In 1959, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Nobel Peace Prize winner of U.S.A., came to India as a pilgrim. After a month’s travel in the land of Gandhi, on the eve of his departure, he was asked a cynical question at a press conference in Delhi. He was asked: Where is Gandhi today? We see him nowhere. The answer he gave is as relevant today as it was then, as it brings home to us why Gandhi continues to be relevant today and in the centuries to come. Dr. King’s reply was that Gandhi was inevitable. If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought and acted, inspired by the vision of a humanity evolving towards a world of peace and harmony. We may ignore him only at our own risk.
But ignore him we do, just as we ignore our history and the many thousands of nameless, faceless people whose courage and sacrifice gained us our precious independence. A lot of us who grew up on the staple diet of NCERT history books at least know of the famous Salt Satyagraha by Gandhi and his famous Dandi March. But dig a little deeper and you would draw a blank. We know next to nothing about the 80 marchers who walked along with Gandhi and even less about the Salt Tax and why picking up a fistful of salt from the sea was so revolutionary.
Thanks to the ‘National Salt Satyagraha Memorial at Dandi‘, a project of the Ministry of Culture, which selected IIT Bombay for the design, co-ordination, and implementation of this project, some of that history is being brought alive to us at IIT Bombay. We share some of the highlights of that project through a visual essay on the two Dandi Marchers workshops which just concluded in IIT Bombay campus and Ali’ baba’s column: ‘A fistful of Salt’. We hope that reading through it all will bring alive the mystique of the Mahatma a little bit closer to you.
For the first time in the history of contemporary art in India, a number of artists, supporters and volunteers from around the world are coming together to set up a monument of international importance. They will create a part of the memorial to be dedicated to the Salt Satyagrahis who marched with Mahatma Gandhi to defy British imperialism. The monument celebrates the historic March of 1930 that triggered a wider Civil Disobedience Movement, leading to India’s freedom in 1947, which in turn inspired leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr in the US and Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
This prestigious task of setting up the ‘National Salt Satyagraha Memorial at Dandi ‘,a project of the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India) has been assigned to Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT Bombay), which is working in association with an International design team. The IIT Bombay team based in IDC has been co-ordinating the research, visualisation, and creation of the art components for the project, which includes a bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi, 24 narrative stoneware murals for the pathway leading to the main statue, and a cluster of 80 life-size Dandi Marchers’ sculptures.
The main memorial will include a statue of Gandhiji inside a pyramid of light, followed by life-size sculptures of the group of the 80 fellow marchers. Two stylised hands raised up in the sky, holding at the top a handful of simulated salt crystals, will form the canopy under which the main Gandhiji sculpture would be placed. With light levels going down towards evening, a pyramid of light will rise up in the sky illuminating a crystal sculpture at the apex, with a bank of LED search lights floor mounted around the rim of the base pedestal.
A pathway towards the main memorial will replicate the Dandi March route through 24 spaces representing the 24 halts. Each space will have a panel (mural) carrying a visual depiction of the main events which occurred during the day’s journey to the halt through bas-relief sculptural narratives. The pathway is proposed to be created around the left bank of a small lake to be constructed in the space earmarked for the memorial complex. The individual spaces are designed to enable groups to gather around each narrative panel, where a guide could take them through the episodes.
IIT Bombay recently organised two workshops, in the months of November and December, where the life-size sculptures of all 80 marchers were created within IIT Bombay campus. The sculptures were prepared by sculptors and students from across the globe under the guidance of IIT Bombay team and a team of renowned sculptors invited as resource persons. The participants worked within an overall visual framework, and made use of the 2′ high reference images created by sculptor Siddharth Sathe based on the guidelines given by IIT Bombay team after doing thorough research over almost two years on the actual marchers who had participated in the Dandi March.
The Dandi Marchers’ Sculptures Workshop I, held from November 7-24, brought together experienced sculptors from different parts of India. These 20 sculptors, working with resource persons under the guidance of renowned Indian sculptor Shri Sadashiv Sathe, produced life-size clay statues of 40 young Salt Satyagrahis who went on the 240-mile March from Sabarmati to Dandi in South Gujarat.
