Gandhi ji ’s 151st birth anniversary: Remembering ‘Bapu’ and his contribution

Gandhi ji’s 151st birth anniversary: Remembering ‘Bapu’ and his contribution: Every year, Gandhi Jayanti is celebrated on October 2 across the nation to remember Mahatma Gandhi. The citizens of India pays tribute to Gandhi Ji for his sacrifice. His quotes and words have inspired people worldwide. Therefore, let us have a look at some of his sayings. Today we are celebrating Gandhi ji’s  151st birth anniversary.

Read some of his famous quotes

“Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man”.

“A man is but a product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes”.

“Happiness is the when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony”.

“Permanent good can never be the outcome of untruth and violence”.

“There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supercedes all other courts”.

“The essence of all religions is one. Only their approaches are different”.

“Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err”.

“Non-violence is the article of faith”.

 

History of Gandhi Ji:

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. We need not wait to see what others do.” This was stated by Mahatma Gandhi, and he indeed changed the world.

Mohandas Karam Chand Gandhi also know as the “the great-souled one” was born on October 2nd, 1869 in Porbandar. Gandhi in his early days, aspired to become a doctor but his father, who was the Chief Minister of Porbandar then, wished for Gandhi to follow his path and become a government official. Karamchand Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi’s father) was the one who guided Mahatma Gandhi to enter into legal profession.

In the year 1888, Gandhi ji flew to England to pursue law. After struggling to cop up with the western culture, he completed his studies and returned by home, India in mid-1891. By the time Gandhi ji returned his mother had already passed away. Gandhi ji struggled hard to set a foot in his practicing career in Bombay.  It is said that in his very first courtroom case, he became very edgy and blanked when the time came to cross-examine a witness. He reimbursed his client for his legal fee and immediately fled the courtroom.

Mahatma’s Religion and Beliefs  

Just like his mother, Gandhi ji grew up worshiping lord Vishnu. He started following Jainism, a morally rigorous ancient Indian religion that espoused non-violence, fasting, meditation and vegetarianism. He became more compassionate about the meatless diet while he stayed in London. He started reading more sacred texts and learning about world religions during 1888-1891.

The South-Africa phase

After his hard time in Advocacy, Gandhi ji left for South Africa in 1893 after he signed a one-year contract with an Indian law firm in South Africa. He was Horrified by the site of how Indian immigrants were subjected to discrimination and racial segregation by the white British and Boer authorities. Mohandas too faced this discrimination. Gandhi ji was an unwelcomed visitor there. In his first appearance in the Durban courtroom, he was asked to remove his turban. Instead of following this direction, he left the courtroom.

The discrimination he faced, did not end here. On June 7,1893, Gandhi ji was travelling to Pretoria, South Africa in the first-class railway compartment. Although he had the ticket, Gandhi’s presence was objected by a white man and he was forcibly thrown out of the train at a Pietermaritzburg station.

This incident of civil disobedience stirred the determination in him to fight against this “deep disease of colour prejudice”. That night he pledged to “try, if possible, to root out the disease and suffer hardships in the process.”  After that night, Gandhi ji became so determined to fight against discrimination that he formed a Natal Indian Congress in 1894 for this purpose.

Gandhi ji was set to return to India as his year long contract with the law firm had been completed but at his farewell party, he was made aware of a bill which had been brought before the Natal Legislative Assembly seeking the order to deprive the Indian from their Right to Vote. His fellow immigrants requested Gandhi ji to stay back and lead the fight against the legislation. Although Gandhi ji could not prevent the law’s passage, he drew international attention to the injustice which prevailed.

Mahatma Gandhi made a brief trip to India in 1896 and early 1997 and returned back to Africa along with his wife and children.

The well know “Satyagraha”

in 1906, for the first time, a mass civil disobedience campaign was organised by Gandhi ji which he named as “satyagraha” against the South African Transvaal government’s new restrictions on the rights of Indians, which included the refusal to recognize Hindu marriages

years after these massive protests, in 1913 Gandhi ji, along with hundreds of other Indians was arrested by the government. The South African government, under pressure, accepted a compromise negotiated by Gandhi ji and General Jan Christian Smuts that included recognition of Hindu marriages and the abolition of a poll tax for Indians.

The Homecoming

“The saint has left our shores, I sincerely hope forever.” Smuts wrote when Gandhi ji returned home in 1914 from South Africa. But because of the outbreak of World War 1 Gandhi ji had to spend several month in London.

Gandhi ji returned to India 1915

In 1915, when Gandhi ji returned to India, he brought an international reputation as a leading Indian nationalist, theorist and community organiser.

He joined Indian national congress and was introduced to Indian issues, politics and the Indian people primarily by Shri Gopal Krishna Gokhale

Gokhale was a key leader of the Congress Party at that time and he was best known for his restraint and moderation, and his insistence on working inside the system.

In 1920, Gandhi ji took over the leadership of the Congress and began escalating demands until on 26 January, 1930 the Indian National Congress declared the independence of India.

In September 1939, when the Viceroy declared war on Germany without consultation, Gandhi ji and the Congress withdrew their support of the Raj.

