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Gandhi Jayanti Special: Biography, Accomplishments & Facts About The Father of The Nation

2 October marks the birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi aka Mahatma Gandhi, The Father of The Nation. It is celebrated annually on 2 October, and it is one of the three national holidays of India. On the same line, the UN General Assembly, on 15 June 2007 declared the day to be celebrated as the International Day of Non-Violence.

Gandhi Jayanti 2019 marks the 150th birth anniversary of the leader, who inspired the world with his ideas. On this Gandhi Jayanti, let's remember the man who fought for a nation's freedom through his life and accomplishments.

The Life Of Mahatma Gandhi

Born on 2 October 1869 in Porbandar, Gujarat, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born to Karamchand Uttamchand Gandhi and Putlibai Gandhi. Young Gandhi's father was the dewan of Porbandar and his mother Putlibai was a devoted practitioner of Vaishnavism. Mohandas had two elder half-sisters and three elder siblings.

He was greatly influenced by his extremely religious mother, but, changed his ways by defying the norms of his Hindu family by drinking alcohol and eating meat.

At the age of 13, Gandhi married 14-year-old Kasturbai Makhanji Kapadia in an arranged marriage. They became parents to four sons namely Harilal, Manilal, Ramdas and Devdas. In 1888, at the age of 19, he left home to study law in London at the Inner Temple with a scholarship [1] .

It was during this phase, Mohandas was introduced to the vegetarian movement and met members of the Theosophical Society who re-kindled his interest in religion. In 1891, he returned to India after completing his studies.

Soon, he was offered a job with an Indian firm that required him to move to South Africa. Mohandas and his family moved to South Africa in 1893, where they remained for the next 20 years.

It was during this time, he was made aware of the issues of racial discrimination prevalent in South Africa. Two incidents, i.e. once he was asked to move from the first-class in a train in spite of having a valid ticket and once he was asked to remove his turban, pushed Mohandas to fight against the problems of social injustice [2] .

Mohandas Gandhi returned to India in 1915 and joined the Indian National Congress and by 1920. By then, he had become one of the dominant faces in the Indian political scenario. He had hundreds of followers, out of which Prabhavati Devi was one of his favourites.

Gandhi was arrested on 9 August 1942 and was held on the Aga Khan Palace in Pune for 2 years, where he lost his wife Kasturba.

Gandhi identified his overall method of non-violent action as Satyagraha which influenced leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King in their struggle for freedom, equality and social justice.

On 30 January 1948, 12 days after his hunger strike ended, Mahatma Gandhi was shot to death by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu fanatic enraged by his efforts to create religious unity in the country. Around 1 million people followed the procession as Gandhi's body was carried through the streets of the city and cremated on the banks of the holy Yamuna river [3] .

Major Accomplishments Of Mahatma Gandhi

  • He fought against racial discrimination in South Africa.
  • His Satyagraha Campaign in SA led to the 1914 Indian Relief Act.
  • Mahatma Gandhi won his first battle of Civil Disobedience in India at Champaran.
  • In 1918, he successfully led a non-violent Tax Revolt in Kheda and made the government suspend the tax for that year and the next, reduce the tax rate increase and return the confiscated properties.
  • He led the popular Non-cooperation Movement in the early 1920s.
  • Gandhi was responsible for the Civil Rights movement in 12 countries across four continents.
  • Mahatma Gandhi led the infamous Salt March to Dandi for 24 days from 12th March to 6th April, marching 388 kilometres.
  • He launched the Quit India Movement in 1942 demanding end of British rule.
  • Mahatma Gandhi was the leading figure responsible for India achieving independence.
  • He fought against social evils in the society like untouchability.
  • Gandhi was runner up to Einstein in Time's Person Of The Century [4] .

Some Quick Facts About Mahatma Gandhi

  • Mahatma Gandhi was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times.
  • He spoke English with an Irish accent, for one of his first teachers was an Irishman.
  • Gandhi believed that walking is the best exercise and walked around 18 km every day, for 40 years [5] .
  • Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule, Satyagraha in South Africa, An Autobiography or The Story of My Experiments with Truth are some of his infamous works.
  • While in South Africa, Gandhi promoted football in his non-violent campaigns and helped establish three football clubs in Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg.
  • Gandhi corresponded with a lot of prominent personalities of his time including Leo Tolstoy, Einstein and Hitler.
View Article References
  1. [1] No, P., Chawl, P. C. C., & Kherwadi, B. E. (2018). of Mahatma Gandhi! (Doctoral dissertation, Mahatma Gandhi University Kottayam).
  2. [2] Madan, T. N. (2017). Mahatma Gandhi, BR Nanda, and the historians: An introductory essay. In Gandhi's Moral Politics (pp. 1-34). Routledge India.
  3. [3] de Saint-Cheron, M. (2017). Gandhi: Anti-biography of a Great Soul. Routledge.
  4. [4] Codell, J. F. (2017). Excursive Discursive in Gandhi's Autobiography: Undressing and Redressing the Transnational Self. In Life Writing and Victorian Culture (pp. 123-144). Routledge.
  5. [5] Renold, L. (2018). The Mahatma and the Missionary: Gandhi's conflicting accounts of his first encounter with Christianity. Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, 19(1).

Story first published: Wednesday, October 2, 2019, 8:30 [IST]
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