Mahatma Gandhi is one of the greatest leaders of all time. He is the father of a nation and led the Indian civil rights movement that freed India from British rule. There are many characteristics that Gandhi had that made him an exceptional leader, but there are two that stick out: his ability to be to lead by example and his persistence.
Before Gandhi led the Indian civil rights movement, India was a country that had multiple diverse nationalities. It was very difficult to get the country unite under one leader. However, Gandhi was able to be a leader and gather followers from all over India. He was able to unite India under one leader by leading through his own example.
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There were several occasions where Gandhi acted in a way that others admired and willingly followed. First, the way he dressed helped him fight for his cause. He wore a cotton cloth called a dhoti, a shawl and a simple watch and glasses. A dhoti is a traditional Gujarati outfit that is wrapped around one’s legs and waist, and a shawl is a scarf he wrapped around his upper body. Dhotis and shawls are usually worn by the poorest of people. He wore this to boycott foreign clothes and represent the millions of people living in India at the time. Many followed his example and began boycotting British clothing for more traditional wear. Gandhi did not only limit his traditional attire to his home and the streets but wore traditional clothes even in front of Congress. He stood in front of Congress in a dhoti and shawl to tell the nation that the Congress would no longer belong to the upper class. He stuck with his word to wear traditional clothes and did not change for anyone or anything. In this way, Gandhi was able to influence others by setting an example of how to stand up for what they believed in.
Not only was Gandhi a great role model, but was also very persistent and consistent in his beliefs. He was very determined in following through what he believed in. Even at the most basic level, Gandhi believed in keeping his promises. For example, Gandhi promised his mother before leaving that he would remain a vegetarian and he maintained his promise despite difficulty. On a grander scale, Gandhi very strongly believed in non-violence and showed how non-violence was an ultimate solution with the salt tax protest.
Gandhi is a famous leader of the non-violence movement. He followed the religious principle “ahisma” (doing no harm) that was common to Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Gandhi believed that non-violence was the true force and the whole idea of non-violence was to convert the thinking of the opponent. This approach was incorporated when he protested the salt tax.
During that time, the British had a monopoly over salt production and sales, so anyone but the government who was caught making or selling salt would be criminally charged. The salt tax was one of the biggest sources of revenue for the British government, so Gandhi believed that protesting it would be the first step towards India’s freedom.
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Gandhi and thousands of other followers made salt along the coastlines. Over 60,000 people were arrested in a few short months but none of them resisted arrest. Gandhi was eventually arrested as well however, he did not fight back with any violence but only used words to fight his battles. Even if the British officers used force or violence, Gandhi and his followers only acted peacefully. This protest grabbed the attention of Indians all throughout the nation, creating an impressive amount of followers. It also brought international recognition to Gandhi’s nonviolent approach.
Today’s leaders do not seem to demonstrate the same quality of leadership that Gandhi did. Instead of following what they believe in, they are often hypocritical. When it came to personal possessions, unlike today’s leaders, Gandhi had the barest minimum and was still was able to successfully fight for his country. Also, many leaders are not persistent in their beliefs and often do not follow through. If today’s leaders are able to encompass some of what Gandhi was able to, they would be able to gain more respect and have more loyal followers.