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Video:Profile of Mohandas Gandhi

with Michael Sanchez

Mohandas Gandhi successfully saw the liberation of India through peaceful protest and non-violence. Get a brief history of Indian civil leader and activist Mohandes Gandhi in this history video from About.com.See Transcript

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Transcript:Profile of Mohandas Gandhi

Hello, I'm Michael Sanchez, for About.com. Today we'll be learning about Indian civil rights leader and activist Mohandas Gandhi. 

Gandhi's Early Life

Mohandas Gandhi was born on October 2nd 1869 in Porbandar, India. Though a mediocre student, Gandhi's parents urged him to study law and in 1888 he traveled to London to attend University College London to train as a barrister.

In London he joined The Vegetarian Society and was subsequently introduced to the Bhagavad Gita, spurning a previously non-existant interest in religious thought. Upon returning to India in 1891, Gandhi's attempts at establishing a law practice proved unfruitful and in 1893 accepted a year-long contract from a firm in South Africa. It was in Africa that Gandhi first suffered racial discrimination, opening his eyes to the social and civil injustices Indians faced under the British Empire.

Gandhi Gets Involved in Indian Rights

After his contract ended, Gandhi stayed in South Africa to help organize the Indian community into a political force by forming the Natal Indian Congress in 1894. In 1907, Britain introduced the Black Act, a new law requiring all Indians to be fingerprinted and carry registration documents with them at all times. It was during this time that Gandhi began to organize and implement Satyagraha, a method of non-violent protest, in which Indians engaged in peaceful resistance, refusing fingerprinting, burning registration documents and picketing government offices.

Many protesters, including Gandhi, were beaten and arrested causing public outcry over the harsh treatment of protesters. The government finally repealed the law in 1914, proving Gandhi's non-violent tactics successful. Upon returning to India in 1915, Gandhi soon joined the Indian National Congress and by 1920 took leadership, advocating non-cooperation and peaceful resistance towards independence from Britain.

Ghandi Protests the Salt Tax

In 1921, he urged Indians to boycott foreign-made products in order to liberate themselves from dependence on foreign countries, specifically Britain. Gandhi was arrested for sedition in 1922 and sentenced to 6 years in prison but was released two years later for an appendicitis operation.

In 1931 Gandhi launched a protest of the British salt tax and along with thousands of Indians marched 240 miles to the coast where he made a presentation of breaking the law by picking up a piece of salt and urging others to do the same. The British responded by imprisoning 60,000 people, including Gandhi. Upon his release in 1934, Gandhi resigned from congress and dedicated his time to the liberation of India and it's people.

Ghandi and WWII 

When Britain declared war on Germany in 1939 without consulting the Indian Congress Gandhi opposed it and demanded India's independence via the "Quit India" campaign, declaring that India could not be party to a war in favor of democracy when India itself was denied democratic freedom. The British responded by imprisoning Gandhi, along with the rest of congress, in 1942.

Ghandi and Indian Independence

Following a severe attack of malaria two years later, Gandhi was released only to find his country in political and religious turmoil. Fearing a civil war, Britain finally granted independence to India on August 15th 1947 sectioning off the new Muslim nation of Pakistan in the northwest of India in the process. The ensuing shift of millions of Hindu and Muslim refugees to their respective countries led to riots, illness, exposure and dehydration resulting in over 500,000 deaths.

Gandhi, who had used fasting as a tool of protest in the past, declared he would not eat again until he saw clear plans to stop the violence. As someone revered by all of India, including Muslims and Hindus, both sides worked together to establish peace, ending Gandhi's fast in just five days. On January 30th 1948, Gandhi was shot and killed by an assassin on the way to a prayer meeting. According to Hindu tradition his ashes were scattered at the Sangam at Allabahad, India.

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