investigation and that of the Enquiry Commission, landlords had to pay a compensation, and gradually, indigo sharecropping disappeared. The backwardness of Champaran worried Gandhiji and he tried to resolve them to some extent by opening schools, teaching sanitation and providing healthcare facilities.

The Champaran episode made Gandhi acquainted with the day-to-day problems of Indians and the real picture of the villagers. He saw the real India very closely during this period. This experience was used by him in carrying the Indian freedom struggle further, thus paving the way for Indian Independence from the British.

Q2. How was Gandhi able to influence lawyers? Give instances.

Ans: When Gandhi was about to be arrested for disregarding the court order, the lawyers who had come to advise him said that they would return home in case of  Gandhiji’s arrest. Then Gandhi asked them about the injustice to the sharecroppers. The lawyers realized that Gandhi displayed a sense of responsibility which they lacked in spite of being a stranger. The lawyers held consultations and came to the conclusion that it would be shameful desertion if they went home. So, they told Gandhi that they were ready to follow him into jail. Gandhi replied that the battle of Champaran was won because of their unity. One or the other lawyer would fight for justice even if some of them went to jail.

Later, when his lawyer friends wanted Charles Andrews to stay in Champaran to help them he refused, stating that they must rely on their own selves to win the battle.  Thus Gandhi influenced the lawyers through his display of responsibility, resoluteness and self-reliance.

Q3. “What was the attitude of the average Indian in smaller localities towards advocates of ‘home rule’?

Ans:  Gandhi stayed for two days at the home of Professor Malkani, a teacher of a government school in Muzzafarpur.  He said that it was an extraordinary thing in those days for a government professor to provide shelter to an advocate of home-rule, for fear of the British. The average Indians in smaller localities were afraid to show sympathy for the advocates of home-rule.

Q4. How do we know that ordinary people too contributed to the freedom movement?

Ans:  Kriplani greeted him in Muzzafarpur students with a large number of students. Professor Malkani provided him with shelter. Sharecroppers from Champaran came on foot and by conveyance to see Gandhi in Muzaffarpur. The lawyers provided him information and advice. Thousands of peasants spontaneously demonstrated around the courthouse in his support. The lawyers were ready to go to jail with him. All this prove that ordinary people too contributed to the freedom movement.

Talking about the text

 Ans. Legal justice meted out once does not ensure that there will not be further subjugation. This is the reason that Gandhi put more importance in winning the leagal battle than getting the correct amount of compensation. Once the people realize that they have the right to protest against atrocities and subjugation they will not tolerate it. Therefore ‘Freedom from fear’ is very important. In my opinion the poor of India are still not free from fear. The atrocities and injustice of the British have been replaced by that of the upper-castes, ministers, bureaucrats, mafias and the police.

Q2. The qualities of a good leader.

Ans: Gandhi during the Champaran Episode and thereafter displayed the qualities of a good leader. A good leader instills courage among his followers. He involves everyone and does not discard his responsibilities even in dire circumstances. He is observant and tries to remove problems of others. He is honest, disciplined, determined, a man of principles who is well received by the masses. He teaches self reliance and resolves problems of the oppressed.


Ans: Some words related to legal procedures are – Bail, case, commission, evidence, guilty, inquiry, judgement, notice, penalty, plead order, prison, prosecutor, summons, sentence, trial.

List other words that you know that fall into this category.
Ans. Few other words are – Complaint, complainant, decree, defendant, defence, decision, jury, prosecution, sessions, verdict, witness.


Q1. Notice the sentences in the text which are in ‘direct speech’. Why does the author use quotations in his narration?

Ans: The narrator has explicitly used direct speech in his narration to strengthen the effectiveness of his narration. Direct speech conveys the message given by the speaker in totality. Some of the sentences where direct speech has been used are:

He said, “I will tell you how it happened that I decided to urge the departure of the British. It was in 1917.”

Gandhi recounted. “A peasant came up to me looking like any other peasant in India, poor and emaciated, and said, ‘I am Rajkumar Shukla. I am from Champaran, and I want you to come to my district!”

Gandhi said, “I have to be in Calcutta on such-and-such a date. Come and meet me and take me from there”.

“It was an extraordinary thing ‘in those days,” Gandhi commented, Tor a government professor to harbour a man like me.’

He said, “I have come to the conclusion that we should stop going to law courts. Taking such cases to the courts does little good. Where the peasants are so crushed and fear-stricken, law courts are useless. The real relief for them is to be free from fear.”

