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The Dandi Salt March
In an act of civil disobedience against the British rule of India and their misappropriation of power, Mahatma Gandhi along with 80 satyagrahis marched from Sabarmati to Dandi in Gujarat, breaking the salt law that penalised domestic manufacturing of salt.
The Salt Tax was introduced as an easy way for the British investors in the East India Company to make money. To the British, the tax was a legitimate way of making a profit, while the Indian people saw it as an unjust burden on an already resource-starved population.
A labourer earns Rs. 1,020 every month. (Lowest MNREGA minimum wages is Rs. 122, for at least 100 workdays a year.)
If salt was taxed the way it was in 1823, she would be spending Rs.
510 on salt for her family every month.
Today we spend as low as Rs. 9 for a month's worth of salt.
25 Days In Numbers
We dig into the contents of speeches made, sizes and composition of crowds that it attracted, and the richness and diversity of the voices that were raised quietly.
Touching Lives: A Movement Grows
Gandhi himself wasn't sure of how the march would be received by the public and the authorities. In his initial letters to Pandit Nehru and fellow freedom-fighters, he expresses this concern while remaining determined not to return without reaching his goal.
Women (Only where data is available)
Population of the Place
Muslim Audience* (Only where data is available)
*Before the Dandi March, the nationalist movement was talked about mostly in Hindu terms. The March helped change this perception.
Communities Come Together
The ground swell of support came from all corners of the country, as seen in the variety of donors across borders who pooled together money.
A Vehicle for Transformation: The Mahatma Speaks
The Mahatma used the March as a platform to talk about things close to his heart; from civil disobedience, to the injustice of foreign rule, to simple living, to communal harmony and personal discipline.
Content Analysis of Gandhi's Speeches
After Dandi: Action at Dharasana Salt Works
The walk up to Dandi is considered a prelude to the action (raid) at Dharasana Salt works, south of Dandi.
"With this salt, I am shaking the foundations of the British empire."
On 5th May, 1930, at Dandi, Gandhi, after an immersion in the Arabian Sea, bends down to pick up a lump of salt-rich mud. With the mud in hand, he announces to the world what would later become the death knell of the Raj in India.
While the March per-se wasn’t a success since it failed to realise a lot of the goals it set out with, it is significant in having risen the political consciousness of the nation. Khadi sales went up, foreign imports went down, and women came to take part the nationalist struggle.
The British failed to foresee how much populist traction an issue like salt tax could generate and ended up with voices and actions against their malpractices that could no longer be brushed aside. While the success can’t be measured by exacting criteria, it paved the way for similar actions all over the country, and worked as a test-bed for similar campaigns. Gandhi remarked that the March was “not designed to establish independence, but to arm the people with the power to do so.”
Prof. Greg Polk (and team) retraced the Dandi March route in 2015. See their weblog: Retracing Gandhi's Salt March
. Thanks to him and Mr. Himanshu Dube for the resources and suggestions.
Day-by-day data from
Thomas Weber's On the Salt March: The Historiography of Mahatma Gandhi’s March to Dandi
Information on the history of salt taxation from
Y.P. Anand's Historical Background to the Imposition of Salt Tax Under the British Rule in India (1757-1947) and Mahatma Gandhi’s Salt Satyagraha (1930-31) Against the
Gandhi's speeches accessed from the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi
Map data from
Google Earth Pro