|Gandhi during the Salt March|
When at 6:30 am on April 6, 1930 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the Mahatma, lifted a handful of salt showing it to the 60,000 Indians who had followed him, the Viceroy of the Indies - Lord Edward Irwin - had long understood that he erred in underestimating that Gandhi had personally written him in a heartfelt letter.
Before embarking on the Salt March, the Mahatma had indeed forewarned the Viceroy in a letter dated March 2, 1930 in which he pointed out the hideousness of the Salt Act, the law which reserved to Raji British monopoly on salt production and marketing.
"The salt - Gandhi wrote - for our people is like the air and as the water ....."
The Viceroy smiled as he considered naive that initiative and in a phonogram to the British Government wrote: “At present the prospect of a salt campaign does not keep me awake at night.
Actually that initiative had a high symbolic value. The Indians, in a non-violent and orderly way, demonstrated that to the British Crown, the world, but mostly to themselves that they were a people who could set aside any law of the Raj.
Showing the handful of salt, Gandhi declared "with this I'm shaking the British Empire to its foundations."
The Mahatma had prepared to detail the dramatic Satyagraha. He had contacted the corrispondents of all the newspapers and radios in the world, the New York Times, reserved to the march two articles on the front page and followed the march day by day.
Gandhi demanded the utmost discipline to the activists. The 78 people who left with Gandhi were all members of his ashram in Sabarmati and he didn’t want any member of the Congress Party.
While Gandhi staked his march in the east, in western India began a march that would come on the same coast of the Bay of Bengal.
The march began on March 12, 1930, and after about 390 km led Gandhi from Ashram Sabarmati (near Ahmedabad) to Dandi, on the coast of the Indian Ocean near the salt industry of Dharasana.
During the march joined the procession as thousands of people who came to Dandi in about 60,000 people with a procession that stretched for over two miles.
Following the march, all over India began to produce and sell salt violating the monopoly of the British Raj that annually got taxes from the odious charge about 8% of Indian taxes.
More than 60,000 people including Gandhi were arrested. The Mahatma was stopped in the night between 4 and 5 May 1930 and released in January 1931, getting the organization of the Second Round Table Conference with the British Government to discuss constitutional reforms and Indian independence.
And in January 1931, Time magazine selects the Mahatma as a man of the year, dedicating the cover of the first issue of the magazine.