Remembering the Forgotten Gandhi
The Dandi March, which started 90 years ago, inaugurated Mahatma Gandhi’s most successful attempt at civil disobedience against the British Raj. Unfortunately, while the originality of Gandhi’s thought and the example of his life still inspire people around the world, one must wonder if we really have learned what he meant by truth.
NEW DELHI – March 12 marks the 90th anniversary of one of the most momentous events in India’s nationalist struggle: the start of the Dandi March, which inaugurated Mahatma Gandhi’s most successful attempt at civil disobedience against the British Raj. With India’s pluralism and democracy under greater threat today than at any time since independence, the lessons of the march have never been more relevant.
The Dandi March was rooted in a longstanding grievance. The British had turned salt production and distribution into a lucrative monopoly. Indians were prohibited from producing or selling salt independently, and were required to buy expensive, heavily taxed, and often imported salt. Indian protests against the salt tax had begun in the nineteenth century, but Gandhi’s decision in 1930 to demonstrate against it was a breakthrough moment.
Gandhi started marching from his ashram near Ahmedabad to the town of Dandi on the Arabian Sea, some 385 kilometers (239 miles) away. Along the way, his group stopped in villages, wherever larger crowds gathered to hear the Mahatma denounce the tax. Hundreds joined as the marchers made their way to the coast.