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Mohandas Gandhi, India's "Father of the Nation"

Also see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Below is a much abridged version.

Mohandas Gandhi - October 2, 1869(1869-10-02) - January 30, 1948 (aged 78)

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a major political and spiritual leader of India and the Indian independence movement. Gandhi is commonly known in India and across the world as Mahatma Gandhi: Maha-tma ("Great Soul") and as Bapu ("Father").

Early life

Living with a devout Hindu mother, Gandhi learned from an early age the tenets of non-injury to living beings, vegetarianism, fasting for self-purification.

At the age of 18 on September 4, 1888, Gandhi went to University College London to train as a barrister. His time in London, the Imperial capital, was influenced by a vow he had made to his mother, to observe the Hindu precepts of abstinence from meat, alcohol, and promiscuity.

He returned to India after being called to the bar, but had limited success establishing a law practice in Bombay. It was in this climate that (in 1893) he accepted a year-long contract from an Indian firm to a post in Natal, South Africa.

Civil rights movement in South Africa (1893-1914)

South Africa changed Gandhi dramatically, as he faced the discrimination commonly directed at blacks and Indians. One day in court at Durban, the magistrate asked him to remove his turban. Gandhi refused and stormed out of the courtroom.

He was thrown off a train at Pietermaritzburg, after refusing to move from the first class to a third class coach while holding a valid first class ticket. Traveling further on by stagecoach, he was beaten by a driver for refusing to travel on the foot board to make room for a European passenger.

This is the trailer for the film "Ghandi".

It's short but it does touch on many aspects of his life.
Mahatma Gandhi- (5 min)

He suffered other hardships on the journey as well, including being barred from many hotels. These incidents have been acknowledged by several biographers as a turning point in his life, explaining his later social activism. It was through witnessing firsthand the racism, prejudice and injustice against Indians in South Africa that Gandhi started to question his people's status, and his own place in society.

Champaran and Kheda

Gandhi's first major achievements came in 1918. He organized poor farmers and labourers to protest against oppressive taxation and widespread discrimination. Village people were suppressed by the militias of the landlords (mostly British). They were given measly compensation, leaving them mired in extreme poverty. Gandhi organized a detailed study and survey of the villages, accounting for the atrocities and terrible episodes of suffering, including the general state of degenerate living.

His main impact came when he was arrested by police on the charge of creating unrest and was ordered to leave the province. Hundreds of thousands of people protested and rallied outside the jail, police stations and courts demanding his release, which the court reluctantly granted. Gandhi led organized protests and strikes against the landlords.

Non-cooperation

Non-cooperation and peaceful resistance were Gandhi's "weapons" in the fight against injustice.

In December 1921, Gandhi was invested with executive authority on behalf of the Indian National Congress. Gandhi expanded his non-violence platform to include the swadeshi policy - the boycott of foreign-made goods, especially British goods. Linked to this was his advocacy that khadi (homespun cloth) be worn by all Indians instead of British-made textiles. Gandhi exhorted Indian men and women, rich or poor, to spend time each day spinning khadi in support of the independence movement.

"Non-cooperation" enjoyed wide-spread appeal and success, increasing excitement and participation from all strata of Indian society. Gandhi was arrested on March 10, 1922, tried for sedition, and sentenced to six years imprisonment.

Swaraj and the Salt Satyagraha (Salt March)

In December 1928, Gandhi pushed through a resolution at the Calcutta Congress calling on the British government to grant India dominion status or face a new campaign of non-violence with complete independence for the country as its goal. The British did not respond. Making good on his word, he launched a new satyagraha against the tax on salt in March 1930, highlighted by the famous Salt March to Dandi from March 12 to April 6, marching 400 kilometres (248 miles) from Ahmedabad to Dandi, Gujarat to make salt himself. Thousands of Indians joined him on this march to the sea. This campaign was one of his most successful at upsetting British rule; Britain responded by imprisoning over 60,000 people.

World War II

World War II broke out in 1939 when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Initially, Gandhi had favored offering "non-violent moral support" to the British effort. After lengthy deliberations, Gandhi declared that India could not be party to a war ostensibly being fought for democratic freedom, while that freedom was denied to India itself. As the war progressed, Gandhi intensified his demand for independence.

Gandhi and the entire Congress Working Committee were arrested in Bombay by the British on August 9, 1942. Gandhi was held for two years in the Aga Khan Palace in Pune. He was released before the end of the war on May 6, 1944 because of his failing health and necessary surgery. At the end of the war, the British gave clear indications that power would be transferred to Indian hands. At this point Gandhi called off the struggle, and around 100,000 political prisoners were released, including the Congress's leadership.

Partition of India

Gandhi was vehemently opposed to any plan that partitioned India into two separate countries. An overwhelming majority of Muslims living in India, side by side with Hindus and Sikhs, were in favour of Partition. The partition plan was approved by the Congress leadership as the only way to prevent a wide-scale Hindu-Muslim civil war. A devastated Gandhi gave his assent.

He conducted extensive dialogue with Muslim and Hindu community leaders, concerned about an inability to come to terms with one another. He launched his last fast-unto-death in Delhi, asking that all communal violence be ended once and for all. Gandhi feared that instability and insecurity would increase and violence would spread and that Hindus and Muslims would renew their enmity and precipitate into an open civil war.

Assassination

On January 30, 1948, Gandhi was shot and killed while having his nightly public walk on the grounds of the Birla Bhavan (Birla House) in New Delhi.

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