On June 7th, 1893, a young Indian lawyer was thrown off a train in South Africa for sitting in the “Whites Only” first-class compartment, even though he held a first-class ticket. This act would have effects on developments in South Africa, India, and ultimately across the world in the United States, because that man was a young Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, later known as Mahatma Gandhi. The act was instrumental in convincing Gandhi to advocate for Indians’ rights in South Africa and informed his philosophy of Satyagraha, or nonviolent resistance, which he would later take to his homeland in order to bring about an end to the British Raj and independence for India and the other South Asian nations that emerged from it.
Dr. Sriram Sonty, a Chicago-area physician and historian, is chairman of the Gandhi 150 US Commemorative Stamp Initiative. He joins the show to tell us about how this pivotal event shaped Gandhi’s worldview and ultimately put him on the path to becoming one of the foremost leaders of the Indian independence movement.