October 2 is Gandhi Jayanthi, the birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation. His method of winning Independence for India was unique. He preached and practised non-violence and non-cooperation to achieve his goal. He campaigned to uplift the downtrodden, to ease poverty, expand woman’s rights, build religious and ethnic amity, end untouchability and more.
What Gandhi achieved in his life was a miracle. He lived in the hearts of millions of Indians and was respected by all. He laid great emphasis on banishing untouchability, promoting Hindu-Muslim unity, promoting literacy and in the development of a great nation —India. He moved the people with his sincerity and sacrifice. At his behest, they were ready to lay down their lives for the freedom of the country from foreign powers. His name lives on. Even after all these years, his principles, dedication and mission continue to inspire the country.
Anusha .A.S., IX, Kendriya Vidyalaya No.1 Ambala Cantonment, Haryana
The main reason why people are inspired by Gandhiji is his philosophy of non-violence. He used non-violence to free India from British. His manner of dressing shows us his unwillingness to use foreign products. He always told the people to do their work on their own without depending on others. He tried to eradicate the evil existing at that time — untouchability. These are the reasons why I am inspired by Gandhiji. Though he is not with us today, his great sayings and doings will go on inspiring many people.
Manasi Joshi, IX C, Johnson Grammar School (SSC), Habsiguda, Hyderabad.
Walk in the truth
Gandhiji known as the Father of the Nation and for students like me as Bapu, is the inspiration for millions of people not only during the freedom movement, but even today. He used tools like upavas, satyagraha, ahimsa and non- cooperation to achieve his goal. His most endearing qualities were his insistence to always tell the truth and his disciplined way of life.
Akarash S. V., IX, J. K. English Medium High School, Hubli, Karnataka
I believe the people of India were inspired to follow Gandhiji because he never claimed to be a God or a super human. He admitted his mistakes and never blamed anyone. He was just another simple Indian, and his methods could be easily understood by both the educated and the poor. His humility and depth of understanding in the simplest of actions has made him the “Mahatma”.
DEVIKA JAYADEVAN, X, Amrita Vidyalayam, Pathanamthitta, Kerala
Gandhiji has shown us how to live by setting an example. He was an ordinary man with an extraordinary will to live his life according to the principles of truth and nonviolence. What he preached he first practised.
Abhisek Verma, IX, Kendriya Vidhalaya No-1, Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
People followed Mahatma Gandhi and respected him because:
- He led a simple life
- He was kind to others
- He always spoke the truth
- He fought the British and gave us freedom
Aadityakrishna V, III A, St. Michael's Academy, Adyar, Chennai
Gandhiji believed in non-violence and peace. He was a freedom fighter but differed from other freedom fighters because of his determination. He never gave up and he never lost hope, even when his struggle met with failure. He didn't let go of his belief in non-violence.
Juman Ahmed, VIII B, Benchmarks International School, Manjeri, Malappuram, Kerala
Showing by doing
Mahatma Gandhi's life itself is a textbook. He never asked anyone to do anything, but showed everyone how to do it. He is also a true role model for the new generation since he was himself an ideal example for everything he spoke and taught. He inspires because his life still shows the most beautiful picture of love, peace, honesty and truth.
Harisree.K.Bhaji, XII, Mount Carmel Vidyaniketan, Kottayam, Kerala
Gandhiji's truthfullness inspires us the most. He was human like us, but he tried to overcome his weaknesses and succeeded in it. Liberating the country was his true desire and not for any other motive or self interest. Unlike today's politicians, he didn't have dual personality. He didn't crave publicity. People who came in contact with him felt his positive energy.
Shailaja Nagi, V, N.K.Bagrodia Public School, Sector-4 Dwarka, Delhi
The person who freed our nation without even a thought of violence is our Mahatama Gandhi. He was an intellectual and turned negative things to positive. I am inspired by his sense of sacrifice. He experienced joy in giving and uplifting the masses.
