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Mahatma Gandhi's Biography

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Mahatma Gandhi was born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in Porbandar, Kathiawar on October 2, 1869, into the Vaishya, or trading caste.

On January 30, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, in Delhi by a group of Hindus angered at Gandhi's approach to the creation of Pakistan.

Mahatma Gandhi's peaceful campaign was instrumental in bringing about the end of British rule in India in 1947.

In 1883, a very young Mahatma, which means 'great soul', married Kasturbai.

At 19, Mahatma Gandhi went to England to study law and qualified as a barrister. He returned to Bombay in 1892.

In April 1893 Mahatma Gandhi left for South Africa, where he was to stay for 20 years with just a couple of brief returns to India. He founded the Natal Indian Congress to agitate for Indian rights in 1894.

In 1903, Gandhi was enrolled as Attorney of Supreme Court of Transvaal.

In 1906, Mahatma Gandhi declared his lack of interest in worldly goods and took a vow of celibacy. He already had four sons.

When the first world war broke out Gandhi came to Britain to organise an Indian ambulance corps, but was taken ill and returned to India. Gandhi had previously done ambulance work for the British in the Boer War.

In 1919, Gandhi became a leader in the newly-formed Indian National Congress party. In September, 1920, Gandhi pursued his campaign for home rule by launching a campaign of non-cooperation with the British authorities.

This led to Gandhi's first imprisonment in India, from 1922-1924. In South Africa, back in 1908, he had been sentenced to two months imprisonment for his failure to leave Transvaal.

In 1930, Mahatma Gandhi launched a civil disobedience movement and protested against the British salt monopoly and the salt tax. Gandhi led thousands of Indians on a 200 mile march to the Indian ocean to make their own salt.

Again, he was imprisoned.

Progress seemed to be made in 1931 with the negotiation between Lord Irwin and Gandhi, but at the second Round-table Conference, the two sides, the British and the Indian independence movement, were poles apart.

At the beginning of the Second World War Gandhi demanded independence as India's price for helping Britain during the war.

In 1942 he was arrested for concurring in civil disobedience to obstruct the war effort and was released in May 1944. In February 1944, Gandhi's wife, Kasturbai, had died in prison.

After the second world war, Clement Attlee's Labour government was elected and in 1947 they gave India independence.

Trouble followed, however, with the partitioning of the country into India and Pakistan, as nearly one million people died in riots between Hindus and Muslims.

Additional sources of useful information on Gandhi are the BBC article: The life and death of Mahatma Gandhi, a Guardian special report on Mahatma Gandhi.


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