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Indigo Summary in English by Louis Fischer

Indigo by Louis Fischer About the Author

Louis Fischer (29 February 1896 – 15 January 1970) was an American journalist. He wrote the biography of Mahatma Gandhi entitled The Life of Mahatma Gandhi. ‘Indigo’ is an excerpt from this book widely acknowledged as one of the best books written on Gandhi.

Author Name Louis Fischer
Born 29 February 1896, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died 15 January 1970, Princeton, New Jersey, United States
Education Central High School, South Philadelphia High School
Awards National Book Award for History and Biography (Nonfiction)
Nationality American
Indigo Summary by Louis Fischer
Indigo Summary by Louis Fischer

Indigo Introduction to the Chapter

In the chapter’Indigo’, the author describes the struggle of Gandhi for the poor peasants of Champaran, who had to share their crops with the British planters. This made their life miserable as they were forced to grow indigo according to an agreement.

Indigo Theme

In the chapter ‘Indigo’, the main theme covered by the author is that how an effective leadership can overcome any problem. The chapter tells us about the leadership shown by Mahatma Gandhi to secure justice for the oppressed people through convincing argumentation and negotiation.

Indigo Summary in English

The story ‘Indigo’, written by Louis Fischer narrates Gandhiji’s struggle for the poor peasants of Champaran. The peasants were sharecroppers with the British planters. According to an old agreement, the peasants had to produce indigo on 15 per cent of the land and give it as rent to the landlords. Around 1917, it was told that Germany had developed synthetic indigo. So the British planters now no longer desired the indigo crop. To release the peasants from the old 15 per cent agreement, they demanded compensation from them. Most of the illiterate peasants agreed to it.

However, others refused. Lawyers were engaged to go to the court. At that time, on the request of Rajkumar Shukla a sharecropper, Gandhiji appeared in Champaran. He fought for the poor peasants a long battle for one year and managed to get justice for them. The peasants now got courage and became aware of their rights. Along with the political and economic struggle, Gandhiji worked on the social level also. He made arrangements for the education, health and hygiene of the families of poor peasants by teaching the lesson of self¬reliance. It was one of the ways to forward the struggle for Indian independence.

Indigo Main Characters in the Chapter

Rajkumar Shukla

Rajkumar Shukla was a poor sharecropper who was a victim of British landlords. Though he was illiterate, he was determined to fight against the injustice of the British landlords, and to fight them, he goes to meet Gandhiji to seek his help. It was because of Rajkumar Shukla that Gandhiji came to Champaran village in Bihar. Later, this struggle with British landlords became a turning point in the fight for the independence of India.

Charles Freer Andrews

Charles Freer Andrews was an English pacifist who became a devoted follower of Gandhi. He came to bid farewell to Gandhi before going on a tour to Fizi islands. Gandhi’s lawyer friends insisted him to stay and help them in the battle, but Gandhiji strongly opposed saying that they must not rely on an Englishman but on themselves to win the battle.

Mahatma Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, known as Mahatma Gandhi was a highly intelligent and perceptive man. His fundamental principles were non-violence and self-reliance. His entire political campaign for the development of the country was based on these two principles.

Indigo Summary Reference-to-Context Questions

Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow.

1. He had gone to the December 1916 annual convention of the Indian National Congress party in Lucknow. There were 2, 301 delegates and many visitors. During the proceedings, 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’!”

a. Who is ‘he’ here?
Here, ‘he’ is Gandhiji.

b. What was ‘he’ doing in Lucknow?
He was attending the annual convention of the Indian National Congress Party.

c. What did Gandhi recount?
He recounted about a poor looking peasant who came up to him and asked him to visit Champaran.

d. What did Rajkumar Shukla want from Gandhiji?
Rajkumar Shukla wanted Gandhiji to visit Champaran to look after the problems faced by the poor peasants there.

2. Then the two of them boarded a train for the city of Patna in Bihar. There Shukla led him to the house of a lawyer named Rajendra Prasad who later became President of the Congress party and of India.

a. Who are ‘them’ here?
Here, ‘them’ are Mahatma Gandhi and Rajkumar Shukla.

b. Where are they going?
They were going to the city of Patna in Bihar.

c. Who was Rajendra Prasad?
Rajendra Prasad was a lawyer who later became the President of the Congress party of India.

d. Was Rajendra Prasad available at home?
Rajendra Prasad was not at home, he was out of town.

3. Gandhi decided to go first to Muzaffarpur, which was en route to Champaran, to obtain more complete information about conditions than Shukla was capable of imparting. He accordingly sent a telegram to Professor J.B. Kriplani, of the Arts College in Muzaffarpur, whom he had seen at Tagore’s Shantiniketan school.

a. Why did Gandhi go to Muzaffarpur?
Gandhi went to Muzaffarpur as he wanted to collect more information about the issue addressed by Rajkumar Shukla.

b. Whom did he contact in Muzaffarpur?
He sent a telegram to Professor J.B. Kriplani, of the Arts College in Muzaffarpur.

c. Where did Gandhi first meet J.B. Kriplani?
Gandhi first met J.B. Kriplani at Tagore’s Shantiniketan school.