the Spirit of Mahatma Gandhi lives through every nonviolent action
Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav
Senior Gandhian Scholar, Professor, Editor and Linguist
Gandhi International Study and Research Institute, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India
Contact No. – 09404955338, 09415777229
Mailing Address- C- 29, Swaraj Nagar, Panki, Kanpur- 208020, Uttar Pradesh, India
Dadabhai Naoroji and Mahatma Gandhi - I
Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917); statesman, often called The Grand Old Man of India. He presided over three times the Congress session, in 1886, 1893 and 1906 Enunciated, for the first time, Congress goal as one of swaraj or independence. He was Member of the British Committee of the Congress in London. The first Parliament of Natal under Responsible Government has been pre-eminently an Indian Parliament. It has for the most part occupied itself with legislation affecting Indians, by no means favorably. The Governor, in opening the Legislative Council and Assembly, remarked that his Ministers would deal with the Franchise which was exercised by Indians in Natal, although they never exercised it in India. The reasons given for the sweeping measure to disfranchise Indians were that they had never exercised the Franchise before, and that they were not fit for it. The petition of the Indians seemed to prove a sufficient answer to this. Hence they have now turned round and given out the real object of the Bill, which is simply this: “We do not want the Indians any more here. We want the coolies, but they shall remain slaves here and go back to India as soon as they are free.” I earnestly request your undivided attention to the cause and appeal to you to use your influence that always has been and is being used on behalf of the Indians, no matter where situated.
The Indians look up to you as children to the father. Such is really the feeling here A word for myself and what I have done. I am yet inexperienced and young and, therefore, quite liable to make mistakes. The responsibility undertaken is quite out of proportion to my ability. I may mention that I am doing this without any remuneration so you will see that I have not taken the matter up, which is beyond my ability, in order to enrich myself at the expense of the Indians. I am the only available person who can handle the question. You will, therefore, oblige me very greatly if you will kindly direct and guide me and make necessary suggestions which shall be received as from a father to his child. 1
In continuation of my letter dated the 7th instant, I have to inform you of the progress of the movement against the Franchise Law Amendment Bill as follows: The Bill passed the 3rd reading in the Legislative Council on the 7th instant. The other petition to the Council was accepted. One Hon. Member moved the postponement of the 3rd reading till the petition was considered by the House. The motion was rejected. The Governor has given his assent to the Bill subject to its being disallowed by Her Majesty. The Bill has a proviso in it that it shall not become law until, by a proclamation or otherwise, the Governor signifies that it is not Her Majesty's wish to disallow the Bill. I send you herewith a copy of the petition to the Home Government that will be sent to the Governor here probably on the 17th instant. It will be signed by nearly 10,000 Indians. Nearly 5,000 signatures have already been received. I regret to say that I am unable to send you a copy of the petition to the Council. I however beg to send a newspaper cutting which gives a fairly good report. I do not think there remains anything more to be added. The situation is so critical that if the Franchise Bill becomes law, the position of the Indians 10 years hence will be simply intolerable in the Colony. 2
In continuation of my letter of the 14th instant I have to inform you as follows: The petition to the Home Government, a copy of which has already been sent to you, was sent, I hear, last week. Mr. Escombe, the Attorney-General, has made a report to the effect of the informant is right that the only reason for passing the Bill is to prevent the Asiatics from controlling the government of the Natives. The real reason, however, is simply this. They want to put the Indians under such disabilities and subject them to such insults that it may not be worth their while to stop in the Colony. Yet, they do not want to dispense with the Indians altogether. They certainly do not want those Indians who come on their own means and they want the indentured Indians very badly; but they would require, if they could, the indentured Indian to return to India after his term of indenture. A perfect leonine partnership! They know very well that they cannot do this at once—so they have begun with the Franchise Bill. They want to feel the pulse of the Home Government on the question.
