The development of Indian Nationalism occurred in three separate phases, Moderate Phase (1885 – 1905), Extremist Phase (1906 -1916) and Gandhian Era (1917 -1947).

The decisive phase of the Nationalist Movement [1917-1947] began when Gandhiji returned to India from South Africa in January 1915. This phase is also known as the Gandhian Era.

It was the third phase of Indian Nationalism that witnessed the rise of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, as the man who took the country by storm with his novel political ideologies centered on the cardinal principles of ahimsa and satyagraha.

The emergence of Gandhi played a pivotal role in the history of Indian Nationalism. During this period, especially (1915-1930) Mahatma Gandhi became the undisputed leader of the National Movement.

His principles of non-violence and Satyagraha were employed against the British Government. Gandhi made the nationalist movement a mass movement.

Major movements of Mahatma Gandhi are:

  • Champaran Satyagraha (1917) —First Civil Disobedience Movement
  • Kheda Satyagraha (1918) —First Non-Cooperation Movement
  • Ahmedabad Mill Strike (1918) —First Hunger Strike
  • Satyagraha against Rowlatt Act,1919 – First Mass Strike
  • Khilafat Movement, 1919
  • Non-Cooperation Movement (1920-1922)
  • Civil-Disobedience Movement (1930)
  • Quit India Movement (1942)

The emergence of Gandhi, on the Indian political scenario was not the mere instance of another emerging new leader, but it was the rise of a whole new philosophy that permeated into every sphere of the Indian psyche . 

Armed with these ideological tools Gandhi shouldered critical responsibilities in the momentous events that finally led India towards path of freedom.