Widely known all over the world, Mahatma Gandhi also referred to, as “the great-souled one” is an iconic leader for being the principal leader of the independence movement in India. Moreover, he is celebrated for engineering a philosophy that employed passive resistance instead of violence, a philosophy that would persuade the world towards his way, making him significant.
Mahatma’s early life began with his birth in 1869, October 2 in Porbandar, India, with a chief minister father and a devoted religious mother. At thirteen years old, Mahatma married Kasturba Makanji, as per the arranged marriage culture in India and had four sons. At eighteen years, due to his father’s influence, he studied Law in London from 1888 to 1891, where he struggled with the cultural differences ended up adopting a vegetarian culture commemorated by his membership of the London Vegetarian Society. When he returned home, he set up a law firm in Bombay that unfortunately failed after he blanked out during his first court case and chose to take up a job with an Indian law firm and moved to South Africa, which became his family’s home for almost twenty years.
His leadership roles as both as a political and spiritual leader began to take shape in South Africa after facing various instances of discrimination and racial biases particularly on the train and in a courtroom. These events elicited a desire to fight colonial discrimination by pushing for civil rights for people particularly the Indian immigrants. His leadership included championing for the rights of Indians, their freedom and emphasized on the significance of their economic freedom. Religiously, he continually studied different religions in the world especially Hinduism and developed a life of simplicity and celibacy void of all earthly possessions, a life widely admired.
Mahatma Gandhi achieved numerous accomplishments. First, in 1894, he founded the Natal Indian Congress, a movement that sought to fight discrimination subjected to the Indians such as denial of a right to vote and he succeeded. Secondly, in 1906, he led a civil disobedience campaign in objection to the South African’s government failure to recognize Indian marriages and the introduction of the poll tax for Indian. After eight years, the campaign succeeded, resulting in the abolition of taxes and recognition of their marriages.
Thirdly, upon his return to India, he established the famously known passive resistance campaign in 1919. The movement was in objection to the Rowlatt Acts that authorized the British colony to stop any rebellion. Moreover, the movement advocated for the citizens’ reliance on Indian made products such as clothes and boycotting of all British amenities such as schools and businesses. Also, as the leader of the Labor Party, he oversaw the negotiations and prevailing of Indian independence in 1945 and further facilitated the separation of the India continent into the present India and Pakistan.
Despite the numerous achievements, his movement experienced several negative experiences. First, was the killing of about four hundred civilians attending the movement’s meeting in 1919, the arrest and incarceration of civilians, including him in multiple occasions, the death of his wife in 1944 while under detainment and the onset of religious violence between the Hindus and the Muslims. On January 30, 1948, at the age of seventy-eight, Nathuram Godse, a Hindu terrorist who faulted Gandhi for preaching tolerance of the Muslims, assassinated him while at a prayer meeting in New Delhi Birla House.
In conclusion, despite his death, Mahatma’s non-violent movement and his practice of living a simple life have elicited admiration and hope among numerous people of the world. His campaign has been instrumental in the fight for civil rights in numerous countries, making him a symbolic leader worldwide.