Mahatma Gandhi

– Person Of The Century Essay, Research Paper Mahatma Gandhi There was little hope for the natives as imperialism and greed had taken the white man by the mind, body, and soul. These white men promised that

– Person Of The Century Essay, Research Paper

Mahatma Gandhi

There was little hope for the natives as imperialism and greed had taken

the white man by the mind, body, and soul. These white men promised that

they would be ?civilized,? when in reality they were enslaved and treated like

animals. No lashing out would save them, for the white men had technologies

like gunpowder. During the rise of this on October 2nd, 1869 the world

changed forever. Mohandas K. Gandhi came into the world. Gandhi sparked a

world wide non-violent revolution that changed the ability, spirit, and the

power of the oppressed forever.

Gandhi was born in India to parents who were merchants and neither

well-off or poor. He was described as a shy but serious boy. At the age of 13, he

married a girl his age– Kasturba. They later had four children. Gandhi went to

the University College, London to study law. In 1891, he returned to India after

he passed the British Bar exam. Gandhi intended on practicing law there, but he

had a little success. His firm sent him to Durban, South Africa, which was

under British control.

When Gandhi first arrived he was treated like a second class citizen,

because he was a member of an ?inferior? race. He was abused because he was

an Indian who claimed his rights as a British subject. Gandhi was denied civil

liberties and political rights just as his fellow Indians in South Africa. Despite

that his assignment was for a year, Gandhi stayed 20 more years to serve his

people and advocate for their rights. He was convinced by other Indians to stay

and make a living as a lawyer. That same year, 1894, he was the first India to

draft and send a petition to the South African legislature. Gandhi led

campaigns for Indian rights. In 1896, he was wrongly beaten by white South

Africans. Instead of revolting in a violent uproar, Gandhi preached passive

resistance and for the Indian people to not cooperate with the South African

government. Instead of the term passive resistance or civil disobedience, Gandhi

chose a different term, satyagraha which means ?truth and fairness.?

Later Gandhi returned to India shortly to bring back his wife and two

children. While he was returning to South Africa he was mobbed by the British,

because of what he had written about the treatment of Indian citizens in South

Africa so he went back to India. During 1901-1902 he opened a law office and

attended the Indian National Congress Meeting in Calcutta. Later in 1902 the

South African Indian community urgently requested that he come back.

Upon returning in the summer of 1903, he opened a law office in

Johnannesburg, and later established a weekly periodical, Indian Opinion. He

also organized a Phoenix Settlement, near Durban. He helped his fellow Indians

in anyway he could. He organized Indian Ambulance Corps for when the Zulus

?rebelled.? That same year in 1906 he took a vow of continence for life.

Continence is:

In September the first satyagraha campaign began to protest against the Asiatic

ordinance which was directed to discriminate the Indian immigrants in

Transvaal. The next month Gandhi went to England to present the case to the

Colonial Secretary and started back to South Africa in December. Gandhi later

organized more peaceful campaigns against ?The Black Act? which mandated

mass registration for the Indian community in South Africa. In 1908, Gandhi

stood trial for instigating satyagraha, and he was imprisoned for two months.

He did not serve his entire term, because General Smuts needed him in Pretoria.

Later that month he was attacked by Mir Alam, an Indian extremist, because he

reached a settlement with Smuts. In August, Smuts broke agreement, and more

protesting began. The first of which was another satyagraha campaign in which

Indians burned their registration certificates. Gandhi was arrested for not

having a certificate in October and he was sentenced to two months


In 1913 he began a preniterntial fast because of two members in the

Phoenix settlement who he thought had ?morally lapsed.? A preniterntial fast is

one meal a day for more than four months. For the rest of his stay in South

Africa, he was imprisoned, organizing more campaigns, and visiting the United

Kingdom to present his case to officials. Upon his return to India in 1915, he

soon became the leader of the Indian nationalist movement. In 1918 Gandhi fell

ill after one of his fasts. This is when he learned how to spin while he was


In 1919, the British induced the Rowlatt Bills which made it illegal to

organize opposition to the government. Gandhi led a non-cooperation campaign

against this, and it prevented one of the bills to not be passed and the other was

not enforced. In 1920 Gandhi was elected president of All-India Home Rule

league. He urged a resolution later that year for another campaign of

non-cooperation at the Moslem Conference and at the Indian Congress sessions

in Calcutta and Nagpur.

