The Biography of Famous Personalities of India will tell you about the controversies, the dark sides of a person that you may have never heard of.
Lalaji Campaigns in Foreign Countries and The Non-Cooperation Movement
His Campaigns in Foreign Countries
Lala Lajpat Rai re-entered Congress in 1912. He left for England in April 1914 with the congressional delegation as a representative of Punjab. He had planned to be there for six months. But because of the outbreak of the First World War, he had to change his plans. It did not seem wise to return then. It was likely the British would keep him in detention for a long period. Lalaji headed from England to America. His visit to America was a voluntary exile. In America, he made a number of speeches about India and the conditions of life in the country. He wrote a number of books.
As part of the effort to develop the Indian agitation he established the Indian Home Rule League in New York. He set up the ‘India Information Bureau’. He started a journal ‘Young India’ and gave a fillip to the movement. He himself edited the paper. The paper expounded the Indian culture and explained in detail the necessity for Indian freedom. It attracted the attention of everybody. The circulation increased. Through this paper it became possible for not only Indians but also Americans and people of other countries to understand the aims and objects of Lalaji and to sympathize with India’s aims. The movement gained support.
While in America he wrote two books: ‘Arya Samaj’ and ‘England’s Debt to India.’ His life in America was difficult. He himself cooked his food. He earned money for his living by writing books and articles. Germany was then at war with England. The German Government attempted to take advantage of the dissatisfaction of the Indians by enticing Lalaji. But he refused to be tempted.
While in America, Lalaji found time to visit Japan. In both the countries he made friendship and won the sympathy of influential people. He conducted himself in such a way that both countries came to trust him. Thus he made a name for himself. At the end of the World War in 1919 he wanted to return to India but the British Government denied him a passport.
In India, in Jalianwalla Bagh of Amritsar, British soldiers had fired on helpless Indians at a public meeting. Lajpat Rai got news of the dreadful massacre even when he was in New York. He was eager to join his countrymen. In December 1919 Lalaji came from New York to London. There he met Bernard Shaw and some socialist friends. Then he reached Paris. He got the passport at the end of the year.
During his long stay abroad (1913-1920) Lajpat Rai saw India’s struggle in a wider perspective against world movements and began to realise how India could win support from other countries. He believed that outside support would hasten India’s emancipation for that purpose it was necessary to win public opinion in other countries in favour of the Indian national movement. It was motive which inspired him to write his major works: ‘Young India’, ‘England’s debt to India’, ‘The Political Future of India’ and ‘Unhappy India’.
In collaboration with Hardikar, he remained in close touch with British Labour and Irish organisations, expounded on social and economic democracy and planned the formation of a school for the teaching of modem political theories. He became more and more convinced that the economic salvation of India lay in reaching an equal distribution of land among the masses, such as the Soviet Government had done in Russia.
After his return, Lala Lajpat Rai, led the Punjab protests against the Jalianwalla Bagh Massacre and the Non-Cooperation Movement. He was arrested several times. He disagreed with Gandhiji’s suspension of Non-Cooperation Movement due to the Chauri-Chaura incident, and formed the Congress Independence Party.
Lalaji was opposed to the recommendations of the University Education Commission. The commission recommended Government control of education and set forth difficult standards for starting private schools. Punjab was adversely affected by the commission because the Arya Samaj was extremely active in the field of education. After the commission, it became impossible for the people to have any say in their children’s education. Lalaji declared, “The Government by these new regulations has made it almost impossible for the Private Education Societies to start schools or improve them.”
The Non-Cooperation Movement
Lala Lajpat Rai brought about a revolution in the attitudes of the people of England and America towards India. He returned to India in February 1920. Lokamanya Tilak, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Annie Besant accorded a heroic welcome to him. Welcome Addresses were presented to him in Bombay, Delhi and Lahore. He was elected as the president of the special session of the Congress held in September 1920.
Next year Mahatma Gandhi started the Non-Cooperation Movement. The movement gained momentum in the country. Lalaji jumped into the agitation with his bosom friend, the revolutionary Ajit Singh. In response to Lalaji’s stirring call, the whole of Punjab Province joined the movement. The agitation shook the firm foundations of the government. Government schools and colleges were boycotted. Work in courts and offices came to a halt. The people were firmly united against imperialism.
Lalaji himself started a national school in Lahore. Tilak opened a political science institution. Thus enthusiastic youths found guidance. Lalaji undertook a whirlwind tour of Punjab for ten days for that purpose and collected nine lakh rupees. Full of reverence for him, people contributed money generously.
Gandhiji ended the Non-Cooperation Movement when riots broke out at Bardoli. Lalaji then diverted his attention again to social and educational projects. He started the Lok Sewak Society, whose members toured from place to place and started new schools for the depressed classes. He donated a lakh of rupees toward the construction of the Gulab Devi Memorial Hospital in memory of his deceased mother.