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Mahatma Gandhi in typical clothing.

Born on the 2nd October 1869, Probably the most famous person to come from India was Mahatma Gandhi, a non-violent Philosopher, who travelled Indian, and later the world explaining to people how to live a peaceful life.

This story starts in 1911, when the future Prime Minister, MacDonald, visited India and upon his return wrote a book about it, stating that given a British Government with sufficient determination and benevolence, the aspirations of the Indian National Congress could be solved overnight. This of course, was remembered by the Indians when MacDonald later became the Prime Minister.

His first dealing was to set up a round table conference. All the top people in India agreed to attend the conference, but with a lot of clauses included.

In February 1930, at the Lahore Congress, a resolution was passed in favour of purna swaraj, or complete independence. A green flag was unfurled and the following month, in March, Gandhi had inaugurated a new civil disobedience campaign, and started on a march to Dandi, where he proposed to defy the Governments laws by making salt from sea water.

Gandhi was at this time at the height of his popularity, famous across the World for his bear feet in the U. S. A., and goats milk, non-violence and Miss Slade in the U. K. The march took 5 days to complete, and he took a pan of sea water which he then left to evaporate until the dark grains of salt were left. These grains were kept by souvenir hunters. For all this he was not arrested (salt was a Government monopoly) and fueled the disobedience campaign.

In the United Provinces there was a rent strike, and a boycott of British cloth, which caused serious unemployment in Rishton and Lancashire as a whole. After much more trouble had come over the towns and cities the Viceroy of India was finally forced to Act and on the 5th May, Gandhi was arrested and the Congress working committee declared illegal.

As the round table members booked their passage to London, the jails swelled with 25,000 non-violent co-operators of Gandhi ideals. The Conference finally took place in Autumn with everyone being represented, except the 25,000 people in jail, and the 300,000,000 people attending their soil patches in India. The rich and the famous were well looked after with all their expenses being paid for at the conference.

Victoria Mill which Gandhi visited.

The conference went well, and two of the India delegates, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru and Mr. Jayakar,  upon their return to India, acted as mediators between the Viceroy and Gandhi, and eventually procured his release from jail. This was accomplished with the intention of calling off the civil disobedience campaign, and to bring the All-Indian Federation to pass. These negotiations became known as the Irwin-Gandhi Pact, and it was also understood that Gandhi would attend the 2nd Round Table Conference, and a good number of the 25,000 in gaol were to be released.

The Viceroy was greatly criticised in England for negotiating with an acknowledged rebel, and Winston Churchill complained of a "seditious saint striding half naked up the steps of Vice regal Palace". However Gandhi's arrival in London created less stir than anticipated.

By the time Gandhi arrived in London, the National Government had been formed in India, and his Goat milk, shawl, and weekly day of silence had been much over publicised.

It was during his visit to this Country that he meet Charles Chaplin, attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace, and visited Lancashire.

This was 1931, and apart from RISHTON, Gandhi also visited India Mill at Darwen, and Manchester, to see for himself the unemployment caused by the foreign cloth boycott that he had instigated in India. While in Manchester he meet the editor of the Manchester Guardian, C. P. Scott, the couple not getting along very well, and the aging liberal was to pass away soon after this. In Rishton, Gandhi attended the Victoria Mill, here he meet officials of the mill, and again saw some of the unemployment which he caused by his boycott back home.

Upon his return back home, things had changed and Gandhi was meet at Bombay with cries of " Gandhi, go Back!".

At the end of 1932, the third and final Round Table Conference was held. The final result was a Government of India Act, which provided for immediate provincial autonomy, and the establishment in due course of an All-Indian Federation. The Act was piloted through Parliament with great dexterity by Sir Samuel Hoare, in the face of strenuous opposition of some 50 Conservative members led by Winston Churchill.

Mahatma Gandhi

On Friday, January 30, Gandhi was assassinated on his way to the prayer ground, he was 78 years old. He was shot 3 times by a woman who stepped out of the crowd with a small automatic pistol, as Gandhi was on his way to a prayer meeting.

References

The Thirties, 1930 - 40 in Great Britain by Malcolm Muggeridge, Published by Hamish Hamilton, 1st edition 1940.

A Gandhi web site