MAHATMA GANDHI (1869-1948)


            Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the apostle of truth and non-violence and one of the greatest figures of his age, played a predominant role in India’s Freedom Struggle and indeed, in Indian politics during the first half of this century. He gave a new dimension to the struggle by introducing non-violent means of protest and agitation. Born in Gujarat on 2 October 1969 he earned a name for his activities in South Africa. On his return to India, in 1914, he entered the political arena under the guidance of Gopal Krishna Gokhale. With the passing away of  Gokhale and Tilak and fading out of the old guard, he assumed a leading role in the Indian National Congress. Even though he presided over only one of its sessions, that held at Belgium in 1922, and had avowedly dissociated himself from Congress in September 1934 after which he never formally returned to the party, he effectively directed the policies and programmers of the organization most of the time.
           Mahatma Gandhi’s greatest contribution to the freedom struggle was in taking the nationalistic movement to the masses and in removing the fear of authority from the minds of the people. He succeeded in creating large scale social, economic and political awareness in the country and tried to liberate the people form deleterious western influences and to make them self-reliant and Swedish-oriented.
            After successfully organizing the localized satyagrahs at Champaran, Kheda and Headband, Gandhi organized the first satyagrah on a national scale in 1919 against Rowlett Act. He led the people for khilafat and non-cooperation movements. In 1930, he gave the call for Civil Disobedience with violation of the salt Law after Dandi March. In 1942, he asked the British to ‘Quit India’ and told his countrymen to ‘Do or Die’.
            It was with great anguish that he agreed to the partition of the country. When the nation was celebrating its deliverance from British rule, Gandhiji was camping in Noakhali to establish communal peace.
            He fell to an assassin’s bullets on 30 January, 1948. Mahatma Gandhi has been honoured by the world with the issue of a large number of stamps. India issued the first set of four stamps on the Mahatma on 15 August 1948. These were the only stamps to be printed out side the country since the commissioning of India Security Press at Nashik in 1925. The 10 Rs. denomination stamp of this set, with SERVICE overprint, is one of the rarest Indian stamps and may well be worth over a lakh.
           Gandhiji happens to be the first foreigner to be portrayed on a British stamp. Quite a few countries have issued stamps on him. While there are 33 Indian stamps on which mahatma Gandhi figures, the number of such stamps in the world may be well over three hundred

This list was prepared by Dr. Jinadatha

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