In news: Gandhi’s Birth Anniversary was celebrated on October 2.
About Mahatma Gandhi:
- Mahatma Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869 as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to the dewan (chief minister) of Porbandar and Putlibai.
- He was an Indian lawyer, politician, social activist, and writer who led the national movement against the British rule in India and South Africa.
- Rabindranath Tagore gave him the title “Mahatma” and Subash Chandra Bose gave him the title “Father of the Nation”.
- In 1893, Gandhi went to South Africa for legal work and remained there for 21 years, fighting for Indian rights and defending indentured labour in low courts against racial discrimination.
- He founded Ashram settlement at Phoenix and Tolstoy farm towards leading a simple community life.
- During the Boer war and the Zulu rebellion he helped the Government at the hour of its need, by raising Indian Ambulance and Stretcher-bearer Corps which served close to the line of fire. Gandhi was awarded Kaiser-i-hind for this service.
- He founded the Natal India congress 1894. The British Indian committee in the Transvaal fought against restriction on Indian trade, movement and residence. During the campaign against the ‘Black’ Registration Act, Gandhi lit a grand bonfire of thousands of the registration certificates.
Contribution to National Movement:
- Champaran Movement (1917) in Bihar under the strategy of civil disobedience was led by Gandhi to make Britishers agree to the demand of farmers, who were forcefully made to grow Indigo. He signed an agreement in which Britishers granted control and compensations to the farmers, cancelled the hikes in revenue and collection.
- Kheda Movement (1918) in Gujarat was led by Gandhi towards non-payment of taxes and involved social boycott of the revenue officials.
- Ahmedabad Mill Strike (1918) in Gujarat led by Gandhi against owners of mill on the issue of plague bonus and workers ended up getting a 35% wage increase.
- Khilafat Movement (1919): Gandhi had a major influence on the Muslim population and helped in uniting the country at the time of crisis, when Britishers tried their best to divide the nation on religious grounds. Gandhi participated actively in the movement, and became a prominent spokesperson for the All-India Muslim Conference
- Non-cooperation Movement (1920): He convinced people that non-cooperation was the key to Independence. He also set the goal of Swaraj or self-governance.
- Unity’ Fast (1924): Gandhi imposed on himself a 21-day fast to end Hindu-Muslim tension.
- Dandi March (1929) or Satyagraha campaign against the salt tax was led by Gandhi where he marched 388 kilometres from Ahmedabad to Dandi in Gujarat to make salt. This led the beginning of the civil disobedience movement that lasted till 1934.
- Quit India Movement (1942) was led by Gandhi in 1942 with the slogan of “Do or Die” against the British rule and India’s involvement in the World War II.
Gandhi as a Philosopher:
- Gandhi was an original and consistent thinker in the matter of peace building and also an astute peace builder. He, beyond the violent values of his time, struggled for nonviolence and dialogue among nations.
- Gandhi believed that in the absence of a concrete ethical foundation, the political could not function democratically and non-violently.
- He believed in the moral legitimacy of non-violence be a strategy of peace-making. While violence damages and undermines all forms of life, nonviolence uplifts all.
- He advocated an awareness of the essential unity and spiritual growth of humanity through critical self-examination and towards a ‘shared humanity’ and a pluralistic peace.
- Peace is the result of a long process of compassionate dialogue and tireless caring across cultural, religious, and political boundaries.
- In an age of increasing ‘globalisation of selfishness’, there is an urgent need to read and practise the Gandhian social and political philosophy in order re-evaluate the concept of peace.
MUST READ: Gandhi as a political thinker
Source: The Hindu
Previous Year Question
Q.1) Which one of the following observations is not true about the Quit India Movement of 1942? (2011)
- It was a nonviolent movement
- It was led by Mahatma Gandhi
- It was a spontaneous movement
- It did not attract the labour class in general