Mohandas K. Gandhi was born in 1869 and lived to be the greatest influence on the Indian desire for independence from British role. His beliefs, values and attitudes influenced the Indian people who began to be united in a common identity.
The British had ruled India since the middle of the 18th Century and this rule had always caused unrest among Indians. The 1857 Indian Mutiny was an example of Indians refusing to tolerate British insensitivity to their culture. The identity formed over Gandhi’s career was a much less violent one. The people of India were now opposing British rule in a much more organised manner with little of the chaotic massacre of the Mutiny. They were also non-violent, a state achieved through Gandhi’s influence. This was distinctive as non-violence was usually not the preferred method of revolution in the rest of the world, with war the usual option. The identity of the Indian people was also distinctive because it was just that: representative of the millions of real, common Indians: This was unlike the early representations of Indians in examples such as the early Indian Congress. This was formed in 1885 and had little relevance to common Indians. The members were all very western-influenced and belonged to the upper castes (or classes) of society. The identity Gandhi created was that of the poorest Indian villager: someone that ALL Indians could relate to.
Many factors played a vital role in contributing to the identity of Indians. Indian heritage was evident when Gandhi chose to live a peasant lifestyle, reminiscent of the ways Indians had lived for thousands of years. The culture of the caste system was encourages by Gandhi as the basic social structure of India: however, he did not agree with the ill-treatment of the lowest class, generally referred to as the untouchables. Gandhi preached that the untouchables, who he renamed Harijan, or “people of God”, should be held equal to everyone else. Equality was one of Gandhi’s most important values. He maintained throughout his career that priests and untouchables, Hindus and Muslims, males and females should all be equal. His belief in gender equality was evident in his treatment of his wife, Kasturbai. He considered her to be his equal in life and her death left him heart-broken. The unity between the religions and ethnocentricities of Hindu and Muslim was also another chief concern. This was evident in the Khilafat issue of 1920: The Muslim protector of Holy Places, the Khalif, was an honour bestowed upon the Sultan of Turkey. After World War I, Turkey’s possession of the Holy Places and therefore the Sultain’s position as Khalif was threatened. Gandhi supported the Indian Muslims cause to protect the Sultan’s position. This was highly unusual as Gandhi was a Hindu and the two religions were rarely on good terms. Gandhi wanted to promote total unity between all Indians, including the religious groups. Gandhi’s own religion, Hindu, was governed by the Bhagavad Gita, which Gandhi rediscovered in his time with the Theosophist group during his university studies in London. He encouraged all Indians to really “get to know” this religion. Indian attitudes also contributed to the sense of identity. This desire for independence was the frontrunner of all these. This linked to their dissatisfaction with the injustice of British Imperialism, which was demonstrated in instances such as the Rowlatt Bills, which imposed martial law on perceived “enemies of British Rule”. As a result of this, many Indians were flogged, after such trivial acts such as failing to greet a British soldier when passing. Perhaps one of the greatest injustices was the massacre of Jallianwala Bagh, where 300 Indians participating in peaceful protest were killed and another 1,300 injured when the British Brigadier-General Dyer ordered his soldiers to fire into the crowd. The lack of a proper inquiry into the even until six months after it occurred fuelled this.
Gandhi had a major influence on all these factors and the development of Indian identity. His participation in the peasant life and his ‘return to his roots’ influenced millions. In the 1920-1922 Non-Co-operation Campaign, Gandhi introduced swadeshi, which was a boycott of all foreign goods. Large bonfires were held in which millions burnt their British cloth, in favour of khadi, homespun cotton. At the razi annual meeting of the Indian National Congress Party, all but one of its 6,000 members wore khadi – an indication of Gandhi’s influence. Gandhi’s policy of Hindu-Muslim unity also had an influence during the early 1920’s; however, unfortunately this was not sustained long-term. Gandhi’s return to his Indian culture and away from many western influences impacted Indians, who undertook such traditional actions as spinning cotton (khadi) and making salt (illegally, according to the monopoly that the British had through the Salt Laws) on the Dandi seashore. Thousands participated in these actions, as well as in such campaigns as the Rowlatt satyagraha of 1919. Satyagraha was Gandhi’s main persuasive technique. It was based on the principle of ahimsci absolute non-violence. Gandhi described it as “the force which is born of truth and love, or non-violence”. The Rowlatt Satagraha opposed the aforementioned Rowlatt Bills, and included such techniques as a hartal, a closing of all shops and businesses. While observance of the hartal was not perfect, it did have some effect. Gandhi’s person and policies had a major influence on the development of identity.
