Mahatma Gandhi was an Indian lawyer and politician, founder of independent India.
Gandhi received the title "Mahatma", a word that comes Sanskrit and means "The Great Soul".
He spread "Satyagraha", the principle of non-aggression, as a way of making a revolution without weapons.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, western India.
Gandhi was the son of the local Prime Minister with a devout Vaishnava. His education started in India and was completed in England, he graduated in Law at "University College". This was contrary to the precepts of his caste, which prohibited travel to the British metropolis.
Returning to India in 1891, Mohandas did not stay long in his homeland, since he traveled to South Africa. There, he lived for a year and represented an Indian firm, which made him renowned for his successful performance.
Subsequently, Gandhi returned to South Africa with his wife and children and lived in this country for twenty years.
Liberation of the Indian People
Gandhi's first public appearance for India's freedom took place in September 1906. The Government of Transvaal (South Africa) wanted to register the Hindu population, but they refused to do so.
Gandhi and other Hindus were arrested and sentenced to two months of hard work, which went on strike, covering about 50,000 workers.
As a result of this action, the British government gave in. As a result, all marriages were validated, taxes owed were forgiven and Indians were given more freedom.
When Mahatma Gandhi returned to India in 1915, he sought to make Hindu and Muslim society aware of the need for the peaceful struggle for independence in India.
Thus, Gandhi would face the British government openly in 1919, when it sought to institute the "Rowlatt Act".
This law consisted of applying emergency measures such as detaining people accused of terrorism and keeping them in prison for two years, without trial.
Thus, in 1920, Gandhi started a nationwide campaign. The pacifist revolutionary traveled through Hindu territory in order to make the Indian people aware of not collaborating with the British government.
Gandhi asked people not to pay taxes, buy alcohol and make their own clothes.
Finally, in 1928, the campaign against tax increases grew, which led Indians to refuse to pay taxes.
The British government's crackdown on demonstrators was violent, with executions and arrests, however, the Indians did not respond aggressively.
Thus, the British were forced to cancel the increases, release the prisoners and restore the confiscated land and properties. All of this through the return of tax payments by the Indians.
Subsequently, Mohandas performs the "March of Salt" or "March of Dandy", which led to massive civil disobedience March 11, 1930.
Gandhi started a march of almost 200 kilometers towards the sea, gathering tens of thousands of protesters.
These went to the seaside, they collected salt water in basins and produced their own salt, something forbidden by the British.
In total, 60,000 people followed the march and more than 50,000 witnessed the production of salt. For this action, Gandhi was immediately arrested by the British authorities.
Gandhi March of Salt
Gandhi and his followers collect sea water to extract salt
In the meantime, so many arrests were made that the prisons were overcrowded, as 100,000 Hindus were incarcerated.
Finally, Gandhi was invited to a meeting with Viceroy Lord Irwin (1881-1959) in 1931. this meeting, the Irwin-Gandhi pact was born, which established:
the cancellation of the Civil Disobedience movement;
release of prisoners;
permission for private salt production;
participation of the Indian National Congress party at the negotiating tables on India's problems.
Gandhi continued his revolutionary and non-violent journey towards political freedom in India. In 1942, he was arrested again, along with several leaders of the revolution. Everyone decided to fast, but only Mahatma Gandhi survived.
In 1947, the British set a date to withdraw India. This was possible through the actions of Gandhi and thanks to pressure the Indian bourgeoisie, which strengthened the nationalist movement, the Party of the Indian National Congress.
The British also wanted to avoid open confrontation, as they would not be able to sustain a war after the recently ended World War II. However, they maintained their economic interests in India.
Mahatma Gandhi exercised great influence between the Hindu and Muslim communities in India. Despite this, it failed to mitigate the rivalries, which delayed the process of independence.
Likewise, it did not prevent the creation of two distinct states: India, with a Hindu majority and Pakistan, with a Muslim majority.
During his journey to independence India, Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned several times, for a total of 6 years.
In prison, the pacifist got to know the work of the Russian writer Leon Tolstoi (1828-1910). With him, Gandhi exchanged letters and became aware of that thinker's libertarian ideas.
Tolstoy was also responsible for indicating Henry David Thoreau's reading to Gandhi, thus leading him to discover the basis for Civil Disobedience.
Finally, on January 30, 1948, Gandhi was shot dead in New Delhi by a Hindu radical. According to Hinduism, the Mahatma's body was incinerated and its ashes were thrown into the Ganges River.
Gandhi's ideas and actions would influence thinkers throughout the 20th century like American pastor Martin Luther King.
These principles can be summarized in:
Nonviolence: they assume that hurting another person is like attacking yourself, however, attacking an unjust system is justified and possible thanks to civil disobedience.
The boycott: known in India as the "swadeshi" policy, that is, the boycott of goods imported England, as well as by encouraging domestic production of clothes (khadi) to the detriment of English fabrics and products.
Civil disobedience: refusal to pay taxes to a state considered illegitimate. In this case, the United Kingdom.
"Violence is created by inequality, non-violence by equality".
“Prison is not the bars, and freedom is not the street; there are men trapped in the street and free in prison. It is a matter of conscience ”.
"There is no way to peace. Peace is the way".
"There is enough wealth in the world for man's needs, but not for his ambition."
"Just as a drop of poison compromises an entire bucket, so lying, however small, spoils our whole life."