One member of the Assembly writes to me that he does not believe that the Home Government would sanction the Bill. I need hardly say how important it is for the Indian community that the Bill should not receive the sanction. Natal is not a bad place for the Indians. Good many Indian traders earn a respectable living here. The Bill, if it became law, would be a very great blow to further Indian enterprise. Of course, I may state again, as I have done once, that there is not the slightest probability of the government of the Natives passing from the Europeans to the Indians. This is simply meant to frighten the Home Government. Those who live here the Government know very well that such a thing will never happen. They do not want the Indians to elect white members—2 or 3—who may look after their interests in the Parliament, so that the Government may work their way towards the destruction of the Indians without any opposition whatever. I have sent copies of the petition to Sir W. Wedderburn and others there and also some copies to Indian newspapers. Please excuse the length of my letters. You will very much oblige me by giving hints as to the way of working. 3
Though the Government is silent, the papers have been informing the public that the Franchise Bill has been disallowed by Her Majesty. Can you give us any information on the point? The Indian settlers cannot thank you and the Congress Committee too much for the trouble taken on their behalf. 4 It is the same recognized principle of political equality that enabled Mr. Naoroji to enter the House of Commons. If you object to the Indian having the same rights because “British energy and money” have built up this Colony, you should clearly object to the Germans and the French also. On the same principle, the descendants of the pioneers who shed their blood may well object to even those coming from England and pushing them out. Is this not a narrow and selfish view of the matter? At times I read in your leaders expressions of very lofty and humanitarian sentiments. Unfortunately for the poor Indian, these sentiments are set aside when you deal with the Indian question. And yet, whether you like it or not, he is your fellow-subject. England does not want to let go her hold of India, and at the same time she does not want to rule her with an iron rod. Her statesmen say that they want so much to endear the English rule to the Indians that they would not have any other. Would not views such as those expressed by you retard the fulfillment of those wishes? 5
I venture to enclose herewith a cutting containing the Franchise Bill that the Ministry proposes to introduce next session and a Press copy of my letter to the Chairman of the British Committee. The Governor of Zululand has refused to grant the request of the Memorialists regarding Nondweni. I am now preparing a Memorial for the Home Government on the subject. I beg to thank you for your letter about the Commando Memorial. 6 We are aware that the troubles in Poona as well as in parts of India occupy very largely the attention of the public men interested in Indian affairs and, were it not for the gravity of the situation as regards Indians in Natal; we would not have trespassed upon your time and attention. The Natal Government Gazette publishes this week the address of Mr. Chamberlain to the Colonial Premiers who had assembled in London during the Diamond Jubilee season. The following appears in the address with reference to the legislation in regard to the immigration of Indians to this Colony and other parts of the British Empire. In spite of Mr. Chamberlain’s eloquent tribute to the loyalty of the Indians to the British Crown as well as their civilization, the conclusion is irresistible that the Right Hon’ble gentleman has completely given up the India cause and yielded to the anti-Asiatic clamour of the different Colonies. He has indeed granted that the traditions of the British Empire “make no distinction in favour of or against race or colour,” but, in the same breath, he accepts the position taken up by the Colonies with regard to the Indians and almost unreservedly approves of the Natal Immigration Restriction Act, Petition regarding which, with copy of the Act, was forwarded to you some months ago. Mr. Chamberlain cannot be unaware of the fact that the Natal Act was passed with the deliberate intention of applying it almost exclusively to the Indians.
The extracts quoted in the petition amply prove this. It was also stated by the Right Hon’ble Mr. Escombe, the Premier of the Colony of Natal, at the time of introducing the immigration Bill that it was because the desired end, namely, the stopping of free Indian immigration, could not be obtained by direct means he had to resort to indirect means. The measure was almost unanimously pronounced to be un- British and dishonest. It was in fact a stab in the dark. And Mr. Chamberlain, much to our disappointment, sets the seal of his approval on such a measure. We do not know now where we are and what we are to do. The Act has already begun to tell upon us. Only a few days ago, seventy-one Indians, who had their rooms in Natal but had gone over to the Transvaal to dispose of their goods and had returned to Natal, were arrested some time after their return and kept in prison for six days for being prohibited immigrants while their trial was going on. They were discharged on technical exceptions but, had it been otherwise, the trial might have gone on for some days more and it might have cost them several hundreds of pounds before they could have got the right to remain on a British soil. As it was, it cost them not a little during the seven days’ trial. Such cases are bound to happen from time to time. And then, only those who have been formerly domiciled in Natal could come. Mr. Chamberlain says that a man may be an undesirable immigrant “because he is dirty or he is immoral or he is a pauper or he has some other objection which can be defined in an Act of Parliament.” Indians whom the Natal Act debars from coming to Natal are, as Mr. Chamberlain has himself admitted in his dispatch to the Transvaal Government, neither immoral nor dirty. They are certainly not paupers.