 “The commissioner,” Gandhi reports, “proceeded to bully me and advised me forthwith to leave Tirhut”.

‘But how much must we pay?’ they asked Gandhi.

One woman took Kasturbabai into her hut and said, “Look, there is no box or cupboard here for clothes. The sari I am wearing is the only one I have”.

 “What I did”, he explained, “was a very ordinary thing. I declared that the British could not order me about in my own country”.

He said, “You think that in this unequal fight it would be helpful if we have an Englishman on our side. This shows the weakness of your heart. The cause is just and you must rely upon yourselves to win the battle. You should not seek a prop in Mr. Andrews because he happens to be an Englishman”.

 “He had read our minds correctly,” Rajendra Prasad comments, “and we had no reply … Gandhi in this way taught uS a lesson in self-reliance”.

Q2. Notice the use or non-use of the comma in the following sentences:
(a) When I first visited Gandhi in 1942 at his ashram in Sevagram, he told me what happened in Champaran.
(b) He had not proceeded far when the police superintendent’s messenger overtook him.

Ans:  Comma is omitted (not used) when the main clause comes before the subordinate clause as in sentence (b).

A comma is used to separate subordinate clause from the main clause if it preceeds it, i.e. subordinate clause comes before main clause as in sentence (a) and (c).



Q1. Strike out what is not true in the following:
(a)Rajkumar Shukla was:

  • (i) a sharecropper
  • (ii)a politician
  • (iii)delegate
  • (iv)a landlord.

Ans: (a) (ii) a politician, iii) delegate and iv) landlord

(b) Rajkumar Shukla was:

  • (i) poor
  • (ii)physically strong
  • (iii) illiterate.

Ans. (b) (ii) physically strong

Q2. Why is Rajkumar Shukla described as being ‘resolute’?

Ans: He is described as resolute as he was persistent in his demand to take Gandhi to Champaran. He came from Champaran district in the foothills of Himalayas to Lucknow to speak to Gandhi. He accompanied Gandhi everywhere, from lucknow to Cawnpore and then to Ahmedabad. He did not leave Gandhi till Gandhi asked him to meet him at Calcutta and take him to Champaran from there.

Q3. Why do you think the servants thought Gandhi to be another peasant?

Ans: Rajkumar Shukla led Gandhi to Rajendra Prasad’s house who was then absent. The servants knew Shukla as a poor peasant who pestered their master. Gandhi who accompanied Shukla was also clad in a simple clothes. Therefore, the servants took Gandhi to be another peasant.

Q4. List the places that Gandhi visited between his first meeting with Shukla and his arrival at Champaran.

Ans: Gandhi’s first meeting with Shukla was at I.N.C. meeting in Lucknow. Then he went to Cawnpore and other parts of India before returning to his ashram near Ahmedabad. Later he went to Calcutta, Patna and Muzaffarpur before arriving at Champaran.

Q5. What did the peasants pay the British landlords as rent? What did the British now want instead and why? What would be the impact of synthetic indigo on the prices of natural indigo?

Ans: The peasants paid indigo as rent to the British landlords.

At that time Germany had developed synthetic indigo. Therefore, the British landlords wanted money as compensation for being released from the 15 per cent arrangement.

The prices of natural indigo were likely to go down due to lack of demand.

Q6. How did the Champaran episode change the plight of the peasants? Give instances.

Ans. The Champaran episode made the British surrender a part of their prestige. Till then they had behaved as if they were above the law, but during the episode of Indigo movement, peasants were made to realize that they could fight for their rights. Gandhi instilled courage in them and they showed the first sign of liberation from fear of the British.

This episode gave an economic solution to the people , when they got a refund of 25% of the compensation they had paid. The land was also reverted back to them by the British. Thus, indigo sharecropping disappeared completely. But this was not all that Gandhiji aimed at. He was aggrieved by the social and cultural backwardness of the people of Champaran. He sought to bring about a change in the situation by opening schools, arranging healthcare facilities and teaching them the rules of sanitation.


The theme of the story is about effective leadership. The extract shows how good leadership overcomes all types of problems. Gandhi was able to get justice for the oppressed peasants through negotiation, perseverance and argumentation. The subtheme of the story deals with the contributions made by the common people in achieving Indian independence.

Type of Fiction

Indigo’ belongs to the category of non-fiction.

