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The day will come, and perhaps is not far distant, 
when the European observer will look round to see 
the world girdled with a continuous zone of the 
black and yellow races, no longer too weak for 
aggression, or under tutelage, but independent, or 
practically so, in government, monopolizing the 
trade of their own regions and circumscribing the 
industry of the Europeans. — Mr Charles Pearson 
in ' National Life and Character.' 

... It is difficult to conceive any question at 
the present moment more momentous than the 
struggle between East and West for the inherit- 
ance of these semi-vacant territories. Promises 
have been made without knowledge or perception 
of the consequence involved in their fulfilment. — 
Sir Arthur Lawley, Lieut. -Governor of the Trans- 
vaal, 1904. 





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In the following pages an attempt is made to present 
a fair and impartial summary of the Asiatic difficulty 
as it affects the Colonies, and to justify the strong 
feeling which exists in the great outer areas of the 
Empire against this class of immigration. The 
opinions expressed will probably fail to give full 
satisfaction to either side. In one quarter they 
may be considered somewhat weak and nerveless ; 
in another they may be regarded as arguments in 
favour of a policy of spoliation and injustice. Upon 
this question it is peculiarly difficult to appreciate 
one's opponent's case. That colour prej udice which is 
reflected in the fourth article of the old Boer Grond- 
wet may prevent the Australasian and the Africander 
taking an absolutely fair view of the Asiatic or 
British- Indian case. But the recent speeches of 
Anglo-Indians who accompanied the deputations 
to Lord Elgin and Mr Morley argue a similar intellec- 
tual myopia . Unwittingly I may also be afflicted 
with one disease or the other. Still the views here- 
after expressed are the product of six years spent in 



Asia and South Africa, and no one can possess a 
greater admiration for India and the Indian peoples. 
A decision against Asiatic immigration in the Colonies 
is in no way due to a lack of appreciation of Asiatic 
virtues — it is rather a testimonal to Asiatic capacity 
for succeeding. 

To those who make a special study of Colonial 
affairs, the information given may contain nothing 
new. But there are many people who watch keenly 
the tendencies of the Empire who have not the time 
to devote to the somewhat laborious pastime of 
reading blue books and official papers. To these I 
hope the points emphasized will be helpful in arriving 
at a clearer appreciation of the Colonial attitude. 
Many of the facts have appeared from time to time 
in the columns of the Empire Review, the Daily 
Mail, the Pall Mall Gazette, the Pioneer (Allahabad) 
the Rand Daily Mail, and other journals, but the 
information is now re-arranged and amplified. For 
any shortcomings I must plead the difficulty of 
obtaining, in this part of the world, several works of 
reference desired. 

Whilst this little record was in the press there 
arose a widespread anti-Asiatic agitation which 
supports many of the contentions set out. The 
storm produced by the Transvaal Asiatic Law 
Amendment Ordinance ; the opposition to Indian 


immigrants in British Columbia ; the dispute 
between Japan and the United States concerning 
the school regulations in San Francisco ; the drastic 
anti-Asiatic legislation introduced in the Natal 
House of Assembly ; the decision of the Chinese 
Government to again inquire into the working of the 
Australian laws and the subsequent re-assertion of the 
guiding principles of Australian and New Zealand 
policy ; the outcry in Jamaica against Chinese 
store-keepers and hotel-keepers — all these incidents 
drive home the very real importance of the question. 
But this agitation strengthens rather than modifies 
the argument that in the best interests of the Empire, 
the Colonies must be kept free from Asiatic immigra- 
tion. In this connexion the word Colonies is used 
in its stricter meaning, and is not intended to apply 
to those parts of the Empire which are better described 
as Plantations. But I include the tropical parts of 
Australia and South Africa for reasons which 
Professor J. W. Gregory stated in his paper on 
" The Economic Geography and Development of 
Australia " which appeared in the Geographical 
Journal in September, 1906. The peace of the white 
man in the tropics can hardly be regarded as finally 
settled, despite the Cayenne disaster and other 
failures. However, whatever the ultimate decision 
may be on this pomt, the broad principle remains 


that the enormous areas suitable for white coloriza- 
tion in Africa, AustraHa, and North America should 
be closed to the Asiatic nations, whether British 
subjects or not. When an English Prime Minister 
talks of " twelve millions on the verge of starvation '* 
and Commission after Commission reports on emigra- 
tion schemes, it is surely essential to reserve these 
lands for the expansion of our own nation and 
peoples who blend with it. 

The much condemned Asiatic Law Amendment 
Ordinance in the Transvaal was conceived in this 
spirit. There was no desire to inflict additional 
hardship upon the British Indian population. The 
idea was simply to establish once and for all th« 
rights of the Indians already in the Colony. " Regis- 
tration," Lord Milner told the Transvaal Indians 
in May, 1903, *' gives you a right to be here, and a 
right to come and go. Therefore to me registration 
seems a protection to you as well as a help to the 
Government, and in any law passed I should like to 
see registration included." But it must be admitted 
that the British-Indian contention that the exist- 
ing safeguards were ample without re-registration 
carried a good deal of weight. The special report on 
the Permit System drawn up at Lord Milner's 
request at the close of 1903 proved that there was 
" no large number of unauthorized Asiatics in the 


Colony" — indeed only ^z£;o Asiatics are mentioned as 
being found without permits . Again Lord Milner told 
the Indians that " once on the register your position 
is established, and no further registration is necessary, 
nor is a fresh permit required^ Yet within three 
years re-registration, with the taking of finger 
impressions, is demanded. It is certain that the 
first Parliament in the Transvaal will attempt to 
pass new legislation against Asiatics, but it is doubt- 
ful if the Home Government will assent. The British 
Indians were taken over with the other burdens of 
the Colony, and probably little can be done save 
rigorously to exclude a further influx — unless the 
principle of buying them out be adopted. 

The Japanese protest regarding the San Francisco 
schools raises another difficult point, and a similar 
controversy must sooner or later arise in a British 
Colony. At the moment Colonial feeling sides with 
the people of the Pacific Slope. 

The agitation which South Africa's anti-British 
Indian legislation arouses in India, and the possi- 
bilities of friction with the Eastern Powers upon 
similar grievances in Australasia, are unfortunate, 
but there seems to be little prospect of a satisfactory 

All one can suggest is that the whole question 
should be discussed at the Imperial Conference in 


London in April next (when India will be represented) 
with the idea of seeing whether Colonial feeling 
favours the appointment of a Royal Commission, 
representative of the whole Empire, to frame a 
pohcy which would obviate the constant recurrence 
of th€ friction of the past few years. But it would 
have to be recognized from the outset that the Colonies 
would never agree to any lowering of the barriers now 
erected against Asiatic immigration. Why the 
Colonies feel compelled to adopt such an attitude 
I have tried to explain in the following pages. 

L. E. N. 
P. O. Box 3996, 




Importance of the Asiatic Question to the 
Empire — A Commercial Danger — Difference 
BETWEEN European and Asiatic Immigration 
— The Racial Barrier — Europe's Need of 
more Markets — Asia's Opportunity of Exer- 
cising Pressure — The Problem from a 
Colonial Standpoint — Countries suited to 
English Immigrants — Eliminating the Col- 
our Prejudice against Asiatics — The Cor- 
rect Standpoint ..... i 



The Cry for Unskilled Labour — An Old Diffi- 
culty — Importance of Asiatic Labour — The 
Case of the West Indies — Natal's History — 
Progress Made — Why the Transvaal needed 
Chinese — What Asiatic Labour has Done — 
"State-aided Colonization" . . .13 





Importance of the System of Contract used — 
Transvaal and West Indies and Natal Con- 
trasted — Malaya — Statistics Showing the 
Number of Free Indians compared with 
Indentured — Safety of the Rand System, 
and Danger of the West Indian and Na- 

TALIAN ........ 20 



The Grip of the Asiatic — Rise in the Social 
Scale — The Indians in Natal — Remarkable 
Growth— What they Save — How they Oust 
the White Man — Statistics of Occupations 
— Disabilities which Reduce Competition — 
Indians and the Kaffir Trade — Its Value — 
Asiatic Traders in the Cape Colony — How 
AN Indian Undersells a White Man — Some 
Transvaal Figures — Black Lists and Boy- 
cotts ........ 24 



A Question of peculiar Difficulty — Imperial 
Government's Power — The Controversy 



WITH THE Boer Republic — British Indigna- 
tion — Promises and Pledges — After the 
War— Indians' Strong Case— Strength of 
Colonial Opposition — Transvaal National 
Convention — Progressive Party's Views — 
What the Indians Claim . . . '53 


Australia's Opposition to Asiatics — The Chinese 
Invasion — Drastic Legislation — China 
Protests — A Heated Controversy — Austra- 
lasian Principles Enunciated — New Zea- 
land's Trick — Sir Henry Parkes uses Strong 
Language — A White Man's Country . . 70 



Why Asiatic Immigration is a Danger — Lowering 
THE Standard of Living — South Africa's 
Special Difficulty — Doing White Men's 
Work — The Case of the Land — The Asiatic 
less Valuable to England than the English- 
man — Contributions to Revenue — Sir Henry 
Parkes' Dictum . . . . .81 





The Greatest Problem before the Colonies — 
Huge Areas rendered Useless to Great 
Britain — Restriction Acts in Force — 
Natal's Back Door Open — Repatriation Es- 
sential — Government of India's Demands — 
Lord Milner's Solution — Sir Arthur Law- 
ley — Lord Selborne — Three Vital Princi- 
ples 93 


I. — British-Indian Claims and Complaints in 

the Transvaal io8 

II. — Arguments For and Against Asiatic Com- 
petition 121 

III. — The Wrong Policy— Two " Hard Cases " . 130 
IV. — The Asiatic Population of Natal . .136 
V. — Despatches of Lord Milner and Sir Arthur 

Lawley 139 

VI. — Lord Elgin and the Transvaal Indians . 163 



Of all the problems which face the British Colonies 
to-day, none presents more difficulties or excites 
stronger feeling than that of the status of the 
Asiatic. Unfortunately it is not a local question, 
capable of settlement by purely local legislation. 
The final word in the control of the native races lies 
with the Imperial Government : in the case of the 
Asiatic this reservation is even more important. 
The political changes of the last five years have 
raised the position of the Asiatic into an Empire 
problem — perhaps even a World problem. It is 
complicated by Great Britain's alliance with an 
Asiatic Power ; it is affected by the fact that mil- 
lions of the Eastern races are British subjects and 
claim the privileges which the Empire boasts it 
confers ; it calls into question — by contrast — the 
morality of our past policy in the East, and empha- 
sizes the divergence between promise and practice 
found in our own territories to-day. 

In England the question is looked upon as some- 
thing remote, a theory for academic discussion 
and the application of abstract principles, rather 
than a vital problem calling for a practical solu- 
tion. Few people realize how closely it may affect 

1 B 


« • • » « 

the Mother Country. Lord Durham said that the 
great waste lands of the Empire were " the rightful 
patrimony of the English people, the ample appanage 
which God and nature had set aside in the New 
World for those whose lot had assigned them but 
insufficient portions in the Old." ^ But unrestricted 
Asiatic immigration must inevitably limit the 
capacity of the outer areas of the Empire to absorb 
her surplus population ; it means a serious check 
to the growth of England's trade with a large 
section of the colonies ; it might easily lead to a 
commercial war which would cripple half her 

Old ideas of Asia must be modified to-day. One 
is still inclined to judge the East by the Chinese 
wars and the futilities of Chinese administration. 
One is still apt to cherish the behef that a beneficent 
Providence has placed the white nations for ever 
in an economic position which can never be 
seriously assailed. But there are already apparent 
the beginnings of a renewal of the old struggle 
between West and East. Only it is assuming 
a new form. The real Asiatic Peril is the acquisi- 
tion, by commercial pressure and trade treaties, of 
the right of entry to lands now closed. It will be 
a repetition, less brutal, and probably slower and 
more subtle, of the policy of Europe towards Asia 
in the nineteenth century. The cloud to-day is 
no bigger than a man's hand. In a generation it 
may darken the whole political horizon. 

The Englishman who has never lived in Asia, or 
1 ** Report on Canada." 


in a country in which there has been a considerable 
influx of Asiatics, does not grasp two things. It 
is not easy to convince him that the Asiatic inevit- 
ably underlives and undersells the white man. It 
is not less difficult to make him understand that 
Asiatic immigration cannot be classed with any 
other. It differs essentially from the lowest class 
of European immigration. The alien problem in 
England is simplicity itself contrasted with the 
Asiatic question in Africa or Australasia. The 
masses of Southern and South-Eastem Europeans 
who have entered the United States will in time 
be absorbed in the population. The process may 
take a varying length of time with different nationali- 
ties ; but in the end there emerges the American 
people, even if their national character becomes 
modified by the infusion of alien blood. But no 
white race can absorb the Asiatic. The Eastern 
peoples always remain apart. You can never get 
rid of what Meredith Townsend called " the dull, 
unconquerable, unmitigable distaste of Asiatics for 
white men." It is not unreciprocated. Deep down 
beneath the strongest ideas of theoretical justice 
and the desire to admit no prejudice, there is a 
similar barrier. At the moment when Europe rang 
with the praise of Japanese valour, capacity, and 
high qualities, a baron, a naval captain, and a 
University professor — cultured men trained to 
Western ways — complained publicly of the " hu- 
mihating circumstance " they were subjected to 
on a steamer of one of the great European lines.* 
* Baron Suyematsu's letter to the Times, January, 1906. 


The social chasm between the natives of India 
and the white men who rule widens instead of 
closes. The line which is so rarely crossed is more 
marked to-day than it was a century ago. Ignor- 
ing for a moment the effect of Asiatic immigration 
upon the white man's work, it is well to realize that 
the introduction of a considerable number of 
Eastern people means that the difficulties of 
administration increase. Particularly is this the 
case in a country which already possesses a large 
native population. Natal finds the problem of the 
Bantu sufficiently complex without having to face 
a body of Asiatics more numerous than the white 
men, who remain, and always will remain, dis- 

But before considering the question in detail, 
there is another factor which must be included in 
a broad survey of modem conditions. We have the 
competition — what this really implies will be shown 
later. We have this separation, this racial barrier, 
which means that the Asiatic population must 
always remain apart. But in addition we have the 
awakening of Asia, a movement which involves a 
keener resentment than obtained in the old days 
of that which is regarded as unjust. There is a 
vague yet growing sense of commercial power. The 
idea is gaining ground that a weak spot has been 
found in the armour of Europe. The Swadeshi 
movement in India, foolish and inadequate as was 
its excuse, quasi-political as was its motive power, 
and rapid as was its decline, was not without sig- 
nificance. Still more important was the boycott 


of American- goods in China ; for the very energy 
with which the United States protested proclaimed 
a moral victory for the East. A lesson was learned 
which will not be forgotten. To-day it is seen 
how and where a blow can be struck. A lever has 
been found which may be used for the forcing of 
many a closed door. Asia, be it remembered, is 
in the strong position of the purchaser. Self-con- 
tained, self-supporting without hardship to her 
people, she can, if need be, dispense with the 
manufactures of Europe and America. But to the 
Western nations, ever increasing their manufactures, 
ever demanding more raw material and more 
markets for that which they make, the supplying 
of the myriads of the East is a matter of vast im- 
portance. " External markets," said Mr. Balfour 
recently, " are now more than ever necessary." ^ 
And, after all, " it is better to sell at ten per cent, 
to Hindoos or Chinese than at forty per cent, to 
the people of Brazil." To-day India buys more 
from England than any other part of the Em- 
pire : the aggregate purchases of Asia from the 
white nations are anywhere between one hundred 
and two hundred millions sterling a year. Yet this 
trade is only in its infancy. The simple wants of 
the Asiatic are slowly increasing. He relies more 
and more upon the suppHes of Europe, allowing 
many an indigenous industry to languish. Com- 
petition for this trade grows yearly keener. Here 
lies the danger to the Colonies — the temptation to 

^ February 13, 1906. 


the Home Government. What if a quarrel threaten 
with some Asiatic purchaser because a closed door 
is found in some not too well known colony ? What 
if a concession is hkely to reward the nation which 
gives way a point in admitting the Asiatic to some 
distant land. Could those at Home who are crying 
out for markets resist the temptation of gaining 
an advantage even at the sacrifice of the interests 
of a colony thousands of miles away, and in defiance 
of the wishes of a people whose ideals are not under- 
stood ? These are points which must not be over- 
looked. In the agitation against Chinese immigra- 
tion in Austraha in 1888, Lord Knutsford, the 
Colonial Secretary, remarked in a telegram to Sir 
W. C. F. Robinson (South Australia) : " Having 
regard to political and commercial interests of 
Empire, and particularly to commercial interests of 
Australasian Colonies, no avoidable obstacles should 
be placed in the way of trade with China, which is 
likely to afford valuable market for products of 
Australasian Colonies." 

The danger is not an imaginary one — it is in- 
creased by ignorance of the real effect of Asiatic 
competition on a white race. For Asia, too, needs 
room for her surplus population. The checks of 
war have gone, the ravages of pestilence and famine 
grow yearly less ; but the races multiply as freely 
as ever. The population of Southern India is 
doubling itself in 88^ years. The cultivated area 
grows at the rate of 7*94 per cent, in a decade. But 
there is a limit to the land available. Subdivision 
cannot go on indefinitely. There must be an out- 


ward movement. How long can the barriers erected 
by the Western nations withstand the pressure — 
the pressure of poUtical exigencies, the pressure of 
commercial ambition, the pressure of the demand 
of the thinly peopled lands for cheap labour ? 
There is a growing irritation amongst British Indians 
at the restrictions now imposed. One of the best 
informed writers ^ who urge the claims of the 
Indian community in South Africa recently said : — 

*' Are three-quarters of the population of the 
Empire to be aggrieved by reason of British 
breach of faith ? Are the ' frontiers of the 
Empire ' to be endangered by the dissatisfac- 
tion of three hundred millions of his Majesty's 
Indian subjects because Imperial pledges are 
disregarded and Imperial promises are callously 
broken at the bidding of a few fanatical pro- 
vincials ? Is India to become a menace to the 
Empire because its people are debarred from 
their rightful share in the privileges and respon- 
sibilities of British citizenship in any part of 
the King's dominions ? How long will the 
East bear such treatment ? " 

The claims of the British Indians in the colonies 
are urged with a good deal of energy by the Indian 
National Congress Party both in India and England. 
Their arguments appeal peculiarly to Members of 

1 Mr. H. S. L. Polak, English Editor of Indian Opinion, 
in the Empire Review, June, 1906. 


Parliament who know India but not the Colonies ; 
they are the joy of those who always rush to 
the support of any one who opposes the Colonies, 
whether they are Zulu rebels or undesirable aliens. 
The suggestion that Englishmen who happen to 
live in a Colony are capable of managing their 
own affairs is denounced as pandering to the vices 
and brutalities of a degenerate race. There has 
of late been a growth of the spirit of interference 
— despite the laying down of some excellent prin- 
ciples by Lord Elgin — and if this policy continues 
a conflict with the ever increasing strength of 
Colonial Nationalism is inevitable. The extra- 
ordinary campaign of calumny against the Colonists 
in Natal bodes ill for a satisfactory solution of the 
Asiatic question. 

The problem, from a Colonial standpoint, is 
this :— 

Can we safely admit the Asiatic ? 

What is the effect of this immigration ? 

Are restrictive measures essential, and if so, 
where ? 

These are the questions which must be faced. 
They are problems of peculiar importance to the 
British Empire, and they are problems upon which 
some definite policy is essential. 

One great Colonial land lies within the sphere of 
influence of the most enterprising and the most over- 
crowded of the Eastern Powers ; another is already 
largely dependent on Asiatic labour, and yet com- 
plains that the white man is being displaced by the 


British Indian and the Chinaman. These lands are 
suitable for white men ; intended, one might almost 
say, to relieve the pressure on England. Are they 
to become the homes of powerful white nations, 
adding to the strength of the British Empire, 
refuges for those who find that the Mother Country 
has no adequate place for them ; or are they to be 
lands in which a diminishing white population is 
condemned to a hopeless struggle for bare existence 
against an ever growing mass of Asiatics — people 
loyal to the Empire, thrifty, law-abiding, hard- 
working, if you Hke, but people who can never do 
the work for great Britain which would be done by 
white men ? Years ago Professor Seeley wrote : 
" Now that Great Britain is already full, it becomes 
fuller with increased speed ; it gains a million every 
three years. Probably emigration ought to proceed 
at a far greater rate than it does, and assuredly 
the greatest evils would arise if it were checked." 
The danger of checking this outward movement, 
at least to the British Colonies, exists to-day. 