The weakest point in the Natal Act is that it makes special provision for the admission of those that are perhaps likely to be immoral or dirty because they are drawn from the lowest strata of society, namely, the indentured Indians. Immediately after the Act was passed, the Indian Immigration Board sanctioned an indent for 4,000 indentured Indians probably the largest indent yet on record on a single occasion. How could Mr. Chamberlain ignore these facts we do not know. We still venture to maintain, as we have maintained all along, that the agitation against the Indians is due to colour and trade jealousy. We have courted an impartial inquiry and, if it is granted, we have no doubt the result will be that the presence of the Indian in Natal will be found to have been beneficial to the Colony. The commissioners, who sat in Natal about 12 years ago to enquire into certain Indian matters, have recorded that the presence of the Indian has been a blessing to the Colony. Really speaking, Mr. Chamberlain has practically granted that an Indian so soon as he leaves India, ceases to be a British subject, with the awful result that we have to witness, from day to day, the painful spectacle of Indian British subjects deported from or debarred from entering Natal, a British soil, to or to be driven to the Transvaal or Delagoa Bay, both foreign territories. The Transvaal Alien Act was, comparatively speaking, a boon. An Indian taking a passport from Natal, Delagoa Bay or India, or an Indian getting previous employment in the Transvaal, could enter it while the Alien Law was in force. Moreover, it was not specially applied to the Indians. Therefore, any Indian who was not absolutely a pauper could enter the Transvaal, yet the Transvaal Law, because it told severely upon the Uitlanders, was repealed owing to the pressure from Downing Street. The same pressure, unfortunately for us, though we are British subjects, is not available on the British soil. The Natal Act debars any Indian from entering Natal who cannot read and write any of the European languages, unless he has been formerly domiciled in the Colony.
Therefore, the Mahomedan community would not be allowed to bring to Natal a Moulvi nor the Hindu community a Shastri, no matter how learned each may be in his own department, because, forsooth, he does not know English. An Indian merchant who has been domiciled in Natal may come back to the Colony, but he dare not bring any new servants with him. The inability to import new Indian servants and assistants is a very grave inconvenience to the Indian community. Even if the Immigration Act is to remain on the statute-book of Natal forever and Mr. Chamberlain refuses to disallow it, the clause with regard to the European languages needs to be modified so as to admit all those who can read and write their own language and are otherwise eligible as immigrants under the Act. We are sure that this is the least that might be granted to us. And we would beseech you to exert your influence in bringing about that change, if nothing else. Mr. Chamberlain’s address portends, perhaps, that he would not disallow the other anti-Asiatic Acts also, to which the petition herein mentioned refers. If that be so, it is practically a notice to the free Indians in Natal to quit the Colony, for that will be the effect of the Dealers’ Licenses Act, if it is enforced rigorously as it is likely to be now that the Colonists know that they would get almost anything from Mr. Chamberlain for the asking of it-only if what is required to be done is done by indirect, and, shall we say, unfair methods. It breaks our hearts to think that Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies should approve of any unfair method, but that is the unanimous opinion of the Europeans and the Indians. Even the Europeans who are the bitterest opponents of the free immigration of Indians, though they do not mind it, think and admit, that the above methods of restricting free Indian immigration are unfair. We are powerless. We leave the case in your hands. Our only hope lies in your again bestirring yourself with redoubled vigour in our favour. And we feel sure that you would do it, for our cause is absolutely just. 7
I have the honour to enclose herewith a letter addressed to you by the representatives of the Indian community of Natal with reference to Mr. Chamberlain’s address to the Colonial Premiers. The newspaper cutting enclosed was seen after the letter was in print. It gives great force to the argument contained in the letter. Mr. Chamberlain’s address has naturally created surprise amongst both the communities, European as well as Indian. I venture to trust that your powerful influence will be exerted in order to bring about the changes in the Immigration Act referred to in the letter if nothing more can be done. The kind of Indians referred to in the letter whom the Act at present debars from entering into Natal, while absolutely necessary for the regular conduct of Indian houses already established, cannot in any way interfere with Europeans if they were allowed to enter the Colony. 8
In view of the approaching session of the Congress, it may not be out of place to draw your attention, and through you that of our other leading men, to what we here think may be done by the Congress. I know that we who know the value of your services to your country have to see that we do not unduly encroach upon your attention and thereby probably affect your health; if, therefore, it is not possible for you to give this matter your personal attention, I doubt not that you will be good enough to forward this letter or copies thereof to the proper quarters. The matter treated as affecting the whole of the emigration from India seems to be of the utmost national importance. A draft resolution to be submitted to the Congress is enclosed herewith. A few copies of the notes, specially prepared for the friends in London at the desire of Sir William Wedderburn, are also being sent in a separate packet. They will give an idea of the position as it stands at present, and may be of use to the gentleman who will take charge of the resolution which, of course, may be altered or amended as the subjects committee think fit. The matter derives special importance owing to the sudden and unexpected activity of the Cape Legislature the members of which, while, as you are aware, they are divided into two very evenly balanced parties holding diametrically opposite views, seem to be almost unanimous on the Indian question.
