Mohan Das Karam Chandra Gandhi also known as Mahatma Gandhi or Bapu was born on 2nd October, 1869 in Porbander, Gujarat. He had changed the mode of Indian Freedom Struggle by his ideology and political will. His concept of Independence was based on his non-violence theory that inspired the movement for civil rights and freedom and made India free from the British rule.
He had started his studies from Porbander middle school and completed matriculation from Rajkot High School. He was an average student and anyhow cleared his graduation from Shyamal Das College, Bhavnagar. Then he went to England to study law on 4th September, 1888. He lived a simple life there, as he had promised his mother to live there as a teetotaler vegetarian. Gandhiji obtained his law degree from the Inner Temple (one of the four law colleges in London) and return back to India on the call of Wales Bar Association but couldn’t get success in Mumbai court.
In 1893, Gandhi went South Africa on a proposal by Dada Abdulla to work for a cousin who had shipping business there. This was the turning point of his life. He faced discrimination there due the apartheid policy was prevailing in South Africa on that time. He was compelled to leave the train once, hotel owners refused to allot rooms for him, even in court he was told to put off his turban. Gandhi was fighting against the discrimination in the meantime Gopal Krishna Gokhale invited him to return India and sent C.F. Andrews to convey the message.
Reason of Mahatma Gandhi Arrival in India
Gandhiji had accepted the invitation of his political mentor Gokhale and on 9th January, 1915 he landed at Mumbai port. A warm welcome was awaited for his arrival and he was treated as a Hero there. After three days he was honoured by the people of India and a large and magnificent reception was arranged at Patiala house in Mumbai. The Government of India also joined with the people of India in showering honours to Gandhi.
He received a title of “Kaiser-I-Hind” on the King’s birthday honours list of 1915. Gokhale advised Gandhi to visit all part of India as it was a long interval of 20 years when Gandhiji left India. Gokhale directed Gandhi to visit everywhere in India so that he would aware of the events and the present condition of the Indian people and apparently know their problems.
Mahatma Gandhi and the Freedom Struggle
During his tour in the Indian state, Gandhiji had seen the poor and miserable condition of the people especially the farmers and the workers. He talked with many of them. Looking on the oppressive policy of the British and the rebellion of 1857 Gandhiji decided to launch his policy of truth and non-violence. Hence he decided to go to the places which were largely affected. The contribution of Mahatma Gandhi in the Indian freedom struggle is given through the following points:
Champaran Satyagraha in 1917: Gandhi’s presence was first noticed by the British when he visited Champaran in Bihar and started his first Satyagraha from there. Gandhiji visited Champaran on the invitation of a poor farmer Raj Kumar Shukla and saw the miserable condition of farmers. The farmers in Champaran were oppressed by the British badly. They had to plant Indigo in the third part of their land and surrender it to the British. The other factor was that their land was getting decreased in fertility. Gandhiji fought for their rights. The British Government had noticed him to leave Champaran which Gandhiji had denied. He was taken under custody at once and the movement got the flame.
Kheda Satyagraha in 1918: When Gandhiji was returning from Champaran he got the news that the farmers in Kheda in Gujarat were also facing trouble to pay the taxes as they had been suffering from great famine and were not able to pay the taxes. But the British compelled them to deposit their taxes. Gandhiji appealed them not to pay the taxes and for this he started a movement there which is known as Kheda Satyagraha.
Khilafat Movement: The existence of Khilafat Movement and Non-cooperation Movement was due to the increasing anger and annoyance against the British rule. In the First World War Turkey fought against the Allied forces and was defeated. After the end of the war British were oppressing them at a large scale. In the leadership of Muhammad Ali and Saukat Ali (well known as Ali brothers), Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Hasrat Mohani and the other leaders, the Khilafat Movement was initiated against the injustice in Turkey. Gandhiji supported the movement because he wanted Hindu-Muslim unity, and appealed both the communities to show their solidarity and unity. Many leaders criticised his policy of appeasement but anyhow Gandhiji succeeded in getting the support of Muslim Community.
Non-cooperation Movement: Through this movement Gandhiji used Non-cooperation, Non-violence, and peaceful resistance as a weapon. This movement was started by Gandhi after the massacre of Jallianwalabagh. This movement had shaken the roots of the British rule till February 1922 but the incident of Chauri-Chaura had hurt Gandhi’s sentiments and he declared its end because violence was seen there.