The second workshop, held from December 7-22, 2013, had participating sculptors from UK, USA, Tibet, Bulgaria, Japan, Austria, Burma, and Sri Lanka, along with 13 Indian sculptors to work on the statues of the remaining 40 Salt Satyagrahis.
During this ambitious project that has been researched, coordinated, and implemented by IIT Bombay, each sculptor was able to complete clay statues of two marchers. Further processing involves taking plaster casts of the 80 clay-models produced in the workshop and making fiberglass masters, which would be used to make the final sculptures in stoneware. The stoneware sculptures created from the clay statues made at the workshop will be installed on the pathway at the Dandi Salt Satyagraha Memorial at Dandi, Gujarat. A series of evening talks on Gandhian philosophy and methodology were also arranged throughout the two workshops. The collection of life-size clay statues, a rare and stunning sight, continues to attract visitors to the Powai campus of IIT Bombay.
List of 80 Marchers who participated in the Dandi March 1930
1. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Age 61, Gujarat.
2. Pyarelal Nayyar. Age 30. Punjab.
3. Chhaganlal Naththubhai Joshi. Age 35. Gujarat.
4. Pandit Narayan Moreshwar Khare. Age 42. Maharashtra
5. Ganpatrav Godshe. Age 25. Maharashtra.
6. Prathviraj Lakshmidas Ashar. Age 19. Cutch.
7. Mahavir Giri. Age 20. Nepal.
8. Bal Dattatreya Kalelkar. Age 18. Maharashtra.
9. Jayanti Naththubhai Parekh. Age 19. Gujarat.
10. Rasik Desai. Age 19. Gujarat.
11. Vitthal Liladhar Thakkar. Age 16. Gujarat.
12. Harakhji Ramjibhai. Age 18. Gujarat.
13. Tansukh Pranshankar Bhatt. Age 20. Gujarat. Association.
14. Kantilal Harilal Gandhi. Age 20. Gujarat.
15. Chhotubhai Khushalbhai Patel. Age 22. Gujarat.
16. Valjibhai Govindji Desai. Age 35. Gujarat.
17. Pannalal Balabhai Jhaveri. Age 20. Gujarat.
18. Abbas Varteji . Age 20. Gujarat.
19. Punjabhai Shah. Age 25. Gujarat.
20. Madhavjibhai Thakkar. Age 40. Cutch.
21. Naranjibhai. Age 22. Cutch.
22. Maganbhai Vora. Age 25. Cutch.
23. Dungarsibhai. Age 27. Cutch.
24. Somalal Pragjibhai Patel. Age 25. Gujarat.
25. Hasmukhram Jakabar. Age 25. Gujarat.
26. Daudbhai. Age 25. Gujarat.
27. Ramjibhai Vankar. Age 45. Gujarat.
28. Dinkarrai Pandya. Age 30. Gujarat.
29. Dwarkanath. Age 30. Maharashtra.
30. Gajanan Khare. Age 25. Maharashtra.
31. Jethalal Ruparel. Age 25. Cutch.
32. Govind Harkare. Age 25. Maharashtra.
33. Pandurang. Age 22. Maharashtra.
34. Vinayakrao Apte. Age 33. Maharashtra.
35. Ramdhirrai. Age 30. United Provinces.
37.Bhanushankar Dave. Age 22. Gujarat.