A cutting from the Cape Times giving a pretty full report of the debate in the Cape Assembly, attached hereto, will give some idea of what is going on in that part of South Africa. The Cape gentlemen are evidently anxious to go further even than Natal, as if the latter had not almost completely shut the door against new-comers from India. They would not tolerate the Indian, whether as a merchant, clerk, or labourer. In Mr. Chamberlain, they have a Colonial Secretary who is anxious to go any length in respecting the wishes of the self-governing Colonies. The India Office, on the other hand, appears to be terribly inactive. But, seeing that there is unanimity of opinion between the Indians and Anglo-Indians on this question, it may be possible to rouse that office into proper activity, and obtain some relief. An influential deputation to wait upon Lord Curzon may go a great way in the desired direction. The attitude of the Cape Colony seems to show that the services rendered by India, in that it was Sir George White with his Indian contingent who was the first to be on the scene to check the effective advance of the enemy, that it was the hundreds of dhuli-bearers who rendered admittedly yeoman service during the siege of Ladysmith, and at the initial reverses, not to speak of the volunteers (Lumsden’s Horse) equipped entirely from money subscribed by the Indians, the Bhisti Corps and other Indian followers who were sent in shiploads from India, and the locally raised Indian Stretcher-Bearer Corps, will be entirely forgotten, and the Indian treated, if they had it all their own way, as a social leper. Natal for the present seems to be not quite ill disposed, but it will not take much to draw it out and, it is to be feared, make it return to its original opposition to the Indian.
The gentleman who will speak to the resolution may be asked to gratefully acknowledge Natal’s magnanimous response to the Indian Famine Fund, and a subscription of £100 collected for Prabhu Singh, an indentured Indian who rendered signal service at Ladysmith, and whose bravery was publicly acknowledged by Sir George White. (This is the man for whom Lady Curzon sent a “choga” which was publicly presented to him in Durban the other day.) The subscriptions to the Indian Famine Fund amount to over £4500, of which about one-half comes from our own community. The Transvaal and the Orange River Colony ought to be absolutely free to the Indian, but we are all very nervous about it. As showing to what lengths the people in South Africa would be prepared to go, what happened about a year ago at Umtali in Rhodesia. 9
Two Indian deputations waited on Mr. Chamberlain in Natal one at Durban and the other at Maritzburg. The statement sent herewith was presented by the Durban deputation: it needs no comment. The Rt. Hon. Gentleman considers that with reference to the laws already in force he can do very little, as the Colony is “responsibly”(?) governed. This reply in a measure is true. He also said that, with reference to the recent Bill imposing a tax of £3 on the children of indentured Indians, he would be guided by advice from the India Office. From what Lord George Hamilton has said to you at the deputation, it is to be hoped that the Bill will be rejected. He seems to share the fear of the Colonists that, unless the immigration of free Indians is checked, and indentured Indians are driven back to India on the termination of their indentures, this sub-continent will be swamped by the Indians. In a way he seemed to justify the attitude of the Colonists. I was present when he addressed the deputation in Durban. It was my intention to try to remove one or two of his misapprehensions when he received the Maritzburg deputation; but I was asked not to discuss any matter.
