India’s independence from the British Empire is an illustrative example of the Decolonization after 1900 topic in Unit 8 of AP World History. You could reference this example on your AP World History test.
India’s arduous journey to independence from British colonial rule was characterized by a complex interplay of political agitation, diplomatic negotiations, and the transformative influence of Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance movement. Beginning in the early 20th century, the Indian National Congress (INC) emerged as a potent force in the fight against British imperialism, drawing support from diverse segments of Indian society. Central to this movement was the philosophy of satyagraha, or nonviolent resistance, espoused by Gandhi, which became a guiding principle for India’s quest for freedom.
Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance movement gained momentum through various campaigns, including the Salt Satyagraha of 1930, where thousands of Indians defied British salt laws by making salt from seawater, and the Quit India Movement of 1942, which called for the immediate end of British rule. These acts of civil disobedience galvanized widespread public support and brought international attention to India’s struggle for independence.
Despite facing repression and imprisonment, Gandhi’s unwavering commitment to nonviolence inspired millions of Indians to join the freedom struggle. His emphasis on moral and spiritual values, coupled with pragmatic political strategies, contributed to the unity and resilience of the Indian people in their resistance against colonial oppression.
The years following World War II witnessed a heightened push for independence, with Indians intensifying their demands for self-rule and Britain facing mounting pressure to decolonize its colonies. Negotiations between Indian leaders and British authorities culminated in the passage of the Indian Independence Act of 1947, which led to the partition of British India into two separate nations: India and Pakistan. On August 15, 1947, India finally achieved independence, marking the end of nearly two centuries of British rule.
Gandhi’s nonviolent movement left an indelible mark on India’s struggle for independence, shaping not only the tactics employed but also the moral and ethical foundations of the nation. Today, Gandhi’s legacy continues to inspire movements for social justice and peaceful resistance around the world, reaffirming the enduring power of nonviolence in the pursuit of freedom and equality.
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