Mahatma Gandhi

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Mohandas Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi, was born in Gujarat, India on October 2, 1869, and got taught law at University College, London. In 1891, Gandhi returned to India and attempted to establish a practice in Bombay, with almost no success. Two years later, an Indian firm with interests in South Africa kept him as legal adviser in the office. After arriving there, Gandhi found himself treated as a member of an inferior race. He was shocked at the general rejection of civil liberties and political rights to Indians to South Africa. He threw himself into the struggle for basic rights.

Gandhi remained in South Africa for 20 years, getting thrown in jail many times. In 1896, after being attacked and beaten by white South Africans, Gandhi began to teach a rule of passive resistance to, and non-cooperation with, the South African authorities. During the Boer War, Gandhi organized an ambulance corps for the British army and commanded a Red Cross unit. After the war stopped he returned to his campaign for Indian rights.

Economic independence for India, involving the complete boycott of British goods, was made a corollary of Gandhi's Swaraj, or "self-ruling" movement. The economic features of the movement were significant, for the misuse of Indian villagers by British industrialists had resulted in a lot poverty in the country and the near destruction of Indian home industries. As a cure for such poverty, Gandhi supported restoration of cottage industries; he began to use a spinning wheel as a token of the return to the simple village life he preached.

Gandhi became the international symbol of a free India. He lived a spiritual and ascetic life of prayer, fasting, and meditation. His union with his wife became, as he hims...

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...ndhi pleaded with Hindus and Muslims to live together peacefully. Riots surrounded Calcutta, and Gandhi fasted until disturbances stopped. On January 13, 1948, he undertook another successful fast in New Delhi to peace, but on January 30, 12 days after the termination of that fast, he was assassinated by a fanatic.

Gandhi's death was regarded as an international disaster. His place in humankind was measured not in the 20th century, but in terms of history. A period of mourning was set aside, and condolences to India were expressed by all countries. Religious violence soon waned in India and Pakistan, and the teachings of Gandhi came to inspire nonviolent movements elsewhere, especially in the U.S. under the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and in South Africa under Nelson Mandela, another two of the greatest passive resistant leaders of the 20th century.

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