2nd October is observed as International Day of Non-Violence by the United Nations. It seeks to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness.”
This day is observed on 2nd October to commemorate the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the Indian independence movement and the pioneer of the doctrine of non-violence.
More about Mahatma Gandhi
Born on 2nd October 1869, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in Porbandar in coastal Gujarat, which was then a part of British India. Born into an illustrious family, he turned into a rebel in his adolescence and took to smoking and stealing.
In 1888, the teenage Gandhi was sent to London, England to study law, where he became interested in learning about world religions and began reading a wide range of religious texts.
He came to Indian in 1891 but struggled as a lawyer. Subsequently, he moved to South Africa in 1893. When he reached the African nation, he was aghast at the discrimination that Indian immigrants faced in the hands of the British.
The seeds of civil disobedience were sowed in Gandhi during his stay in Africa. Once when he was travelling by train, a white man objected to him sitting in the first-class railway compartment and asked him to move to the back of the train. Gandhi refused to do so. Despite having a ticket, Gandhi was forced to deboard the train.
It was this incident that arose a determination in him to fight against discrimination. Gandhi organized several non-violent protests in South Africa against the prejudice meted out to Indians and drew international attention towards injustice.
In 1914, Gandhi moved away from South Africa. He stayed in London and finally came back to India in January 1915.
While he was initially not actively involved in politics, the Rowlatt Act of 1919 that permitted the British to imprison those suspected of sedition without a trial provoked Gandhi to launch a Satyagraha movement. By 1920, he was a dominant figure in the Indian political scenario, calling for civil disobedience and non-cooperation. He also launched a movement to boycott British goods and used the spinning wheel to produce his own cloth. The spinning wheel soon became a symbol of the Indian independence movement.
In 1930, Gandhi launched The Salt March to protest Britain’s Salt Acts, which imposed heavy taxes on salt and prohibited Indians from selling and collecting salt. He set out from his religious ashram at Sabarmati and walked along with his followers for 24 days to reach the coastal town of Dandi, where he made salt from the evaporated seawater, defying the British law.
Finally, in 1942, Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement that finally resulted in the independence of India from British rule. In this struggle to make India independent, he was jailed several times by the Britishers.
His ideals and practices of non-violence means of protest to defy authority have inspired multiple civil rights movements across the globe.
He was awarded the title of Mahatma (Great Soul) by the great Indian poet and writer Rabindranath Tagore.
Many human rights activists across the globe such as Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko are said to have been inspired by him.
Gandhi’s ideals of social and political progression by means of non-violent means is as relevant today as it was during his lifetime. The fact that he stuck to his ideals in the face of severely oppressive conditions and arduous challenges is a testimony of his greatness.
On the 150th birthday of the Mahatma, we wish that the world becomes more peaceful and that violence is wiped out from the face of the earth.0