“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”– Mahatma Gandhi
To celebrate the 75th year of Independence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off a march from the Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi on March 12. The day also marks 75 weeks to the 75th Independence Day. The stretch of 241 miles from Sabarmati to Dandi would be promulgated by 81 marchers for 25 days and it would be further joined by different groups of people. Culture Minister, Prahlad Singh Patel would lead the march for initial 75 km.
The Dandi March or the Salt Satyagrah played a crucial role in India’s independence as it was one of the most significant and stirring moments in the struggle for India’s independence. Gandhi Ji started the march as a non-violent protest against the monopoly of the British to produce salt. Gandhi Ji, with this march, extrapolated his ideology of truth and non-violence to the world and it created pressure on the hegemony of the British Raj. Therefore the ministry decided to mark the day to begin the celebrations for 75th India.
In 1882, the British government passed the India Salt Act, to create a government monopoly on the production and sale of salt. According to the act, the salt was only to be handled at official government salt depots, with a tax of one rupee four annas on each maund (82 pounds).
Salt is a staple in the Indian’s diet, therefore Gandhi Ji tried to unite the Hindus and Muslims for a common cause. Before the march, Gandhi Ji sent a letter to the then Viceroy of India, Lord Irwin, declaring that he along with fellow Indians would break the Salt Laws in 10 days.
“If my letter makes no appeal to your heart, on the eleventh day of his month, I shall proceed with such co-workers of the ashram as I can take, to disregard the provision of the salt law.” He also stated, “politically, our position is no better than that of slaves, the roots of our culture have been hollowed out… this letter is not intended as a threat. It is just a simple and sacred duty of a Satyagrahi.”
He started the historic march of ‘satyagraha’ from Sabarmati Ashram on March 12, 1930, with 78 people and when they reached Dandi on April 5, Gandhi Ji was at ‘the head of a crowd of tens of thousands. The next day he addressed the crowd and went to encrust the crystallized salt at the shore of the Arabian Sea. As soon as he crushed the natural salt from the mud, he was detained under British law.
The Dandi march signified the non-cooperation movement as resistance to British rule and it also swept the feeling of nationalism across India. The Salt Tax was later abolished in October 1946 by the Interim Government of India.
“After about 91 years, I shall be treading on the same soil in a padayatra on the occasion of 75 years of independence. But there is a sea change in the situation of the country between then and now. The journey of India will now be defined by self-reliance and self-respect. We will no more be seekers and our image on the world canvas will be that of a contributor. In this hour of crisis across the globe, we have delivered medicines and vaccines to various countries. That shows that our age-old belief in “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” is still alive”, said our Culture Minister, Prahlad Singh Patel.
Therefore to strengthen the coming generations, India needs to speak the language of labour and toil, so that before celebrating the centenary of its Independence, its achievements should stand out in the world as a striking example of dignity and grandeur.