The Dharasana Salt Works Protest

WALKER: "They walked, with heads up, without music, or cheering, or any hope of escape from injury or death. It went on and on and on. Women carried the wounded bodies from the ditch until they dropped from exhaustion. But still it went on."

"Whatever moral ascendancy the West held was lost today. India is free — for she has taken all that steel and cruelty can give, and she has neither cringed nor retreated."

What did the NY Times reporter mean when he said the West had lost its "moral ascendancy"?