Wednesday, August 24, 2011

salt satyagraha and civil disobedience movement

this is a gold mine of an article for GS history
please find below edited excerpts from today's Op-ed in hindu

·         The term ‘satyagraha' (satya is truth, and agraha is firmness) was coined by Gandhiji to designate his struggle of ‘passive resistance.' He initiated it in South Africa during his agitations from 1894 onwards against the oppressive British regime there.
·         As president of the Congress in 1924, Gandhiji transformed the party into a fighting organisation, and launched several satyagraha agitations to involve people in constructive programmes.
·         The Calcutta Session of the party (in December 1928) gave an ultimatum to the British government that unless Dominion status was given to India by December 31, 1929, the Congress would launch a Civil Disobedience Movement. When no favourable response was received, at midnight on December 31, 1929, the Indian National Congress issued the Declaration of Independence, or Purna Swaraj. The party's Working Committee gave Gandhiji the responsibility to launch the first act of civil disobedience.
·        Salt satyagraha
·         Gandhiji chose to begin with a satyagraha against the Salt Tax imposed by the British. The Salt Act of 1882 gave the British the monopoly on the manufacture of, and collection of tax on, salt. Several leaders including Jawaharlal Nehru, the Congress president at that time, had felt that there were more important issues to be taken up as a part of the demand for full independence. But Gandhiji felt that the salt tax was a richly symbolic choice since salt was something that was used by nearly everyone in India. He believed that the protest would dramatise the demand for Purna Swaraj in a way that would be meaningful to even the least Indian.
·         On March 2, 1930, Gandhji wrote to Lord Irwin, the Viceroy, offering to stop the march if 11 demands were met, including a reduction in land revenue assessments, an end to the enormous exploitation of the people, and the misuse of public funds by the British.
·         On the morning of April 12, Gandhiji raised a lump of salt in his hand and declared: “With this, I am shaking the foundation of the British Empire.” He then boiled it in sea water, producing salt illegally. Gandhiji's satyagraha became a mass satyagraha throughout India.
·         Then, the government resorted to repressive laws. Jawaharlal Nehru was arrested
·          C. Rajagopalachari was arrested, to be sentenced to six months' rigorous imprisonment after he and his satyagrahis entered the Coromandel coast at Vedaranyam.
·         While these leaders were being arrested, Gandhiji was going to other places near Dandi to defy the salt law. The climax of the campaign came when Gandhiji was arrested
·         Gandhiji's arrest and internment led to hartals and strikes across in India, and there were sympathetic demonstrations all over the world.
·         Later a second batch of satyagrahis led by Abbas Tyabji was arrested.
·         the satyagrahis observed absolute non-violence and discipline.
·         Reports on Gandhiji's campaign during the Dandi March appeared each day in 1,350 newspapers across the world. Time magazine declared him Man of the Year,
·         The Press Ordinance promulgated by the Irwin regime caused 67 Indian newspapers and 55 printing presses to be shut down. Over 80,000 Indians were jailed without trial under the Salt Law.
·         The civil disobedience movement continued until early 1931.
·         The rest is part of the political history of India — from the Gandhi-Irwin Pact leading to the Second Round Table Conference, to the Quit India Movement, and the emergence of independent India.
·         The Salt Satyagraha challenged the very existence of the British regime in India.
·         Sir Charles Innes, who was a provincial Governor, wrote thus about the events of 1930 struggle: “England can hold India only by consent. We cannot rule it by sword.
·       It is true that the 1930 Salt Satyagraha was not successful with respect to many of its aims and demands. However, it was a historic turning point: thereafter every political move on the part of the Congress was to assert Purna Swaraj as the basic demand.

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