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Experiments of Gandhi in South Africa & Ideology

 Experiments of Gandhi in South Africa & Ideology

  • Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2′d Oct 1869 in Kathiawar in Gujarat.
  • His father was a Diwan of the state. Having studied law from London, he had gone to South Africa in relation of case on behalf of his client, Dada Abdullah.
  • In South Africa, he saw the ugly face of racial discrimination and humiliation against the Asians.

The Asians and Africans were put through great hardships & restrictions: 

  • They were denied the right to vote
  • They were made to stay in prescribed locations how so ever insanitary and congested they were
  • They were not allowed to walk on footpath and were not allowed to come out after 9 PM

Gandhi saw that there were three categories of Indians residing in South Africa at that time:

  • Indentured laborers mainly from South India;
  • Businessmen which followed the laborers, mainly Muslim Memons;
  • Indentured laborers whose contracts had expired. Gandhi realized that most of these people were illiterate and required help. He decided to stay back and organize the Indian workers to enable them to fight for their rights.                    Experiments of Gandhi in South Africa & Ideology

Moderate phase of struggle (1894- 1906): 

  • During this phase, Gandhi relied on sending petitions and memorials to Governments in South Africa and Britain hoping that once the authorities are informed regarding the situation, they would take necessary actions to improve the conditions as after all, Indians were British subjects only.
  • To unite different sections of Indians, he set up Natal Indian Congress and started a paper called: Indian Opinion.

Phase of Passive resistance or Satyagraha (1906-1914):

This phase included the strategy change from Gandhi to follow the principles of Civil Disobedience, which Gandhi named Satyagraha.

Following are the campaigns that Gandhi undertook during this period:

1) Satyagraha against Registration certificates (1906)

  • Government introduced a law requiring each Indian to carry a registration card signifying that they are subjects of British Empire.
  • Gandhi opposed this discriminatory law. He formed Passive Resistance Association to conduct the campaign.
  • Government jailed Gandhi and others who refused to carry the card.                                      Experiments of Gandhi in South Africa & Ideology
  • Later Government used deceit to make them sign the registration cards which was opposed by Gandhi and others later by burning the cards publicly.

2) Campaign against restrictions on Indian Migration

  • The earlier campaign was widened to include the protest against the new legislation imposing restrictions on Indian migration.
  • The Indians defied this law by crossing one province to another and refusing to produce licenses. Many of these Indians were jailed.

3) Setting up of Tolstoy Farm

  • Tolstoy farm was meant to house the families of the satyagrahis to give them a way to sustain themselves.

4) Campaign against Poll Tax and Invalidation of Indian Marriages

  • A poll tax of three pounds was imposed on all ex-indentured Indians. This amount was too much as most of the Indians earned less than 10 shillings in a month. This widened the participation in the campaign.
  • The campaign was further fuelled by the Supreme Court order that all marriages except with the Christian rites and registered by the registrar of marriages are invalid.
  • By this, Hindu, Muslim, Parsi marriages were illegal and the children born out of such marriages are illegitimate.
  • The Indians treated this as an insult to their women and even this ensured the participation of many women into the campaign.
  • Indians protested by crossing Natal into Transvaal. Government held these people in Jail. The miners and plantation workers went on strike. In India, Gokhale toured the whole country to create support for the struggle by Indians in South Africa.                                Experiments of Gandhi in South Africa & Ideology
  • Even, Lord Hardinge, the then Viceroy also condemned the repression and called for an impartial enquiry.
  • Eventually through negotiations involving- Gandhi, Lord Hardinge, C.F. Andrews and General Smuts, an agreement was reached through which Government conceded to most Indian demands relating to poll tax, registration certificates and marriages solemnized according to Indian rights, and promised to deal with the issue of Indian migration in a sympathetic manner.


Modern History

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