Mohandas Gandhi. Later renamed “Mahatma”, meaning “Great Soul” by the poet Tagre, had a massive impact on the development of Indian identity. His policies of equality, unity and independence united a nation previously divided by caste, religion and its sheer size. He took factors such as culture and ethnicity that were important to Indians and developed them into something that all Indians could and did relate to. His efforts to form an Indian identity were the main cause for the eventual granting of Indian independence in 1947.
ACHIEVEMENT STANDARD 2.6 - 90470
India had been subject to British Imperialism since the 17th Century. This oppression lead to a loss of their identity. However through Mohandas Gandhi, the people of India were able to regain this spirit of identity. This development of the Indian identity cam about through Gandhi’s beliefs, values, attitudes and the ability to bond with his people. These factors resulted in the formation of an independent Indian state, the pinnacle of the struggle for identity.
The British had been present in India since the 17th Century. The East India Company was set up to develop trade in the region. It was discovered that India had a booming cotton trade and used in the textiles industry. Due to the rich natural resources, India became subject to British Imperialism which is the nation by which countries attain overseas territories in order to increase power and status. The British dominated Indian society. English was taught in schools, western cultures dominated society and Christianity was brought in as the favourable religion. This oppression caused a loss of identity for the Indian people. They were taught to be ‘black Englishmen’ rather than relish their unique Indian culture. Although the Indians tried to regain this identity through the Indian Mutiny of 1857, they felt that little could be done in the face of dominating and oppressive British empire building. They needed a leader to unite the nation in order to fight for this lost identity and Mohandas Gandhi provided just this.
Mohandas Gandhi was born in India and after completing high school, he sailed to London to attain a university degree in law. He was intrigued by western society although he found it weak on morals. Ironically, it was here that he discovered the ‘Gita’ which was to be his spiritual guide and belief system for the rest of his life. The Gita promoted service to the community, the irrelevance of material goods and equability, the ability to remain calm in the event of success or failure. It was through these beliefs that he was able to develop his campaigns and vision of satyagraha, or the resistance of what is seen as wrong without the use of violence. After obtaioning his law degree, he spent twenty years in South Africa fighting for the rights of equality for Indians against white supremacy. Although his campaigns were not entirely successful in bringing about change, it was here he developed satyagraha as a method to counter the British. However, most importantly through his experiences in South Africa, he was promoted as a leader the Indian people could trust in the fight to regain their identity.
When Gandhi returned to India, initially he chose to remain out of politics. However, with his radical ideas, it was obvious that him entering on the political stage in the fight for Indian identity would not be long in coming. Possibly his most important vision was the importance he placed on the value of equality. In India where the Hindu religion was dominant, society was based around a caste system. This system determined your occupation, wealth and marriage partner. The lowest caste, the Untouchables, were treated as less than human by the rest of the Hindus. Gandhi spent his life advocating for the rights of the Untouchables. He set up ashrams throughout the villages to get back to the ‘grass roots’ of India. Although he placed importance on self-sufficiency of both religion and culture, a major factor of these ashrams was equality of all people. Gandhi believed that Indian identity could only be achieved if the Indian people united together to fight the British and this could not be achieved if caste conflicts were still present.
Gandhi’s value of equality directly linked to his attitude that Indians were being treated unfairly under British colonial rule. This attitude lead to the development of his non-co-operation movement of 1920-1922. This movement was a direct result of the Rowlatt Bills of 1919 which allowed the British to retain ‘special war powers’ in India and the Khilafat issue which resulted in the Muslims losing their religious identity. Non-co-operation involved the Indians not participating in British society. Indian teachers walked out of classrooms and lawyers refused to practice under British laws. A major component of this campaign was ‘swadeshi’ or the boycott of foreign goods. Gandhi provided the spinning of ‘khadi’ as an alternative to buying British made clothes. Gandhi believed that the Indian identity would benefit from self-sufficiency and this campaign not only developed Indian identity but also demonstrated to the Brit6ish that the Indians could unite and fight for what they believe in.
