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    Mahatma Gandhi as a Political Leader

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    Mahatma Gandhi was a great Hindu leader and model for the world to follow. His fervor for an independent India encouraged others to stand behind and support him in his efforts to obtain an independent country.

    Gandhi was born in India yet he received the majority of his preparation for the India’s movement in South Africa. Gandhi was jailed and beaten in South Africa but persevered and the government made important concessions to Gandhi’s demands, including recognition of Indian marriages and abolition of the poll tax for them. Gandhi’s success in Africa brought him the notoriety and determination he would need to take on his hardest task yet in gaining his own nation independence. During World War I Gandhi took on mass recruiting efforts and gained a large following. Outraged at Britain for implementing the Rowlatt Acts, giving the British authorities powers to jail suspected revolutionaries without question Gandhi went into action. He used his world famous passive resistance methods and started an organized campaign of non-cooperation with Great Britain.

    Indians in public office positions resigned, Indian children withdrew from school, and people sat in the street blocking traffic and refused to move even when beating by police. During the movement Gandhi himself was arrested and jailed, for the first of his many times in confinement. As a result of national unrest Britain was soon forced to release Gandhi who began his assaults once again. The perseverance of Gandhi not to quit even after being jailed made his following and the hope for a free nation stronger.

    Upon his release he than turned to the economic state of his country. The economic aspects of his movement were unquestionably his most important because without economic independence a nation can’t possibly expect to have success in becoming independent. British exploitation of Indian villagers resulted in extreme poverty in the country and almost total destruction of the Indian home industries. As a solution to this problem Gandhi advocated revival of cottage industries he himself began to use a spinning wheel as a token of the return to the simple village life. Gandhi became the international symbol of a free India. He was not only a leader of his movement, but he was an active member.

    Even though he was not a member of the lowest caste of India he lived an ascetic life of prayer, fasting, and meditation. In about one year of work in India Gandhi’s political and spiritual hold on India was greater than ever and feared by British authorities. In 1921 Gandhi was the head of the Indian National Congress and spearheaded the movement nationhood. The Indian population violating Gandhi’s principles took up arms against the British and he quickly called an end to the campaign. The British government seized and imprisoned him in 1922, he would not get out until 1924 this time. In 1930 Gandhi continued his assaults proclaiming a new campaign of civil disobedience, calling upon the population to refuse to pay taxes, particularly the tax on salt.

    Perhaps his most amazing feat was his assault against the salt tax in 1930. The plan was a Gandhi led march to the Arabian Sea where salt was made by evaporating salt water. Gandhi along with over 60,000 people were arrested, but concessions were made by the British and he was released in 1931. While in prison Gandhi fasted for long periods several times these fast were effective because if he died an all out revolution would’ve take place. In 1934 Gandhi formally resigned from politics this would be short lived. A few years later in 1935, he returned to active political life.

    His first act was a fast not against the British, but it was designed to force the ruler of the state of Rajkot to modify his autocratic rule. Public unrest caused by the fast was so great that the colonial government intervened and granted his demands. Gandhi once again became the most important political figure in India. When World War II broke out, Gandhi demanded a declaration of war aims and their application to India.

    The unsatisfactory answer from the British lost India’s support to Britain in the war unless they were granted independence.

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