KIRTI ROHIL, IX A, Air Force Golden Jubilee Institute,Subroto Park,New Delhi
Simple and peace-loving
Gandhiji led a simple life. He helped people in need without expecting anything in return. He played a significant role fighting against the British rule and making India an independent nation. He encouraged the people of India to fight for freedom and bring peace and harmony to the nation. Gandhiji himself was a peace-loving human being and detested any kind of violence. He did not believe in wars and conflicts as solutions. It is these qualities that Gandhiji exhibited that inspired people to follow him.
Abhinav Roy, IX D, Kendriya Vidyalaya, Ballygunge, Kolkata
Gandhiji practised simplicity. He was fearless in speaking the truth and he practised non-violent methods to put across his point of view. These principles were first practised by him in his day-to-day life before he asked others to follow them. He gave value to the lives of untouchables, naming them children of God. His nature of feeling the pain of his brethren and fasting for their cause shows his empathy towards human beings.
V. Chaitanya, V-C, Tagore International School, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi.
Brave and confident
I am inspired by Gandhi as he was a brave and confident person who followed the path of non-violence (ahimsa). He sacrificed his life for the sake of the country. He was a great leader and is my favourite hero. He showed me simple living and high thinking.
Natasha Valluri, V A, Johnson Grammar School(ICSE), Warasiguda
From the villages
Mahatma Gandhiji had a large following of people from the villages because he said “Graamraajya hi Raamraajya”. It means that if villages live in prosperity with adequate agriculture and irrigation, the village would flourish as if god himself was ruling the village. He meant that the growth of cities and towns depended on the growth of the villages. He believed in “Graamraajya”. So, he told them that this would be the root of India's glorious independence.
T.S.Mahima, VIII A, S.B.O.A.School and Junior College, Chennai
Love for peace
Many people struggled for Indian independence and many people lost their lives during the freedom movement. But, when we talk about Indian Independence, Gandhiji's name comes to our mind first and he is regarded as the “Father of our nation”. What is the reason for this? Gandhiji's simplicity and love towards others made him closer to the common man. At all stages during the freedom movement, he preached and practised only Ahimsa or non-violence.
R. Shalini, VI, Rangarao Lions Matriculation School, Watrap, Virudhunagar District, Tamil Nadu
According to me what inspired people to follow Gandhiji is his courage and confidence. He never hesitated to be on the path of truth and needed no one to support him. He knew for certain that he was doing the right thing. When we do the right we need not have any fear.
Madeeha Azam, IX, Neo Rosary School, Tolichowki, Hyderabad.
Devotion to work
Gandhiji, affectionately called Bapu, was determined and dedicated towards his work. Satayagraha, the Dandi March, the Non-Cooperation Movement and other kinds of major steps which he took are evidence of his “determination”. He was also dedicated and considered all work to be important.
Achyut Chaturvedi, IX D, Cathedral Senior Secondary School, Lucknow
It was Gandhiji's simple way of living and his strong, determined character that influenced millions of people to rally in support. His concepts of Satyagraha and Ahimsa sparked interest and enthusiasm in many Indians. He inspired patriotism in every single Indian.
Shweta Kallapur, VIII, The East-West School, Basavanagudi, Bangalore.
Gandhiji never told people to follow him or regard himself as a leader. He never intended to lead but he chose to follow. He followed the truth and what brought happiness to his people. His simplicity, self confidence, truthfulness and empathetic nature made people admire him. He became a leader not because of the false promises he gave to the people like today's politicians but because of the belief nurtured by the people in his deeds.
P. M. Shanmathy,VIII, Disha A Life School, Pollachi, Tamil Nadu
In the right path
Seek the truth and it will set you free. This was the principle of Gandhiji. The reason why people followed him is because each and every action of his was rational and beneficial to the common man.Today not only we, Indians, but the whole world try to follow his philosophy.