So, I simply endorsed what had been represented to him at Durban, and Mr. Chamberlain repeated what he had said there. Recently, the Natal Government has sent a commission to India to secure the termination of indentures in India, so that the indentured Indians may not have the opportunity of settling in Natal. This, of course, would be the climax in injustice, if it is at all countenanced by Lord Curzon. There is absolutely no precedent for it and it would be unadulterated slavery for a term of years. That, after the preaching of Imperial patriotism by Mr. Chamberlain, Natal should still make an effort to exploit Indian labour for its sole benefit, in total disregard of reasonable principles of contract, passes comprehension, and shows that the Colony has not in the least degree changed its hostile attitude towards British Indians. This is further confirmed by the fact that the Maritzburg Town Council is endeavouring to debar Indians from owning land. The solution is simple and most effective, viz., prohibition of indentured emigration to Natal, as suggested by Lord George Hamilton. 10
I have to thank you for your letter. I now enclose a statement up to date just to keep friends informed of the terrible position here. At the request of the people in East London, I am sending today to Sir William a draft for £20-0-0 in connection with their matter. The state there is just the same, though I understand that the police, after the representations from the people, are not enforcing the regulation about foot-paths strictly. 11 I am much obliged to you for your letter of the 16th April last. Lord George’s reply is satisfactory so far as it goes. But the greater the delay in passing the desired legislation, the greater will be the difficulty. We here absolutely subscribe to the statement that an undue influx of cheap labour should be restricted. Nor do Indian labourers enter the Colony in large numbers. But, as you will see from the most important papers I am enclosing herewith, in order to show our bona fides, we are prepared to accept legislation on the Natal basis with the very reasonable modifications suggested in the enclosed. As to Bazaars, not an Indian has accepted the principle of compulsory removal to Bazaars, but we are ready to co-operate with the Government in making the Bazaar system a success, if it is applied to new applicants. The real point is there should be no legislation to that effect compelling Indians as such to submit to the institution of Bazaars. I may add that Bazaars as understood here are merely an euphemism for Locations. I enclose herewith a letter that was addressed by me to the Government on the question and also the letter sent to them enclosing the petition from the Europeans of the Transvaal sent herewith. I know I am loading you with papers and documents in the midst of your other work. The great importance of the question is my only excuse. 12
I beg to enclose herewith a statement up to date regarding the Transvaal and East London. We read in the papers that Mr. Chamberlain is expecting Lord Milner’s dispatch as to the alteration of the existing legislation affecting the Indians. I trust a draft copy will be supplied to you. And if it is, I also trust that you will not accept any draft without letting me see it. It is necessary; also, that something should be done with reference to the legislation of the Orange River Colony which shuts out the Indians altogether. 13 I beg to enclose herewith the usual statement. At the request of the store-keepers in Heidelberg I have returned with this a copy of the magisterial proceedings which took place during Mr. Chamberlain’s stay in South Africa. They say the note is to be sent to you. I hope, however, you will not take any action thereon. Our countrymen here are at present naturally in such a state of unrest, confusion and terror, that they are unable to take a dispassionate view of things. I would therefore request you to be chary of receiving and using statements not received from Mr. Nazar or myself. Our policy is & must be to put up with the inconveniences such as those described in the Heidelberg proceedings. They are but a phase of the larger question. The whole effort has to be concentrated on the repeal of the existing legislation. 14
In the Indian Opinion being posted to-day, you will notice an extract from Mr. Chamberlain’s speech. You may recollect that a Commission went to India on behalf of the Natal Government last year with a view to induce Lord Curzon to agree to the compulsory repatriation of indentured Indians after the termination of their indentures. The Commission has returned, but no statement has been yet made by the Natal Government. Mr. Chamberlain’s speech, however, would go to show that the Indian Government accepted the principle of compulsion in a most objectionable manner that is to say a portion of the wages of the indentured men is to be paid them on their return to India. This will be nothing less than temporary slavery, and we, in South Africa, feel it so strongly that such a stipulation should not be agreed to even in exchange for a grant of more rights to free Indian settlers in Natal. The fight regarding the licenses and other matters affecting free Indians ought to be carried on independently of the question of indentured labour, except that, if the free Indians are not guaranteed fair treatment, indentured immigration may be withdrawn entirely. But to give away the liberties of indentured Indians who may be brought to Natal, for the sake of a better treatment of free Indians, would be highly immoral, and would never be acceptable to the latter. It is to be hoped, therefore, that a continued protest will be made against the principle of compulsory repatriation. From Mr. Chamberlain’s statement, it would appear that the thing is already done.
The Natal Government, however, is quite reticent and, therefore, there is just a hope that, after all, Mr. Chamberlain has made a mistake in making the announcement he has done. The struggle about licenses (Dealers’) in Natal has been revived as a direct result of Lord Milner’s Notice. Natal has naturally grown bolder, and, in view of the coming New Year, the situation has become very acute. In Newcastle, as you will notice from the Opinion, a licence in respect of ideally good premises has been refused to a British Indian. Four licenses in Durban have been refused simply because it was a matter of change of premises, not that they were new licenses. Mr. Nazar would probably be writing to you from Durban, but as I know the history of the Dealers’ Licenses Act from the very commencement, I thought I might deal with it also. In the Transvaal, the position is just as it is described in the long cablegram that was sent some time ago. It is high time that a definite pronouncement was made regarding the existing Indian licenses here, and that the congestion regarding permits to bona fide refugees was removed. 15
The mail papers to hand from India contain very long notices of the birthday anniversary of Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji, who is undoubtedly to India what Mr. Gladstone was to Great Britain. He has entered upon his 79th year, and the whole of India has celebrated the anniversary in a manner befitting the occasion. Millions of voices have gone up to Heaven praying for the blessings of the Almighty to be showered upon the grand old man and for many years of life on this earth. We join the millions in their prayer. Mr. Dadabhai is loved form the Hindukush to Cape Comorin and from Karachi to Calcutta as no other living man in India is loved. He has given a lifetime to the service of the country of his birth, and though a Parsi, Hindus, Mahomedans, Christians and all revere him just as strongly as the followers of Zoroaster. He has sacrificed for the cause of India ease and luxury, and has imposed upon himself a long exile. He has devoted his wealth also to the cause. His is the purest type of patriotism and comes from a sense of duty to the motherland. Nor is this all.