The first essential to a calm discussion of the 
Asiatic difficulty is to eliminate the question of 
colour. Admitting that a self-governing Colony 
has the right to say who shall cross its borders, it 
has no moral right to impose petty restrictions on an 
educated man because his skin happens to be brown. 
One must get away from the Colonial attitude 
of classing the Asiatic with the rawest of "red 
blanket " Kaffirs. That there can never be union 
— hardly sympathy — between the white and the 
coloured races I admit. But the cause is not colour, 


though colour may be in most cases the outward 
sign. The British Indian is often as Hght com- 
plexioned as the Southern European ; the China- 
man is sometimes whiter than the Colonial. Yet 
the instinctive dislike to union remains — that almost 
undefinable something which always has existed 
and always will exist. But the old distinction of 
colour will have to be abandoned if the question is 
not to give rise to ever increasing friction. One 
must face the fact that in the future the Eastern 
nations will negotiate with the West on different 
lines to the diplomacy of half a century ago. The 
new methods cannot be conducted on the basis of 
the resolutions of the National Convention of 
Asiatics at Pretoria. Lord Milner clearly saw the 
danger when he said to the first congress of municipal 
bodies in the Transvaal in 1903 : — 

"... The greatest danger of every sound 
poHcy is its exaggeration and its travesty, and 
if we are strongly and successfully to resist the 
influx of Asiatics into this country in a form 
in which it may endanger our civilization with- 
out appreciably reHeving the over-population 
of other countries, I say again let us take the 
strong unassailable grounds of the social and 
economic reasons which exist for opposing that 
immigration, and do not let us base our 
opposition purely on the weak ground of 
colour. It is a matter of the very widest im- 
portance. The time may come when this 
Colony and South Africa generally may wish 


to enter into relations, commercial or other- 
wise, with the rulers of the great Asiatic states 
— with British rulers in India, for instance, or 
with the native rulers of the great Empire of 
Japan. It is possible — it would be possible — 
for a South African statesman dealing with 
them to defend legislation restricting the in- 
discriminate influx into this country of Asiatics 
whom we do not want, of Asiatics of the low 
class, of Asiatics who come here to take the 
bread out of the mouth of white men who 
adequately perform the work that they would 
perform ; but it would be impossible to enter 
into any sort of relation with the Asiatic world 
if we are going, in this country, to adopt 
sweeping and indiscriminate legislation against 
Asiatics, or, in upholding that legislation, to 
use language which is insulting to Asiatics as 

The policy of Sir Harry Parkes, too, was based 
on the right principle when he said : — 

" They (the Chinese) are a superior set of 
people. We know the beautiful result of many 
of their handicrafts : we know how wonderful 
are their powers of imagination, their endur- 
ance and their patient labour. It is for these 
qualities I do not want them to come here. 
The influx of a few million of Chinese here 
would entirely change the character of this 
young Australian Commonwealth. It is because 
I believe the Chinese to be a powerful race, 


capable of taking a great hold upon the country, 
and because I wish to preserve the type of my 
own nation in these fair countries, that I am, 
and always have been, opposed to the influx 
of Chinese.'' 

This is the standpoint from which one must view 
the problem of the Asiatic in the Colonies — an 
economic standpoint. Looked at in this light, what 
is the history of this immigration, and what lesson 
does it teach ? Has the Asiatic been of value ? If 
so, do the advantages conferred by his labour out- 
weigh the disadvantages of his competition ? 



" The greatest difficulty confronting the colonist 
from the earliest days of the Spanish West Indian 
settlements till the times of the Johannesburg gold 
mines of to-day has always been the scarcity and 
inconstancy of the labour supply." — Egerton's Origin 
and Growth of the British Colonies. 

There is a tendency, especially in South Africa 
and Australasia, to refuse to admit that the Asiatic 
immigrant is of the slightest value. The matter is 
generally dismissed with a hasty declaration that 
an influx of Indians or Chinese is a " curse to the 
country." But a little investigation shows that 
this is not the case. Where this immigration is 
found to the largest extent the ahens did not creep 
in uninvited and unobserved. Their services were 
secured after careful consideration, and in many 
parts to-day the only regret is that greater numbers 
cannot be obtained. The shortage of unskilled 
labour is not some unusual product of twentieth 
century conditions, though probably the spread of 
education and civilization in their present forms 
will render the difficulty even more acute than it 
is to-day. The Commission sent out from Spain 
to inquire into the labour problem in the West 



Indies dates back to 1517 ; in South Africa, where 
the trouble is now most marked, it began on that 
pleasant Sunday morning in April, 1652, when the 
Dromedaris, the Goede Hoop, and the Reiger cast 
anchor in Table Bay and Jan van Riebeek began 
to trade copper bars and tobacco with the Gorin- 
ghaiquas and the Goraichouquas. It was van Rie- 
beek who first propounded a scheme for importing 
Chinese into South Africa ; it was Wagenaar, his 
successor, who in urging a similar proposal upon 
the Council of Seventeen, roundly declared that 
twenty-five industrious Chinese families would be 
of as much service to the Company as fifty families 
of such Europeans as were established at the 

To-day large tracts of the British Empire depend 
almost entirely upon the British Indian or the 
Chinese for their prosperity. The Chinese form 
the industrial backbone of the Straits, Malaya, and 
Borneo ; Punjabis built the Uganda Railway ; the 
Kanakas laid the foundation of the sugar industry 
in Northern Queensland ; Chinese did much of 
the " spadework " on the western side of North 

As an example of what Asiatic labour can do 
under the best conditions, take the case of the West 
Indies. Sixty odd years ago — after the liberation 
of the slaves — there was reached a crisis such as 

^ As late as 1874 and 1876 the Cape House of Assembly 
passed resolutions suggesting the importation of Chinese 
or Indian labourers. 


that which forced the Transvaal to secure Chinese 
cooUes for the Rand mines. Indeed the words of 
the House of Commons Commission of that time 
with regard to the West Indies might have been used 
to describe the condition of the Transvaal in 1903 : 
" The principal causes of diminished production and 
consequent distress are the great difficulty ... in 
obtaining steady and continuous labour, and the 
high rate of remuneration which they give for the 
broken and indifferent work which they are able to 
procure." The West Indies were saved by the 
British Indian. The conditions of contract were 
liberal, inducements were offered to the newcomers 
to settle in the country ; and the West India Com- 
mittee recently wrote of these immigrants : — 

"These coolies have become a most impor- 
tant and useful portion of the population. The 
Colony has derived incalculable benefit from 
their industrious and law-abiding citizenship, 
and they in turn have become prosperous to 
an extent hardly possible in their own country." 

Professor Alleyne Ireland in his Tropical Coloniza- 
tion gives carefuUy prepared statistics proving that 
the West Indian Colonies which imported Asiatics 
have prospered far more than those which decided 
to rely upon their own inadequate and unreUable 
labour resources. Indian labour saved British 
Guiana and Trinidad from the economic stagnation 
of Dominica. 

The history of Natal reveals a similar story. 
Nearly fifty years ago, when Sir George Grey, the 


Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, visited Natal, 
the Durban Corporation presented an address which 
included the following passage : — 

" Independently of measures for developing 
the labour of our own natives, we believe your 
Excellency will find occasion to sanction the 
introduction of a limited number of coolie or 
other labourers from the East in aid of the new 
enterprises on the coast lands, to the success of 
which sufficient and reliable labour is abso- 
lutely essential ; for the fact cannot be too 
strongly borne in mind that on the success or 
failure of these rising enterprises depends the 
advancement of the Colony or its certain and 
rapid decline. Experimental cultivation has 
abundantly demonstrated that the issue depends 
solely on a constant supply of labour." ^ 

The sanction asked for was granted. " Certain 
and rapid decline " was averted. The first ship- 
ment of coolie labour reached Natal on November 
i6, i860. Much has happened since then in the 
history of the British Indians in the Garden Colony 
of South Africa. At one time the people of Durban 
went down to the harbour (as did the inhabitants 
of Sydney and Capetown in the days of the convict 
ships) prepared to resist the landing of the Indians 
by force. But to-day there is no cessation of the 
demand for indentured labour. Indian coolies work 

1 Durban : Fifty Years of Municipal History. — W. P. M. 


the sugar and tea estates of the coast ; Indians 
develop the coal mines ; Indians perform an in- 
creasing share of the work on the farms ; for the 
farmers who at first viewed them with distrust are 
now as anxious to retain them as the planters. 
Since the advent of coolie labour the white popula- 
tion has more than doubled, the value of land has 
increased, the cost of living has gone down. It is 
the Indian coolie who gives Natal the cheap fruit 
and vegetables which are the envy of the Transvaal, 
who has brought under high cultivation large tracts 
which, but for his presence, would to-day be barren. 
The Umbilo Valley near Durban (recently swept by 
flood), and some of the land near Maritzburg, bear 
testimony to his industry. Mr. Maurice S. Evans, 
M.L.C., of Durban, who is now heading a move- 
ment for the cessation of indentured coolie labour, 
admitted in a little book he wrote some time 
ago, that the Indian is a better cultivator than 
the Kaffir, that he is steady, thrifty, and law- 

In the case of the Transvaal the demand was 
equally strong. It is not my intention to review 
the labour problem in South Africa, or to attempt 
at this date to explain a situation which is so 
woefully misunderstood in England. But certain 
figures must be given to show the genuineness of 
the mine owner's claim that it was essential to 
indent upon Asia for unskilled labour. The 
Transvaal Labour Commission placed the labour 
shortage on the mines at 129,000, and estimated 
that an additional 196,000 labourers would be re- 



quired in five years. Their figures for the Colony 
of the Transvaal alone were these : — 

Natives at work. 

Natives still wanted. 

Agriculture . 
Mining .... 
Other Industries 



No data available 

This gave the shortage for the Transvaal alone 
at 221,399. Yet the Labour Commissioners found 
themselves forced to declare (the majority, at least, 
did) that " the belief which was so generally and 
confidently entertained that there is in Central and 
Southern Africa an ample supply of Native labour 
for all our needs, and that only organization and 
capital are necessary to secure it, has been com- 
pletely dispelled." The South African Native 
Affairs Commission placed the shortage of unskilled 
labour in all British South Africa at 307,528. More 
than one-third of the gold industry of the Rand is 
now dependent on Chinese labour, and practically 
the remaining two-thirds on imported labour from 
Portuguese East Africa. To get rid of the inden- 
tured Chinese would mean the dismissal of 6,405 
Europeans, the stopping of 3,135 stamps, and conse- 
quently the throwing out of operation of plant and 
machinery worth over eleven millions sterhng. 

The Chinese have saved the greatest industry in 
South Africa ; the British Indian has enabled Natal 
to prosper. And the demand is always greater 
than the supply. Natal agents " search every nook 


and comer " of Madras for immigrants willing to 
come to the plantations, and are forced to accept 
men who " do not compare favourably with the 
class of Indian recruited in years past." ^ British 
Guiana finds that its recruiting agents in Calcutta 
cannot obtain enough coolies to satisfy the requisi- 
tions of the planters — only 1,295 were indentured 
in 1904-5 against 2,932 in 1903-4 — and talks of 
appointing an official in Madras also. 

The value of cheap Asiatic labour is undeniable. 
By its aid colonies which seemed to be on the verge 
of ruin have prospered ; new industries have been 
built up ; invariably has it led to a more highly 
developed cultivation, to cheaper production, and 
to increased comfort for the white population. 
Yet this is not the last word. M. Leroy Beaulieu 
condemned the system as creating a new alien popu- 
lation with a different religion and different ideals 
of social life. Professor Egerton takes a similar 
stand. Writing of the West Indies, he says : " It 
was not until the introduction on a large scale of 
Asiatic coohes that the labour problem was, in a 
great measure, solved." But he added this reflec- 
tion : " In a few generations it may be found that 
the importation of coolie labourers has in effect 
become a great measure of State-aided coloniza- 

And to show what that means in the great Colonies 
involves an inquiry into the effect of Asiatic com- 
petition in a country fitted for white men. 

^ Report of the Protector of Immigrants, Natal, 1904. 



We have seen that the presence of large numbers 
of Asiatics in certain Colonies has not been due to 
the Indians or Chinese pushing their way into lands 
where they were not desired. They have been 
recruited, actively searched for, at great trouble 
and expense, because their services were absolutely 

We have seen, too, that these services have been 
of immense benefit to the Colonies concerned. But 
it is necessary before considering the effect of this 
immigration on the white population, and its pos- 
sible danger to the best interests of the Empire, 
to see under what conditions these Asiatics are 
obtained. This is really the crux of the whole 
question. Roughly there are two systems, the old 
indentures used in the West Indies, and the new 
contracts under which the Chinese have been brought 
to the Transvaal. 

The chief differences are these : — 

Transvaal. West Indies. 
I. The Chinese coolie in i. The British Indian in 
the Transvaal must not be the West Indies can be em- 
employed in skilled labour. ployed as a tradesman and 



2. The Chinese coolie in 
the Transvaal must be sent 
back to China at the ter- 
mination of his indenture. 

3. The Chinese immigrant 
in South Africa may be ac- 
companied by his wife or 
not at option. 

mechanic, or in other skilled 
work in the factory, during 
his indenture. There is no 
restriction whatever after 
his indenture ceases. Dur- 
ing his indenture he fre- 
quently saves money and 
purchases cattle, which are 
looked after for him during 
his work at the estate. 

2. The British Indian in 
the West Indies has the 
option of remaining in the 
colony as a free man. He 
can receive Crown lands in- 
stead of his half return pas- 
sage. He is encouraged to 
remain on the estate, where 
he receives free housing, 
medical attendance and pas- 
ture for his cattle. 

3. The Indians in the 
West Indies must be accom- 
panied by 40 per cent, of 

The Natal indentures are, with a few exceptions, 
relating to the encouragement of coolies to remain 
in the colony, the same as those in the West Indies. 
In Natal the coolie who has completed five years 
on the estates or mines has three courses open to 
him : — 

1. He can return to India. 

2. He can re-indenture at a higher wage. 

3. He can remain in the colony as a free man 
on paying a licence of £3 a year. 


The case of contract labour in the Malay States 
need not be considered. The conditions are ex- 
tremely varied, and the short sea passage makes work 
in the Straits peculiarly attractive to the Chinese. 
The wages are lower than in the Transvaal, but 
there are the additional inducements of being able 
to engage in trade on the termination of a period 
of service, and the possibility of acquiring pro- 
perty and land. A system of co-operation, in which 
the labourer shares in the profits of the venture, is 
also widely adopted, and very often the coolie has 
to buy his stores from the shop of his employer. 

The effect of these different indentures is plainly 
visible in the population of the colonies concerned. 
In the West Indies and Natal the Government of 
India's conditions have resulted in a large perma- 
nent East Indian population. The immigrants are 
y mainly lower class Madrassis and Bengalis, who find 
that they are much more comfortably off in their 
new homes than amidst the competition of over- 
crowded India. In the West Indies the land hunger 
of the Asiatic is easily satisfied, and if the man is 
enterprising enough, he can — as in Natal — become 
a trader. The result is that the indentured coolie 
stays as a free man. In Natal it is found that the 
number who return after the expiration of the first 
contract is only ten per cent., and the number going 
back at the end of a second term is still smaller. 
Natal to-day has 100,000 Indians ; but 70,000 are 
free. British Guiana to-day has 105,000 British 
Indians in a population of 278,000 ; but only 20,000 
are indentured on the estates. Jamaica has 12,500 


British Indians ; but only 1,819 are now indentured. 
Trinidad has 90,000 East Indians. In Fiji the 
Indians number 25,000. Between 1901 and 1904 
they increased 5,685 ; but the native population 
decreased by 4,334. A Times correspondent 
wrote in 1906 : " In the Fiji Islands it seems as if 
they (the Indians) are about to replace the natives 
and become the permanent population." 

In accepting the Asiatic on the conditions of the 
West Indies and Natal, a colony resigns itself to 
an ever growing Asiatic population. 

The difference between the forms of contract is 
vital. It destroys at once the arguments which are 
so often based upon a belief that the conditions in 
the West Indies and on the Rand are analogous. 
The white population of the Transvaal would never 
for a moment think of accepting Asiatic labour 
upon Trinidad conditions. The Transvaal system 
makes the indentures terminate in the land from 
which the coolies are drawn ; it insists that they 
shall be engaged upon nothing save unskilled mine 
labour. Under the Rand contracts there is no 
competition with white men, no permanent trace 
would be left if the 50,000 odd cooHes were repa- 
triated to-morrow. The Chinese could work the 
Rand mines for a decade and then return to China, 
and not one white storekeeper or one white artisan 
would have been affected. Whatever the objections 
to Chinese indentured labour on the Rand may be, 
it is certainly not a system of " State-aided coloniza- 
tion," as is that under which Asiatics are obtained 
for Natal and the West Indies. 



What is the effect of a considerable immigration of 
Asiatics into another country ? This phase of the 
question is apt to be overlooked in England, where, 
as Sir Arthur Lawley pointed out some years ago, 
the climate forms a barrier to such an influx, and 
the amount of unskilled labour available is an addi- 
tional safeguard. England cannot understand the 
anxiety with which South Africa and Australasia 
view the competition of the coloured races. It has 
had no experience of it. 

The Asiatic invariably obtains a grip of the country 
he enters. He may arrive as the humblest hewer of 
wood and drawer of water, but he does not remain 
in this servile position — or at least his children do 
not. Mr. Maurice S. Evans, in his Problems of 
Production in Natal, says : " It is interesting to note 
that signs are present that the rising generation of 
Indians, bom in Natal, differ from their parents, the 
indentured coolies. With some education they, 
not content with the plain work and hard fare of 
their parents, aspire to a higher social position, 
and are usually waiters, clerks, and storemen." This 
is the reason why the demand for Asiatic labour 


never ceases. Ten thousand may suffice to-day. 
But the leakage is great. At the end of the term 
of contract a great number turn to other vocations. 
The land hunger of the Indian impels him to obtain 
ground for cultivation ; or the spirit of the trader 
drives him to invest in a hawker's basket and 
continue his thrifty, hard-working life till he can 
establish himself as a petty storekeeper or even a 
merchant on a considerable scale. 

Here again much depends on the great climatic 
difference which creates the two classes into which 
Asiatic labour falls — that of the tropical and the non- 
tropical colonies. In the tropics the white popula- 
tion with whom the British Indian or the China- 
man could compete is exceedingly small. There 
is no outcry against him, because the capacity of 
the tropics to provide employment for white men 
depends mainly upon the size of the coloured 
population. In the West Indies the Asiatic is 
encouraged in every possible way to become a unit 
of the country. In the year 1904 alone the British 
Indians in Trinidad purchased 4,898 acres of land. 

But take the case of lands which are climatically 
suitable for supporting white populations, and study 
the result of Asiatic immigration, and one begins to 
understand why the feeling against the newcomers, 
even when their economic value as unskilled 
labourers is recognized, is so strong. 

Natal forms the best example. Although the 
coast belt may be regarded as tropical, and there- 
fore, perhaps, better for Asiatics as labourers than 
white men, the great bulk of the colony is eminently 



suited for white settlers. Mr. Maurice S. Evans 
writes : "As on the coast, all the manual labour 
on the up-country farms is done by natives or 
Indians, but not for any climatic reason or on account 
of any physical conditions. The up-country climate 
of Natal is a magnificent one for Europeans ; the 
adult can enjoy perfect health, and families of 
children are reared as healthy and strong as country 
children of Northern Europe. Manual labour on 
the farm could well be done by Europeans, to the 
benefit and not detriment of their health and con- 
dition. The reason why this is not done is social 
and racial, and would probably rule if Natal, with 
her present proportion of blacks to whites, was 
situated 50 degrees north latitude instead of 30 
degrees south. The white man will not work along- 

/ side or on even terms with the native or Indian ; 

^we must accept this fact as one unlikely to be 
altered, and in speaking of the present state of the 
country take it as an axiom. Formerly all these 
farmers employed natives exclusively, now many 
supplement the native by Indians, or use the latter 

The 1904 census in Natal showed that there was 
a total population of 1,108,754 classified as follows : — 




Europeans or whites. 




Indians and Asiatics . 




Mixed and others 




Natives in service 




Natives in native areas 






The male Asiatics outnumber the male Europeans 
by 9,000 odd. And with what rapidity an Asiatic 
population grows when it is brought in under the 
conditions obtaining in Natal is shown by the fol- 
lowing table : — 

1 Europeans. 



Census 1891 . ... 
Census 1904 . . . . 



European increase . 
Asiatic „ 



•38 per cent. 
•88 „ „ 

Thus for every 100 Europeans in Natal in 1891 
there are now 201*38, and for every 100 Indians 
there are now 244-88. The Census Committee 
comment : "It is appalling to consider what the 
Indian figures may be in the near future at this 
abnormal rate of increase as compared with the 
European races with our present Indian population 
of over 100,000." 

There is however no slackening of the demand. 
In 1902 requisitions for 19,000 men were received, 
and in 1904 no fewer than 10,144 still remained to 
be allotted. At the end of 1905 applications for 
another 30,000 were received by the Indian Immi- 
gration Trust Board. The Protector of Indian 
Immigrants in his Report for 1904 states that the 
introductions of Indians into Natal in that year 
"far exceeded the number introduced for several 
years past." The birth-rate amongst the Indians 


is 3071, and thus it is clear that if the importation 
of coolies proceeds at the rate reached in the past, 
the Indian population in Natal in 1916 will be over 
250,000. The Indians who arrive in Natal prefer 
to remain there. The Protector reports : " The per- 
centage of those who re-indentured during 1904, 
after completing their second term of indenture 
(being the first who have done so), is barely seven 
per cent., evidently indicating that the longer 
absence from India has had the effect of weaning 
the Indians from any desire to retain the privilege 
entitling them to a free passage back." The Indians 
who indenture only do so because a high wage 
enables them to save money to purchase land or 
to start as a trader. They do not re-indenture on 
the tea and sugar estates, where wages range from 
i6s. to 30s., but prefer the coal mines, where they 
can earn from 40s. to 45s. 

The hard-working Indian can prosper in Natal 
as he never could in Madras or Bengal. The bulk 
of the immigrants are of poor class, yet the 1,672 
who returned to India in 1904 declared their savings 
at £20,077 — and only 874 were men. Fifty-five 
had saved £100 or over. The average was £16 ys. 6d. 
as against £18 los. id. in 1903, but the decrease was 
accounted for by the larger proportion returning 
as imfit for work. The average for indentured 
Indians alone exceeded that of 1903. In the Trans- 
vaal Legislative Council in 1903 Mr. Loveday esti- 
mated that £500,000 was sent out of the sub-conti- 
nent every year by Asiatics to their relatives in 
the East. 



But the bulk of the Indians do not return. Here 
is the Natal classification in 1904 : — 





Free Indians . . 






