The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century.⁣

The Great Depression started in the United States after a major fall in stock prices that began around September 4, 1929, and became worldwide news with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929, (known as Black Tuesday). 

Between 1929 and 1932, worldwide gross domestic product (GDP) fell by an estimated 15%. By comparison, worldwide GDP fell by less than 1% from 2008 to 2009 during the Great Recession.⁣

It had a very severe impact on India. The price decline from late 1929 to October 1931 was 36 percent compared to 27 percent in the United Kingdom and 26 percent in the United States.⁣

During the period 1929–1937, exports and imports fell drastically crippling seaborne international trade. The railways and the agricultural sector were the most affected.⁣

There was also a particular amount of money which colonial India contributed towards administration, maintenance of the army, war expenses, pensions to retired officers and other expenses accrued by Britain towards maintenance of her colony. These were known as “Home charges” and were paid almost entirely by India.⁣

Therefore, having incurred heavy losses, farmers were compelled to sell off gold and silver ornaments in their possession in order to pay the land rent and other taxes. ⁣

From 1931–32 to 1934–35, India exported ₹ 2,330 million worth of gold. By 1934, 3.85 million families (77%) were in debt for more than double their annual income.⁣

While the heavy salt tax was always a burden to the poor peasant, the widespread poverty during the Great Depression made it even more difficult for the commoner to procure salt.⁣

In response to this tax, between March 12, 1930 and April 5, 1930, Mahatma Gandhi marched with over 30,000 followers to the coastal town of Dandi in Gujarat, where they illegally manufactured salt and defied the Government monopoly on salt. ⁣

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