Gandhi and the Indian Summer is a course I have given at Lifetime Learners at Norwalk Community College. Originally I presented four illustrated lectures describing and analyzing different periods in the life of Mohandas K. Gandhi. The second time around I expanded the course to six sessions so that I could devote additional time to the activities of Gandhi’s colleagues and to the partition of British India in the summer of 1947.
Historical Background and Gandhi’s Early Life
Now that it is gone, it is a mistake to romanticize The Raj, the British Rule of what is now India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. I explain how commercial interests became an empire, as well as how that empire operated with so few rulers in a very populous country.
We then examine the place of the Gandhi family within the empire and Gandhi’s youthful experiences growing up within his family, as well as his subsequent education as an English barrister.
Click here for a slide show: Gandhi Early Life
For some comments about the importance of Gandhi’s Hindu background, see my post on Hinduism and Gandhi.
The Years in South Africa
Gandhi spent the formative years of his manhood working for the welfare of the Indian population in another area of the British Empire, South Africa. Beginning as a barrister who represented the interests of the propertied traders, he evolved to become a committed partisan of those indentured laborers who suffered the most under the regime. Click here for a slide show: Gandhi in South Africa
The Struggle for Indian Independence
Gandhi returned to India to work for the rest of his life for the independence of India, using the techniques of non-violent struggle he had developed in South Africa. Sometimes a politician and often a saint, his example was a powerful influence of both the classes of educated Indians and the masses of the poor. Click here for a slide show: Gandhi Struggle
Among those educated Indians were Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose and Mohammad Ali Jinnah. We learn of their roles in the independence movement and examine the back and forth of missions and conferences which failed to resolve the conflicts with India, as well as with the British, prior to World War II. Click here for a slide show: Wartime India
The Final Years and the Indian Summer
Gandhi spent much of World War II in prison, but the end of the war brought a renewed effort to change the status of India. Lord Louis Mountbatten was appointed Viceroy and given the assignment to negotiate British departure. Click here for a slide show: Partition
The story of those last days of the Raj in 1947 is well told in Alex von Tunzelmann’s book Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire. Here is an interesting review of the book.
Knowing something about of this period gives us a better understanding of the tensions and conflicts between the nations which once made up the British Raj, issues which continue until today. Click here for a slide show: Independence