Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gandhi's successful visit to South Africa

After reaching Bombay, where Kasturba and his children were lodged with friends, Gandhi proceeded to Indian capital Calcutta for annual session of Indian national congress at the end of 1901 ,boarding train taken over by leaders - Din Shaw Wacha who was president of Calcutta session, Pherozshah Mehta lion of Bombay , Chimanlal Setalwad the renowned lawyer and others. The Gandhi asked the opinion of Mehta about what should be done for Indians in South Africa. Mehta’s response was nothing can be done for South African Indians as long as we have no power in our own land.

Gandhi along with Gokhale helped a resolution on South Africa which was passed without discussion . Gandhi met most of the leaders and came to know the working of the Indian congress. Gandhi in Calcutta met Bengal’s intellectual and political leaders and found a lot of interest in Bengal’s music. But Gandhi was disappointed that he failed to see Swami Vivekananda, as he was told he was in Calcutta and seriously ill and could not be seen.
Gandhi after quick trip to Rangoon from Bengal , decided to visit Banaras, Agra, Jaipur, Palampur before joining his family in Rajkot. Gandhi wanted to travel in India to understand and to know about Indian conditions, as he wanted to engage and educate himself by traveling in third class train.
Gandhi found the third class compartments to be smelly and not suitable for traveling.
Gokhale wanted to join in bar in Bombay but changed his decision to set up practice in Rajkot. Gandhi’s friend and successful advocate Kelvaram Dave insisted Gandhi that Bombay was place for Gandhi to set up law practice. Agreeing to his advice Gandhi set up practice and subsequently shifted to a fine bungalow in Santa Cruz. He had prospered better than he expected in his profession. Gandhi aims were to do public service under the advice of Gokhale, earn enough money to support his family.
But Gandhi’s life was not intended for comfort or pleasure. He had received cable from South Africa. Gandhi gave up practice in November 1902 and went again to South Africa, even though Pherozshah Mehta strongly advised Gandhi not to go South Africa as he could do nothing there. It was in Transvaal now under British rule that Gandhi helped Indians who were dependent on Gandhi .

Though ill-treated, Indians in Transvaal and orange free state had been cited as reason for Britain war against Boers, British victory in fact worsened the Indian position in these two states. Many of their hardships were connected to new Asiatic department in Transvaal , largely staffed by British officials who had migrated from India and Ceylon.

Indians who had left Transvaal during war were required to apply to Asiatic department in Transvaal for to permits to return their homes, jobs or trade and bribing seems to be necessary to obtain permits. Also unlike South African officials who had acquired certain courtesy also extended at times to Indian while officials from Asia used to lording over dark skinned sub sects, thought their below dignity to be courteous with Indians.
Gandhi who had prepared the case of Transvaal Indians had earlier lived Pretoria and Johannesburg was asked to lead a deputation there as well. But Indians were unable to procure a permit for Gandhi . However an hour before Gandhi’s train left, his old friend Alexander still police chief secured a permit for him from Transvaal representative. But Gandhi was told permit was wrongly issued .
Following his exclusion from meeting with Chamberlain, Gandhi chose not to return to India. Gandhi told Tyeb and others that not only would he stay in South Africa he would live in Transvaal , practicing in Pretoria or Johannesburg, deal with Asiatic department and strive to prevent the hounding out Indians. In Transvaal Indian backed Gandhi and elected as a leader Transvaal British Indian association a counter part of Natal Indian congress. After words Gandhi was enrolled in Transvaal supreme court.

