Gandhi Leadership Qualities Essay

2892 words - 12 pages

Being the Change: Leadership Qualities that Transformed a Nation

Abstract
This study is an analysis of the essential leadership styles utilized by Mahatma Gandhi in his struggle to gain Indian independence from Great Britain. While his time in South Africa undoubtedly effected Gandhi’s decisions in India, this paper focuses primarily on the “Gandhian” era of India from 1915 to his death in 1948. This analysis does not progress chronologically throughout Gandhi’s life, rather, I examine several different events through the scope of his many different leadership qualities.

Being the Change: Leadership Qualities that Transformed a Nation

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, lived from ...view middle of the document...

While comparing the British reign over the Americas to that of India, I think it is important to remember that most “Americans” in those days were direct relatives of people in Britain, so for the most part, they shared the same religion, culture, values etc. India on the other hand, has had Hindu traditions for thousands of years, (Flood, 2009) which contrast starkly to Western European or American traditions. The Hindu people, their culture, traditions, and religion, while not specifically outlawed or discriminated against, were looked down upon or thought of as silly and inferior compared to the beliefs of Western Europeans.
The blatant disrespect of the Indian people and their culture was terrible, and in many other cases, would be reason enough to revolt and seek change. The other events that transpired during the British Raj would cut far deeper than stepping on a few traditions however. It is estimated that between 12.2 and 30 million people died from 1876 to 1902 due to famine. During this time period however, food exports to Britain increased eightfold. (Richardson, 2009) India had been an agrarian society for the previous 2000 years, so I think it’s fair to assume that they knew what they were doing. Britain however, basically looked at India as a place it could not only tax, but also as a natural resource rich land that they could exploit for their own personal gain. The Indian people were forced to buy British goods, and by 1910, 40% of Britain’s cotton goods were purchased by India. (Richardson, 2009) Meanwhile, wheat and rice farmers were being forced into farming cotton to meet the growing needs of the U.K. To sum it up, Indian farmers are starving, not allowed to grow food, taxed on the cotton they are forced to export, and taxed again on the cotton goods they are forced to buy back. Mike Davis, (2000) author of Late Victorian Holocausts says:
“Between 1887 and 1900, years that included the worst famines in Indian history, annual exports increased from 3 million to 10 million tons: a quantity that was equivalent to the annual nutrition of 25 million people. By the turn of the century, India was supplying nearly a fifth of Britain’s wheat consumption as well as allowing London grain merchants to speculate during shortages on the continent.” (p. 299)
The Rowlatt Acts of 1919, which, according to Ranbir Vohra, (2001) intended to halt rebellious activities; allowed for suppression of the press, arrests with no warrant or evidence, unlimited imprisonment without trial, and no opportunity for the accused to challenge the accuser or question any incriminating evidence against them. (126) These acts were enough to capture the attention of Gandhi, but the Amritsar massacre marked the beginning of what is now referred to as the Gandhian phase. A large group of Indian civilians gathered to peacefully protest the wrongful arrests of two of their leaders. This behavior, gathering that is, was strictly prohibited by British law. British...

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