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Mahatma Gandhi 150th Birth Anniversary: The Father of the Nation's International Influence

Fondly remembered as the Father of the Nation, he is known to have inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.

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Updated:October 1, 2019, 7:22 AM IST
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Mahatma Gandhi 150th Birth Anniversary: The Father of the Nation's International Influence
Mahatma Gandhi (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi,1869 - 1948), Indian nationalist and spiritual leader, leading the Salt March in protest against the government monopoly on salt production. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi — a political ethicist who employed nonviolent resistance to lead the successful campaign for India's independence from British Rule was born on October 2, 1869. Fondly remembered as the Father of the Nation, he is known to have inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. Mahatma Gandhi's birthday, October 2, is not only commemorated in India as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday, but is celebrated worldwide as the International Day of Nonviolence.

Gandhi and his International Influence

Gandhi influences a number of important leaders and political movements across the world. Leaders of civil rights movements in the United States, including Martin Luther King Jr., James Lawson, and James Bevel, drew from the writings of Gandhi in the development of their own theories about nonviolence.

Martin Luther King even went on to say, "Christ gave us the goals and Mahatma Gandhi the tactics," and would even refer to Gandhi as the "little brown saint."

Former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Steve Biko, and Aung San Suu Kyi all are believed to have been influenced by Mahatma Gandhi. In fact, in his early years, Mandela was a follower of Gandhi's philosophy of non-violent resistance.

European author Romain Rolland too discussed Gandhi in his 1924 book Mahatma Gandhi and Brazillian feminist Maria Lacerda de Moura too wrote about Gandhi in her work on pacifism. The influence of Gandhi was also seen in European physicist Albert Einstein, who called Gandhi a role model for future generations. Einstein even would go on to credit Gandhi with having created a new and humane means for the liberation war of a country that was oppressed.

Gandhi's influence was even seen in the works of Lanza del Vasto who arrived in India in 1936 intending to live with Gandhi and later returned to Europe to spread the Gandhian philosophy and start the Community of the Ark, modelled on Gandhi's ashrams.

John Lennon too referred to Gandhi when discussing his views on nonviolence and former US Vice-President and environmentalist Al Gore spoke of Gandhi's influence on him.

In fact, former US President Barack Obama too spoke about the Gandhian influence in 2009 when on reply to a question "Who was the one person, dead or alive, that you would choose to dine with?" he referred to Mahatma Gandhi.

Notably, Gandhi's best influence as a world leader can be seen in the fact that the International Day of Non-Violence is observed on 2 October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.

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