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Rivals to Hinduism

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Period of Political Instability

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The Gandhi Salt March


         In 1930 in order to help free India from British control, Mahatma Gandhi proposed a non-violent march protesting the British Salt Tax, continuing Gandhi's pleas for civil disobedience.  The Salt Tax essentially made it illegal to sell or produce salt, allowing a complete British monopoly.  Since salt is necessary in everyone's daily diet, everyone in India was affected.  The Salt Tax made it illegal for workers to freely collect their own salt from the coasts of India, making them buy salt they couldn't really afford.

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            Before embarking on the 240-mile journey from Sabarmati to Dandi, Gandhi sent a letter to the Viceroy himself, forewarning their plans of civil disobedience:

If my letter makes no appeal to your heart, on the eleventh day of this month I shall proceed with such co-workers of the Ashram as I can take, to disregard the provisions of the Salt Laws.  I regard this tax to be the most iniquitous of all from the poor man's standpoint.  As the Independence movement is essentially for the poorest in the land, the beginning will be made with this evil.[1]

To deliver this letter, Gandhi chose an Englishman who believed in the Indian movement in efforts to promote non-violence.  The Viceroy wrote back, explaining that the British would not change their policy: "[Gandhi was] contemplating a course of action which is clearly bound to involve violation of the law and danger to the public peace." [2]

            As promised, on March 12, 1930, Gandhi and 78 male satyagrahis (activists of truth and resolution) started their 23-day-long journey.  Women weren't allowed to march because Gandhi felt women wouldn't provoke law enforcers like their male counterparts, making the officers react violently to non-violence.  Along the march, the satyagrahis listened to Gandhi's favorite bhajan sung by Pandit Paluskar, a Hindustani vocalist; the roads were watered and softened, and fresh vegetation was thrown along the path.  Gandhi spoke to each village they passed, and more and more men joined the march.

            On April 5, 1930 Gandhi and his satyagrahis reached the coast.  After prayers were offered, Gandhi spoke to the large crowd.  He picked up a tiny lump of salt, breaking the law.  Within moments, the satyagrahis followed Gandhi's passive defiance, picking up salt everywhere along the coast.  A month later, Gandhi was arrested and thrown into prison, already full with fellow protestors. Harappan Civilization

            The Salt March started a series of protests, closing many British shops and British mills.  A march to Dharshana resulted in horrible violence.  The non-violent satyagrahis did not defend themselves against the clubs of policemen, and many were killed instantly.  The world embraced the satyagrahis and their non-violence, and eventually enabled India to gain their freedom from Britain. 


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[1]  Scott Graham, http://www.emory.edu/ENGLISH/Bahri?Dandi.html

[2]  Vinay Lal, http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/southasia/History/Gandhi/Dandi.html



Brown, Judith M., The Short Modern History of the Modern World (New York; Oxford University Press, 1994)

Graham, Scott  http://www.emory.edu/ENGLISH/Bahri?Dandi.html

Lal, Vinay  http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/southasia/History/Gandhi/Dandi.html

Mowat, C.L. (edit), The New Cambridge Modern History: The Shifting Balance of World Forces (Great Britain, Cambridge University Press, 1968)


Researched and Written by:
Alana Benner
HIST 2260:
The Modern World

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