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Leadership plays an important role especially in an organization and also in a

country in a big scope conditions. What is actually the definition of leadership?

Leadership can be defined as the ability of an individual to motivate or influence a

group of people to achieve common goals. Great leaders need to have the leadership

qualities such as sincere, trustworthy, truthful and just.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi or is well-known as Mahatma Gandhi is one

of the great leader acknowledge by many people in the world especially by Indian

citizens as an Indian activist, politician, writer who became the leader of the Indian

independence movement against British. Mahatma Gandhi was born on October 2,

1869, at Porbandar, which is in the present-day Indian state of Gujarat, and died at

January 30, 1948. Mohandas Gandhi was called Mahatma Gandhi, which means

“Great Soul” by millions of fellow Indians because of the adoration of the people

towards him. The fame of Mahatma Gandhi was spreading worldwide during his

lifetime and rapidly increased after his death, and is now recognized by the world.

(Nanda, 2017)

His mother was a devoted practitioner of Vaishnavism, which can be defined

as the worship of the Hindu god Vishnu, influenced by Jainism, a religion governed

by tenets of nonviolence and self-discipline. Meanwhile, his father was the chief

minister or ‘dewan’ of Porbandar.

For more details on his education background, Mahatma Gandhi received a

comprehensive education by studying law in London at the Inner Temple, which is

one of the city’s four law colleges at the age of 19. At age 13, in May 1883, Mahatma

Gandhi was married to Kasturba Makhanji, who is also in aged of 13, through the

arrangement of their parents, as a customary in India.

In the mid-1891, upon returning to India, he set up a law practice in Bombay,

but met with little success. He was then offered the opportunity to further his studies

overseas, at the University College London, at the age of 18, starting at September

1888. He was then remained in South Africa for nearly 20 years when he accepted a

position with an Indian firm that was located in South Africa.

On his return to India in 1916, he raised the awareness of the oppressive

practices in Bihar and developed his practice oh non-violent civic disobedience, in

1918, which saw the local populace oppressed by British masters. Moreover, he also

encouraged the villagers to improve their circumstances, which lead to peaceful

strikes and protests against British. As his fame increased by time to time, in 1921, he

led the Indian National Congress and also reorganizing the party’s constitution by the

principle of completely independence from British. Furthermore, Mahatma Gandhi

also instigated a boycott of British institutions and goods, which led to his arrest on

March 10, 1922, and trial on sedition charges, for which he served 2 years, of a 6

years prison sentence.

On 30 January 1948, at 5:17 pm, Gandhi was assassinated by Godse, who

fired three bullets from a Beretta M1934 9mm Corto pistol into his chest. Gandhi was

then carried into Birla House, into a bedroom. Godse, who is the assassin, stated that

he killed Gandhi due to his complacence towards Muslims, and was responsible for

the violence and sufferings during the subcontinent’s partition into India and Pakistan.

Gandhi was also accused for subjectivism and acting as if he monopoly the truth.

Gandhi’s death was mourned nationwide and millions of people joined the funeral

As mentioned, leadership can be define as the action of leading a group of

people or an organization to achieve a common goal. A leader should be able to

inspire followers or subordinates in order to achieve the goal, where a great leader

should adhere onto a several principles. A great leader should contribute to the society

in a positive change.

One of the prominent reason why Mahatma Gandhi was a great leader is that

he was the first leader to use nonviolence principle to lead his country to indepedence

from the British in 1947. Nonviolence is the practice of achieving goals such as social

change through symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political

noncooperation, satyagraha, or other methods. The concept of nonviolence has a long

history in Indian religious thought, with it being considered the highest dharma

(ethical value virtue), a precept to be observed towards all living beings (sarvbhuta),

at all times (sarvada), in all respects (sarvatha), in action, words and thought

(Bhaneja, 2007).

Mahatma Gandhi strongly adhere to Satyagraha which is one of the method in

nonviolence. Satyagraha concept was introduced in the early 20th century. Satyagraha

means "appeal to, insistence on, or reliance on the truth". It became a major tool in the

Indian struggle against Britis and has since been adopted by protest groups in other

countries (Encyclopaedia Britannica). Mahatma Gandhi was the leader of India’s non-

violent independence movement against British rule and in South Africa who

advocated for the civil rights of Indians (The Biography.com, 2018).

Another prominet principle adhere by Mahatma Gandhi by having a clear

vison. In 1893, 23 year old Mahatma Gandhi moved to South Africa to work as a

legal advisor to an Indian businessman based there. There he experienced racism and

discrimination due to his skin color and ethinicity. The Indians who had been living in
South Africa were without political rights, and were generally known by the

derogatory name of 'coolies' and the Indians were far from being considered full

human beings (UCLA Social Sciences ). One of the discrimination he experienced as

an Indian man working in South Africa; he was kicked out of the footpath and onto

the street by a police officer for walking on a public footpath (Gandhi, 1929). By

experiencing all the racisms and discrimination first handly, Mahatma Gandhi had a

vision of ending the racisms and discrimination and to help Indians in South Africa to

gain their rights.

