Nelson Mandela: The ‘Gandhi’ of South Africa, Why India Loves Him

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | December 6, 2013 5:20 PM EST

The most iconic messenger of non-violent political movement of the 20th century happened to be from India, Gandhi. However, he passed away in 1948 - leaving the next generations of young and old only with stories of his political career. Nelson Mandela took up the mantle from where Gandhi left it.

Most of the Indian politicians did not see Gandhi in real. As the next Prime Minister candidate of India, Narendra Modi, puts it - they are blessed for being fortunate enough to see Mandela who embodied Gandhi's ideals and values. With the demise of Mandela, India may have lost their greatest friend. Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India, stated that the South African president was an 'icon of inspiration of humanity'.

Mandela, who was often referred to as the 'Gandhi of South Africa', had striking similarities with India's 'Father of Nation'. Gandhi, who was in South Africa between 1893 and 1914, predicted that someone would follow his ideals in Africa.

Non-violence

In a world that has constantly engaged itself into more violence as years went by, both Gandhi and Mandela opted for the path of non-violent political strategies. Mandela admitted being inspired by Gandhi as he called Gandhi a 'role model' in his life. Both of them led their individual nation to international prominence by securing major political achievements merely with non-violence movements, unlike most of the other nations.

Imprisonment

Both Gandhi and Mandela were imprisoned a number of times in their political career. However, the most striking part is that both of the spent time in the Fort Prison, Johannesburg. Gandhi started his political movement in South Africa by standing up for the underprivileged in the country and so did Mandela.

World Peace

Both of them eventually became an inspiration for world peace. They inspired many nations and leaders. Mandela, unlike Gandhi, managed to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. In his message in 2007, Mandela said that Gandhi's ideals had played a significant role in the transformation of South Africa. They could overcome apartheid following Gandhi's teachings, he said.

No wonder India has loved Mandela so much as he was probably the only person after Gandhi who personified the ideals of the latter. No other leader even from India could manage to do that on such a huge level. Mandela is the only non-Indian to receive the highest civilian award in India, the Bharatratna, in 1990 even before he got the Nobel.

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