What were the impacts of the Swadeshi and Boycott movements in India? Please answer this question with as much detail as possible.

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Swadeshi movement (which means "from one's own country"), part of the Indian Independence Movement, involved the Indian boycott of British goods and the increasing reliance on goods made in India to weaken the British hold on the country. Though the Swadeshi movement had been active earlier, it was popularized by Gandhi from 1918 until Indian independence. It was designed in part to weaken the Manchester cotton industry that enjoyed a large market in Bengal and to bring back domestic Indian industries. As part of the boycott, many foreign goods were burned, and British cotton was boycotted, as were British sugar and salt, among other products. It became a badge of honor to wear homespun Indian clothing.

Though it is difficult to measure the economic effect of the Swadeshi and Boycott movements precisely, they likely caused a decline in the importation of British cotton for about two to three years. The larger effect was to awaken all sectors of the Indian society, particularly in Bengal (which became the epicenter of Indian nationalism), to fight for independence. In these movements, all kinds of people in India had the opportunity to take part and be moved toward a sense of Indian nationalism. 

krishna-agrawala | Student

Swadeshi and Boycott movement are two sides of the same coin or the same social and political movement. It was a movement planned, launched and directed by Mahatma Gandhi as an economic strategy to improve the economic conditions of the artisans in India. Conditions of artisans in India had become extremely precarious because of combined effect of competition from manufactured goods imported from Britain and unfair policies and practices imposed by the British on India, that were designed to benefit the British business at the cost of Indians.

Swadeshi in Hindi language means "of ones own country". It refers to the core strategy of the movement of using only the goods manufactured in India., and boycotting or refusing to use imported goods. I am not sure what reasoning  Mahatma Gandhi used in formulating this strategy. But now with our advanced knowledge of economic concepts like opportunity cost and cost-benefit analysis, we know that this strategy made a very good economic sense. It provided the poor artisans a means to earn a livelihood. At the same time it helped the entire economy of the country. These benefits were obtained in spite of the lower market price of manufactured goods imported from Britain. In addition to helping the Indian  economy, this strategy reduced the benefits British could extract by exploiting India. In this way it reduced the determination of Britain to hold on to their rule over India.

The swadeshi movement directly benefited the local artisans and industries in India, and gave a boost to Indian Economy. In addition it infused a spirit of nationalism among Indians. Particularly the Khadi movement, which formed a part of swadeshi movement made a major contribution in this direction. Khadi refers to coarse hand woven cloth made from hand spun yarn, and this movement involved wearing only such cloth. This movement gave Indians a means for giving vent to their nationalistic feeling, as well as a visible symbol of their determination to defy the British. This helped to build a large and strong community of Indians openly displaying their defiance and determination.

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