History in the Making

Document Type



Before 1949, both China and India experienced protracted struggles to gain freedom from their respective governing bodies. Although the Chinese and Indian Revolutions occurred during the same time period, and on the same continent, little energy has been spent on comparing the two in any appreciable manner, even less so when it comes to the leaders of the movements themselves. Granted, the reasoning for this is due to the belief that Mao Zedong and Mohandas Gandhi are too dissimilar for any fruitful analysis to be obtained by juxtaposing them, but this paper’s focus is on proving that they are far more alike than anyone has ever given them credit. Both men were pragmatic revolutionaries who adapted to the needs of their movements, and were willing to be flexible to new developments which could potentially alter fundamental underpinnings of their uprisings.With the preexisting notions of class struggle and violence which have so characterized Mao Zedong in the past, it may be absurd to claim him as a pragmatist, but in reality, he was in fact a powerful coalition builder before the People’s Republic of China was founded. Furthermore, Mohandas Gandhi is seen as the principal advocate of non-violence in recent memory, but he accepted violence to avoid cowardice, and only came to the stance of non-violence after observing firmer approaches earlier in his life. Even though the two men arrived at different conclusions of how to best achieve victory, they did so for the identical reason of it being in the best interests of the Indian and Chinese freedom organizations. Most importantly, both revolutionaries came to personify their movements, and that accounts for their "god-like" standing in historical texts. This paper is intended to bring Mao and Gandhi down from their mythologized status and to see them for who they were during their revolutions, ordinary human beings who were pragmatic enough to sustain the momentum of their individual movements.Without their realism, the Indian and Chinese Revolutions would have been radically different.