Mohandas Gandhi


Mohandas Gandhi was born in 1869 in Porbandar and was greatly influenced by his mother who instilled a strong sense of tolerance and non-violence in him. He is well known around the world for his political campaigns of non-cooperation and non-violence.

Gandhi believed in Swaraj, the right to home rule, and not using violence to achieve it. After studying law in London, and practising as a lawyer in South Africa, Gandhi returned to India to campaign against the Raj through civil disobedience. He became a spokesman for the Indian National Congress and encourages them to boycott British rule. 

In 1930, Gandhi led a Salt March as a protest against Britain’s Salt Laws which did not allow Indians to collect their own salt and instead required them to pay for heavily taxed British salt. He was arrested for leading this march which led to an additional 60,000 people being arrested, but Gandhi was later released to travel to London to join a conference discussing the future of British India. 

© IWM (IND 5083) Mahatma Gandhi with Lord Pethwick Lawrence, British Secretary of State for India, after a meeting on 18 April 1946.

Throughout the 1930s and early 1940s, Gandhi was arrested and imprisoned on many more occasions alongside other members of Congress, including Jawaharlal Nehru, for their policy of non-cooperation with British rule. The final arrest followed the ‘Quit India campaign’ in 1942 after talks about India’s independence and role in the Second World War failed. 

Gandhi rejected the proposal for British India to be partitioned, he saw India as a coalition of religious communities. After independence was granted on 15th August 1947 and violence broke out in India and Pakistan, Gandhi sought to put an end to it. In October he went to Delhi to help protect Muslims that have remained in India. Gandhi was shot and killed by a Hindu extremist on 30th January 1948 in the grounds of Birla House whilst conducting a prayer meeting.