During the peak of British rule, Mahatma Gandhi decided to disobey the salt rules of the British that provided them a monopoly in the salt trade. Early morning on 12th March 1930, Mahatma Gandhi and his 78 followers started their protest march from Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmadabad to Dandi in Navsari district of Gujarat. The protestors set out on foot for the long 240-mile (386 km) journey, wearing Indian-made white khadi. It was not restricted to Ahmedabad or Gujarat but resonated across India among every Indian. 12th March 1930 officially started the civil disobedience movement that had an ever-lasting impact on Indian society.
The march went past several small villages and rural landscapes of Gujarat. At every night stops, Gandhiji gave speeches related to salt tax and other wrong-doings of the British administration, attracting thousands of protestors to the march. The march ended on 5th April 1930 at Dandi by the seashore. On the early morning of the next day, 6th April, Mahatma Gandhi picked up a handful of salt, thus ending the monopoly of its manufacturing by the British. Gandhiji was an inspiration to all freedom fighters in India and outside, such as Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
91 years after the Dandi March, on 12th March 2021, the Indian Government organized a similar ‘padyatra’ or journey-on-foot from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi. The padyatra commemorates India’s freedom struggle under Gandhiji and pays tribute to all the freedom fighters. 75 weeks to the 75th anniversary of India’s independence, the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, launched the grand celebration of “Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav”. The celebrations revolve around five themes – Freedom Struggle, Ideas at 75, Achievements at 75, Actions at 75, and Resolves at 75. At the flagging off ceremony, Modi has iterated that at the time of Dandi March, India could manufacture salt, an essential daily item. However, due to salt law, India was entirely dependent on salt imports from Great Britain. Similarly, in modern times, India has to self-rely on essential items and become ‘atmanirbhar’.
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Written by Himadri Paul