Gandhi’s most successful campaign was the salt satyagraha of 1930-1932. This campaign was centres around Gandhi’s belief of non-violence being the solution to forging Indian identity. The campaign took the form of a march where Gandhi lead a group of faithful followers to the coast at Dandi where he picked up a handful of naturally made salt and declared others should do the same. This had particular importance as salt was a British dominated market and there were laws against individuals producing their own salt. Gandhi’s courageous move gained him both national and international coverage, cementing him as a leader not afraid to fight to develop Indian identity.
The personality trait that separated Gandhi from his political counterparts of the time was his ability to bond with his people. He was able to relate to the Indian people through shared experiences such as dressing in khadi. People responded to this, as they felt they could relate to Gandhi therefore trust him. This is best shown by the name given to Gandhi, Mohatma, meaning great soul. The people of India took inspiration from Gandhi at his courageous fight to forge Indian identity and felt that he had their best interests through his campaign.
Gandhi helped to develop a sense of identity for India through his undivided loyalty to his people and well planned campaigns. These campaigns were based directly on his belief of non-violence and personal liberation, his value on equality and attitude that British rule must come to an end in India. Therefore, it can be seen that it was the factors that influenced Gandhi’s life that lead to the development of Indian identity. Gandhi related to his people and united his people against the constraints of British rule. Once he had sparked the emotions involved in gaining identity, the Indian people could unite together to fight the common battle. The success of his struggle can be seen as India gained independence from Britain shortly after World War II. Independence represents the pinnacle of a developed and separate identity. Although independence did not take the form of a united India as Gandhi once hoped, it cannot be doubted that it was the result of Gandhi’s motivation to achieve identity.
In conclusion, Mohatma Gandhi was a vital figure in India’s struggle for an independent identity. Through his belief systems, values and attitudes, he was able to unite a nation and bond with the common man. It was through his devotion to his people and strategically planned campaigns that Gandhi was able to achieve independence for his people. This independence represented the extent of the development of Indian identity from being a suppressed nation under British rule to separate independent countries. Through his campaigns and motivation for his people, it cannot be doubted Mohatma Gandhi contributed greatly to the development of Indian identity.
ACHIEVEMENT STANDARD 2.6 - 90470
India’s fight for independence against the British rule is one of the most well known movements in the world. This movement has a distinctive identity of non-violence, love, and unity due to the influence of the great leader Mahandas Karamachand Gandhi. The actions of Gandhi influenced the people of India to fight against their oppressions in a truly unique and peaceful way.
Mohandas Karamachand Gandhi was born in 1869 in the city of Portantar, in the now Gujanet state. Born to the caste of Banras, a leading caste, his family were rather well off. Growing up in India, he knew the Indian society well and experienced all the influences and results of the British rule as other Indians did which led to his fight against British rule.
Because of his caste, Gandhi had the opportunity to travel. In 1888 he moved to London to study law for 3 years. After his return to India, he moved to South Africa in 1892 where he stayed for more than 20 years and it was there that he developed his famous method of Satyagraha. His travels opened up Gandhi to different people and religion in this world and resulted in a tolerance of people different to him. It also showed him the harshness of racial discrimination. When he first arrived in South Africa, he travelled on a first class train ticket to Sedora. He got as far as Pietermaritzburg station, before a newly borded white man made a fuss about travelling in the same class as a black man. Gandhi with his first class ticket, was made to move down a class but he refused. Thrown off the bus, Gandhi spent the cold night in the Pietermaritzburg station. This incident greatly influenced Gandhi to fight against discrimination.
Gandhi religious is also another factor that greatly influenced his life. Born a Hindu he was bought up to believe in the existence of god and the value of all living creatures, and non-violence. During his time in London as a student, Gandhi came across the Gita, a book of Hindu religion. This book, which taught of doing good without the expectation of a reward, and of the virtues of non-violence influenced Gandhi greatly and he would learn one chapter a day off by heart for the rest of his life. In South Africa, Gandhi also conducted a research into all the different religions. Of this he concluded that all religion are like the “leaves of a tree. They may seem different, but at the trunk they are all the same one.” It is because of his firm belief that all religions are essentially the same, that he viewed religions with great respect and encouraged the understand and respect of people of all religions.
One of the main influencial features of Gandhi on the identity of the Indian struggle for independence, is his value of non-violence: ahimsa. Gandhi believed that Ahimsa, the completely freedom from ill-will, as one flowing of love and compassion, was the way to the “truth”, the only way. He believed that the firm practise of Ahimsa would release your spirit and is the way of God. It means “the suffering of you and not the suffering of the tyrant” which in the end will lead your opponents own willingness to change because they will be able to see their own wrong. This is the basis of all Gandhian movements.
