Salt And Its Contribution In India's Freedom Movement

After years long British rule, India got its independence on August 15, 1947. India will be celebrating its 77th year of Independence this year and India's freedom struggle was one of the most significant rebellions. There were so many heroes who sacrificed their lives for the nation so that we could get free of British rule and have free air to breathe. There is no way in which we can thank those heroes, some of whom we know and some of whom we don’t.

Did you know that a pinch of salt also helped in attaining freedom from the British rule? Back in late 1920's, the rebellion against the British was at its peak. It was when the leaders and politicians of the Indian subcontinent had realized that before fighting the British, they must fight the lack of unity amongst them. It was considered essential to bring people together as one force. Among several attempts made in this direction, the famous salt march was initiated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1930 and this was indeed a milestone in the Civil Disobedience Movement. 

          Image credits: Mahatma Gandhi on the Dandi March/

Also known as salt satyagraha and dandi march, the salt march was carried out by Mahatma Gandhi who had kept an 11-point demand before the then Viceroy Lord Irwin. It warned that if the government doesn't accept the demands, the people would be forced to launch a mass rebellion. One of the demands was the abolition of the salt tax and government's monopoly over salt production. It needs to be mentioned here that in 1882, the British government implemented the Salt Act which prohibited Indians from collecting or selling salt. The Indians were forced to buy salt from the British instead. 

Sensing the universal appeal of the issue, Mahatma Gandhi launched the Satyagraha campaign against the Salt Tax in March 1930.  Gandhi and his followers left Sabarmati Ashram to walk through Gujarat to the coastal town of Dandi. Soon, thousands of people joined, and it became one of the biggest marches in the Indian history. At Dandi, Gandhiji violated the Salt Law by making salt without payment of duties and threatened the British monopoly upfront. 

But, why salt? 

Mahatma Gandhi’s idea behind choosing salt as the weapon was because they needed something that can unite people of different classes and backgrounds together and salt was the correct choice. It was everyday necessity for most Indians, and the salt tax was troubling every citizen. Because salt was manufactured from saline sea water hence imposition of heavy duty was not only immoral, but also unfair to the poor. Gandhi also let that a common factor was needed to unite the Muslims and Hindus to revolt against the British while bringing both groups together. 

The Salt March proved that nonviolence can be an effective political tool for the masses to fight for their rights and undermining the power of the ruling party. Dandi march or salt satyagraha also became the first movement that received the cooperation from mercantile and industrialists. The wide range of support received in the movement helped India win its first moral victory while further strengthening the rebel against the British.