18,280 29,157 


It will be seen that the total given here is far below 
the total found in the Census report. The 13,000 
odd additional must be classed with free Indians, for 
the number indentured is well known. This num- 
ber " unaccounted for " is a more prominent feature 
of the Protector of Immigrants' Report each year. 
What is the work done by this large body of ex- 
indentured labour ? Take first the case of agricul- 
ture. The Indian has a keen desire to purchase 
land, and when he obtains it he makes more use of 
it than either the white man or the Kaffir. That 
the price of fruit and vegetables at Durban and 
Maritzburg has gone down is due almost entirely 
to the cultivation of the Asiatics. But he is doing 
more than performing work which was formerly 
left undone. He is taking up work which, in the 
climate of Natal, could be and should be performed 
by the white man. The most important interest 
in Natal is the agricultural industry. In it, accord- 
ing to the last census, there are engaged 39,782 
persons, divided as follows : — 

Indians 32,436 

Europeans ..... 7,346 



This is an extraordinary proportion. The tendency 
is brought out in other returns. For instance, 
75-85 per cent, of the Asiatics are in the rural dis- 
tricts, whilst only 39*23 per cent, of the Europeans 
are so returned. Small wonder that even the cau- 
tious Census Committee, in reviewing the position 
indicated by these figures, remarks that this is 
" a condition of things regarded by many as dis- 
tinctly opposed to the best interests of the Colony." 
The tables ^ dealing with occupations show how the 
grip of the Asiatic has affected agriculture. The 
most striking figures are appended : — 



Cultivators . . . ^ . . . 



Farmers and assistants 



Farm labourers . 



Fruit farmers . 









Produce dealers 



Poultry farmers . 



Planters (general) 



Dairy farmers and assistants . 



It must be remembered that the heading Farmers 
and Assistants includes the 3,200 farmers who, 
according to the Government publication. Notes 
on Agriculture in Natal , hold a great deal of the 
land of the colony. 

1 This table and all others relating to Natal are compiled 
from the 1904 Census report, which was issued this year. 


It is the Indian who supphes the bulk of the fruit 
and vegetables to the towns. Mr. Maurice S. Evans, 
whom I have already quoted — he is a public man 
who knows Natal from end to end, and has also 
travelled all over the world studying agricultural 
methods — says : — 

"... The Indian is a very much better culti- 
vator of the soil than the native. Accustomed at 
. home to small holdings and intensive culture, 
he brings his habits to Natal, and though in 
the presence of different conditions, of more 
space, less crowding, better markets, he varies 
his methods and perhaps gets more careless, 
he still obtains a larger share from his holdings 
in proportion to their size than the native or 
even the European. The Indian cultivators 
live principally on the coast, though they are 
now scattered all over the country in small 
numbers, wherever fertile land can be obtained 
not too far from a market. On the coast they 
grow principally mealies, beans, tobacco, bana- 
nas, some other fruits which come quickly 
into bearing, such as granadillas, and near the 
towns vegetables of all kinds. The Indian 
wants full value from his plot, and has no eye to 
scenic beauty, so he ruthlessly cuts down every 
tree or shrub upon it. He wants quick re- 
turns, hence as a rule does not plant fruit trees. 
From the nature of the crops grown and the 
absence of shade of all kinds, these lands have 
a bare sun-stricken appearance, detract from 


the beauty of the country, and may possibly, 
if extended much more, have a deteriorating 
effect upon the cUmate. 

" Indians both rent land and hold it freehold, 
and their holdings of both classes are extend- 
ing year by year. Large areas in the coast 
country of Victoria, north of Durban, have of 
late years been acquired by syndicates of Euro- 
peans and retailed acre by acre to these people, 
who are keen to buy, and are willing to pay 
prices which no European could afford for occu- 
pation and cultivation. As a matter of fact, 
in this Garden County of the Garden Colony, 
the European population cultivating or in inti- 
mate connection with the soil is probably 
smaller in number than it was thirty years ago, 
while the Indian is gradually taking up the 
land upon which was reared in those days 
families of Europeans — colonists of the best 
stamp. What will be the outcome is causing 
anxious thought to many in Natal, who look 
beyond the present day and its present profit." 

But the Asiatic has another fault — from the 
white man's standpoint. He is ambitious. The 
plantation coolie may die a cooHe ; his son may 
become a landowner, or a small trader or store- 
keeper, even a merchant on a considerable scale. 
In Natal Indian competition is not confined to agri- 
culture. The loudest complaints come from the 
trading class. Practically the entire native trade 
in Natal has passed into the hands of the British- 



Indians. The following figures show the position 
in respect to a number of trades in Natal in 1904 : — 



Storekeepers (general) .... 



Storekeepers' assistants 



Bakers and confectioners . 



Butchers and assistants 



Grocers and assistants 



Restaurant-keepers .... 



Even in clerical work the Asiatic has begun to 
make his presence felt. This is a department in 
which the figures will grow steadily as the Indians 
become more educated and the Indian children now 
at school begin to search for a means of livelihood. 

To-day only 12,128 males of the 100,000 odd 
Indians in Natal can read and write. But they 
provide the following competition : — 



Agents (various) 

Accountants and bookkeepers . 

Clerks (various) 

Civil servants 

Commercial travellers .... 











And lastly comes the general labour, skilled 
and unskilled, of the colony. One more table will 
show the trades or vocations in which the Asiatic is 
competing most keenly with the white man : — 

Bricklayers and assistants. 
Blacksmiths and assistants 


Brick and tilemakers . 
Boot and shoemakers . 
Barbers and assistants 
Brewers and assistants 
Bookbinders and assistants 
Billiard markers 
Carpenters and assistants . 


Coachmen and grooms 

Cycle dealers and mechanics 

Carriers and carters 

Cigar and cigarette makers 

Domestic servants . 

Engine drivers (loco and stationary) 


Firemen and stokers . 


Jewellers and assistants 
Labourers (general) 
Labourers (railway) 
Municipal employes 



Mineral water manufacturers 


Mine labourers .... 


Printers and compositors . 
Plumbers and tinsmiths . 
Photographers and assistants 
Porters (hotel and general) 
Pumpmen (Natal railways) 
Pointsmen (ditto) . 


Tailors and assistants . 
Tobacconists and assistants 




















































It has been contended on behalf of the British- 
Indian population that the extent to which the 
progress of the white traders is hampered by this 
competition has been exaggerated. It would not 
be wise, perhaps, to adhere too closely to the census 
figures. In some cases they are open to explanations 
which tend to modify a first impression of the effect 
of Indian competition. But they show a marked 
tendency. They argue a not inconsiderable cur- 
tailment of the openings available for the white 
population. The British-Indians to-day own over 
10,000 acres of land, and cultivate nearly 50,000 
acres. As traders they would be a still greater 
menace, but for the Act passed in 1897 placing the 
power to issue or refuse general dealers' licences in 
the hands of an official of the Municipality. This 
measure was carried on the suggestion of Mr. Harry 
Escombe. Outwardly it carefully avoids class 
legislation, for in theory it applies equally to Euro- 
peans and Asiatics. But in practice it operates 
against the Indian storekeepers. No white man 
is refused a licence ; Asiatics often suffer what they 
regard as injustice. There is no appeal from the 
decision of the Licensing Officer, and they can only 
protest and submit. In Durban the Act has been 
admittedly utilized in order to prevent Indian mer- 
chants opening shops in the principal streets. The 
Licensing Officer is the servant of a body of white 
storekeepers. He knows their views, and, whatever 
his personal opinion may be, he can hardly be 
expected to sacrifice his appointment by opposing 
those who employ him. As a protective ^measure 


to the white trader the Act is valuable. From the 
standpoint of expediency the system may find sup- 
porters. In reality it is simply class legislation. 
However, the point to be remembered is this. The 
state of things revealed by the Census would be even 
more marked but for an Act which was passed before 
the Indian community realized what its effect would 
be. How it operates may be seen from the follow- 
ing cases, reported in one of the leading European 
papers of the colony ^ : — 

*' I. Mr. Hoondamal, who has been trading 
in the Colony for some time, wished to change 
premises, and to remove from Grey Street to 
West Street (Durban). The shop was abso- 
lutely free from objection from a sanitary 
standpoint. It belonged to an Indian landlord, 
and it was in a block of buildings which have 
been devoted to Indian traders for several years. 
Mr. Hoondamal had a fancy-ware business, 
and dealt in Oriental silks and other fancy 
goods. He did not come into competition with 
any European. His shop was kept in a scru- 
pulously clean condition, but the transfer from 
one premises to another was rejected by the 
Town Council. 

"2. Mr. Dada Osman had been in trade in 
Vryheid for several years before the war. The 
place he was trading in was considered a loca- 
tion or a bazaar during the Boer regime. After 
Vryheid was annexed to Natal, the Licensing 

1 Natal Witness. 


Board refused to renew his licence, unless he 
would go to another location far away from 
town, where it was impossible for him to do any 
business at all. Mr. Dada Osman's business 
in Vryheid has therefore proved a very serious 
loss to him. In this case, as also in the previous 
case, many certificates from Europeans of good 
standing were produced to show the respect- 
ability of the apphcants. It should be remem- 
bered that Mr. Dada Osman's was the only 
Indian store in Vryheid. To add to the misery 
of the position, the an ti- Asiatic laws of the Trans- 
vaal have been taken over bodily for this dis- 
trict of Natal. A British Indian, therefore, 
staying in Vryheid, not only has to undergo 
the disabilities that the Natal laws impose on 
him, but has added to them the disabilities that 
the Transvaal laws have created for him. 

"3. Mr. Cassim Mahomed has been trading 
for three years on a farm near Ladysmith. For 
some time his was the only store. Recently, 
a European firm, by name Burdett & Co., have 
opened a store near by. Mr. Cassim Mahomed's 
servant, in his absence, was trapped and 
charged with a breach of the law as to Sunday 
trading, the servant having sold to the traps a 
piece of soap and a little sugar. Armed with 
this conviction, Messrs. Burdett & Co. opposed 
Mr. Cassim Mahomed's application for a renewal 
of his licence. The licensing officer listened 
to their objections, and refused to renew the 
licence. There was an appeal to the Board, 


which confirmed the decision of the Licensing 
Officer. The Court said that it was not guided 
by any prejudice : it proposed to treat Mr. 
Cassim Mahomed as it had treated a certain 
European. This was incorrect. This Euro- 
pean was himself convicted of having sold 
opium, in contravention of the law, to the 
Indians working at the mines in his neighbour- 
hood, and other allegations were made against 
him. There is an ocean of difference between 
the technical breach of the Sunday Law by the 
servant of Mr. Cassim Mahomed and the breach 
of the opium law of the Colony by the European 
personally. Mr. Cassim Mahomed, too, pro- 
duced excellent references from European firms 
of good standing." 

The paper also points out that when this Dealers' 
Licences Act was passed, the late Sir Henry Binns 
strongly protested against it, saying that it was an 
un-British measure, and that the ousting of the 
ordinary jurisdiction of the Supreme Court was a 
dangerous principle. " Experience has shown the 
justness of these prophetic words. The administra- 
tion of the Act was, in its initial stages, marked by 
an excess of zeal in restricting British-Indian trade. 
The licensing officer at Newcastle refused to renew 
all Indian licences — that is, nine in number. It 
was after very great expense and trouble that six 
of them were renewed. As a result, and owing to 
pressure from the Colonial Office, the Government 
issued a warning to the licensing authorities that. 


unless they administered the Act with prudence and 
moderation, and respected existing Hcences, the 
Government might be obliged to amend the law, and 
restore the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court." 

The law is undoubtedly harsh. But in attempt- 
ing to estimate the extent of Asiatic competition 
it is necessary to point out that had no such legisla- 
tion been passed the Indian storekeepers would be 
doing more of the trade of the colony than is the 
case to-day. 

Eleven districts of the thirty-eight magisterial 
divisions or centres into which Natal is divided 
return no Indians. But in the Inanda Division 
the Indians form 70*58 of the population, in the 
Verulam Local Board area 52*83 per cent., in the 
Umlazi Division 34*44 per cent., and in the Lower 
Tugela 26*90 per cent. 

Sir Arthur Lawley, when Lieutenant-Governor 
of the Transvaal, remarked in an official despatch : 
" So prevalent is the Indian element in that country 
(Natal) that the moment one crosses the Transvaal 
border he loses the impression that he is travelling 
in a European country at all. . . . Natal has an 
immense native population^ which twenty years ago 
was served in the way of trade only by Europeans. 
Traders of this class formed an important element 
in the white population of Natal. To-day this class 
of trader has vanished altogether, and their business 
is now entirely in the hands of the Asiatics." It is 
claimed on behalf of the Indian community that 
this competition is trifling, that the Indian firm is 
but a " petty trader's concern." " The Indian 


storekeeper," said Mr.H.S.L.Polak, " acts as a con- 
necting link between the native and the poor white 
on the one hand, and the wholesaler on the other ; 
and as such is an invaluable economic factor in 
the commercial welfare of South Africa." 

It is difficult to estimate what the extent of this 
*' Kaifir truck "is. From a statistical standpoint 
the official publications relating to the natives all 
over South Africa are lamentably incomplete. A 
few sentences from the annual reports of the Resi- 
dent Magistrates ^ throw some light on the point : — 

Ixopo Division. — " During the last seven years 
several Asiatic retail licences have been cancelled 
and many applications refused." 

Klip River Division. — " The bulk of the trade 
of the native population is still in the hands of the 
Indians, who appear to be gradually displacing the 
European traders." 

Umgeni Divison. — " The bulk of the trade con- 
tinues to be centred in the hands of the Indians 
and Indian hawkers. It is the Indians they prin- 
cipally deal with and dispose their surplus produce 

Umvoti Division. — " In the country districts 
there are nine stores owned by Europeans and eleven 
by Asiatics." 

Ndwedwe Division. — " I believe I am correct in 
stating that we are in the unique position of being 
the only Division in the Colony where the Asiatic 
has not gained a footing as a trader or retail dealer." 

1 Natal Blue Book on Native Affairs, 1904. 


Newcastle Division. — " Most of the Kaffir store- 
keeping is in the hands of Indians and Arabs, who 
appear to have done a good business." 

Inanda Division. — " The native trade of the Divi- 
sion is almost exclusively in the hands of the Indian 
and Arab storekeepers, who are not only in the 
villages but scattered all over the country ; and as 
natives are buying more and more European com- 
modities, their requirements are ever on the increase, 
and the native trade must be a growing one." 

Anything which induces the natives to display 
more energy and enterprise must be welcome, and 
few colonials object to the experiments which natives 
have made in storekeeping. In practically every 
case, however, the stores have failed, and in most 
instances the reason assigned in the Blue Book is 
that the native trader cannot compete with the 
Indian. It would appear, then, that the Asiatic 
immigrant is not only driving out the white trader, 
but is also checking a tendency on the part of the 
native which would hasten the spread of civilization. 
But in any case the Kaffir trade is not the small 
affair some people imagine. In 1903 the value of 
the goods imported into the colony of Natal for 
the Kaffirs was estimated at £302,778. The 
Kaffir is always charged heavily for his goods 
by the storekeeper, and a declared value of 
£300,000 for Customs purposes probably means 
that the goods were actually sold for £500,000 
to £600,000. The Natal Industries Commission 
looked forward to a native trade based on an 
expenditure of £1 per head. This would mean 


roughly £1,000,000 from the Natal natives alone. 
Add to this the Indian coolie trade, and also that 
done with the poorer whites, and it is clear that the 
Indian traders are capturing a splendid field — and 
would have secured even more of it but for the 
restrictions mentioned, against which protests are 
raised. Zululand, too, is a closed land to the Asiatic 
trader, no licences being granted to non-Europeans. 
In considering the plea of the British-Indians that 
the volume of trade passing through their hands is 
trifling, one must do more than regard the trade done 
to-day — one must also allow for the increase which 
would be found in that trade if the restrictions (just 
or unjust) were swept away. 

The figures relating to Asiatic competition in 
the other British Colonies in South Africa are less 
striking, because immigration has been restricted, 
and there has been no back door of indentured 
labour as has been open in Natal. Those who 
minimize this competition usually write as though 
these restrictions did not exist. Mr. Polak 1 esti- 
mates the proportion of free Indians in the whole 
of British South Africa as only one in sixty-two, 
and points out that there are eleven white people to 
every one Indian. This calculation is more in- 
genious than fair. It is obvious that excellent 
statistics, from the British-Indian standpoint, can 
be arrived at by taking the colonies in which Asiatic 
immigration is practically prohibited. But what 
would be the figures had there been no restrictive 

^ Empire Review, June, 1906. 


legislation ? In Natal, simply through the con- 
tract system, by which an Indian can earn the right 
to remain by working five years for a European, 
the Indians already outnumber the whites. What 
would be the proportion in twenty years were the 
doors flung open, as some Enghsh pubUcists have 
suggested, and as apparently the Indian National 
Congress desires ? Even under the present system 
there will be 250,000 Indians in Natal in 1916. With 
the policy of the Open Door in all the colonies the 
proportion of eleven to one in favour of the European 
would one day be reversed. 

To obtain the fullest information regarding 
Asiatic competition in the Cape Colony and the Trans- 
vaal one must await the issue of more complete re- 
turns than are now published. Certain statistics, 
however, are available which show the tendency is 
similar to that in Natal. In the Cape I leave out 
the Malay population of some 16,000, which is the 
result of the old slave trade. 

The Asiatic traders in the Cape Colony manage, 
as in other parts, to exist through periods of depres- 
sion which ruin many of the European storekeepers. 
The crisis through which the colony is passing is 
undoubtedly largely due to over-trading. The in- 
flux of traders has been greater than the growth of 
trade warranted, as will be seen by the following 
figures : — 







Increase per cent, 
as compared 
with 1898. 
































Importations retained 

in Cape Colony for 


;{ 1 0,48 1, 000 

;^I 2,832,000 
;^ I 3,096,000 

Increased per cent, 
over 1898. 

Increase per cent, in 
number of licences 
granted over 1898. 




The increase in the number of traders has been 
three times as great as the increase in the amount 
of trade. To throw the whole blame on the Asiatic 
would be absurd. The European was as much at 
fault. The point is that in these conditions the 
Asiatic holds his place whilst the European goes 

In the five largest towns in the Cape Colony — 
Capetown, East London, King William's Town, 
Kimberley, and Port Elizabeth — the number of 
general dealers' licences issued to Europeans in 1905 
was 5,222. But on May i, 1906, only 3,920 Euro- 
peans had taken out licences. That is to say, 1,302 
Europeans had been forced out of business. Now 


in 1905 there were 1,012 general dealers' licences 
issued to non-Europeans. But on May 6, 1906, 
there had been no decrease. On the contrary, the 
licences numbered 1,059. ^^ these five towns, there- 
fore, in one year, the increased competition had 
had the following effect : — 

1. Licences to Europeans decreased 1,302. 

2. Licences to non-Europeans increased 44. 

In two years the Indian traders in the Cape sent 
to India £250,000 in money orders alone. And 
" despite the large number of Russian and Polish 
Jews in the country who are in the habit of remitting 
home very considerable amounts, the annual remit- 
tance to India through the Post Office exceeds that 
to the rest of the world put together, the United 
Kingdom included, without making allowance for 
the large proportion remitted to the Homeland in 
connection with the parcel trade." ^ 

The European complains that it is impossible for 
him to compete with the Asiatic without lowering 
his standard of living — without, in fact, descending 
in the scale of civilization. Here is a sketch of 
the Indian trader's progress as seen in South 
Africa 2 : — 

" The evolution of the Indian from a newly- 
arrived lascar practically penniless to a trader 
owning one or more shops, is interesting to 
consider. Sleeping on boxes in the proportion, 
perhaps, of a dozen in one room, and able to 
subsist on little other than a small quantity of 

^ South African Trade Journal, June 2, 1906. 
2 Ibid. 


rice daily, he is able to save a considerable por- 
tion of the profit he earns from the hawking of 
fruit. In two years' time or less, he has saved 
some £50 or so. He hires a small room from a 
shop, at say £3 to £4 per month. By paying half 
cash he obtains goods to the value of his total 
capital from one firm of merchants, and on the 
strength of the invoices he obtains credit from 
others to a like amount. His trade is chiefly 
cash, and before long he is able to take j$ days' 
credit and then 90 days ; and by the end of 
two or three years he may have several shops 
open. His orders are now considerable, and 
he is able to command prices from the merchant 
which would surprise the smaller white trader. 

"Combination among the latter class to pre- 
vent ruinous cutting of prices means playing 
into the hands of the Indian. 

" If a merchant, feeling uneasy at the largeness 
of an Indian's outstanding account, curtails 
supplies, his customer distributes his orders 
among other merchants, and in reply to the 
merchant's inquiries, says he is better suited 
elsewhere. Probably the matter ends in the 
Indian getting even better terms than before 
from the merchant. Should the merchant re- 
quire a guarantee, another Indian is easily 
forthcoming, and the man he thus obliges 
guarantees him with other firms. 

"The outset of his career in the country has 
thus been marked by a method of hving which 
is a danger to the health of the community, not 
merely through the dirt and overcrowding in 
the rooms where he herds for the night with his 
fellows, but through the distribution among the 


inhabitants of fruit which has not merely been 
handled by him, but frequently has passed the 
night in those same surroundings. 

"As a trader, he is able to compete with 
the respectable white shopkeeper with over- 
whelming advantages on his side. 

" To an assistant he will pay from £1 to £2 per 
month, he himself can live on comparatively 
a few shillings a month, and he will keep open 
perhaps nineteen hours out of the twenty-four. 
He systematically infringes the Sunday Closing 
Act and the Half-Holiday Act, and not infre- 
quently evades the latter measure by hawking 
from door to door. 