In 1942, when Gandhi ji demanded immediate independence, the British responded by imprisoning him and tens of thousands of Congress leaders. In the meantime, the Muslim League co-operated with Britain and moved, against Gandhi ji’s strong opposition, to demands for a totally separate Muslim state of Pakistan and in August 1947 the British partitioned the land with India and Pakistan each achieving independence on terms that Gandhi ji disapproved.

Champaran Satyagraha 1917

With the Champaran Satyagraha in 1917, Gandhi ji’s first major achievement came into light. The Champaran agitation pitted the local peasantry against their largely British landlords who were backed by the local administration. The peasantry was forced to grow Indigofera, a cash crop for Indigo dye whose demand had been declining over two decades, and were forced to sell their crops to the planters at a fixed price. Unhappy with this, the peasantry appealed to Gandhi ji at his ashram in Ahmedabad[1].

 

Kheda Satyagraha 1918

In 1918, Gandhi ji moved his headquarters to Nadiad, organising scores of supporters and fresh volunteers from the region, the most notable being Vallabhbhai Patel.

Khalifat movement 1919

The Khilafat movement (1919-1924) was an agitation by Indian Muslims allied with Indian nationalism in the years following World War I. Its purpose was to pressure the British government to preserve the authority of the Ottoman Sultan as Caliph of Islam following the breakup of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the war. Integral to this was the Indian Muslims’ desire to influence the treaty-making process following the war in such a way as to restore the 1914 boundaries of the Ottoman Empire, even though the Turks, allies of the Central Powers, had been defeated in the war.

Indian supporters of the Khilafat cause sent a delegation to London in 1920 to plead their case, but the British government treated the delegates as quixotic pan-Islamists and did not change its policy toward Turkey. The Indian Muslims’ attempt to influence the provisions of the Treaty of Sevres thus failed, and the European powers, most notably Great Britain and France, went ahead with territorial adjustments, including the institution of mandates over formerly Ottoman Arab territories.

Non-cooperation movement 1920

Non cooperation movement was a mass movement which was launched by Gandhi ji in 1920. It was a peaceful and a non-violent protest against British government in India.

Programmes of the Non Cooperation movement were:

• Indians were asked to relinquish their titles and resign from nominated seats within the local bodies as a mark of protest.

• People had to resign from their government jobs.

• People were asked to withdraw their children from government schools and colleges.

• People had to boycott foreign goods and use only Indian goods.

The main aim of the Non Cooperation movement was the demand of ‘Swaraj’ or the self government

Salt Satyagraha (Salt March) 1924

The Salt March, which took place from March to April 1930 in India, was an act of civil disobedience led by Mohandas Gandhi ji to protest British rule in India. During the march, thousands of Indians followed Gandhi ji from his religious retreat near Ahmedabad to the Arabian Sea coast, a distance of some 240 miles. The march resulted in the arrest of nearly 60,000 people, including Gandhi ji himself. India finally was granted its independence in 1947[2].

Salt Tax

Britain’s Salt Act of 1882 prohibited Indians from collecting or selling salt, a staple in their diet.

Indian citizens were forced to buy the vital mineral from their British rulers, who, in addition to exercising a monopoly over the manufacture and sale of salt, also charged a heavy salt tax. Although India’s poor suffered most under the tax, all Indians required salt.

Mohandas Gandhi and Satyagraha

After living for two decades in South Africa, where  Gandhi Ji fought for the civil rights of Indians residing there, Gandhi ji returned to his native country in 1915 and soon began working for India’s independence from Great Britain.

Defying the Salt Act, Gandhi ji reasoned, would be an ingeniously simple way for many Indians to break a British law nonviolently.

Gandhi ji declared resistance to British salt policies to be the unifying theme for his new campaign of “satyagraha,” or mass civil disobedience.

Salt March Begins

First, Gandhi ji sent a letter on March 2, 1930 to inform the Viceroy Lord Irwin that he and the others would begin breaking the Salt Laws in 10 days. Then, on March 12, 1930, Gandhi set out from his ashram, or religious retreat, at Sabermanti near Ahmedabad with several dozen followers on a trek of some 240 miles to the coastal town of Dandi on the Arabian Sea.

There, Gandhi ji and his supporters were to defy British policy by making salt from seawater. All along the way, Gandhi ji addressed large crowds, and with each passing day an increasing number of people joined the salt satyagraha.

By the time they reached Dandi on April 5, Gandhi ji was at the head of a crowd of tens of thousands. He spoke and led prayers and early the next morning walked down to the sea to make salt.

He had planned to work the salt flats on the beach, encrusted with crystallized sea salt at every high tide, but the police had forestalled him by crushing the salt deposits into the mud. Nevertheless, Gandhi ji reached down and picked up a small lump of natural salt out of the mud—and British law had been defied.

At Dandi, thousands more followed his lead, and in the coastal cities of Bombay (now called Mumbai) and Karachi, Indian nationalists led crowds of citizens in making salt.

Gandhi Ji Arrested

Civil disobedience broke out all across India, soon involving millions of Indians, and British authorities arrested more than 60,000 people. Gandhi ji himself was arrested on May 5, but the satyagraha continued without him.

