Mahatma Gandhi

When talking about India as the nation, the freedom, the existence, the history, the
independence, the very first thing that comes to our mind is Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi is the most recognized name around the world. Gandhi Ji, whose full name is Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a born-on 2nd October 1869 in Porbandar, Gujarat, India. His Father’s name was Karamchand Gandhi who worked as a dewan in Rajkot. Mother, Putlibai was a religious lady who divided her time mostly between the temple and household work. Gandhi Ji got married at the age of thirteen to Kasturba Gandhi. He was a lawyer, a politician and an Indian activist who was the leader of the Indian independence movement against British rule. Also known as Bapu in India and Gandhi Ji worldwide was a writer as well. Talking about Gandhi Ji’s Educational qualification, he was a very shy and mediocre student. Gandhi Ji was interested in becoming a doctor, but his father wanted him to follow the family legacy of working as a high official in the states of Gujrat.
Gandhi Ji who was not very happy with studying at Sambaldas College agreed to take the law as his profession. That would mean jumping from India to England. He too faced a lot of difficulties with language as the main barrier. From Gujarati to the English language was not an easy task, but his determination was what won. He had to struggle with the transition to Western Culture.

Gandhi Ji was not able to find work in India; he signed a one-year contract to perform legal
services in South Africa. Once he reached South Africa, he was welcomed by a world full of
racism and discrimination by the British. Gandhi Ji was asked to open his turban on the very
first day in the Durban Courtroom, which he refused to do and left instead.
Gandhiji’s life took a turn when a white man objected his presence in the first-class railway
compartment, in spite of Gandhi Ji having his ticket. When he did not agree to move back of
the train, he was forcibly thrown off the train at a station in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
This incident provoked in him a sense of determination to fight against racism and
discrimination. From that time onwards, he stood up to fight for the civil rights. Gandhi Ji
formed the Natal Indian Congress in 1894 to fight against discrimination.
When Gandhi Ji was planning to return to India, he got to know at his farewell that Indians
would be deprived of the right to vote. The immigrants then convinced Gandhi Ji to stay and
take up the issue and fight against the legislation. Gandhi Ji was not able to succeed in
preventing the law passage but definitely drew international attention to the injustice that
was being done. He also fought for the right to citizenship in the British Empire.
In the year 1906 the first mass civil disobedience campaign was organized which was called
“Satyagraha”. Since the South African Government was refusing to recognize Hindu
marriages its campaign was carried out. After years of protest, hundreds of Indians were
imprisoned, including Gandhi Ji in 1913. The South African government had to compromise,
they negotiated and accepted a compromise that gave recognition of Hindu marriages and the abolition of poll tax for Indians. Gandhi Ji then sailed from South Africa to London in the year 1914.

India was still under the British control in the year 1919, Gandhi Jihad called for a satyagraha
campaign of protest and strikes in a peaceful manner as the British authorities were
imprisoning people without trial of sedation. However, the reverse happened, and violence
broke out on April 13th, 1919 in Amritsar. Also known as “The Jallianwala Bagh”, where the
British fired machine guns into a crowd of unarmed people and killed nearly four hundred of
them.

Gandhi Ji was not able to take it longer, so he returned all the medals he had received from
the military service in South Africa and opposed Britain’s mandatory military draft of Indians
to serve in World War 1. He had called in for a mass boycott. He urged people to stop
working for the British; he asked students not to attend a government school. Soldiers were
asked to leave their post and all citizens to stop paying taxes and refrain from purchasing
British goods. He made people realize the value of “Charkha” that is the spinning wheel. He
used the portable spinning wheel to produce his own cloth, and soon the spinning wheel
became the symbol of Indian Independence. Gandhi Ji was the leader of the Indian National
Congress.  Gandhi Ji returned to active politics in the year 1930 to protest against the British Salt Act.

This Act prohibited Indians from collecting or selling salt, but it imposed a heavy tax. A Dandi March was planned that entailed a 390-kilometer march to the Arabian Sea. There Gandhi Ji
would collect salt as a symbol of defense of the government’s monopoly. Wearing a white
shawl and sandals and carrying a walking stick, he set out from his religious retreat in
Sabarmati on March 12, 1930, with some followers. He reached the coastal town of Dandi
after 24 days and broke the law by making salt from evaporated sea water. Gandhi Ji was
again imprisoned for the same.

