Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2 October 1869–30 January 1948) is widely considered one of the most important world leaders in recent history. His importance is both ideological and practical and he influenced not only the course of Indian history but also various forms of independence, anti-colonial, civil rights, and social justice movements across the world. Many social justice activists find him a source of inspiration.
A devout Hindu and strict vegetarian, Gandhi began his career of activism in South Africa, where he lived from 1893 to 1914. He began using his legal knowledge to campaign for the right of people of Indian descent to vote in South Africa, against the British policy that restricted the franchise to those of European descent. In South Africa Gandhi developed his influential theories of nonviolent protest and applied them to resist racial discrimination. After the end of apartheid in 1994, Gandhi was honored for his efforts to end racial discrimination in South Africa and regarded as one of the early heroes of the struggle against oppression.
Gandhi returned to India in 1915 and was active in the fight for independence from Britain, a struggle which culminated in independence in 1947. As a leader of the Congress Party, Gandhi ceaselessly strove for independence through various negotiating tactics and nonviolent protests including boycotts of British textiles. He is widely regarded as a hero of the independence movement. The Congress Party, which he led for many years, is still one of the main political parties in India.
Although he did not achieve all of his ideals, he was a great leader who made a major impact on his own country and the world at large.