Ahmedabad is perhaps one of the very few cities in India in which citizens played very important roles. The city depended on the fellow citizens during difficult times. People would run their business and allow the exchange and flow of currency and this way developed the city. There was a time when citizens virtually ran Ahmedabad. They paid large sums of money to enemies. This stopped the enemies from attacking the city.
Philanthropy- working or donating for people’s welfare- is an Amdavadi habit. This has created unmatched leaders in the city. It has also helped shape the future of Ahmedabad, the nation and the world. It is well known that the philanthropic Mahajan or trade guilds of the city attracted Mahatma Gandhi to Ahmedabad. From here he initially started the freedom struggle. He did that by setting up the Satyagraha Ashram in the city. He was sure that Ahmedabad’s rich businessmen would support him.
People who gave unique character to Ahmedabad included Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the architect of modern India. Vikram Sarabhai, the father of the Indian space programme, is another example. Another great man from the city was Kasturbhai Lalbhai, the visionary business baron. It was because of such great Amdavadis that India could finally achieve freedom, remain united and marched ahead.
Mahatma Gandhi’s experiments with the history of the city
Mahatma Gandhi was born in Porbandar on October 2, 1869. Ahmedabad was the place he chose, on return from South Africa in 1913, to set up base in order to launch a freedom struggle. He lived in Ahmedabad between 1913 and 1930. After he left for the Dandi March in 1930, he returned to Ahmedabad only for a couple of times and didn’t stay for too long. Ahmedabad thus gave Bapu the push he needed to take on the British and launch a successful freedom struggle. He was jailed by British many times. Sabarmati Jail in Ahmedabad has preserved the ‘Gandhi Kholi’ till date.
British first sued Bapu here
In the history of the British Raj, It is known as ‘ The Great Trial’. It was a court case heard in Ahmedabad. That led to Gandhiji’s revolutionary articles in ‘Navjivan’ and ‘ Young India’.
“The British empire, which is based upon organised exploitation of the physically weaker race of the earth and upon the continuous exhibition of brute force cannot live…We want to overthrow the government” wrote Gandhiji in ‘Young India’ dated February 23, 1992. Gandhiji was arrested on March 10, 1922. The trial lasted 100 minutes in March 18 at the Old Circuit House in Shahibaug. A powerful debate took place. between the Mahatma and the judge R S Broomfield.
Gandhiji accepted the charge of sedition in court, saying “Some of the most loved patriots of India have been convicted under Section 124-A and I consider it a privilege therefore to be charged under it. I do not seek mercy… I am here to invite and cheerfully submit to the highest penalty for what in law is a deliberate crime and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen.”
Calling upon the judge to convict him and give the harshest of punishments, Gandhiji also proposed that the judge resign if he considered the system wrong. Judge Broomfield replied, “Millions look upon you as a saint, It is my duty to judge you as a man subject to the law, who has by his own admission broken the law.” Broomfield sentenced Gandhiji to six years in prison. Gandhiji was shifted from Sabarmati to Yerwada jail where he stayed till 1924.
Places that still bear the memories of Bapu
In the just 6-odd kilometers of the Ashram Road, there are many institutions which were started by Bapu or were linked to his life.
Founded on May 25, 1915, this rented bungalow, Gandhiji’s first home in India after returning from South Africa, created a stir by taking in a family of untouchables.
M J Library
Gandhiji laid the foundation stone on September 21, 1993, and also donated 10,000 books he had brought from South Africa.
Navjivan Trust Press
The name Navjivan originally emerged from the weekly paper published by Gandhiji. Later it came out to be publishing house based in Ahmedabad and has been publishing nearly 800 articles in English, Hindi, Gujarati and many other languages till date
Established by Gandhiji on October 18, 1920, as a mark of protest against the British education policy. The government policy. The government declared it as a deemed university in 1963.
Gandhiji left Kochrab and set up this ashram on June 17, 1917, as the site was between a jail and a crematorium. He believed that a Satyagrahi had to go to either of the places in the end.
Gandhiji stayed in Sabarmati Jail from March 10-18, 1922.