Q. 4

Why was the charkha chosen as a symbol of nationalism?

Answer :

Gandhiji used to operate on the charkha daily. He made it one symbol of nationalism due to the following reasons:

(A) Manual labour was symbolised by the Charkha. Mahatma Gandhi believed in labour’s dignity. He liked to work using his own hands. However, he regarded charkha as one exquisite piece of machinery.

(B) Machines were opposed by Gandhiji as he believed that they enslaved humans. He instead adopted charkha because he wished to glorify the dignity related to manual labour and not of the technology and machines.

(C) Gandhiji also believed that charkha could make a human self-reliant since it added to his income.

(D) The operation of spinning at charkha made Gandhiji able to break the restrictions of traditional caste system.

Factually, Gandhiji desired to make charkha as a symbol of nationalism which is why he encouraged other nationalist leaders to spin at charkha for some time daily.

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Read the following extract carefully and answer the questions that follow :

‘‘Tomorrow we shall break the salt tax law’’

On 5 April 1930, Mahatma Gandhi spoke at Dandi :

When I left Sabarmati with my companions for this seaside hamlet of Dandi, I was not certain in my mind that we would be allowed to reach this place. Even while I was at Sabarmati there was a rumour that I might be arrested. I had thought that the Government might perhaps let my party come as far as Dandi, but not me certainly. If someone says that this betrays imperfect faith on my part, I shall not deny the charge. That I have reached here is in no small measure due to the power of peace and non-violence: that power is universally felt. The Government may, if it wishes, congratulate itself on acting as it has done, for it could have arrested every one of us. In saying that it did not have the courage to arrest this army of peace, we praise it. It felt ashamed to arrest such an army. He is a civilised man who feels ashamed to do anything which his neighbours would disapprove. The Government deserves to be congratulated on not arresting us, even if it desisted only from fear of world opinion.

Tomorrow we shall break the salt tax law. Whether the Government will tolerate that is a different question. It may not tolerate it, but it deserves congratulations on the patience and forbearance it has displayed in regard to this party. ...

What if I and all the eminent leaders in Gujarat and in the rest of the country are arrested? This movement is based on the faith that when a whole nation is roused and on the march no leader is necessary.

(1) What were the apprehensions of Mahatma Gandhi when he started his Dandi March?

(2) Why did Gandhiji say that the Government deserved to be congratulated?

(3) Why was the ‘Salt March’ very significant?

History - Board Papers

Read the following excerpt carefully and answer the questions that follow:

Why the Salt Satyagraha?

Why was salt the symbol of protest? This is what Mahatma Gandhi wrote: The volume of information being gained daily shows how wickedly the salt tax has been designed. In order to prevent the use of salt that has not paid the tax which is at times even fourteen times its value, the Government destroys the salt it cannot sell profitably. Thus, it taxes the nation’s vital necessity: it prevents the public from manufacturing it and destroys what nature manufactures without effort. No adjective is strong enough for characterising this wicked dog-in-the-manger policy. From various sources I hear tales of such wanton destruction of the nation’s property in all parts of India. Maunds if not tons of salt are said to be destroyed on the Konkan coast. The same tale comes from Dandi. Wherever there is likelihood of natural salt being taken away by the people living in the neighbourhood of such areas for their personal use, salt officers are posted for the sole purpose of destruction. Thus, valuable national property is destroyed at national expense and salt taken out of the mouths of the people.

The salt monopoly is thus a fourfold curse. It deprives the people of a valuable easy village industry, involves wanton destruction of property that nature produces in abundance, the destruction itself means more national expenditure, and fourthly to frown this folly, an unheard-of tax of more than 1,000 per cent is extracted from a starving people.

This tax has remained so long because of the apathy of the general public. Now that is sufficiently roused, the tax has to go. How soon it will be abolished depends upon the strength of the people.

(i) Why was salt monopoly introduced by the British considered as a curse by the Indians?

(ii) How did Gandhiji illustrate his tactical wisdom with regard to salt monopoly?

(iii) Explain the significance of Gandhiji’s challenge of salt protest.

History - Board Papers