Role of Mahatma Gandhi in India’s struggle for freedom

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Role of Mahatma Gandhi in India’s struggle for freedom

Mahatma Gandhi (early name: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi) was a great political leader of India. He was born on 2nd October, 1869 at Porbondar in Gujarat. Karamchand Gandhi and Putli Bai were his parents. In India, he is also called Bapu (Father).

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (also Gandhiji) emerged as a new leader in Indian politics in 1919.

Early life: After becoming a lawyer, he got an offer from an Indian firm in South Africa and went there. In South Africa, he started his non-violent civil disobedience movement in protest of the Asiatic Act and Transvaal Immigration Act. In 1914, he returned India when he was 46. He spent the next four years touring all over the country and studying the Indian situation.

Events turning him to an all-India leader: In 1917, Mahatma Gandhi successfully led the peasants of Champaran district against the exploitation of indigo-planters.

Mr. Gandhi also achieved success at Kheda against white planters and revenue authorities. He also offered leadership to the mill-workers of Ahmadabad. The workers called strike demanding a 50% wage-hike. Here, Mr. Gandhi first used the weapon of hunger strike.

Down to 1919, his interventions in matters of all India politics had been minimal. The Rowlatt Act in February 1919 turned him to an all India leader and he started an all India Satyagraha campaign for the first time.

A leadership with difference: According to Ashin Dasgupta, Mahatma Gandhiji’s leadership rose from grass-root level to upwards. He never imposed his leadership upon the people. Here lies the difference between Mr. Gandhi and the early leaders of Congress. He was an heir to the political traditions of both the Moderates and the Extremists. However, he attempted to give their thinking a more practical and dynamic turn. His concept of Swaraj was that of kingdom of God or Ram Rajya that worked for the benefit of the masses.

The early nationalists spoke at lengthabout the poverty of the masses andcolonial exploitationin India buthardly did anything for the masses. Political freedom was not his sole concern. He emphasized on eradication of untouchability, setting up of Udyog Sangh, revival of khadi industry,and other similarmeasuresto improve the condition of the poor masses.

As a freedom fighter: As a freedom fighter and national leader, Gandhiji was peerless. As a politician, he stood after from his contemporaries. He employed moral means to attain political ends. To him, sour-force is the strongest force, which he used against the brute force.

The Non-cooperation, Civil Disobedience, and Quit India movement became violent at some places because of the imprisonment of prominent leaders including Mahatma Gandhi.

Mr. Gandhi used legal and extra-legal methods but never adopted immoral or dishonest means to reach his goal.

Impact of Gandhiji’s struggle on the government: All the three great movements led by Mahatma Gandhi failed politically. Nevertheless, he could make the British realize that their rule in India was wrong and unjust. The government realized that Gandhiji and the Congress could arouse the masses against the government at any time. His struggle led the rulers to think of the transfer of power into Indian hands.

Gandhiji’s message: Mr. Gandhi was a unique national leader. He combined in himself the role of a socio-religious reformer and a leader of nationalist movement. He made Satya and Ahimsa as the basis of the new social order. He adopted the principles of non-violence, peacefulness, and non-cooperation with the ruling class to achieve freedom. Freedom was to be achieved through non-violence and non-cooperation with the ruling class. He maintained that fearlessness is the essential part of Satyagraha. He sought to remove all kinds of fear from the minds of the people.

Estimate: Mr. Gandhi was a genuine leader of the masses. No leader before him could set an example of such mass mobilization. Netaji truly called him ‘Father of our Nation’. He was the man who made the question of achieving independence a concern of people of India.

His place in history: Mr. Gandhi is dead but he has become immortal. His place is secured among the greatest people in Indian History. He was a true Mahatma. Peace, love, tolerance, and non-violence were the keys to the success that he achieved. The study of the life of such a great man is an education in itself.

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