Many people think of Mahatma Gandhi as a law breaker. Yes, he opted to break several of unjust British laws in order to imbibe self-respect in the Indians and to uproot the foreign rule from the country. One such law that Gandhi broke was Salt Law.
Salt is an important thing. Too much of it may be bad for the health but it is important for humans to have this mineral in adequate amount. When mankind used to live more of a hunter, humans used to get salt from raw meat. But with the dawn of farming, plants began to make significant portion of our diet. We do not get enough salt from plants. Consequently, the intake of salt reduced and it became necessary to take this vital mineral through other means. Since ancient times the governments have been taxing salt for several reasons:
- Salt is a commodity used almost by everyone, so taxing salt provides steady revenues.
- Because salt is such an important thing for everyone, tax on salt has also been a means of assertion of authority.
- Salt used to be used for preservation of food and that increases its importance even further.
Too much of salt tax, however, has provoked revolutions in history. The salt tax was an important cause behind the French Revolution and the something similar happened in India during the British Rule. Britain abolished its own salt tax in 1825 but it continued to collect salt tax from its colonies like India. For Indians, salt is important for survival because India is a tropical country. Higher temperature cause much sweating which takes salt out of the body. Also lots of Indians are vegetarian and do not eat meat. Therefore, to be able to mix salt in food items is not only a matter of taste but also a matter of survival for Indians.
When the East India Company took charge of India, it heavily increased tax on salt. In 1858, the British Crown took over the country from the Company but the salt tax was not revoked. Indians were heavily burdened as salt had become a sort of luxury item in those times. In the year 1930 Mahatma Gandhi decided to break the salt law as a symbol of civil disobedience. Under the salt law, making salt was not allowed; even collection of natural deposits of salt was prohibited.
On 12 March 1930, Gandhi, along with 78 followers, began a march from his Sabarmati Ashram to a place called Dandi on the coast of the Arabian Sea. Walking 10 to 15 miles a day, Gandhi reached Dandi 24 days later. Thousands of people had joined Gandhi’s Dandi March during its 240 miles course. The Dandi March ended on 5 April 1930. By the time Gandhi reached the shore more than 50,000 people had joined him!
Today’s photograph shows Mahatma Gandhi collecting salty mud from the shores of Dandi on 6 April 1930. Gandhi raised a lump of salty mud and famously declared, “With this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire.” He then boiled the mud in seawater to produce illegal salt. This act of his was one of the major blows to the British Rule in India.
Did you know?
- A pinch of salt made by Mahatma Gandhi on the shore of Dandi was sold for Rs. 1600 at that time! It was really a princely sum in those times.
This Mahatma lived and died for the country. He played a very important role in the Indian Independence Movement. I hope you likes this famous photograph. Stay connected for tomorrow’s presentation when I will bring you another photograph that remained etched in the memory of mankind. Please feel free to comment and let me know your valuable feedback. Thank you for reading this article.