Gandhi Leads Challenge of British Rule
After World War I, in which the Indian states
sent more than 6 million troops to fight beside the Allies, Indian
nationalist unrest rose to new heights under the leadership of a Hindu
lawyer, Mohandas K. Gandhi, called Mahatma Gandhi. His philosophy of civil
disobedience called for nonviolent noncooperation against British
authority. He soon became the leading spirit of the Indian National
Congress Party, which was the spearhead of revolt. In 1919, the British
gave added responsibility to Indian officials, and in 1935, India was
given a federal form of government and a measure of self-rule.
In 1942, with the Japanese pressing hard on the
eastern borders of India, the British War Cabinet tried and failed to
reach a political settlement with nationalist leaders. The Congress Party
took the position that the British must quit India. Fearing mass civil
disobedience, the government of India carried out widespread arrests of
Congress Party leaders, including Gandhi.