ABHISHEK RAJ, X, Sainik School, Tilaiya, Koderma district, Jharkhand
This is a selection of inspirational people, people who have made a lasting contribution towards creating a better world. These people have inspired others by their various achievements, but also by their attitude and values.
Note: This does not aim to be a fully comprehensive list, rather it provides a start for further research. If you would like to suggest anyone else who you feel is inspirational, feel free.
Nelson Mandela (1918–2013) Campaigned for justice and freedom in his native South Africa. Mandela spent 20 years in jail for his opposition to apartheid. After his release, he became the first President of Democratic South Africa and helped heal the wounds of apartheid by his magnanimous attitude to his former political enemies.
Mikhail Gorbachev (1931–) Had the courage, tenacity and strength of character to give up the absolute power of Soviet Communism. Gorbachev moved the Soviet Union towards democracy and respect for human rights. In doing so he enabled the Berlin Wall to come down and Eastern Europe gained freedom from Communist control.
Martin Luther King (1929–1968) Inspiring leader of the non-violent civil rights movement. Inspired millions of people, black and white, to aspire for a more equal and just society.
Jesus Christ (c5 BCE–30 CE) Prophet and the inspiration of Christianity. Taught a message of love, forgiveness and faith. He was born in a turbulent period of Roman rule, and after his crucifixion, his message inspired millions around the world.
William Wilberforce (1759–1833) Fought tirelessly for ending the slave trade, at a time when many accepted it as an ‘economic necessity’. He awakened the conscience of many of his fellow countrymen and helped to make slavery appear unacceptable.
Albert Einstein (1879–1955) His theories of relativity were a very significant scientific breakthrough. As well as being a genius scientist, Einstein was also a champion of human rights and campaigned for a more peaceful world.
Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) One of the United States of America’s founding fathers. Jefferson helped draft the Declaration of Independence and he held a deep-seated belief in human rights. Jefferson passed one of the first bills on religious tolerance in his state of Virginia. He sought to improve education and was a noted polymath with a wide range of interests.
Mother Teresa (1910–1997) A modern day saint who sought to identify with and offer compassion to the unloved and destitute. She lived a life of voluntary poverty and service to the poor.
Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) Abraham Lincoln overcame many setbacks to become the most influential American President. In his famous Gettysburg speech, he inspired the nation with his noble words and helped to bring about the abolishment of slavery.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) One of the greatest minds in human history. In many areas, he was a couple of centuries ahead of scientific discovery. He helped make great advances in anatomy, astronomy, physics, science and in other fields as well. Amidst all this, he found time to paint the most iconic picture in history – The Mona Lisa.
Helen Keller (1880–1968) Despite disability of both deafness and blindness, she learned to read and write, becoming a champion of social issues and helping to improve the welfare of deaf people.
Muhammad Ali (1942–2016) Champion boxer and great character. Ali refused to fight in the Vietnam war and became a champion of civil rights and African interests. When asked how he would like to be remembered, Ali said: “As a man who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love.”
Joan of Arc (1412–1431) As a young, illiterate peasant girl, Joan of Arc inspired the Dauphin of France to defeat the English. Although burned at the stake for ‘heresy’, her prophecy of French unity came true after her death.
Benjamin Franklin. (1706–1790) Great polymath and promoter of American ideals at home and in the US. A practical man of great dynamism and good character.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) Gandhi was the principle figurehead of the Indian independence movement. Taught a philosophy of non-violence and peaceful protest.
Florence Nightingale (1820–1910) Nightingale volunteered to nurse soldiers during the Crimean War. Her statistical analysis of the pitiful conditions she found, and her management of them, helped to revolutionise the service of nursing and the treatment of patients.
Harriet Tubman (1822–1913) Tubman escaped from slavery but returned on many dangerous missions to Maryland where she helped lead slaves to freedom. She also served as agent and leader during the Civil War.
