Gandhi The man who

He, though very shy, was an unremarkable student in his youth. He was thin and frail. He wore a simple loincloth and big, round glasses. He used to walk with cane and had a bit of a hunch. Nobody believed that he could be India’s founding father. That he could be the one who would struggle and protest along the road to independence. Well… he did. This selfless man was none other than Mahatma Gandhi.

April of 1893 is the date, Gandhi is on his way to Durban, South Africa. He realizes there is no gallivanting for Indians there. The immigrants face many bad things. Including discrimination and racial segregation. Even if an Indian makes a little mistake, he/she will be punished severely. Sometimes they are even killed.

Gandhi buys a ticket for a first-class train to Pretoria. He scurries towards the train making sure not to miss it. He swiftly enters the compartment and sits next to a white man. The man constantly glares at him and acts uncomfortable. When the ticket collector approaches, the white man complains to him that he doesn’t like Gandhi’s presence in the first-class compartment. Gandhi removes his ticket from his pocket and calmly hands it to the ticket collector, the ticket collector slowly glances over the ticket nodding occasionally. The collector informs the white man that Gandhi’s ticket is valid and that he’s allowed to stay. The white man doesn’t listen and keeps quibbling with the ticket collector. Soon it becomes a huge commotion, the white man starts scolding the ticket collector. The collector realizes the other passengers are panicking, so he stops fighting with the man and gently asks Gandhi to go back to economy class. Standing his ground, Gandhi doesn’t move. The ticket collector again warns him that the white man is bubbling with rage, but Gandhi still doesn’t move. The poor ticket collector has to forcibly throw him out of the train. Gandhi gets angry but doesn’t become violent. He knows he has been wronged. He knows there needs to be change.

This act makes him devote himself to fighting discrimination or as he says, fighting the “deep disease of color prejudice”. He says he will fight in India and South Africa. He also vows to “try, if possible, to root out the disease and suffer hardships in the process.” But what can he do? What will he do?

Years pass by, Gandhi does many things. He tries joining forces with the British, but they are still harsh with the Indians. He protests with many followers, but they all get thrown into jail.That doesn’t stop Gandhi. He starts a Satyagraha (truth and firmness) campaign. This calls for mass civil-disobedience. But again he and others are jailed after years of protesting. This has become so big,it is known internationally. But under pressure with so many protesters, the South Africans finally negotiate that if the protests stop, they will recognize Indian marriages and ban poll tax for Indians. Gandhi leaves South Africa to fight for India. One general writes,”The saint has left our shores, sincerely I hope forever.”

Gandhi joining forces with the British

India is still under the British rule. The British pass many unfair acts against the Indians. The Rowlatt act allows the British to imprison whoever they suspect of sedition without trial. This angers Gandhi, so he calls for another Satyagraha campaign. He tells the people this campaign will consist of peaceful strikes. Gandhi also warns them that they might be put into jail, so whoever is afraid of going to jail shouldn’t protest. But his followers are strong and almost all of them agree to do it. Soon after he starts, he and all the others are thrown into jail. But he is not going to stop. He quotes, “My ambition is no less than to convert the British people through non-violence and thus make them see the wrong they have done to India”.

Gandhi in prison with other political leaders

Gandhi has just been released from jail and he is on his way back to his house. Shortly a little kid comes up and tells him about the Salt Act that the British had released when he was in jail. Gandhi senses trouble coming. He immediately calls a meeting with the Congress. They converse with each other for a long time. Finally after their meeting, Gandhi announces his third Satyagraha campaign. He publicly speaks about this campaign. It will consist of a 390 km march to the Arabian Sea, where Gandhi and others will make salt and break the law.

Gandhi on his way to the Arabian Sea

On March 12, 1930 Gandhi sets out for his journey, only with a few following. They walk through many cities and villages, and everywhere people give them food, water and other treats. By they time he reach the sea, there are about a dozen times more people than when he started. When they reach, they all make salt and are jailed immediately. All around India protests and mass civil-disobedience start. 60,000 people are put in jail because they did not follow this act, including Gandhi. But Gandhi isn’t going stop persevering and fighting for freedom. This causes Gandhi to become a leading figure internationally. He is named Time magazine's “Man of the Year” 1930. When Gandhi is released, he starts the protests again. The British are cracking under pressure. Finally Gandhi makes an agreement with the British viceroy to stop the protests if the salt act is reversed. The viceroy discusses with other members of the British party. After a long discussion he seals the deal with Gandhi. Another one of Gandhi’s campaigns against the British is successful. He knows this is another stepping stone towards independence.

Gandhi making the salt

Later in 1942, Britain enrolls itself into the World War II. Gandhi immediately calls for a “Quit India” movement, which means he wants the British to instantly exit from the country because he can not afford to have more Indian lives lost. When the British hear this, they detain Gandhi, his wife and other leaders in the Aga Khan Palace, which is in modern day Pune. Three years later, the moment every Indian has been waiting for has come.

Quit India movement in motion

After three years of Gandhi being detained, the British leave India! Winston Churchill loses the election, so the troops are called back immediately. Gandhi, after many years of suffering, protesting, being jailed, has achieved what he’d set out to do. Get India freedom and let everyone have equal rights. He is victorious! Finally, it is August 15, 1947, India has become an independent country.

Gandhi’s legacy lives on long after he is assassinated in January 30, 1948. Satyagraha is famous worldwide as a philosophy for freedom struggles throughout the world. Gandhi’s selfless actions inspires human rights movements across the world. It includes those of some civil rights leaders. Like, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Malcolm X. The tiny man we knew is now the one strongest men we know. He has single-handedly pushed the British of India’s shoulders. Gandhi has not only caused change in India and South Africa, ….. but in the whole world!

Those who were inspired by Gandhi

Author's Note

I chose to write about Gandhi because he was the one who inspired me to keep persevering and never giving up. I am an Indian and I feel proud writing about how Gandhi fought for his rights and how people all over the world still follow his philosophies. If it wasn’t for him, India still may not have had independence. That’s why, to give this story sort of a hopeful/cheery mood, I removed some details the could make this story a sad one. For example, I didn’t include that Gandhi wasn’t doing well as a lawyer when he was young, that his first son and father died when he was 16, and that when he was detained in the Aga Khan Palace, his wife died in his arms.


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Viraj Agarwala


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