Mr. Dadabhai’s private character has been also a perfect pattern to be copied by the rising generation in every respect, and if we are not much mistaken, there is behind all his political work a strong religious pious fervour which nothing can quench. The land which is capable of producing a Dadabhai has every reason to hope for the best in the long run. Soon after he was elected member of the House of Commons, an honour conferred by a British constituency for the first time on an Indian, he paid a visit to India, and those who were privileged to witness his triumphal progress from Bombay to Lahore have testified that the enthusiasm with which he was received was only equalled, if at all, by that which accompanied the progress of the ever to be remembered Lord Ripon when he retired from his Viceroyalty. The nation certainly honoured itself by honouring such a man. To us in South Africa, a life of so much devotion and so much self-sacrifice in the midst of enormous difficulties (and Mr. Dadabhai had, as many of our readers will remember, much to suffer) should be a very rich lesson in loving our country and our people, and also in patience. In the political struggle, victories are not won in a day. Disappointments are often the lot of people who are engaged in them. We have in South Africa a very fair share thereof, and if we would but remember that Mr. Dadabhai has been struggling for the last forty years or more, we would find in the thought a great deal to console us that, after all, our struggle has only just commenced, and that we have not been without silver linings to the clouds which have hung over us. Amid all his labours, Mr. Dadabhai has always found time to attend to the question in South Africa, and has been one of the most zealous patrons of our cause. May he continue to enjoy health and vigour of mind for a long time to come, and may he yet be privileged to serve his country is our sincere prayer to the Almighty. 16
I wrote last week regarding the position of the Indian traders in the Transvaal and therein suggested that, if possible, a personal interview should be sought with Mr. Brodrick or Mr. Lyttelton. The more I think of the matter, the more convinced I feel that some such course is absolutely necessary, and at such an interview, the discussion might be confined merely to the most pressing question, namely, the rights of the present holders of licenses. In the current issue of Indian Opinion, you will find reports by responsible men on the proposed sites for Bazaars. In most of the cases, Government has returned the reply that the reports are inaccurate and that the sites are the only available ones in the respective townships. With all deference, I have no hesitation in saying that the sites are utterly useless for trade, and, really speaking, the Government does not contest the point but takes shelter under the plea that no other sites are available; in any case, for those who are at present trading outside Locations to remove there is utterly out of the question. I have already dealt with Lord Milner’s dispatch which would go to shew that he, at any rate, never contemplated the removal of these men who are all refugees. Mr. Chamberlain’s word to the deputation in January last is also to the same effect, general of the British Indians, if sufficient pressure were exercised by the Colonial Office and the India Office, there is every prospect of the poor men getting justice. 17
Last week a letter was received from the Government saying that it would ask the Legislative Council to amend the Bazaar Notice to the effect that all those who were trading of the outbreak of war, whether with or without licenses, will have their right to trade outside Bazaars or Locations respectively. This will be some relief but very meagre. Nothing short of an assurance with regard to all the existing licenses will meet the ends of barest justice. Moreover, the expression “trade on the outbreak of hostilities” will give rise to many complications; for instance, what will happen to those who were engaged in trade in the beginning of 1899 or earlier but were not actually in the Transvaal and trading on the 11th of October? Although, it seems to me, that both should have the same consideration. In fact, a man who may have commenced to trade just two months prior to the outbreak of war has far less right than those who were engaged in trade for years in the Transvaal but were not trading on the outbreak of war. As I have already said, it is utterly impossible for any of the present holders of licenses to carry on their trade in the so-called Bazaars. I therefore, venture to trust that you will be able to secure and interview with Mr. Brodrick or Mr. Lyttelton and put the cablegram in motion. 18
The number of India to hand by the last mail shews the perennial activity of Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji, the Grand Old Man of India. Nothing comes to him amiss if it is at all to be of benefit to the millions of his fellow-countrymen, and the correspondence between Mr. Lyttelton and himself published in India, and which we reproduce in another column, on the question of the status of the British Indians in the Transvaal, is but an instance of his activity. Many a man at his age would be entitled to retire from public life and enjoy well deserved rest, but Mr. Naoroji, in spite of his age, can give points to many young workers in the cause. In his self-imposed exile, the only pleasure he knows is that of doing what he considers to be his duty by his countrymen. For spotless purity of life, for utter selflessness, and for sustained public activity without caring for reward or praise, it will be difficult to find Mr. Naoroji’s equal, not only in India but, we may say without exaggeration, in any part of the globe. 19
