Salt Satyagraha – Movement, Year, Short Notes on Salt Satyagraha

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Salt Satyagraha played a critical role in India’s independence movement. Mahatma Gandhi led this 24-day march as a direct action and a non-violent answer to the salt law instilled by the British Government in India. Under the salt law, it was considered illegal for Indians to produce salt as the British Government had the sole monopoly on it. This led to Mahatma Gandhi breaking the law as a protest against British oppression, which spread like wildfire across the country as the Indian populace started following suit.

The salt march is also seen as the first step in a much larger civil disobedience campaign against British tyranny in India. Its impact was felt in India and abroad, and the Indian freedom struggle got a new direction after. This article will discuss the objectives, significance, influence, and consequences of the Salt Satyagraha and what it symbolized for India’s struggle for freedom.

Salt Satyagraha Movement

The salt satyagraha was a mass civil disobedience movement against the salt tax that the British Government introduced. According to the law, the Indian populace was prohibited from selling or producing salt independently. As a result, the poor could not afford salt, an essential ingredient, and could not make it as it was considered illegal.

Salt Satyagraha UPSC Notes

On the morning of 12 March, Mahatma Gandhi and his loyal supporters started marching, and more and more supporters joined them. After a long march that lasted for 24 days, the Satyagrahis reached the seashores of Dandi and produced salt from the seawater. This protest would later be known as the salt satyagraha that paved the way for the massive Civil Disobedience Movement.

Salt Satyagraha Year and Background

In 1930, Congress stated that the main objective of India’s independence struggle was Poorna Swaraj. It signified that the central goal was no intervention and dependency on the British.

  • The way to accomplish Poorna Swaraj was by Civil Disobedience, and the 26th of January was marked as Poorna Swaraj Day.
  • Mahatma Gandhi was supposed to prepare and systematize such movements, and he first chose to violate the salt law.
  • The then Viceroy, Lord Irwin, and the British Government did not take the breach of salt law seriously and did nothing to stop the Dandi March.
  • Gandhi broke the salt law, which impacted the British Government and marked a giant revolution in the independence struggle.
  • Salt was the basic necessity of every individual, and an increased tax on it affected the citizens.
  • Initially, Indians made salt without any expense from the natural seawater. But, the British Government levied a tax on the salt after getting authorization for salt production.
  • Violating the law of salt was considered a crime by the British.
  • Mahatma Gandhi believed it would be a massive loss for the British if Indians protested against the salt tax, from where the British acquired 8.2% of their revenue.

Objective of Salt Satyagraha

In response to the salt tax levied by the British, Mahatma Gandhi initiated the salt satyagraha movement on 12 March 1930. The plan was simple. The salt law had to be broken, and British rule would be attacked without violence. Hence, it was decided that there would be a non-violent and peaceful procession starting from the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad that would end in the village of Dandi.

  • As the torchbearer of India’s independence struggle, Mahatma Gandhi launched the Salt Satyagraha movement to protest against the India Salt Act of 1882.
  • However, Gandhi took this step after he tried to compromise with Lord Irwin for the last time.
  • He sent him a letter stating that if Lord Irwin accepted his administrative reforms, there would be no need for protest or agitation.
  • In the letter, Gandhi put forward eleven demands, including the salt tax’s abolition.
  • Gandhi and his fellow Satyagrahis began the peaceful procession ten days after sending the letter.

Features of Salt Satyagraha Movement

Being the first successful act that led to the great civil disobedience movement, the salt satyagraha was the spark needed to burn the British rule in India. Some of the most critical features of the Salt Satyagraha are mentioned below.

  • The salt march began on 12 March 1930, and Mahatma Gandhi, with his 80 followers, left the Sabarmati Ashram on foot to reach the village of Dandi.
  • Hundreds of followers joined the core group to protest against British rule.
  • Some of the followers were notable names like Sarojini Naidu, who were fighting British oppression in their way.
  • Gandhi motivated his followers during the salt march by giving impactful speeches against British rule every day after sunset.
  • He also met with different groups of people in the villages and even spoke to reporters who covered the events and published them.
  • Indian citizens were encouraged to break the salt law everywhere and burn foreign clothes and goods.
  • On 5 April 1930, the entire entourage of Satyagrahis reached the town of Dandi after marching for 385 km in a span of 24 days.
  • On the morning of 6 April 1930, Mahatma Gandhi broke the Salt Act by picking up a lump of salt along the seashore of Dandi.

Importance of Salt Satyagraha

Mahatma Gandhi chose salt as the symbol of protest and as a starting point for the Satyagraha movement because it was the most common consumption item.

Levying a tax on the most basic household item was highly unethical and immoral. And a protest against this unfair act found an echo among people of all classes. Hence, salt symbolized the basic human rights of Indian citizens.

  • Moreover, the salt tax accounted for 8.2% of the revenue under the British Raj, and Gandhiji knew that the British Government could not ignore this.
  • Since salt was a necessity for all Indians, Gandhi was able to involve people from both the rural and urban spheres in the salt satyagraha movement.
  • Thus, it created a sense of equality among the population and gave the poor and illiterate people a platform to raise their voices.
  • This was a major achievement as there was an extreme social disparity between the upper and lower classes.

