Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi, was born in Porbandar in the present state of Gujarat on October 2, 1869, and educated in law at University College, London. In 1891, after having been admitted to the British bar, Gandhi returned to India and attempted to establish a law practice in Bombay, with little success (2). Two years later an Indian firm with interests in South Africa retained him as legal adviser in its office in Durban. Arriving in Durban, Gandhi found himself treated as a member of an inferior race (4, 300). He was appalled at the widespread denial of civil liberties and political rights to Indian immigrants to South Africa. He threw himself into the struggle for elementary rights for Indians.
Gandhi remained in South Africa for 20 years, suffering imprisonment many times. In 1896, after being attacked and beaten by white South Africans, Gandhi began to teach a policy of passive resistance to, and non-cooperation with, the South African authorities.
Part of the inspiration for this policy came from the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, whose influence on Gandhi was profound. Gandhi also acknowledged his debt to the teachings of Christ and to the 19th-century American writer Henry David Thoreau, especially to Thoreau's famous essay "Civil Disobedience" (1) Gandhi considered the terms passive resistance and civil disobedience inadequate for his purposes, however, and coined another term, Satyagraha which means truth and firmness (4, 305).
During the Boer War, Gandhi organized an ambulance corps for the British army and commanded a Red Cross unit. After the war he returned to his campaign for Indian rights. In 1910, he founded Tolstoy Farm, near Durban, a cooperative colony for Indians.
Economic independence for India, involving the complete boycott of British goods, was made a corollary of Gandhi's Swaraj ("self-ruling") movement. The economic...