" Against such methods as these, competition 
on the part of the respectable white trader is 
rendered impossible. Even the coloured shop- 
keeper has been driven to the wall, a loss re- 
sulting, inter alia, to the larger shopkeeper, who, 
to no inconsiderable extent, played towards him 
the role of wholesale man. 

" It is probably not far off the mark to say that 
the Indian, through his methods of living, his 
cheap assistance and so on, can do nearly twice 
as well as the white grocer on half the turn- 

At a recent meeting of the Worcester Chamber of 
Commerce it was stated that one Indian controlled 
twenty-nine shops in Capetown alone. 

The figures given however do not relate solely 
to British-Indians. The registered Chinese popula- 
tion of the Cape Colony on December 31, 1905, was 
1,300, of whom 1,088 lived in the following centres : 


Capetown (including Wynberg), Port Elizabeth (in- 
cluding Uitenhage), Kimberley (including Beacons- 
field), and East London. Their occupations ^ included 
the following : — 

General dealers and shopkeepers 

. 460 

Laundry owners and assistants 

• 345 

Shop assistants . 

. 335 

Bookkeepers and clerks 

. 92 


. 58 

Cooks . . . . , 

• 33 

Carpenters . . . . 


There is not likely to be an increase in these figures. 
The Chinese Exclusion Act in the Cape has been in 
operation since 1904, and since the first registrations 
of Chinese there has been a decrease of ninety-three 
in the Chinese population of the colony. 

In the Transvaal there is also at the moment 
some difficulty in gauging the extent of Asiatic 
competition, as the Census figures relating to occu- 
pations deal simply with " Coloured." In the days of 
the Republic, however, a petition from the British- 
Indians to the Marquis of Ripon stated that there 
were 200 traders, whose liquidated assets would 
amount to nearly £100,000. Three firms were de- 
clared to " import directly from England, Durban, 
Port Elizabeth, India and other places." There 
may be fewer Indian traders to-day than before the 
war, but the general impression is that they do more 
of the trade of the colony than was formerly the 

* Cape Immigration Report, 1905. 



In 1905 the number of general dealers' businesses 
existing in Johannesburg was as follows : — 







Sometimes, however, more licences are granted than 
there are businesses. 

In recent years the number of Asiatic licences 
issued in the Johannesburg district have been : — 

Total licences. 


Percentage of 

1904 . . 




1 1 61 

In addition the Municipality of Johannesburg 
issued in 1905 the following licences to Asiatics as 
distinct from general dealers' licences : — 

D«crip.i™. 0.0.^X3. 

Dec, 31, 1904. 

Nov, 28, 1905. 

Hawkers .... 


Butchers .... 
Kaffir eating-houses . 
Dairies .... 
Restaurants . 







Totals . . . 






This table is interesting as corroborating Mr. 
Evans' remarks as to the tendency of the Indians 
in Natal to enter a higher business grade. The 
hawker of to-day is the storekeeper of to-morrow. 
The fall in the number of licences issued in Johan- 
nesburg between the dates given — 391 less — is 
probably due to the fact that there has been a 
migration to the small country towns away from 
the Golden City. 

There has undoubtedly been a good deal of misap- 
prehension concerning the number of Asiatics in the 
Transvaal to-day. During his recent tour Lord Sel- 
bome was assured by deputation after deputation 
that the influx was still proceeding. He gave em- 
phatic assurances that this was not the case, and in- 
quiries made go to show that the total is probably less 
than in the pre-war days. The figures given of the 
number of Asiatic stores in the country towns have 
also been exaggerated. But the latest statistics, ob- 
tained in March, 1906, by the Transvaal represen- 
tative of Indian Opinion (and still uncontradicted), 
give :— 

British-Indian Traders. 

Before the War. 






Indian Opinion offered to give the names of the 
traders and forfeit £50 if the figures were wrong. 


Yet at a public meeting in June, 1906, at Krugers- 
dorp a speaker declared the figures were : — 

Before the War. 





It may be that in the latter figures the big dis- 
tricts of which these towns are the headquarters, 
and not the towns themselves, have been taken ; but 
this does not explain the discrepancy before the 
war. But taking the smaller figures as correct, they 
do not get rid of the statement made at the Trans- 
vaal National Convention of Asiatics that thirteen 
or fourteen European stores in Potchefstroom, and 
many more in other country towns, had been com- 
pelled to close down owing to this competition. 
The Post Office reports also afford indirect evidence 
that the Asiatics in the Transvaal are doing well, 
for from October i, 1903, to October i, 1904, a sum 
of £118,859 was remitted to India in postal or- 
ders alone from Johannesburg, Pretoria, Pietersburg 
and Potchefstroom. Sometimes charges are made 
against the Indian traders of dishonest practices and 
suspicious insolvencies. These, however, are not 
substantiated, and should not receive credence. 
The greatest compliment to the upright dealings of 
the Indians is the fact, admitted publicly both in 
Pretoria and Durban, that the Indian can get credit 
from the wholesale firms when white traders are 


refused. Naturally this does not increase the love 
of the white trader for his Asiatic rival. 

That Asiatic competition is a serious factor in 
the commercial life of the smaller towns of the 
Transvaal is clear from the amount of feeling the 
question arouses. In some cases Vigilance Associa- 
tions have been formed, largely to watch the Asiatic 
traders. Public meetings have been held at which 
resolutions have been passed demanding the re- 
moval of the Asiatics to locations. In one case a 
boycott was resolved upon, and pickets were placed 
before the Indian stores to see who purchased at 
them ; at another place a " black list " was drawn 
up of all property owners who had let premises to 
Indian traders — who, by the way, usually offer 
higher rents than Europeans. The latest idea was 
embodied in the following resolution carried by the 
Krugersdorp Town Council : — 

{a) " That in future no tender for Municipal 
work or supplies be accepted from any person, 
persons or company, hiring or leasing business 
premises to Asiatics, (b) That notice of 
motion be given to the Transvaal Municipal 
Association : That legislation be enacted at 
the earliest possible date, vesting in local 
authorities the allocation of trading stands and 
residential premises to Asiatics. 



" In all the towns of the Transvaal the Asiatic 
question overshadows all others, and I fear that unless 
we are able to reconcile the opinion in England with the 
opinion held in this country the Government will be 
landed in a serious deadlock." — Sir Arthur Lawley, 
Lieut. -Governor of the Transvaal, 1904. 

In the immediate future one is more likely to hear 
of a particular phase of the Asiatic problem in the 
Colonies than of the general question. The discus- 
sion which must inevitably arise concerning the 
status of the British-Indians in the Transvaal may 
result in the establishment of a precedent according 
to which other colonies will be expected to model 
their laws. But a satisfactory solution appears 
impossible. To meet the claims of the Indians 
would involve the overruling of Colonial opinion ; to 
consent to the enactments of a local legislature 
would call forth loud protests against injustice from 
the Indian community. The difficulties are in- 
creased by the promises made by the English Gov- 
ernment in the days before the war, and by what 
was at least believed to be the voice of the British 
population in the Republic. Whatever may have 
been said before the war, it is clear that British 



opinion in the Transvaal to-day is even more op- 
posed to the British- Indian trader than was the poKcy 
of the Dutch. The Boer farmer wishes to buy 
cheaply, and, as students of the debates in the old 
Volksraad will see, the country view is that " the 
European storekeepers charged poor people very 
high prices for the staff of life, while the coolies 
charged much less." ^ Broadly speaking, however. 
Sir Arthur Lawley was perfectly right when he 
wrote in 1904 : " The Asiatic question overshadows 
all others." It is a subject on which — like the native 
question — the Colonists would certainly resent in- 
terference from England. Yet the last word must 
lie with the Imperial Government. " Unfortu- 
nately," said an official in the Transvaal Legislative 
Council three years ago, " the question of the status 
of the Asiatic is not a local one capable of settlement 
by local legislation." Lord Milner elaborated the 
point when replying to a deputation on the subject 
of the Constitution. 2 He said : — 

" There is one restriction which always ex- 
ists in any colony, whether it be a colony under 
Crown Colony Government or with represent- 
ative institutions, or with full self-government. 
That is, of course, the ultimate power of the 
Crown to veto any measure. That would no 
doubt continue. It is universal, and I should 
like attention to one point for the illumination 
of the public, who seem to be suffering from 

1 Proceedings in the Volksraad, November 4, 1896. 

2 January 10, 1905. 


extraordinary delusion with regard to it : and 
that is that the power of veto resting in the 
Crown is absolutely the same whether you have 
Responsible Government or whether you have 
Representative Government. You do not get 
rid of the veto by having Responsible Govern- 
ment. You do not increase the veto by having 
Representative Government. I say this es- 
pecially with regard to such questions as native 
affairs or Asiatic affairs. ... If a measure was 
to be passed here dealing either with Asiatic 
affairs or with native affairs which, whether 
the Home Government approved of it or not, 
appeared to it to be a measure which infringed 
the right of British subjects and which therefore 
the Home Government ought to veto, it would 
equally veto it under Responsible Government. 
As far as dealing with native affairs or Asiatic 
affairs is concerned, you will have exactly the 
same powers under the one system as under the 

The question, however, stands somewhat apart 
from the general principle of Asiatic immigration, or 
even of the restrictions which may be placed on 
British-Indian subjects. Hitherto the problem has 
been considered on the broadest lines. The Indian 
coolies in Natal happen to be British subjects ; but 
they might have been Chinese-British subjects from 
Hong Kong. The British-Indians in the Transvaal 
are, so to speak, more than British subjects. Special 
interest was taken in their case in the old days of 


Krugerism, special protests were raised on their be- 
half, special pledges were given. The general ob- 
jection to Asiatic immigration applies to them ; but 
it must be modified by the peculiar circumstances 
of the case. The controversy has been a long one, 
yet it needs to be studied to understand why prin- 
ciples which can be applied to newcomers from 
India cannot honestly be said to govern this par- 
ticular and exceptional instance. 

Article XIV of the London Convention of 1884 
provided that all persons, other than natives, con- 
forming themselves to the laws of the South African 
Republic — 

(a) Will have full liberty, with their famihes, 
to enter, travel, or reside in any part of the 
South African Republic. 

(b) Will be entitled to hire or possess houses, 
manufactories, warehouses, shops and premises. 

(c) May carry on their commerce either in 
person or by any agents whom they may think fit 
to employ. 

Indian traders had entered the Republic some 
three years before this, and their increasing number 
directed attention to their presence — " they aroused 
the jealousy of white traders, and soon there sprang 
up an anti-Indian agitation, initiated by Chambers 
of Commerce wherein the British element was pre- 
dominant." ^ The Republic attempted to enforce 
restrictive regulations, and the Indians, as British 

1 Statement of the British-Indian Community to the Trans- 
vaal Constitution Committee (see Appendix I). 


subjects, appealed to the English Government 
against what they claimed was a violation of 
Article XIV of the London Convention. 

The Volksraad passed Law 3 of 1885, of which the 
world has heard much. This applied to " the per- 
sons belonging to one of the aboriginal races of 
Asia," and prohibited them from being owners of 
landed property, also stipulating that those who 
entered the country should pay a registration fee, 
and that the Government should have the right to 
pJoint out to them their proper streets, wards, and 
locations /or residence (" ter bewoning "). The Re- 
public proposed to apply this law to what were 
known as the " Arab " traders and to coolies indis- 
criminately ; and the British-Indians approached 
the Imperial Government. After some correspond- 
ence a Proclamation was issued from Pretoria 
modifying the law by inserting the words " for 
sanitary purposes." The Repubhc, however, still 
wished to bring the higher class Asiatics within the 
scope of the measure, and also claimed that the term 
" for residence " meant that the Asiatics could be 
compelled not merely to reside in but to trade in 
places set apart for them. Eventually the matter 
was referred to arbitration, and the Chief Justice of 
the Orange River Colony set aside both claims, and 
ruled that the interpretation of Law 3 of 1885 rested 
with the ordinary tribunals of the country. Ulti- 
mately a test case was taken before the Supreme 
Court of the Republic, and by two to one the judges 
decided that the words " ter bewoning " covered a 
merchant's place of business. The way was thus 


clear for removing all the Asiatic traders to locations. 
The law, however, was not enforced, the explanation 
offered in the Volksraad being that if the Executive 
fixed a location in one place, " the coolies would 
flock to the place where there was none." ^ Much 
was heard on both sides. One petition against the 
Indians alluded to " the dangers to which the whole 
community is exposed by the spread of leprosy, 
syphiHs and the like loathsome diseases, engendered 
by the filthy habits and immoral practices of these 
people." 2 In a memorial presented to the Volks- 
raad of the Orange River Colony, a copy of which 
the Pretoria Chamber of Commerce sent with 
approval to the Transvaal Government, was the 
following passage : "As these men enter the State 
without wives or female relatives the result is obvi- 
ous. Their religion teaches them to consider all 
women as soulless and Christians as natural prey." 
On the other hand, a Dutch petition, signed by 484 
burghers, stated that the withdrawal of the traders 
would be a hardship ; and another, signed by 1,340 
Europeans, declared that the sanitary habits of the 
Indians were equal to Europeans, and that the 
agitation was due to trade jealousy. 

Unfortunately the complaints of the Indians were 
used for political purposes. It may be that the 
opinion of the Transvaal was misrepresented in 
England ; it may be that in the heat of a great 
struggle the Uitlanders made use of weapons with- 
out very closely examining their real effect. But 

1 Volksraad Debate, November 3, 1896. 

2 Transvaal Green Book, No. 2, pp. 19-21. 


certain it is that words were used and promises made 
which do not coincide with the opinion of the 
Transvaal to-day. This is not the place to discuss 
the controversies which led to the war. All that 
needs to be remembered is that the real feeling of 
the white population in the Transvaal did not justify 
th^ tenor of some of the utterances of English 
statesmen. At Sheffield in 1899 Lord Lansdowne 
said : — 

" Among the many misdeeds of the South 
African Republic I do not know that any fills 
me with more indignation than its treatment of 
these Indians. And the harm is not confined 
to the sufferers on the spot ; for what do you 
imagine would be the effect produced in India 
when these poor people return to their country 
to report to their friends that the Government 
of the Empress, so mighty and irresistible in 
India, with its population of 300,000,000, is 
powerless to secure redress at the hands of a 
small South African State ? " 

From Press and platform came many similar ex- 
pressions. As Sir M. M. Bhownaggree said in the 
remarkably able statement of the Indian claims he 
submitted to the Colonial Secretary a few years 
ago : " Those of us who are specially interested in 
this subject were led by the assurances of Cabinet 
Ministers to cherish the anticipation that the war 
had for one of its main objects the rescue of British- 
Indians from the harsh treatment to which they 
were exposed by the late Boer Republics." 


But to-day the Indian community complain that 
they are more harshly treated than in the days of Paul 
Kruger's rule. One thing, however, was decided in 
their favour. A case was brought before the Trans- 
vaal Supreme Court to see whether the words " ter 
bewoning " in Law 3 of 1885 meant for residence 
only or included for business purposes. The deci- 
sion of the Boer Court was reversed, and thus it 
followed, to quote one of Mr. Alfred Lyttelton's 
despatches, " that every Asiatic now resident in the 
Transvaal (except those brought in under inden- 
ture under a special Ordinance) is as free to carry on 
trade where he pleases as is a subject of English or 
Dutch origin." This decision led the Home Gov- 
ernment to refuse to sanction certain location pro- 
posals put forward by the Transvaal Legislative 
Council, and lately the subject, Hke others, has been 
set aside to be dealt with by Responsible Govern- 

Morally and logically the Indians have a very 
strong case. Vested interests have been acquired 
under the protection of the British Government. 
The indignation of that Government at the sHghtest 
hint of hardship or oppression to its humblest sub- 
jects moved the world to admiration. The Indians 
had every reason to believe that after the war the 
grievances upon which the support of the Home 
Government had been received would be instantly 
removed. The grievances still remain. Is it to be 
wondered at that the Indians cannot now resist the 
temptation of asking what will be the " effect pro- 
duced in India " when they return and report that, 


having now the power to redress the complaints 
which filled Lord Lansdowne with such indignation, 
the Government of the King-Emperor does nothing 
at all — or rather, enforces harsh laws which the 
Boer RepubHc, under our pressure allowed to 
remain in abeyance ? They point to the burden 
of Empire which the poor Indian peoples sup- 
port, and ask what does South Africa, with all its 
gold and diamonds, contribute compared to the 
millions demanded annually from the despised 
"cooHes," who are not deemed fit to walk on a 
pavement or ride on a tram ? 

But the Transvaal does not attempt to argue with 
the subtle-minded educated Indian on these points. 
It pins itself stubbornly to the tale of white traders 
driven out of the small towns by Asiatic competition, 
and echoes Sir Arthur Lawley's reply to the revived 
pledges : "If the redemption of the pledges upon 
which Sir M. M. Bhownaggree depends both in letter 
and in spirit means that in fifty or a hundred years 
this country will have fallen to the inheritance of 
Eastern instead of Western populations, then from 
the point of view of civihzation they must be num- 
bered among promises which it is a greater crime to 
keep than to break." A very convenient reply to 
many things — ^but what if Mr. Kruger had used it ? 

The British-Indians cry out that if the Dutch 
scourged them with whips, the British scourge them 
with scorpions. Since the establishment of British 
rule, laws which in the old days were allowed to fall 
into abeyance have been enforced. In the case of 
Nabob Motan v. The Transvaal Government, in the 


Transvaal Supreme Court in May, 1904, by which it 
was ruled that it was illegal for revenue officers to 
refuse to grant trading licences to Asiatics for pre- 
mises situated in any part of the town, the Chief 
Justice, Sir James Rose-Innes, said : — 

" It does strike one as remarkable that, with- 
out fresh legislation, the officials of the Crown 
in the Transvaal should put forward a claim 
which the Government of the Crown in Eng- 
land has always contended was illegal under 
the statute, and which in the past it has strenu- 
ously resisted." 

But whatever was said in England, and whatever 
was the language of the petitions signed in the 
Transvaal — the organizing of petitions has become 
a fine art in the Transvaal — there can be no doubt 
that the great mass of Colonial opinion is dead 
against the Asiatic. The National Convention on 
Asiatics held in the Opera House, Pretoria, in 
November, 1904, was one of the most representative 
gatherings ever witnessed in the Transvaal. It was 
attended by 160 delegates of Municipahties, Cham- 
bers of Commerce, Agricultural Societies, Farmers' 
Associations, Ratepayers' Associations, the Wit- 
watersrand Trade and Labour Council, etc. The 
resolutions were as follows : — 

I. " That m the opinion of this Convention 
the serious delay that has occurred in deaHng 
with the question of the status of the Asiatics 
has been and is highly prejudicial to the best 


interests of the Transvaal, and increases the 
difficulty of arriving at a satisfactory settle- 

2. " That having regard to the enormous 
preponderance of the native races in this 
country, the difficulties surrounding the settle- 
ment of native policy, and the necessity for 
protecting the existing European population 
and encouraging further European immigra- 
tion, this Convention affirms the principle that 
Asiatic immigration should be prohibited ex- 
cept under the provisions of the Labour Im- 
portation Ordinance." 

(Note. — The original resolution moved was 
" except under restrictive legislation." The 
more drastic amendment, however, was carried, 
only a dozen or so opposing.) 

3. " That this Convention having regard to 
the importance of arriving at a permanent and 
conclusive settlement of the whole question and 
of preventing any further attempts to reopen 
the matter, urges upon the Government the 
advisability of removing into bazaars all 
Asiatic traders, compensation being provided 
for such as may have vested interests which 
have been legally acquired." 

{Note. — An attempt was made to do away 
with the reference to compensation.) 

4. " That this Convention, recognizing the 
grave danger resulting from the continued issue 
of trading Ucences to Asiatics permitting trade 
outside bazaars, requests the Government to 


take immediate steps to pass the necessary 
legal enactments to prevent any further issue 
of such licences." 

5. " That with regard to the appointment 
•of any proposed Commission to deal with the 
Asiatic question, this Convention urges upon 
the Government the necessity for including 
therein men other than officials, with a thorough 
knowledge of existing conditions in South 

6. " That this Convention affirms its opinion 
that all Asiatics should be required to reside in 

The spirit of the National Convention was shown 
by the voting in the last resolution. Originally it 
read " subject only to exemptions made in accord- 
ance with the last paragraph of Government Notice, 
No. 356, of 1903, viz. : With regard to the residence 
of Asiatics, which by the law above mentioned is 
confined to those streets, wards and locations which 
may be set apart for the purpose, His Excellency 
has decided that an exception shall be made in 
favour of those whose intellectual attainments, or 
social qualities and habits of life, appear to entitle 
them to it, and has accordingly resolved that any 
Asiatic who shall prove to the satisfaction of the 
Colonial Secretary that he holds any higher educa- 
tional certificate from the Educational Department 
in this or any other British Colony or Dependency, 
or that he is able and willing to adopt a mode of 
living not repugnant to European ideas nor in con- 


flict with sanitary laws, may apply to the Colonial 
Secretary for a letter of exemption which shall en- 
able him to reside elsewhere than in a place especi- 
ally set apart for Asiatics." 

But the Convention threw out the exemption 
clause, and thus bound itself down to the principle 
that an educated British-Indian, even if he happened 
to be a member of the House of Commons, or a 
Prince deemed socially worthy of entertaining the 
future King and Queen of England, should be 
forced to reside in a location with the Madrassi 
waiters from a railway restaurant or the Bombay 
hawker from the gateway of a mine compound. 

More moderate but sufficiently drastic are the 
principles laid down by the Transvaal Progressive 
Association, which claims to have 40,000 members. 
Its recent manifesto included the following : — 

"The following questions affecting Asiatics 
have been considered : — 

" Immigration restriction, 

''Trading licences, 

" Residence in bazaars, 

" Regulation of travelling by railway ; 

" and the following are the recommendations 
adopted : — 

(i) Immigration Restrictions. 

