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On October 2, 1869, the “little brown saint” was brought into the world; during this time India was under the British monarchy. During his early years he did not show the signs of developing into the great leader that he eventually became but nevertheless Gandhi aspired to be a lawyer, follow in the footsteps of his father and become a respected member of the community. Throughout his life Gandhi fought against colour prejudice, promoted religious harmony and toiled laboriously to gain independence for his country.
Gandhi was a great man who brought about many changes all over the world but especially in India. His means of bringing about change and the effect he had on people made him a respected and loved individual.
Gandhi travelled to South Africa for the first time in the summer of 1892, to try his luck at a law firm. He was not aware of how deeply he would be involved in South African affairs while he proceeded on his journey. Indians in South Africa suffered many disabilities. For instance, an Indian “had to carry a pass if he appeared on the streets after 9 p.m.”(Pg. 24). Gandhi felt this was completely unfair and by the time he had finished his campaign against colour prejudice in South Africa, “the three pound tax on farm indentured labourers was annulled, Hindu, Muslim and Parsi marriages were declared valid; free Indians and their wives could continue to come into the country from India”(Pg. 47-48).
Gandhi achieved this status for Indians in South Africa by a method called “Satyagraha” or “passive resistance”. This involved a non-violent means of refusing to co-operate with the government’s wishes, thus forcing the government to meet the demands of the resistors. This method of nonco-operation earned Gandhi a great deal of respect, world-wide acclaim and helped him considerably reduce legalized racism against Indians in South Africa.
Gandhi was a very patriotic man and believed that people in his country should become one in unity, but he knew that there were obstacles that had to be overcome. One of the hardest of these obstacles was easing Muslim and Hindu tensions. Religious tension was one aspect that Gandhi felt he should try to bring to an equilibrium. He knew that the relations between Hindus and Muslims would determine the future of India. He wrote a “6,000 word article on ‘Hindu-Muslim Tension. Its Cause and Cure’”(Pg. 36). Gandhi did not feel that this was enough and was assured of it when he heard about “Hindu-Muslim riots (and) the forcible kidnapping and conversion of women and children from one religious community by men of the other” (Pg. 49). The situation, as Gandhi, concluded were getting out of hand and so he decided that he needed another means of communicating with his fellow man. He fasted, abstained from eating, “to reform those who loved him. (He said) ‘you cannot fast against a tyrant for (he) is incapable of love therefore inaccessible to a weapon of love like fasting”(Pg. 23). Gandhi made up his mind to fast either until death or until reform. This was enough to bring instantaneous results and soon riots ceased and there were weeks without religiously motivated killings or demonstrations. Gandhi’s ploy had worked. People all over the world admired the “Mahatma” (father) and his methods of controlling a whole population by their love for him. This was one stepping stone which had been safely passed and no longer posed a threat to India.
Throughout his life Gandhi always pondered ways to better the lives of others. He put himself and his needs last before those of others. Gandhi knew that to better the lives of Indians living in India he had to work towards Independence. One major event that paved the way to achieving this was the civil disobedience of the Salt Laws. The laws “made it punishable to possess salt not purchased from the government salt monopoly”
( Pg. 23).
Gandhi felt that “nothing but organized non-violence (could) check the organized violence of the British government...the non-violence would be expressed through civil-disobedience... and convert the British people making them see the wrong they have done to India”(Pg. 33). Gandhi proceeded to march “241 miles in 24 days”
( Pg. 35) thus rivet the attention of all of India. When Gandhi reached the
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