Historical story

Gandhi's trial:Why he didn't defend himself

Nick Rennison's book, "1922 - The Year That Changed the World" , brings the landmark year of '22 back to life by focusing on its special significance. The Ottoman Empire collapsed after six centuries. The British Empire began to crumble. The Soviet Union was founded while Mussolini's Italy was becoming the first fascist state. Greece was plunged into mourning with the Asia Minor Catastrophe. Tutankhamun's tomb came to light, the use of insulin caused a revolution.

On the 320 pages of the publication, you will visit month by month the most important events that marked their time, but also the developments that determined the global reality in the decades that followed.

The NEWS 24/7 secured excerpts from the book published by Dioptra and presents them to you every month.

The new excerpt is about Gandhi's trial and the role of Great Britain in India.


"Britain may have been willing to reduce its control a little in Egypt (see February), but an arrest and trial in March showed that its determination to resist calls for Indian independence had not relaxed. The most persistent problem facing the British in the early 1920s was Mahatma Gandhi.Born in Gujarat, Gandhi had studied law in London and spent many years in South Africa, where he had campaigned for the civil rights of his fellow Indians, the who were racially discriminated against. When he returned to India in 1915, at the age of 45, he threw himself into the struggle for independence, joining the Indian National Congress party and advocating peaceful resistance to British rule. In 1920, Gandhi launched the Non-Cooperation Movement , in response to increasingly oppressive legislation and the infamous Amritsar Massacre the previous year, in which British Indian Army troops under the command of Brigadier General Reginald Dyer had opened fire on an unarmed crowd in the northwestern Indian city of Amritsar, killing more than 350 people. The Non-Cooperation Movement, applying the principles of satyagraha , the form of civil disobedience modeled by Gandhi, steadily grew in strength across India. The British authorities increasingly saw Gandhi as a threat to the stability of their power.

This is like a family gathering, not a court of law

On March 10, 1922 he was arrested and tried for sedition. His offense was writing three articles for his magazine called Young India (Young India) and the charge was that he was "attempting to incite disaffection against His Majesty's Government established by law in British India". He appeared in court wearing a loincloth, the cloth that covered only his pelvis, which had become his everyday attire and which is now inextricably linked to the image most people have of him. Sarojini Naidu, a poet, political activist and champion of women's rights, who was in the courtroom that day, observed that everyone present stood up "in an act of spontaneous respect" when Gandhi entered the courtroom. According to Naidu, Gandhi looked around the room and commented, "This here is like a family gathering and not a court of law." Gandhi made no attempt to maintain his innocence of the charges. "I have absolutely no desire," he announced, "to conceal from this court the fact that to declare my dissatisfaction with the existing system of government has become almost a passion." He pleaded guilty but, in an emotional statement, explained the reasons for his actions and writings. “I have no personal malice against any individual ruler,” he said, “much more can I have no resentment against the person of the king. But I consider it a virtue to be resentful of a government which, as a whole, has done more harm to India than any previous system."

The judge, named Robert Stonehouse Broomfield, responded by saying that Gandhi "belongs to a different class than any other man I have ever tried" and praised the man he was about to sentence. “It would be impossible,” he declared, “to ignore the fact that, in the eyes of millions of your countrymen, you are a great patriot and a great leader. Even those who have political differences with you see you as a man of high ideals and of a noble, even holy, life." Broomfield, despite his admiration for Gandhi, sentenced him to six years in prison, although he added that if a higher authority later decided to reduce the sentence, "nobody would be happier than me." Gandhi, smiling as the limited number of friends and supporters who had been allowed into the building surrounded him, some touching his hands and others falling at his feet, was led out of the courtroom to begin construction of the of his sentence in Sabarmati Jail in Ahmedabad. Later in the month he was transferred to the Jhergwada Central Jail in Pune, western India, but was released in February 1924, having served less than two years of his sentence, due to his failing health."

The version description:

1922 was a year of great upheaval.

The events that happened then defined the rest of the twentieth century and in many cases continue to affect us even today, a full hundred years later.

The Ottoman Empire collapsed after six centuries. The British Empire began to shake, from Ireland to India.

New states and new polities emerged. The Soviet Union was founded, while Mussolini's Italy became the first fascist state.

And Greece was plunged into mourning with the Asia Minor Catastrophe...

Tutankhamen's tomb came to light, the use of insulin caused a revolution in medicine. And in Munich a young demagogue named Adolf Hitler was briefly imprisoned...

Nick Rennison's book brings this landmark year back to life, a year that changed the world.

It gives us an idea of ​​what people's lives were like back then – what they sang, which celebrities they admired, what they feared, what they dreamed of – and at the same time unfolds before us the events that shook their daily lives and laid the foundations for the cosmogony that would follow in the turbulent twentieth century.

1922 is not a faded period photo.

It is our life – just before it becomes ours.

According to the famous saying of British author Leslie Poles Hartley, "the past is a foreign country. They do things differently there".

A century later, the events of 1922 still have many and varied effects.

Nick Rennison presents in a way that is enlightening and entertaining at the same time snapshots of a past that is incredible how many similarities it has with today.

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