"It is desirable that the immigration of Asi- 
atics into the Transvaal should be absolutely 
prohibited except in the case of indentured 
labourers who are subject to repatriation on 
the expiration of the terms of their contracts, 


and to the other provisions of the Labour Im- 
portation Ordinance, power being reserved to 
the Colonial Secretary to grant exemption to 
individuals under special and exceptional cir- 
cumstances. At the same time the practical 
impossibility of passing into law a prohibitive 
measure framed on the above lines, and specially 
directed against Asiatics, is recognized. 

"It is therefore recommended: That a 
general Immigration Ordinance be passed in 
the Transvaal, framed on the lines of those in 
force in other Colonies. 

(2) Trading Licences. 

(a) '* That the issue of new trading licences to 
Asiatics, entitling the holders to tradfe outside 
bazaars, be prohibited by legislation, but that 
Asiatics who held such licences prior to the war 
be allowed to renew the same in respect of 
existing establishments, but be not allowed to 
transfer such licences to other Asiatics. 

(b) "That municipal authorities be em- 
powered to require the removal to bazaars of 
Asiatics who are trading within their area out- 
side bazaars, subject to such authorities under- 
taking the payment of compensation for vested 

(c) " That full power be given to municipal 
authorities to control the issue of hcences to 
Asiatic hawkers within their districts, and to 
regulate such hawkers. 

british indians in the transvaal 67 

(3) Residence in Bazaars. 

(a) " That all Asiatics be required to reside in 
bazaars or other localities appointed by the 
Government, with the exception of Asiatics 
holding letters of exemption. 

(b) " That the Colonial Secretary be author- 
ized to grant a letter of exemption to any Asiatic 
who shall prove to the satisfaction of the 
Colonial Secretary that his status and mode 
of life entitle him to such exemption. 

(4) Regulation of Travelling by Railway. 

" That Asiatics be provided with such accom- 
modation on the railways as they are prepared 
to pay for, but that such accommodation be 
separate from that which is provided for white 

These regulations form a minimum restrictive 
policy which would satisfy the bulk of the white 

Now what do the Indians claim ? ^ Generally 
they ask for equal rights with the white inhabitants 
so far as trading, residence and locomotion are con- 
cerned. That is to say, they want all the civic 
rights as distinguished from the social and political. 
They recognize that the white man must dominate 
the sub-continent, but they object to be placed on 
a level with the Kaffir. In particular they claim : — 

1 A full statement of the British-Indian claims will be 
found in Appendix I. 


The right to reside in any part of the colony, sub- 
ject to strict municipal supervision and the ordinary 
municipal bye-laws. 

The right to receive licences to trade, subject to 
control by the local bodies, so that over-trading may 
be avoided, and those who may not conform to the 
habits of the predominant race may be largely pre- 
vented from trading. 

The right to own landed property in any part of 
the country. 

The right to move about freely, that is, the usual 
facilities for the use of public conveyances in com- 
mon with the white inhabitants. 

In other words, the Indians claim the repeal of all 
class legislation so far as they are concerned, and 
therefore of the anti-Asiatic law of 1885, Lord 
Milner's bazaar notice, the laws relating to the use 
of footpaths, etc. They contend that for a law- 
abiding people, as the Indians are admitted to be, 
the ordinary laws of the country provide ample safe- 
guards against abuses. The charges of dirtiness 
and of non-compliance with ordinary sanitary rules 
— which they do not admit — could be enforced by 
the strict carrying out of the existing laws ; in fact, 
there would be no objection to locations for coolies 
if a wide exemption clause was permitted. The 
great bugbear to the Colonial is the Indian trader, 
but the Indians claim that the case will be fully met 
if they consent to the control of licences being given 
to the usual local bodies, subject, in exceptional 
cases, to review by the Supreme Court — an im- 
portant modification of the Natal law. 


Existing licences must be scrupulously respected, 
but even here exceptions could be made in cases in 
which the licence-holders do not keep decent stores 
separate from their lodgings, and do not have their 
books kept in the English language. The latter 
point meets the objection of some white firms, that 
the books of the Indian traders cannot be under- 
stood by any judge, and that a loophole is thus 
provided for ingenious frauds at the expense of 
wholesale firms. On the question of the owning of 
land, too, the Indians would agree to a clause against 
speculative dealing. 

But however reasonable these claims may seem 
to the Home public, the colonists are not to-day 
prepared to concede them. The British-Indian prob- 
lem in the Transvaal is indeed one of special diffi- 
culty. The pledges of the past cannot be calmly 
thrown aside. How strongly the conditions of to- 
day are resented in India is shown by the fact that 
the Government of India refused to allow the 
Transvaal to recruit 10,000 coolies to work on the 
railways, " while the position of the British-Indian 
traders resident in the Transvaal remained in so 
unsatisfactory a state." How this problem might 
be solved, as part of a general policy towards Asiatic 
immigration, is suggested in another chapter. 



" Cabinet Ministers recognize difficulties as to 
Australian complications and rccisonable grounds for 
Chinese attitude, and as loyal subjects of Queen of 
England, do not wish to embarrass, but question of 
Chinese immigration has an irresistible disturbing 
force which they fear that those who are not on the spot 
cannot adequately appreciate." — Telegram from Lord 
Carrington (New South Wales) to Lord Knutsford 
(Colonial Secretary), June 12, 1888. 

Although — perhaps because — Australia has prac- 
tically no native population which counts in the 
labour market, the Colonies have as a rule been 
strongly opposed to the introduction of Asiatics. 
Taking the Great South Land as a whole, there has 
never grown up that spirit of helplessness without 
cheap coloured labour which is so characteristic of 
South Africa. The need for workers has been as 
great as in other countries, the temptation to obtain 
a supply at the expense of the future of the conti- 
nent has been ever present. At some periods there 
were signs of wavering. The squatters in the north, 
feeling the pinch of an ill-supplied labour market, 
were eager to secure any one — Polynesians, Indians, 
Chinese, Japanese, or even English convicts. In 



Queensland Sir Samuel Griffiths, who had long 
opposed indentured labour, changed his pohcy, and 
the introduction of the Kanakas was followed by a 
distinct revival in material prosperity. The ending 
of the experiment was opposed in the territory con- 
cerned, and no doubt the estates would be more 
prosperous to-day could the islanders be obtained 
as freely as in the past. Other districts had their 
advocates of imported labour, and it is interesting 
to remember that Sir Henry Parkes, subsequently 
the most vigorous opponent of the whole system, 
once sent to Madras for Eurasian compositors to set 
up his Empire newspaper. Experiments with Asi- 
atics were tried in various places, but did not prove 
strikingly successful, and the bulk of the population 
was decidedly opposed to this form of immigration. 
As far back as 1854, Sir Charles Hotham, the second 
Governor of Victoria, after a tour round the gold- 
fields, reported to the Home Government that he 
thought the introduction of Chinese into the colony 
undesirable. The mines, however, attracted an in- 
creasing number of Chinese, and gradually legis- 
lation of a drastic character was adopted. The 
favourite restrictive method was a poll tax of £10 
and a law that only one Chinese should be brought 
by any ship for every loo tons of registered tonnage. 
The influx, however, was considerable, and twenty 
years ago a great battle was fought over Chinese 
immigration, during which certain principles were 
laid down which it is well to remember to-day. 

In the years 1886-7 the Chinese Government dis- 
played considerable activity in protesting against 


the Colonial enactments which had been passed 
against its subjects. In July, 1886, a long letter of 
complaint was addressed to Lord Rosebery regard- 
ing the Chinese Regulation Act of 1884 in British 
Columbia, in which it was alleged in the preamble 
that the Chinese " are not disposed to be governed 
by our laws, are dissimilar in habits and occupation 
from our people, evade the payment of taxes justly 
due to the Government, are governed by pestilential 
habits, are useless in cases of emergency, habitually 
desecrate graveyards by the removal of bodies there- 
from, and generally the laws governing the whites 
are found to be inapplicable to the Chinese, and such 
Chinese are inclined to habits subversive to the 
comfort and well-being of the community." Lew 
Ta Jen claimed that " it would be contrary to inter- 
national usage to make them (the Chinese) the sub- 
ject of an invidious legislation, or to impose on them 
burthens from which the inhabitants of the country, 
and more especially other foreigners following the 
same vocations, are exempt." 

Chinese Commissioners had visited the Australian 
Colonies to inquire into " the condition of Chinese 
subjects residing in these parts of Her Britannic 
Majesty's Dominions." The correspondence which 
followed^ contains very clear statements of both 
sides of the case, and as the arguments are appli- 
cable to Asiatic immigration generally, the main 
points may be quoted. 

1 Correspondence relating to Chinese immigration into 
the Australian Colonies, 1888 (c. 5448). 


In the first note to the English Government the 
Chinese Minister in London remarked : — 

" In the Crown Colonies it has not been found 
necessary to treat Chinese subjects differently 
from the subjects of other Powers, and it is 
difficult to understand why it should be other- 
wise in those Colonies to whom a certain 
amount of self-government has been conferred. 
It has never been alleged that Chinese immi- 
grants were unruly. For, not only in Hong 
Kong and the Straits Settlements, but also in 
Australia, the Colonial Governors have re- 
peatedly borne testimony to the orderly con- 
duct of the Chinese population, and to their 
value in developing the Colonial resources. 
There does not, therefore, appear to be any 
sufficient reason for their being deprived of the 
immunities accorded to them by the treaties and 
the law of nations, or to their being treated 
differently from the subjects of other Powers 
residing in the same parts of Her Britannic 
Majesty's Dominions." 

The different methods adopted by Crown Colonies 
and those with a certain " amount of self-govern- 
ment," arose, of course, from the varying propor- 
tion of white people due to climatic influences. The 
Crown Colonies consist in the main of tropical 
areas in which there is no room for any considerable 
white population, and yet in which the demand for 
labour is great. The very fact that other colonies 
had received a measure of self-government indicated 


that there was a growing white population, which 
in its turn presupposed a more temperate dimate 
and room for additional Europeans. From the 
Chinese standpoint the case was admirably stated 
by Lew Ta Jen. But his argument was based upon 
the principle that Chinese immigration is on the same 
footing as any other immigration and must be 
governed by the same laws. As the Colonies would 
not accept these premises, there was never any 
approach to agreement, and the dispute raged for 
months. Popular feeling in Australia was raised to 
fever heat by the " Chinese scare " which sprang up. 
The Government Resident at Port Darwin in South 
Australia notified to the Government at Adelaide 
that large vessels flying the Chinese flag and freighted 
with Chinese labour to work the ruby mines were 
approaching his district by way of North Australia. 
The result was panic legislation, Sir Henry Parkes 
rushing his Chinese Restriction Bill through the 
New South Wales Assembly in a day and the authori- 
ties refusing to permit Chinese immigrants to land. 
The Supreme Court decided against the authorities 
and eventually the legislation was modified ; but 
whilst the agitation lasted some very strong lan- 
guage was used, and the whole controversy showed 
what great importance is attached to the question 
in the Australian Colonies. The arguments em- 
ployed by these colonies are appHcable to-day. 

On behalf of New South Wales, which had more 
Chinese than the other colonies. Lord Carrington 
advanced seven reasons for restricting Chinese 
immigration. He wrote on April 2, 1888 : — 


" We desire ... to impress upon Her 
Majesty's Imperial advisers the more prominent 
phases of the Chinese question as it specially 
and almost exclusively affects the Australian 
section of the British people : hrstly, the Aus- 
tralian ports are within easy sail of the ports of 
China ; secondly, the climate, as well as certain 
branches of trade and industry in Australia, 
such as the cultivation of the soil for domestic 
purposes, and tin and gold mining, are pecu- 
liarly attractive to the Chinese ; thirdly, the 
working classes of the British people in all the 
affinities of race are directly opposed to their 
Chinese competitors ; fourthly, there can be 
no sympathy, and in the future it is to be appre- 
hended that there will be no peace, between 
the two races ; fifthly, the enormous number 
of the Chinese population intensifies every con- 
sideration of this class of immigration in com- 
parison with the immigration of any other 
nation ; sixthly, the most prevaihng determina- 
tion in all the AustraUan communities is to 
preserve the British type in the population ; 
seventhly, there can be no interchange of ideas 
of religion or citizenship, nor can there be inter- 
marriage or social communion between the 
British and the Chinese. It is respectfully 
submitted that the examination of these prin- 
cipal phases of the question can only lead to 
one conclusion, namely, that the Chinese must 
be restricted from emigrating to any part of 


In a memorandum submitted on behalf of the 
Colony of Victoria — where the Chinese increased 
from 2,000 in 1854 to 42,000 in 1859 — stress is laid 
on another side of the question : — 

" Members of the European family of nations 
forming our community become amalgamated 
with the general population ; they bring their 
wives and children with them ; their habits of 
life, their style of civilization, their religion and 
morals, and their physique are so much in an 
equality with our own that they blend readily 
with the population and are heartily welcome. 

" The Chinese stand out in marked contrast. 
They come without their women and children, 
apparently having no intention to settle, and 
occupy an isolated position in every community 
where they are found ; the * Chinese quarter ' 
in our cities and principal towns is proverbial ; 
it is always distinct and often notorious. 

" Nor is it the mere fact of this isolation, but 
the impossibility of its being otherwise. 

" The Chinese, from all points of view, are 
so entirely dissimilar as to render a blending 
of the peoples out of the question. 

" They are not only of an alien race, but they 
remain aliens. Thus we have not a coloniza- 
tion in any true sense of the word, but practi- 
cally a sort 01 peaceful invasion of our land by 

These views were generally approved in Austral- 
asia. The feeling in Northern Queensland in favour 


of Kanaka labour, and the desire expressed in parts 
of Western Australia for Chinese, carried little 
weight with the mass of the colonists. The 
majority were anti-Chinese. The Australasian 
Conference which sat at Sydney in June, 1888, com- 
prised representatives from New South Wales, South 
Australia, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, and 
Western Australia. The following resolutions were 
carried : — 

1. " That in the opinion of this Conference the 
further restriction of Chinese immigration is essential 
to the welfare of the people of Australasia. 

2. " That this Conference is of opinion that the 
desired restriction can best be secured through the 
diplomatic action of the Imperial Government and 
by uniform Australasian legislation. 

3. " That this Conference resolves to consider a 
joint representation to the Imperial Government 
for the purpose of obtaining the desired diplomatic 

4. " That this Conference is of opinion that the 
desired Australasian legislation should contain the 
following provisions : — 

(a) " That it shall apply to all Chinese, with 
specified restrictions. 

(b) " That the restriction should be by limitation 
of the number of Chinese which any vessel may bring 
into any Australian port to one passenger to every 
500 tons of the ship's burthen. 

(c) *' That the passage of Chinese from one Colony 
to another without consent of the Colony which 
they enter be made a misdemeanour." 


Tasmania dissented to the first and fourth resolu- 
tions and Western Austraha did not vote on them. 
The second and third, however, were carried unani- 

" In so serious a crisis," read the concluding para- 
graph of Lord Carrington's official report of the Con- 
ference, " the Colonial Governments have felt called 
upon to take strong and decisive action to protect 
their peoples ; but in doing so they have been 
studious of Imperial interests, of international 
obligations, and of their reputation as law-abiding 
communities. They now confidently rely upon the 
support and assistance of Her Majesty's Government 
in their endeavour to prevent their country from 
being overrun by an alien race, who are incapable 
of assimilation in the body politic, strangers to our 
civilization, out of sympathy with our aspirations, 
and unfitted for our free institutions, to which their 
presence in any number would be a source of con- 
stant danger." 

The keenness of the alarm of the moment, and 
the strength of the feehng that this was a matter 
for the Colonies to decide, are shown by two inci- 
dents. In May, 1888, the New Zealand Govern- 
ment republished proclamations declaring that 
strict quarantine would be enforced in reference to 
all vessels arriving from the places mentioned or 
having " received any person or thing whatsoever 
from or out of any vessel coming from or having 
touched at any of such places." These proclama- 
tions declared that : — 

I. " The Empire of China and the British Posses- 


sion of Hong Kong are infected with the disease 
called smallpox. 

2. " The Island of Sumatra is infected with the 
disease called cholera. 

3. " The Island of Java and the Islands of the 
Eastern Archipelago are infected with the disease 
called cholera, and that Mauritius is infected with 
the disease called smallpox." 

And Sir Henry Parkes, speaking on the Chinese 
Restriction Bill, 1888, in the New South Wales 
Legislative Assembly, put the case for Austraha as 
strongly as any one could : " In this crisis " (he said) 
" of the Chinese question, and it is a crisis, we have 
acted calmly with a desire to see clearly the way 
before us ; but at the same time we have acted with 
decision and we don't mean to turn back. Neither 
for Her Majesty's ships of war, nor for Her Majesty's 
representative on the spot, nor for the Secretary of 
State for the Colonies, do we intend to turn aside 
from our purpose, which is to terminate the landing 
of Chinese on these shores for ever, except under the 
restrictions imposed by the Bill, which will amount, 
and which are intended to amount, to practical 

Yet whether the tropical part of Queensland 
would have become more prosperous, and whether 
it would ultimately have become of greater or less 
value to the Great South Land had there been an un- 
interrupted supply of cheap Asiatic labour, must 
remain a matter for controversy. It is argued that 
even here white men can do the rough work. Sir 
Henry Parkes, in his autobiography, recollects Sir 


Samuel Griffiths replying to the argument that 
white men could not do the unskilled labour in this 
part of the continent by interposing sharply, " Who 
says they can't do it ? — I say they can ! " ^ But it 
was Sir Samuel Griffiths who eventually consented 
to import coloured labour — a change of policy which 
was followed by a marked revival in the prosperity 
of that part of the colony. 

It may be that the determination of Australia not 
to import cheap Asiatic labour has retarded develop- 
ment. Probably less land is cultivated than would 
have been had the poHcy of Natal been followed ; 
perhaps industries would have developed faster. 
But it must also be remembered that Australia has 
shown a tendency to adopt a selfish attitude towards 
white immigrants. The inducements which have 
drawn hundreds of thousands to Canada have been 
withheld. There has often been evidence of a desire 
to limit the influx even of an English population. 
But there is a change to-day. Within the past two 
years Australia has begun to realize that, unless she 
possesses a numerically strong white population, 
she may in some distant period fall a prey to the 
growing Asiatic Powers at her gate. The old selfish 
policy will be abandoned. And now that there 
is this wish for more white men there must be a 
sense of gratitude to those who fought the battle in 
the eighties and determined that the vacant spaces 
should not be filled up by an alien race. At least 
Australia deserves praise for having acted up to the 
ideal of a White Man's Country. 
^ See Preface. 



" . . . If the unnaturalized Chinese should at any- 
time become as numerous, or nearly as numerous, in 
any colony, as the residents of European origin, the 
result would be either an attempt on the part of the 
Chinese to establish separate institutions of a character 
which would trench on the supremacy of the present 
legislative and administrative authorities, or a tacit 
acceptance by them of an inferior social and political 
position which, associated with the avocations that 
the majority of them would probably follow, would 
create a combined political and industrial division of 
society upon the basis of racial distinction. This 
would inevitably produce in the majority of the re- 
mainder of the population a degraded estimate of 
manual labour similar to that which has always 
existed in those communities where African slavery 
has been permitted, and thereby call into existence a 
class similar in habit and character to the ' mean 
whites ' of the Southern States of the American Union 
before the Civil War. Societies so divided produce 
particular vices in exaggerated proportions, and are 
doomed to certain deterioration." — A. Inglis Clark, 
Attorney-General of Tasmania, 1888. 

That Asiatic immigration on a large scale is a serious 
menace to the prosperity of a White Man's Country 
will probably be admitted. A greater degree of 
progress at the beginning of such an experiment 
does not prove that there is no ultimate danger. We 

81 r- 


may accept Darwin's theory that the prosperity of 
Australasia in the early days was directly due 
to convict labour, without pledging ourselves to 
support that system for all time. The labour of 
the Indians brought to Natal undoubtedly gave 
rise to a distinct forward movement in the tea and 
sugar industries, but this success does not imply 
that prosperity will continue to be attained in pro- 
portion to the number of indentured labourers 
imported. There comes a point at which a country 
must throw aside the crutch of contract labour or 
consent to be for ever crippled. 

The danger in Australasia is clearly defined. The 
ideal of a White Man's Country has been adopted, 
and although progress of late years has been slow, 
that ideal is the best for the Colonies. A large influx 
of cheap coloured labour is inevitably ruinous to 
the white workman. There arises that prejudice 
which in South Africa will sometimes prevent a 
starving man from doing what he contemptuously 
calls " Kaffir's work." The white carpenter, the 
white mason, the white plumber, all insist upon 
having a native to carry their tool bag and do the 
roughest labour. With a big Chinese population in 
Australia the same system would spring up. The 
next stage would be that the Chinaman would become 
sufficiently expert to do the work, and the white 
man be compelled to join the ranks of the unem- 
ployed, or accept a Chinaman's wages and live down 
to a Chinaman's standard. It is useless to talk 
about education and the advance in the scale of 
civilization to a working class forced to compete 


with Asiatics. Free Asiatic immigration must 
inevitably mean a lower standard of living for the 
white working classes — if there is any chance of 
living at all. 

But where there already exists a large native 
population the danger is intensified. There may 
eventually be reached the state of things which 
exists in Fiji,^ where Indian coolies do the bulk 
of the work and the original inhabitants are being 
displaced and forced to emigrate. 

