Salt Satyagraha

The Salt March, also mainly known as the Salt Satyagraha, began with the Dandi March on March 12, 1930, and was an important part of the Indian independence movement. Twenty-five days later he stepped into a hollow, scooped up a handful of mud and salt, and announced to a throng: “With this salt I am shaking the foundations of the British empire.”

It was a direct action campaign of tax resistance and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly in colonial India, and triggered the wider Civil Disobedience Movement. This was the most significant organized challenge to British authority since the Non-cooperation movement of 1920–22, and directly followed the Purna Swaraj declaration of independence by the Indian National Congress on January 26, 1930.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (commonly called Mahatma Gandhi) led the Dandi march from his base, Sabarmati Ashram near Ahmedabad, to the coastal village of Dandi, located at a small town called Navsari, in the state of Gujarat. As he continued on this 24-day, 240-mile (390 km) march to produce salt without paying the tax, growing numbers of Indians joined him along the way. When Gandhi broke the salt laws at 6:30 am on April 6, 1930, it sparked large scale acts of civil disobedience against the British Raj salt laws by millions of Indians. The campaign had a significant effect on changing world and British attitude towards Indian independence and caused large numbers of Indians to join the fight for the first time.

After making salt at Dandi, Gandhi continued southward along the coast, producing salt and addressing meetings on the way. His party planned to stage a satyagraha at the Dharasana Salt Works, 25 miles south of Dandi. However, Gandhi was arrested on the midnight of May 4-5, 1930, just days before the planned action at Dharasana. The Dandi March and the ensuing Dharasana Satyagraha drew worldwide attention to the Indian independence movement through extensive newspaper and newsreel coverage. The satyagraha against the salt tax continued for almost a year, ending with Gandhi’s release from jail and negotiations with Viceroy Lord Irwin at the Second Round Table Conference. Over 80,000 Indians were jailed as a result of the Salt Satyagraha. However, it failed to result in major concessions from the British.

The Salt Satyagraha campaign was based upon Gandhi’s principles of nonviolent protest called satyagraha, which he loosely translated as “truth-force.” Literally, it is formed from the Sanskrit words satya, “truth”, and agraha, “force.” In early 1930 the Indian National Congress chose satyagraha as their main tactic for winning Indian independence from British rule and appointed Gandhi to organise the campaign. Gandhi chose the 1882 British Salt Act as the first target of satyagraha. The Salt March to Dandi, and the beating by British police of hundreds of nonviolent protesters in Dharasana, which received worldwide news coverage, demonstrated the effective use of civil disobedience as a technique for fighting social and political injustice. The satyagraha teachings of Gandhi and the March to Dandi had a significant influence on American civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., and his fight for civil rights for blacks and other minority groups in the 1960s.