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Role of Mahatma Gandhi in National Movement

  • Last Updated : 23 Dec, 2021

The advent of Mahatma Gandhi was an indelible landmark in the history of the national movement. He energized the national movement by resurrecting the dormant ideology of Truthfulness and Non Violence and compelled the British to leave the country at their earliest. Mahatma Gandhi, a reformist of the 19th century, transformed the nature of the national movement by its thoughts, workings, and movement. Mahatma Gandhi returned to India from South Africa in 1915. Before his arrival, the national movement had a different nature, but after 1915, the movement took on a mass movement.

Gandhi was born at Porbandar in Gujarat on 2nd Oct 1869. At the age of 18, he went to England and qualified for the bar. He learned the first lesson of truth and non-violence from Rajchandra Ravjibai. He went to South Africa in connection with the professional work of his friend. In South Africa, he put into practice the weapon of satyagraha. He also developed the self-confidence to lead a struggle. In 1915, he returned to India after winning a great name. Gandhi entered into the political field of India with the satyagraha in Champaran in Bihar in 1917.

Birth of ideology of Non-Violence, Satyagraha:

Gandhi’s ideology of non-violence and satyagraha changed the course of the national movement in a different direction. Before the arrival of Gandhi, these principles were not deep-rooted in the people and the struggle for freedom was directionless. It was after the advent of Gandhi that the Freedom struggle took a meaningful direction. Over time, these principles only helped India to attain freedom against British rule. Gandhi was very strict in his principles, and the non-cooperation movement was an example of this. The principle of satyagraha compelled the British to leave India.

The Champaran satyagraha emerged as a successful struggle against the oppression of Britishers in India. The government was forced to set up a committee to study the problems of the farmers. In 1918, he intervened in a dispute between the workers and the mill owners of Ahmedabad and undertook fast unto death to force a compromise. The mill owners agreed to raise 35 percent wages of workers. He also supported the cause of the peasants of Kheda against the collection of land revenue after the crops failed. These three events brought Gandhi into the limelight. Gandhi’s weapons of Satyagraha, Non-Violence, and truth, proved to be effective in attaining the purpose.

Gandhi and his Mass Movement: 

In January 1919, the British government passed the Rowlatt Act. This act authorized the government to imprison any person without trial and conviction in a court of law. This was in the course of the policy of the government of India to suppress the revolutionaries. Mahatma Gandhi declared a satyagraha campaign and formed a Satyagraha Sabha whose members pledged to disobey the act non violently. Meanwhile, Gandhi suspended the movement due to violence at some places. It brought no success, but it certainly taught people to make peaceful sacrifices for the nation.

Gandhi mobilized people from all over India during the Civil Disobedience movement (Salt Satyagraha) of 1930, Gandhi knew that salt was of vital importance to every section of society and tax on it impacts them. Such a step (Salt Satyagraha) from Gandhi helped to give a different direction to the movement.

Aroused Self Confidence of the people:

After the entry of Gandhi into national politics, India witnessed three victories in the year 1917-18 at Champaran, Kheda, and Ahmedabad. This regained the lost confidence of the Indians and made them feel they could also fight for their freedom without the help of modern arms and ammunition.

Inspired by nationalist feeling:

The Gandhian movement inspired nationalist feelings among the people. During the time of the non-cooperation movement, people boycotted schools and colleges and represented the interests of the nation. It united people from all sections to fight for India’s Independence. He led a non-violent civil disobedience movement against the Britisher’s injustice meted at the Indians. The active participation of the people inculcated nationalist feelings among the people.

Hindu Muslim unity:

Gandhian phase led to emphasis on Hindus-Muslims Unity. He very well knew that India could not attain freedom without the unity of Hindus-Muslims. Gandhi viewed the Khilafat movement as a golden opportunity for bringing Hindus and Muslims together on the national front. In order to involve the Muslims in the freedom struggle, Gandhi joined the national movement with the non-cooperation movement. Gandhi always laid stress on communal harmony.

Involvement of different groups of people:

Gandhi knew that India cannot attain freedom without the involvement and support of every section of society. Before the involvement of Gandhi, the movement was just confined to Congress-dominated people but later the movement witnessed different sections of the society.

Lower class: Gandhi very well knew the importance of the Harijans or dalit person in the freedom movement of India. He always spoke of the upliftment of the Harijans. In 1932, he founded an organization to eradicate Untouchability to improve the social condition of the lower and backward classes.

Women: Even though India was a very patriarchal society, Gandhian movements played an important role in organizing women’s social, economic, and political spheres. The national movement during the Gandhian phase empowered women to come forward. Women took an active part in the non-cooperation and civil disobedience movements. Women played a unique role in promoting Khadi, such as Gandhi’s manufacturing program, which ended the anarchy. Anasuya Sarabhai accompanied Gandhi on his travels and took an active part in the 1918 strike on the textile industry in Ahmedabad. Sarojini Naidu Led the raid on the Dharasana salt factory during the Civil Disobedience Movement after Gandhi’s arrest.

Business Class: Gandhian phase witnessed the involvement of the business class in the movement. He emphasized the development of cottage and village industries. It was seen that these cottage industries were on the rise and people became more self-reliant. This helped the Indians be less dependent on imports from other countries and the Britishers.

Ultimately, it can be said that the Gandhian movement helped India attain freedom. Gandhi through his nonviolent method shook the foundation of British rule and defeated the great empire.

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