Contribution of Mahatma Gandhi in freedom movement
- October 2, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Contribution of Mahatma Gandhi in freedom movement
Gandhi Jayanti is celebrated all over the country on October 2.
- Mahatma Gandhi was born on 2 October, 1869 at Porbandar, Gujarat.
- Mahatma Gandhi was a renowned freedom activist who had played an important role in India’s struggle for Independence against the British rule of India.
- His ideology of truth and non-violence influenced many and was also adopted by Martin Luther and Nelson Mandela for their struggle movement.
- At the age of 19, Mohandas left home to study law in London at the Inner Temple, one of the city’s four law colleges. Upon returning to India in mid-1891, he set up a law practice in Bombay, but met with little success. He soon accepted a position with an Indian firm that sent him to its office in South Africa. Along with his wife, Kasturbai, and their children, Gandhi remained in South Africa for nearly 20 years.
- Books that inspired Mahatma Gandhi :Unto this Last by John Ruskin and The Kingdom of God is within you’ by Leo Tolstoy.
- English artist John Ruskin’s book Unto This Last inspired Gandhi and he set up Phoenix Farm near Durban. Here, Gandhi would train his cadres on non-violent Satyagraha or peaceful restraint. Phoenix Farm is considered as the birthplace of Satyagraha. However, it was at the Tolstoy Farm, Gandhi’s second camp in South Africa, where Satyagraha was molded into a weapon of protest.
Associations by Gandhiji in South Africa:
- Natal Indian Congress
- Passive Resistance Association
Journals by Gandhiji in South Africa:
- Indian Opinion
Gandhiji in India:
- In 1915, after returning from South Africa, where he had perfected the art of non-violent resistance or satyagraha, Mahatma Gandhi spent the next few years in fully understanding Indian conditions and travelled widely across the length and breadth of this vast nation.
- Gandhi also met the Congress leadership and took everyone’s suggestions on board, before taking tentative steps towards launching himself into the Indian Independence struggle.
- While the Indian freedom movement can be thought of as one single struggle that lasted decades, in reality there were phases of great activity and relatively lull periods as well. And much of this calendar of protests and tactical retreat was decided by Gandhi himself, who apart from being the greatest advocate of peace and violence in modern times, was also a brilliant organiser of mass movements. He understood the people’s pulse like few others.
- Here the movements he launched and led, which eventually and cumulatively shook the very foundations of the British Raj:
- Champaran Movement: The Champaran Movement is regarded as the first modern civil disobedience movement in India. It took place in the then Champaran district of northern Bihar. The Indian labourers and farm-workers here tilled the land but all the profits went to the European landowners. The labourers protested but it was Gandhi’s involvement in their struggle that culminated in the Champaran Agrarian Act, 1918, which helped farmers secure greater rights over their own land. The success of Champaran made many more Indians aware of Gandhi and his principles, and the Congress party found its greatest mass leader.
- Ahmedabad Mill Worker Satyagraha:In March 1918, under the leadership of Gandhi, there was a strike in the cotton mills. In this strike Gandhi used the weapon of Hunger strike.
- Kheda Satyagraha: In Kheda, Gujarat, despite crop failures, the farmers’ desperate pleas for tax remission fell on deaf ears. Gandhi’s message to them was to withhold revenue and fight peacefully but bravely against such vindictiveness and tyranny. Another rising star of the freedom movement, SardarVallabhbhai Patel, also played a key role in this struggle of 1918. The local government eventually came out with a solution that was acceptable to both parties. The Champaran and Kheda campaigns were limited to specific areas, but they gave Gandhi the confidence to launch his major pan-Indian movements in future.
- Rowlatt Act Satyagraha: During World War I (1914–18), the British government of India enacted a series of repressive emergency powers that were intended to combat subversive activities. The Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act of 1919 popularly known as Rowlatt Act (Black Act) which was passed on 10thMarch, 1919, authorised the government to imprison or confine, without a trial, any person associated with seditious activities which led to nationwide unrest. Gandhiji called for a one-day general strike (Rowlatt Satyagraha) throughout the country.
- Non-Cooperation Movement: The Non-Cooperation movement (1920-22) was the first mass movement launched by Gandhi, seeking self-government or swaraj for all Indians. It followed from Gandhi’s deeply held ideals of satyagraha and civil disobedience, and he called upon Indians to boycott all institutions linked to the British including courts and colleges, give up titles and refuse to pay taxes. Audacious in scope, the Non-Cooperation movement may not have been a 100 per cent success, but it made millions of Indians understand the true meaning of a modern, organised political movement and its power.
- Dandi March: An unqualified masterstroke, the Dandi March brought Mahatma Gandhi’s political genius and sense of timing to the fore. He started the historic march from Sabarmati Ashram to the coastal village of Dandi in March 1930. While the basic reason was to protest against the unacceptably high salt tax levied by the British, it turned into something much bigger as thousands of people joined Gandhi on his 24-day march. The Dandi March became the talking point across the country and the whole nation was inspired. From that moment onwards, non-violent resistance against the British became the natural course of action for a vast section of Indians for the remaining years of the Raj.
- Quit India Movement: By the beginning of the 1940s, the British knew that their days in India were numbered, but they used the excuse of World War 2 to delay any talk of India’s independence. In August 1942, the All-India Congress Committee passed the famous ‘Quit India’ resolution in Bombay, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, who also gave the slogan of ‘Do or Die’. The entire leadership of the Congress was arrested, but that didn’t stop thousands of protests against British rule in every corner of the country. There was no middle path now: the British had to quit India.
Journals of Gandhiji
- Mahatma Gandhi was offered editorship of Young India and Navjivan
- In February 1933 Gandhiji started Harijan, Harijanbandhu, Harijansevak in English, Gujarati and Hindi,
Organisations by Mahatma Gandhi
- Harijan Sevak Sangh
- All India spinners association
- Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association
- All India Village Industries’ Association