The way in which Gandhi asserted his value of ahimsa is through stayagnaha. Where ahimsa, non-violence is the basis of satyagnaha, non-cooperation is the action of it. Gandhi’s concept of satnagnaha was first developed in South Africa during his campaign against “Black Ordinance” of the Transvaal government in 1906. Black Ordinance required all Indians to carry a certificate that identified them as Indians and to produce it when required. Gandhi saw this as a form of discrimination and he simply refused to carry his certificate, and burnt it instead. Gandhi believed that as long as you refused cooperate, they cannot control you.
After Gandhi’s travels, he returned to India in 1915. After his arrival he saw the awful condition that many Indians were in under British rule and worked to eliminate the British from India but in a extremely unique, non-violent, satyagraha method. The first of his campaigns was at Champaranan 1917. Champaranan was a place where the land was not richly fertile and life for the farmers were harsh. All the land was owned by British landowners, who would lease the land out to Indians to work. Part of the leased land had to be used to plant indigo, which the landowners would then buy off the farmers at a low price and sell for their own profit. If the market for indigo was not good, the land owners would increase the rent to make up for their losses, if it was good, the Indians would not get any increase in profit. Because of this, the people in Champaran where extremely unhappy and asked Gandhi to help. Gandhi approached the commissioner of the district, Morshead on the 16thof April, but Morshead got the magistrate to order Gandhi to leave Chemparan. Gandhi refused and instead invited the magistrat to jail him for his refusal. As a result of this, a Committee of enquiry was set up to investigate the matter, and the lives of the people of Camparan improved. Gandhi first satyagnaha campaign succeeded.
Gandhi’s value for unity and racial tolerance is also reflected in the identity of the Indian struggle for independence. In 1920, after the end of WWI, Turkey was punished for its involvement in the war, resulting in the Turkish Emperor the Khitafat of the Muslim religion losing all three of the Muslim holy cities that he was to protect. This was a great blow to the Muslim community. Muslim and Hindus in India had a long history of hatred, Gandhi saw the Khitafat issue as an opportunity to unite the two religions. He encouraged Hindus to be involved, and he himself became a representative of the Khitafat issue. In 1920, Gandhi had identified two wrongs of the British rule against India, the Armistar Massacre of 1919 and the Khitafat issue of 1920. To him, this was the opportunity to unite all India against the British, and he launched is non-operation Campaign of 1920.
To Gandhi, the independence of India was not to be only pollitical but economical and spiritual. Thus he promoted the abolishon of western clothing and encouraged the spinning and weaving of native Indian cloth. Gandhi himself was sure to set aside half an hour for spinning every day. He also set up ashrams, which were an old Indian tradition, where people would live in to observed non-violence, religious studies, and abstinence for material goods and temptations. The first Ashram he set up was the Sabamanti ashram in 1917. This idea of Gandhi influenced the whole of the Indian independence movement. In 1921, the at the annual meeting of the Indian National Congress, all 600 members were dressed in Khadi.
One of the best known campaigns during the Indian struggle for independence is the Salt March of 1930. Led by Gandhi this was a part of his civil disobedience campaign of 1930. Completely non-violent and following satyagraph, the march began on the 16thof March, from Amedabah with 78 of Bandhi’s followers including 2 muslims, 2 from the caste untouchables, and one Christian. They walked 285 kilometres to the Dandi beach at which they arrived on the 4th of April. At the beach, Gandhi bent over and picked up a pinch of salt, proclaiming that he had made salt – an illegal act. Following his example, in May, while Gandhi had been arrested, 2500 people marched down to the Dharasanan beach to “make” salt. On the way, the people were beaten by policemen with metal piped batons, but never once did a single person lift an arm to defend themselves. As they struck down bleeding with cracked skulls, the world’s media watched on. This would become one of the greatest moments of Satyagrapa and practice of non-violence in the history of the world.
The identity of the Indian struggle for independence is strongly characterised by the great leader Gandhi. Influenced by his upbringing, his religion, and his experiences Gandhi led India through the tough path of non-violence and satyagrapa, of tolerance and unity, on their way to independence. This is reflected by the Champaran Campaign of 1917, the non-cooperation campaign of 1920, the social reforms and ashrams and by the Salt March of 1930. Today Gandhi is known as the father of India, a title that reflects his influence on India’s identity.
