Gandhi & His Achievements

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World History II Essay: Gandhi

“A 'No' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.” (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi) These immortal words were uttered by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi or Gandhi as most know him today. Gandhi was an advocate of nonviolence, he was at the forefront of the Free India movement of the 1930’s and 40’s and played an integral part in India becoming an independent nation. This essay will focus on a few of Gandhi’s many achievements, it will look at how for the time period his philosophy of non-violent protest was considered a radical concept and how this philosophy of non-violence not only helped free India from British rule but also inspired protest and civil disobedience the world over. To begin this essay will take a brief look at the life of the man born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

Born on the 2nd of October 1869 in Porbander India, at this time part of “British India” to Karamchand Gandhi who was the local Prime Minister and his mother Putlibai Gandhi who was a highly devout women involved in the Jain traditions. When Gandhi was 13 he was married to Kasturbai Makhanji, and in 1888 Gandhi moved to London England to study law. It was here that he became interested in religion, studying both Buddhist and Hindu literature. In 1891 Gandhi returned to India upon learning that his mother had died. After a brief time at home he again left, this time for South Africa in 1893 (Desai, 1940, pg. 66). It was here in South Africa that Gandhi began to see the injustices done towards the Indian peoples and where he first decided to lobby for social change. After this Gandhi became involved in the Zulu wars in 1906, training and leading stretcher bearers for British soldiers (Samson, 1995, pg. 2). Gandhi’s first major civil rights achievement came in 1918 when he led protests against landlords that had raised taxes in the midst of a famine. Following uprisings in 1922 Gandhi was arrested and imprisoned but released in 1924 because of heath related issues, at this point he decided to withdraw from public life for a time and focus on his writing. Following this break Gandhi lead a march in 1930 to protest the salt tax at which point he was convinced to join with some more radical elements also demanding a free India. Following this union Gandhi and others demanded a free India and called upon non-cooperation movements to begin; when WWII broke out Gandhi denounced India’s involvement in the war. These actions saw him again imprisoned which is where he remained for the majority of the war. After the war Gandhi was released and asked if he would help negotiate the independence for India, however even with this victory Gandhi was still deeply troubled by the divide that existed between the Hindus and Muslims. Because of this bitterness and rivalry in January of 1948 Gandhi declared that he would fast until death in protest of the violence, however Gandhi was able to secure a peace between the major faction leaders within a matter of days (Samson, 1995, pg. 3). Sadly less than a month latter Gandhi was assassinated by a young Hindu extremist. This essay will now take a more in-depth look at some of Gandhi’s more important accomplishments. Gandhi’s life was one full of triumphs but by far his most noteworthy of accomplishments was in helping India gain its independence from British rule. Even more impressive is that he accomplished this through non-violent protest and acts of civil disobedience as opposed to armed rebellion. Gandhi as a child had been influenced heavily by the traditions and philosophies of Jainism (an Indian religious tradition the advocate’s pacifism and non-violence) (UMJains, 1997) as well as both Hindu and Buddhist philosophies that he studies while in London. These teaching led him to believe that the best way to achieve victory was not through armed conflict but instead through disobedience and pacifism. Although these ideas on...
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