Fiction is a type of literature in prose form that is invented or untrue. It has imaginary characters and events created by the author. E.g. –fantasy novels (Harry Potter series)

Non-fiction is a type of prose that is informational and based on facts rather than imaginary. Some elements of non- fiction are –

  1. Narration
  2. Cause /effect. Problem/solution
  3.  Factual information
  4. Imagery
  5. Dialogue form for precise information.


Q2. As the host of a talk show, introduce Rajkumar Shukla to the audience by stating any two of his defining qualities.

Ans. I am glad to present Rajkumar Sukla, the man who played a pivotal role in the Champaran Movement.  It was his persistence, determination and resolution to take Mahatma  Gandhi to Champaran to fight for their rights, which brought about a revolutionary change in the British – Indian relationship. The movement instilled courage in the peasants and was the first step towards India’s freedom struggle.

Q 3. Biographies include features of non-fiction texts – factual information and different text structures such as description, sequence, comparison, cause and effect, or problem and solution. Examine Indigo in the light of this statement, in about 120-150 words.

Ans. Indigo being a biography consists of factual information like the dates of events, mention of number of delegates in I.N.C , 15 percent of land agreed upon for indigo harvesting by the landlords, bail being asked for 120 minutes, number of interviews held by Gandhi with the Lt. Governor,  the mention of percentage of repayment agreed upon as 25 percent.

The structure of non-fiction is also followed with explanations being provided for each happening. The text follows sequence of events as they occurred – from Rajkumar Shukla’s persistence  to the settlement of repayment and the Gandhiji’s developmental work in Champaran. The comparision of expectations of the British and the surprise they received due to Mahatma Gandhi’s perseverance. The actions of Mahatma and the results portray the conflict resolution of non-fiction text structures.

Q4. Why does Gandhi say, “Real relief for them is to be free from fear.” ?

Ans.  Gandhi knew that until and unless the peasants were aware of their rights and could fearlessly fight for themselves, their problems would not be solved permanently. Merely winning a legal battle was a temporary solution.  So, providing them with courage to fight for their rights by themselves was the only permanent solution.

Q5. Why did Gandhi think that going to the court was useless for the peasants?

Ans. Going to the court individually to fight for justice was useless for the peasants because the entire justice system was made of, for and by the British; therefore, the rulings would go in favour of the British landlords. Further, the poor peasants were in no position to pay for the court proceedings whose outcome would be negative.

Q6. Why was it ‘ an extraordinary thing’ for Professor Malkani to give him shelter?

Ans. At that time the Indian National Congress was fighting for home rule. The British were taking action against anybody who went against the British administration. Professor Malkani being a government employee could lose his job if he provided shelter to an advocate of Home Rule; therefore it was an extraordinary thing for professor Malkani keep Gandhi in his home.

Q7. What was the ‘conflict of duties’ that Gandhiji was stuck between?

Ans. Gandhi refused to obey the court order telling him to leave. He stated that he faced a ‘conflict of duties’ because – while, on one hand he did not wish to set an example as a law-breaker; on the other hand, he was compelled to do so on humanitarian and moral grounds. He said that it was his moral obligation towards the poor peasants which forced him to disobey the law.

Q8. Why was the day on which Gandhi had to appear on court In Motihari an important one?

Ans. The day of trial in Motihari court was an important one because to showed the united strength of the Indians for the first time. The peasants unanimously appeared to show their support for Gandhi, and later on that day the lawyers too decided to go to jail if required. The united strength that was formed on that day eventually spread throughout India and resulted in Indian independence.

Q9. ‘Events justified Gandhi’s position’. What did the events justify?

Ans. The events that followed the Champaran episode justified Gandhi’s statement that winning the legal battle was more important than the amount of compensation. The episode taught the farmers that they had rights over their land, and also that there were people who would support them in their fight. Gradually due to their new- found courage they fought for their rights as a result of which the British planters abandoned their estates. The land went back to the peasants and indigo sharecropping disappeared.

Q10. ‘What I did was a very ordinary thing’. What was the ordinary thing that Gandhi did?

Ans. The most ordinary thing that Gandhi did was telling the British that they could not order him about in his own country.

Q11. ‘His was not a loyalty of abstractions: it was a loyalty to living human beings.’ What do you infer from this sentence?

Ans.  The narrator means to state that Gandhi did not aim singularly towards abstract, idealistic – political and economic solutions. His loyalty involved removing the day to day problems faced by common people at the grass-root level. He intended to bring about cultural and social changes to improve the lives of the masses.

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