India had struggled for its independence from 1858 to 1947. The British had forced themselves into India which brought economic and social alterations to every day life; destroying traditional Indian values. During the early 1920s Mohandas Gandhi began leading nonviolent resistances against European rule, this method was known as Satyagraha. Gandhi claimed the adoration of India’s people through his philosophies and strong nationalism. Many participated in his nonviolent resistances, and by 1947 the British released India from its grasp. Shortly after India’s achievement of independence, Gandhi was assassinated.
After his death, India divided into several countries; India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan; each facing infinite struggles. Mohandas Gandhi had been very effective in unifying India, however, his influence did not last. Mohandas Gandhi advocated equality in his country. India had segregated many groups into castes, gender, and religion. In the caste system, those of a lower rank were treated as lesser humans. “To say that a single human being, because of his birth, becomes an untouchable, unapproachable, or invisible, is to deny God” (Document 4).
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Gandhi called for better treatment of the untouchables, resulting in members of multiple caste ranks to respect and follow him. Not only did he wish to bring justice to the caste system, but he also desired more respect towards women. “Intellectually, mentally, and spiritually, a woman is equivalent to a male and she can participate in every activity” (Document 11). Gandhi’s fairness had resulted in more opportunities for women such as reserved government positions. “The 73rd Amendment to the Indian Constitution empowered rural women in 1993 by reserving one third of seats in the Panchayatas” (Document 12).
Document 6 demonstrates Gandhi’s respect for other religions. Mohandas Gandhi included prayers from other religions, even though he was brought up as a Hindu. He embraced Christian teachings and even added an Islamic Peace Prayer to his daily prayer practice. Mohandas Gandhi was accepting of people born into diverse caste ranks, different genders, and various faiths. His views on equality had won the hearts of many Indians; his ideals were vital instruments in uniting India under one cause and one leader. As Mohandas Gandhi’s influence increased, so did his number of followers.
Gandhi had gained such an enormous amount of authority; he was able to lead a number of successful, nonviolent demonstrations. For instance, “On May 20, as part of the campaign against the salt tax, 2,500 satyagrahi followers planned to raid the salt works at Dharasana, 150 miles north of Bombay” (Document 10). Another demonstration was the Salt March, in which there was an estimated 50,000 Indians joined and were arrested. The Salt March of 1930 is just a single example of Mohandas Gandhi’s unrivaled power in India. His appeal to India’s people had endangered the ruling position the British Parliament held in India.
Gandhi and the Indian National Congress set up a “Quit India” movement in which Indians would refuse to cooperate with the British. “The British saw that the success of ‘non-cooperation’ would paralyze their administration” (Document 8). Under his and the Indian National Congress’ influence, India was able to obtain independence after nearly a century of struggle. “We end today a period of ill-fortune and India discovers herself again” (Document 2). This document describes the extreme joy of being independent from the perspective of an Indian civilian and politician, Jawaharlal Nehru.
India becoming self-ruled owes a fair amount of credit to Mohandas Gandhi. He was able to unite the people and resist British rule. After being released from Great Britain’s rule, India itself had become divided. The partition was perhaps due to the absence of Gandhi’s leadership. Opposing religious groups had demanded their own independent nations. Conflicts between Hindus and Muslims led to the formation of an East and West Pakistan, separate from India. Furthermore, East and West Pakistan broke into a civil war; resulting in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Gandhi had a great influence over India when he was living, but he did not prepare India to remain united once they obtained their independence. Gandhi unified his country, but his effectiveness was brief. “Partition occasioned a mass movement of Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs who found themselves on the ‘wrong’ side of the new international boundaries” (Document 13). Gandhi was indeed effective at unifying the nation when it came to separating from Britain, but shortly after that, everything had fallen apart because India wasn’t stable.
In conclusion, Mohandas Gandhi had been very effective in unifying India; however his influence did not last. Gandhi had brought India’s people together for independence, but he was unable to entirely unite the different ethnic and religious groups of India. One may see the dramatic effects Gandhi had on India; he encouraged equality and led his people in peaceful rebellions against Britain. However, shortly after their emancipation, fighting among Indians broke out and as a result, several separate countries were formed. Although India’s unity was short-lived, Mohandas Gandhi had a powerful effect in joining India’s people.