The Swadeshi and Boycott movements helped Indians regain a sense of pride and autonomy that helped pave the way for India to become an independent country after World War II. For many years, Indian pride had been broken by the rule of the Raj or British, who looked down on the Indians and in every way promoted British and western culture as superior while exploiting the country and the people on a massive scale.
Gandhi organized the Indian people to boycott imported, foreign-made goods. As is often the case with colonies like India, their raw materials were sold abroad at very low cost and then the materials fashioned into finished goods imported back into the country and sold at high cost. Gandhi wanted the people to regain control over their lives and encouraged them to boycott or not buy imports and to make their own goods, particularly to weave their own cloth.
We have seen similar movements in the United States as this country dealt with the impact of globalization: Buy American was an attempt from the 1970s to keep manufacturing jobs in the States by encouraging people to buy only US-made clothing and cars.
Gandhi was ahead of his times in the Swadeshi movement by having people weave cloth on hand looms in their homes. At the time, photographer Margaret Bourne White had a debate with Gandhi in which she ridiculed the idea of home industry. Instead, she said, Gandhi should be encouraging large, heavy industry to come into the country, such as the kind of big steel plants she had photographed in the Soviet Union. This would, she argued, quickly jolt the country into the modern age. Gandhi disagreed, saying such huge works projects would fail, as India was not ready for them. History has proven Gandhi right, and today we embrace what is called micro-enterprise as a key to raising living standards in the Third World.
The greatest impact of both movements was to instill in a people used to abjection and loss of self-worth a sense that they could be the masters of their own destiny and run their own country without need for the British. This, as noted above, made independence more possible.