Described as the “pilgrim on his (Gandhi) quest of truth, quiet, peaceful, determined and fearless who would continue that quiet pilgrimage regardless of consequences” by Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, Dandi March was one of the most significant revolutionary moments in the history of Indian independence. Commonly referred as the Namak Satyagraha, the March began on 12 March 1930 under the composed leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. As one of the most structured revolutionary moments for the Indian independence, Dandi March was a large scale civil revolt against the British Raj in India.
1. It was absurd to keep Indians from making their own salt!
The revolutionary campaign began from the Sabarmati Ashram near Ahmadabad under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. The nonviolent Father of the Nation was accompanied by eighty satyagrahis to a coastal village called Dandi, located about 390 kilometers south of the ashram. The strenuous journey of 390 kilometers was completed in 24 days and came to its final stop on 5th April 1930. However, the journey continued as the spirited leader to the Dharasana, but was finally arrested by the British authorities on 4th may 1930. However, the moment spread like a fire in the whole country, initiating several nonviolent moments and societies across the nation.
2. An absolutely necessary commodity, salt should not have been taxed in the first place
The main reason that drove this astonishing nonviolent was the planned protest against the salt tax laws set by the British Colonial Empire in India. The first target under this movement was the 1882 British Salt Act, but for the dictating Viceroy, Lord Irwin wasn’t moved by the earlier protests. Surpassing the land revenue boycott by the Indian National Congress, Mahatma Gandhi indicated the salt revolution as the demand of the common man of the nation. Before the Dandi March, the British raj collected 8.2% as the salt tax and it took no time for the congress party to understand the relation of salt and the common man. Among the numerous revolutionary moments in Indian independence, Dandi March stands a great example of Hindu Muslim unity. The revolutionary movement encouraged the common citizens to come against the unlawful salt taxes of the British Raj and resulted in illegal manufacturing and trade of the basic man’s commodity.
3. A civil, non-violent movement that got media’s attention
Renowned for his nonviolent teachings and courageous attitude, Mahatma Gandhi opted for Satyagraha as his best weapon. With his peaceful remonstrations troubling the British Empire for the whole past decade, this wasn’t the first time Mahatma was practicing Satyagraha for a protest. Well before the movement actually began, the campaign got the much needed limelight with several newspapers mentioning the Satyagraha movement to overcome the redundant salt laws. During his march to the coastal village of Dandi, Mahatma Gandhi was accompanied with press and media from different corners of the world as they were about to witness the history in making. This got the revolutionary moment highlighted among the world newspapers and garbed the attention of various other innovative leaders. The nonviolent protests were adopted by Martin Luther King Jr. and further seen during the African-American Civil Rights Movement in U.S.
4. Dandi March helped further the Indian freedom struggle
In an statement to the press Gandhi said “We are entering upon a life and death struggle, a holy war; we are performing an all-embracing sacrifice in which we wish to offer ourselves as oblation.” Making his intensions clear to the British Raj, Gandhi stated the principles of nonviolence and peace as the fundamentals of this moment. All the satyagrahis accompanying the Mahatma were his followers from the Sabarmati Ashram and made an arduous journey of 240 miles and 24 days. In such a long stretch of time, the moment made an impeccable relation with the residents of 48 villages located in 4 districts. With the brilliantly preplanned schedules and scouting techniques, the moment gathered large groups of people from the neighboring areas and where addressed by the Mahatma himself.
5. Large gatherings causing concerns for the British empire
Although, the Viceroy seemed discounted from the moment, Mahatma wrote a letter to him offering a stop to the moment if the British Raj agrees to his salt tax demands. However, the viceroy didn’t come with a positive reply and the moment carried on with more passion and conviction. With their khadhi dresses and motivational prayers, Mahatma Gandhi and his satyagrahis moved like a white river in which large processions of local villagers joined in. At the end of the very first day of the moment, the march came to halt in the village of Aslali, with a gathering of more than four thousand people. By the final day of the moment, the gathering exceeded the count of fifty thousand with journalists running from different corners of the globe. Finally on 5th April 1930, Mahatma Gandhi broke the salt laws set by the British Raj and initiated several revolutionary moments across the country.
6. Impact of the Dandi March on the freedom moment
The Namak Satyagraha laid the foundation for several non violent mass moments in the major parts of the country and resulted in an arrest of more than sixty thousand people in a month’s time spell. Impacting the production and sales of other British products, the Indian revolted against several surplus taxes and laws of the ruling government. The British Empire wasn’t pleased with this outlook and came up with several other laws and taxes for the colonial state. Inspired by the imposing leadership of Mahatma during the Dandi March, Peshawar Satyagraha unnerved the British Empire and resulted in an ordered open fire on the unarmed protestors. With hundreds found dead and thousands arrested, the appalling action by the Britishers, resulted in several protests featuring men and women of all ages gathering in large scales. However, the freedom and the tax free salt laws took seventeen more years after the moment.
7. Some interesting facts about the Dandi March
As the rising popularity of Mahatma Gandhi and his peaceful protests were attracting the media from all parts of the world, the composed leader became the man of the year for the Times Magazine in the year 1930. This moment was the first time the nation witnessed women coming out in dissent against the intolerable policies of the British Raj. The moment also brought the two biggest religious communities (Hindus and Muslims) together for a mutual cause. The pinch of salt made by the Mahatma on the final day of the March was auctioned for 1600 rupees. The Dandi March featured some of the exceptional names like Valjibhai Desai, Ravjibhai Patel, Vishnu Pant, Girivardhari Chaudhari and many more as they will remain an integral part of the Indian independence.