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Even the children are taught to believe in that manner, with the result that the Indian is being dragged down to the position of a raw Kaffir. Those who, for a few moments, have stayed to converse with the Indian trader have been, perhaps, surprised to find they are speaking to a scholar and a gentleman….
And it is the sons of this Land of light who are despised as Coolies, and treated as Kaffirs. They are, irrespective of position, huddled together in the same compartment with the natives of South Africa. So deep-seated is the hatred that children have begun instinctively to look down upon Indians. This rule may be, and perhaps is, necessary for the Kaffirs who would not work, but absolutely useless with regard to the Indians.
But the policy is to class the Indian with the Kaffir whenever possible. It would place them, who are undoubtedly infinitely superior to the Kaffirs, in close proximity to the latter.
But, whatever the charges are against the British Indians, no one has ever whispered that the Indians behave otherwise than as decent men. But, as it is the wont in this part of the world, they have been dragged down with the Kaffir without the slightest justification.
The rooms appear to be overcrowded beyond description. The sanitary service is very irregular, and many of the residents of the Location have been to my office to complain that the sanitary condition is far worse than before. There is, too, a very large Kaffir population in the Location for which really there is no warrant. The more I think of it, the uglier the situation appears to me, and I think that, if the Town Council takes up a position of non possumus, it will be an abdication of its function, and I do respectfully say that nothing can justify the Public Health Committee in saying that neither overcrowding nor insanitation could be helped.
I feel convinced that every minute wasted over the matter merely hastens a calamity for Johannesburg and that through absolutely no fault of the British Indians. Why, of all places in Johannesburg, the Indian Location should be chosen for dumping down all the kaffirs of the town passes my comprehension. About this mixing of the Kaffirs with the Indians, I must confess I feel most strongly. I think it is very unfair to the Indian population and it is an undue tax on even the proverbial patience of my countrymen.
The Cape and Natal admit him under severe restrictions which have no scientific meaning. For instance, an Indian may be sharing the same compartment with a Kaffir. He says that, if any Indian wants to make use of them, he is merely directed to go to the rooms set apart for the Kaffirs. It appears that he offered to build a place for Indians, but the offer was not entertained. We are sure that, if there is any truth in the statement made by our correspondent, the Government will remedy the difficulty at once, and provide suitable facility for those Indians who may wish to make use of these waters.
It has, therefore, been possible for the Indians to live in South Africa. Indian labour, is, therefore, in general demand.
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Moreover, the Chinese being more active than the Kaffirs, much more work can be taken from them than from the latter. This is a very important point, but His Lordship utters not a word about it.
Robert Russell, that the school will be reserved for Indian children only. We cannot question the policy that has been sanctioned for a long time, and its criticism does not lie within our domain. Both the above-mentioned Ordinances on that account are open to very serious objections, and we cannot understand why the studied insult implied should be irritatingly kept up.
Why, then, should the offensive definition be maintained? If it is, in practice, inoperative, the only reason for its existence can be for the wanton pleasure of the inhabitants of the Orange River Colony, who wish to triumph over this implied degradation of the Asiatic races. It behoves the Government to ensured that Indians do not suffer any loss on this account.
We are in Natal by virtue of British power. Our very existence depends upon it.
It is therefore our duty to render whatever help we can. There was a discussion in the Press as to what part the Indian community would play in the event of an actual war. We have already declared in the English columns of this journal that the Indian community is ready to play its part;1 and we believe what we did during the Boer War should also be done now. That is, if the Government so desires, we should raise an ambulance corps. We should also agree to become permanent volunteers, if the Government is prepared to give us the requisite training.
The Court has declared that the Kaffirs have no legal right to travel by the trams. And, according to tram regulations, those in an unclean dress or in a drunken state are prohibited from boarding a tram.
There is hardly any family from which someone has not gone to fight the Kaffir rebels. Following their example, we should steel our hearts and take courage. Now is the time when the leading whites want us to take this step; if we let go this opportunity, we shall repent later. We therefore urge all Indian leaders to do their duty to the best of their ability.
He was armed with an assegai and was hiding himself. However, we safely rejoined the troops on the further hill, whilst they were sweeping with their carbines the bushes below.
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The pass law applies to them as well, but they do not take out passes. Stead has boldly come out to give us all the help he can. He was therefore requested to write to the Boer leaders that they should not consider Indians as being on the same level as Kaffirs. When that happens, there should be only one thought in the mind of every Indian: And, if it is enforced, he will rather go to gaol than carry a pass like a Kaffir.
We must encourage the Whites too. It is a short-sighted policy to employ, through sheer niggardliness, a Kaffir for washing work. If we keep in view the conditions in this country and patronize the Whites, whenever proper and necessary, then every such White will serve as an advertisement for the Indian trader. It may also turn out to be a prelude to compulsory segregation in Coloured Locations.
In view of this, hundreds of white troops have been dispatched. The Indian community must come forward at such a time without, however, thinking of securing any rights thereby.
They must consider only the duty of the community. It is a common observation that when we attend to our duty, rights follow as a matter of course. It will be only proper for the Indian community to make the offer that was made last year. There is a move at present to levy a tax on those who do not enlist. The burden of this levy will fall on Indians alone; even though paying the tax, they will get no credit.
We are, therefore, convinced in our minds that the Indian community should repeat its offer. We assume that there are many Indians now who will welcome such work enthusiastically.
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Those who went to the front last year can do so again. Most of them are seasoned people and familiar with the nature of the work. We very much hope that this work will be taken in hand without any delay. He may not even own fixed property, although, curiously, he may be a mortgagee of such. He is even denied the not always obvious privilege of riding in the same municipal tramcars and Government railway carriages as his white fellow-colonists.
His children are afforded no facilities for education except they attend the schools set apart for Kaffirs. We were all prepared for hardships, but not quite for this experience. We could understand not being classed with the whites, but to be placed on the same level with the Natives seemed too much to put up with. I then felt that Indians had not launched on passive resistance too soon. Here was further proof that the obnoxious law was intended to emasculate the Indians.
They are troublesome, very dirty and live almost like animals. Each ward contains nearly 50 to 60 of them. They often started rows and fought among themselves. The reader can easily imagine the plight of the poor Indian thrown into such company! The poor Indians — nobody bothers about them! They cannot get the food they want. If they are given European diet, the whites will feel insulted.
In any case, why should the gaol authorities bother to find out the normal Indian fare? There is nothing for it but to let ourselves be classed with the Kaffirs and starve.
I have, though, resolved in my mind on an agitation to ensure that Indian prisoners are not lodged with Kaffirs or others. This is a matter of shame to us. We may entertain no aversion to Kaffirs, but we cannot ignore the fact that there is no common ground between them and us in the daily affairs of life.
Moreover, those who wish to sleep in the same room with them have ulterior motives for doing so. Obviously, we ought to abandon such notions if we want to make progress. For this purpose, the prisoners are totally undressed, while being examined. Indian prisoners are made to lower their breeches only when the physician approaches them. The other garments have to be removed in advance.
Almost every Indian resents having to lower his breeches, but most of them do not create any difficulty in the interest of our movement, though at heart they feel ill at ease. I told the physician about this. If this were not so, there would be epidemics before long.
But there is also lack of cleanliness in some respects.
Blankets are constantly interchanged. Better die than suffer this.