Although both the nationalist movements, the non-cooperation movement and civil disobedience movement, had similar objectives and were launched under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi there were important differences between non-cooperation movement and civil disobedience movement which are highlighted in this article.
Differences Between Non-Cooperation Movement and Civil Disobedience Movement
- The Non-Cooperation movement was launched by Gandhi on 1st August 1920 while the Civil Disobedience movement was launched by Gandhi on 6th April 1930 at Dandi in Gujarat. Thus there was a gap of 10 years between the two movements.
- The Civil Disobedience movement was centred around the defiance of salt laws throughout the country which became the symbol of the movement. The Non-Cooperation movement did not have any such single defining symbol around which the entire movement was centred.
- The goal of the Non-Cooperation movement was Swaraj or self-rule by demanding the status of dominion status from the British government. While the goal of the Civil Disobedience movement had moved further; from Swaraj to complete independence from foreign rule.
- There was large scale participation of Muslim working class in the Non-Cooperation movement which was not witnessed in the Civil Disobedience movement later on due to the Divide and Rule policy of the British and communal propaganda of Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha.
- Over 90,000 people went to jail during the course of the Civil Disobedience movement — more than three times the figure for the Non-Cooperation movement.
- The Civil Disobedience movement was much more widespread in its geographical extent and mass participation as compared to the Non-Cooperation movement.
- For Indian women, the Civil Disobedience movement was the most liberating experience to date and can truly be said to have marked their entry into the public space.
- The Civil Disobedience movement was of much longer duration. It ended in two phases. The second phase ended in April 1934, four years after its launch. The Non-Cooperation movement was of shorter duration and was withdrawn on 12th February 1922 after the Chauri Chaura incident on 5th February 1922. It thus lasted for one and a half years only.
- The Civil Disobedience movement was much more peaceful and non-violent in comparison to the Non-Cooperation movement. This is also the reason for the formers much longer duration compared to the latter. The Non-Cooperation movement was withdrawn by Gandhi since it had turned violent.
- Neither the Non-Cooperation movement nor the Civil Disobedience movement could achieve their stated objectives of Swaraj and Complete Independence respectively. However, their real effectiveness lay in the political mobilisation of the masses and the half-hearted constitutional reforms extended by the British government.