Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, a great man who risked all he had for his country. Gandhi was born in India and studied law in England, then spent 20 years defending the rights of immigrants in South Africa. He returned to India in 1914, eventually becoming the leader of the Indian National Congress. At the time, India was part of the British Empire, and Gandhi urged non-violence and civil disobedience as a means to independence. His public acts of defiance landed him in jail many times as the struggle continued through World War II. In 1947 he participated in the post-war negotiations with Britain that led to Indian independence.
His experience of the British Empire started when he had gone to South Africa as a part of his law course. He was travelling in first class compartment of a train. He realised the intensity of racism in South Africa when he was thrown off the train just because of his colour. Gandhi was employed by firm Muslim lawyers in Pretoria and became involved in number of struggles against the authorities of the British Empire. He used the technique of non-violence to gain freedom for the people in Africa.
After his success in South Africa, Gandhi returned to India in 1915. The Indians celebrated as Gandhi became an official member of the Indian National Congress. During this time, the First World War was at its height. At first Gandhi ignored this. He addressed the British Viceroy of India but shocked him by declaring shame to speak in English in his home country. He also made the rich Indian Princes feel shameful due to the fact that they were extremely loyal and greatly benefited by British rule. He started the Satyagraha (non-violence) campaign which involved helping poor Indian peasants in the district of Bihar. This involved Gandhi encouraging Indians to refuse to pay taxes.
After the First World War, protests in Amritsar had turned violent. Two banks were attacked and three members of staff were killed. An English woman was pulled off her bike and was assaulted. These made the British soldiers force every Indian passing that point to crawl on their stomachs and endure the jibes of the soldiers. They also banned all public meetings in Amritsar. On the 13th of April 1919, 379 Indians were killed due to their protest. The Indians had made a meeting in Jallianwala Bagh. It was a peaceful congregation consisting of men, women and children. Despite this General Dyer ordered to open fire on the on the crowd.
After this, Gandhi and many members of the Indian National Congress lost all their remaining respect for British rule. They branded this act as ‘satanic'.
In 1919 Gandhi persuaded the Congress to launch a non-cooperation movement (1919 - 1922) that soon attracted the support of the Muslim community. This movement snowballed into a country-wide agitation which took a violent turn in an incident (1922). Following this incident he suspended the movement and was sentenced to six years imprisonment. He was released in February 1924 due to ill health.
On his release, Gandhi worked very hard in the Indian National Congress to allow its many groups to work together. This greatly enabled Hindus and Muslims to co-operate and work together. This was in direct opposition to the British as they thought India was easier to control when the two main religious groups were arguing. In Congress Gandhi brought a vote to declare self rule in India.
January 1930 was celebrated as India's Independence Day by the Indian National Congress meeting in Lahore. This day was commemorated by almost every other Indian organisation. Gandhi then launched a new protest against the tax on salt in March 1930. This was highlighted by the famous Salt March to Dandi from 12th of March to 6th of April, where he marched 388 kilometres from Ahmedabad to Dandi, Gujarat to make salt himself. Gandhi was arrested and very soon, so were the 100,000 Indians following his example. By this time, the jails in India were at bursting point and the rest of the Indians realised that the great power of the British could not arrest them all.
Gandhi was released in time from prison to take part in a British run conference on the future of India. It was held in Britain and Gandhi proved very popular with the British working class when he refused to stay in a grand, plush hotel and stayed in a social service community hall in a very poor London neighbourhood. The British had promised two things they thought will be of great significance. The British hoped it would reduce the pressure given by Gandhi and the Congress. Gandhi was not impressed by the measures even though they would do some good. He believed that the measures will not go far enough.
In 1942, Indians were divided over World War II, as the British Viceroy of India, Lord Linlithgow, had brought India into the war without consultation. Some wanted to support the British during the Battle of Britain, hoping for eventual independence through this support. Others were enraged by the British disregard for Indian intelligence and civil rights, and were unsympathetic to the hard work of Britons in the United Kingdom. Gandhi had thought that the Indian soldiers would fight more fiercely for the independence of India. The British disagreed and arrested all the leaders of the Indian National Congress.
On the 1st of May 1944, Gandhi had been released from jail due to his ill health. All the other leaders were released in 1945. The British Labour party won the British general election and they were long hoping for India's independence. Britain was near bankruptcy and its financial supporter (USA) was disapproving the idea of an empire. Due to this India gained its independence.
On the 30th of January 1948, Gandhi was late for his prayer as a result of a conference with the new deputy prime minister but Gandhi had sought no such title and wished to be punctual with those who wanted to share prayer with him. A young Hindu from Poona pushed forward to join those wishing to touch Gandhi. He caught Gandhi's attention and as Gandhi turned, the young man shot him three times into the heart. This was a sad ending of the life of a man with a great soul - THE MAHATMA.