Tuesday, September 27, 2011

gandhi unfinished task in South africa

Gandhi unfinished task in South Africa

Some prominent Indian procured permits in night, in secret , yet by 30th November 1907,last date for registration Transvaal government was able to register only 511 out of 13000 living in that territory. The rest had referred to comply. Meanwhile Gandhi was imprisoned 2 months by Johannesburg magistrate. A policeman took Gandhi into a van which took him to city jail, where he found it difficult to don the dirty cloths he was asked to change. He` was later taken  to large  cell where other Indians soon joined him.

On 30th January the superintendent of police Johannesburg took Gandhi to Pretoria to meet Smuts , who said he had accepted Gandhi alternation. Gandhi reminded Smuts in a long talk he too was barrister from London Inns of court and claiming that English speaking white wanted TARA( Transvaal Asiatic Registration Act) more than Boers , Smuts  praised the commitment of Indian registers . According to Satyagraha Smuts added. “ I have consulted General Bot-ha also and I assure you that I will repeal the Asiatic act as soon as most of you undergone voluntary registration. When bill legalizing such registration is drafted, I will send you a copy  for your  criticism.

Gandhi and other let off after Smuts orders. On reaching Johannesburg Gandhi explained the settlement to the chairman of passive  resistance association Yousuf  Mian  and other community leaders. Deeming the settlement a victory he asked Indians to registering voluntarily as they had been opposing compulsion.

In that morning when Gandhi  went to his office he was beaten by MR. Mir Alam giving more blows and kicks to Gandhi at Gandhi Satyagraha  office.  Latter Gandhi said in autobiography “ the people should not prosecute Mir Alam and company in the way they knew against what thought to be wrong. Except for those  with scruples of conscience, Asians should give finger prints and also said that all Satyagrahi’s  fear none and nothing but god .”  By May 1908, about  8, 700 Indians applied for registration. A new law was validated the voluntary registrations but there was no mention of TARA being repealed. Smuts who was touring into South Africa most powerful politician pleaded helplessness in the phase of white opinion. The circular came with official declaration that residents India origin returning to Transvaal’ after May would have to register under TARA and not be allowed voluntary  route, and with enforcement of another anti Indian law, Transvaal immigrants restrictive act ( TIRA) which in effect made it illegal for any Indian new comer no matter well educated to enter territory.

A volunteer on a bicycle brought telegram from government expressing inability to repeal TARA. Meanwhile Mir Alam came forward and he said he had done wrong in assaulting Gandhi at which Gandhi he harbored no resentment against him.

Increasingly curtailed from 1906, Gandhi began legal practice had virtually ceased with his arrest at the end of 1907 though he continued to use his legal knowledge for struggle. During his nine weeks in Volksrust prison  Gandhi and other Indian prisoners broke stones, dug holes for tree and stitched caps on sewing machine. A wire arrived in Volksrust from Abet west in Phoenix, Kasturba was seriously ill. West suggested Gandhi to seek parole or release. Gandhi rejected the idea and decided to be in struggle and to continue Satyagraha. Kasturba survived. Later ( 10th January ) she under went  surgery in Durban without chloroform. Gandhi who was present, marveled at her wonderful bravery  but few days her condition worsened a friend of Gandhi , declared that beef tea she would not recover. Asked Gandhi whether she would  take beef tea. Kasturba  said she would  die in his arms. Gandhi took her by rickshaw to Durban station and carried her in his arms to train which taken them to Phoenix station. West brought  a hammock a party sya    a bottle of hot milk another of hot water. In phoenix Kasturba Gandhi slowly gained strength  under Gandhi’ s hydro pathetic treatment.

But from 25th February to 24th May 1909 Gandhi was put in jail, arrested along with Polak.   He was kept in Volksrust for a week and then transferred in hand cups in Pretoria where he was placed along with murderers in dark  narrow cell. The governor idea was to break Gandhi spirit for he was hand cuffed and marched on foot to a court where evidence was demanded. But Gandhi spirit seemed to emerge stronger from these tests.

Busy organizing the Transvaal Satyagraha , Gandhi made short visits to Phoenix. On those days settlement families  were found good spirits playing with Gandhi .

In one occasion Gandhi said to Manilal his son  that you are not working as a barrister or doctor. We are poor and wishes to remain poor -- have faith in serving others. Changes in Gandhi life style were reflected in Phoenix. Spicy and tasty snakes and meals which every one including Gandhi enjoyed gave away to  non-spiced for which increasingly eaten by Indian settlers. All the while Gandhi spent eighteen years in South Africa.

At forty we should understand what Gandhi has taken as he neared 40th birth day. He was commanding, on behalf of small and not always united a non  violent battle making sure that it remained non-violent, defending Satyagrahi’  in law courts and taking care of their dependents. He was conducted Indian opinion  week by week supervising life in the Phoenix settlement, cultivating his links with friendly whites in South Africa keeping sympathizers in India and England informed and observing the Indian scene which he hoped before long to influence

Making an effort in England at this juncture was unavoidable. Leaders  South Africa whites were visiting England  to secure merger of all four colonies the cape, Natal, the Transvaal and Orange free state- into union of South Africa . London ’s  intervention in defense of Indian rights had sought before merger a united dominion would be stronger vi -vise London. 

In June 1909 according TBIA decided to send Gandhi , Ahmed Calchalia, Haj I Ha bib and  V.A. Chethiar  to London  and another delegation of Fons, including Henry Pollack, to India to mobilize opinion there.

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