Gandhi, ‘Mahatma’

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Gandhi, ‘Mahatma’ ( Mohandas Karamchand) (1869–1948) Indian political and spiritual leader. A lawyer, he practised in South Africa (1893–1914), where he led equal-rights campaigns, before returning to his native India in 1914. Following the massacre at Amritsar (1919), Gandhi organized several non-cooperation campaigns and was imprisoned (1922–24) for conspiracy. Resistance methods included strikes, refusal to pay taxes and non-respect of colonial law. After his release, Gandhi served as president (1925–34) of the Indian National Congress. In 1930, he made his famous 400km (250mi) protest march against a salt tax. In 1934, Jawaharlal Nehru succeeded Gandhi as leader of the Congress. In 1942, Gandhi launched the Quit India movement. He was then interned until 1944. He played a major role in the post-war talks with Nehru, Lord Mountbatten and Muhammad Ali Jinnah that led to India's independence (1947). He opposed partition and the creation of a separate Muslim state (Pakistan). When violence flared between Hindus and Muslims, Gandhi resorted to fasts for peace. A figure of huge international and moral stature, he was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic in New Delhi.