The movement in protest against the formation of the Simon Commission and visit of its members to India is an important event in the history of freedom movement in India.
Far from this time onwards Indian youths participated in the freedom movement in greater number. In this respect the names of Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose deserve special mentions.
In fact, it was on the initiative of the younger members that for the first time demand for ‘complete independence’ was raised from the Congress platform in 1929 (Lahore Congress).
Refusal to accept the demand for independence by the British Government within a specific time-limit created the background for the Civil Disobedience movement.
b. Preparation for the Movement:
By way of preparation for the ensuing Civil Disobedience Movement Gandhiji in a letter addressed to Irwin, the Governor-General of India, put forward eleven point demands.
Apart from the release of political prisoners, the demand included reduction in land-tax, prohibition, etc. As the Brit’ government was unwilling to fulfil the demands, a movement became inevitable.
Gandhiji drew up a detailed programme struggle and placed it in a meeting of the Congress Work! Committee held in February, 1930 at the Sabarmati Ashram itself with the acceptance of the programme by the Congress ground was now prepared for launching a movement.
In a historic letter written to the Governor-General Lord Irwin on 2 March; 1930, Gandhiji formally informed the government about his decision to launch a movement.
Narrating the exploitative and oppressive character of the British rule Gandhiji expressed his desire and determination to end this system.
With Gandhiji’s march on 12 March, 1930 to break the salt laws began the Civil Disobedience Movement. The initial phase of the movement also known as the ‘Salt Satyagraha’.
c. The ‘Dandi March’:
Manufacture of salt was a monopoly i the British government. According to the prevalent law it was illegal for anyone else to manufacture salt.
Considering this to be unjust Gandhiji decided to violate the salt laws. On 12th March, 193 Gandhiji along with his 78 chosen followers started March on foot (from the Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi, a village on the Gujarat se coast.
This in famous in history by the name ‘Dandi March’. The news spread like bonfire all over India.
d. Spread of the Movement:
Lacs of people participated in movement by making salt in the sea-coasts. In other places, where there was no scope for manufacturing salt, people joined the Civil Disobedience by demonstrations, boycott of foreign goods, hartals etc.
In some places people refused to pay tax. Still many others organized mass demonstrations violating Section 144 which prohibited assembly of people. Another important feature of Movement was the participation of womenfolk.
e. governmental Repression:
Being alarmed at the intensity the movement the British government took recourse to measures. The government put thousands of people under including Gandhiji.
The British also tried to suppress the by mass-killing. When repressive measures failed to slow the tempo of the movement Lord Irwin expressed the desire to open negotiations with Gandhiji and other Congress leaders.
It now became apparent that the British government had bowed its head to the movement. In view of the change in the attitude of the British government Congress decided to take part in the Second Round Table Conference held in 1931 in London.
f. An Assessment:
Despite suspension of the Civil Disobedience as a result of the Gandhi-Irwin Pact (1931) the movement was resumed soon after.
Sure that the Civil Disobedience movement could not free the country from foreign domination but it has to be admitted that in the entire struggle for our freedom Civil Disobedience was one step forward.
The movement proved beyond doubt the influence of the Congress among the masses of India. Besides, never before the common people came forward to participate in the movement in such a vast number.
Lastly it may be said that the intensity of the movement had compelled the British government at least temporarily to come to terms with the national leaders.