Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was, born on 2nd October 1869 at Porbandar in Gujarat, India.
His father, Mr Karamchand Gandhi was a higher official of Porbandar and mother Putlibai, was a religious woman. Gandhi was an average student, but a boy of strong principles. But who had known that he would lead one of the most influential protests in the history of the world?
He was married at the age of 13, to Kasturba, who was 14 years old. At the age of 19, he went to England, to study Law. After he returned home, he began to practise law. But soon he left for South Africa, to work in a Law Firm. He stayed there for 21 years. During his stay in South Africa, Gandhi fought for the rights of Indians.
During those times South Africa was dominated by Europeans, and they treated the people with dark skin colour, very badly. Gandhi had the bitter experience of inequality in South Africa. On one such incident, he was forced to give up his first-class railway seat to a European. When Gandhi refused to do so, he was thrown out of the train.
Gandhi fought against inequality and was supported by many Indians who were facing the problem for many years, but never had the courage to fight back.
Do you know how did he fight for the rights of Indians?
He fought bravely, with a strange technique called – Satyagraha
Are you wondering if that is a wrestling move or a weapon?
Well, let me clear your doubts, before you jump into any conclusion- Satyagraha means, fighting with truth as your weapon.
And It worked. Satyagraha helped Gandhi won respect for the Indians, they were treated well after that and could even cast their vote in elections.
In 1914, Gandhi came back to India, at that time the country was still under the British rule. Gandhi joined the freedom movement and soon started leading the freedom movement with his weapons- non-violence and non-cooperation.
Gandhi gave a new direction to the freedom movement in India. And he soon became the leader of the Indian National Congress.
Gandhi was determined. He started the swadeshi movement, a boycott of the British goods by Indians and use of the Indian goods. He also fought against untouchability, a system of discrimination against the low caste people. Gandhi gave them the name Harijan, which means “children of God”. But Dandi March marked a turning point in the Indian freedom movement.
The salt tax was imposed on Indians by the Britishers did not allow Indians to collect, produce or sell, salt. Indians were forced to buy salt from Britishers after paying a huge tax. So, poor people could not buy salt.
Salt is a very important part of the Indian meal. Besides, it makes food tasteful and is essential for health.
Gandhi organized a salt march which started on 12th March 1930, with 78 people from his ashram in Ahmedabad to the seaside village of Dandi. They covered a distance of 240 miles, and reached Dandi in 3 weeks, walking about 12 miles every day. On the way, they were joined by thousands of freedom fighters.
On the seashore, Gandhi picked up some grains of salt and, pledged to shake the foundations of the British empire.
Gandhi and his fellowmen were arrested following the salt march. But the British Empire was surely shaken with the new way of fight that did not involve any weapons but was still powerful. So, they called him to London to discuss reforms in India. Gandhi began the Quit India movement in 1942, he was arrested again and released in 1944. Finally, India became Independent on 15th Aug 1947.
His autobiography, “The Story of My Experiments with Truth”, is surely a book to read.
Gandhi was assassinated on 30th January 1948 by Nathuram Godse, who disagreed with the Principles of Gandhi.
The principle of non-violence of Gandhi influenced many civil rights activists across the world like Martin Luther King Jr., James Bevel and Dalai Lama.