Gandhi led the delegation of Indians in Natal that called on Joseph Chamberlains secretary of state colonies and found him polite and found him polite but Chamberlains to satisfy South Africa people to collect 35 million pounds decided not to satisfy the Indians in Natal.
Hearing that bribes were being demanded from Indians and Chinese seeking entry into Transvaal . By arguing the case in law court to come clean to enabling Asian community to save large sums in unpaid bribes. Gandhi prestige rose up.
Gandhi loaned to help to Madanjet Vijavahanik to start non-European Journal four languages English , Gujarati, Tamil and Hindi. The journal published informing Indian events across South Africa and in India. At the end of year, after Gandhi spent around 40,000 rupees on the Journal called “ Indian opinion “ had endeavored never to depart from strict facts in dealing with difficult questions and write nothing to hurt. The writers were asked to write facts that would always place before readers facts in their nakedness. With difficulty Gandhi run the Indian opinion and the Journal never became profitable not even after costs Tamil and Hindi editions were closed in 1906 and survived on Gandhi’s savings.
What was best for his wife and children was not Gandhi’s primary quest. Gandhi in his autobiography said that “ I sacrificed their literary training to what I genuinely, though may be wrongly, believed to service to community. His children doing scavengers job, grinding wheat and speaking fluent Gujarati may have been an admirable example to hierarchical colonized community that saw indignity in manual lab our and in native tongue.

Gandhi autobiography - Zulu ‘Rebellion “ heart searching’s and birth of satya graha -describe the critical phase in Gandhi’s life when he found a certainty about his mission and clarity about his road. Gandhi and his colleagues were active service in Zulu terrain for four weeks in June- July 1906 carrying stretches Zulu friend lies mistakenly shot by British soldiers and nursing them as well as Zulu suspects who wound received British lashes has festered for days . His conscience was some what eased by the fact that he and his corps nursed innocent Zulus who would other wise not have been cared for.
Indians were serving in a sparsely populated, beautiful part of a country. Few and four between hills and dales were scattered kraals of simple and un civilized Zulus. With or without the wounded Gandhi and his colleagues walk long distances at a time 40 miles per day. In his treks through these solemn solitudes Gandhi often felt into deep thought.
But Gandhi quickly saw that the military campaign supported by him was only man hunt. In Zulu country Gandhi sensed that he himself wound fight well and on large canvass. A mission came to me in 1906 namely spread truth and non-violence among man kind in his place of violence and false hood in all walks of life. He may not have used these exact words in 1906, but sense calling was present.
That struggle was ahead was suggested by letters and telegrams to him Zululand asking to him to return Transvaal , when new anti Indian steps were being designed. Within month of rebellion Transvaal Indians launched their first non violence defiance, or as it would eventually called Satya Graha ( truth -force) with Gandhi saying on 11th September 1906, I can boldly declare and with certainty that so long as there even an handful of men true to their pledge, there can be only one end to struggle and that is victory.
In autobiography Gandhi says that Zululand decisions were necessary preliminary to Satyagraha . Zululand had led to the gift of fight that he would share South African Indians and world. Every individual any where had the power resist oppression and non- violent resistance was legitimates
On 22nd August 1906 a ’ Gazette extra ordinary “ of Transvaal government published a draft written by for amending the territory Asiatic law. Arriving in Johannesburg, where he stayed with Hermann Kallenbach in letters house in Orchards three mile out side city Gandhi took a copy of gazette extra ordinary bill near to the house to study the draft law and translate into Gujarati. It required every Indian who has eight or older male or female to obtain a new certificate of registration from registrar of Asiatic Law and provide finger and thumb prints and other marks for certification. Failure to comply would invite a fine and imprisonment and or deportation.
Gandhi resisted law thinking that it will affect 15000 Indians in Transvaal or other areas. Gandhi as he is facing all problems alone he advised Indians south Africa asked them to stand firm and declare their opposition to pledge to laid down in the law and suffer penalties requested for resistance. Gandhi wanted Indians in south Africa to do Satyagraha without violence with non violence.
As Zululand’s experience led to a new principle had separated him from his family and force to leave Johannesburg for rough settlement. Gandhi by starting practicing non-violence called Satyagraha and finding way for South African Indians. Gandhi would allow “Satyagraha “ to translated into English as truth force or love force or soul force.


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