In the 1930s, Mahatma Gandhi led the Salt Satyagraha, a peaceful protest against the British salt tax. The campaign was a significant step towards the British losing the consent of Indians and recognizing that their control of India depended entirely on the Indians’ willingness to cooperate.
Nehru considered the Salt Satyagraha the high-water mark of his association with Gandhi and felt that its lasting importance was in changing the attitudes of Indians towards British colonialism. Gandhi and his followers were arrested and imprisoned, but the campaign succeeded in drawing the attention of the world to India’s struggle for independence.
Salt Satyagraha succeeded in drawing the attention of the world. Millions saw the newsreels showing the march.
Time declared Gandhi its 1930 Man of the Year, comparing Gandhi’s march to the sea “to defy Britain’s salt tax as some New Englanders once defied a British tea tax”.
In 1930, TIME wrote,
“It was exactly twelve months ago that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s Indian National Congress promulgated the Declaration of Indian Independence. It was in March that he marched to the sea to defy Britain’s salt tax as some New Englanders once defied a British tea tax.
It was in May that Britain jailed Gandhi at Poona. Last week he was still there, and some 30,000 members of his Independence movement were caged elsewhere. The British Empire was still wondering fearfully what to do about them all, the Empire’s most staggering problem … it was in jail that the year’s end found the little half-naked brown man whose 1930 mark on world history will undoubtedly loom largest of all.”
In fact, Mahatma Gandhi was runner-up in TIME Magazine’s Person of the Century Award. The December 31, 1999 issue of Time named Albert Einstein the Person of the Century.
More than thirty years later, the Salt Satyagraha and the March to Dandi exercised a strong influence on American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. and his fight for civil rights for African Americans in the 1960s. Gandhi’s campaign for Indian independence showed King that nonviolent resistance could be a powerful tool for social change.
Today, the route from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi has been christened as the Dandi Path and declared a historical heritage route. In addition, the National Salt Satyagraha Memorial, a museum dedicated to the event, was opened in Dandi on 30 January 2019. The memorial serves as a reminder of the bravery and determination of those who fought for Indian independence and the power of nonviolent resistance in achieving social change.