1-3-98Mike HenryGandhi also known as Mahatma Gandhi was born in Porbandar in the present stateof Gujarat on October 2, 1869 and got his education in law at University College inLondon. On 1891, after having been admitting to the British Bar, Gandhi returned toIndia and attempted to establish a law practice in Bombay, with little success. He wasappalled at the widespread denial of civil liberties and political rights to Indian immigrantsto South Africa. He threw himself into the struggle for elementary rights for Indians. Gandhi remained in South Africa for 20 years. He suffered imprisonment manytimes.
During the Boar war, Gandhi organized an ambulance corps for the British armyand commanded a red cross unit. After the war he returned to his campaign for Indianrights. In 1914, the government of the Union of South Africa made important concessionsto Gandhis demands, including recognition of Indian marriages and abolition of the polltax for them. His work in South Africa complete, he returned to India.
Following World War I, in which he played an active part in advocatingSalyagraha, launched his movement of passive resistance to Great Britain. Ademonstration against the Roulette Acts resulted in a massacre of Indians at Amritsar bythe British soldiers. In 1920, when the British government failed to make amends, Gandhiproclaimed an organized campaign of noncooperation. Indians in public office resigned,government agencies were boycotted, and Indian children were withdrawn fromgovernment schools. All through India, Indians were squatting on the streets blockingthem. The Indians who refused to leave were beaten by the police.Order now
Gandhi was arrested,but the British were soon forced to release him. India completely boycotted British goods. The exploitation of Indian villagers byBritish industrialists had resulted in poverty in the country and the virtual destruction ofIndian home industries. To remedy the poverty, Gandhi advocated the revival of cottageindustries.
He began to use a spinning wheel as a token of the return to the simple villagelife he preached. Gandhi became the international symbol of free India. He lived a spiritual life,fasting and meditating. He refused earthly possessions, he wore the loincloth and shawl ofthe lowliest Indian and lived on vegetables, fruit juices and goats milk. Indians thought ofhim as a saint and began to call him Mahatma, meaning great soul. Gandhi was imprisoned off and on over the next several years.
In 1930 heproclaimed a new campaign of civil disobedience, asking the Indian population to refuse topay taxes, particularly the tax on salt. He led a mar to the sea, in which thousands ofIndians followed him from Ahmadabad to the Arabian Sea. Once again, he was arrested. Gandhi fasted for long periods several times. His fasts were effective against the British,because revolution might well have broken out in India if he had died. In September1932, while in jail, Gandhi started a fast unto death to improve the status of the IndiaUntouchables.
In 1934 Gandhi formally resigned from politics. A few years later, heagain returned. The Mahatma once again became the most important political figure inIndia. By 1944 the Indian struggle for independence was in its final stages.
The Britishgovernment had agreed to independence on the condition that the two contendingnationalist groups, the Muslin League and the Congress Party should resolved theirdifferences. India and Pakistan became separate states when the British granted India itsindependence in 1947. During the riots that followed the partition of India, Gandhipleaded with Hindus and Muslims to live together peacefully. On January 13, 1948m 12 days after his last fast, he was on his way to his eveningprayer meeting when he was assassinated by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu fanatic. Gandhis death was regarded as an international catastrophe. His place inhumanity was measured in terms of history.
A period of mourning was set aside in theUnited Nations General Assembly and condolences to India were expressed by allcountries. Religious violence soon waned in India and Pakistan and the teachings ofGandhi came to inspire nonviolent movements elsewhere.