India: Did you know?                                     


  • The most convenient way to get around some towns is by rickshaw. Rickshaws come in three types:

  • Cycle rickshaws—a tricycle with a seat for two people on the back (photo). Cycle rickshaws are convenient in some places, like the very congested streets of Old Delhi. With these you should negotiate the fare before you set off.

  • Autos—a motorized three-wheelers (photo). Autos are, like taxis, supposed to use a meter. Meter rates are subject to periodic changes and extras for late-night journeys (which the driver should show you on a card). In popular tourist spots, during rush hour and bad weather, you may find it impossible to persuade the drivers to use the meter.

  • In central Kolkata, rickshaws are pulled by men on foot (photo).

  • Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) was a British trained lawyer of Indian origin from South Africa. He organized the Indian community in South Africa against the vicious system of apartheid. During this struggle, he developed the novel technique of non-violent agitation, which he called satyagraha, loosely translated as moral domination. He was given the title of Mahatma - Great Soul.


  • Gandhi, a devout Hindu, was committed to total moral philosophy of tolerance, brotherhood of all religions, non-violence (ahimsa) and simple living.


  • His austere traditional Indian style of living—which won him wide popularity and transformed him into the undisputed leader of the Congress. His popularity revitalized the Freedom Movement—an effort to win Indian freedom from Britain. Under his leadership, the Congress launched a series of mass movements—the Non Cooperation Movement of 1920 -1922 and the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930. The latter was triggered by the famous Salt March, when Gandhi captured the imagination of the nation by leading a band of followers on a 200 mile trek to the remote village of Dandi on the west coast to prepare salt in symbolic violation of British law. These were populist movements in which people from all classes and all parts of India participated with great fervor.

  • Women too, played an active role in the struggle and inspired millions of others to take the road to emancipation and equality. In August 1942, the Quit India movement was launched. "I want freedom immediately, this very night before dawn if it can be had... we shall free India or die in the attempt, we shall not live to see the perpetuation of our slavery", declared the Mahatma, as the British resorted to brutal repression against non-violent satyagrahis.