Mahatma Gandhi, was a political figure, a social and political reformer, a humanist, a visionary and a spiritual leader, who took the country on the road to freedom. Gandhi, popularly known as the Mahatma, not only led the freedom struggle in India but also performed a pivotal role in the struggle of the Indians for civil rights in South Africa.South Africa was the crucible that forged Gandhi’s identity as a political activist and was an important prelude to his return to India, where he played a pivotal role in securing its independence from British rule in August 1947.Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (his birth name) arrived in South Africa in 1893 at the relatively tender age of 24 as a newly qualified lawyer on a temporary assignment to act on behalf of a local Indian trader in a commercial dispute. What was meant to be a short stopgap for the struggling young lawyer turned into a 21-year stay, with spells in India and England.By the time Gandhi left South Africa for the last time in 1914, he had already earned the appellation Mahatma (or Great Soul) for his work in securing significant legal concessions for the local Indian population in South.

One of the greatest leaders that the world has ever seen, Mahatma Gandhi, was a political figure, a social and political reformer, a humanist, a visionary and a spiritual leader, who took the country on the road to freedom. Gandhi, popularly known as the Mahatma, not only led the freedom struggle in India but also performed a pivotal role in the struggle of the Indians for civil rights in South Africa.

As a young lawyer in South Africa, Gandhi (left )took up the fight against racial oppression.He said:"I realised the true function of a lawyer was to unite parties riven asunder.” Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa as Part of a Delegation of British Indians.

Mahatma Gandhi was born as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on 2nd October 1869. Born and raised in a Hindu merchant caste family in coastal Gujarat, western India, and trained in law at the Inner Temple, London, Gandhi first employed nonviolent civil disobedience as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, in the resident Indian community's struggle for civil rights. After his return to India in 1915, he set about organising peasants, farmers, and urban labourers to protest against excessive land-tax and discrimination. Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for various social causes and for achieving Swaraj or self-rule.Gandhi famously led Indians in challenging the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km (250 mi) Dandi Salt March in 1930, and later in calling for the British to Quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned for many years, upon many occasions, in both South Africa and India. He lived modestly in a self-sufficient residential community and wore the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl, woven with yarn hand-spun on a charkha. He ate simple vegetarian food, and also undertook long fasts as a means of both self-purification and political protest.

 Jawaharlal Nehru  and Mahatma Gandhi  in conversationThe Quit India Movement was a civil disobedience movement launched in India in August 1942 in response to Mohandas Gandhi’s call for immediate independence. The All-India Congress Committee proclaimed a mass protest demanding what Gandhi called “an orderly British withdrawal” from India. The call for determined, but passive resistance appears in his call to Do or Die, issued on 8 August at the Gowalia Tank Maidan in Bombay.

3rd November 1931: Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi), outside 10 Downing Street, London. He is in London to attend the Round Table Conference on Indian constitutional reform.

In the year 1888, Gandhi went to University College of London to study as a barrister. He came back to India after being called to the bar of England and Wales by Inner Temple. In 1893, he accepted a yearlong contract from an Indian firm to a post in Natal, South Africa. There, he faced racial discrimination directed at blacks and Indians. Such incidents provoked him to work towards social activism.The Champaran Agitation and Kheda Satyagraha of 1918 was the first major success of Mahatma Gandhi in his struggle towards India's freedom. The reason for the agitation was the levy of an oppressive tax by the British, which they insisted on increasing further. He organized his supporters as well as volunteers to protest against this atrocity and also began leading the clean up of villages, building of schools and hospitals as well as encouraging the village leadership to condemn the numerous social evils affecting the society. Mahatma Gandhi was successful in signing an agreement with the British, wherein the poor farmers were granted more compensation and control over farming. Quit India Movement.As the World War II progressed, Mahatma Gandhi intensified his protests for the complete independence of the Indian subcontinent. He drafted a resolution calling for the British to Quit India. The 'Quit India Movement' or the 'Bharat Chhodo Andolan' was the most aggressive revolt of the INC, with the aim of gaining complete exit of the British from India. Gandhi was arrested on 9th August 1942 and held for two years in the Aga Khan Palace in Pune. There, he lost his secretary, Mahadev Desai and his wife, Kasturba. The Quit India Movement came to an end by the end of 1943, when the British gave hints that complete power would be transferred to the people of India.

Mahatma Gandhi spent six years in prison for peacefully challenging British rule in India.Independence was won in 1947.

In 1939, when the British had declared that India was a party to the war (World War II), the Congress criticised the decision as having been taken without Indian consent. Provincial Congress ministries resigned in protest. The Quit India movement swept across the country even in the absence of its leaders, convincing the British that they could no longer continue to rule India.

Assassination,the inspiring life of Mahatma Gandhi came to an end on 30th January 1948, when he was shot by Nathuram Godse. Nathuram was a Hindu radical, who held Gandhi responsible for weakening India by ensuring the partition payment to Pakistan. Godse and his co-conspirator, Narayan Apte, were later tried and convicted. They were executed on 15th November 1949.The killer of Gandhiji and his apologists sought to justify the assassination on the following arguments:Gandhi supported the idea of a separate State for Muslims. In a sense he was responsible for the creation of Pakistan.In spite of the Pakistani aggression in Kashmir, Gandhi fasted to compel the government of India to release an amount of Rs. 55 crores due to Pakistan.The belligerence of Muslims was a result of Gandhi's policy of appeasement.Scrutinized in the light of recorded history, these prove to be clever distortions to misguide the gullible. Gandhi in those days was very active in the rough and tumble of politics. The proposal for partition of the country and violent reaction against it generated tensions which ultimately resulted in sectarian killings on a scale unprecedented in human history. For the ethnic Muslims, Gandhiji was a Hindu leader who opposed the creation of Pakistan on sectarian grounds. Ethnic Hindus looked upon him as an impediment to their plan to revenge the atrocities on Hindus.

February 1948: A crowd watching the funeral procession of Indian statesman and advocate of non-violence Mahatma Gandhi (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi) who was assassinated in Delhi.

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