Winston Churchill (1874–1965) In the worst moments of 1940, the Nazi war machine looked invincible as it swept through Europe. Churchill inspired the free nations to keep alive the fight against the tyranny of Hitler’s Germany.
Anne Frank (1929–1945) Anne Frank was nobody special, just an ordinary teenage girl. But she became a symbol of how ordinary people can get caught up in Man’s inhumanity. Despite the most testing of conditions, Anne retained an optimistic spirit and faith.
Socrates (469 BC–399 BC) Socrates showed the power and integrity of independent thought. He taught by encouraging people to honestly question their preconceptions. His method of self-enquiry laid the foundations of Western Philosophic thought.
George Orwell (1903–1950) George Orwell was a democratic socialist who fought in the Spanish civil war on the side of the Republicans. He gave up his privileged education to spend time with the unemployed of the Great Depression. His greatest contribution was warning about the dangers of totalitarian regimes, whatever the ideology may be behind them.
Buddha (c 563–483BC) The Buddha was a young prince who gave up the comforts of palace life to seek the meaning of life by meditating in the wilderness. After gaining realisation, the Buddha spent the remainder of his life travelling around India teaching a middle path of meditation and inner peace.
Sri Chinmoy (1931–2007) An Indian spiritual teacher who combined the best of Eastern and Western cultures. He founded the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, a worldwide run to promote peace and greater understanding.
William Shakespeare (1564–1616) Shakespeare remains the king of English literature. His plays and poetry captured the richness and diversity of human existence in the most powerful and poetic way.
St Therese de Lisieux (1873–1897) A Carmelite nun, who died aged 24, unknown to the world. Yet after her death, her simple writings had a profound effect, becoming one of the best selling spiritual writings. Her approach was a simple approach of doing the smallest acts with love.
Desmond Tutu (1931–) Nobel Peace Prize winner. Campaigner against apartheid and instrumental in promoting human rights and justice. Tutu helped to heal the wounds of apartheid in South Africa.
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962) Helped draft United Nations declaration of human rights. Strived to improve civil rights in the US. Inspired many people because of her positivity, compassion and self-giving.
Edward Jenner (1749–1823) Led pioneering work on the development of an inoculation against deadly smallpox. Opened up the way to more immunisation treatments, arguably saving the lives of millions of people around the world.
Jesse Owens (1913–1980) Jesse Owens’ four gold medals at Hitler’s 1936 Olympics in Berlin was one of the great moments of sport, which helped to puncture the Nazi ideology of Aryan supremacy. Jesse Owens was a modest hero who remained a great ambassador for Sport.
Akbar (1542–1605) The great Moghul Emperor who went a long way to uniting India under his rule. Although a great warrior, Akbar was also known for his love of culture, music and philosophy. He introduced enlightened laws on religious tolerance in his kingdom and encouraged representatives of different religions to come to his court.
Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727) One of the greatest scientists of all time. Isaac Newton led the foundation of modern physics with his development of theories of gravity and mechanics.
Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) Influential Russian author, whose great epics include War and Peace. His philosophy of non-violence and a return to rural simplicity inspired other politicians such as Gandhi.
Emil Zatopek (1922–2000) Greatest long-distance runner, winning three gold medals at the 1954 Olympics. He was a principled supporter of Czech democracy, being sent to work in mines for his opposition to the Communist government.
Emily Dickinson (1830–1886) One of the most popular female poets who wrote unique, uplifting poems which captured the imagination of many people.
Sri Krishna (c. 3000 BCE) Sri Krishna was a great Spiritual Teacher who gave the immortal discourses in the Bhagavad Gita, teaching a practical yoga for all.
J R R Tolkien ( 1892–1973) Writer and creator of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Tolkien was a modest professor at Oxford University but found time to create a whole mythical world.
William Blake (1757–1827) Mystical poet and artist. William Blake wrote poems of great depth and power, celebrating both the joys of spirit and nature and also fiercely criticising the injustice of the times.
