Daily Current Affairs for UPSC

Mahatma Gandhi and Satyagraha

Syllabus - Modern Indian History [GS Paper-1]


On June 7, 1893 MK Gandhi was thrown off a train’s first-class compartment at the Pietermaritzburg railway station in South Africa and the incident triggered Gandhi’s first act of civil disobedience, or satyagraha.


  • Mahatma Gandhi, a name synonymous with peace and nonviolent resistance, has left an indelible mark on the world along with his philosophy of Satyagraha.

Birth of Satyagraha

  • The time period ‘Satyagraha’ was coined by Gandhi for the during his time in South Africa to distinguish his motion from others under the call ‘passive resistance’.
  • Derived from ‘satya’ (truth) and ‘agraha’ (insistence), Satyagraha translates to ‘truth-force’ or ‘soul-force’.
  • Unlike passive resistance, that could consist of violence and was visible as a weapon of the vulnerable, Satyagraha was a technique of nonviolent protest that might be pursued only by the strongest and absolutely excluded violence.

Pietermaritzburg Incident

  • On June 7, 1893, a younger legal professional named MK Gandhi was unceremoniously thrown off a train’s first-class compartment reserved for ‘whites only’, at the Pietermaritzburg railway station in South Africa.
  • It caused Gandhi’s first act of civil disobedience, or Satyagraha, viewed as one of the most essential moments in Gandhi’s life.

Principles of Satyagraha

  • Gandhi envisioned Satyagraha as not only a tactic to be used in acute political conflict but as a prevalent solvent for injustice and damage.
  • He requested Satyagrahis (practitioners of Satyagraha) to observe principles together with nonviolence, truth, non-stealing, non-possession, body-labour or bread-labour, control of desires, fearlessness, equal respect for all religions, and economic strategy such as boycotts of imported goods.
  • Satyagraha is extra than simply civil disobedience, and it extends from the information of correct every day residing to the development of opportunity for political and economic organisations.
  • It seeks to conquer through conversion: in the long run, there is neither defeat nor victory but rather a new concord

Satyagraha in Practice

  • One of the earliest implementations of Satyagraha in India came in the course of the Champaran movement in Bihar.
  • The socio-politically charged scenario in Champaran culminated within the ancient Champaran Satyagraha.
  • Gandhi’s intervention brought about a sizable shift inside the power dynamics between the indigo planters and the oppressed peasants.

Power of Satyagraha

  • Gandhi’s Satyagraha was not only a political tool; it was a moral and religious philosophy. It emphasized the power of truth and moral courage in achieving social and political change.
  • Gandhi believed that legal guidelines were for the welfare of society, and civil disobedience changed into a protest in opposition to the injustice devoted by the lawgivers.

Global Impact of Satyagraha

  • The standards of Satyagraha had been vital to India’s conflict for freedom, from the Non-Cooperation Movement (1919-22) to the Civil Disobedience Movement (1930-34), to the Quit India Movement (1942).
  • These standards then went on to steer other moves for justice globally, from Martin Luther King Jr’s Civil Rights Movement within the United States, to Nelson Mandela’s warfare against apartheid.


  • Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of Satyagraha has left a long-lasting legacy that has no longer best fashioned India’s freedom conflict however has additionally motivated numerous moves worldwide.
  • Gandhi’s philosophy of Satyagraha, advanced at some point of his time in South Africa, has become a main tool in the Indian conflict against British imperialism and has been adopted by protest groups in different international locations.
  • Today, as we navigate through numerous social and political challenges, the concepts of Satyagraha maintain to inspire tens of millions around the globe in their quest for justice and equality.

Source: The Indian Express

UPSC Mains Practice Question

Q. What was the significance of Mahatma Gandhi and Satyagraha in India’s journey of freedom struggle? (150 words)

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