Yentha’s weekly series on historical personalities - those who now live as 'lifeless' statues in various parts of the capital city. Here comes the eleventh in the series.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi - 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948
The Father of the Nation, known the world over as 'Mahatma' Gandhi, was born in an upper middle class family in Porbandar, Gujarat. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi grew up as an average child; one of his school terminal reports states him as 'good at English, fair in Arithmetic and poor in Geography; conduct very good, bad hand writing'. After studying Law from the University College, London, Gandhi failed in his attempts to establish a practice because he was too shy to speak up in court. And so he couldn't refuse the year long contract from Dada Abdulla and Co. to a post in South Africa in 1893.
Being victimised in the racial discrimination prevalent in South Africa against the Indian community transformed Gandhi from a shy young man to a strong leader who moulded the entire community into one unified force. Realizing that the British Empire couldn't be challenged in terms of military might, Gandhi evolved the new concept of Satyagraha, or non-violent protests. Returning to India in 1915, he joined the Indian National Congress and became its leader in 1920. He insisted on complete non-violence in the struggle for independence. Mohammed Ali Jinnah called it 'an extremist movement which has struck the imagination mostly of the inexperienced youth, the ignorant and the illiterate'. In other words, Gandhi succeeded in capturing the imagination of the vast majority of the Indian population.
He launched the non-cooperation movement against the British and included Swadeshi Policy into his principles, which called for the boycott of foreign made goods. He made the 400km DandiSalt March against the British imposed salt tax in the year 1930. Intensifying his stand for an independent India, he called for the British to 'Quit India' during the Second World War period, which eventually became the most forcible movement in the history of the Indian struggle for independence. Although he won the nation its freedom in 1947, he could not prevent the country being divided into two separate states based on religion. He was assassinated by Nathuram Vinayak Godse on 30 January, 1948 for his ‘partiality to Indian Muslims'.
His birthday, 2 October, is commemorated around the world as the International Day of Non-Violence.
Statue unveiled by Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, on September 3, 2005.