Gandhi As the Figure of a Leader  Research Paper

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Gandhi as the figure of a leader. In this sense, particular emphasis will be attributed not to certain political events in Gandhi's life but rather to conceptual ideas that shaped his purposes. The practice of non-violence for which he has become famous will be assessed as well as certain social positions and economic perceptions.

Key terms: non-violence, unity, sacrifice, truth, economy.

Gandhi was the idealist. He was neither the first nor the last to advocate for a changing of humankind and society but he was unique such as all great leaders are and, for that matter, the wholeness of us mere mortals. He was an idealist because he believed that the world can change. He was idealist in that he believed in changes for the better. His ideal was for all people to work together to achieve by means of peace mutual understanding. By all this and more, Gandhi was the idealist leader. However, the world is anything but ideal. There is not a single country on Earth that would disarm itself voluntarily. On the contrary, wars of the twentieth century have demonstrated the states' competitiveness for arming. There is no capitalist society that would seek the well being of masses before personal interests, be it economical, religious, ideological, international interests, or otherwise. But what does being an idealist imply if not the courage to refute the standardization of the world as it has become. In some ways, the majority of people reject societal practicalities but it takes an extraordinary mind to understand the ways of the world and to impact other people's lives such as Gandhi has done. Such as ?it is conceivable that extraordinary individuals lead lives that are so distinctive that no generalizations can emerge from intensive studies of their particular wrinkles, ? (Gardner, 1997, p. 4) it is unconceivable to think of Gandhi and not be inspired by the image of a leader who sought that government was indeed of the people, by the people, and for the people and acted as such.

Mahatma Gandhi is a figure which many researchers whether on the psychological side or on the historical, cultural, economical, etc. verge choose to address. Howard Gardner (1993), placing the former side by side with other irrefutable names such as Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, T.S. Elliot, Martha Graham, has noted that the ?impact on our time has been compelling? (p. 4) due to their contributions and their power to affect masses of people. He is also among many to acknowledge that Gandhi ?crafted and practiced a form of civil disobedience that continues to inspire millions around the world. (Gardner, 1997, p. 2) Further, Warren Cohen (2009) thinks of Gandhi as ?closest to a universal conception of saintliness. (p. 3) Indeed, Gandhi has been often associated with all that is positive and productive and, in this paper, the image of Gandhi is also sought, however his leadership figure will be explored more than anything else. Emphasis will be attributed to certain key concepts that the former employed and which provide relevant insight as to his qualities as a leader and his vision upon a successful ruling. Gandhi is not remembered as having impacted India alone but indeed his influence has sprung worldwide which further indicates that he is a leading figure of the world even if the expression attains merely a conceptualization.

When Gandhi was born in 1869, India was at the hands of British imperial rule. His family, although by class legacy and by name, was originally of grocers, had come to posses some relevant political positions in various Indian states (Gandhi, 1969, p. 4). His mother's combined religious beliefs of Hindu and Muslim tradition and the environment of non-violent practice religions such as Jainism undoubtedly influenced Gandhi's childhood and future beliefs although personally he did not claim any religion until later on. In fact, Gandhi would never stand by any particular belief in totality whether of religious offspring or political nature. Indeed, he may have been a conservative about one given issue while, at the same time, a socialist or capitalist by another. Gandhi studied in England between 1888 and 1891 as a law student. This was also the period he became acquainted with Christian religion though not embracing it, as well as Hindu and Buddhism. In 1893 he left for South Africa, which would become his home for the next twenty one years. A year later he led the Natal Indian Congress campaign against voting rights being taken away from Indian people. Various similar actions aimed at conserving and strengthening Indian positions in Africa followed within the next years.

Gandhi set out himself on a prowl for moral development having become convinced that it is a political leader's responsibility to attain to nothing that is impure. This comes into the context of his struggles to batter injustices against Indians in Africa. Many had come to the continent for work purposes and had remained after the expiring term only to confront the many restrictions imposed upon them. Cohen (2009) noted that ?he [Gandhi] was seized by a sense of mission, a sense that he should attempt to lead the Indian community toward acceptance as equal to whites, to put an end to the denial of their rights. (p. 7) This was indeed the first of a series of actions that would ultimately define Gandhi as a leader. It is important to understand that his objectives became thoroughly influenced by how he came to perceive life and he dwelled upon ideas insofar as they provided some sort of purpose in his life. This is one of the most important traits which would come to influence many of his later positions and thinking. Moreover, it was in Africa where Gandhi set the foreground of the non-violent civil disobedience philosophy for which he has become famous. This philosophy was of course part of the traditional concept of non-violence which had fused the Hindu Scriptures, Buddha, Christ, and Mohammed. He was as well immersed in Confucian thought and furthermore, during his time in Africa, Gandhi, having read Thoreau's On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, Tolstoy's The Kingdom of God is Within You, and John Ruskin's Unto This Last, absorbed many of the writers' ideas as they appeared to centralize the fragmentation of the world.

Dwellings on the three books allowed Gandhi to formulate personal ideas. In fact, the impact that the reading had on him was far more outstretching determining Gandhi to change his life according to the ideals in the books. Perhaps most important in relation to the time Gandhi spent in Africa was the gradual transformation from a young shy lawyer that would flee the courtroom rather than having to address a judge into a self-confident, convincing political leader. Indeed, ?as Gandhi matured into middle age, it was clear he had become a singular type of 'politician,' one prompted by ideals and beliefs more than the pursuit of power, and that he had moulded his life to match his message. (Brown, 2011 p. 4)

It must be noted that politics, such as Gandhi saw it, was a matter of spiritual truths. Richard Gregg (1960) acknowledged that ?The unity of the human species is not only a biological and physiological fact; it is, when wisely and fully asserted and acted upon, a great power. Human unity is actual in man's universal capacity to think, feel, will, understand and act and to apprehend spiritual truths. (p. 10) Gandhi's experiments with truth relied a great deal on spiritual setting. His vision on society encompassed universal unities of kinship of men of no matter what caste, nationality, religion, etc. His idealist vision of a non-violent society was dependent on basic principles of love which intrinsically represent the basis of most religions. This idealist society Gandhi addressed it through Satyagraha, a key term and concept that thrived on reaching objectives, subsequently political objectives, through means of action that do not propagate further violence but are nevertheless fiercely resistant as to dismiss injustices. Satyagraha, which translates as ?truth/soul force, ? (as cited in Cohen, 2002, p. 32) was thus a philosophical approach of taking action against the suppression forces of the ruling society. The underlying factors of this political philosophy were love, truth, non-violence, non-cooperation, and civil disobedience. This implied that, when fighting against the propositions of a society, one had to refute the system not by armed resistance but by voluntarily revoking the alleged advantages put forth by the society in cause. Moreover, Gandhi's approaches were interrelated to the urging desire of uncovering truths and by this, achieve an understanding of the supreme force that is God. This is to say that a social order, such as he saw it, implied a voluntarily and consistent effort to do that which is righteous.

The non-violence propagated by Gandhi became means to achieve both social and political upheavals. For Gandhi, the very definition of violence implied both the arming of nations as well as states' abuse…

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