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Mahatma Gandhi and The Salt March Essays

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In an effort to help free India from the British rule, Mahatma Gandhi once again contributed to a protest against salt taxes, known as the Salt March. This protest advocated Gandhi’s theory of satyagraha or nonviolent disobedience as the nation came together on March 12, 1930 to walk the 241 miles long journey to the shores of Dandi to attain salt. Although some Indians criticized Gandhi for not achieving direct independence from the Raj or British rule, Gandhi’s execution of the Salt March helped to create a stronger nation for the Indians to live in. Gandhi motivated the Indians to act robustly against the injustices of the salt taxes through nonviolent means. This caused Gandhi to create a temporary compromising pact between Gandhi and…show more content…

Gandhi believed that if the Satyagrahis maintained a strong posture, then satyagraha would become even more effective. Unfortunately, after the trip to Dandi, Gandhi was arrested as a consequence for the execution of Salt March along with the other protesters who were involved in “buying, selling, or making salt” (Gold 86). However, while being held captive, a poet and a close associate of Gandhi, Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, took an advantage of the new attention that the Satyagrahis and Gandhi had aroused by leading another protest on the Dharsana Salt Works, which caused intense physical harm to the protestors. Anne Todd asserts that as a leader of this particular protest, Naidu inspired and reminded the Satyagrahis that even though “Gandhi’s body is in jail…his soul is with you. India’s prestige is in your hands. You must not use any violence under any circumstances. You will be beaten but you must not resist; you must not even raise a hand to ward off blows” (66). As the demonstrators approached the site, they encountered the British police officers who were trying to block them and were brutally bashing these Indians with “five-foot-long steel-tipped clubs” (Todd 66). Despite the British’ effort, these satyagrahis relentlessly marched forward. Ved Mehta points out a correspondent for United Press, Webb Miller, who reports on the incident at the Dharsana Salt Works:

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Mohandas Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as mahatma Gandhi, was a Indian
nationalist leader, who established his country's freedom through a nonviolent

Gandhi became a leader in a difficult struggle, the Indian campaign for
home rule. He believed and dedicated his life to demonstrating that both
individuals and nations owe it to themselves to stay free, and to allow the same
freedom to others. Gandhi was one of the gentlest of men, a devout and almost
mystical Hindu, but he had and iron core of determination. Nothing could change
his convictions. Some observers called him a master politician. Others believed
him a saint.

Gandhi became a leader in a difficult struggle, the Indian campaign for
home rule. He worked to reconcile all classes and religious sects. Gandhi
meant not only technical self-government but also self-reliance. After World
War I, in which he played an active part in recruiting campaigns, he launched
his movement of passive resistance to Great Britain. When the Britain
government failed to make amends, Gandhi established an organized campaign of
noncooperation. Through India, streets were blocked by squatting Indians who
refused to rise even when beaten by the police. He declared he would go to jail
even die before obeying anti-Asian Law. Gandhi was arrested, but the British
were soon forced to release him. Economic independence for India, involving the
complete boycott of British goods, was made a result of Gandhi's self-ruling
movement. The economic aspects of the movement were serious, for the
exploitation of Indian villagers by British industrialists has resulted in
extreme poverty in the country and the virtual destruction of Indian home
industries. As a solution for such poverty, Gandhi supported revival of
cottage industries; he began to use a spinning wheel as a token of the return to
the simple village life he preached, and of the renewal of native Indian

Gandhi became the international symbol of a free India. He lived a
spiritual and ascetic life of prayer, fasting, and meditation. He employed
propaganda, agitation, demonstration, boycott, noncooperation, parallel
government, and strikes. He refused earthly possessions, he wore the loincloth
and shawl of the lowliest Indian and lived on vegetables, fruit juices, and
goat's milk. Indians thought of him as a saint and began to call him Mahatma.
Mahatma meant great soul, a title reserved for the greatest leaders. Gandhi's
nonviolence was the expression of a way of life understood in the Hindu religion.
By the Indian practice of nonviolence, Gandhi said, Great Britain would
eventually consider violence useless and would leave India.

The Mahatma's political and spiritual hold on India was so great that
the British authorities dared not to interfere with him. In 1921 the Indian
National Congress, the group that spearheaded the movement for nationhood, gave
Gandhi complete executive authority, with the right of naming his own successor.
A series of armed revolts against Great Britain broke out, culminating in such
violence that Gandhi confessed failure of the civil-disobedience campaign he had
called, and ended it. The British government again seized and imprisoned him in

In 1930 the Mahatma proclaimed a new campaign for civil disobedience,
calling upon the Indian population to refuse to pay taxes, particularly the tax
on salt. The campaign was a two hundred mile march to the sea, in which
thousands of Indians followed Gandhi from Ahmadabad to the Arabian Sea, where
they made salt by vaporating sea water. Once more Gandhi was arrested, but he
was released in 1931, halting the campaign after the British made compromises to
his demands. In the same year Gandhi represented the Indian National Congress
at a conference in London.

In 1932, Gandhi began new civil-disobedience campaigns against the
British. Gandhi fasted for long periods several times; these fasts were
effective measures against the British, because revolution might well have
broken out in India if he had died. In September 1932, while in jail, Gandhi
undertook a fast unto death to improve the status of the Hindu Untouchables.
The British, by permitting the Untouchables to be considered as a separate part
of the Indian voters, were, according to Gandhi, aid an injustice. Although he
was himself a member of the Vaisya (merchant) caste, Gandhi was the great leader
of the movement in India dedicated to terminating the unjust social and economic
aspects of the caste system.

In 1934 Gandhi formally resigned from politics. He raveled through
India, teaching nonviolence. A few years later, in 1939, he again returned to
active political life because of the pending federation of Indian principalities
with the rest of India. Public unrest caused by the fast was so great that the
colonial government intervened and the demands were granted. The Mahatma again
became the most important political figure in India.

When World War II broke out, the congress party and Gandhi demanded a
declaration of war aims and their application to India. As a reaction to the
unsatisfactory response from the British, the party decided not to support
Britain in the war unless the country was granted complete and immediate
independence. The British refused, offering compromises that were rejected.

By 1944 the Indian struggle for Independence was in its final stages,
the British government having agreed to independence on condition that the two
contending nationalist groups, the Muslim league and the Congress party, should
resolve their differences. Gandhi stood steadfastly against the partition of
India but ultimately had to agree, in the hope that internal peace would be
achieved after the Muslims demand for separation had been satisfied. India and
Pakistan became separate states when the British granted India its independence
in 1947. During the riots that followed the partition of India, Gandhi pleaded
with Hindus and Muslims to live together peacefully. Riots engulfed Calcutta,
one of the largest cities in India, and the Mahatma fasted until disturbance
ceased. On January 13, 1948, he undertook another successful fast in New Delhi
to bring about peace.

Religious violence soon declined in India and Pakistan, and the teachings
of Gandhi came to inspire nonviolent movements elsewhere. Within fifty five
years of his self awakening after being evicted from South Africa train
compartment, Gandhi managed to evict the British Empire from India.


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