In South Africa the danger of Asiatic immigration 
is peculiarly great, for it means not only decreased 
openings for white men, but also another obstacle 
placed in the way of the advancement of the native 
population. The native problem is the greatest 
question South Africa has to solve. In British South 
Africa the black population numbers 4,652,662, of 
whom 899,726 are males, between the ages of fifteen 
and forty. South of the Zambesi the natives num- 
ber probably seven millions. In British South Africa 
this native population " has to derive its sustenance 
from a soil which is not everywhere fertile, and the 
native agriculturalist has to contend with the same 
drawbacks of drought and pestilence that beset the 
European farmer." 2 The native does not always 
waste his land. He is not invariably the lazy 
person he is generally supposed to be, even if his 

1 In June, 1906, there landed in Calcutta 350 returned emi- 
grants from Fiji (including over 100 women and children). 
The men (less than 250 in number) brought Rs. 127,000 in 
savings, one man having Rs. 12,205 — over ;^8oo. 

* South African Native Affairs Conunission's Report. 


energies do not take the direction the white folk 
would like. In Natal over sixty per cent, of the 
natives — ^men and women — are breadwinners. Un- 
doubtedly large tracts of land are not cultivated. 
But more of this land belongs to the European than 
to the native. The Kaffir, as travellers in South 
Africa notice, cultivates in patches. This does not 
arise from ignorance. The native's knowledge is 
empirical, but it is usually sound, and he does not 
walk an extra quarter of a mile because he wants 
exercise. The land is poor. In a Report by the 
Commissioner for Native Affairs relative to the 
acquisition and tenure of land by natives in the 
Transvaal (July, 1904), I find this statement : — 

'* Nearly all the land suitable for agriculture 
and available for native purposes has already 
been taken up. There is therefore but little 
arable ground in reserve for the expanding 
and surplus native population unless artificial 
means of irrigation are employed." 

In Natal, according to an ofiicial publication, 
" the ordinary Crown lands of the Colony are not 
suitable for settlement by newcomers." The South 
African Native Affairs Commission recommended 
that the purchase of land by natives should 
in future be limited to certain areas to be defined 
by legislative enactment, but the Natal delegates 
dissented, one of their reasons for doing so being 
this :— 

" That Asiatics and other coloured races not 


of African descent may purchase land any- 
where, whereas by this resolution the natives, 
who are the aborigines of the country, will be 
excluded from this privilege except in limited 
areas selected, probably, for their unhealthi- 
ness and unsuitability for irrigation and culti- 
vation and other kindred reasons." 

What is to be the future of this huge native popu- 
lation if the land is to be filled up — as it is being 
filled up in Natal — by an ever increasing Indian 
population ? The Garden Colony contains to-day 
900,000 natives, where after the devastating wars 
of Dingiswayo, Chaka and Dingaan there were 
probably left not 10,000. This population grows 
rapidly — ^between 1891 and 1904 the increase was 
33 '45 P^r cent. In the great native areas the 
tribes are always growing bigger. True there is 
a shortage of unskilled labour. But this has been 
caused by the sudden upspringing of great industrial 
enterprises in a country where the native population 
is pastoral and agricultural. South Africa cannot 
live for ever on these industries. The life of the 
Rand itself, worked at the rate it is worked to-day 
(and the pace must be maintained owing to its 
financial obligations), is not unlimited, and when the 
Rand begins to be worked out the whole life of the 
sub-continent will be changed. In that day, when 
the native population wiU be far bigger, would it be 
well if large areas were in the hands of the Asiatics ; 
if the unskilled labour on farm and in factory was 
performed by aliens ? The native question in South 


Africa is already sufficiently difficult without com- 
plicating it by having to deal with half a million 
or a miUion aliens from across the Indian Ocean, 
who will blend with no race. The recent trouble 
in one corner of Natal has shown South Africa what 
a tremendous task it would have if there was wide- 
spread discontent and rebellion between the Zam- 
besi and the Southern Sea. For the satisfactory 
solution of the native problem it is better that the 
number of the Asiatics should be as small as possible ; 
it is the white population which must be increased. 
The manner in which the Asiatic competes with 
the European is obvious from the figures given. 
I know that it is claimed by the Indian community 
" that European progress can, in Natal at any rate, 
continue side by side with that of the Indian ; in- 
deed, may even be dependent upon the latter's pro- 
gress." 1 But the undoubted prosperity of Natal 
is not altogether due to the Indian ; the through 
traffic to the goldfields has had something to do 
with it. Admitting that the immigrants have 
enabled the colony to develop its industries and 
prosper, it is extremely doubtful whether that 
measure of prosperity will continue without serious 
disadvantages. The coolie is at once the salvation 
and the danger of Natal. Even the coast lands 
are not useful only to the Indian — many European 
fruit farmers and vegetable growers are still trying 
to gain a living there to-day despite the competition 
of the ex-indentured labourer. But granting that 

1 Indian Opinion (Durban), March 24, 1906. 


100,000 Indians have done good service for Natal, 
what will be the effect of 300,000 or 600,000 ? The 
native trade which used to support many white 
families has almost gone ; many industries are being 
encroached upon ; in time the Indian clerk may be 
a feature of Natal business life. And yet in Natal 
to-day there are 31,500 white children under sixteen 
years of age. What is to be their future if the Indian 
works the farm, owns the store, and performs skilled 
labour in the factory ? Already one finds in Natal 
newspaper advertisements [requiring Indian engine 
drivers and Indian mechanics. Cheap labour is the 
demand, and the Indian steps into the place of the 
white man who cannot exist on such wages, and 
of the native who will not. On the Natal Railways 
last year there were employed 1,136 indentured 
Indians and 2,098 free Indians — more Indians than 
there are natives on the system. And in his report 
the General Manager remarked : — 

" Free Indian labour has been more plenti- 
ful, and this, together with the fact that the 
Immigration Department has been able to keep 
up a fairly good supply of Indentured men, 
has enabled the Department to reduce the rates 
of pay hitherto given to Free men." 

The same tendency is found in agriculture. The 
openings for the white population are becoming 
more and more curtailed. How is it there are only 
39 white cultivators to 3,031 Asiatics ? And 103 
white farm labourers to 16,142 Indians ? And 
39 European fruit farmers to 700 Asiatics similarly 


engaged ? There are several reasons. There is 
the evil of absentee landlordism, by which men own- 
ing large areas live in England on the rents drawn 
from natives and Indians, and make no attempt to 
develop their estates for the benefit of the white 
population ; there is the magnet of the Rand, which 
has drawn so much capital from Natal in the hope 
of quicker and larger profits ; there is the old pre- 
judice against manual labour in a land of blacks. 
These evils produce others. Owing to absentee 
landlords and the sending away of capital to the 
goldfields, Httle has been done in the direction of 
the application of science to the agriculture of the 
colony. Farming in Natal is thus described in the 
recently issued Report of the Industries and Tariff 
Revision Commission : — 

" Farming in Natal as properly understood 
in these days is at the very beginning of its 
career. If the land and climate combined are 
to have a fair chance of yielding the latent 
wealth with which Nature has endowed this 
fertile Colony, then the primitive methods of 
the past must be abandoned, and new. ones 
must be adopted on approved fines." 

Evidence was brought before this Commission of 
the enormous carrying capacity of the land if only 
treated on proper principles. But the most isolated 
Indian raiat is not more conservative and hard to 
move than a certain class of Colonial farmer. All 
over South Africa is found this lack of science, these 
rough ways. They spoil Colonial fruit, they handi- 


cap Colonial wool, they make it easier for the butcher 
to deal with imported meat. Yet slowly these old 
methods will be abandoned. There are already 
signs of an awakening. The natives, too, cannot 
for ever exist in the way they do to-day. The 
pressure of population will drive them off the land 
or force them to adopt different ways of cultivation 
to make the land produce more. But will the rapid 
growth of the British Indian population help this 
movement ? At the outset it may. Yet as time 
goes on the pressure of the Indians must be felt 
more and more. If they do not drive out the white 
men already in Natal, they will at least undertake 
so much of the work of the colony that no fresh 
European blood will be needed. As an outlet for 
England's surplus population Natal will be useless. 

And again must be emphasized the point that the 
spreading of the Indian over South Africa has been 
accomplished in the face of strong local prejudice 
and specially devised legislative enactments. What 
if these barriers are removed or made less for- 
midable ? 

There is one other point — the danger to the 
Empire by the lessening of the value of a colony 
to the English manufacturer. The West Indies 
have proved that the indentured Asiatic can increase 
the purchasing capacity of a tropical country. But 
the white man remains the biggest buyer. 

In the end the colony with the largest Asiatic 
population where white men should dwell will be 
of least value to the Empire. It is an economic 
axiom that the white man consumes more than the 


Asiatic. The trade of a colony with a big white 
population must be more remunerative to England 
than that of a colony where a decreasing white 
population is struggling hard against the competi- 
tion of the Eastern peoples. The following table 
shows the approximate returns of contributions to 
public revenue in relation to the internal trade of 
Natal, and in combination with the oversea and over- 
berg trade, for a period of ten years : — 

Per Head of Population. 

Europeans or Whites (in- 
cluding " mixed or other ") 

Indians and Asiatics. 







1895 . . . 



































1 901 























£ s. d. 
Average per head for ten years — Europeans, etc. 30 1 1 4 

„ „ „ „ Asiatics ..164^ 

The native average for the same period was . o 9 6 J 

An Indianized Natal or an Australia overrun by 
Chinese or Japanese would be of less value com- 
mercially to Great Britain than if the lands were in- 


habited by white races. And added to this must 
come the question of defence. In the rebeUion of 
the natives in Natal this year it was pointed out that 
the adult male natives in the colony exceeded the 
adult whites by 150,000. The putting down of the 
outbreak threw a severe strain on the military and 
police forces of the country. Will the situation not 
be more difficult the greater is the Indian population, 
with its corollary the lessened openings for white 
men who could form part of the militia ? Or must 
Asiatics be admitted to the privilege of taking a 
share in the defences of the colony ? 

Looked at from all standpoints, with special 
regard to the future, the presence of a large Asiatic 
population in those colonies which can be considered 
as White Man's Country is a distinct danger to the 
colony concerned and to the welfare of the Empire 
itself. The attitude of Sir Henry Parkes is the 
safest : — 

" . . . It is our duty to preserve the type 
of the British nation, and we ought not for any 
consideration whatever to admit any element 
that would detract from, or in any appreciable 
degree lower, that admirable type of nation 

" We should not encourage or admit amongst 
us any class of persons whatever whom we are 
not prepared to advance to all our franchises, 
to all our privileges as citizens, and all our social 
rights, including the right of marriage. I 
maintain that no class of persons should be 


admitted here, so far as we can reasonably 
exclude them, who cannot come amongst us, 
take up all our rights, perform on a ground 
of equality all our duties, and share in our 
august and lofty work of founding a free 

" We cannot patiently stand to be treated 
with the frozen indifference of persons who con- 
sider some petty quarrel in a petty state of 
more importance than the gigantic interests 
of these magnificent Colonies." 



** The reference made to . . . international engage- 
ments induces me to observe that the exceptional 
legislation that has been adopted by the majority of 
the Australasian Colonies on the subject of Chinese 
immigration does not violate any recognized rule of 
international comity ; on the contrary, it is a funda- 
mental maxim of International Law that ' every State 
has the right to regulate immigration to its territories 
as is most convenient to the safety and prosperity 
of the country, without regard to the Municipal Law 
of the country whence the immigration proceeds ' " 
{see Ferguson's Manual of International Law, vol. i. 
p. 130, and Calvo's Droit Intern., vol. 1. liv. viii.). — 
Attorney -General of Tasmania, 1888. 

The danger of Asiatic immigration on a large scale 
is the most important problem which affects the 
Colonies as a whole. The present generation has 
the power of influencing the conditions under which 
the next must live. But on question of defence, on 
tariffs, on taxation and other matters the error of 
to-day can be neutralized by the legislation of to- 
morrow. Yet once throw the door open to the East, 
once admit Asiatics in the mass, and a country has 
accepted a burden which must ever grow heavier. 
Under the Natal system it is difficult to prevent 
the ousting of the white artisan. In 1896 the Ton- 



gaat Sugar Company in Natal applied to the Immi- 
gration Trust Board for the following Indian 
artisans : — 




House painter, 

Carriage builder. 






Iron moulder. 


The application was granted, but the indignation 
aroused in the colony was so great that it was with- 
drawn by the Sugar Company. And even if the 
contract coolie is confined to unskilled labour, the 
free Indian is under no restrictions, and his com- 
petition reduces the number of openings available 
for white men. " The vegetables, fruits and fish 
that adorn a Natal dinner table are grown, caught 
and hawked by coolies ; the table linen is washed 
by another coolie ; and in all probability the guests 
would be served by coolie waiters and partake of 
fare provided by a coolie cook." ^ It is sometimes 
argued that the white man ought not to have to do 
the rough work, that his proper position is that of 

* D. F. News, January, 1897. 


overseer or idler. In a speech made at Stanger in 
Natal, in 1897, a Mr. Clayton * said : — 

" He was pretty confident that his children, 
rather than have to work any land he might 
be able to leave them, would prefer to let it to 
Indians at reasonable rents." 

If this is the principle to be generally accepted, 
it would be well to at once cease all efforts to attract 
European immigrants to South Africa, for there are 
quite sufficient whites there now to do all the super- 
vising necessary. But if Canada had imported 
cheap Asiatic labour to do the rough work on the 
land, would it be a country with the grand prospects 
it has to-day ? If Australasia had freely admitted 
the Chinese and the Japanese, would it be of any 
value at all to the surplus population of Great 
Britain — would it even be able to provide work for 
the people it has ? Difficult the question un- 
doubtedly is, especially when the people against 
whom barriers are erected are British subjects. 
" The problem," wrote the Johannesburg Star nine 
years ago when dealing with the Natal agitation, 
*' which presents itself to Mr. Chamberlain is there- 
fore by no means easy of solution. Morally, Mr. 
Chamberlain is bound to uphold the righteousness 
of the Indians' position ; economically, he is forced 
to admit the justice of the Colonists' claim ; poli- 
tically, it passes the wit of man to decide which side 
to favour." 

1 Memorial to Mr. Joseph Chamberlain from the British- 
Indians in Natal re Anti-Indian Demonstration. 


The need for some solution of the problem is 
greater to-day than it was at the time of the Natal 
agitation in 1896, when the colony had only 50,000 
Indians compared with the 100,000 to-day. The 
back door has been open so long that Natal's Indian 
population has become the biggest obstacle to South 
African Federation ; indeed, judging by the feeling 
in the inland colonies it will be an insuperable 
barrier. On the other hand, it is unfair to overlook 
the good which Indian competition and Indian 
labour has done. The Natal Commissioners who 
reported on Indian trading twenty years ago pointed 
out how their " tact and energy " had reduced the 
price of rice from 21s. per bag to 14s., and remarked : 
" It is said that Kaffirs can buy from Arabs at from 
25 to 30 per cent, lower rates than those obtaining 
six or seven years ago." The Commissioners added : 
" We are content to place on record our strong 
opinion, based on much observation, that the pres- 
ence of these traders has been beneficial to the 
whole Colony, and that it would be unwise, if not 
unjust, to legislate to their prejudice." 

Yet it must be remembered that testimonials of 
this character related to a period when Asiatic 
competition was less marked than it is to-day. 
Conditions have changed since then. There has 
arisen that ideal of Colonial Nationalism which 
can never be realized if the white population is 
restricted by the presence of a mass of Asiatics. 
Admitting all the good work done by the Indians in 
Natal in the past does not logically bind one to 
support further immigration on the same scale. 


Granted that the existing Asiatic population is hard- 
working, thrifty and law-abiding, one may still 
believe that a further influx would be harmful. 

What, then, are the restrictions needed ? Up to 
last year the restrictions in the different White Man's 
Colonies of the Empire were based on the same prin- 
ciples. The prohibitive clauses are these : — 


Immigration Restriction Act, 1901, Clause 
3 (a). — " Any person who when asked to do so 
by an officer fails to write out at dictation and 
sign in the presence of the officer a passage of 
fifty words in length in a European language 
directed by the officer." 

New Zealand. 

Clause 3 (i). — " Any person other than of 
British (including Irish) birth and parentage 
who when asked to do so by an officer appointed 
under this Act by the Governor fails to him- 
self write out and sign in the presence of such 
officer in any European language an applica- 
tion in the form numbered two in the schedule 
hereto or in such other form as the Colonial 
Secretary from time to time directs : 

" Provided that any person dissatisfied with 
the decision of such officer shall have the right 
to appeal to the nearest stipendiary magistrate 
who shall make such inquiries as he shall think 
fit, and his decision thereon shall be final." 


98 the asiatic danger 

Cape Colony. 

Immigration Act, Clause 2 [a). — "Any person 
who when asked to do so by a duly authorized 
officer shall be unable through deficient educa- 
tion to himself write out and sign in the char- 
acters of a European language an application 
to the satisfaction of the Minister." 


Immigration Restriction Act of 1903, Clause 
5 (a). — " Any person who when asked to do so 
by any duly authorized officer shall be unable 
to himself write out and sign in the characters 
of some European language an application to 
the satisfaction of the Minister.*' 

These clauses have proved effective, with one 
exception. The system of indentured labour pre- 
vaihng in Natal means that the back door of South 
Africa is left wide open. Asiatics pour in as in- 
dentured coolies and at the end of five years become 
free men. With the Chinese labourers on the Rand 
there is not this leakage. The indentures terminate 
in China, and not a man is entitled to remain in the 
colony, or to compete with white men. The Chinese 
are brought in under special conditions to meet an 
exceptional difficulty. They are well housed and 
fed, and they can earn anything between 30s. 
and several pounds a month — one hammer boy 
makes about £120 a year, but he is an abnormal 
worker — whereas at the Raub mine in Pahang the 
Chinese underground men receive only is. a day 


and the surface hand lo^. and have to find 
their own food and housing, whilst at Rawang in 
Selangor the Chinese tin workers receive is. id. a 
day and find their own food and supplies. Nothing 
shows more clearly the ignorance of South African 
opinion which prevails at Home than the suggestion 
that the Chinese should only be allowed to work the 
mines under contracts similar to those prevailing in 
the West Indies. The British Guiana contracts, as 
has already been seen, are more likely to induce 
permanent settlement than even those in Natal. 
The free labourer idea would mean that in an aston- 
ishingly short space of time the Transvaal would 
have 100,000 to 150,000 Chinese. It might be an 
admirable thing for the mine shareholders ; but it 
would be inflicting a punishment on the white people 
of the colony which nothing could justify. It is 
difficult to see upon what Hne of reasoning, or 
principle of justice or policy, it is thought necessary 
that the Chinese coolies should be free to settle down 
in the Transvaal and undertake any kind of work. 
The essentials are just and kind treatment, fair 
conditions of labour, and the prevention of those 
outrages which at first marred the experiment. 
The coolies to-day have the opportunity of earning 
more money than they could in any other part of 
the world, and at the end of their term could if they 
chose take home a sum which would make them 
men of importance in their own districts. Why for 
the sake of a gratuitous sentimentalism insist upon 
conditions which can bring only incalculable injury 
upon the whole of South Africa ? 


There are two important considerations in dealing 
with the Asiatic question in the Colonies. The first 
is to prevent a further influx into those lands which 
may be fairly regarded as White Man's Country. In 
the West Indies the difficulty is not the same. The 
Asiatics have increased the prosperity of a land 
which cannot absorb a surplus white population — 
whether time will show that even here a mistake 
was made one cannot prophesy. But in South 
Africa, Australia, Canada, and British Columbia the 
door must be gently and firmly closed against a 
horde of Asiatics who must always remain a 
community apart. This can be done by insisting 
that the indentures of contract labourers shall 
terminate in the country from which they came. 
There is nothing harsh or unjust in this. It is 
simply a business proposition in the real interests 
of the country. The labour supply in South Africa, 
inadequate as it is to-day, will in time, by the 
natural increase of the large native population and 
the gradual training of the Bantu to more regular 
work, become sufficient. The 50,000 or 60,000 
Chinese who now keep the Rand mines going are 
not wanted for all time ; the Indian labour which 
swarms over Natal may be useful to this generation, 
but it will sadly trouble a future. The attitude of 
the Indian Government is not set sternly against 
a system by which indentures terminate in India. 
When the Transvaal opened negotiations for 10,000 
coolies from India to work on the railways " under 
an indenture providing for their repatriation on 
the termination of their period of service " the objec- 

WHAT IS THE remedV.? .'''.'...;;'• ibi ' 

tion was not to the proposed form of contract. The 
words of Mr. Lyttelton's despatch are : " ... The 
Government of India was not prepared to meet the 
wishes of the Transvaal Government while the 
position of British-Indian traders resident in the 
Transvaal remained in so unsatisfactory a state " 
(Cd. 2239). The Government of India asks for 
the following conditions for the Indians in the Trans- 
vaal : — 

1. " The abohtion of registration for Indians 
generally, and the substitution therefor of a 
measure for keeping undesirable persons out of 
the Colony. 

2. '* Securing that locations for Asiatics should 
be restricted to those classes for whom they are 
required on sanitary grounds. 

3. "Allowing business to be carried on outside 

4. "Replacing the restrictions on the acquisi- 
tion of real property by Asiatics by a general 
law against speculative acquisition. 

5. "Exempting better-class Asiatics from all 
special restrictions and allowing them to have 
Indian servants to reside with them." 

