Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand, 1869-1948

The Mahatma (‘great soul’) had been frequently arrested for acts of civil disobedience against the British government of India before 1939. He did not, however, endorse political action against the British on the outbreak of war, but chose to work on Britain’s ‘sense of fair play’ by arguing more and more strongly that only a free India could give Britain effective moral support in her war against the dictators. The failure of his urgings, and his dissatisfaction with Sir Stafford CRIPPS’ offer of a new constitution and with the war itself led him in August 1942 to embark on a campaign of civil disobedience which led in turn to violence among his millions of followers and to his arrest. He remained in custody until May 1944.

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