SELECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI >  VOL. IV - SELECTED LETTERS > SECTION ONE : SELECTED LETTERS > To Dadabhai Naoroji
01. To Dadabhai Naoroji1
[This letter appears to be the first of many that Gandhiji wrote to Dadabhai Naoroji. Dadabhai was acquainted with the problems of Indians in South Africa, having been approached by them as early as 1891 to place their petitions before the British Government. The complete letter is not available, and the following extracts from it are taken from R. E Masani's Dadabhai Naoroji : The Grand Old Man of India, pp. 468-9.]
Durban,
July 5, 1894
The first Parliament of Natal under Responsible Government has been pre-eminently an Indian Parliament. It has for the most part occupied itself with legislation affecting Indians, by no means favourably. The Governor, in opening the Legislative Council and Assembly, remarked that his Ministers would deal with the Franchise which was exercised by Indians in Natal, although they never exercised it in India. The reasons given for the sweeping measure to disfranchise Indians were that they had never exercised the Franchise before, and that they were not fit for it.
The petition of the Indians seemed to prove a sufficient answer to this. Hence they have now turned round and given out the real object of the Bill, which is simply this: "We do not want the Indians any more here. We want the coolies, but they shall remain slaves here and go back to India as soon as they are free." I earnestly request your undivided attention to the cause and appeal to you to use your influence that always has been and is being used on behalf of the Indians, no matter where situated. The Indians look up to you as children to the father. Such is really the feeling here.
A word for myself and I have done. I am yet inexperienced and young and, therefore, quite liable to make mistakes. The responsibility undertaken is quite out of proportion to my ability. I may mention that I am doing this without any remuneration. So you will see that I have not taken the matter up, which is beyond my ability, in order to enrich myself at the expense of the Indians. I am the only available person who can handle the question. You will, therefore, oblige me very greatly if you will kindly direct and guide me and make necessary suggestions which shall be received as from a father of his child.
Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. I, pp. 105-6

1'Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917)-Pioneer statesman known as "the Grand Old Man of India"; President, Indian National Congress, 1886, 1893 and 1906; was first to enunciate Swaraj as the objective of the Congress; was elected member of the House of Commons, 1893.