Mohandas Gandhi is a prominent figure in the history of India and the world. He was one of the major contributor to the rise of the concept of civil disobedience and he was one of the first leaders, who had used this concept in real life and reached a tremendous success. In fact, it was Mohandas Gandhi, who brought India to independence. Remarkably, he brought his country to independence using non-violent means. Such a way of gaining independence was virtually unthinkable before Gandhi, while after Gandhi non-violent means of political and social struggle. In such a way, Gandhi proved that the concept of social disobedience can bring positive effects and, more important, social disobedience can contribute to social progress. At any rate, Gandhi had managed to gain independence for his country and unite millions of people following him. In such a way, he raised the nation against British colonists and forced Britain to grant India independence under the enormous public pressure and civil disobedience in terms of India. No wonder, Indians called him the Father of the Nation because he laid the foundation to the new, independent Indian state opening the way to the new stage of development of India as an independent state. At the same time, his death became a real tragedy for the entire nation. All Indians, including not only his supporters but also his opponents, mourned on him because he was the leader that had changed the history of India forever, while, in a long-run perspective, it turned out that Mohandas Gandhi had changed the history of the world.
Leadership characteristics, traits and attributes
Mohandas Gandhi was a prominent leader but he was quite different from those leaders people were accustomed to. He was not a leader, whose power was grounded on the authoritarian methods of leadership. He did not has great physical power or military support to make people respect him out of sheer fear like many dictators did and still do. He did not had the power the British monarch ruling India had but still Gandhi was more respected by Indians than any other political leader could be in that time. In such a way, he managed to become a true leader of India, even though he had no formal authority but the support of Indians was strong enough to grant him with informal authority. The leadership of Gandhi was rather informal than formal but Gandhi was the most popular leader of his time, who brought India to independence and helped Indians to grow conscious of their rights and liberties and taught people to learn effective but non-violent methods of struggle.
Charisma, nonviolence and patriotism along with devotedness to universal values were the major attributed of Gandhi and his leadership style. Gandhi developed his own philosophy, which he called ahimsa or total non-violence, which became the main tool of his struggle. In this regard, Mohandas Gandhi became the leader, who taught his people new way of protecting their rights, liberties and goals to re-establish justice in the society.
Charisma of Mohandas Gandhi
In fact, charisma of Mohandas Gandhi was one of the major attributes of his leadership. Mohandas Gandhi seemed to be on ordinary, simple person. He wore traditional Indian clothes, lived in regular community, and at ordinary food as other average Indians did. At the same time, he undertook numerous long fasts as means of spiritual purification and as the means of social protest. For instance, he was repeatedly imprisoned for his views and protests but Gandhi had never given in and he carried on using his non-violent means of protests, among which his fasts were just a few of effective methods of social disobedience. He headed marches and protests of Indians, who struggled for their rights and for the liberation of their motherland. Gandhi’s example inspired many people and this is how his charisma grew in power because he became a renowned leader respected by millions of Indian people.
Charisma was an essential attribute of Mohandas Gandhi because he had managed to unite millions of people and lead them to consistent changes in India. In fact, he made people believe him and follow his lead. As a result, his ideas spread nationwide and, later, worldwide, that made him a prominent world leader. At the same time, his charisma was different from charisma of many other leaders of his time. His charisma was grounded on his simplicity and closeness to average people. He was just one of millions of Indians, who attempted to teach his nation how to gain freedom, independence and basic human rights and liberties. His charisma helped Gandhi to become the Father of the Nation but his ultimate goal was not the leadership itself but the independence of India and spreading his philosophy to help people to lead a better life.
Nonviolence as a key attribute of Mohandas Gandhi
Non-violence was the key attribute of Mohandas Gandhi’s philosophy. He started to implement the method of non-violent struggle since his early confrontation with the British authorities. In this respect, it is worthy of mention the fact that the reforms of the late 19th – early 20th century were initiated not only as the free will of British administration in India but it was also a response of the colonial power to the growing social tension. The discriminatory policy of British authorities and deterioration of economic situation resulted in the dramatic deterioration of the position of the local population. The official policy of exclusiveness and isolationism led to the creation of a system which seemed to be as strong as the caste system traditional to India. In such a situation, the native population of India became more and more dissatisfied with the British racial or, it is even possible to say, racist policy which affected all spheres of life and was particularly offensive in economic, political, socio-cultural and religious domains.