ACHIEVEMENT STANDARD 2.6 - 90470
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a leader who’s identity was influenced by no-other than the his wife. His desire for independence, belief in Religious unity, rejection of Western values and Sathyagraha were all important aspects of his identity. These factors were influenced by he, himself, being his own leader on seeing the unjust of the attitudes of the Raj, his personal experiences in South Africa, the Bhaghavad Gita were all aspects of his identity which contributed to this sense of identity. He asserted his identity through many marches, campaign and making his life an example of self.
An important aspect of Gandhis identity was his desire for independence which was influenced by his wife. Gandhi by 1900 had become very critical of the Raj and was totally convinced that the British government should leave. An important aspect of this was that the Raj excluded Indians from any meaningful participation in the government. For an example the Indian civil service had only 5% Indians and none of them were in positions of any importance.
Another import aspect of the Raj which contributed to this sense of identity was the the fact that the Raj adopted unjust powers and performed immoral actions in order to stay in power. The Rowlatt bill adopted after World War One was a perfect example for Gandhi regarded these as repressive as they suspended civil liberties and allowed martial law to take place in order to suppress any terrorism during peace time. This also lead to Amristar where a British General killed about 150 Indians at a protest by ordering a few hundred troops to shoot upon a crowd at a protest. This action for Gandhi destroyed any moral justification given by the British for now they were murdering the locals as well. The need for independence seemed urgent.
Further more the Raj exploiting aspects of Indian economy such as salt & cotton was also important in creating Gandhi’s desire for independence. Cheap cotton was imported from Britain while taxes were laid upon those who exported. Salt taxes were also similar as individual manufacturing of salt was made illegal and taxes were also brought forth. Both these were done in order to expand on British trade and to Gandhi it was very immoral as it deprived Indian of a basic need in their diet. “Until we are fully free we are slaves claimed Gandhi” showing this desire within him.
The establishment and belief in Sathyagraha was also an important aspect of Gandhis identity. His inner voice was a major aspect which lead to the his belief in Ahimsa or non-violence. His personal experience in South African train where he was asked to leave as he was coloured was a major factor that contributed to his sense of sathyagraha. For he decided to stay back and protest against these injustices to coloured people (such as the black ordiance legislation which required Indian to carry certificates) where he developed this idea. He believed injustes could be put right through the use of non-violence. He later established this idea of Sathyagraha to include both force and self suffering as well. “The sathyagrah loves his enemy as he loves his friend,” claimed Gandhi showing that the practice of Sathyagraha strengthened one. Gandhi’s belief in religious unity or Hindu Muslim unity was also another important aspect of his identity influence by his wife. Gandhi believed that all religion had could offer insight to the ‘truth’ and that all should be regarded as children of one parent. Although a strong Hindu himself he believed that Hindus and Muslims all as one. He believed that they should all be united under the common banner of Indians. His time in South Africa once again was an important factor for during this time he read the ‘Bible’, the Koran and got a greater understanding of all religion. He regarded this period as a period of consious religious explore. In the Hindu Swaraj Gandhi showed this belief by saying “All religions are road converging from one point so does it matter what road we take as long as we reach the same goal?” Not only did Gandhi believe in Religion but he also regarded tradition with great importance.
Gandhis rejection of western value was also a very important aspct of his identity. By 1900’s Gandhi had become disenchanted by British materiallistic values. He had travelled through out India and identified with the poorest and most humble village men and felt a great passion towards his own culture and traditions. The Bhaghavad Gita he read during his time in England was also and import factor for it encouraged hindus to give up their materiallists values and live lives of service. It also helped him explain his rejection for it contridicted with British values.
When discussing these important aspects of Gandhis identity at times he needed guidance, direction and someone who supported him faithfully throughout. This influencial figure was his traditional India wife, Kasturabai. She helped him develop a sense of culture and tradition to contrast to the English man he was, by showing him importance of religion, love and care. Through these influences he developed a great love towards his culture, tradition, religion and nation. And as a result created to almost every aspect his identity like his desire for independence, belief in religions, his passion for his tradition.
In conclusion Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a great man who’s aspects of identity were very strong that it lead him to change a whole nation. He is regarded as the farther of independence and would not have been such a dominative figure in Indian history if he was not influenced by his wife Kasturbai. It is no surprise that his identity is still phraised all throughout India.