Role of Mahatma Gandhi in Indian freedom struggle

29 Sep 2022  Read 12965 Views

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Not only said but proved by the person who quoted this. He was one of the 20th century's best-known political and spiritual personalities. Because he was from a small town, he was aware of the hardships people were going through at the time. He developed his beliefs about human unity. He became the people's voice and aided in developing the country's independence. He was a person who made significant contributions to the nation's expansion and prosperity. He’s none other than Mahatma Gandhi.

"Let's learn a bit more about him & discuss this great personality's journey as a lawyer & a freedom fighter along with his role in the Indian independence struggle." 

Who was Mahatma Gandhi?

Mahatma Gandhi (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi) was born on 2nd October 1869 in the princely state of Porbandar, in modern-day Gujarat. He pursued Law as his profession and went to London at 18. After completing his graduation, he returned to India and made non-violent protests and movements for the growth and development of the country. Gandhi is considered one of the most important leaders of the nation. His father was a government official. 

Mahatma Gandhi and Law

Gandhi was a lawyer for almost 25 years before he became a disciple of nonviolent revolution. While leading the Indian independence movement, Gandhi worked as a journalist and edited Young India, Navajivan and the Harijan. In South Africa, Gandhi led a civil disobedience movement to combat racist laws on various occasions. However, “Gandhi eventually lost faith in the traditional legal system – courts, judges, lawyers, litigation – but he never lost faith in the law,” DiSalvo said in his study of Gandhi’s law career.

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  • Before leading the Indian independence struggle, Gandhi used to live in South Africa to fight against injustice and class division. Within ten years, Gandhi propagated the philosophy of Satyagraha there and motivated the country towards a no-class or ethnic discrimination society. Gandhi arrived in Durban aboard SS Safari in 1893.
  • Gandhi became the South African Indian community leader in no time. His involvement in the non-violent movement in South Africa had been a major driving force in the Indian freedom struggle; he is looked up to as a leader there. 
  • From 1893 to 1914, Gandhi worked as an attorney and a public worker. Gandhi stated, "he was born in India but was made in South Africa."
  • In 1901, Gandhiji returned to India from South Africa and started practising in Mufassil Courts. He won several cases in Mufassil Courts, and his confidence was uplifted.
  • His friends and well-wishers advised him to settle in Bombay only and practice at the High Court. He got several cases to work on and won most of them.
  • Continuing his path, he got even better. But his fate had something else in store for him as he was again called to South Africa to lead an agitation there.

Gandhi remained a bitter critic of Indian courts and lawyers in his writings and public speeches. He had a belief that the Indian justice system rewarded the wealthy and worsened the miseries of the poor. Still, he advised lawyers to place “truth and service” above the perks of the profession. He advised lawyers to write their petitions in simple language. Gandhi never let his profession stand in the way of his public service and kept aside from charging high fees from the clients, which he did earlier. He ensured that he never departed from honesty and stated that “a lawyer always must place before the judges, and to help them to arrive at, the truth, never to prove the guilty as innocent.”

Contribution of Mahatma Gandhi in Indian freedom struggle

Many of us are aware about the movements of Mahatma Gandhi. Let's take a look at it

  1. World war I - At a conference on war, Gandhi was called to Delhi by Lord Chelmsford, then-viceroy of India. Gandhi consented to unite the people to enlist in the military for World War I to win the faith of the empire. However, he promised in a letter to the Viceroy that he "personally will neither kill nor damage anybody, friend or foe."

  2. Champaran - Gandhi's first direct involvement in Indian freedom politics was the Champaran agitation in Bihar. Farmers in Champaran were compelled to cultivate indigo and threatened with torture if they objected.

Farmers turned to Gandhi for assistance, and through a well-planned nonviolent protest, Gandhi persuaded the authorities to grant them concessions.

  1. Kheda - The local farmers in Gujarat's Kheda village requested the authorities to cancel the taxes when the area was severely affected by floods. Gandhi then launched a signature-gathering drive-in in which peasants vowed to forgo paying taxes.

A social boycott of the mamlatdars and talatdars (revenue officials) was also initiated by him. The government loosened the terms for paying revenue tax in 1918 until the famine was over.

