Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. Civil disobedience is a symbolic or ritualistic violation of the law, rather than a rejection of the system as a whole. Civil disobedience is sometimes, though not always,defined as being nonviolent resistance.

 In India, the Civil disobedience movement was started by Mahatma Gandhi.  In March 1930, Gandhiji wrote in the newspaper, Young India, that he might suspend his civil disobedience or law-breaking movement if the government accepted his eleven-point demands. But Lord Irwin’s government did not respond. So, Gandhiji started the Civil Disobedience Movement.

 It was started with Dandi March (also Salt march, Salt satyagraha) by Mahatma Gandhi on 12th March, 1930. On 12 March, 1930 he along with his 78 followers began a march from the Sabarmati Ashram to “Dandi” on the Gujarat coast. It was a distance of 200 miles. At Dandi a few days later they violated the salt laws by making salt from sea-water. Thus, began the civil disobedience Movement.

The Dandi March aroused great enthusiasm among the people. Everywhere the people began to break the law by selling banned political pamphlets, by showing defiance of section 144 and by withholding rents. Gandhiji called upon the women to begin spinning. In response to his call women took to spinning they also started picketing at the door of Government offices and foreign-goods shops. This participation of the women was a new thing in the freedom struggle. The movement was very tense in Bengal and the north-west. Sarojini Naidu came to the forefront during this movement. In the north-west the most famous leader was Abdul Gaffar Khan, knick-named as “Frontier Gandhi”.

 The Government had called a round Table conference in 1930 in London. The congress did not join it. In order to make sure that the congress would participate in the second conference, Lord Irwin made a pact with Gandhiji in 1931. In this “Gandhi-Irwin Pact” the Government agreed to let off all political prisoners and to cancel the oppressive laws. The Second Round Table Conference was a failure from India’s point of view. Gandhi’s demand for full self-government was rejected.


Then on 17 August 1932 came that infamous “Communal Award” of Ramsay MacDonald, the British Prime Minister. By it Muslims, Sikhs and the Hindu scheduled castes were to vote separately. Actually this step was taken to destroy the national unity. Gandhiji strongly opposed it. He went on to fast till death in the prison. Ultimately, caste Hindus and the scheduled caste Hindus were united by the “Pact of Poona” in 1932 under the leadership of Dr. Ambedkar. Meanwhile it was clear to both Gandhiji and the other leaders that the Civil Disobedience Movement was losing its force. So in 19354 Gandhiji called off the movement.

The Civil Disobedience Movement was not successful. But it prepared the people of India for great sacrifice. It was a good training for the people. Unlike the Non-cooperation Movement, the Civil Disobedience Movement increased the popularity of the Congress.