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Mahatma Gandhi (Freedom fighter)

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

Mahatma Gandhi

This quote is frequently attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, but in actuality there is no record of the he ever saying this. So we were wrong, but we liked it.

It appeared to be in part a paraphrase from the book Freedom’s Battle, a collection of essays and speeches written and compiled by Gandhi. He wrote about introducing his particular form of determined, but nonviolent protest, which he termed satyagraha, from the Sanskrit and Hindi term for “holding onto truth”:

Unfortunately for His Excellency the movement is likely to grow with ridicule as it is certain to flourish on repression.


It is for the nation to return an effective answer by organised non-co-operation and change ridicule into respect. Ridicule is like repression. Both give place to respect when they fail to produce the intended effect.


His Excellency resists the temptation to reply to his critics, meaning thereby that he has not changed his opinion on the many vital matters affecting the honour of India. He is ‘content to leave the issues to the verdict of history.’ Now this kind of language, in my opinion, is calculated further to inflame the Indian mind.


It will be admitted that non-co-operation has passed the stage ridicule. Whether it will now be met by repression or respect remains to be seen. Opinion has already been expressed in these columns that ridicule is an approved and civilized method of opposition. The viceregal ridicule though expressed in unnecessarily impolite terms was not open to exception.

But the testing time has now arrived. In a civilized country when ridicule fails to kill a movement it begins to command respect.