Gandhi and his role in Indian Independence Movement

Gandhi and his role in Indian Independence Movement

Gandhi Jayanti (2nd October) is celebrated as a national festival/holiday in India to mark the occasion of the birthday of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.  The United Nations General Assembly announced on 15 June 2007 that 2nd October will be celebrated as the International Day of Non-Violence


MK-Gandhi was an activist & leader of the Indian independence movement against British rule. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. The Mahātmā applied to him first in 1914 in South Africa– is now used worldwide. In India, he is know as Bapu & the Father of the Nation.


Gandhiji’s childhood

MK Gandhi was born in Porbandar Town of the Bombay Presidency on 2 October 1869. His father Karamchand Gandhi was a Diwan of the Porbandar State (princely state under the Kathiawar Agency).

The impression of stories of Raja Harishchandra gave this young boy, the first introduction to truth.


Gandhiji’s journey to London.

At the age of 18, he left to London from Bombay. Before his journey to London, he had given a pledge to his mother to not indulge in meat, alcohol & promiscuous. He enrolled in the Inner Temple London in the year 1888 and in kept fasting due to non availability of Vegetarian eateries around till he joined the London Vegetarian Society. In 1891 he was called to Bar at the age of 22 years he returned India.


Gandhiji’s fight for equality in South Africa

In 1893, when got a one year contract with the Dada Abdullah & Company in South Africa, he left for the job in the Colony of Natal, South Africa, part of British Empire. The young man of 24 years when was in South Africa saw the discrimination with the Black South Africans and Indians. The Indians were indentured to South Africa.

It was in May 1893, while Gandhi was on his way to Pretoria, a white man objected to Gandhi’s presence in a first-class carriage, and he was ordered to move to the van compartment at the end of the train. Gandhi, had a first-class ticket, refused, and was thrown off the train at Pietermaritzburg. Shivering through the winter, during that long, bitterly cold night in the Pietermaritzburg station he came to a decision that set the course of his life.

Gandhiji then said ” The hardship to which I was subjected was superficial—–only a symptom of hate deep disease of colour prejudice. I should try, if possible, to root out the disease ….suffer hardships in this process. Redress for wrongs I should seek only to the extent that would be necessary for the removal of the colour prejudice”. Gandhi was on a one year contract, but the events in South Africa inspired and strengthened his resolve to fight the degrading racism. He stayed not one but twenty-one-years——-from 1893 through 1914.


Gandhiji’s return to India and his role in Indian Independence movement.

In 1915 he came to India. His first major public appearance in India was at the opening ceremony of the Banaras Hindu University in February 1916. In the next two years he involved in some significant struggles that made him the undisputed leader of India’s masses. The Champaran Satyagraha of 1917 was Mahatma Gandhi’s first Satyagraha.

Champaran and Kheda Satyagraha were the events which later put Gandhi on the front seat of Indian National Revolution and made Satyagraha a powerful tool.


Non Cooperation Movement

On 1 August 1920, Non-Cooperation Movement was announced formally. This was a bereaved day when early in the morning, the news of death of Bal Gangadhar Tilak arrived. Gandhi and a crowd of around 2 Lakh people paid its respect to this “Maker of Modern India”, The Movement started with strikes and processions all over India. A programme of surrender of titles, the boycott of schools, courts and councils, the boycott of foreign goods, the promotion maintenance of a Hindu-Muslim unity and strict non-violence was adopted.

The Non co operation movement was the first nationwide mass movement. The year 1921-22 witnessed an unprecedented movement in the nation’s history, when there was a widespread unrest among students. It is in this movement Khadi and Charkha became the symbol of national movement. The most significant impact of the Non Co operation Movement was that it brought Gandhi on the front seat of National Politics in India. He was regarded as a logical heir of Bala Gangadhar Tilak. But, the incident of Chauri Chaura where locals burnt police station made Gandhiji to withdraw the entire movement. It is because he believes in non violence.

Through Khilafat movement of 1920 he tried to bring Hindu Muslim Unity and paved it towards Indian National Movement.


Civil Disobedience Movement

The Civil Disobedience Movement was one of the most significant movements launched by Mahatma Gandhi in the course of India’s freedom struggle. The nationalist leaders came to the conclusion that the British government was not sincere in meeting the demand for Dominion Status. Therefore the Indian National Congress met at an emergency session at Lahore in December 1929 under the Presidentship of Jawaharlal Nehru and declared Complete Independence or ‘Poorna Swaraj’ as the Congress goal. It also authorized Mahatma Gandhi to launch a comprehensive programme of civil disobedience.

He took the decision to break the salt law first, on which the British had imposed a duty, affecting the poorest of the poor. Salt Satyagraha began with the Dandi March on March 12, 1930 and was the part of the first phase of the Civil Disobedience Movement. Gandhi led the Dandi march from Sabarmati Ashram to the sea coast near the village of Dandi. In this journey of 24 days and covering a distance of 390 kilometer, thousands of people joined him. He reached Dandi on April 6, 1930, and broke the salt law. This triggered the Civil Disobedience Movement and millions of Indians jumped in.

Breaking of the salt law was the formal inauguration of the Civil Disobedience Movement. A programme was outlined, which included a) Violation of the laws such as Salt Law b) Non payment of Land Revenue, Taxes and Rent c) Boycott of courts of law, legislatures, elections, Government functionaries, Schools and Colleges d) Peaceful picketing of shops that sold foreign goods e) Mass strikes and processions f) Picketing of shops that sold liquor. Gandhiji and all other important leaders were arrested and placed behind the bars.


Quit India Movement

In July 1942, the Congress Working Committee met at Wardha. Here a long resolution was passed that demanded that the “British Rule in India must end immediately”. The attitude changed because in the Second World War the Japanese were triumphing and they had already overrun Singapore and Malaya. They were nearly reaching Burma and India. So it was thought that “Presence of British in India was an invitation to Japan to invade”.

Gandhi made the following statement in his speech: ” Every one of you should from this moment onwards consider yourself freeman or woman and act as if you were free……I am not going to be satisfied wish anything short of freedom. You should do or die. We shall either free India or die in the attempt”.

By the end of the year, the movement had been suppressed due to ruthless use of force. For next two and half years, there was no large political movement.

Finally with all these struggles from Gandhi ji and other national leaders India attained Independence on 15th August, 1947.


Prepared by: Sai Eswar

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