Mohandas Gandhi An Inspiration During His Life and Beyond Michelle Kaye P.3 IDEA English II Acc. Mr. Mooney
Thesis Leaving an imprint on the world, Mohandas Gandhi was one of the greatest leaders in the 20th century and a moral idol through his admired actions of peace, diplomacy, and determination that encouraged humans to improve themselves and to change the world.
Gandhi's Birth and Youth • Gandhi was born October 2 1869. • His father, Karamchand Gandhi, was a well-to-do official in the tiny state of Porbandar and later prime minister in Rajkot, allowing Gandhi to be well educated. • When Gandhi was 13, he was married to Kasturba Makanji of about the same age. Although they were mostly apart for the next few years, Gandhi was a jealous husband. • In 1888 Gandhi’s first son, named Hariilal, was born.
England • At the age of 18, Gandhi traveled to England to the University College London to train to be a lawyer. • While in London, he was exposed to the Western Culture – a sharp contrast from the Hindu culture he was used to – and he quickly embraced vegetarianism and educated himself in many religions such as Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism. • Gandhi was still a shy boy, stating “…there was no end to my helplessness and fear. I did not feel myself qualified to practice law.”(Gold 31). • In 1893 he accepted a contract from an Indian firm in Natal, South Africa.
South Africa • At this time, South Africa consisted of about 65,000 Indians, 2 Million Africans, and 500,000 Whites. • Here Gandhi experienced great racism and made the Indian Natal Congress that was meant to promote harmony between Europeans and Indians. • Gandhi called for his fellow Indians to defy the new law and suffer the punishments for doing so, rather than resist through violent means. • After the government’s successful repression of the protestors, the public outcry led the South African government to negotiate a compromise with Gandhi and he returned to India. “What was my duty; I asked my self. Should I go back to India, or should I go forward, with God as my helper and face whatever was in store for me? I decided to stay and suffer. My active non-violence began from that day.“(Fischer 28).
Champaran After being criticized by Ghandi in Champaran, lawyer Rajendra Prasad commented “He had read our minds correctly and we had no reply… Gandhi in this way taught us a lesson in self-reliance.” • In the small district of Champaran, the mostly British landlords forced the serfs and poor farmers to grow cash crops such as Indigo and when the demand for Indigo dropped, the landlords became more oppressive. • Ghandi made a detailed study and survey of the villages, but when ordered to leave, he refused and was arrested. • Thousands protested, the court released Gandhi, and he led organized strikes against the landlords until they were forced to sign an agreement.
After WWI British Indian Rulers accepted recommendations that allowed to try political cases without juries and that political suspects could be jailed without due process. • In response, Gandhi called for Hartal, a national strike, and to fast and pray all day without working. • After 13 days of the Hartal, thousands of Indians gathered for a protest meeting at the Jallianwallah Bagh(a walled garden). • British General Dyer led his men into it and fired at men, women, and children. 379 people were killed and over a thousand wounded, according to the official police report. • Gandhi called for a Satyagraha campaign(a non-violent resistance) and traveled to many cities and towns where people poured out onto the streets just to catch a glimpse of him. Hartal
End of the Strike At his trial, Gandhi stated, “Noncooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good, I am here, therefore to invite and submit cheerfully to the highest penalty that can be inflicted upon me for what in law is a deliberate crime and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen.” (Gold 77). Later, Judge Broomfield observed that “no one would be better pleased that I if the government reduced the sentence.”(Gold 77). • Gandhi feared violence and called off the massive civil disobedience. • In 1922, Gandhi was arrested and sentenced to 6 years in jail, but was released after 2 years after an operation for appendicitis. • Once he was released, Gandhi began to advocate spinning cloth in order to provide work for themselves and mostly to be symbolic of their want to be independent and self-sufficient. • Gandhi encouraged people to wear clothes only made by themselves or other Indians.
The Salt March • In 1930, Gandhi led a march of 241 miles to the coastal town of Dandi where he would take salt from the sea to protest the tax on salt. • Indians along the route cheered and joined him in his slow march. • Gandhi defied the law by picking up the salt, and nearly everyone wanted to make salt in civil disobedience. • In 1931, The Gandhi-Irwin Pact was signed between Gandhi and Lord Edward Irwin, representing the government. The pact set all political prisoners free in return for the suspension of the civil disobedience movement. • Winston Churchill was disgusted by Gandhi’s garb when he appeared to meet Irwin, calling it “alarming and also nauseating and humiliating,… striding half-naked up the steps of the viceroy’s palace” (Gold 91) While on his march, Gandhi wrote in a letter to the Viceroy, “I repudiate the law, and regard it as my sacred duty to break the mournful monotony of the compulsory peace that is choking the heart of the nation.”
The Untouchables • When the Untouchables(whom Gandhi had named Harijan or “the children of God”) were granted a separate electorate in 1933, as well as the division of the country based on religion, Gandhi retaliated because he saw it as dividing India and therefore weakening it and making it impossible to progress. • Gandhi announced a fast unto death unless the Untouchables plan was withdrawn. • The British agreed in the Yeravda Pact that the idea of a separate electorate was to be dropped. That year Gandhi took a 21 day fast of self-purification to help the Harijan movement. On the subject of untouchables, Gandhi stated “I do not want to be reborn, but if I have to be reborn I should be reborn an untouchable so that I may share their sorrows, sufferings, and the affronts leveled against them in order that I may endeavor to free myself and them from their miserable condition.”(Fischer 111)
“Quit India” • When ww2 broke out, Gandhi declared that India could not be part of a war being fought for democratic freedom, while that freedom was denied in India and drafted a resolution called “Quit India”. • Gandhi and his fellow leaders were arrested and violence soon commenced although Gandhi protested the violence. • Gandhi was released after 2 years after multiple health problems at least partially due to fasting. • The British finally sent a mission to India to transfer power to the Indians slowly to prevent instant chaos. • On August 15, 1947, the official declaration of Indian independence took place, with the country divided into Pakistan in the east and India in the west. “Leave India to God. If that is too much, then leave her to anarchy.” (Gold 115)
Assassination • On January 30, 1948, publisher Nathuram Godse came up to Gandhi and shot him 3 times in the midst of a crowd. Gandhi died instantly. • The majority of Gandhi's ashes were then enshrined at the Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Memorial. The day before Gandhi was killed, he said to an attendant “If I die of a lingering illness… it will be your duty to proclaim to the world… that I was not the man of God that I claimed to be… If someone were to end my life by putting a bullet through me… and I met this bullet without a groan, and breathed my last taking God’s name, then alone would I have made good my claim.”
Conclusion “We must be the change we wish to see.”(Fischer 162) Gandhi’s determination for a nonviolent path to what is good and right in both South Africa and India by becoming a leader of the resistant peoples has proved him to be one of the greatest leaders and philosopher of the 20th century and the effects of his persistence have been felt in society are still felt today.
Works Cited • Fischer, Louis. Gandhi, His Life and Message for the World. New York: Penguin Group. 1954. • Gold, Gerald. Gandhi, A Pictorial Biography. New York: Newmarket Press. 1983. • Kripalani, Krishna, ed. Gandhi, All Men Are Brothers. New York: The Continuum Publishing Company. 1990. • “Mahatma Gandhi Research and Media Services”. Gandhiserve Foundation. 24 April 2007. <http://www.gandhiserve.org/>