How difficult would have been the achievement of Indian independence without Mahatma Gandhi?
Gandhi sacrificed four decades of his life for the country and spent many years of his life in British jails. Many times during the freedom movement, he went on fast unto death and achieved successful outcomes. But in this, he was no exception. There were numerous freedom fighters, both sung and unsung, who devoted their whole life for the cause of Indian freedom. Many historians have attributed the Indian freedom to other reasons than leadership of Gandhi. They argue that:
- With or without Gandhi, India was going to be free because the British Empire had expanded too much to be managed.
- In the words of Atlee, the impact of Gandhi on British was ‘minimal’, it was Subhash Chandra Bose, who had infused nationalism in army personnel; and this had shaken the empire.
Further, it was the Second World War that played a crucial role in independence of India. The Second World War ruined the economy of the Britain and British were finding unable to maintain their colonies. In the aftermath of World War-II, USA and USSR put pressure on the European countries to free their colonies.
In the light of above arguments, it might sound that without Gandhi also India would have achieved freedom sooner or later. However, there are many other aspects of Gandhi’s role, that not only helped India to achive freedom but also to “preserve it”. Before the arrival of Gandhi, the fight against colonial British was sporadic and there was no leader at the national level to unite the struggle against the British. The concept of Indian Nationalism had not taken a concrete shape before emergence of Gandhi as a national leader. It was because of Gandhi – that for the first time, mass mobilization at such a wide scale occured in India in 1920s and 1930s. He organised the masses by fighting for their social issues like peasant problems, tax matters, labour issues etc. He was able to encourage the masses to go for Swadeshi made goods and reject the Britain made goods. His non-violence methods highlighted the brutal policies of the British. Americans were greatly appreciative of Gandhi’s non-violence and they pressured the British government to give independence to India. These methods of Gandhi have been questioned also. Gandhi might not be right with some of his methods but we cannot deny that the freedom movement would have fallen apart without him.