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Dandi March – History and Significance

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  • Last Updated : 24 Nov, 2021

The great 241 miles foot-march of Mahatma Gandhi and his followers from Sabarmati Ashram (Ahmadabad) to the coast of Dandi from March 12 to April 5, 1930, was a tax resistance drive against the British salt monopoly. Grounded on Gandhi’s principle of non-violence or Satyagraha, the march marked the inaugural of the civil disobedience movement. On April 6, Gandhi broke the salt law by picking up a lump of salt at Dandi. The movement was begun with Gandhi and his 78 followers but thousands joined at the end. The disciplined march faced the brutality of the British government, covered by international media. The march is also known as the Salt March, the Salt Satyagraha, and the Civil Disobedience Movement. Every section of the society followed the call of Gandhi whether it was students, women, Muslims, and merchants. The event was also known as the “International Walk for Justice and Freedom” and this Salt Satyagraha campaign of the 1930s also forced the British to recognize that their control of India entirely depended on the consent of the Indians. The Dandi March was the most famous and important organized movement against the British government after the non-cooperation movement.

The Genesis of The Dandi March:

Calcutta Session

The Nehru Report was almost accepted by the Indian leaders in 1928 however the more youthful leaders like Jawahar Lal Nehru, S. C Bose, and Satyamurty expressed their dissatisfaction with the dominion status aim of congress. Instead, they demanded that congress adopt Purna Swaraj as the goal. As a compromise, congress decided that if the government did not accept a constitution based on dominion status by the end of the year, Congress might now no longer only call for complete independence however might additionally launch a civil disobedience movement to gain its goal.

Lahore Congress Session

In the Lahore session, Jawahar Lal Nehru was elected as the president and passed the historic ‘Purna Swaraj’ – (total independence) resolution on 19 December 1929. In this session, INC took some major decisions i.e. to boycott the round table conference, complete independence as the goal of Congress, the launch of civil disobedience under M.K. Gandhi, etc

Gandhi’s Eleven Demands

An ultimatum to accept or reject Gandhi’s eleven demands which were given to the British government came to end on January 31, 1930. The demands were;

  1. Reduce expenses on army and civil services by 50%;
  2. Introduce total prohibition;
  3. Carry out reforms in Criminal Investigation Department;
  4. Find an alternate to Arms Act, which enables public control of the issuance of gun licenses;
  5. Release political prisoner;
  6. Accept Postal Reservation Bill;
  7. Reduces rupee-sterling exchange ratio;
  8. Introduce textile protection;
  9. Reserve coastal shipping for Indians;
  10. Reduce land revenue by 50%;
  11. Put an end to salt tax and the government’s salt monopoly.

With no positive response from the government on these demands, Gandhi had decided to launch Civil Disobedience Movement by violating Salt Law.

Salt Tax  & Letter To Viceroy

In 1835, a Salt Commission was appointed to study the coverage of the authorities in admiration of the salt tax. To enable the sale of imported English salt from Liverpool to India, the whites supported that Indian salt should be taxed. Consequently, the sale price increased. Subsequently, the Salt Act established state control over the production of salt and its violation was punished with the seizure of salt and six months Jail. The British government had put salt under tax means people had to pay tax on the use of salt, also the government had a monopoly on making salt. Gandhi said that salt is the most necessary thing after water and air and by taxing government can reach the lower section of the society.

On 2nd March 1930, Gandhi sent a letter, to inform the Viceroy Lord Irwin that he and the others would begin breaking the Salt Laws in 10 days and according to this plan, Gandhi, along with a band of 78 members of Sabarmati Ashram, marched towards the coast at Dandi, to violate the salt regulation.

Impact of the Dandi March:

At the end of March Gandhi picked up some grains of salt from the seashore and took a pledge, “With this (salt), l am shaking the foundations of the Empire“. On March 12, 1930, when the march was begun it marked the inaugural of the Civil disobedience Movement.

Pan-India Participation

The march had begun from along India’s west coast and reached almost every corner of the country. Nehru and Gandhi’s arrest in April and May respectively evoked huge demonstrations in Madras, Calcutta, Karachi, Bombay, Delhi, and Sholapur. While Gandhi’s close associate C. Rajagopalachari, organized the Vedaranyam salt march in parallel on the east coast and after making illegal salt in the coastal village of Vedaranyam, he too was arrested by the British. Besides this, in Malabar K. Kelappan, in Orissa Gopalbandhu Chaudhari, in Bengal Subhas Bose and J.M. Sengupta led the Salt Satyagraha under the banner of Gandhi. Bihar, Peshawar, Sholapur, Dharasana, United Provinces, Manipur, and Nagaland landlocked states also responded to Gandhi’s call of non-violence movement.

World Wide Popularity

When the march was commenced no one understood the power of violating salt law. Even the Viceroy Load Irwin thought it would not impact the masses but along his way to Dandi Gandhi used to address thousands of people, which influenced many to join the march. The historic march pushed the Indian independence movement into the forefront of world media. The American weekly magazine Time had printed the picture of Gandhi on its front page and described the power of non-violence and brutality of The British government. Gandhi became a household name in the west. More than 30 years later, Satyagraha and the March to Dandi exercised a strong influence on Activist Martin Luther King Jr. known for his contributions to the American civil rights movement and his fight for civil rights for blacks in the 1960s.

Women Participation

Women’s participation was another significance of this march. Women for the first time played a significant role in picketing liquor shops, opium dens, and shops selling foreign clothes. A naga Spiritual leader Rani Gaidinliu raised the banner of revolt against British rule. The unfinished task of leading a raid on the Dharasana Salt Works was taken up by Sarojini Naidu after Gandhi’s arrest. For Indian women, the movement became the maximum releasing revel in and might truly be stated to have marked their access into the general public sphere.

Shaken The British Establishment

The British Government Was shaken by the launch of Salt March. Firstly, when the viceroy was informed about the march no one took it seriously, but the government was damaged badly and was running in losses due to the boycott of English goods. Also, the first round table conference was failed which was summoned without congress. After one year of the march in February 1931, discussions were held between Gandhi and Irwin and as a result, Gandhi-Irwin Pact was signed and the terms and conditions were designed by Gandhi.

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