Peace Walk to commemorate Gandhi sesquicentennial

Venkat Raman
Auckland, September 19, 2018
Wellington based Indian High Commission has invited all New Zealanders to participate in its ‘March for Global Peace’ to be held in Auckland on Sunday, September 30, 2018.
The event will commemorate the sesquicentennial of Mahatma Gandhi (whose actual Birthday is on October 2), one of the greatest leaders of the 20th Century who showed the world that human achievements are possible through non-violent and peaceful means.

Queen Street Assembly
While public assembly has been called at 945 am, the ‘March for Global Peace’ will commence at 10 am at 80 Queen Street in Auckland (next to the Deloitte Centre (where the Head Office of BNZ is located) and conclude 20 minutes later at Aotea Square.
“This year, we celebrate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. United Nations has declared October 2 as ‘The International Day of Non-Violence. This momentous occasion will be celebrated proudly by Indians all over the world. The purpose of this March is to highlight Mahatma Gandhi’s Philosophy of Peace and Non-Violence,” an Indian High Commission notification said.
“All are welcome to bring banners and placards with quotes from Mahatma Gandhi. Please help us spread the world through #Bapuat150,” the Notification added.
The Salt March
‘Peace Walk’ was popularised by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi when he conducted the ‘Salt March’ on March 12, 1930. Called, ‘The Salt March,’ also known as ‘The Dandi March’ and ‘The Dandi Satyagraha,’ was an act of nonviolent civil disobedience in colonial India.
His mission was to produce salt from the seawater in the coastal village of Dandi (now in Gujarat), as was the practice of the local populace until British officials introduced taxation on salt production, deemed their sea-salt reclamation activities illegal, and then repeatedly used force to stop it.
Resistance against Tax
The 26-day march, from March 12, 1930 to April 6, 1930 as a direct action campaign of tax resistance and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly.
It gained worldwide attention which gave impetus to the Indian Independence Movement and started the nationwide ‘Civil Disobedience Movement.’
Mahatma Gandhi started this march with 78 of his trusted volunteers, covering more than 240 miles (about 387 kilometres). They walked for 24 days, covering 10 miles (17 kms) a day.
The march was the most significant organised challenge to British authority since the Non-Cooperation Movement of 1920-1922 and directly followed the ‘Purna Swaraj Declaration of Sovereignty’ and self-rule by the Indian National Congress on January 26, 1930.
Growing support
Gandhi led the Dandi March from his base, Sabarmati Ashram, 240 miles (390 kms) to the coastal village of Dandi, which was at a small town called Navsari to produce salt without paying the tax, growing numbers of Indians joined them along the way.
When Gandhi broke the salt laws at 630 am on April 6, 1930, it sparked large scale acts of civil disobedience against the British Raj salt laws by millions of Indians.
The campaign had significant effect on changing world and British attitude towards Indian sovereignty and self-rule and caused large numbers of Indians to join the fight.
After making salt at Dandi, Gandhi continued southward along the coast, making salt and addressing meetings on the way.
The Congress Party planned to stage a satyagraha at the Dharasana Salt Works, 25 miles (40 kms) South of Dandi.
However, Gandhi was arrested on the midnight of May 4, 1930, just days before the planned action at Dharasana.
Vinoba Bhave’s bid
Vinoba Bhave, largely regarded as the ‘Spiritual Heir’ of Gandhi, was another Indian leader who advocated Non-Violence, He undertook a Peace Walk with many of his followers throughout India for land reform in April 1951.
A peace walk was undertaken in 1962 by Satish Kumar and his companion who walked without money from India via the Soviet Union, France and the UK to the United States (using ships to cross the channel and Atlantic). Vinoba gave two gifts to Satish and his companion: pennilessness, i.e. voluntary poverty, and vegetarianism.
Other Walks
In 2008, a Peace Walk campaign named ‘Freedom Walk,’ was organised by the ‘Free Software Community in Kerala. Four volunteers walked 750 miles (1200 kms) from one end of the state to the other to promote Free Software.
Europe launched its first permanent Peace Walk Route, that ran along the former division between East and West Europe and end in Trieste, North East Italy in 2014, to mark the 100th Anniversary of World War I.
Photo Caption:
Mahatma Gandhi picked up grains of salt at the end of his March. Behind him is his second son Manilal Gandhi and Mithuben Petit.
(Picture from Wiki Commons)

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