Civil Disobedience Movement

Civil Disobedience Movement
General Knowledge

Civil Disobedience Movement

Civil Disobedience Movement is also known as Salt Satyagraha or Dandi March in the history of India. 

Civil Disobedience Movement is a crucial topic for UPSC examinations. This article will update you about the Salt Satyagraha movement. Candidates appearing for banking PO, SSC, civil services exams and so on can refer to this article for notes on Civil Disobedience Movement. 

Salt Satyagraha/ Dandi March/ Civil Disobedience Movement

Initiated by Mahatma Gandhi against the salt tax levied by the British government in India, the Salt Satyagraha was a mass civil disobedience movement. On 12 March 1930, he led a large group of people from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi, a coastal village in Gujarat, to break the salt law by making salt from seawater.

Background of the Civil Disobedience Movement or Salt Satyagraha

  • By 1930, the Congress Party had declared the sole objective of the freedom struggle to be Poorna Swarajya or complete independence.
  • It began to be celebrated as Poorna Swarajya Day on 26 January, and it was decided that the civil disobedience movement was to be the way used to achieve it.
  • Mahatma Gandhi was requested to plan and organise this first act. In defiance of the government, Gandhiji chose to break the salt tax.
  • Some Congress members were sceptical of the choice, and this choice of salt was rejected with disdain by other Indians and the British.
  • Lord Irwin, the then Viceroy, was hardly disturbed by the danger of a salt protest, and the government did nothing to stop the salt march from taking place.
  • But the choice of using salt by Gandhiji was nothing short of brilliant because it touched every Indian with a chord.
  • It was a commodity that everyone needed, and because of the salt tax, poor people were hurt.
  • Until the passing of the 1882 Salt Act, which gave the British monopoly over salt and authority production to impose a salt tax, Indians had been making salt from seawater free of cost. Violating the salt act was a criminal offence.
  • Gandhiji was also hoping to unite Hindus and Muslims, as both groups had a common cause.
  • The salt tax accounted for 8.2% of the British Raj’s tax revenues, and Gandhiji knew that the government could not ignore this.


Course of the Civil Disobedience Movement

  • On 2nd March 1930, Gandhiji informed Lord Irwin of his plan.
  • On 12th March 1930, he would lead a group of people from his Ashram at Sabarmati and walk through Gujarat villages.
  • He will make salt from seawater upon reaching the coastal village of Dandi, thereby violating the salt act. With 80 of his supporters, Gandhiji began the march. Strict orders were given to them not to resort to any form of violence.
  • To witness the historical event, thousands of people thronged the road from Sabarmati Ashram to Ahmedabad.
  • Gandhiji would address thousands of people at the end of the day and criticise the government in his speeches.
  • Gandhiji met with foreign journalists and wrote newspaper articles along the way. This pushed the movement for Indian independence into the mainstream of the world media.
  • In West India, Gandhiji became a household name.
  • On the way, Sarojini Naidu followed him. Many people joined him each day, and they entered Dandi on 5th April 1930.
  • There were nearly 50,000 participants involved in the march at this time.
  • By making salt, Gandhiji broke the salt law on the morning of 6th April 1930. Thousands of individuals followed suit.


Outcome of the Civil Disobedience Movement

  • About 60,000 people were arrested by the army, including Gandhiji himself.
  • Civil disobedience carried out by the citizens was widespread. In addition to the salt tax, other unpopular tax laws, such as forest laws, chowkidar tax, land tax, etc., were defied.
  • With more laws and censorship, the government aimed to suppress the movement.
  • They called the Congress Party illegal. But the satyagrahis who continued the campaign were not deterred by this.
  • In Calcutta and Karachi, there were several instances of violence, but Gandhiji did not call off the protest, unlike the previous non-cooperation movement.
  • C Rajagopalachari led a similar march on the southeast coast from Trichy to Vedaranyam in Tamil Nadu. He was arrested for salt-making, too.
  • K Kelappan led a march from Calicut to Payyanur in the Malabar region.
  • Similar marches were conducted, and salt was illegally produced in Assam and Andhra Pradesh.
  • The Satyagraha was organised in Peshawar and headed by the disciple of Gandhiji, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. He was convicted in April 1930. In a marketplace called the Qissa Khwani Bazaar, Khan’s followers (called Khudai Khidmatgars) whom he had educated in Satyagraha had gathered. There, despite being unarmed, they were shot at by the British Indian Army.
  • Thousands of women also attended the Satyagraha.
  • They boycotted foreign clothing. Liquor stores were picketed. Strikes were going on all around.
  • On 21st May 1930, there was a protest against the Dharasana Salt Works by Sarojini Naidu’s non-violent protestors. The police lathi-charged the protesters brutally, resulting in the deaths of 2 people with injury to countless others. This incident was reported in the international media, and the British policies pursued in India were condemned.
  • The revolution shook the British government. It’s non-violent made it impossible for them to suppress it aggressively.
  • There were three primary consequences of this movement:
    • In western media, it brought the Indian freedom fight into the limelight.
    • It brought many people directly into touch with the liberation movement, including women and the depressed classes.
    • As a tool in the war against imperialism, it showed the power of the non-violent Satyagraha.
  • In 1931, Gandhiji was released from prison, and he met Lord Irwin, who was willing to bring an end to the civil disobedience movement and the media attention it had gained.
  • As per the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, the civil disobedience movement would be terminated, and Indians would be permitted to make salt for domestic use in exchange. Lord Irwin has promised to free the Indians who were arrested. As an ‘equal’, Gandhiji attended the Second Round Table Conference in London.


Drawbacks of the Civil Disobedience Movement

  • The movement did not gain any important concessions from the government.
  • There was restricted support of Muslims.

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