Sunday, September 16, 2018

September 16th...This Day in History (Gandhi begins fast + others)

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Gandhi begins fast in protest of caste separation 1932

On this day in 1932, in his cell at Yerovda Jail near Bombay, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi begins a hunger strike in protest of the British government’s decision to separate India’s electoral system by caste.

A leader in the Indian campaign for home rule, Gandhi worked all his life to spread his own brand of passive resistance across India and the world. By 1920, his concept of Satyagraha (or “insistence upon truth”) had made Gandhi an enormously influential figure for millions of followers. Jailed by the British government from 1922-24, he withdrew from political action for a time during the 1920s but in 1930 returned with a new civil disobedience campaign. This landed Gandhi in prison again, but only briefly, as the British made concessions to his demands and invited him to represent the Indian National Congress Party at a round-table conference in London.

After his return to India in January 1932, Gandhi wasted no time beginning another civil disobedience campaign, for which he was jailed yet again. Eight months later, Gandhi announced he was beginning a “fast unto death” in order to protest British support of a new Indian constitution, which gave the country’s lowest classes–known as “untouchables”–their own separate political representation for a period of 70 years. Gandhi believed this would permanently and unfairly divide India’s social classes. A member of the more powerful Vaisya, or merchant caste, Gandhi nonetheless advocated the emancipation of the untouchables, whom he called Harijans, or “Children of God.”

“This is a god-given opportunity that has come to me,” Gandhi said from his prison cell at Yerovda, “to offer my life as a final sacrifice to the downtrodden.” Though other public figures in India–including Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambdekar, the official political representative of the untouchables–had questioned Gandhi’s true commitment to the lower classes, his six-day fast ended after the British government accepted the principal terms of a settlement between higher caste Indians and the untouchables that reversed the separation decision.

As India slowly moved towards independence, Gandhi’s influence only grew. He continued to resort to the hunger strike as a method of resistance, knowing the British government would not be able to withstand the pressure of the public’s concern for the man they called Mahatma, or “Great Soul.” On January 12, 1948, Gandhi undertook his last successful fast in New Delhi, to persuade Hindus and Muslims in that city to work toward peace. On January 30, less than two weeks after breaking that fast, he was assassinated by a Hindu extremist on his way to an evening prayer meeting.

(More Events on This Day in History)

American Revolution
1776 Battle of Harlem Heights restores American confidence

1908 William Durant creates General Motors

Civil War
1832 Confederate General Custis Lee is born

Cold War
1950 United Nations essay contest angers Soviets

1845 Murder in Illinois
2013 Gunman kills 12 in D.C. Navy Yard massacre

1978 Killer quake shakes Iran

General Interest
1620 Mayflower departs England
1810 Mexican War of Independence begins
1977 Maria Callas dies
1982 Massacres at Sabra and Shatila

1993 Frasier debuts

1943 James Alan McPherson is born

1977 Opera star Maria Callas dies

Old West
1893 Settlers race to claim land

1940 Franklin Roosevelt approves military draft

1981 Leonard knocks out Hearns to unify middleweight title

Vietnam War
1960 U.S. Ambassador in Saigon warns that situation is worsening
1969 Nixon announces the withdrawal of a further 35,000 troops from Vietnam

World War I
1916 Hindenburg gives order to strengthen German defenses

World War II
1940 United States imposes the dra

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