Answered: In what way did Mahatma Gandhi transform the nature of Indian freedom struggle? Discuss.

Gandhiji is the one single individual that we often identify with making of India as a nation. Historian Chandra Devanesan has remarked South Africa as the making of ‘Mahatma’ and it was in South Africa where he forged the distinctive technique of non-violent protests known as Satyagraha, which protected religious harmony as well as altered opposed to discriminatory caste system which is the basis for movement.

  • He transformed the nature of national movement by giving an all India character to it. Eg: Through Swadeshi movement of 1905-07 he greatly appealed the middle class and All India Character can be alliterated from trio Leaders ‘Lal, Bal, Pal’
  • With his opening speech at BHU he for the first time highlighted the contrast between richly dechecked noblemen and millions of poor, thus reminding about the majority of the population who were earlier under represented.
  • Earlier national movement was just a elite phenomenon but with the coming of Gandhi it attracted Indian people as a whole. Eg: Taking up peasants issue in Champaran, working on the concerns of mill workers of KhedaGandhiji showed deep sympathy to the poor.
  • With the call of campaign against Rowlatt Act Gandhiji successfully used ‘Non-cooperation’ which entailed denial, renunciation and self discipline for the fight against British rule.
  • By collectively bringing the two major religious communities (Hindus and Muslims) during Khilafat movement led to the involvement of all sections of society. With the withdrawal of movement with violence at ChauriChoraGandhiji brought the idea of moral values into the movement which were later reflected in the constitution.
  • During the next phase Gandhi being identified as Mahatma was reflected in his Dhoti along with spinning of chakra he tried to break the traditional boundaries between caste system, between manual and mental work, made machinery a source of service to the poor.
  • During the entire movement he was seen as a savior to the mass. The success of the movement not only depends on his mass appeal but also his careful organization.Eg: Setting up PrajaMandals, provincial councils on linguistic basis.
  • He transformed the movement by engaging all social groups. Eg: Along with peasants, rich industrialists also openly supported the national movement. His focus on social reform and constructive work also aided the economic activity, a move towards self-sustainable economy.
  • Speaking about the rights of the workers Gandhiji could clearly manifest people’s discontent against British rule. Eg: Dandi march-right of people to enjoy the fruits of their toil (against State monopoly over salt production).
  • Persuasion, pressure and negotiations like Round Table Conferences were his tools unlike a sense of absolute abstinence that was practiced by extremists.
  • As evident from the Quit India movement even after arresting the leaders after he raised the slogans as Do or Die the movement was successful taken forward shows the commitment and involvement of people and Gandhiji’s craftsmanship in successful steering the movement.

Thus Gandhi with his emphasis of means towards ends successfully led the national movement whose values are reflected in the constitution and evident with the successful running of the Indian democracy.


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