Mahatma Gandhi & Indian Natal Congress

On 22 August 1894 Gandhi founded Natal Indian Congress. In 1895, he brought out a Pamphlet; The Indian Franchise: An appeal to Every Briton in South Africa.

  • Seth Haji Adam became its president and Gandhi became its secretary.

    But the Europeans had the natural hatred for Indians and Blacks. In May 1895, the Natal Legislative Assembly introduced a new anti Indian Bill called the Indian Immigration Law Amendment Bill. This Bill was related to the Indian indentured laborers. The bill intended to raise the period of Indenture from 5 years to an indefinite period. Further, it also made the return of the Indian Indentured laborers to India just after their period of indenture is finished. But if they wished to love in Natal, they had to fulfill the following conditions:

  1. They should enter another indenture agreement
  2. They should pay an annual tax of 25 Pounds

Gandhi again rose against this bill. He sent a petition that the bill will only further the prejudice on the basis of the color. He pointed out the bill was unjust and contradicts the fundamentals of British Constitution. The bill also followed the same course and Gandhi sent 3 petitions at different points of time.

  • But the bill became an act. However, the tax was reduced from 25 Pounds to 3 Pounds.

    This was in 1895. The previous Indian Franchise Amendment Bill was refused the Royal Assent and this brought jubilation among the Indians. This jubilation was short lived and another similar bill was passed later on.

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