Often referred to as “Father of the Nation,” Mahatma Gandhi is frequently credited for India’s establishment as an independent nation and its liberalization from British colonial rule. Despite being the son of a prominent state official, Gandhi would go on to reject the system in which he was raised. During his employment at a South African law firm, Gandhi worked to secure basic rights for mistreated Indian immigrants. From then on, he employed nonviolent means of civil disobedience through his concept of “devotion to truth.”
Reminiscent of the lead-up to the American Revolution, Gandhi strategically focused on protesting the British monopoly on India’s salt industry to slowly dismantle the clutches of imperialism. In the spring of 1930, he and over 70 followers marched by foot for nearly one month to the seaside village of Dandi. Once he reached his destination, Gandhi famously extracted salt by boiling water from the Arabian Sea, showcasing the injustice of British laws prohibiting Indians from producing their own salt. Through this simple act, Gandhi inspired millions across India to break the salt tax law by foregoing British salt and running cottage salt production industries. For transgressing the law and influencing countless others to do the same, Gandhi was arrested, which resulted in both domestic outcry and international attention. Upon his release from prison, he resumed working towards Indian secession from the British colonies, which was finally realized in 1947.
Known as a soft-spoken and kind-hearted man, Gandhi was nonetheless revered as a tenacious political activist. His emphasis on nonviolence influenced Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement and Nelson Mandela in his fight to end apartheid in South Africa. His legacy resonates in the hearts of millions to this day, serving as a constant reminder of the importance of acting upon one’s beliefs. In the same vein, Gandhi’s political and philosophical discourse continues to serve as an indispensable well of wisdom for individuals standing up against global poverty today. They justify exercising one’s political voice to secure a decent standard of living for all in the face of systematic roadblocks and personal misgivings.
- “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”
- “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”
- “A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please—or worse—to avoid trouble.”
- “To deprive a man of his natural liberty and to deny to him the ordinary amenities of life is worse than starving the body; it is starvation of the soul, the dweller in the body.”
- “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall – think of it – always.”
– Melrose Huang