January 30, 1948: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the iconic leader of the peaceful Indian independence movement, is shot and killed by Hindu extremist Nathuram Godse in New Delhi. ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi began his activism while working as a lawyer in South Africa, where he campaigned for the civil rights of expatriate Indians in the country. His favoured means of protest was Satyagraha, a term meaning ‘insistence on the truth’ which he conceived and which involved non-violent civil disobedience. Gandhi took his Satyagraha back to India in 1914, where he campaigned for the rights of the poor, and also for the independence of India. He led protests by example, living a modest, simple existence and promoted fasting and non-cooperation as forms of demonstration, all the while denouncing any form of violence. His stand against British authorities in India earned him several spells in prison, but his ‘Quit India’ message to colonial power Britain was eventually heard. However, the British decided to leave behind them two states: mainly Hindu India and mainly Muslim Pakistan. Gandhi opposed this division but appealed for tolerance. Some Hindu nationalists though were not prepared for tolerance and Godse, believing Gandhi had betrayed India, fatally shot him as he addressed a prayer meeting. Gandhi’s non-violent form of protest later proved the inspiration for other civil rights leaders including Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr.
Also on January 30: beheading of England’s King Charles I (1649); execution of Oliver Cromwell (1661); the Beatles last public performance (1969); Bloody Sunday killings in Northern Ireland (1972).
Born on January 30: Félix Faure (1841), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882), Vanessa Redgrave, Boris Spassky (1937), Dick Cheney (1941), Phil Collins (1951).