Mahatma Gandhi: Nonviolent Power in Action

By Dennis Dalton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
Civil Disobedience:
The Salt Satyagraha

The plan of civil disobedience has been
conceived to neutralize and ultimately
entirely to displace violence and enthrone
non-violence in its stead, to replace hatred
by love, to replace strife by concord.'

Gandhi, March, 1930

On March 12, 1930, Mohandas Gandhi, age sixty years, left his ashram at Sabarmati with seventy-eight followers, bound for the shores of Dandi, a small village on the coast of Gujarat in western India. Thus began the historic Dandi march and salt satyagraha, one of the most dramatic events of modern Indian history. The march covered over two hundred miles and lasted twenty-four days. Its specific object was to protest against the tax the British Raj had placed on salt. Under the regulations of the India Salt Act 1882, the government enforced a monopoly on the collection or manufacture of salt, restricting its handling to officially controlled salt depots and levying a tax of Rs 1-4-0 (46 cents) on each maund (82 lbs.).2 Gandhi defied this monopoly and so broke the law by simply collecting natural salt from the seashore on April 6. The broader object of the march was to spark a campaign of civil disobedience against the Raj in order to attain independence. The salt satyagraha, therefore, began with Gandhi's act at Dandi, quickly spread throughout India as others followed his example, and

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