The matters have now reached a crisis with reference to the Indian question. The Indian Opinion would give you all the information up to date. The representation of the British Indian Association printed therein will, I think, shew the position clearly. The proposals of the Association are as moderate as they possibly could be and they represent the irreducible minimum that the British Indians are entitled to. You will there see all the most reasonable objections of the Colonists met. Even the point as to the educational test has been yielded, but the right of review by the Supreme Court on the question of licenses and the ownership of land are absolutely essential. As to the latter, if necessary, certain portions may be reserved for exclusive European ownership. As to the licenses, I may, at the risk of repetition, state the position clearly. Any Licensing Act should leave untouched the existing licenses and the right to trade freely to those who were trading before war whether with or without licenses but who have not yet taken out licenses since British occupation mainly because they have not yet been allowed to return to the Colony, unless, of course, with reference to these licenses, the premises are not kept according to the sanitary requirements or because the books are not kept in the English language. As to the new licenses, the Government or the municipal authorities may have full discretion subject to the right of review. This will set the whole question at rest. The proposal is based on the Natal model without its most unjust clause depriving the Supreme Court of its inherent jurisdiction, a fact which has rendered uncertain the position of every Indian trader there. If the proposals of the Association are accepted, the appointment of a Commission would appear to be quite unnecessary. The licenses could not be suspended, as suggested by the Legislative Council resolution. And if the licenses are not suspended, I hardly think Lord Milner will accept a Commission. In fact, the object of asking for a Commission was to secure indirectly what Mr. Lyttelton declined to grant directly. It would, too, indefinitely postpone the question of licenses and, if Mr. Lyttelton agreed to suspend the issue of licenses, there would be no hurry on the part of the anti-Indians to have any definite legislation. I note that the question of the Orange River Colony has not yet been raised. I venture to think that it should be kept prominently in view for, to my mind, it is nothing short of a scandal that the Colony is still allowed to shut its gates almost entirely in the face of Indians. 20
From the Blue book received this week on the Indian position, I notice that Mr. Lyttelton has laid stress on the question of the sites for Indian bazaars. As you will have seen from the British Indian representation in reply to Sir Arthur Lawley’s dispatch, the statement is reiterated, and lest the matter may be overlooked, I again emphasis the fact that most of the sites are certainly unfit for trade. The statement has been made not without totally independent testimony from Europeans of standing and all those reports have been furnished to His Excellency. In Krugersdorp alone is the site chosen at all well, and therefore, without any compulsion, those who wanted Stands have applied for them. In other places where new sites have been established, practically no applications have been made. The chief thing, however, is to avoid compulsory segregation. So far as the principle of Bazaars is concerned, people may be induced to take up sites by setting apart Bazaars in suitable localities and the problem will solve itself. I hope you will see the leader in the Indian Opinion on the Cape Administrator’s Proclamation, prohibiting the entry of Indians into the Transkeian Territories without permits. This is a fresh restriction the reason for which it is difficult to understand, and the Territories mentioned in the schedule to the proclamation are the dependencies of the Cape. 21
I shall endeavour henceforth to divide my communications whenever it becomes necessary. I have written to Mr. Nazar to send directly Indian Opinion with the marks as you suggest. The Government has written saying that it does not propose to introduce legislation along the lines laid down in the latest representation submitted by the British Indian Association This shews that the Government is not going to be satisfied with merely accomplishing its object, to restrict future Indian immigration and to regulate the issue of licences to new applicants. It evidently intends to establish the principle of legislation applicable to British Indians as such. If so, it is a most dangerous doctrine and it will be a reversal of Mr. Chamberlain’s policy. If differential legislation is sanctioned for the Transvaal, the Cape and Natal will certainly follow suit. 22
