One could write volumes of papers criticizing Gandhiji’s actions but no one could afford to deny the fact that his life and activities occupies a major portion of the story of India’s struggle for Independence.
Indeed, it was under his leadership that the Indian national movement attained a new dimension.
Gandhiji discovered a new technique of resistance based on religion and truth.
This new technique was called ‘Satyagraha”. Gandhiji’s creed of Satyagraha aimed at redressing a wrong at the door of the opponent.
After his success in the initial experiment of satyagraha in South Africa he applied this technique to India’s struggle for freedom.
c. Gandhiji’s Political Career:
The success that Gandhiji achieved at Champaran and Ahmedabad through non-violence helped him to decide his future course of action.
In 1919 the Rowlatt Bill was publicized. Gandhiji reacted to this unjust Rowlatt Bill by organizing Satyagraha Sahha and called upon people to observe a day of ‘hartal’.
But when he found that the forces of violence had not yet been eradicated he retraced his steps. A similar fate awaited the Non Co-operation movement that Gandhiji inaugurated in 1920.
d. Hindu-Muslim Unity:
Non Co-operation Movement:
Gandhiji laid stress on the Hindu-Muslim unity, for, he considered it to be one of the fundamental points necessary for forming and strengthening the nation.
This conviction of his led him to include the Muslim demand for vindication of the prestige of the Caliph with the demand for the fulfilment of Swaraj in the Non-violent Non Cooperation Movement.
When the movement was at its height the Chauri Chaura incident, in which 22 constables were burnt to death by the infuriated mob, led to the suspension of it.
e. Gandhiji on Untouchability:
Gandhiji also addressed himself to the social problem of ‘untouchabilitv”.
He coined a new word harijan to substit.ite ‘achhut’ (untouchables) Gandhiji’s ambition was to reintegrate the hahjans within the social and cultural life of the caste-Hindu society.
During the 30s of the present century Gandhiji undertook a vigorous anti-touchability campaign alongside the constructive programme.
Meanwhile on the political front there had begun the Civil Disobedience Movement.
f. Gandhiji and Civil Disobedience:
Gandhiji deliberately had chosen the item of salt in his agenda for civil disobedience. For; salt was an item consumed by all irrespective of class, creed, religion, rich and poor.
And thereby he ensured mass participation in the movement. Manufacture of salt being a monopoly of the government, breaking of the Salt Law was also to hit the British government economically.
The British government reacted with brutal force, but after some time attempts were made to settle the issue with Gandhiji. Readiness for compromise was also an essential feature of Gandhiji’s tactics.
As the British govt, conceded some of the vital demands (e.g manufacture of salt) Gandhiji may be said to have achieved partial success.
g. Quit India Movement:
In 1942 his slogan ‘Do or Die’ was raised in the wake of the Japanese aggression which seemed imminent.
This was his sort of last bid call to the people of India to win freedom Gandhiji called upon the British to ‘Quit India’ so that the Indians could find themselves in a stronger position to meet the Japanese aggression.
‘Quit India’ may be regarded as the culminating point in Gandhiji’s work within the national struggle for Independence.
After 1945 Gandhiji gradually withdrew himself from politics Growing violence worried him.
Communal violence became his immediate concern. Gandhiji also realized that his influence in the counsels of the Congress waned perceptibly.
No doubt he later on participated in the talks with the British authorities on various issues in the process of the transfer or power, but the results did not coincide with his wishes However.
Gandhiji was very much opposed to the partition of India’ But he was one not to impose any of his will on others. Nor he had the intention to block a settlement which the leaders had accepted.
Indeed, he maintained this personal democratic approach till the end. Gandhiji undertook his final fast against communal madness early in January, 1948, and he was assassinated on 30 January, 1948.