These conditions would not perhaps meet with 
the approval of the Transvaal, but probably the 
Indian Government could be induced to accept slight 
modifications, especially regarding the servant 
question, which would be open to abuse, as the 
Chinese abused the regulations in Austraha, and 
all Asiatics break those which exist to-day in 


Portuguese East Africa. But somewhat upon these 
lines a reasonable solution could be arrived at, pro- 
viding first for the exclusion (or if admitted as 
indentured labourers, the repatriation) of future 
masses of Asiatics ; secondly, giving easier condi- 
tions to the Asiatics already in the Colonies, especi- 
ally the better-class population. The rulers of 
South Africa have favoured some such solution. 
Lord Milner wrote in May, 1904 : — 

*' I thought it would be possible, by giving to 
Asiatics of a superior class a special status, 
and treating them virtually hke Europeans, to 
avoid, at any rate, the appearance of race legis- 
lation. I still believe that, if the European, 
and especially the British, population in this 
country could be induced to see the matter in 
a reasonable light, such a course would provide 
not indeed a perfect, but a fairly satisfactory, 
solution of the difficulty. It is not, in my 
opinion, an influx of Asiatics of the upper and 
middle classes (professional men and merchants, 
as distinct from small traders) which really 
threaten this community. If by treating this 
class liberally we could induce the Government 
of India to acquiesce in the virtual exclusion 
of the petty trader class, who are out of place 
here, and at the same time to agree to the intro- 
duction, under conditions ensuring their ulti- 
mate return to their native country, of Indian 
labourers whom we greatly need, and who could 
earn in this country such wages as they can 


obtain nowhere else in the world, I believe 
that the arrangement would be beneficial both 
to the Transvaal and to India. 

'* This view is consistent with the opinions I 
hold on the colour question generally. I think 
that to attempt to place coloured people on an 
equality with white in South Africa is wholly 
impracticable, and that, moreover, it is in 
principle wrong. But I also hold that when 
a coloured man possesses a certain high grade 
of civihzation he ought to obtain what I call 
' white privileges,' irrespective of his colour. 
I have on more than one occasion given expres- 
sion to these views. They are very unpopular 
in the Transvaal at the present time, but I do 
not despair of their ultimately prevaiHng." 

Sir Arthur Lawley was, in the Transvaal, regarded 
as " safer " than the late High Commissioner on the 
Asiatic question, but his view ran much on the same 
lines : — 

"Speaking generally" (he said) " I am con- 
vinced that a modus vivendi is only possible by a 
compromise, and that the basis of a compromise 
which will be acceptable to the Europeans of 
the Transvaal must be to treat fairly those 
Indians who have been allowed to come into 
the country, and to let any future immigrants 
know the disabihties under which they will be 
allowed to enter the Transvaal." 

Lord Selborne, speaking at Krugersdorp in Octo- 
ber, 1905, said : — 


" As regarded the Indians already in the 
country before the war the British Government 
over and over again pressed on the Government 
of the South African RepubHc measures for the 
amehoration of the condition of the British- 
Indians already in the country, and asserted 
its duty to protect them. They might approve 
or disapprove of that action of Her late Majesty's 
Government. So far as he was aware it was 
undoubtedly approved by the general body of 
the British public opinion in South Africa. 
Now, he asked them, as fair men, would it be 
consistent with honour if now that the country 
belonged to the British Empire the Govern- 
ment, and himself as representing the King, 
were to turn round and deal with the British- 
Indians in the country differently to the 
manner in which they always pressed President 
Kruger to deal with them ? " 

LordSelborne admitted : " It is a matter of distress 
to me, of sorrow to me, that in any respect the 
splendid theory of absolute equality between all 
British subjects should in practice have to be 
departed from." But he also said : — 

"It is to the interests not only of South 
Africa, not only of the British Empire as a 
whole, it is to the interest of India as one of 
the most important parts of the Empire, that 
this subject should be dealt with, not by force 
or on theory, but with the recognition of the 
facts, and carrying public opinion in the Trans- 


vaal behind it, because after all, true as it is 
that the British Indian has a right as a British 
subject, it is also equally true that the Trans- 
vaaler has a right as a British subject, and any 
consideration of this question that only took 
in the British-Indian point of view would be 
of no avail if the greatest weight were not 
also given to the opinion of that British in 
whose own country the particular controversy 
has arisen." 

There would no doubt be objections raised in 
India to the recruiting of labour on indentures which 
provided for repatriation on the termination of the 
contract ; there may be protests, perhaps, in the 
future, from India, China, and Japan at Exclusion 
Acts. There will also be opposition in South Africa 
to the least relaxation of the somewhat harsh laws 
aimed at Asiatics. The General Dealers Bill in the 
Cape gives the Indian or Chinese trader very little 
liberty in his business, and the location proposals in 
the Transvaal would inevitably end in loss for which 
adequate compensation could not be obtained. But 
the essential thing is for the Imperial Government 
to support the Colonies in the ideal of a White Man's 
Country. South Africa can never be that in the 
sense in which Australasia and Canada are, for the 
native problem is always present. But it can at 
least be kept as white as possible, and the native 
question can be complicated as little as possible 
by the presence of thousands of Asiatics. 

What is needed to-day is the sympathy and 


assistance of the Home Government in maintaining 
the united, settled policy of all the great colonies 
of the Empire. The tropical colonies — the Planta- 
tions — may decide their own course. But do not 
impose upon those lands which aim to be a White 
Man's Country conditions which would make their 
ideal but an idle dream. Three principles should 
be borne in mind : — 

1. Keep out masses of Asiatics as permanent 
residents as far as possible at all costs. 

2. If indentured labour is needed, insist upon 
repatriation on expiration of contract. 

3. Fair, even generous, treatment to those Asiatics 
who have under the conditions of the old days 
become part of the population of the country. 

This is a policy which can be understood. It is 
based on the principle of self-preservation, not on 
prejudice to colour, or religion, or habits of life. 
This is the stand for the Colonies to make. Admit 
that the Asiatic has in many parts worked well for 
us, in some parts is still welcome to-day. But, 
setting aside colour prejudice or narrow-minded 
bigotry of race, the Colonies capable of supporting 
a white British population must declare that, on the 
highest ground, the future of the country and their 
Empire, they cannot open wide the door to inferior 
masses who, with all their virtues, will underlive 
and undersell them. With such a policy there 
must be no vexatious restrictions to insult the 
educated man — things more irritating and harmful 
than the regulation which quietly keeps out thou- 
sands of the poorer class. The cultured traveller 


of the Eastern world ought not to have to submit 
to treatment which is not even meted out to a 
pauper immigrant on a New York quay. He should 
not have to consent to having his thumb impres- 
sions taken like a criminal, or be threatened, as the 
extremists of the Transvaal threaten him, with 
instant removal to a location, no matter whether 
he be a judge of the Indian Bench or the prince of the 
Rajput family considered sufficiently civiUzed to 
entertain the future King and Queen of England. 

An influx of Asiatics inevitably means first a 
lowering of the standard of Hving for the white 
worker, and then his gradual elimination ; it means 
that the country becomes of no value to the Empire 
as a home for the surplus population of the United 
Kingdom ; and in the end it means that it becomes 
a diminished commercial asset, and a greater strain 
upon the defensive forces of England. 

The Asiatic immigrant in the West Indies or 
Malaya or Borneo may be of more value than the 
native ; but the Asiatic immigrant in Australasia 
or South Africa or Canada can never be as valuable 
to the Empire as the white man. To encourage 
the Asiatic at the expense of the Englishman is a 
policy which can only end in the loss of the Colonial 



The following is the full text of the Statement and Adden- 
dum submitted by the British-Indian Deputation to the 
Transvaal Constitution Committee : — 

1. The British Indian Association has always admitted 
the principle of white predominance and has therefore no 
desire to press, on behalf of the community it represents, for 
any political rights for the sake of them. But past experi- 
ence shows that in a colony enjoying self-government, 
communities that have no voice in the choice of representa- 
tives have been very largely neglected. 

2. There is in the Transvaal at the present moment 
an estimated population of over 12,000 British-Indians. 
Before war, the adult Indian population was 15,000. 

3. The first Indian settlers found their way into the 
Transvaal in the early eighties. 

4. They were then free from restrictions of any kind 

5. But by their successful enterprise, they aroused the 
jealousy of white traders, and soon there sprang up an anti- 
Indian agitation, initiated by Chambers of Commerce 
wherein the British element was predominant. 

6. As result, the Government of the late President 
Kruger approached Her late Majesty's Government for 
permission to pass legislation restrictive of the liberty of 
British-Indians. They proposed to interpret the term 
" Natives," occurring in the London Convention to include 



7. This contention Her Majesty's advisers rejected, but 
they were not unwilling for " sanitary reasons " to sanction 
legislation restricting Asiatics as to their residence to 
bazaars or location with the proviso that British-Indians 
of the trader class should be left entirely free. 

8. As a result of these negotiations Law 3 of 1885 as 
amended in 1886 was passed. 

9. Immediately it became known, a strong protest went 
up from British-Indians. 

10. It was then realized that the Law was, contrary to 
the expectations of Her late Majesty's Government, sought 
to be enforced against all British-Indians. 

11. Then followed a series of strong representations by 
Her late Majesty's Government, addressed to the late Boer 
Government, culminating in the matter being submitted to 
the arbitration of the then Chief Justice of the Orange River 

12. Between 1885 and 1895, therefore, the Law 3 of 1885 
practically remained a dead letter although the Boer 
Government always threatened to enforce it. 

13. The award of the arbitrator did not define the legal 
position. But it left the question of interpretation of 
Law 3 of 1885 to the Courts of the late Republic. 

14. British-Indians again appealed to the British Govern- 
ment for protection. 

15. Mr. Chamberlain, whilst he declined to disturb the 
ward, did not abandon the case for the Indian subjects of 
Her late Majesty. In his despatch dated September 4, 1895, 
he stated : — 

" In conclusion, I would say, that whilst desirous loyally 
to abide by the award, and to allow it to close the legal and 
international question in dispute between the two Govern- 
ments, I reserve to myself the liberty later on to make 
friendly representations to the South African Republic as 
to the traders, and possibly to invite the Government to 
consider whether, when once its legal position has been 
made good, it would not be wise to review the situation 
from a new point of view, and decide whether it would not 


be better in the interests of its own burghers to treat the 
Indians more generously, and to free itself from even the 
appearance of countenancing a trade jealousy which I have 
some reason to believe does not emanate from the governing 
class in the Republic." 
This was in 1895. 

16. Owing then to such representations, which continued 
up to the time of the war, the Law in question was never 
effectively enforced, and Indians traded and lived where 
they liked, in spite of the prohibition contemplated by it. 

17. But an enforcement of the Law being imminent in 
1899, it was, among other things, a subject for discussion 
at the Bloemfontein Conference, which preceded the war. 
The subject was considered so important by Lord Milner, 
that when the question of franchise to the Uitlanders 
seemed to admit of a settlement. Lord Milner cabled that 
the question of the status of coloured British subjects was 
still outstanding. 

18. Lord Lansdowne declared that it was a contributory 
cause of war. 

19. At the close of the war, and at the time of the 
Vereeniging compact, His Majesty's Government informed 
the Boer representatives that the status of coloured persons 
should be the same in the two colonies as at the Cape. 

20. But to-day the position is worse than before war. 

21. The Progressive party, from which at least Indians, 
as fellow-loyalists and fellow-sufferers before war, may 
claim a fair measure of justice, has stated it as an item of 
its programme that the liberty of British-Indians should be 
specifically restricted. If its desires were carried out, the 
position, bad as it is to-day, would be much worse then. 

22. From the Dutch party it is now impossible to expect 
any measure of reasonableness. 

23. Under Responsible Government, then, British- 
Indians and others similarly situated, unless they are 
specially protected, stand practically little chance of 
justice being done to them. 

24. It would, therefore, seem that the granting of the 


franchise to British-Indians would be the most natural 
means of protecting their interests. 

25. It has been urged that the treaty of Vereeniging 
precludes the possibility of any such provision being made. 

26. But it is respectfully submitted that the term 
" natives," whatever else it may mean, can never include 

27. The statute-book of the colony is replete with laws 
which deal with the " natives," but which admittedly do 
not apply to Asiatics or British-Indians. 

28. The fact that Law 3 of 1885 deals specially with 
Asiatics and does not apply to the " natives," shows, too, 
that the Transvaal laws have almost invariably distinguished 
between " natives " and " Asiatics." 

29. Indeed, whereas natives can, owing to the meaning 
that the term has borne, hold landed property in the 
Transvaal, Asiatics cannot. 

30. Thus, therefore, so far as the Vereeniging compact is 
concerned, there appears to be no justification whatever 
for depriving the Indians of the franchise. 

3 1 . But the Committee of the British-Indian Association 
is well aware of the almost unanimous hostility of white 
races against provision being made in the Constitution for 
a grant of the franchise to British-Indians. 

32. If, therefore, such a grant be considered impossible, 
it is absolutely essential that, apart from the orthodox 
reservatory clause as to the power of veto over all class 
legislation, there should be a special clause which shall 
be a living reality, and which, instead of being exercised 
only on the rarest occasions, should ensure the fullest pro- 
tection to the British-Indian settlers as to their right to 
own landed property, freedom of movement, and freedom 
of trade, subject to such safeguards of a general nature as 
may be considered necessary, and are made applicable to 
all, irrespective of race or colour. 

33. Then, and only then, will it be possible, apart from 
the inherent right that every British subject should have 
to ordinary civil rights in British dominions, for His 


Majesty's advisers to redeem the promises specifically 
made to British-Indians as to their status in the Transvaal. 

34. Much of what has been stated above applies to the 
position of British-Indians in the Orange River Colony. 

35. There the Indian has no rights, save as a domestic 
servant. An elaborate anti-Asiatic law deprives him of 
practically all civil liberty. 

(Sd.) Abdul Ganie, President B.I. A. 


H. C. Ally. 
Ebrahim H. Khota. 
E. M. Patel. 
E. M. JossEP. 
J. A. Patel. 
M. K. Gandhi. 


For authorities in support of the facts cited in the fore- 
going statement, the Deputation beg to refer the Con- 
stitution Committee to the following : — 

1. Transvaal Green Book, No. i of 1894. 

2. Transvaal Green Book, No. 2 of 1894. 

3. Blue Book on Grievances of British-Indians in the 
Transvaal, published in 1896. 

4. Blue Book containing Correspondence relating to 
British-Indians in the Transvaal. — Cd. 2239. 

5. Laws and Volksraad Resolutions, etc., relating to 
" Natives and Coolies " (a separate Government publica- 

6. Chapter XXXIII, p. 199, Laws of the Orange River 


The following is a comparison of the position of British- 
Indians in the Transvaal under Boer and under British 
rule : — 

Before the War. Under British Rule. 

(i) Indians were free to 
enter the country without re- 

(2) Payment of registration 
fee not enforced. 

(3) Landed property could 
be held in the names of Euro- 

(4) Indians held 99 years' 
leases for landed property in 
location or bazaar in Johan- 

(5) No separate inquisitorial 
Asiatic Department. 

(6) Many harsh legislative 
restrictions allowed to remain 

(i) No Immigration per- 
mitted other than of bona fide 
refugees who left on the eve of 
the war, and they are only 
admitted gradually and after 
long delay for the consideration 
of their applications. Permits 
are required even for little 
children, and every Indian has 
to attach his thumb impression 
on these documents. 

(2) Registration fee of £3, 
on pain of fine not exceeding 
;^ioo, or imprisonment for not 
more than six months, strictly 
enforced. Attempt is being 
made now to exact registra- 
tion fees from Indian women, 
and to require them to take out 

(3) The law against Asiatics 
holding real property strictly 
enforced, even in cases where 
land is required for religious 

(4) These leases have been 
expropriated under the In- 
sanitary Area Commissioners' 
Report, without the owners' 
receiving equal title elsewhere 
in Johannesburg in a suitable 

(5) Office of Registrar of 
Asiatics established ; is ar- 
bitrary in procedure and de- 
lays the settlement of indi- 
vidual applications, permits, 

(6) Inoperative Boer enact- 
ments brought into force, and 


inoperative owing largely to rendered more stringent by- 
British intervention. Ordinances or Executive Or- 
ders, and British Indians of- 
fensively classed in legislation 
with Kaffirs, savages, and semi- 
civilized races. 


The following addendum was prepared at the instance 
of the Constitution Committee : — 

1. The Commissioners seem to be under the impression 
that British-Indians have full rights in the Transvaal. 

2. Unfortunately, as will appear from the schedule at- 
tached to the statement, British-Indians have very few civil 
rights — we venture to recapitulate the civil disabilities : — 

3. (i) British-Indians cannot own landed property, in- 
cluding even long leases, except in locations or streets set 
apart for them. 

(2) There are no streets set apart, but there are locations 
far away from town, like the Continental Ghettos. And 
in these, too, except in one or two places, Indians are only 
monthly squatters. In Pretoria and Potchefstroom alone 
do they receive twenty-one years' leases. In Germiston, 
they have even received notices not to receive any tenants 
on their stands. The notice reads as follows : — 

** You are hereby notified that you are not permitted 
to sublet rooms to natives or others. Such sub-letting 
to any person is a breach of the contract under which 
you are allowed to hold a stand, and renders you liable 
to have your stand permit cancelled, and yourself ex- 
pelled from this location." 

(3) So much is this prohibition carried out in practice, 
that Indians are unable to have their mosques transferred 
in the names of Indian trustees. 

(4) Indians have to pay a registration fee of £-^ on 
arrival in this country. The Government has now threat- 


ened even to require women and children to take out 
registration certificates. 

(5) Indians in Pretoria and Johannesburg are pro- 
hibited by law from walking on the footpaths. They, how- 
ever, do make use of them on sufferance. An attempt was 
only recently made to prevent them from using the foot- 

(6) Indians are not allowed to make use of the tram cars 
in Pretoria. 

(7) They are prevented in Johannesburg from riding on 
the ordinary cars, but special trailer cars are occasionally 
run for coloured people. 

(8) It was contended on behalf of the Indians, that, under 
the ordinary bye-laws, they could insist on riding on the 
tram cars. The Town Council opposed the contention on 
the ground that certain smallpox regulations that were 
promulgated by the late Dutch Government in 1897 were 
still in force. The matter was twice tested before the magis- 
trate at Johannesburg, and each time the Town Council 
lost. It has therefore now met the Indians by cancelling 
the bye-laws regulating the traffic on the tram cars. In 
order to gain its end, the Town Council is now running the 
Municipal cars without any bye-laws whatsoever. Whether, 
under the common law, Indians will be able now to make 
good their right or not is an open question. 

It is worthy of note that the above-mentioned cancelling 
bye-law was surreptitiously published in the following 
manner : — 

" Prior to the 9th May, 1906, in accordance with Section 22 
of Proclamation 16 of 1901, a notice had been published 
in a newspaper circulating in the Municipality setting 
forth the general purport of these proposed amendments 
and stating that they were open to inspection at the office 
of the Council." 

On the 9th inst., a meeting of the Town Council was held. 
The notice was apparently advertised in such a manner as 
to render it almost a matter of impossibility for parties 
concerned to challenge the proposed amendments, owing 


chiefly to the fact that no report of them had appeared in 
the ordinary columns of the newspapers, and to the further 
fact that, as will be seen, the proposal came through the 
Works Committee, instead of the Tramways and Lighting 
Committee, which would ordinarily concern itself with 
Tramway Regulations as it has done in the past. 

On the occasion of the aforesaid Council meeting, the 
Works Committee brought forward the proposed amend- 
ment, on the following pretext : — 

" Since the Tramway System was taken over by the 
Municipal Council, the Traffic Bye-laws applicable to 
tram cars are no longer required as they were only 
intended for application to private tram cars. It is 
proposed, therefore, that the Bye-laws should be 
amended accordingly." 

The proposals were submitted at the end of a long agenda, 
when even the most vigilant councillor might have been 
lulled into a sense of security, especially in view of the 
seemingly innocuous nature of the preamble, and passed 
without comment. A notice appeared in the Government 
Gazette of the i8th inst. adopting the proposed cancelling 
bye-law, and giving it the force of law. The whole matter, 
therefore, was settled practically behind the backs of the 
British-Indians within a period of nine days, for all practical 
purposes, without warning. 

(9) Attempt is now being made to expropriate what is 
known as the Malay Location in Johannesburg, which has 
a large Indian population, and to send the Indians to a 
place thirteen miles away from Johannesburg. 

(10) Whereas formerly Indians were free to immigrate 
into the Transvaal, at present the Peace Preservation 
Ordinance, which is purely a political law, is being wrested 
from its legitimate purpose to prevent Indians from entering 
the Transvaal. Not only are new Indians being prevented 
from entering the country, but the following exceptional 
hardships are imposed on all residents of the Transvaal : — 


(a) There are no published regulations regarding the 
administration of the ordinance. 

(b) It changes according to the whims or prejudices of 
the officials administering it. 

The following is, therefore, the practice in vogue to-day : 

(I) Indians who were in the Transvaal before war and 
who paid £^ for registration, are prevented from returning 
unless they can prove absolutely that they left on the out- 
break of hostilities. 

(II) Those who are allowed to enter the Transvaal have 
to put their thumb impressions upon their applications, as 
also upon their permits, and they are required to put them 
each time they enter the Transvaal. This is applicable to 
all Indians without regard to their position and without 
regard to the fact whether they can sign their names in 
English or not. An England-returned Indian gentleman 
who spoke English well, and who is a very well known mer- 
chant, was twice obliged to put his thumb impression. 

(III) Wives and children under twelve years of such 
Indians are now required to take out separate permits. 

(IV) Children, twelve years old or over, of such Indians 
are not allowed to join or accompany their parents. 

(V) Indian merchants are not allowed to import any 
trustworthy clerks or managers unless the latter are them- 
selves such as fall within the first clause hereinbefore re- 
ferred to. 

(VI) Even those who are allowed to enter have to wait 
for months before they are permitted to enter the country. 

(VII) Even temporary permits are refused to Indians 
of respectability. Mr. Suliman Manga, who is studying 
for the Bar in London, wishing to pass through the Trans- 
vaal on his way to Delagoa Bay, was refused a permit when 
his case was considered as of a British subject. When it 
became known that he was a Portuguese subject, for fear, 
evidently, of international compUcations, he was granted 
a temporary permit. 

