The 2nd October marks the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, India’s famous pacifist leader. Mohandas Gandhi was born in 1869. His family was quite wealthy and, when he was 19, they sent him to England to study law at university in London. One of his first jobs was for a lawyer in South Africa and it was here that he encountered racism for the first time.
He returned to India, which was a British colony at the time, and decided to help the fight for his country’s independence. He organised non-violent protests using passive resistance and the technique of civil disobedience; Indian people refused to work and obey the British rulers.
One of the biggest protests was in 1930, against the taxes that Britain put on salt. Thousands of Indians joined Gandhi in the Salt March; they walked over 380 km to the sea to make their own salt. Gandhi was put in prison several times and, as a protest, he refused to eat while he was there. The British released him because they were afraid of the reaction by Indian people who loved him very much. His followers started to call him Mahatma, meaning ‘Great Soul’.
Gandhi was assassinated on January 30th 1948, one year after India finally gained independence from the British. In 1982, the story of Gandhi was made into a film, directed by Richard Attenborough and starring Ben Kingsley as Gandhi. It won 8 Oscars.