I am humbled that most people regard me as one of the most renowned leaders of the world. I hope that several years after my demise, my name will still continue to dominate the books of colonial history in India. My role as a defender of poor and suppressed people’s rights did not begin with my return to India in 1915. Recalling my time back in South Africa, I discovered the plight of my people in the British-ruled province of Natal. Experiencing firsthand the discrimination that the people faced on the basis of race, I was provoked into advocating for the equal rights of all people. I spent about two decades working to improve the rights of Indian people in South Africa. I took time to learn more about their grievances, studied the law, drafted letters to relevant authorities, and planned petitions. On 22nd May 1894, I formed the Natal Indian Congress (NIC). In spite of the fact that the NIC commenced as an organization for affluent Indians, I worked tirelessly to increase its membership across all social castes. I became popular for his activism and his acts were even publicized by newspapers articles back home in India. Within a very short duration of time, I had ascended to become a leader of the Indian people in South Africa.
I acknowledge that my elevation from a non-public figure to a spiritual, social, political leader and mentor who inspired the birth of a new and independent India is an incredible individual accomplishment. When I went back to India in 1915 for the final time, I understood that it was important for me to familiarize with the prevailing political conditions in the country. This shows that I was a tactical and patient person. At this period of time, my people were suffering under the oppressive and suppressive reign of the British imperialists turned colonialists. The people were longing for a leader who would equip them with weapons to fight against their colonial masters.
I have always valued human life. In spite of the use of excessive use of force against my people, I advocated for the embracing of peaceful strategies to deal with the grievances of my people under the domineering regime of the British colonial masters. I organized protests by farmers, peasants and urban workers against prejudice and enforcement of unfair taxes on land. In addition, I also started civil action through the formation of civil rights movements. In 1919, I led the people against the infamous Rowlatt Acts. This created a huge entry for me into the national limelight as an influential politician. This did not impress the British colonialists. However, I was relentless in my course. I believed that the welfare of all people living in India could only be improved by abolishing the biased laws that the British colonialists imposed on the people.
Many people have said that I am an incredibly saintly person. I can relate this attribute to the fact that I am a highly spiritual man. The hope of a free and fair country is an idea that I advocated for not just for India, but the rest of the world. This belief that I treasure so much is deep-rooted in religious pluralism. My good-hearted nature is illustrated by the fact that I did not agree that the unjustified killing of my people by the colonialists should have been retaliated by a similar kind of action. When numerous unarmed Indians were massacred in Punjab, I revealed my annoyance over the occurrence by compiling a report about the violent incident. Furthermore, I corroborated this by establishing movements of non-cooperation with the repressive British regime. As an alternative, I also suggested that Indians were supposed to gain knowledge and skill to enable them become self-dependent. This was because I strongly believe that autonomy is the pathway to real self-independence.
In February 1922, enraged people took matters into their own hands and killed many Indian policemen in the process. This incident took place in Chauri Chaura. Consequently, I was detained, tried and jailed for a period of six years over the catastrophic event. During my trial, I pleaded against the charges presented against me by the prosecution. I responded by using my remarkable oratory skills to make a passionate and well-organized denunciation of the tyrannical British era. However, owing to deteriorating health, I was released from confinement in 1925. The British were cautious of the fact that the demise of such a national hero in their hands could make the people to revolt against their rule. Therefore, it was more beneficial for them to have me out of jail because I at least advocated for non-violent means of addressing the issues of the people. Nonetheless, deteriorating health did not act as a barrier to my attempt to attain a country that was just socially, economically and politically.
Almost instantaneously after regaining my freedom, I redirected my focus on a job to curb the increasing religious unrest that existed between the Muslims and the majority Hindu faithful. The British had always benefited from their divide and rule strategy. By dividing the people on the basis of religious differences, it would be impossible for them to fight against their rule unanimously. According to me, it would be more effective to resist colonial oppression as a united people rather than as a divided one. While I accepted that the Hindu and Muslim were two different religious groups, I ardently rejected that this should remain a reason for division among the people. I used my literary skills to dispute that the Indian people were instead encountering problems such as low literacy levels, poor sanitation and lack of employment that had to be urgently addressed. This illustrated my journalistic skills- a true indication of my dynamic participation in influencing the mentality of the people through the use of literary works.
Personally, I have learnt a lot of things during my freedom wars. To start with, I believe that social leadership is not an opportunity to exercise power over other people in the society. On the contrary, I view it as a personal decision and commitment to serve people and work together with them to attain a shared goal or objective for the greater good of the society. Most often, the journey towards attaining social justness and fairness is met by forces of opposition. There are those parties which are never amused when calls for social equity are raised. Such parties usually comprise of a few individuals who benefit from the existing set up at the expense of the suffering of so many innocent people. Social problems in the society often arise as a result of economic and political oppression within the society. I believe these are evidently very powerful forces to reckon. Many at times, people with political and economic power use it to suppress the less privileged in society.
In conclusion, I believe leaders are bestowed upon them the responsibility to set and achieve the aspirations of their people. As a successful leader, I have inspired and motivated the people to willingly pursue shared goals and objectives. It is obvious that a leader is solely responsible for steering the people towards a desired future. Good leaders rise above their weaknesses and instead use their strengths to take up the challenge to serve their people. Therefore, I consider myself to be a social leader.”
Allen, Douglas. Mahatma Gandhi. London: Reaktion Books, 2011. Print.
Rosenberg, Jeniffer. "Gandhi - Biography of Mahatma Gandhi." About.com 20th Century History. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.