Mahatma Gandhi, the peacemaker


    In News 

    Gandhi Jayanti is celebrated annually in India on October 2, marking the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who is also regarded as the ‘Father of the Nation’.

    • The United Nations also celebrates October 2 as the International Day of Non-Violence to honour Gandhi’s belief in peace and non-violence.

    About Mahatma Gandhi

    • He was an Indian lawyer, politician, social activist, and writer who became the leader of the nationalist movement against the British rule of India. 
    • He was born October 2, 1869, Porbandar.
    • For untouchables  : He also worked for the upliftment of untouchables and gave them a new name ‘Harijan’ meaning the children of God. 
    • Role in South Africa : It was in South Africa that Mahatma Gandhi first forged the distinctive techniques of non-violent protest known as satyagraha, first promoted harmony between religions, and first alerted upper-caste Indians to their discriminatory treatment of low castes and women
    • Contributions in the freedom struggle :   In 1915, he returned to his homeland after two decades of residence abroad. 
      •  In 1916 he travelled to Champaran in Bihar to inspire the peasants to struggle against the oppressive plantation system.
      •  In 1917, he organised a satyagraha to support the peasants of the Kheda district of Gujarat. 
        • Affected by crop failure and a plague epidemic, the peasants of Kheda could not pay the revenue, and were demanding that revenue collection be relaxed.
    •  In 1918, Mahatma Gandhi went to Ahmedabad to organise a satyagraha movement amongst cotton mill workers.
    • In 1919 Gandhiji gave a call for a satyagraha against the Rowlatt Act that the British had just passed. 
      • The Act curbed fundamental rights such as the freedom of expression and strengthened police powers
    • He  called for a campaign of “non-cooperation” with British rule. 
      • Indians who wished colonialism to end were asked to stop attending schools, colleges and law courts, and not pay taxes
    • In February 1922, Mahatma Gandhi decided to withdraw the Non-Cooperation Movement. 
      • He felt the movement was turning violent in many places and satyagrahis needed to be properly trained before they would be ready for mass struggles
    •  Dandi Salt March : On 12 March 1930, Gandhiji began walking from his ashram at Sabarmati towards the ocean.
      •  He reached his destination three weeks later, making a fistful of salt as he did and thereby making himself a criminal in the eyes of the law. 
    • “Quit India”:  After the failure of the Cripps Mission, Mahatma Gandhi decided to launch his third major movement against British rule. This was the “Quit India” campaign, which began in August 1942.
      • “He  was genuinely a mass movement, bringing into its ambit hundreds of thousands of ordinary Indians. It especially energised the young who, in very large numbers, left their colleges to go to jail
    • Legacy : Gandhi is internationally esteemed for his doctrine of nonviolent protest (satyagraha) to achieve political and social progress.
    • He made the Indian National Congress a peoples’ Congress and the national movement a mass movement. 
    • He made people fearless and bold and taught them the nonviolent methods for fighting against injustice. 
    • He had a passion for individual liberty which was closely bound with his understanding of truth and self-realisation. 
    • He considered the problem of peace as an ethical, rather than political, issue. 
    • He was shot dead by Nathuram Godse on January 31, 1948.

    Mains Practise Question

    [Q] In what way did Mahatma Gandhi transform the nature of the Freedom Struggle?discuss