Civil Disobedience Movement: The Civil Disobedience Movement was started by Gandhiji in 1930 to break the oppressive Salt Act. The British government passed the Salt Act in 1882. This act prohibited Indians from marketing salt. Under this act Indian citizens were forced to purchase salt from British traders who in addition to exercise a monopoly over the production and charged a heavy tax on the sale of salt. Therefore, to provide the citizens of India with the basic need of salt, M.K Gandhi launched a Dandi March (as an act of civil disobedience) from March to April 1930. This march was supported by thousand of Indians, as Gandhi and his 78 followers were to oppose the policy of the British government to produce salt from the water of the Sea. Dandi was the seashore on the Western Ghats 385 km away from Ahemdabad. Gandhiji was arrested with his supporters.
Round Table Conference: For the constitutional remedies in India by the British, a series of three Round Table conferences were held in between 1930-32. These conferences were conducted on the basis of the report submitted by the Simon Commission. The demand of Swaraj or self-governance was being raised on a large scale. The other movements were intensifying it. The top leaders were in favour of the self-governance. There was difference of opinion among the Indian political parties and their British counterparts so no solution could be found out.
The second Round Table Conference was held on 7th September, 1931 in London. Gandhiji along with Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Sarojani Naidu, and Madan Mohan Malviya reached London to participate in the conference. On 30th November Gandhiji told that the Indian National Congress was the only political party in India that was secular and represent all the caste and creed. Gandhiji demanded the absolute independence which was refused by the British. Other Indian communal parties demanded separate representation for their caste. Gandhiji returned disappointed because no solution was found out there.
Gandhi-Irwin Pact: After the failure of First Round Table Conference, efforts were made by the Government to make an agreement that the congress would attend the next Round Table Conference. The British rulers were sensed that without the approval of Congress and Gandhiji the decision was not possible. The Viceroy, Lord Irwin, was thus authorised to hold talks with Mahatma Gandhi. Finally, Gandhi and Irwin made an agreement on 5 March 1931.
The agreement is called Gandhi-Irwin Pact. The agreements accepted by both the end were given below:
British Government Accepted that–
All the political prisoners would be released except those accused of violence.
The Salt Act will be removed.
Indians could demonstrate and called on strikes near liquor shops and could boycott the foreign cloths.
The agitators of the Non-cooperation Movement will be re-appointed and could hold their previous posts.
The seized property during the movement will be returned.
On the behalf of Congress Gandhiji Accepted that:
The Civil Disobedience Movement had been cancelled.
Congress will participate in the second Round Table Conference.
Congress will not boycott the British goods.
Gandhiji will not demand the probe on the police excesses.
Quit India Movement: After the failure of the Cripps’ Mission Gandhiji had decided the third mass agitation against the British. On 8th August, 1942 in the Mumbai session of Indian National Congress the slogan ‘Quit India’ was raised. That is known as the August Revolution also. The main objective of this movement was to end the British rule from India. The slogan Quit India was first coined by Yusuf Mehar Ali a renowned congress leader. On 9th August, 1942 the Quit India Movement was initiated on the appeal of Mahatma Gandhi in all over the country. It was a polite disobedience agitation against the British rule. Gandhiji raised the slogan ‘Do or Die’ for the Indian people during the movement.
Partition of India
The partition of British India into the countries of India and Pakistan in 1947 was a big event and the end of the British rule. The partition of British India was done according to the two-nation theory presented by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. Pakistan became a Muslim country, and India remained a secular country. The main spokesperson for the partition was Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He became the first Governor-General of Pakistan. Millions of people moved across the border between the two newly formed states in the hope of religious security. The newly formed governments were unable to deal with migrations of such a huge numbers of migrants. Massive violence and slaughter occurred on both sides of the border.
Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi
After the partition, India had to pay economic compensation to Pakistan. Many nationalist leaders were not in favour and opposed it. Hindu Mahasabha was aggressive. A Hindu nationalist Nathuram Godse shot bullets while Gandhiji was going to attend the prayer assembly in Birla house in New Delhi. Godse believed that Gandhi was the prime accused of that compensation policy and the partition that would hamper the nation. The whole world was shocked. Nathuram and his co-conspirator Narayan Apte were arrested. On 15th November, 1949 they both were hanged.
The role and contribution of Mahatma Gandhi in the Indian Freedom Movement is not only notable but also it is extraordinary and imitative because he was such a personality who had awakened the will-power of every Indian individual. Gandhiji had made them feel the value of freedom and rated Satyagraha as the best and perfect weapon. Finally he was able to force the British to leave India.