Bring out the role of Gandhi in the struggle for India’s independence.
The struggle for India’s independence is replete with outstanding contributions from various luminary nationalist leaders. The contributions of leaders like Jawahar Lal Nehru, Gopal Krishan Gokhale, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Lala Lajpat Rai, etc have been laudable. But if one were asked to name a leader who undisputedly contributed the most, the name of Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi would undoubtedly be at the apex. Before he came to the Indian scene in 1915-16, the nationalist movement was progressing very slowly. There was no leader with the mass appeal and the nationalists were sharply divided in two groups i.e. the moderates and the extremists. The methods adopted by the pre-Gandhi nationalists were too democratic to have any material effect on the colonial power ruling the country.
The advent of Gandhi changed the very complexion of the nationalist movement. His methods included the involvement of people in a big way and adoption of non-violent methods of agitation.
Gandhi’s role was primarily that of a leader who identified himself with the Indian masses. He gradually emerged as a natural leader of the masses and took complete control of the movement against the imperialist force. It was mainly after the British became aware of the strong character of Gandhi and complete involvement of the masses in the Movement that they finally decided to quit India in the year 1947.
The methods used by Gandhi can be broadly classified into the following categories:
(a) Involvement of Masses: Prior to Gandhi, the nationalist movement was being run by a handful of intellectuals and the masses were neither involved nor adequately informed of the developments of the nationalist movement. This trend was reversed after Gandhi came on the national scene.
(b) Non-Violence: One of the important Gandhian methods was the adoption of complete non-violence during all his satyagrahas and movements. He knew that the poor Indians could not match the might of the British government and adoption of any violent means would only result in more casualties on the Indian side.
(c) Truthfulness: Just like non-violence, truthfulness was the hallmark of Gandhi’s personality and methods. He not only preached it but also practiced absolute truthfulness and sincerity. Truthfulness not only gave him the inner strength to fight the mighty British but also convinced the masses of his honest and sincere intentions.
(d) Non-cooperation and Satyagraha: One of the most common methods used by Gandhi was non-cooperation with the civil authorities and Satyagraha. Satyagraha, as explained by Gandhi himself, was different from the passive resistance and was fearless agitation based on the principles of non-cooperation, fearlessness and truthfulness. These three methods were employed by Gandhi to bend the civil authorities more than once and to accept the genuine demands of the Indian people.