During the occupation of India by the British, Mohandas Gandhi was seen as a spiritual leader and a key political figure. When Gandhi first worked in South Africa, he observed that many innocent people faced discrimination and prejudice from the British. When he returned to India, he was determined to help in the struggle to gain independence for India. Gandhi felt that it was his responsibility to fight for his people, but by exercising compromise and non-violence. He lived his life by negotiation and cooperation, while the British government used aggressive forces and racism against him and his followers.
He decided to become the organizer of the Indian National Congress, whose goal was to gain India’s freedom from foreign control (Tammita-Delgoda 184-5). Gandhi was a strong believer in finding the truth in everything, and he opposed the efforts of prominent troops trying to control the Indians. When Gandhi applied the principles of nonviolence to foreign dominance, he helped India reclaimed its faith and courage to defy the power and strength of the British. Gandhi was essential to India obtaining independence from Britain.
Mohandas Gandhi started his life in India and studied there and in London where he became a lawyer. He put his skills to use when he went to South Africa and became the leader of the Indian community who faced discrimination due to their minority status (Metcalf 167). Gandhi spent a total of twenty years in South Africa pursuing his vision of a new society (Metcalf 170). In 1893, Gandhi was thrown off the train heading towards Pretoria where he was in a compartment where only white people could travel and his first-class ticket was held against him (Gandhi 130).
The effects of this event led Gandhi to help Indians against discrimination. From 1893-1914, Gandhi spent his time in South Africa promoted his beliefs of complete transformation within the society to gain true independence from the British (Metcalf 171). But Gandhi sought after a moral transformation, rather than a political one. He utilized the ideas of ‘satyagraha,’ which translates to truth-force, and also used the approach of ‘passive resistance’ which he felt would ensure self-rule for the Indians (Metcalf 171).
This was just the beginning of the Indian nationalist movement and the measures Gandhi took to help liberate the Indians from their plight. Upon Gandhi’s return to India in 1915, the independence movement took full effect. Although the Indian National Congress was formed in 1885, it was a vital aspect in the liberation of the Indians (Tammita-Delgoda 184). This organization became the main instrument of the independence movement according to Sinharaja Tammita-Delgoda, author of A Traveller’s History of India.
This group of people, including Gandhi, wanted limited reform so that they could have a say in important decisions that would directly affect their lives (Tammita-Delgoda 185). The founding members of the Indian National Congress proposed economic reforms and wanted a larger role in the making of British policy for India. But the British had no respect for Indian opinions and showed their indifference openly (Tammita-Delgoda 186). When the British expressed their hatred, the Indians felt more loyal and nationalistic towards their country and the alienation encouraged them to gain independence.
Gandhi instilled a sense of nationalism in the Indians that motivated them to defy against the British and their imperial power (Tammita-Delgoda 185). When Gandhi became leader of the Indian National Congress, it was a turning point in India’s history due to the enormous following, and his teachings of spiritual powers and his non-violent means of fighting (Tammita-Delgoda 190). Gandhi was a major influence in the nationalist movement because he showed the Indians the way to nationalism.
Many Indians suffered from poverty and discrimination, so Gandhi tried to identify with the community by dressing like a poor peasant, and traveling third-class. He did this in the best interest of his country because he felt that they could never gain independence if the society didn’t understand itself and change accordingly. He felt the agony of the people and put his philosophy to the test. Gandhi adhered to a strictly non-violent protest (Gandhi 330). Every time a disturbing incident broke out, he suspended his actions, fasted and prayed for peace.
All of his efforts were successful in the end. Gandhi exercised a method of non-violence against British rule and led the Indians to follow him in civil disobedience (Tammita-Delgoda 189-190). Not only did the Indians support the efforts of Gandhi, but people from all religions and backgrounds came together to reinforce the movement (Tammita-Delgoda 190). Gandhi’s followers joined in non-cooperation, hunger strikes, passive resistance, peaceful violation of the law and refusals to pay taxes (Tammita-Delgoda 190).
This self-restraint was very important in obtaining independence from the British. Gandhi expressed his feelings on the effects of mass civil disobedience, “Mass civil disobedience is like an earthquake. Where the reign of mass civil disobedience begins, there the subsisting government ceases to function. ” (Tammita-Delgoda 190). Gandhi and his resistance acts granted the Indians independence in 1947. Mohandas Gandhi was seen as the savior of India due to his leadership in the Indian National Congress and through his philosophy.
His non-violence and fasting tactics were essential in the independence of India. The freedom of India was an inspiration to other countries to try and aim for the same movements. Gandhi stimulated the movement that led to India’s rescue from the British. The imperial rule ended with the help of Gandhi and his followers. Ultimately, the non-violent defiance against the British government was successful and the Indians won the independence they had always sought.