In 1921, his idea for spinning took reality. Gandhi urged the Indians to

not be dependent on the western industries. A major source of this was spun

fabrics made in factories. Gandhi had his people begin spinning their own

fabrics, and in the year of 1921 the first shop opened in Bombay selling

homespun fabrics. Gandhi believed that making their own cloth helped make

India more self-sufficient which added economic freedom. He also thought that

it provided social and economic freedom and restored his people?s dignity.

Later in August of the same year, there was a bonfire of foreign cloth in

Bombay. Mahatma gave up wearing a shirt and cap. He only wore a loin cloth

in devotion to cotton and simplicity. Gandhi worked further to help his people

with more campaigns. He addressed the Hindu and Muslim conflicts, as well.

He was arrested for numerous accounts such as burning foreign cloth. In front

of an audience of the entire world in April of 1930, Gandhi defied the British Salt

Law. Gandhi made salt from sea water, thus defying the law that stated it was

illegal to posses salt that wasn?t bought from the government.

In May of 1930, Gandhi was arrested by armed policemen and

imprisoned without a trial. In December there was no Congress because all the

leaders were in jail. There were 100,000 persons arrested in all, most of which

with out trial. By January of 1931, Gandhi was released along with 30 other

congress leaders.

In 1933, another fast began deteriorating his health further. His cause this

time was due to the fact that the government had refused to grant his permission

to work for his cause in prison. In November, he spent 10 months visiting every

province in India to advocate his cause. His wife was arrested at the beginning,

her sixth time in all, she stayed there for two years. In the summer of 1934 three

attempts were made on his life.

In 1944, Kasturba died in a detention camp at the age of 74. Gandhi?s

health also declined in May of that year. He began important talks with Jinnah

of the Moslem League, to speak about Hindu-Moslem unity. He worked to unite

the two religions by touring villages. He hoped this would stop the protesting.

In 1947 the British granted freedom to India and Pakistan. It bothered

Gandhi because he had hoped for a united India with Hindu and Moslem

co-existing together. On January 13, 1948 Gandhi began his final fast because of

Hindu, Moslem, and other groups protesting. In on January 20, 1948, a bomb

exploded while he was giving a prayer. Ten days later he was killed by

Nathuram Vinayak Godse while walking on his way to a prayer meeting. He

was shot three times. Godse opposed Gandhi?s program of tolerance of all

creeds and religions.

Gandhi had spent 2,338 days in jail in his life time, and a world mourned

his death. Those who inspired Gandhi were Leo Tolstoy and Henry David

Thoureau. He was well known and hailed by the common man and the greats

respectively. Albert Einstein said of him, ?Generations to come will scarcely

believe that such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood.? Truly

Gandhi has become somewhat of a legend. This is why he is one of the most

important people in history.

Mahatma Gandhi inspired campaigns of civil disobedience throughout

the world. I feel that it was correct he was chosen as one of the 20th century?s

most influential people, because what he accomplished and catalyzed. In further

history, he will not be regarded as a great person in the 20th century. He will be

thought of as one of the most influential people in history. The sole fact that the

entire world mourned this leader is also indication that he was well loved and

revered. The United Nations General Assembly had a period of morning, and

almost every country in the world sent it?s condolences to India. These events

prove that Gandhi was an important role player in the 20th century.

Without Gandhi?s influence, the United States would be a different

country today. Perhaps American children would still attend segregated

schools, and drink from separate drinking fountains. Affirmative action would

be entirely non-existent. This is just one idea. In reality, one may not be able to

imagine what the world would actually be like without his influence, and his

fighting for the rights of his people. A single voice can change the world

whether it is to announce a new scientific theory, tells the story of a culture, or

speaks for a voiceless culture.

On a smaller scale what he accomplished for his people alone would

make him a legend. The protests he led against the government, and the

attention he brought to the oppression of his people made the injustices of

imperilism more evident. Gandhi made India independent from the British rule.

He made his people feel sufficient and created an independence that is certain to

withstand hundreds of years.

I feel that it was a correct and certainly a wise choice to put him on the

most influential people list. He certainly tops most of the brightest people in

history. He gave a voice to people who normally had nothing, not even their

own land. For this he will always be remembered.