In response to the discriminatory policy of the official authorities of India, the native population of the country started to develop their own movements which targeted at the change of the current situation and the improvement of the position of Indians in their native country. It is necessary to underline that the restrictive policy of British authorities, which practically excluded Indians from political and socio-economic life of their country, led to the logical response of Indians which resulted in the growing Indian nationalism (Seal 319). On realizing the injustice of the official policy, Indian radicals started to spread their ideas using rhetoric concerning racial superiority and inequality.
Probably, if the radical nationalist ideas became really widely spread and there was no alternative, the social protest against colonial oppressors would probably resulted in a military conflict between the British and Indians. However, due to the ideas and activities of Mahatma Gandhi the opposition between the native population of India and colonizers was realized in a different and totally new way preventing the country from a bloody conflict which could easily broke out, if there were no other alternatives to change the situation in India for better.
In this respect, it should be said that Mohandas Gandhi started to spread his ideas and develop his civil rights movement when he had already got some experience in South Africa where he participated in the protection of rights of Indian community in the SAR. Symbolically, he, as well as many other leaders of Indian civil rights and liberating movements, was educated in Great Britain. However, unlike Indian nationalism, who started to spread their ideas in the late 19th – early 20th century radicalizing the population of India, rejected violent methods of struggle. Instead, he insisted on the necessity of using social disobedience as the major method of the struggle (Lorenzen 621). The effectiveness of his method of the struggle for human rights had been demonstrated when Gandhi organized poor farmers and laborers to protest against oppressive taxation and discrimination. It was worthy of mention that it was Gandhi who led Indians in the famous disobedience of the salt tax on the 400 kilometer Dandi Salt March in 1930 (Bondurant 255). In fact, eventually, Mohandas Gandhi civil right movement led India to independence, while in the early 20th century he provided Indians with really effective methods of the struggle against racial discrimination.
Patriotism and devotedness to universal values
At first glance, the ultimate goal of Gandhi was the independence of India but his philosophy and non-violent methods of struggle had long-run effects, which influenced the emergence of the concept of non-violence worldwide, while non-violent means of struggle became an effective tool used by different civil rights movements. In fact, Gandhi’s leadership encouraged the rise of civil rights movement worldwide because Gandhi’s values were truly universal, while his methods proved that people can gain their rights and liberties through civil disobedience, using non-violent methods of struggle.
Obviously, Gandhi was a true patriot of his country. He was ready to sacrifice his life for the sake of his country. He passed through hardships to help Indian people to set them free from the colonialism of Great Britain. Eventually, he led his people to independence and became the true leader of the nation.
At the same time, his views were not limited to the liberation of India solely. Early in his life, he took an active part in the liberation movement in South Africa, where he started to implement methods of non-violent struggle. He recruited people to the ambulance corps, where he served. He intentionally served in the ambulance corps and recruited people because this corps aimed at saving life of people instead of killing them as other corps did. In such a way, Gandhi manifested his philosophy of non-violence, which became the milestone of his political activities in India and which spread worldwide becoming the milestone of ideology of many civil rights movements.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that Mohandas Gandhi was a prominent leader, who promoted the idea of the non-violence as the major tool of struggle of people for their rights and liberties. Mohandas Gandhi had managed to apply successfully non-violence as the major tool of struggle to reach social progress. He became the leader of Indian people and Indians treated him as the Father of the Nation because he taught them to use non-violent means to gain independence of India. However, Gandhi’s contribution was more significant than mere independence of India. He used his charisma and patriotism to lead people toward desirable ends, toward independence and the possibility to carry on social progressing using non-violent means. In such a way, he paved the way to the peaceful, non-violent struggle of people for their rights, liberties, and better life not only in India but also in other countries. Gandhi became the leader, who had changed the history of the world and encouraged the rise of many civil rights movements using non-violent methods of struggle.
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