From the experiences Mahatma Gandhi was to emerge as the leader of the

Indian community in South Africa (UCLA Social Sciences ). He had helped to found

Natal Indian Congress in 1894 after a campaign was conducted by using his referrent

power to persuade the British government. The congress was an organisation to help

fight discrimination against Indians traders (South Africa History Online , 2017).


Even after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, his actions and good deeds

has inspired some leaders and thinkers around the world. One of them is the 44 th

United States President, Barack Obama, who is a huge admirer of Mahatma Gandhi.

Barack Obama has been greatly influenced by Gandhi’s works and life. "Throughout

my life, including my work as a young man on behalf of the urban poor, I

have always found inspiration in the life of Gandhi and in his simple and profound

lesson to be the change we seek in the world,” he once said in his speech to the Indian

MPs in 2010. Besides Barack Obama, Steve Jobs also decided that there was no better
model than Mahatma Gandhi for Apple’s Think Different campaign and in year 1999,

he stated that "Mohandas Gandhi is my choice for the Person of the Century because

he showed us the way out of the destructive side of our human nature. Gandhi

demonstrated that we can force change and justice through moral acts of aggression

instead of physical acts of aggression. Never has our species needed this wisdom

more." In response to Time Magazine’s query regarding his choice for the person of

the century (Malholtra, 2015).

There were also few other leaders and thinkers who was influenced by

Mahatma Gandhi’s simple life and his commitment to non- violence such as Martin

Luther King, a famous American revolutionary who headed the Civil Rights

movement and inspired hordes of African-Americans to use non-violent methods to

fight for their rights, popular Burmese freedom fighter Aung San Suu Kyi, Tibetan

leader Dalai Lama, physicist Albert Einstein, famous British musician from The

Beatles, John Lennon and also Nelson Mandela who was greatly influenced by

Mahatma Gandhi. Nelson Mandela has been quoted as saying of Gandhi: “From his

understanding of wealth and poverty came his understanding of labour and capital,

which led him to the solution of trusteeship based on the belief that there is no private

ownership of capital; it is given in trust for redistribution and equalization. Similarly,

while recognizing differential aptitudes and talents, he holds that these are gifts from

God to be used for the collective good”. He also received the Gandhi Peace Prize in

the year 2001 (Iyer, 2015).

One of the most popular and influential books in the recent history is the

Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography entitled “My Experiments with Truth”. The book

was written at the instance of Swami Anand and it was appeared in the weekly

‘Navjivan’ from the year 1925 until 1928. The books written was free from self-praise
and not to boost their image in the people’s eyes. He wanted to tell people the story of

his experiments with truth rather than showing the world how good he was. Mahatma

Gandhi realized that truth is the purpose of human life. He always tried to remove the

weakness in himself and strove to realize the truth. He tried to stick with the truth and

apply the knowledge of truth to his everyday life. Sticking to the truth means

Satyagraha. He did it in the scientific spirit and therefore called his experiments as

“Experiments with Truth” or “Experiments in the science of Satyagraha” (Mandal,


Based on what had been explained about Mahatma Gandhi, his commitment to

nonviolence and his belief in simple living have been a great source of inspiration for

the people throughout the world. Satyagraha remains one of the most powerful

philosophies in freedom struggles throughout the world today and Gandhi’s actions

inspired future human rights movements around the world.


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Inc. Retrieved March 30, 2018, from
2. The Biography.com. (2018, March 8). Mahatma Gandhi Biography. (A. T.
Networks, Producer) Retrieved March 31, 2018, from Biography:
3. Encyclopaedia Britannica. (n.d.). Satyagraha PHILOSOPHY. Retrieved
March 31, 2018, from Encyclopaedia Britannica:
4. UCLA Social Sciences . (n.d.). Mahatma Gandhi. Retrieved March 31, 2018,
from UCLA Social Sciences :
EXPERIMENTS WITH TRUTH. Retrieved March 31, 2018, from Home |
Feedback | Contact Us | www.bapukutisevagram.in Like us on Facebook
6. South Africa History Online . (2017, July 31). Retrieved March 31, 2018,
from http://www.sahistory.org.za/organisations/natal-indian-congress-nic
7. Bhaneja, B. (2007). Understanding Gandhi’s Ahimsa (Non-violence)
Reflections on An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth.
Retrieved March 31, 2018, from Nights Lantern:
8. Iyer, P. (2015, october). 20 Famous Personalities From Around The World
Whose Lives Were Inspired By Mahatma Gandhi. Retrieved from
9. Malholtra, N. (2015, October 2). 20 Greatest World Leaders and Thinkers
Who Were Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. Retrieved from The Better India:
10. Mandal, B. S. (2002, August). Mahatma Gandhi- Autobiography. Retrieved
from Mahatma Gandhi: https://www.mkgandhi.org/intro_autobio.htm