  1. Khilafat movement - Gandhi had a tremendous impact on the Muslim population. His participation in the Khilafat Movement served as evidence of this. Following the First World War, Muslims feared for their Caliph's safety or religious leader's safety, and a global uprising was planned to combat the Caliph's deteriorating position. Gandhi later became a well-known representative of the All India Muslim Conference. He gave up the medals he had acquired from the Empire while serving in South Africa with the Indian Ambulance Corps. He became a national leader quickly thanks to his involvement in the Khilafat. 

  2. Non-cooperation movement - Gandhi understood that the Indians' cooperation was the sole reason the British were allowed to remain in India. He urged a movement of non-cooperation in light of this.

His unwavering spirit and the support of Congress helped him persuade people that peaceful non-cooperation was essential for achieving independence. The non-cooperation movement began on the foreboding day of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. Swaraj, or self-governance, was Gandhi's stated objective and has since evolved into the guiding principle of the Indian freedom struggle.

  1. Salt March - Gandhi's Salt March, also known as the Dandi Movement, is regarded as a crucial event in the history of the freedom struggle. Gandhi warned the British to grant India dominion status at the Calcutta Congress in 1928 or else the nation would erupt in a revolution for total independence. This was ignored by the British.

As a result, the Indian flag was raised in Lahore on December 31, 1929, and the following January 26 was designated as Indian Independence Day. In March 1930, Gandhi then launched a Satyagraha campaign to protest the salt charge. He marched 388 kilometres from Ahmedabad to Dandi in Gujarat to manufacture salt. One of the largest marches in Indian history was made possible by the thousands of people who joined him.

  1. Quit India Movement - Gandhi was committed to dealing the British Empire a decisive blow that would ensure their expulsion from India during the Second World War. When the British began enlisting Indians in the war, this occurred.

Gandhi vehemently objected, claiming that since India is not a free nation, Indians cannot participate in a war in support of democracy. The colonizers were driven out of this nation within a half-decade after this argument revealed their duplicitous nature. This was Mahatma Gandhi freedom struggle.

Interesting facts about Mahatma Gandhi

  1. Gandhi called for Non-violent resistance to British rule. 

  2. He studied Law in London.

  3. He lived in South Africa for 21 years.

  4. He supported British Empire in South Africa.

  5. He led the Salt March in 1930 to demonstrate the power of Indian non-violence, and in 1942, he launched Quit India Movement during the freedom struggle.

  6. He was assassinated by a Hindu Nationalist. 

  7. Gandhi Memorial Museum was founded in 1959. It is situated in the Tamil Nadu city of Madurai. It also goes by the name Gandhi Museum. It consists of the blood-stained clothing that Mahatma Gandhi wore when he was killed by Nathuram Godse.

  8. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was not born with the title Mahatma. According to some authors, he was given the title to him by the Nobel Prize-winning Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore.

  9. His birthday (2nd October) is commemorated worldwide as the International Day of Nonviolence.

  10. “Gandhi in 1982” is an epic historical drama film based on Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi won the Academic Award for the best motion picture. 

  11. The portrait of Mahatma Gandhi used on banknotes is not a caricature. It has been traced from an original picture that was clicked outside the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Why do we celebrate his birthday?

He was known as the "Father of the Nation" and led the revolt against British rule in India and many other national figures. Many civil rights movements throughout the world were influenced by his nonviolent approach. 2nd October is observed as a national holiday each year to honour his contributions to the country. The UN also observes the day as the International Day of Non-Violence.

Gandhi’s portrait on Banknotes

Being the "father of the nation," Mahatma Gandhi was featured on the currency notes since it would be difficult to please everyone and keep them unified, with each region having its own notable liberation warrior and each religion having a sacred name.

 Conclusion

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi or the Great Soul, is one of the most instantly recognizable historical figures of the 20th century. Gandhi's birth anniversary and the beginning of a lifetime of adversity in the struggle for Indian freedom from British colonial authority fall on October 2. Everywhere across the world, but especially in India, people celebrate this occasion. Mahatma Gandhi had great importance globally.

About the Author: Gurpreet Kaur Dutta | 43 Post(s)

A legal content writer who pursued BBA-LL.B.(H) from Amity University Chhattisgarh. She has a keen interest in corporate and IPR sectors. 

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