Guest Author - Preena Deepak
Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Indian Nation was one of India’s greatest leaders. He was born on 2nd October 1869 in Porbander, Gujarat. As a young lad of 13, Gandhiji was married to Kasturba, a child marriage which was common practice during his time. He pursued education in law and worked as a barrister for several years in South Africa, where he protested against apartheid. His concepts on non violence evolved during his time here.
After returning to India, Gandhiji began to take leadership in India’s struggle for freedom from British rulers. His philosophy of non violent protest against the British rulers won India’s independence in 1947. ‘Quit India movement’ and ‘Dandhi March’ are highlights of Gandhiji’s fight for independence.
Gandhiji worked for social reform in Indian society alongside his efforts to secure India’s independence. He condemned atrocities against women, child marriage and discrimination based on caste. He was the first to call lower caste Dalits as ‘Harijans’ meaning ‘children of God’.
On 30th January 1948, just five months after he secured Independence for the nation, Gandhiji was assassinated by a fanatic while attending a prayer meeting. His death was a huge blow to the young independent India which leaned heavily on his leadership.
Indians till today respect and admire Mahatma Gandhi for his inspiring role in building the country. Several memorials and museums have been set up to honor the Father of the Nation. His picture can be seen in all Indian currency notes.
Furthermore, India observes Gandhiji’s birthday as Gandhi Jayanti. This is a national holiday and all Government institutions, schools, colleges and offices remain closed. Respects to Gandhiji are paid at Raj Ghat, New Delhi where a memorial stands to his honor and also in other parts of the country. No meat is cut and consumed on Gandhi Jayanti to respect Gandhiji’s strict adherence to vegetarianism and his teachings of non violence.
Gandhiji’s ideas on non violence which he proved in India’s freedom struggle movement have been recognized across the globe and his birthday; 2nd October was declared the International Day of Non Violence by the United Nations.
Gandhiji’s whole life was characterized by a pursuit of truth, peace and non violence. However his dream for India after independence is one that was never fulfilled. Though he may now smile to see the uplifted status of Indian women, he will certainly frown at the corruption, caste violence and muddy politics that have cast a firm imprint on Independent India.
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