Gandhi (1869-1948)

Gandhi, 1891Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born into a modest Hindu commercial family and brought up in western India. After studying law in London, he spent several years in South Africa, where he worked as a lawyer serving the Indian community. It was in South Africa that Gandhi developed his ideas of ahimsa (non-violence) and satyagraha (civil disobedience). This involved encouraging his followers to peacefully break unfair laws. Gandhi organised Hindus and Muslims, both rich and poor, in a movement of protest against their status as second-class citizens in South Africa. It was in South Africa that he developed his vision of an India free from British control, before he returned to India in 1915.

Quit India Movement procession in BangaloreWithin five years of his return to India, Gandhi had taken over the Indian National Congress and rallied both Hindus and Muslims in his 'Quit India' protests against British rule. He was a key figure in winning independence for India in 1947. However, Partition (the division of India into India and Pakistan) meant that Gandhi’s vision of a united Hindu-Muslim India had failed. Gandhi was killed on 30 January 1948 by a Hindu assassin who felt that Gandhi had weakened Hindu India by dividing India's wealth with Pakistan after Partition.

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