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Mohandus Gandhi has had many influences on the world today. He was born on October 2nd, 1869 in Porbandar, West India. He became one of the most respected, spiritual and political leaders of the 1900’s. He acquired the name Mahatma, which means “soul force?. He helped free the Indian people through nonviolent resistance, also given the name satyagraha, instead of the violent warfare that was being used by Britain. Gandhi also promoted social and economic reforms. He is still honored by his people today, as the father of the Indian nation.
Life in India during the time of Gandhi was not very pleasant for an Indian. British ruled most of India and they were racist and prejudice against the Indians and any other minority. Indians were forced to degrade themselves in public. They were not even allowed to walk on the same cement sidewalk or ride in the same passenger cart on a train, if there was no room to spare on the 3rd class cart, their only choice was to ride outside on top of the train. Gandhi’s subliminal protests silently announced that Indians would not tolerate this, even if it risked being beaten or put into prison. To Gandhi, being put into prison for a good cause was considered honorable. He wanted to get rid of the caste system and for all who lived in India, including women, to be equal.
Gandhi embraced Hindu traditions, unlike the Moslem tradition, Hindu worship idols. Moslem pray 5 times a day, they are monotheistic; they praise one god, Ali. Hindu’s are polytheistic. However, it has caused conflicts. Even when Gandhi achieved equality, there was still tension about religion. Mohandus Gandhi has had many influences on the world today.
Although Gandhi didn?t agree with the way Britain was ruling India and some of the cultural aspects of India, he stood strong using his weapon of nonviolence.
When Gandhi was 24, he lived in South Africa. It was then that he adopted satyagrana. Satyagrana literally means ?insistence on truth?. For Gandhi this was his strategy of non-violence civil disobedience. Gandhi was quoted, “Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.” By using this weapon he embarrassed the governments through prayers, fasts, protest, civil disobedience and strikes. Although, throughout his whole life, he spent a total of seven years in jail for political activity, his action still initiated some reforms. For 21 years, Gandhi stayed in South Africa, working towards rights for Indians; then in 1915 Gandhi returned to India and toured his home country. By 1920 he was the leader of the Indian nationalist movement. It all started in July 1917, when Gandhi first took action in India by heading a protest against the exploitation of the Indigo workers. By March 1918 Gandhi led mill workers in a peaceful strike for higher wages and in June 1918, after and no-tax campaign led by Gandhi, a cutback of taxes was granted in a drought hit area. In 1919 he led a protest against the Rowlatt Act that Britain imposed on them. This act made it unlawful to organize opposition to the government. Gandhi launched the Rowlatt Satyagraha on April 6th, 1919. It was a combination of strikes, fasting and prayer meetings and breaking of some civil laws. This prevented the passing of one of the bills and the other wasn?t enforced. During this Gandhi had to call off the campaign when riots broke out. Again he stressed the importance of nonviolence.
On April 13, 1919 people were able to see why Gandhi hated the cruelty of British rule during the Amritsar Massacre. This was when a British general ordered his men to fire on an unarmed crowed. At this massacre nearly 400 Indians were killed. This caused Gandhi to be more determined win independence through nonviolent resistance.
In 1920 until the 1930?s Gandhi called every one to boycott British goods. In doing so the people of India began to weave and spin their own thread to make cloth. This restored India?s pride in traditional spinning and weaving; later on the spinning wheel became the symbol of the nationalist movement. Because of Gandhi the people were inspired to get rid of their helplessness.
Another time in which Gandhi took action was The Salt March. In 1930 the British had a monopoly on salt. They were the only ones who could sell it so they taxed the people whenever they bought it. To Gandhi this was a symbol of the British oppression that he wanted to end. Because of the high prices the poor could not afford salt. One day Gandhi started out with 78 followers on a 240-mile march to the sea. By the time he got there, the people numbered in the thousands. On April 6, 1930 Gandhi broke the law by going into the water and picking up a big lump of salt. Although he was arrested, others followed. In the end an exuberant number of people were sent to prison. The Salt March received so much publicity that Britain was publicly embarrassed.
During the 1942 Quit India Movement, Gandhi gave a surprisingly agitated speech, urging Indians to “Do or Die” employing any measures they saw fit while opposing the British.
In January 1948 Gandhi once again began a fast to protest against religious violence but assurances from religious leaders led him to break his fast on January 18th, 1948. 12 days later, a Hindu fanatic, Naturam Godse, blaming Gandhi for separating and “betraying” Hindus, shot Gandhi at a prayer meeting in Delhi. This was a tragic end for a man dedicated to non-violence.
Although Mohandas Gandhi died 52 years ago he has had a major impact on the way some events happen in our world today. From him we?ve learned to not always battle for what we want, but to demonstrate, sign petitions, and try to bring about change peacefully.
One example, of how we learned form Gandhi, is China. Students were having a very peaceful demonstration, but then, since their government is communist, the government came and ended up shooting a numerous amount of people. It?s very sad that not everyone could have the same values as Gandhi, because if we did this world would be a much more peaceful place.
Another example is the way Martian Luther King Jr. went about doing his whole campaign to stop segregation and give freedom for blacks. He even won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize for leading nonviolent civil rights demonstrations. But just like Gandhi he was the target for violence.
Mahatma Gandhi lived form 1869 until 1948. During that time he was a great leader who brought his home country out from under imperialistic rule. The amazing thing was, was that he did it without using violence. Only a few time riots broke out but generally Gandhi was a man of peace who set a great president and left an everlasting legacy.
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