. After non-action of government over Nehru Report and failure of government to agree upon any demand for even dominion status, Gandhiji was looking for a new plan amidst growing restlessness among the Congress and nation as a whole.
Mahatma Gandhi found in salt a powerful symbol that could unite the nation. On 31 January 1930 – Soon after demand for Purna Swaraj, he sent a letter to Viceroy Irwin stating eleven demands (11 points). In his letter to Viceroy he stated – ‘British rule has impoverished ‘the Dumb Millions’ by a system of progressive exploitation, reducing us to political serfdom and sapped us culturally, degraded us spiritually’.
Some of these were of general interest; others were specific demands of different classes, from industrialists to peasants. The idea was to make the demands wide-ranging, so that all classes within Indian society could identify with them and everyone could be brought together in a united campaign.
These included among others:
- Total prohibition
- Release of political prisoners
- Reduce expenditure on civil services and military
- Levy of duty on foreign cloth
- Issue of firearm licences
- Reduce land revenue by 50%
- Reduce Rupee Sterling exchange ratio to make Indian exports profitable
- Reserve Coastal shipping for Indians
- Abolition of Salt Tax.
If the demands were not fulfilled by 11 March, the letter stated, the Congress would launch a civil disobedience campaign. Irwin was unwilling to negotiate and no-response was given to deamnds. Gandhi decided to go for Civil Disobedience. On this, Gandhi commented – ‘While he asked for the bread, he was given a stone’on the apathetic attitude of Viceroy and British government over their non- response to Gandhi’s pleas before he started Civil Disobedience Movement.