September 17, Born In: Erode, Coimbatore district, India Died On:
Indians arrived in South Africa in and, at the time of this writing,  have been in the country for over years. That would make about five generations born in the country. After five years, they were given the options of renewing their contracts, returning to India or becoming independent workers.
To induce the coolies into second terms, the colonial government of Natal promised grants of land on expiry of contracts. But the colony did not honour this agreement and only about fifty people received plots.
Nevertheless, many opted for freedom and became small holders, market gardeners, fishermen, domestic servants, waiters or coal miners.
Some left the colony. Those who sought to make their fortunes in the diamond and gold fields were not allowed digging rights and became traders, hawkers and workers. Continued importation of indentured labour untilthough sporadic, encouraged opportunistic traders and merchants from India and Mauritius to emigrate to South Africa.
These independent immigrants, known as "passenger" Indians, began arriving in the country from about Many of them quickly acquired land and set up businesses and trading posts.
When their enterprises began to encroach on white settlements, laws and regulations were passed to limit their expansion and acquisition of land. Immigrants living in the Republics, unlike those in the British colony of Natal, were not enfranchised and were not welcome in the Republics and laws were passed to contain their growth and development.
The Transvaal's onerous Act 3 ofdebarred them from owning land and confined them to locations. But "passenger" Indians, who believed that as British subjects, they were entitled to the protection of the crown, were not afraid to enter into litigation.
As early as the 's, Indian merchants in the Transvaal were petitioning the government and challenging its laws in the courts. They sent a petition to the government protesting Act 3 of and when it was ignored, took their protest to the British High Commissioner.
Before that, in JuneIndian merchants had protested against curfew regulations on the grounds that they were not African.
So before Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi arrived in South Africa inIndians were actively involved in litigation against governments. In Natal, the merchant elite, under the leadership of a very wealthy ship owner, Sheth Dada Abdulla had established an Ad-Hoc Committee to deal with restrictive legislation.
When the Sheth became involved in a legal battle with his cousin, Sheth Tyeb Haji Khan Muhammed, an equally influential leader amongst Indians in the Transvaal, he wrote to a law firm in India and MK Gandhi, a barrister, was sent to South Africa to deal with the matter.
He arrived in and dealt very competently with the suit, bringing it to arbitration and reconciling the cousins. After the case, the local merchants, realising the value of a lawyer in their midst, prevailed upon Gandhi to stay in South Africa to give proper legal direction to their activities.
He agreed and through his involvement with this group, began to learn of the problems facing Indians in the country.
InGandhi became the secretary of the merchants Ad Hoc Committee, gave it a new name, the Natal Indian Congress, and set about challenging legislation aimed at disempowering Indians.
He organised meetings and petitions to stop the Bills, but the Franchise Act, which disenfranchised all Indians, was passed inand Law 17, which imposed a poll tax on free Indians, was passed in Init was extended to children as well.
It was hoped that to escape the tax, free Indians would either leave for other parts of the country or return to India. As the governments of the Republics of the Transvaal and Orange Free State and the Cape Colony were restricting entry of Indians into their areas of jurisdiction, many free Indians had no choice but to endure the burdensome poll tax.
Gandhi appealed to the British Government and was successful in getting the Franchise Act overturned. But when Gandhi went back to India in to canvass support from the Indian National Congress, the Indian Government and influential individuals, the Franchise Amendment Act of was passed and Indians in Natal were disenfranchised once more.
He was from India, a British colony, had been educated in Britain, and believed that such efforts would win proper recognition of Indians as British subjects. Ironically, Zulus at that time were reacting to a poll tax that had been imposed on them by the Natal government, which was still enforcing the poll tax on Indians.
Gandhi's stretcher corps was assigned to caring for wounded Zulus. Inhe set up the Transvaal British Indian Association forerunner of the Transvaal Indian Congressheld meetings and sent off petitions as he had done in Natal. He also became editor of the newspaper, Indian Opinion, established in as the organ of the Natal and the Transvaal Congresses.
After a few years, British Military governance gave way to colonial rule in the Transvaal and the new government under General Smuts, began debate on the Asiatic Law Amendment Bill The Black Actwhich proposed the registration and fingerprinting of Indians, who would be required to carry registration certificates similar to passes at all times.
This law, which raised great indignation amongst Indians, led to many mass meetings and at the one held at the Empire Theatre in Johannesburg, Gandhi introduced the idea of satyagraha  - engagement in non-cooperative, non-violent action and sacrifice - and when the "Black Act" was passed, there was an almost total boycott of the registration procedures.வெளி இணைப்புகள்.
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