Skip to main content


Some of the classes which render us the greatest social service, but which we Hindus have chosen to regard as 'untouchables,' are relegated to remote quarters of a town or a village, called in Gujarati dhedvado, and the name has acquired a bad odour. Even so in Christian Europe the Jews were once 'untouchables' and the quarters that were assigned to them had the offensive name of 'ghettoes.' In a similar way today we have become the untouchables of South Africa. It remains to be seen how far the sacrifice of Andrews and the magic wand of Sastri succeed in rehabilitating us.

The ancient Jews regarded themselves as the chosen people of God, to the exclusion of all others, with the result that their descendants were visited with a strange and even unjust retribution. Almost in a similar way the Hindus have considered themselves Aryas or civilized, and a section of their own kith and kin as Anaryas or untouchables, with the result that a strange, if unjust, nemesis is being visited not only upon the Hindus in South Africa, but the Musalmans and Parsis as well, inasmuch as they belong to the same country and have the same colour as their Hindu brethren.

The reader will have now realized to some extent the meaning of the word 'locations' with which I have headed this chapter. In South Africa we have acquired the odious name of 'coolies'. The word 'coolie' in India means only a porter or hired workman, but in South Africa it has a contemptuous connotation. It means what a pariah or an untouchable means to us, and the quarters assigned to the 'coolies' are known as 'coolie locations'. Johannesburg had one such location, but unlike other places with locations where the Indians had tenancy rights, in the Johannesburg location the Indians had acquired their plots on a lease of 99 years. People were densely packed in the location, the area of which never increased with the increase in population. Beyond arranging to clean the latrines in the location in a haphazard way, the Municipality did nothing to provide any sanitary facilities, much less good roads or lights. It was hardly likely that it would safeguard its sanitation, when it was indifferent to the welfare of the residents. These were too ignorant of the rules of municipal sanitation and hygiene to do without the help or supervision of the Municipality. If those who went there had all been Robinson Crusoes, theirs would have been a different story. But we do not know of a single emigrant colony of Robinson Crusoes in the world. Usually people migrate abroad in search of wealth and trade, but the bulk of the Indians who went to South Africa were ignorant, pauper agriculturists, who needed all the care and protection that could be given them. The traders and educated Indians who followed them were very few.

The criminal negligence of the Municipality and the ignorance of the Indian settlers thus conspired to render the location thoroughly insanitary. The Municipality, far from doing anything to improve the condition of the location, used the insanitation, caused by their own neglect, as a pretext for destroying the location, and for that purpose obtained from the local legislature authority to dispossess the settlers. This was the condition of things when I settled in Johannesburg.

The settlers, having proprietory rights in their land, were naturally entitled to compensation. A special tribunal was appointed to try the land acquisition cases. If the tenant was not prepared to accept the offer of the Municipality, he had a right to appeal to the tribunal, and if the latter's award exceeded the Municipality's offer, the Municipality had to bear the costs.

Most of the tenants engaged me as their legal adviser. I had no desire to make money out of these cases, so I told the tenants that I should be satisfied with whatever costs the tribunal awarded, in case they won, and a fee of £ 10 on every lease, irrespective of the result of the case. I also told them that I proposed to set apart half of the money paid by them for the building of a hospital or similar institution for the poor. This naturally pleased them all.

Out of about 70 cases only was lost. So the fees amounted to a fairly big figure. But Indian Opinion was there with its persistent claim and devoured, so far as I can recollect, a sum of £ 1,600. I had worked hard for these cases. The clients always surrounded me. Most of them were originally indentured labourers from Bihar and its neighbourhood and from South India. For the redress of their peculiar grievances they had formed an association of their own, separate from that of the free Indian merchants and traders. Some of them were open- hearted, liberal men and had high character. Their leaders were Sjt. Jairamsing, the president, and Sjt. Badri, who was as good as the president. Both of them are now no more. They were exceedingly helpful to me. Sjt. Badri came in very close contact with me and took a prominent part in Satyagraha. Through these and other friends I came in intimate contact with numerous Indian settlers from North and South India. I became more their brother than a mere legal adviser, and shared in all their private and public sorrows and hardships.

It may be of some interest to know how the Indians used to name me. Abdulla Sheth refused to address me as Gandhi. None, fortunately, ever insulted me by calling or regarding me as 'saheb'. Abdulla Sheth hit upon a fine appellation-'bhai', i.e., brother. Others followed him and continued to address me as 'bhai' until the moment I left when it was used by the ex-indentured Indians.

Mahatma Gandhi

NEXT : 67.  (92-152)  :THE BLACK PLAGUE - I

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Future of Tamil Nadu Politics and Governance :-Rajinikanth not Fit for Politics says Subramanian Swamy?




Sub : Future of Tamil Nadu Politics and Governance :

Ref : Rajinikanth not Fit for Politics says Subramanian Swamy


The most expected celebrity to come into politics for the past 20 years is Rajinikanth. Sometimes his speech against certain political leaders gives us a hint of his political venture. But he constantly denies the fact.


Recently BJP party member Subramanian Swamy made a controversial statement about Rajinikanth.


'Rajini is not a stable person, so he is not fit to come in to politics' is the statement given by him. This made Rajini fans to go pissed off.

Note :
1. In the past many persons from cinema industry( in Bharatham as whole ) mainly actors joined politics and miserably failed to perform.
2. In the case Tamil Nadu, where people are mad about Cinema and actors, do not use their intellect to analyse a person.
3. Majority in Tamil Nadu are blind followers  of anything and anybody, without using their sense of knowledge.
4. I…


The whole of the Ramayana is an Epic of humanity. Humanity does not mean mankind but that which particularly characterises human nature.

It is in this sense, Sri Rama is oftentimes called the paragon of humanity, an example of the perfection of human nature.

This perfection of human nature is not inclusive of the foibles of man in his lower endowments.

In the majestic words of Valmiki with which the Epic commences, we are given a description of what this perfection of humanity is, as an answer given by sage Narada to a question put by sage Valmiki as to who is the ideal of human nature.

"Whom do you think, O sage, is the perfect embodiment of humanity in this world and can you give me an example of such a perfection?" was the question put by Valmiki to Narada.

And then, Narada commences a dignified description of a personality whom today we know and adore as Sri Rama.

That majestic feature of bodily personali…

PM’s Mann Ki Baat Programme on All India Radio :- 25/02/2018

25 Feb, 2018

My dear countrymen, Namaskar.

Let us begin today’s Mann Ki Baat with a phone call.

Phone Call…

Thank you very much for your phone call. My young friends have asked me many questions related to Science; they keep writing on quite a few points. All of us have seen that the sea appears blue, but we know from routine life experiences that water has no colour at all. Have we ever thought why water acquires colour in rivers and seas? The same thought occurred to a young man in the 1920s. The same question gave rise to a great scientist of modern India. When we talk about Science, the first name that strikes us is that of Bharat Ratna Sir C.V.Raman. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his outstanding work on light scattering. One of his discoveries is famous as the Raman Effect.

We celebrate the 28th of February as National Science Day since on this very day, he is said to have discovered the phenomenon of light scattering, for which the Nobel Prize was conferred upon him. This …