The tale of India's freedom movement is incomplete without remembering the immense contribution of Mahatma Gandhi. Born on October 2, 1869, Mohandas Karam Chand Gandhi or Mahatma Gandhi was unarguably the greatest man in the history of India. He came from a well cultured and religious middle class Hindu family of Porbandar, Gujarat. Gandhi Ji completed his primary education in Bhavnagar city and moved to London in the year 1888, for pursuing higher study in law. In 1891, he left London and returned back to India for law practice in Bombay. But, his shy nature failed all his attempts of becoming a legal professional. Later in the year 1895, Gandhi Ji went to South Africa as a legal representative under one year contract of Dada Abdulla & Company. This step changed Gandhi Ji's life in almost every aspect. While working in South Africa, he faced racial discrimination and other inhumane law that British government had imposed on Indians. All this shaped Gandhi Ji's social activism and skills of political leadership.
In 1894, Gandhi Ji founded Natal Indian Congress with the support of Indian people to fight for their legal rights. The Transvaal government launched a new act in the year 1906 for forcing registration of Indian people. Against the newly launched act of the government, Indian people gathered in Johannesburg on September 11 under the leadership of Gandhi Ji. In the meeting, he urged the people for peaceful protest and thousands of supporters accepted his principles of Satyagraha and Ahinsa, with full respect. Though the movement was a failure, Gandhi Ji emerged as a political leader of Indian community in South Africa. It was the beginning of the change that Gandhiji was about to bring. In 1915, Gandhi Ji returned back to India the reputation of a leading Indian nationalist, theorist and organizer. He joined Indian National Congress. His contribution in bringing social and cultural change in India is unforgettable. Gandhiji led the nation in the following historical movements:
Non Co-operation Movement (1922):
It was the first of all non-violent protests in India. Non-cooperation movement officially started the Gandhian era in India. The sole aim behind this movement was to make people of India aware of that the British government can be opposed. During the protest, people refused to buy British goods and adopt the use of local handicrafts. Initially, the protest was going well and encouraged millions of Indians to stand up for the freedom. But, Chauri Chaura clash between police and the protesters ended up the dream of Gandhi Ji. He called off mass non-cooperative movement and went on fast to stop the massacre.
Salt march or Civil Disobedience Movement (1930):
After the failure of Non-cooperative Movement, Gandhi Ji started another non-violence movement, namely, Civil Disobedience Movement, in the year 1930. The movement began on March 12, 1930, when Gandhi Ji left Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad, along with some of his followers towards Dandi, a village on the west coast of India. The motive behind the Dandi march was protesting the Salt Law of the British Government that barred Indian people to make salt. During the movement, Gandhi Ji made salt and challenged the British government to stop them from doing so. The Civil Obedience Movement was spread across India and Salt law was challenged everywhere. The movement was completely non-violent and splendidly carried forward the unfinished task of Non-cooperative Movement.
Quit India Movement (Bharat Chodo Andolan) or August Movement (1942):
Quit India Movement (Bharat Chodo Andolan) or August Movement was one of the most important movements that had been led by Gandhi Ji. On August 8, 1942, Gandhi Ji addressed around 60,000 people at the Goawalia Tank Maidan in Mumbai and said to the people that this is a moment of “Do or Die”. He also said that stand by firmly on the demand of freedom, if you want to give free nation to the future generation. The Quit India Movement was effectively routed by British Government, but a strong reply came from their side after American President Winston Churchill pressurized them to fulfill the demands of Indian people. British government promised to give independence only after World War II and imposed a condition that the people of India would have to fight for them. Indians accepted the proposal of British government and fought for them in the World War II.
Gandhi Ji always struggled for the nation and finally on August 15, 1947 his long journey came into an end, when British government made way for freedom of India. It was an emotional moment when the whole nation stood together and celebrated the independence of India. But, the celebration came with the heart breaking partition of India. Under the leadership of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Muslim community demanded for Pakistan. Gandhi Ji was completely broken and tried to persuade Jinnah and other people for taking back the demand of Pakistan. On January 31, 1948, he was shot by an extremist Nathuram Godse.
Mahatma Gandhi had an immense contribution in India's freedom struggle as well as social and cultural development.