The number of India to hand by the last mail contains a graphic account of the reception given to Mr. Naoroji at the recently held International Socialist Congress which met at Amsterdam. The special correspondent of India states: The President, Herr Van Kol, called upon the Congress to rise and stand in silent reverence. There then followed a wonderful and most inspiring manifestation. As Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji walked slowly to the centre of the platform, the great audience that filled the vast hall stood silently and uncovered before him. Simple as was the deed, the earnestness and unanimity of its performance rendered it most impressive, particularly when it was borne in mind that the same homage was rendered by the representatives of so many and such very different peoples and nationalities. Then, after a sorrowful tribute had thus been paid to the people whom Mr. Naoroji represented, a tremendous and enthusiastic demonstration was made in honour of the representative himself. From the people of India, the thoughts of the great audience centred on the dignified person of Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji. They remembered what had been said concerning his life-long endeavours, and awakened the echoes by their cheers, by the clapping of hands and shouts of welcome and applause. Long and earnestly was the ovation continued, and it made an indelible impression on all who witnessed this great manifestation of that international solidarity which has spread, not merely from nation to nation, but from continent to continent. It must be a matter of pride to every Indian to know how the revered father of India, as Mr. Dadabhai is endearingly called by the Indians, is held in esteem by the people of Europe. Mr. Dadabhai, having been born on the 4th of September, 1825, celebrated his seventy-ninth birthday on the 4th September last. May he live still for may years to come to stimulate the younger generation to deeds of self-sacrifice and service of their country is our prayer. 23
I have your letter of the 19th September enclosing copy of letter received by you from Mr. Lyttelton regarding my letter of the 4th April last on the plague outbreak. His Excellency Lord Milner’s reply is, in the light of what I know, very painful reading. I am taking the liberty of addressing a communication to His Excellency in the matter, but in the meanwhile I may state that I have nothing to withdraw from my letter of the 4th April last and I write this under a full sense of my responsibility and deliberation. I enclose a copy of Indian Opinion , which gives the whole of the correspondence between Dr. Porter and myself and shews in my humble opinion conclusively how the plague broke out. The expropriation by the Town Council took place in September 1903. The plague was officially declared as having broken out on the 20th March last that is, six months after the Council took possession. The first note of warning was given, as will be seen from the correspondence, on the 11th of February. On the 15th February, definite suggestions were made in order to ward off the calamity, and I venture to state as emphatically as I can, though with the greatest respect, that nothing was done after that date to set matters right. Indeed, even after the 18th of March last, plague cases were being dumped down in the Location and the intimation of same was given by me to the Town Council. The Town Clerk informed me on the 19th March that he was unable to take charge of the patients or incur any financial responsibility until after the 21st, beyond giving the Government Entrepot to be used as a temporary hospital and providing one nurse.
This was originally a Customs Depot. Thirty volunteers were put on to it. The place was thoroughly cleaned and voluntary Indian nurses worked night and day, taking charge of all the patients that were being received. Drs. Pakes and Mac Kenzie, when they visited the hospital, now realized the gravity of the situation and they took most effective steps on the 20th. Every bed, all the medical comforts, food, and everything were in the interval supplied entirely by the Indians. It is but fair to state that the Town Council has since paid the expenses incurred. All this, however, is beside the point, and if I have laid stress upon the work done by the Indians, it is in order to shew that I am speaking from bitter experience and not without feeling. If the facts set forth in the correspondence herewith sent are correct and they have not been challenged, although the conclusions I have drawn have been repudiated would not be serving the truth if I said anything less than I have done in my letter of the 4th April last, namely, that, “but for the criminal neglect of the Johannesburg Municipality, the outbreak would never have occurred.” It and it alone must ever be held responsible for the awful death-roll of March All honour to it that, after the situation was realized, it spent money like water in dealing with the calamity, but that work could never undo the past. It is true that, as early as the year 1901, long official reports were drawn up condemning the Location as insanitary. And yet, in that state it was allowed to remain up to the 26th of September 1903, and that without any outbreak of plague. Strange as it may appear, it was only after the Town Council came into full possession, got what it wanted and, with it, an opportunity of keeping the Location in a thoroughly sanitary condition, that the plague broke out. I am afraid that His Excellency has been totally misinformed with reference to the genesis of the plague. The thing is now finished. The Indians have suffered undeservedly but the statements made by me could easily be verified. Dr. Pakes’ repudiation has, I suppose, reference to the following occurring in the leader in Indian Opinion: “Evidently when Dr. Pakes said that the measures which were being taken in the outlying districts were taken more in order to eradicate the Indian than to prevent the plague, he spoke truly”. Whether Dr. Pakes actually said so or not, he was certainly reported in the newspapers to have made such a statement and the remark in question is based on the newspaper report. I beg to draw your attention also to the fact that the contention that the Town Council was re