Mahatma Gandhi and his non-violent struggle against the British Empire was a result of the contemporary political milieu of India, especially in the wake of intense political and economic contradictions between the British and other Western powers. Prior to World War II, the world has witnessed the rise of the Soviet Union in terms of political and military power, notwithstanding the rise of popular national liberation movements across the colonized world. In most colonies, the primary mode of securing independence from Western colonialism has been through the waging of armed revolutions, such as the struggle of the Chinese and the Malaysians, led by Mao Tsetung and Sukarno, respectively. However, such type of struggle for Indian independence was essentially difficult in Indian society where a strict and clearly defined caste system was in place that hindered the creation of unity of Indians as a united people while transcending class divisions.
More so, divisions between the ranks of the Indian people became more pronounced as fighting between rightist Hindu fundamentalists and left-wing Maoist communists never ceased, with both espousing violent means of securing Indian independence. All of these confused the majority of a people who continued to wallow in poverty and desolation. In all of these, Mahatma Gandhi emerged to present an alternative viewpoint, a seeming middle-ground between the pro-people radicalism of the left and the religious conservatism of the right. It was founded on the principle of a nationalist non-violent struggle which dismantled all prior notions that political power comes from the barrel of a gun. Gandhi turned the idea of revolution on its head and succeeded in doing so. While a major factor for their triumph was the waning power of the British empire after World War II, their struggle through non-violent means inspired other civil libertarians the world over to give peace and non-violent struggle a chance prior to the taking of arms.