On May 21, the poet Sarojini Naidu led 2,500 marchers on the Dharasana Salt Works, some 150 miles north of Bombay. Several hundred British-led Indian policemen met them and viciously beat the peaceful demonstrators.

The incident, recorded by American journalist Webb Miller, prompted an international outcry against British policy in India.

Aftermath of the Salt March

In January 1931, Gandhi ji was released from prison. He later met with Lord Irwin, the viceroy of India, and agreed to call off the satyagraha in exchange for an equal negotiating role at a London conference on India’s future.

In August of that year, Gandhi ji traveled to the conference as the sole representative of the nationalist Indian National Congress. The meeting was a disappointment, but British leaders had acknowledged Gandhi ji as a force they could not suppress or ignore.

Round Table Conferences 1931–32

During the discussions between Gandhi ji and the British government over 1931–32 at the Round Table Conferences, Gandhi, now aged about 62, sought constitutional reforms as a preparation to the end of colonial British rule, and begin the self-rule by Indians

The Second Round Table conference was the only time he left India between 1914 and his death in 1948. He declined the government’s offer of accommodation in an expensive West End hotel, preferring to stay in the East End, to live among working-class people, as he did in India

After Gandhi ji returned from the Second Round Table conference, he started a new satyagraha. He was arrested and imprisoned at the Yerwada Jail, Pune. While he was in prison, the British government enacted a new law that granted untouchables a separate electorate. It came to be known as the Communal Award. In protest, Gandhi started a fast-unto-death, while he was held in prison. The resulting public outcry forced the government, in consultations with Ambedkar, to replace the Communal Award with a compromise Poona Pact.

Quit India Movement

The Quit India Movement also referred to as India August Movement or Bharat Chodo Andolan was launched at the Bombay session of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) by Gandhi on August 8, 1942.

The protest was initiated to demand an end to British rule India. Since the movement was held in August , also referred to as August Kranti or August Movement.

The movement was started on August 9, 1942, and since then the day is widely known as August Kranti Day/Diwas.

The day is well known by paying tribute to freedom fighters with national integration speeches and other events.

Here’s all you would like to know about Quit India Movement:

Mumbai’s Gowalia Tank Maidan also called August Kranti Maidan is that place where Gandhi Ji delivered his speech marking the start of the Quit India Movement. Mahatma along side other leaders gathered here on August 8 and 9, 1942. The maidan also houses a monument as a tribute to the historical event.

In his speech at Mumbai’s Gowalia Tank, Gandhiji called the country to ‘Do or Die’ in his speech. Within hours of the speech, almost the whole INC was imprisoned without trial.

Quit India Movement: 10 key points you need to know

Several national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Abdul Kalam Azad, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel were arrested.

The Congress was declared an unlawful association, leaders were arrested and its offices everywhere the country were raided and their funds were frozen.

The first half the movement was peaceful with demonstrations and processions. The peaceful protest was carried till Mahatma Gandhi’s release.

The second part of the movement was violent with raids and setting fire at post offices, government buildings and railway stations. Lord Linlithgow adopted the policy of violence.

The Viceroy’s Council of Muslims, Communist Party and Americans supported Britishers.

After the arrest of major leaders, young Aruna Asaf Ali presided over the AICC session. Despite several police warnings and government notices for banning public processions and assemblies, a huge crowd gathered at Mumbai’s Gowalia Tank Maidan where Aruna Asaf Ali hoisted the flag.

The final phase of the movement was marked on September 1942 where mobs getting together and bombings in government places of Mumbai and Madhya Pradesh.

The British refused to grant immediate independence and stated that it could only be granted after the war ended. Finally, India got independence in 1947.

Indian independence movement and Partition of India

Gandhi opposed the partition of the Indian subcontinent along religious lines. The Indian National Congress and Gandhi called for the British to Quit India. However, the Muslim League demanded “Divide and Quit India”. Gandhi suggested an agreement which required the Congress and the Muslim League to co-operate and attain independence under a provisional government, thereafter, the question of partition could be resolved by a plebiscite in the districts with a Muslim majority.

Gandhi Ji’s Assassination

on 30 January 1948, at 5:17 pm , Gandhi ji was with his grandnieces in the garden of Birla House (now Gandhi Smriti), on his way to address a prayer meeting, when Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist, fired three bullets into his chest from a pistol at close range. According to some accounts, Gandhi died instantly. In other accounts, such as one prepared by an eyewitness journalist, Gandhi was carried into the Birla House, into a bedroom. There he died about 30 minutes later as one of Gandhi’s family members read verses from Hindu scriptures.

 

-Mohit Bhardwaj & Anushka Hanotiya

 

ALSO READ : All the accused of the Babri Masjid Demolition Case acquited by CBI

 

 

 

[1] Hardiman, David (April 2001). “Champaran and Gandhi: Planters, Peasants and Gandhian Politics by Jacques Pouchepadass (Review)”. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society11 (1): 99–101.

[2] https://www.history.com/topics/india/salt-march

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