MOHANDAS KARAMCHAND GANDHI -Indian Freedom Fighters Biography

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MOHANDAS KARAMCHAND GANDHI -Indian Freedom Fighters Biography

MOHANDAS KARAMCHAND GANDHI -Indian Freedom Fighters Biography

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi or more respectfully known as the Mahatma, the father of the Indian nation was born in the town of Porbander in Gujarat on 2 October, 1869. He had his schooling in nearby Rajkot, where his father served as the adviser to the local ruler.

At thirteen he was married to Kasturba. His father died before Gandhi could finish his schooling. In 1888, Gandhi set sail for England, where he had decided to pursue a degree in law. Gandhi left behind his son and wife.

He was called to the bar in 1891, and even enrolled in the High Court of London; but later that year he left for India.

After one year of law practice, Gandhi decided to accept an offer as a legal adviser from an Indian businessman in South Africa, Dada Abdulla. His stay in South Africa lasted for over twenty years. The Indians who had been living in South Africa were without political rights, and were generally known by the derogatory name of 'coolies'. It is in South Africa that he first coined the term satyagraha when he emerged as a leader of the Indian community in South Africa.

Gandhi returned to India in early 1915, and was never to leave the country again except for a short trip that took him to Europe in 1931. Though he was not completely unknown in India, Gandhi followed the advice of his political mentor, Gokhale, and took it upon himself to acquire a familiarity with Indian conditions. He travelled widely for one year. Over the next few years, he became involved in numerous local struggles, such as at Champaran in Bihar.

When I disturbances' broke out in the Punjab, leading to the massacre of a large crowd of unarmed Indians at the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar and other atrocities, Gandhi wrote the report of the Punjab Congress Inquiry Committee. Over the next two years, Gandhi initiated the non-cooperation movement, which called upon Indians to withdraw from British institutions, to return honours conferred by the British, and to learn the art of self-reliance; though the British administration was at places paralysed, the movement was suspended in February 1922 when a score of policemen were brutally killed by a large crowd at Chauri Chaura. Gandhi himself was arrested shortly thereafter, tried on charges of sedition, and sentenced to imprisonment for six years.

Owing to his poor health, Gandhi was released from prison in 1925. Over the following years, he worked hard to preserve Hindu-Muslim relations. He fasted many times when Hindu- Muslim riots broke out.

In early 1930, as the nationalist movement was revived, the Indian National Congress declared that it would now be satisfied only with complete independence (purna swaraj). On March 12, with a small group of followers, he set out towards Dandi. They arrived there on April. Gandhi picked up a small lump of natural salt, and so gave the signal to hundreds of thousands of people to similarly defy the law, since the British exercised a monopoly on the production and sale of salt. This was the beginning of the civil disobedience movement: Gandhi himself was arrested, and thousands of others were also hauled into jail. It is to break this deadlock that Irwin agreed to hold talks with Gandhi, and subsequently the British agreed to hold a Round Table Conference in London to negotiate the possible terms of Indian independence. Gandhi went to London in 1931 but the negotiations proved inconclusive. On his return to India, he was once again arrested.

For the next few years, Gandhi was engaged mainly in the constructive reform of Indian society.

During World War II, Gandhi and the Congress leadership assumed a neutral position. They were clearly critical of fascism, but they could not support British imperialism either.

In 1942, Gandhi issued the last call for independence from British rule. On the grounds of what is now known as August Kranti Maidan, he delivered a speech, asking every Indian to lay down their life, if necessary, in the cause of freedom. He gave them this mantra: "Do or Die"; at the same time, he asked the British to 'Quit India'. The response of the British government was to place Gandhi under arrest, and virtually the entire Congress leadership was to find itself behind bars, not to be released until after the conclusion of the war.

A few months after Gandhi and Kasturba had been placed in confinement in the Aga Khan's Palace in Pune, Kasturba passed away, this was a terrible blow to Gandhi.

The new government that came to power in Britain under Clement Atlee was committed to the independence of India, and negotiations for India's future began in earnest. Gandhi declared his opposition to divide India but stayed away from the negotiations.

When the moment of freedom came, on 15 August 1947, Gandhi was nowhere to be seen in the capital, though Nehru and the entire Constituent Assembly were to salute him as the architect of Indian independence, as the 'father of the nation'.

The last few months of Gandhi's life were spent mainly in Delhi.

 

A few months later, in the early evening hours of 30 January 1948, Gandhi met with India's Deputy Prime Minister and his close associate in the freedom struggle, Vallabhbhai Patel, and then proceeded to his prayers. At 10 minutes past 5 o'clock, Gandhi started walking towards the garden where the prayer meeting was held. It was there Nathuram Godse assassinated him. 



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