The world renowned nuclear scientist, Albert Einstein, once said about Mahatma Gandhi, “Generations to come, it may well be, will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.” It proved to be true in the case of Gandhi’s Salt Satyagraha, which was heralded in 1930 in the midst of much excitement and scepticism. Never before, the British raj had experienced such a serious challenge to its authority in the name of nationalism which, besides provoking political upheaval, inviting popular participation, also gained world-wide sympathy. Based on original sources, Dr. Naidu sets forth this movement from two standpoints: viz. covering India as the background and then covering Coastal Andhra with its districts of Ganjam, Vizagapatnam, East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur, Nellore and Madras city as the main areas of agitation. While most of the world watched with awe and feared whether Gandhi could accomplish his Dandi march or end as a hoax, the people of Andhra like-wise watched whether their leaders could emulate the example of their national leader or fail as political pygmies. But to the bewilderment of many while he broke the salt laws and revealed his messianic zeal, the Andhra leaders too proved their potentialities no less than him and erased within one week the false notion that Andhras were indolent and lazy. Subsequently a number of incidents, some really never-racking, occurred in the encounters of Satyagrahis with the British police who charged lathis relentlessely or opened fire recklessly at places like Dharasana, Peshawar, Delhi, Chittagong in North India and at Madras, Eluru, Machilipatnam in the Coastal Andhra. But the masses never lost their courage; they took it as a holy war, a fight to the finish from which there could be no retreat. At last the Government yielded to the moral force or spiritual might of the movement and had to release all political prisoners. After having interviewed some of the distinguished freedom fighters of those days who are still surviving, Dr. Naidu highlights a number of significant episodes that have not found place in archives over an area that had been neglected for long and has produced a scholarly, interesting and useful work not only for the benefit of academicians and research scholars but also for the general readers, particularly to those who believe in Gandhism as the panacea to most of the present day unrest prevailing in the country.
Dr. Ch. M. Naidu, (b. 1939) is currently Reader in History, Andhra University, Waltair. He is a brilliang teacher as well as a forceful writer. Having worked in M.R. College, Vizianagram, as a lecturer for a decade, he joined Andhra University as Reader where he continues to serve for over a decade. He is a member of professional bodies like Indian History Congress. Institute of Historical Studies, and South Indian History Congress. He is the author of a number of articles published in almost all leading historical Journals like Journal of Indian History, Review of Historical Studies, Itihas, Gandhi Marg etc. His forthcoming books are Nationalism in South India: its Economics and Social Background, History of Modern China. He is at present engaged on a UGC research project. Quit India Movement in the Coastal Andhra.
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