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Mahatma Gandhi : BIOGRAPHY

Gandhi

Gandhi


Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi   was the pre-eminent political and spiritual leader of India during the Indian independence movement. He was the pioneer of satyagraha—resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience, firmly founded upon ahimsa or total non-violence—which led India to independence and has inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. Gandhi is commonly known around the world as Mahatma Gandhi   
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Mohandas Gandhi  Known as ‘Mahatma’ (great soul), Gandhi was the leader of the Indian nationalist movement against British rule, and is widely considered the father of his country. His doctrine of non-violent protest to achieve political and social progress has been hugely influential.


Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 in Porbandar in Gujarat. After university, he went to London to train as a barrister. He returned to India in 1891 and in 1893 accepted a job at an Indian law firm in Durban, South Africa. Gandhi was appalled by the treatment of Indian immigrants there, and joined the struggle to obtain basic rights for them. During his 20 years in South Africa he was sent to prison many times. Influenced primarily by Hinduism, but also by elements of Jainism and Christianity as well as writers including Tolstoy and Thoreau, Gandhi developed the satyagraha (‘devotion to truth’), a new non-violent way to redress wrongs. In 1914, the South African government conceded to many of Gandhi’s demands.  
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Gandhi’s Human Touch 
To me it is indeed a privilege to have the opportunity to deliver JP Memorial Lecture on “Gandhi’s Human Touch;, a subject which is very close to my heart. I think, in the present world, full of hatred, bitterness, cruelty, racial discrimination, communal tensions, inequities, human degradation and erosion of values, Gandhi is more relevant today than at any other time. In the context of the present situation, I strongly feel that there is an imperative need to recapture the spirit and human touch of Gandhi. While I speak on the subject, I am reminded of my recent address at the Institute of Applied Manpower Research, in which I spoke on planning in India. I said that in our country, if we have any respect for Gandhi, we must have planning, whose base is social and human and the apex is economic. I deliberately avoided the term ‘human face’, because in these days of modern cosmetics, face can be human, and yet the soul and heart can be cruel. 
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Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Indian leader
byname Mahatma (“Great-Souled”) Gandhi
Preeminent leader of Indian nationalism and prophet of nonviolence in the 20th century.
Gandhi grew up in a home steeped in religion, and he took for granted religious tolerance and the doctrine of ahimsa (noninjury to all living beings). He studied law in England but seemed too diffident to become a successful lawyer. He took a job with an Indian firm in South Africa. There he became an effective advocate for Indian rights. In 1906 he first put into action satyagraha, his technique of nonviolent resistance. His success in South Africa gave him an international reputation, and in 1915 he returned to India and within a few years became the leader of a nationwide struggle for Indian home rule. By 1920 Gandhi commanded influence hitherto unattained by any political leader in India. He refashioned the Indian National Congress into an effective political instrument of Indian nationalism and undertook major campaigns of nonviolent resistance in 1920–22, 1930–34 (including his momentous march to the sea to collect salt to protest a government monopoly), and 1940–42.
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The Indian Independence Movement
Gandhi was forty-five years old when he returned to India. Already well known in Indian political circles, he joined the Congress and was soon immersed in India’s struggle for independence. His first major campaign was the non-cooperation movement of 1920. This involved a boycott of goods manufactured in Britain. Gandhi insisted on complete non-violence, and called off the movement in 1922 when some villagers attacked a police station and killed several policemen.

Attempts at Hindu-Muslim unity which had seemed well set on a path to completion in 1916, collapsed during this movement. Mohammed Ali Jinnah called this an “extremist movement [which] struck the imagination mostly of the inexperienced youth and the ignorant and illiterate”. Through the 20’s there was a rising tide of communal violence, and Gandhi’s many fasts against this phenomenon did nothing to check it.

In 1930 another non-cooperation movement was launched. The British government in India jailed 60,000 Congress workers before making truce and calling Gandhi to negotiate with the viceroy. Winston Churchill’s remark on this occasion about “this seditious fakir … striding half-naked up the steps of the Viceroy’s palace” was turned against the British and made into good propaganda.
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