The father of the Nation. Mahatma Gandhi was one of these great men who dedicated their whole life to the service of the mankind.
Like Buddha and Christ before him he too was born to carry the message of peace, truth and Non-violence to the strife turn world. He was born on October 2.1869 A.D. in a trading family of porbander, a small town in Kathiawara. His full name was Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi and his father was the Diwan of Rajkot.
After passing his matriculation examination he was sent to England and he came back to India in 1890 A.D. as a Barrister. There after he stayed in South Africa for over 22 years and thereafter served the people of India for over thirty years. He deserves the credit of obtaining freedom for India as he was the Supreme leader of the Congress from 1919 to 1947 A.D. and it was he who played the most prominent part in the national struggle.
Gandhiji entered the Indian politics in 1919 A.D. When the British Government passed the Rowlatt Act. Before that he had served the Indian settlers in South Africa for 22 years (1893- 1915 A.D.) There the Indians were treated like coolies and were not allowed even to board such a compartment in-which a European might be travelling.
The Government also denied them the right to vote and subjected them to other humiliating laws. They had to register themselves and pay various unjust taxes. As such they were treated like a tribe of criminals. Gandhiji fought against unjust laws bolly. He was several times mercilessly beaten and physically is laboured and arrested but he remained firm on his determination.
At last the South Africa Government had to accept several of his demands. After his successful fight in South African, Gandhiji returned to India in 1915 A.D. Where he soon plunged in to the political field. He led the Freedom Movement up to 1947 A.D. When India became free. That is why most historians call this period (between 1919 and 1947) as the Gandhian Era.
(b) Gandhiji's Role in the National Movement or Methods adopted by Mahatma Gandhi to make the Indian National Movement a mass movement. Gandhiji's role in the National Movement of India was undoubtedly the most remarkable. Front 1919 to 1947 A.D.
He left no stone unturned in the fight for India's freedom. During this period he personally led the Movement and w hen in jail he gave the directions from inside.
His chief contribution to the National Movement is this that he made the Indian National Movement a mass Movement. His services rendered to the cause of India's freedom are unforgettable, which can be enumerated below.
(I) Satyagrah against the Rowlatt Act:
After World War I. The British Government passed the Rowlatt Act in 1919 A.D. which aimed at suppressing the Nationalist Movement with an iron land and to arrest and imprison without trial both the Hindus and Muslims came out to oppose this Act in response to a call given by Gandhiji.
People did not relent even in the face of strict Government repression. Gandhiji held the reins of this Movement. The Government resorted to firing and lathi-charge at several places but all this could not-intimidate either Gandhiji or his followers.
(2)Jallianawala Bagh Massacre and Arrest of Gandhiji:
Gandhiji called for a nation wide strike no April 6, 1919 A.D. to protest against the Government repression. The people responded to it very enthusiastically.
In Punjab a large public meeting was held at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar to protest against the of Dr. Saifuddin kitchlu and Dr. Satya Pal, the two popular leaders.
The Jallianawala Bagh is enclosed on three sides by buildings and had only one narrow exit. The large crowd of people was sitting there peacefully listening to their leaders when all of a sudden an army unit under orders from their Commander General Dyer started firing till their ammunition was exhausted.
Thousands were killed and wounded. It was followed by the proclamation of martial law throughout the Punjab. A terrible repression was let loose on the students, citizens and actuators throughout the Punjab.
A wave of horror ran throughout the country as the news of the Jallianawala massacre spread. Anger and opposition of the Government was seen everywhere.
Gandhiji was arrested and later on released in view of the public agittion. Even the great poet Rabindra Nath Tagore renounced his knighthood in protest against this barbarity.
(3)The Non-Cooperation Movement:
Whenever the British acted against the interests of the Indian people, Gandhi advised his countrymen to offer Non-cooperation to the British.
He firmly believed that the British rulers could not stay in India even for a day without the Indians cooperating with them. Responding to his call several Indians, whether they were clerks, teachers, lawyers or artisans, suspended their work. The students boycotted their classes and all sections of the society jumped into the war of freedom.
(4)The Satyagrah Movement:
The Satyagrah was the other great weapon of Gandhiji. He would sit on a Non-violent picket or observe fast etc. to force his views on the Government. Sometimes he observed fast unto death.
These strategies on the one hand attracted the world attention while on the other hand they made the Government panicky.
(5)Following the Policy of Non-violence:
Gandhiji did not net believe in violence as a means of winning others to his point of view nor did he believe in the policy of paying the rogue in the same coin.
He believed in peaceful means to achieve his ends. He knew that unarmed Indians were no match to the mighty British armies.
Therefore, he adopted a policy of peace and Non-violence to fight against the British Government. At last the might British Empire had to bow down before this policy of Gandhiji.
(6)The Swadeshi Movement:
Mahatma Gandhi devised another weapon to drive the British out of India. It was the Swadeshi Movement. He knew well that the English were a merchant nation who had come here fore trade purposes. In case the Indian trade was not profitable they would never stay here.
Therefore, Gandhiji advised the people to boycott the foreign goods. It was at his call that the people not only boycotted foreign goods but also burnt bonfires at the cross roads. When the people began buying the goods produced in their own country the Indian industries got a great impetus.
As a result the Indian workers got employment and Indian money stopped flowing out of the country which greatly improved Indian Economy.
(7) The Hindu- Muslim Unity:
The English had spread the poison of communalism mainly to divide the people so that they could easily rule over India which would become weaker as a result of the Hindu-Muslims quarrels. If they remained united they would become strong enough to challenge the British rule.
Gandhiji fully understood this strategy of the 'Divide and Rule' being worked out by the British. He, therefore, stressed unity of all the communities, especially the Hindu-Muslim Unity whenever the communal riots broke out in India, he staked his own life to visit the riot-torn areas and thus restored peace there.
It was by dint of the communal unity that Gandhiji had forgotten that India reached the goal of freedom.
(8)The Harijan Uplift:
The Indians did not treat their low caste brethren well, particularly the Harijans. That is why most of these were deserting their own religion and were embracing Christianity.
Such people could, no doubt, prove a big hurdle to the Freedom Movement. But Gandhiji wanted to keep them with him so he gave his attention to the cause of the Harijan Uplift with their Co-operation the fight for freedom became much effective and ultimately India became free.
(9)Going to Jail on several occasions:
But it was no child's play to challenge the might of the British Empire. Gandhi had to bear lathi blows, pass through gun-fire and stake his life but he was too brave to care for these dangers.
He went to jail several times but it could not break his courage. He stood firm like a rock and added to the courage of his people by his own sacrifice and sufferings.
He was always ready to make any sacrifice for his country. Such conditions forced the English to leave India in their own interest. At first they announced their resolve to leave India by June. 1948 but subsequently they left it on August 15.1947 A.D.
In this way our country became free on 15 August. 1947 A.D. Mahatma Gandhi's role in the achievement of this freedom was unparalleled and supreme.