Pope John Paul II (1920–2005) Lived through two totalitarian regimes, eventually becoming a priest and then the first Polish pope. He was a charismatic spiritual leader who retained great faith in moral and spiritual values.
Mozart (1756–1791) Music genius who composed a range of breathtaking music from piano concertos to his immortal Requiem.
Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902 ) a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, Vivekananda helped spread Sri Ramakrishna’s message and mission to the West.
St Teresa of Avila (1515–1582) Christian mystic and writer. She also played a key role in the Spanish church at a time when women were largely marginalised.
B.R Ambedkar (1891–1956) Indian social reformer. Ambedkar was born in the Mahar ‘untouchable’ caste but became a pioneering political activist and social reformer. He was the principal figure in the drafting of the Indian Constitution, which outlawed ‘untouchability’ and promoted equality.
Marie Curie (1867–1934) Marie Curie is the only person to win a Nobel Prize for both Chemistry and Physics. Her discoveries with radiation helped advance medical science. Her achievements were even more remarkable at a time when few women had the opportunity to gain an education.
Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924) Woodrow Wilson had a vision for a League of Nations a forum where nations could come together to solve disputes. The League of Nations struggled to make an impact before the Second World War, but his vision was important in the development of the United Nations.
Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906) Susan Anthony was an active member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, despite meeting hostility she continued to press for an amendment to the US constitution to outlaw slavery. She was also a prominent women’s rights activist who helped push forward the women’s suffrage campaign in the Nineteenth Century.
Rosa Parks (1913–2005) Rosa Parks became a well respected figurehead of the American civil rights movement. Rosa showed what ordinary people can do when they stick fast to their beliefs in testing conditions.
Tom Paine (1737–1809) English-American writer and political activist. He wrote influential pamphlets arguing for independence for the US, and the end of slavery. He was a key figure of the enlightenment and age of reason, supporting the revolutionary principles of US and France.
Charles Darwin (1809–1882) Darwin published his Origin of Species detailing a belief in evolution at a time when such a decision was very controversial.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945 ) was a Lutheran Pastor who was an influential critic of Hitler and Nazism, executed in 1945. His theology and writings remain influential today.
Dalai Lama (1938– ) The fourteenth Dalai Lama has been awarded the Nobel Prize for his non-violent resistance to Chinese rule. The Dalai Lama teaches a path of tolerance and compassion.
Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) Poet, writer, humanitarian, Tagore was the first Indian to be awarded Nobel Prize for Literature.
Oprah Winfrey (1954– ) Influential talk show host. Oprah Winfrey has become a role model for African American women.
Maximilian Kolbe (1894–1941 ) was a Franciscan priest who encouraged devotion to Mary and was committed to praying for those hostile to the Church. In 1941, he was arrested for sheltering Jews and sent to Auschwitz. He volunteered to take the place of a man condemned to death.
Eric Liddell (1902–1945) Eric Liddell won Olympic gold in the 400m in the 1924 Paris Olympics. He is also famed for turning down the opportunity to compete in the 100m because the heats were on a Sunday. Eric was an accomplished sportsman also representing Scotland at rugby union.
Pope Francis (1936– ) The first Jesuit pope and the first pope from the Americas, he has sought to reform the Vatican and the Catholic church. Pope Francis has stressed the importance of humility, modesty and concern for the poor. He is seen as a reforming Pope, trying to bring back the tradition of emphasis on the Gospels.
Malala Yousafzai (1997– ) Pakistani schoolgirl who defied threats of the Taliban to campaign for the right to education for girls. She survived being shot in the head by the Taliban and has become a global advocate for women’s rights, especially the right to education.
Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Inspirational People“, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net, 7th May 2013. Last updated 1 March 2018.
Courageous people – People who overcame difficult circumstances with great courage and strong principles.
People who fought for human/civil rights – People who campaigned for equality, civil rights and fairer treatment of individuals.
Women’s Rights Activists – Women who championed the cause of women’s rights.