In a world that has historically focused on negative means such as violence and war to force change on culture and politics, few people have managed to bring on substantial change with solely peaceful intent and words, only. Mohandas Gandhi of India is a prime example of one of those rare individuals. Gandhi's nonviolence movement was successful due to his ability to recruit and inspire his followers and gain the favor of world opinion.
In order to force change, Gandhi realized the importance of building a large group of loyal followers within India. According to the Background Essay, "Indians were expected to imitate their rulers- wear their clothes, copy their manners, accept their standards of beauty. Gandhi refused." Instead, Gandhi purposely dressed like the "untouchable" poor caste and performed their humbling routine chores himself. By doing so, he became known as "Mahatma", or "Great Soul". Gandhi's willingness to become and act ...view middle of the document...
Even more so, he furthered the ideal of nonviolence in his jail stay by influencing others to be "firm in his resolution of passing his term in jail in perfect happiness and peace."
Gandhi was highly skilled at creating publicity that would catch both the world's attention and sympathy. A perfect illustration of such an event was "The Salt March" conceived of by Gandhi in 1930. In Document A's "Letter to Lord Irwin", Gandhi writes to the English governor of India, "I cannot intentionally hurt anything that lives, much less human beings.... My ambition is no less that to convert the British people through nonviolence.... (but) if my letter makes no appeal to your heart.... I shall proceed with such co-workers.... to disregard the provisions of the Salt Laws....". It is not likely that Gandhi struck fear into the hearts of the British with his verbiage, and so it is understandable why Britain subsequently chose a confrontation with Gandhi's "peaceful" protesters at the Dharasana Salt Works. In Document B, Weeb Miller's "They That Turn the Cheek" reflects on the happenings of that day. "...Scores of native police rushed up upon the advancing marchers and rained blows on their heads.... Not one of the marchers even raised an arm to fend off the blows.... At times the spectacle of unresisting men methodically bashed into a bloody pulp sickened me so much that I had to turn away. The Western mind finds it difficult to grasp the idea of nonresistance." This article, noted in the provided documents as having been carried in 1,350 newspapers worldwide, is strong evidence that the world was well aware of the struggles of Gandhi's people in India and not impressed by the actions of the British toward them.
In the end, Gandhi's peaceful means successfully resulted in the change he meant to bring. He was able to build a large coalition of followers and motivate them to follow his nonviolent methods largely due to his personal example. By doing so, Gandhi was able to attract the attention and sympathy of the world. Ultimately, the world's opinion created enough political pressure upon the British Empire that it was eventually forced to release its grip over India.