38. Munshilal. Age 25. United Provinces.
39. Raghavan. Age 25. Kerala.
40. Ravjibhai Nathalal Patel, Age 30. Gujarat.
41. Shivabhai Gokalbhai Patel. Age 27. Gujarat.
42. Shankarbhai Bhikabhai Patel. Age 20. Gujarat.
43. Jashbhai Ishwarbhai Patel. Age 20. Gujarat.
44. Sumangal Prakash. Age 25. United Provinces.
45. Titus. Age 25. Kerala.
46. Krishna Nair. Age 25. Kerala.
47. Tapan Nair. Age 25. Tamilnadu.
48. Haridas Varjivandas Gandhi. Age 25. Gujarat.
49. Chimanlal Narsilal Shah. Age 25. Gujarat.
50. Shankaran. Age 25. Kerala.
51. Subhramanyam. Age 25. Andhra.
52. Ramaniklal Maganlal Modi. Age 38. Gujarat.
53. Madanmohan Chaturvedi. Age 27. Rajputana.
54. Harilal Mahimtura. Age 27. Maharashtra.
55. Motibasdas. Age 20. Orissa.
56. Haridas Muzumdar. Age 25. Gujarat.
57. Anand Hingorani. Age 24. Sindh.
58. Mahadev Martand. Age 18. Karnataka.
59. Jayantiprasad. Age 30. United Provinces.
60. Hariprasad. Age 20. United Provinces.
61. Girivardhari Chaudhari. Age 20. Bihar.
62. Keshav Chitre. Age 25. Maharashtra.
63. Ambalal Shankarbhai Patel. Age 30. Gujarat.
64. Vishnu Pant. Age 25. Maharashtra.
65. Premraj. Age 35. Punjab.
66. Durgesh Chandra Das. Age 44. Bengal.
67. Madhavlal Shah. Age 27. Gujarat.
68. Jyotiram. Age 30. United Provinces.
69. Surajbhan. Age 34. Punjab.
70. Bhairav Dutt. Age 25. United Provinces.
71. Lalji Parmar. Age 25. Gujarat.
72. Ratnaji Boria. Age 18. Gujarat.
73. Vishnu Sharma. Age 30. Maharashtra.
74. Chintamani Shastri. Age 40. Maharashtra.
75. Narayan Dutt. Age 24. Rajputana.
76. Manilal Mohandas Gandhi. Age 38. Gujarat.
77. Surendra. Age 30. United Provinces.
78. Haribhai Mohani. Age 32. Maharashtra.
79. Puratan Buch. Age 25. Gujarat.
80. Kharag Bahadur Singh Giri. Age 25. Nepal.
81. Satish (Shankar) Kalelkar. Age 20. Maharashtra.
Padmabhushan, Justice C S Dharmadhikaray, eminent Gandhian and Chairman of the Institute for Gandhian Studies, Wardha: You (IIT Bombay) will be presenting Gandhiji to the world through this memorial. It would be a reflection of his thoughts and philosophy.
Dr Sudarshan Iyengar, Vice-Chancellor, Gujarat Vidyapeeth: This memorial should be able to make people experience the day, time and moment of the actual march and make them feel a part of it. It should evoke some spiritual feelings inside, just as it did to Mahatma Gandhi and those who participated in the march.
Mr. Tushar Gandhi whose grandfather Sh.Manilal Gandhi also participated in the Dandi March:The Dandi March symbolised unity and this memorial and the associated Dandi Marchers’ Sculptures workshops, where young participants are coming together from not just different part of the Country but also the globe, is again a reflection of unity in diversity. This memorial is not about Gandhiji but the 80 marchers who took part in the Salt Satyagraha along with him. The entire event/ journey of those marchers will be recreated through this memorial and I think the coming alive of the entire event through a memorial is a unique initiative.
Prof. Devang Khakhar, Director, IIT Bombay: Although IIT Bombay has been traditionally known for its expertise in science and technology, today at IDC we have very good artists and designers with us. Participating in this project of international importance has been one-of-a-kind experience for us and we are very proud of our association with the upcoming memorial. The contribution of the young sculptors in this national memorial is going to last forever.
Prof Kirti Trivedi: The Dandi Memorial has been conceptualised not just as a memorial to a specific event, but as a participative and experiential space to help understand the effectiveness of ‘Satyagraha – the truth force’ as a powerful method in the eternal struggle of ‘the right against the might’ for the generations to come.
The images from the Workshop have been shot by Prashant Sharma, a photographer, an artist, and a communication designer. He holds a Masters Degree in Visual Communication from Indian Institute of Technology, (Bombay) and Bachelors Degree in Applied Art from College Of Arts, New Delhi. With a fresh feel to add to the world of photography and zeal to succeed, his photographs have found space in candid and contextual image making. Prashant has worked on MHRD projects for some period, when he travelled across India to explore Cultural Identities. Passionate about nurturing new talent, he believes in sharing knowledge and divides his time teaching students at various design colleges as a guest lecturer.