In the wake of the Salt Law March, nearly 60,000 Indians were arrested, among them, of course, Gandhiji himself. The progress of Gandhi’s March to the seashore can be traced from the secret reports filed by the police officials deputed to monitor his movement. Gandhiji persuaded the citizens to stand united. The police spies reported that Gandhi’s meeting were very well attended, by villagers of all castes. They observed thousands of volunteers flocking to the nationalist cause. Among them were many officials, who had resigned from their posts with the colonial government.
The progress of the Salt March can be also be traced from another source: the American Hews magazine, ‘Time’. Earlier it despised Gandhi’s looks, writing disdainfully, of his “spindly frame “and his “spidery loins”. Thus in its first report, Time was deeply sceptical of the Salt March reaching its destination. It claimed that Gandhiji’s “sank to the ground” at the end of second days ‘walking, the magazine did not believe that “the emaciated saint would be physically able to go much further”.
The salt March gained the world’s attention. The march was widely covered by the Europe and American press. It was the first nationalist activity in which women participated in large numbers. The socialist activist Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay had persuaded Gandhiji not to restrict the protests to men alone. Kamaladevi was herself one of numerous women who courted arrest by breaking the salt or liquor laws. The March made the British realize that their dominance would not last forever and that they would have to develop some power to the Indians. In this way American news magazine analyzed the Salt Satyagraha and role of Gandhiji during the movement.
Mahatma Gandhi is perhaps the most widely recognized figure of the Indian Nationalist Movement for his role in leading non-violent civil uprisings. He first employed the non-violent approach in South Africa where he was serving as an expatriate lawyer. He was hurt and angry when he witnessed discrimination and exploitation of colored people under Whites rule. He organizes non-violent protests in the country which gained him fame and support from the people of South Africa.
Back in India, he decided to employ his newly learned ways of civil protest in his homeland that was staggering to attain freedom from the British rule. His first point of dissent with the British colonialists was the exorbitant taxes placed on Indian nationals. He organized the working class as well as those living in poverty to protest against the high taxes and social discrimination. In 1921, he became the leader of the Indian National Congress, a nationalist political party in India, which demanded nondiscriminatory laws, equal rights for men and women, peaceful inter-religious relations, overthrow of the caste system, and above all, Indian independence. During his lifetime, Gandhi carried out three major nationalist movements which are discussed below.
I. The Non-Cooperation Movement
The first of the Gandhi-led movements was the Non-Cooperation Movement lasting from September 1920 until February 1922. The movement gained popularity, and soon, millions of people were boycotting British-run or cooperative establishments. This meant that people left their jobs, removed their children from schools, and avoided government offices. However, the Non-Cooperation Movement ended when a violent mob erupted in Chauri Chaura in Uttar Pradesh.
II. The Dandi March, Civil Disobedience, Salt Satyagraha
The abrupt ending of the Non-Cooperation Movement did nothing to stop the quest for independence. On March 12, 1930, protesters took part in the Dandi March, a campaign designed to resist taxes and protest the British monopoly on salt. Gandhi began the 24-day, 240-mile march with 79 followers and ended with thousands. When the protesters reached the coastal town of Dandi, they produced salt from saltwater without paying the British tax.
III. The Quit India Movement
The Quit India Movement began on August 8, 1942, during World War II. The India Congress Committee, under the urging of Gandhi, called for a mass British withdrawal and Gandhi made a “Do or Die” speech. British officials acted immediately and arrested nearly every member of the Indian National Congress party. England, with a new Prime Minister, offered some concessions to the Indian demands such as the right to make independent Provincial constitutions, to be granted after the war; they were not accepted. The nation once again entered mass civil disobedience marked by anti-war speeches and refusal to assist in the war efforts. This movement introduced the idea to the British that they might be unable to maintain control of India.
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