Mahatma Gandhi – Father of the Nation
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2nd 1869 into a middle class Indian family. Unlike any of the other leaders we have examined throughout this course, Gandhi did not possess any leadership qualities as a child. In fact, he was a very mediocre student in school and admitted to not being “good at anything”. In contrast to Nelson Mandela, there was nothing distinguishing Gandhi from any of his peers. As a boy, Gandhi was shy, introverted, and always kept to himself. He was not a born leader nor did he possess any leadership qualities. Another example of how Gandhi was not a born leader was during his studies and upon his return to India. At the age of 18, Gandhi moved to England to study
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We saw this with Nelson Mandela. Like Gandhi, Mandela experienced such a shock when he traveled to Johannesburg. He personally experienced the blatant discrimination within his country and as a result found his calling. Similarly, Ann San Suu Kyi was 43 when she returned to Burma for personal reasons. She was in shock to discover the violent revolts and brutal governmental crackdown. That was the turning point in her life; she knew at that moment exactly what she had to do and decided to put her people before everything else. Therefore, great leaders have to undergo a transformation in their lives. They must open their minds to the reality and lead not only by example, but by the same struggle as their followers. It is not enough to merely realize the gravity of the situation; I am sure that many Indians have before Gandhi; the distinction between a leader and follower is when that leader takes a stand by immersing themselves into a life of oppression with the intension of bettering the lives of generations to come in the face of all adversity, even though at the time the vision seems impossible.
Gandhi is one of the most influential and respected visionaries of all time. Unlike other leaders he did not lead through the promise of obscure and intangible concepts like freedom or equality, instead he led through a unique and defined state of mind.