What were Mohandas K. Gandhi's main demands concerning the decisions to be made at the Paris Peace Conference?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Indian delegation that attended the Paris Peace Conference argued for freedom from British rule as a result of the negotiations taking place.  Part of this motivation came from the belief that Indian support of the British during World War I entitled them to self- rule and nation formation apart from the British.  At the same time, the Indian delegation argued that since colonies in Africa that the Germans held were being granted their independence, reciprocity should be evident.  Gandhi and the other members of the delegation were encouraged by the conference's stand on ensuring the rights of so- called minorities was to be a significant issue.  They believed that such a position bode well for their claims of independence.

Gandhi spoke from a position of autonomy in order to appease Indian demands.  Gandhi and other members of the Indian delegation sought a position that advocated Indian independence from Britain.  Members of the delegation saw British controlled nations like Canada granted freedom, and saw Britain redouble their efforts in the Middle East in order to control oil commodities.  The thinking amongst many Indians was that a vision of Indian self- autonomy could be seen and realized.  They spoke for the nation of India achieving  a "self- determination" that was consistent with the Wilsonian vision world freedom.  Gandhi and other leaders advocated a position in which the nation of India could be granted freedom from English rule.  The right to choose its own leaders and the right to run its own nation free from British control and intervention were critical demands that Gandhi and the Indian delegation advocated at the Paris Peace Conference.  In the minds of Gandhi and the Indian delegation at the conference as well as the people of the nation, the decisions that were to be made at the conference in the vision of Wilson's new world order had to include freedom for India. The application of "the principle of self- determination to India" was of vital concern to Gandhi and other members of the Indian delegation.

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