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"I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and non-violence are as old as the hills." Mahatma Gandhi believed that non-violence requires more courage and dedication than violence. Gandhi used this technique first in South Africa, and began to practice a policy of passive resistance towards the South African authorities. Gandhi organized campaigns and demonstrations which supported his non-violent beliefs. His methods included beliefs consisted of a method of direct social action based upon principles of courage, non-violence, and truth, which lead to his success in protecting the rights of the South African Indian community. Gandhi directly experienced racial tensions in South Africa when he was requested to take off his turban by the European magistrate. Appalled at this request, Gandhi ended up leaving the courtroom. Another incident that also left Gandhi horrified was when he was kicked out of a first-class railway and was refused accommodation at hotels because of his ethnicity. This striking racial tension inspired him to stay in South Africa and fight for the rights of the Indian people. This movement lasted several years, but the Indians never gave up hope, and neither did Gandhi. Indians sacrificed their jobs and lives for this movement risking conviction, public flogging and death. Gandhi's movement brought attention to the South African government and made them appear ruthless. Due to the bad publicity, the government had no choice but to negotiate with Gandhi regarding his demands. Gandhi's successes did not last long in South Africa but through his achievements, he was able to create a framework for his future work in India.
By the word 'non-violence' Gandhi did not mean mere ignorance of the injustices that came upon the people. Gandhi's policy of non-cooperation and peaceful disobedience was one that proved very difficult to follow through with. When, in 1919, Parliament passed the Rowlatt Act which, extended wartime measures, and gave the Indian colonial authorities emergency powers over Indians to deal with rebellious activities, Gandhi's non-violence tactics became popular and spread all throughout India, attracting millions of supporters. A demonstration against the Rowlatt Act was held in Amritsar and resulted in the massacre of Indians by British soldiers. The crowd was filled with unarmed men, women and children of all ages, and as the speech was being conducted gunfire broke out in the square. Within ten minutes, the firing stopped, and approximately three hundred and eighty civilians were dead another twelve hundred badly were wounded. News of the tragedy spread throughout India overnight, and the massacre at Amritsar was to become the main impetus to end British rule in India. Gandhi, as well as the vast majority of Indians, was now convinced that the problems had to be ended rather than mended. Gandhi's response to the catastrophe at Amritsar was described in his letter to the Viceroy's Private Secretary:
... In the place I have made my abode I find utter lawlessness bordering almost on bolshevism. Englishmen and women have found it necessary to leave their bungalows and to confine themselves to a few well-guarded houses. It is a matter of the deepest humiliation and regret for me. I see that I overcalculated the measure of permeation of satyagraha amongst the people. I underrated the power of hatred and ill will. My faith in satyagraha remains undiminished, but I am only a poor creature just as liable to err as any other. I am correcting the error. I have somewhat retraced my steps for the time being ... My satyagraha ... will, at the present moment, be directed against my own countrymen.
Mahatma Gandhi led a protest against these Rowlatt Acts. It was unethical for British troops to open fire on a group of non-violent protestors, resulting in many causalities. Gandhi felt responsible for these deaths and injuries but he never felt that his satyagraha, or truth force movement, was a failure, he felt that the people only failed to understand what the movement meant. Gandhi strived to explain to the people the meaning of satyagraha as a moral force weapon. At this time, the Amritsar massacre prompted the British to impose martial law, thereby taking away civil rights and enforcing military action. Gandhi did everything to help the people through these rough times by writing letters to the people regarding action taken by the British. Gandhi also tries helping the people by persuading the British to be merciful towards the Indians:
...In response to my invitation, money has begun to pour in, and thousands have observed the fast. I have already written to the Collector, enquiring about the names and addresses of the families of Englishmen who have lost thei
Quotes talked about in this paper
Terminology mentioned in this research paper
martial law, Indian,
Television mentioned in this research paper
Names mentioned in this paper
Gandhi, the only colonist leader, Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein, F.W. De Klerk, khadr, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo,
Organizations referenced in this essay
Indians, the South African Native National Congress, South African government, British government, Pan African Congress, Parliament, PAC, Youth League,
Locations referenced in this paper
South Africa, Amritsar, England, Europe, Japan,
Keywords included in this paper
Gandhi, South Africa, africans, South African, Nelson Mandela, India, his people, rowlatt acts, non violence, African National Congress, World War II, non white, British government, British rule, passive resistance, Einstein, Amritsar, Pan African, civil rights, non violent, martial law, satyagraha, militant group, the british government, police, boycotting, anti apartheid movement, freedom movement, weapon, Sharpeville massacre, government agencies, Albert Einstein, Mahatma, united force, free india, public flogging, racial, white supremacy, main, social action, civil disobedience, extreme poverty, public schools, manufactured goods, Economic independence, one being, Oliver Tambo, war effort, inferior position, present moment,