Salt March 1930

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  • The Salt March and Satyagraha 1930-1
    • What was the plan?
      • Walk 240 miles (ashram to sea) to collect salt water, boil it and make salt (protest against salt tax)
      • Gandhi saw the salt tax as immoral because it penalised the poor
      • When he picked up the salt, he said "with this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire"
    • Successes
      • Gandhi was imprisoned in May 1930: caused strikes and protests all over India
      • Salt campaign was not centrally directed, and so it was harder for the British to disable it by arresting Congress' National leaders
      • Economic problems in early 1930 caused discontent and therefore increased support for the campaign
      • All provinces were affected but Bombay and Gujarat especially - Bombay Governor spoke of "overt rebellion" and parts of the city became "no go" areas for the police
      • Bihar: government revenue plummeted because it was so dependent on the salt tax
      • United provinces in the North: peasants were galvanised by oppressive landlords and falling prices for their profits so campaign against land tax: especially successful
      • Local politicians in Central Provinces decided to support the peasants' campaign against the forest laws (forbade them to fell trees or graze animals
      • All types of people were involved and inspired - November 1930 nearly 360 women were in jail for participating in campaign
      • Imprisonment of around 60,000 campaigners put immense strain on the police, magistrates and civil service
      • Remembering reaction to Rowlatt Acts and Amritsar Massacre - Viceroy Lord Irwin dared not to impose martial law
      • Despite criticism from politicians in Britain like Churchill, Irwin felt he had no choice by February 1931 and meet Gandhi on equal terms, face to face, in attempt to end the campaign and persuade Congress to participate in the Round Table Conferences
      • As part of the agreement he was forced to release 19,000 Congress supporters from jail and relax emergency restrictions
        • Despite criticism from politicians in Britain like Churchill, Irwin felt he had no choice by February 1931 and meet Gandhi on equal terms, face to face, in attempt to end the campaign and persuade Congress to participate in the Round Table Conferences
    • Failures
      • Many people lost interest in the national campaign once their local grievances were settled
      • Midnapore, Bengal: campaign turned violent, with attacks on police and magistrates
      • Campaign lasted fro nearly a year so campaigners suffered from "satyagraha fatigue" : momentum of the campaign was declining (especially in the 2nd half of 1930 as the economic situation had improved
      • Irwin's sensible decision not to impose martial law kept support for the campaign down
      • Almost no Muslim support for the campaign
      • Indian businessmen were so worried by the economic disruption caused by the campaign that they put pressure on Gandhi to compromise

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