Impact of Salt Satyagraha Movement

Furthermore, smaller marches were initiated in many parts of India in solidarity with the salt satyagraha. Thousands of textile and railway workers put down their tools and went on strike to join the demonstration.

The salt satyagraha spread nationwide and became the first prominent call for civil disobedience. Hence, it is still considered one of the most significant chapters in the book of India’s struggle for independence. So, let’s look at the powerful impact the salt march made on our country and its history.

International Attention

Although the salt satyagraha didn’t get major concessions from the government in India, it got massive coverage in international media.

  • It garnered worldwide attention and became a turning point for the global anti-imperialist movement.
  • This is because the campaign proved that non-violence could effectively fight imperialism.
  • What’s more, Mahatma Gandhi was named the ‘Man of the Year’ by the Times magazine for that year.
  • Thus, we can say that the salt march thrust the Indian freedom movement into the international spotlight and gave it a new life.

Nationwide Civil Disobedience

The salt satyagraha was undoubtedly a landmark move for the Indian freedom struggle. The British Government was shaken to its core, all done through a peaceful protest.

  • Since Gandhi had encouraged the Indian populace to boycott British clothes, the imports from the United Kingdom plummeted considerably in India.
  • This sent a strong message to the British Government. Indians also started boycotting foreign cloth, liquor, and other goods.
  • Foreign fabric worth 30 crores was sealed by Congress in the city of Bombay.
  • Hence, Mahatma Gandhi successfully made Indians across the country stand up against the tyranny of the British.

Women in the Forefront

The salt satyagraha was perhaps the most empowering campaign for Indian women. It allowed them to step out of their restrictive homes and become a part of a social justice movement.

  • Hence, hundreds of women started pouring out on the streets and actively participated in mass protests.
  • The nightingale of India, Sarojini Naidu, became the face of women in the salt satyagraha movement.
  • Kasturba Gandhi and Mrs. Nehru also served as examples and inspired many women to come out and support the initiative.
  • Many women even participated in the picketing of shops that sold foreign cloth.
  • As a result, the revenue for foreign textiles started falling.

Consequences of the Salt Satyagraha

After the 24-day-long salt satyagraha and the defiance of the salt law throughout the country, mass arrests took place in many places. More than 50,000 people were arrested by the British, including Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. But that’s not all.

  • Thousands of Satyagrahis were brutally repressed and attacked by the police, and this only added fuel to the fire because more people started joining the protest.
  • Eventually, Lord Irwin agreed to release the prisoners, and Indians were allowed to make salt for domestic use.
  • Lastly, Mahatma Gandhi was invited to the Second Round Table Conference in London as a guest and was treated as an ‘equal’.

Short Note on Salt Satyagraha

The Salt Satyagraha movement was a protest that stunned the foundation of the British kingdom. There was a massive participation of women, students, business groups, and even Muslim communities. Tribals also contributed to the struggle against the British in the central provinces land Maharashtra.

The Satyagraha was a 340 km long march completed in the village of Dandi by breaking the British salt law. Around 80,000 Indian citizens were imprisoned due to the Salt Satyagraha movement. Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru were arrested. Satyagrahis experienced intense suppression, and the Congress working committee was sanctioned.

Salt Satyagraha UPSC

Salt Satyagraha began with Dandi March on 12th March 1930 by Mahatma Gandhi. The movement circulated in all parts of the country and salt laws were questioned. Salt Satyagraha is usually covered under the UPSC History syllabus, one of the most crucial subjects of the exam. Students must read about the background, objectives, importance, impact, and consequences of the Salt Satyagraha movement from the exam’s perspective.

To cover the section of Salt Satyagraha well, aspirants must refer to UPSC books and other study materials recommended by subject experts. You can download Salt Satyagraha UPSC notes PDF from this article and start your preparation now!

Salt Satyagraha MCQs

Question: In which year Salt Satyagraha took place? (A) 1932, (B) 1931, (C) 1930, (D) 1929
Answer: 1930

Question: Under whose leadership the Dharasana satyagraha took place? (A) Vijayalaxmi Pandit, (B) Kasturba Gandhi, (C) Sarojini Naidu, (D) Madam Cama
Answer: Sarojini Naidu

Question: Who of the following organized a march on the Tanjore coast to break the Salt Law in April 1930? (a) Annie Besant, (b) K. Kamaraj, (c) V.O. Chidambaram Pillai, (d) C. Rajagopalachari
Answer: C. Rajagopalachari

Question: Which of the following locations is related to salt agitation? (a) Porbandar, (b) Dharsana, (c) Amreli, (d) None of the above
Answer: Dharsana

Mains Question (2019 GS Paper 1): Salt satyagraha was more than just a symbolic act of breaking the salt law, that shook an empire. Examine.

UPSC Notes
Battle of Buxar 104 Constitutional Amendment Act
Surat Split 127 Constitutional Amendment Bill
Abraham Accord Ryotwari System
Hydroelectric Power Plants in India Environmental Movements in India
Foreign Exchange Management Act Article 12 Indian Constitution
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