A leader in Civilization IV
|Introduced||The original Civilization IV|
|Fav. civic||Universal Suffrage|
Mohandas Gandhi (2 Oct. 1869-30 Jan. 1948) was the ideological leader of the Indian independence movement.
Mohandas Gandhi was born in an India under British rule. The son of the Prime Minister of the small state of Porbandar, in his youth Gandhi displayed none of the brilliance that would mark him as an adult; in fact the young man was a mediocre student and quite shy. He entered into an arranged marriage at the age of 13, the usual custom of the period. Apparently he did not enjoy the experience, later calling the practice "the cruel custom of child marriage."
Upon graduating from high school, Gandhi decided to follow his father into state service. To this end he decided he would go to England to study. His father having just died, Gandhi's mother did not want him to go, allowing him only after he had promised to abstain from wine, women, and meat. His caste looked upon traveling over the ocean as unclean; when he persisted they declared him an outcast. He learned much about England and the English during his time in that country, knowledge which was to prove invaluable later in his career. In 1891 Gandhi passed the bar and set sail for India. He attempted to set up practice in Bombay, but was unsuccessful and shortly relocated to South Africa.
Gandhi enjoyed more professional success in South Africa, but he was appalled by the racial bigotry and intolerance he found there. He would spend the next twenty years of his life in South Africa looking after the interests of all under-classes, not just the Indians. It was here that Gandhi began to refine and teach his philosophy of passive resistance. He was jailed several times for his resistance to the so-called "Black Acts," by which all non-whites were required to submit their fingerprints to the government. When the government ruled that only Christian marriages were legal in South Africa, Gandhi organized and led a massive non-violent protest, which eventually caused the government to back down. It was here that Gandhi acquired the title of "Mahatma," which means a person venerated for great knowledge and love of humanity.
In 1915, Gandhi returned to India. He shocked the world when he expressed his humiliation that he had to speak English in his native land, and he shocked the Indian nobility when he chided them for their ostentatiousness, telling them that they should hold their jewels and wealth in trust for their countrymen.
Thus Gandhi began his long campaign to free his country from English rule. He followed two paths - he shamed oppressors and he demanded sacrifice from his people. For the next thirty years Gandhi was to tirelessly exhort his people to passive resistance, leading strike after strike, march after march, fasting himself to the point of incapacity, enduring innumerable beatings, and months and even years in prison. At one point he made a historic trip to England, where he won over much of the English working and middle classes, to the great irritation of the government. Despite innumerable setbacks and years of endless toil, he persisted. In 1946, exhausted and virtually bankrupt by World War II, the English agreed to vacate India, but in doing so divided the country between Hindu and Muslims, which Gandhi abhorred.
The partition sparked an outbreak of religious violence, in which Muslims were massacred wholesale in India, and the same fate awaited Hindus in Pakistan. The countries were in chaos. In response, Gandhi went on a fast, refusing to eat again until the violence ceased. Astonishingly, his fast worked: the peoples of India and Pakistan were unwilling to see their great hero die, and they sent him letters and representatives promising to stop the killings and begging him to end the fast. He did so, to the relief of millions. Twelve days later, Gandhi was assassinated.
Note: The background depicts the Taj Mahal, a Muslim mausoleum built by Shah Jahan, a Mughal emperor.