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STUDENTS' PROJECTS > THE STORY OF MY LIFE > PART V : VISIT TO INDIA > In India

 

24. In India

I went straight to Rajkot without halting at Bombay and began to make preparations for writing a pamphlet on the situation in South Africa. The writing and publication of the pamphlet took about a month. It had a green cover and came to be known afterwards as the Green Pamphlet. In it I drew a purposely subdued picture of the condition of Indians in South Africa. Ten thousand copies were printed and sent to all the papers and leaders of every party in India. A summary of the article was cabled by Reuter to England, and a summary of that summary was cabled to Natal by Reuter’s London office. This cable was not longer than three lines in print. It was a brief, but exaggerated, edition of the picture I had drawn of the treatment accorded to the Indians in Natal, and it was not in my words. We shall see later on the effect this had in Natal. In the meanwhile every paper of note commented at length on the question.

To get these pamphlets ready for posting was no small matter. It would have been expensive too, if I had employed paid help for preparing wrappers etc. But I hit upon a much simpler plan. I gathered together all the children in my locality and asked them to volunteer two or three hours’ labour of a morning, when they had no school. This they willingly agreed to do. I promised to bless them, and give them, as a reward, used postage stamps which I had collected. They got through the work in no time. That was my first experiment of having little children as volunteers. Two of those little friends are my co-workers today.

It was my intention to educate public opinion in cities on this question by organizing meetings, and Bombay was the first city I chose. After Bombay and Poona I went to Madras, and from Madras I proceeded to Calcutta. There I received the following cable from Durban: “Parliament opens January. Return soon.”

So in the beginning of December I set sail second time for South  Africa, now with my wife and two sons and the only son of my widowed sister. Another steamship Naderi also sailed for Durban at the same time. The agents of the Company were Dada Abdulla and Co. The total number of passengers these boats carried must have been about eight hundred, half of whom where bound for the Transvaal.