Prime Minister Narendra Modi today described salt as a symbol of dignity of labour and equality. Flagging off the re-enactment of Mahatma Gandhi led ‘Salt Satyagraha’ march to Dandi at the Sabarmati Ashram here this morning, Modi emphasized the symbolism of salt in the Indian context — gratitude, faith and honesty.
At the peak of the freedom movement in 1930, Mahatma Gandhi and 80-odd his followers had started their march on this day to Dandi in south Gujarat to symbolically defy the British laws by picking up a handful of salt from the Arabian Sea coast.
The famous 386-kilometre march from the Sabarmati Ashram later earned the sobriquet “Dandi Yatra” and entered the Indian textbooks as one of the powerful components of the non-violent movement for freedom struggle. The Prime Minister also launched the “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav”, the commemoration of 75th anniversary of independence.
The two-hourlong event included a short film on India’s independence struggle and afterwards, songs from different regions and also an innovative rendition of “Vande Mataram”. Elaborating the significance of salt, chosen by the Mahatma as symbol of disobedience of British laws, Prime Minister Modi said that salt for Indians means loyalty, gratitude, faith and honesty. Salt is not evaluated in India by its price, he said.
“Indians say we have eaten salt of the country”, Modi explained how and why it means an expression of gratitude. A nation’s future is secure only if it stays rooted in pride of its rich history and cultural heritage, said the Prime Minister.
Recalling the various stages of freedom struggle, Modi said that Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Satyagraha’, Lokmanya Tilak’s ‘Purna Swaraj’ and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s slogan ‘Dilli Chalo’ were later kept alive by India’s saints and monks.
As part of the ‘Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav’ festival, the 75 years of independence will be celebrated at 75 different locations in six districts associated with the freedom struggle.
Various events would be held also in places like Dandi, Bardoli, Rajkot, Mandvi, Porbandar and Vadodara.
The prime minister flagged off a padyatra (foot march) from Sabarmati Ashram to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi march. The padyatra is being undertaken by 81 marchers from Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad to Dandi in Navsari, a journey of 386 km.
The march will end after 25 days, on April 5.“We are proud of our Constitution and democratic traditions. India is the mother of democracy and we are marching ahead by strengthening it. India’s achievements are not just our own. Our achievements are showing light to the entire world,” Modi said after launching the celebrations.
India’s ‘Atmanirbhar’ approach of development will give momentum to the development journey of the world, he said. “Five pillars – Freedom Struggle, Ideas at 75, Achievements at 75, Actions at 75 and Resolves at 75 – are the guiding force for moving forward,” he said.
Listing the contributions made by freedom fighters and different incidents related to the freedom struggle, Modi said, “The country has been making a conscious effort for the last six years to preserve this history, in every state and every region. “The revival of the site associated with the Dandi Yatra was completed two years ago. The site where Netaji Subhash (Chandra Bose) hoisted the tricolor in Andaman after the formation of the country’s first independent government has also been revived.
“The Andaman and Nicobar islands are named after the freedom struggle. Places associated with Babasaheb (Ambedkar) have been developed in the form ofPanchteerthas. The memorial in Jallianwala Bagh and Paika movement memorial have also been developed, Modi said. After landing at Ahmedabad airport, Modi drove to Sabarmati Ashram, where he paid floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi. He also visited Hriday Kunj.
Modi wrote in the visitors’ book that the Mahotsav is a tribute to our freedom fighters and freedom struggle.
“By coming to the Sabarmati Ashram and with the inspiration of Bapu, my determination for nation building is strengthened,” he wrote. “Mahatma Gandhi gave the message of atma-nirbharta (self-reliance) and atmavishwas (self-confidence) from here, Modi wrote.
“Azadi Ka Amrut Mohatsav is a tribute by our people to our freedom fighters and freedom movement. During the celebrations the country will not only remember all the important milestones, important times during the freedom movement but also gain new energy for development of our future,” Modi wrote.