In August 1934, Gandhi Ji left the Indian National Congress, and the leadership was passed
on to Jawaharlal Nehru. Gandhi Ji launched a Quit India movement in the year 1942, asking
the British to leave the country immediately. Again, he was arrested and put behind bars
along with his wife and other leaders. With his health going down Gandhi Ji was released
after nineteen months. The negotiations began for an independent India; however, it leads
to the partition on Hindus being India and Muslims being Pakistan. Violence had already
roared before the Independence. Finally, India became Independent on 15th August 1947.
Gandhi Ji still pleaded people to maintain peace and nonviolence.

Weakened from the continuous hunger strikes, the 78-year-old Gandhi with his two
grandnieces led from his living quarters in Delhi’s Birla House to a prayer meeting. Where an
Activist Named Nathuram Godse was upset with Gandhi Ji over his tolerance with the
Muslims shot him three times with a semiautomatic pistol. This act took the life of a
nonviolence preacher. Godse and his fellow co-Ordinator was hanged in the year 1949, and
the rest of the conspirators were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Gandhi Ji always believed in Simple living. Making his own clothes, to eating vegetarian
diets. Keeping fast for self-purification, all these facts show how great a man he was.
Satyagraha remains one of his most important philosophy.

Woman of steel

India in the early 1800s was a place of riot, extortion and was trapped under the unsympathetic British rule. Being one of the richest country for spices and hard earned labour, the Indians not living under royalty were suppressed under the British rulers, even leading to the death of many. In times that hold importance of freedom, a young woman in her teens made a decision to change the world from wrong doings and eradicate the biased rule of another country over India. Rani Lakshmi Bai, a soul filled with patriotism and love for the country, stood up and fought with all her will to sustain a free Hindustan.

The Queen of Jhansi was born on 18th November 1828 in Varanasi. Since her childhood she was trained and taught to be a warrior and an independent woman to live on freely and to dream of an ‘Azaad’ Bharat. She was educated not only in her native languages but in English as a foreign language. Her maiden name was Manikarnika, which later after her marriage was known as Rani Lakshmi Bai. Manikarnika lost her mother at a young age and her responsibility entirely fell upon her Father, Moropant Tambe. He trained her for becoming the best version of herself by teaching her the importance of martial arts, horse riding, sword fighting, as well as shooting.

In the year 1842, Manikarnika married the King of Jhansi, Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar. On getting married into Jhansi, she was given the title of Rani Lakshmi Bai as a token of respect and honour to the new Queen of Jhansi. Being the Queen of Jhansi, Rani Lakshmi Bai couldn’t tolerate the cruelty of the British on poor Indians and setting them under their foot, to make a division between the elite and the common people of Jhansi. Crime and injustice against the people of Jhansi increased day by day, with the growth in death, either due to murder or suicide.

In the year 1851, Rani Lakshmi Bai gave birth to her son but within the period of four months, she lost him to illness. Thereafter, along with her husband, she decided to adopt a son for the future of Jhansi, for an heir to follow his father’s footsteps as Raja Gangadhar Rao was falling sick by every increasing day. Leading to this, in the year 1853, the Raja and Rani adopted a boy, Damodar Rao. Later in the year, Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar passed away and set the journey for Rani Lakshmi Bai to sit in his throne and lead Jhansi to its glorious future.

The British wanted Jhansi under their rule completely, and a woman ruling the kingdom only boosted their ego and insecurities. Rani Lakshmi Bai got a notice by one of the British officer, Major Ellis to evacuate and handover Jhansi to the British. Infuriated by this act, Rani Lakshmi Bai said her famous words, “Meri Jhansi Nahi Dungi.” With this spirit, she fought for the freedom of Jhansi and ripped it off of the British rule.

The battle for freedom and survival started three years after with a huge massacre on the palace of Jhansi in the midst of the night, in order to capture the Queen as commanded by Sir Hugh Rose. Lakshmi Bai and her soldiers fought bravely against the surprised attack. As Jhansi was attacked terribly, the Queen of Jhansi, tied her son to her back and rode on a horse till she reached Kelpi. The Peshwa understood the situation and helped her with an army of her own. This was a stepping stone for all the woman inspired and taught by Rani Lakshmi Bai for a better world and a brighter future. With the upcoming war, woman were made warriors to fight against the injustice caused by the British.

On the day of the battle, Rani Lakshmi Bai fought with fire in her veins and courage in her blood. She fought till her last breath and created history by burning herself on the battle field so no Englishmen could touch her even after death. Rani Lakshmi Bai, a true warrior Queen inspired millions across the country and even today she lights the hearts of every woman who have to fight their own battles of bravery and sacrifice. As it is rightfully said, “Khoob ladi Mardani, Jhansi ki Rani”.