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Narian Chengiah Naidoo
 
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The Salt March

11 March 2014, 07:13


  
According to the organisers, this year marks the tenth year for the annual Salt March which celebrates the life of Mahatma Gandhi and Chief Albert John Luthuli, both of whom have been vocal in their support for the development of a culture of non-violence and ububtu hosted by the Gandhi Development Trust since 2005.

The 22 kilometres walk begins at the Phoenix Settlement in Inanda and ends at the Kings Park Stadium on the 6th April 2014.

In South Africa, I have reasons to doubt that the organisers of the Salt Marches and the followers have no idea what the Salt Law was all about imposed by the British colonial government in India in 1930. 
 
What has Chief Albert John Luthuli got to do with the Salt March? One must remember that he was president of the banned organisation called the African National Congress which was labelled as a terrorist organisation. 

Mahatma Gandhi greatest sympathies lay with the rural poor of India, the small landowners, the landless labourers and the village craftsman. These were the people whose forefathers were proud and prosperous at one time, but whom the British Raj had impoverished by usurping their land by taxing their land, by taxing their salt in their food and by replacing their handcrafted products in the market with cheap factory made goods. 
 
Even more than the land tax, Mahatma Gandhi considered the tax imposed on salt by the colonial government as the most cruel and exploitative, since it put an essential item of food beyond the reach of the poor. The tax on locally produced salt was 240 pies on a mound of salt, which cost only 10 pies to produce. That is, the taxation rate was 2400%. Mahatma Gandhi decided to break the Salt Law which prohibited private individuals producing salt from sea water. On 12th March 1930 Mahatma Gandhi set out on a march with 78 volunteers from Sabarmati ashram to Dandi on the Arabian Sea coast to cover a distance of 241 miles by foot. They reached Dandi after 25 days on 5th April 1930. At 06H30 on the 6th April 1930 Mahatma Gandhi bent down and picked up a handful of naturally dried salt from a creek. He had broken the Salt Law,
 
On 5th May 1930, Mahatma Gandhi was arrested at Karadi near Dandi and taken to Yeravvada jail. But satyagrahis gathered in thousands at various seacoast towns to produce ‘illegal’ salt by boiling seawater. Lord Irwin, the Viceroy, ordered a severe crackdown on them. When a set of satyagrahis tried to raid the Dharsana  Saltworks  south of Karadi, police beat them up mercilessly. Reports of police brutality in India were flashed all over the world.
 
In Tamil Nadu, veteran leader Rajaji, assisted by a young colleague Sardar Vedaratnam, led a march from Trichy to Vedaranyam on the Bay of Bengal coast covering a distance of 150 miles in 15 days. Rajaji was arrested at Vedaranyam and the camps there were destroyed and the satyagrahis beaten up by a brutal police force.
 
In January 1931 Mahatma Gandhi and the other leaders of the Salt Satyagraha campaign were released from prison.
 
The Salt March in India in 1930 has no historical significance on the Indian community in South Africa.
 
Marches should be organized to stop South Africa from being raped by a bunch of elite self-serving oligarchs who use the people and their political positions and connections for personal aggrandizement because if we don't deal with corruption decisively, it will not only impact on good governance, but has the potential to distort our economy and to derail democracy and we will eventually be ruled by school dropouts, murderers and black marketers.

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