Class 10 History

Nationalism in Asia: Salt March

Salt March aka Dandi March

Salt March or Dandi March dramatically changed the scene of India's freedom movement. This movement proved to be a catalyst for the freedom movement in India.

Issue of salt tax

Mahatma Gandhi believed that salt could be a powerful symbol to unite the whole nation. Most of the people; including the British scoffed at the idea. Abolition of the salt tax was among many demands which were raised by Gandhiji through a letter to Viceroy Irwin.

The Salt March or Dandi March was started by Gandhiji on 12th March 1930. He was accompanied by 78 volunteers. They walked for 24 days to cover a distance of 240 miles from Sabaramati to Dandi. Many more joined them in the way. On 6th April 1930, Gandhiji ceremonially violated the law by taking a fistful of salt.

Effect of Salt March

The Salt March marked the beginning of the Civil Disobedience Movement. Thousands of people broke the salt law in different parts of country. People demonstrated in front of government salt factories. Foreign cloth was boycotted. Peasants refused to pay revenue. Village officials resigned. Tribal people violated forest laws.

Response of British Rulers

The colonial government began to arrest the Congress leaders. This led to violent clashes at many places. Mahatma Gandhi was arrested about a month later. People began to attack the symbols of British rule; such as police posts, municipal buildings, law courts and railway stations. The government’s repression was quite brutal. Even women and children were beaten up. About 100,000 people were arrested.

Round Table Conference

When things began to take a violent turn, Mahatma Gandhi called off the movement. He signed a pact with Irwin on 5th March 1931. This was called the Gandhi-Irwin Pact. As per the Pact, Gandhiji agreed to participate in the Round Table Conference in London. In lieu of that, the government agreed to release the political prisoners.

The First Round Table Conference took place during November 1930 to January 1931. The Congress Party had boycotted the First Round Table Conference. It was attended by representatives from the Muslim League in addition to representatives from various other bodies.

The Second Round Table Conference took place during September to December 1931. The Congress Party had agreed to attent this and Mahatma Gandhi was the sole official representative from the Indian National Congress.

The Third Round Table Conference took place during November to December 1932. This was the last conference in a series of peace conferences. The last conference paved the way for Government of India Act 1935.

Gandhiji went to London in December 1931. The negotiations broke down and Gandhiji had to return with disappointment.

When Gandhiji came back to India, he found that most of the leaders were put in jail. Congress had been declared illegal. Many measures were taken to prevent meetings, demonstrations and boycotts. Mahatma Gandhi relaunched the Civil Disobedience Movement. By 1934, the movement had lost its momentum.