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Salt Satyagraha & Dandi March - 1930

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The Salt Satyagraha started on March 12, 1930, with the undertaking of the Dandi Yatra (Dandi March). It was the next significant non-violent protest against the British, after the Non-Cooperation movement of 1920-22 and India's First War of Independence 1857.

The triggering factor for this movement was the British monopoly of salt trade in India and the imposition of a salt tax. According to the contemporary British laws, the sale or production of salt by anyone but the British government was a criminal offense. So, while Salt was readily and freely accessible to laborers in the coastal areas, they were forced to pay money for it. Since Salt is needed by all, irrespective of geography, class/caste, religious beliefs, and ethnic backgrounds, Mahatma Gandhi chose it as the focal point for the  Satyagraha (non-violent protests).

The Dandi march was undertaken by Gandhiji and about 78 of his followers, starting from Sabarmati Ashram near Ahmedabad. The Satyagrahis set out on foot, for the coastal village of Dandi, Gujarat, about 240 miles away. The walk lasted for 23 days and passed through 48 villages. The marchers were received with great enthusiasm and the support from the masses was very evident. During the course of the journey, thousands of Satyagrahis joined the walk, including leaders like Sarojini Naidu.

The protestors arrived at the seashore on April 5. The following morning, on April 6, at 6:30 am, Gandhiji offered a prayer, raised some mud and salt, and declared, "With this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire." He then boiled it in seawater to make the commodity which no Indian could legally produce—salt. He encouraged his followers to start making salt wherever it was most convenient and comfortable to them.

This symbolic act of salt making sparked the larger Civil Disobedience Movement across the nation. It had a significant impact on the British government and their attitudes towards Indians and India’s independence. For the first time, a large numbers of common Indians joined the fight for independence, and it garnered worldwide attention.

The British considered the Dandi March and the making of salt by Gandhiji as a breach of the salt laws. Consequently, he was arrested on the midnight of May 4, 1930. The Satyagraha against the salt tax continued for almost a year, in which over 80,000 Indians were jailed. The movement ended after almost a year with Gandhi's release from jail and negotiations with Viceroy Lord Irwin. While the movement did not result in any immediate concessions by the British, it marked a major milestone and turning point in India’s fight for freedom.

Gandhiji’s philosophy and the Dandi March had a significant influence on American Civil Rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his fight for civil rights for blacks and other minority groups in the 1960s.

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Salt Satyagraha & Dandi March - 1930