of Salt Satyagraha
Dandi March: a pilgrimage to Swaraj
by Savita Singh
Young India offers
this publication with a detailed historical accounting of the Dandi March and
the events leading up to the March. An excerpt is included here. To read the
entire 24 page piece, please
download this PDF document (right-click and select Save-As)
Tagore who was on a visit to Sabarmati Ashram on 18th January, 1930 enquired from
the Mahatma. “What Gandhi had in store for the country in 1930”. “I
am furiously thinking night and day,” Gandhiji replied, “and I do
not see any light coming out of the surrounding darkness”.
Ever since his release
from the prison in May 1924 Mahatma Gandhi had in all practical sense stepped
out of the mainstream politics and turned his attention towards constructive
programme aimed at what he called “a more important task of nation building
from the bottom up.”
This was also the period
when he traveled extensively through the length and breadth of the countryside.
In his speeches and writings of these years five themes are recurrent: spinning-wheel,
untouchability, basic education, upliftment of women and communal harmony -
all pillars of a healthy and vibrant society.
He used his tours to liberate
the people from an age-long inertia, fear and superstition. He would chide the
people for wasting money on garlands for him. “For every rupee saved on
these garlands you should give sixteen women one meal”. He was deeply
disturbed by the filthy conditions obtaining in the villages, towns and cities.
He would admonish the people for this. “So long as you do not take the
broom and bucket in your hands you cannot make towns and cities clean”.
The Calcutta session of
the Congress (December 1928) had given to the British Government, in the words
of Jawaharlal Nehru ‘an offer of a year’s grace and a polite ultimatum’
to grant dominion status to India by 1929. Mahatma Gandhi was watching the situation
keenly from the periphery. In December 1929 events were on the march, there
was a promise of a struggle. At midnight on December 31, 1929 as the New Year
dawned the Indian National Congress unfurled the flag of Independence at Lahore
on the banks of the river Ravi. And on 26th January 1930 the pledge for Purna
Swaraj (Complete Independence) was taken.
On the eve of Independence
Day, Gandhiji wrote: “Remember that 26th is the day not to declare independence
but to declare that we will be satisfied with nothing less than Complete Independence
as opposed to dominion status so called.
He further said, “We
believe that is the inalienable right of the Indian people, as of any other
people, to have freedom and to enjoy the fruits of their toil and have the necessities
of life, so that they may have full opportunities of growth. We believe also
that if any government deprives a people of these rights and oppress them, the
people have a further right to alter it or to abolish it. The British Government
in India has not only deprived the Indian people of their freedom but has based
itself on the exploitation of the masses, and has ruined India economically,
politically, culturally and spiritually. We believe, therefore, that India must
sever the British connection and attain Purna Swaraj or Complete Independence….”
Two hundred years of British
domination virtually ruined India’s traditional economy. “Village
industries, such as hand-spinning, have been destroyed, leaving the peasantry
idle for at least four months in the year, and dulling their intellect for want
of handicrafts, and nothing has been substituted, as in other countries, for
the crafts thus destroyed….”
system of education has torn us from our mornings, our training has made us
hug the very chains that binds us…”
Once again all eyes turned
to Sabaramti, curious to know what Gandhiji would do next.
Read the rest of this piece
the PDF document here (right-click and select Save-As)
Savita Singh is
the Director of Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti in New Delhi