(VIII) Such is the terrible position of British-Indians 
who are resident in the Transvaal. It is growing daily 


worse, and unless the Imperial Government is willing and 
ready to protect them, the ultimate result can only be slow 

(ii) The following facts will show what the Europeans 
of the Transvaal will do, if they are left to themselves : — 

The National Convention, which specially met to con- 
sider the Asiatic question, passed the following resolu- 
tions : — 

(ist) " That having regard to the preponderance of 
the native races in this country, the difficulties sur- 
rounding the settlement of native policy, the necessity 
for protecting the existing European population and 
encouraging further European immigration, this Con- 
vention aflftrms the principle that Asiatic immigration 
should be prohibited except under the provisions of 
the Labour Importation Ordinance. 

(2nd) " That this Convention having regard to the 
importance of arriving at a permanent and conclusive 
settlement of the whole question and of preventing any 
further attempts to reopen the matter, recommends 
that the Government be invited to take into con- 
sideration the advisability of removing into bazaars 
all Asiatic traders, compensation being provided for 
such as may have vested interests which have been 
legally acquired prior to the war. 

(3rd) " That this Convention, recognizing the grave 
danger resulting from the continued issue of trading 
licences to Asiatics permitting trade outside bazaars, 
requests the Government to take immediate steps to 
pass the necessary legal enactments to prevent any 
further issue of such licences and that with regard to 
the appointment of any proposed Commission to deal 
with the Asiatic question, this Convention urges upon 
the Government the necessity for including therein 
men, other than officials, with a thorough knowledge of 
existing conditions in South Africa. 

(4th) " That this Convention affirms its opinion that 
all Asiatics should be required to reside in bazaars." 


(a) The following is the declared poHcy of the Progressive 
Party :— 

The restriction of immigration of Asiatics into the Trans- 
vaal, except in the case of indentured labourers who are 
subject to repatriation at the expiration of their contract, 
and the regulation of Asiatic trading licences. 

(6) The people of Potchefstroom once met together, 
created a disturbance, and even broke the windows of 
Indian stores. 

(c) The Europeans of Boksburg wish to remove Indians 
from their present location, which they occupied before war, 
to a site far away from town where trade is utterly impos- 
sible, and they have more than once threatened to use 
physical force should an Indian attempt to open a store 
outside the location. 

(12) In the main statement, the Deputation has urged 
that past experience shows that the deprivation of the 
franchise and the orthodox power of veto have been totally 
inadequate to protect Indians. 

(13) We will venture now to give instances : — 

In Natal, after the grant of Responsible Government, 
Indians were virtually deprived of the franchise. The late 
Sir John Robinson, in supporting the Bill, said that by 
disfranchising Indians, every member of the Natal Par- 
liament became a trustee for Indians. 

Soon after the Bill became an Act of ParHament, the 
trust was thus discharged : — 

(a) An annual poll-tax of £^ was imposed on all in- 
dentured Indians who entered after its promulgation, to 
be payable on the termination of their indentures, unless 
they returned to India or re-indentured themselves. 

(6) An Immigration Restriction Act was passed pro- 
hibiting all who did not possess a knowledge of one of the 
European languages from entering Natal unless they were 
formerly domiciled in the colony. 

(c) A Dealers' Licences Act was passed which gave abso- 
lute powers to the Town Councils or Licensing Boards to 
control trade Hcences. It ousts the jurisdiction of the 


Supreme Court. Ostensibly applying to all traders, it is 
enforced only against Indians. And under it, no Indian, 
however well established, is ever secure as to his Ucence 
from year's end to year's end. 

Against all this legislation, the Imperial Government has 
felt powerless to protect British-Indians. 

(14) Whether Indians are granted the franchise under 
the Constitution or not, a special clause protecting vested 
interests is absolutely necessary. 

(15) No colony on the eve of receiving self-government 
has presented the features that the Transvaal and Orange 
River Colonies present. 

(16) All the causes for which the war took place have 
not been removed. Anti-Indian legislation of the Trans- 
vaal was one of the causes. 

(17) Promise made by the Home Government that Indians 
and other coloured people in the two colonies should be 
treated the same way as those at the Cape, has not yet been 

(18) Negotiations were actually pending between the 
Home Government and the Local Governments as to the 
removal of the disabilities of British-Indians when His 
Majesty's new Ministers decided to grant Responsible 
Government to the two colonies, and the negotiations have 
therefore been suspended or dropped altogether. 

(19) The position at the Cape is that Indians have equal 
rights with the Europeans, i.e. : — 

(a) They have the same franchise rights as the Europeans. 
(h) They are under the same Immigration Restriction 
Act as the Europeans. 

(c) They have equal rights with the latter to hold landed 
property and to trade. 

(d) They have full freedom of locomotion from place to 

Dated at Johannesburg this 29th day of May, 1906. 




The following article appeared in the Rand Daily Mail 
(Johannesburg) in July, 1906 : — 

" There has of late been some controversy regarding the 
real extent of Asiatic competition in South Africa. Denial 
follows assertion with monotonous regularity, but the im- 
partial investigator meets with little in the nature of 
irrefutable evidence. On the one hand we hear of the 
enormous growth of Asiatic trading and the closing down 
of European businesses to an ominous — though indefinite — 
extent. On the other we find the representatives of the 
British-Indian community declaring that the case has been 
exaggerated, and that in reality the presence of the Asiatic 
is beneficial to the country. Into the larger question of 
whether the advantage of cheaper labour in Natal more 
than compensates for the disadvantages of Indian trading 
we cannot for the moment enter. But in view of the 
certainty that the Transvaal as a self-governing colony 
will attempt to deal with the trading question — how far it 
will be allowed a free hand in the matter remains to be 
seen — it is interesting to see what is the precise evidence at 
the present time. It must be admitted that many of the 
figures which have been published are inaccurate. Some of 
the statistics given to the National Convention, and re- 
peated again and again in meetings at Potchefstroom, 
Krugersdorp, and other towns, have been proved to be 



incorrect — a fact which, however, does not seem to prevent 
their still being quoted with the utmost complacency and 
confidence. When the Census reports for the whole of the 
colonies are issued the data available will be more com- 
plete. Yet even here the totals must be handled with some 
degree of caution, for the actual volume of trade done is 
not necessarily in the same ratio as the number of licences 

" However, take the evidence as it stands. The Natal 
Census shows that there are in that colony 658 European 
general storekeepers, and 1,260 Asiatics similarly engaged. 
Many of the latter no doubt trade on so small a scale that 
no white man could live upon the profits secured. But the 
aggregate volume of business done by these 1,260 traders 
must be very considerable. Nor must it be forgotten that 
the competition would be still more overwhelming but for 
the Act passed in 1897, at the instance of Mr. Harry Es- 
combe, giving an ofiicial of a municipality power to refuse 
to grant a licence — and from his decision there is no appeal. 
In theory, of course, the Act applies equally to Europeans 
and Asiatics. There is no outward evidence of class legis- 
lation ; and at the time the British-Indian community 
probably did not realize its full meaning. For in practice 
no European is denied a licence, whereas the autocratic 
power given to the Municipality — power which lies with a 
white Town Council — often presses harshly on the Asiatic. 
The measure may or may not have been justified by 
expediency, but the point to remember is that in attempting 
to gauge the real operation of Asiatic competition allowance 
must be made for the restraining influence of this law. It 
may be argued that it is only fair to allow Indian traders to 
serve the Indian population which has built up the prosperity 
of the tea and sugar estates. But it is certain that the 
1,260 general dealers cater for more than the Indian com- 
munity, and it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that a 
large volume of trade which was formerly in the hands of 
the white population has passed into their hands. 

" Turn to the Cape Colony. Amongst the causes of 


depression in South Africa the over-trading of the past few 
years has been probably the greatest. In 1898 the Cape 
had 8,714 general dealers, importers, and agents. In 1905 
there were 14,649. There was an increase of 68* i per cent, 
in these vocations, whereas the imports retained in the 
colony for consumption only increased 25 per cent, in the 
same period. In these figures lies the secret of the depres- 
sion. To blame the Asiatic for all this over-trading would 
be absurd. But the position of the non-European traders 
there throws some light on the larger problem. Figures 
were quoted in the Cape Parliament last week relating to 
the five largest trading centres in the colony — Capetown, 
East London, Kingwilliamstown, Kimberley, and Port 
Elizabeth. Last year in these towns 5,222 general dealers' 
licences were issued to Europeans. On May i this year 
the number had decreased to 3,920. In these five towns 
no fewer than 1,302 white men had gone out of business in 
a year. Now, in 1905 the licences issued to non-Europeans 
totalled 1,012, and on May i the aggregate was 1,059. 
Thus, whilst 1,302 Europeans had been forced to give up 
their licences, non-European traders thrived to such an 
extent that forty-four more entered the ranks of the general 
dealers. The reply may be that it was the failure of the 
Europeans which made suitable openings for the Asiatics. 
This may be so ; but it does not destroy the argument that 
the growth of Asiatic trading had in the first place some- 
thing to do with the falling out of the white men. It was 
stated at a recent meeting of the Worcester Chamber of 
Commerce that one Indian in Capetown controlled twenty- 
nine shops. The Indian and Malay population alone cannot 
support the thousand odd Indian stores in the five towns, 
and undoubtedly a large share of the business done is with 
the white population. In the Transvaal the figures often 
quoted for Potchefstroom and other towns are wrong. 
But it is admitted that there are thirty-five Indian store- 
keepers in Pietersburg, and nineteen in Potchefstroom, and 
it would be idle to deny that this competition has driven 
out white traders. Johannesburg possesses 270 general 


dealers' businesses owned by Indians, and 255 owned by 
Chinese. The volume of business done cannot be estimated 
with any degree of accuracy. In the days of the Republic 
a petition presented to the Marquis of Ripon by British 
Indians stated that there were 200 traders whose liquidated 
assets would amount to nearly ;^ 100,000 ; and since that 
time Asiatic trading has vastly increased. We do not 
agree with those who charge the Indian or Asiatic store- 
keepers with filthy habits. Eleven years ago a petition 
signed by European firms in the Transvaal declared that 
the Indian traders * keep their business places, as well as 
their residences, in a clean and proper sanitary state — ^in 
fact, just as good as the Europeans.' After all, dirt is 
not a monopoly of any race, and the ordinary powers of 
the sanitary authorities should be sufficient to deal with 
any cases of bad sanitation, whether the offenders belong 
to the Eastern or the Western peoples. Nor do we think 
the allegations of dishonest dealing can be sustained. 
Within a year it has been pubUcly complained in Pretoria 
and Durban that European wholesale houses give credit 
to Asiatics whilst refusing it to Europeans. One can hardly 
believe that wholesale houses prefer to be cheated by 
Indians than to trust honest Europeans. 

" In considering the problem of Asiatic trading one must 
get rid of these prejudices and face the question from the 
standpoint of what is best for the country as a whole. It 
is impossible to prove that Asiatic competition does not 
press heavily on the European storekeepers in many parts 
of South Africa ; it is equally impossible to avoid the con- 
clusion that but for the checks which are now enforced — 
against which the Indian community protests with a good 
deal of justice — that competition would be far more severe. 
The claim of the white population is that these restrictions 
are not sufficiently drastic ; the retort of the British-Indian 
community is to quote the pledges given by EngUsh states- 
men before the war — pledges which committed the country 
to a line of action which was certainly not based upon local 
feeling. One must endeavour to remove gross injustice ; 


but would the Home government be justified in refusing 
to permit any legislation demanded by the entire white 
population because of the statements made by the poli- 
ticians of a former generation ? If we are to be bound 
absolutely by the past we must carry out to-day the spirit 
of Sir G. Napier's Natal Proclamation of 1842 : * That 
there shall not be, in the eyes of the law, any distinction 
whatever founded on mere distinction of colour, origin, 
language, or creed, but that the protection of the law in 
letter and substance shall be extended impartially to all.' 
Theories of policy have changed since then. The latter- 
day policy is summed up in the words of Sir Arthur Law- 
ley's despatch : ' If the redemption of the pledges upon 
which Sir M. M. Bhownaggree depends both in letter and 
spirit means that in fifty or a hundred years this country 
will have fallen to the inheritance of Eastern instead of 
Western populations, then from the point of view of civil- 
ization they must be numbered among promises which it 
is a greater crime to keep than to break.' Lord Selborne 
plainly told the British-Indians that the opinion of the 
Transvaal must carry the greater weight. In the end the 
local view must govern legislative action, care being taken 
to ensure a due consideration of vested interests. It will 
be impossible to force upon the Transvaal a policy to which 
the bulk of the inhabitants are strongly opposed. The 
Asiatic community — whether British subjects or not — 
should recognize the growing demand for Home Rule in 
the Colonies, and not make demands which they know will 
never be willingly conceded. With a little more modera- 
tion on both sides an unfortunate dispute may be avoided.' 


The case for the British-Indian is given in the following 
reply which appeared in Indian Opinion, Natal : — 

" In another column, we publish an able and eminently 
fair article on this subject, appearing in the leading columns 
of the Rand Daily Mail of Monday last. The writer has 


obviously written with great moderation and restraint, 
and we could wish most sincerely that all who argued the 
case against the Indian did so in the same temperate and 
statesmanlike spirit. Several points arising out of this 
article merit more than passing comment, for the issues 
presented are so serious as to demand the close application 
and attention of all who are moved with a desire to do 
justice fearlessly, and to put forth all the practical Christi- 
anity that is in them. We have felt all along that the 
spirit moving the opponents of Indians in South Africa is 
one depending far more on bitter race-prej udice and colour- 
hatred than on reasons based upon a proper appreciation 
of the economic features of the situation. We are glad to 
find that the Rand Daily Mail once for all brushes aside 
the foolish exaggerations given currency to at that pre- 
posterous meeting held under Mr. Loveday's (Sgis in 1904, 
dubbing itself falsely a ' National ' Convention. When 
* National ' comes to bear the meaning ' parochial ' and 
' pettifogging,' perhaps we may grant that the Con- 
vention was right in its choice of an epithet. So that, for 
the present, we are to take it that statistics as presented 
and facts as set forth by the Convention are not to be taken 
seriously, and that its gross and harmful exaggerations 
have to be recorded against those who have stopped at 
nothing to vilify a steady, peace-loving, and thrifty section 
of Empire-builders, 

" However, to take the arguments urged by the writer 
of the article under comment, it is stated that so far as the 
Natal general dealers are concerned, they cater for more 
than the Indian community. Granted — but what of that ? 
Who are their clientele ? It is found that Indian petty 
traders deal with poor whites who, otherwise, would be 
unable often to procure even necessaries, let alone luxuries. 
Again, the Indian ti ader has dealings, often on a considerable 
scale, with natives. The native is unable to pay much for 
the commodities of which he is in need ; he is a hard bar- 
gainer, and if he cannot get what he requires at the price 
that he is willing to pay, he goes without. Now, from the 


point of view of the South African colonist, the man who is 
able to create a demand for the products of civilization 
amongst the natives, and so offers inducements to them to 
hire their services out for a longer period, is performing a 
public service, and is deserving of the title rather of a 
benefactor of, than that of a danger to, the white com- 
munity. There is a great deal of mystery about that 
blessed word ' competition.' Under existing economic 
conditions, competition is the very breath of trade. But 
there is competition and competition, and the burden of 
the charge made against the British-Indian is that his is 
unfair competition — a charge which, we maintain, has 
never yet been borne out. The head and forefront of our 
offending is not that we unfairly compete, but that we are 
foreigners, that our colour is brown, and that our habits 
are not similar to those which tradition and custom have 
imposed upon Europeans. Where the Indian trader is to 
be found, he supplies a much-needed demand, else should 
we never hear the constantly reiterated charge of undue 
competition. He trades often on a most diminutive scale, 
and the mere fact that he holds a general dealer's licence 
does not necessarily make him a general dealer. Big 
words are often used to exaggerate the importance of small 
things, and we are sure that, were the situation to be in- 
vestigated in a spirit where humour could have free play, 
there would be many a hearty laugh at the expense of those 
who have unconsciously been led astray by a term that 
seems to include men whose wealth approximated to that 
of Croesus rather than to that of the picker up of uncon- 
sidered trifles. 

" Our remarks apply as much to the Transvaal as to 
Natal. How can there possibly be over-competition of 
Indians in a town such as Potchefstroom, where there are 
actually fewer Indians and more European traders than 
before the war ? When we consider that, to-day, the 
Indian population of the Transvaal is considerably less than 
it was before the war, whilst the European population has 
increased beyond belief during that same period, it is obvious 


that the outcry against British-Indians is a false and a 
shallow one, and one, moreover, that is only urged by in- 
terested parties who desire to serve their own ends, and 
who are supported by men ever ready to be ' taken in ' by 
a statement sufficiently often repeated. When we come to 
the Cape Colony, where one of the Indian storekeepers is 
stated to control no less than twenty-nine separate shops, 
we are tempted to search the records of the ' National ' 
Convention for authority for this statement of ' fact,' or, 
on the other hand, to inquire how much larger than match- 
boxes those stores are ! Truly, we are come to a sorry pass 
when such * terminological inexactitude ' is resorted to. 
Compared with the bulk of internal and external trade 
done by the European population, that done by British- 
Indians is insignificant, whilst that of other Asiatics or so- 
called Asiatics, with whom we have no immediate concern, 
must be a negligible quantity. Let us consider the con- 
dition of affairs. In Natal, there exists an Immigration 
Restriction Law which does not recognize the great Indian 
languages. Result — large numbers of Indians are, even if 
they wished to enter the country, debarred from so doing. 
There is a General Dealers' Licences Act, which makes the 
Town Council, composed of the Indian trader's business 
rivals, the final court of appeal, a condition of affairs which 
would not be tolerated in the United Kindom or in any 
place in which considerations of justice reigned supreme. 
In the district of Vryheid, the unfortunate British-Indian 
is subject both to the harsh laws of Natal and those of the 
Transvaal. At the Cape, a similar Immigration Restriction 
Law obtains to that enforced in Natal, with the additional 
restriction that if an Indian's wife and family be not resident 
in the country, he is not regarded as being domiciled in the 
colony. In the Orange River Colony, no Indian is per- 
mitted to remain in the country, except in a servile capacity. 
" And in the Transvaal, things are no better. A Peace 
Preservation Ordinance is wrongly forced from its real 
intention, and, for political purposes, is used in practice 
to prevent the entry of Indians, even when entitled to be 


in the country. Law 3 of 1885 prevents their holding land, 
and obliges traders to possess themselves of registration 
certificates. Numberless other restrictions are imposed, 
but what we have already shown demonstrates our point. 
The writer of the article urges moderation on both sides. 
We agree. Our moderation consists in this — British- 
Indians desire treatment as free men, not as pariahs. They 
ask for free entry, on equal terms with non-Indians, into 
the Colonies, freedom to trade, freedom from the galling 
insults and degradations imposed by Law 3 of 1885. On 
their side they are willing to abide by a general immigration 
restriction law, and the granting of licences by the Town 
Councils, subject to appeal to the Supreme Courts. Can 
they, in justice to their own cause, in justice to their children, 
in justice to the great heritage of Empire that has become 
theirs and which they have helped to purchase with their 
blood and treasure — can they ask less than this ? British- 
Indians demand no poHtical rights. They ask for nothing 
in the shape of social equality. But they have a right to 
insist upon the bestowal upon them of their just civil rights 
and the withdrawal of restrictions and restraints which can 
only have the effect of perpetuating the feeling of bitter- 
ness that must inevitably arise under a sense of oppression 
and injustice. For British-Indians to ask less than this 
would be to proclaim themselves as deserving of all the 
cruel hardships and insults inflicted upon them." 



T IF following extracts are two instances of the wrong 
nolicy to pursue against the Asiatic — the policy which 
irritates ani does not the slightest good. They explain 
themselves : — 

r £E merchant 

The following is a leading article from the Transvaal 
Leader, November 29, 1905 : — 


" A letter appeared in the Star of yesterday from Mr. 
Nomura, one of the leading merchants of Japan, which 
raises questions of such importance that we cannot refrain 
from commenting on it. Mr. Nomura, who has exhibited 
various articles in European, American, and Australian 
cities, came to South Africa on the same errand. He 
had a passport signed by the Japanese Minister of 
Foreign Affairs, and endorsed by the British Consul at 
Kobe, and was further armed with credentials from the 
Commercial and Industrial departments of his Govern- 
ment. On arrival at Durban he sent forward his goods 
to Johannesburg, where they have been much admired. 
He himself, however, was detained at Durban, where 
his finger-prints were taken, pending the receipt of 
a permit to enter the Transvaal. After six weeks the 
Permit Office of the Transvaal refused him permission to 
enter the Transvaal. 



" This is Mr. Nomura's plain story, and we venture to 
say that it is one which should make every inhabitant of 
this colony blush with shame. A gentleman of high 
standing in his own country, the reputation of whose firm 
is world-wide, vouched for by his own Government and by 
the British Consul in his native town, comes to this country 
on a most legitimate and proper errand, only to be subjected 
to indignity and to be refused admission. The officials of 
the Permit Office will have to explain why a delay of six 
weeks occurred before they could make up what they are 
pleased to call their minds, but this slothfulness, scandalous 
as it is, is only the smallest scandal connected with this 

" We can see every day proofs of the utter incompetence 
of the Permit Office to perform its duties. People of a 
low type are constantly admitted ; notorious criminals 
find no difficulty in entering the Transvaal, though a 
reference to the Criminal Investigation Department would 
be both easy and efficacious. From time to time a few 
wretched Asiatics are sent over the border, living examples 
of the vigilance of the Permit Office, while depravity struts 
through the town hall-marked by its approval. And then 
comes a gentleman of character and position applying for a 
pass to pay a flying visit to Johannesburg on business, 
only to be insulted and refused. The officials of the Permit 
Office have only themselves to thank if nasty things are 
said, and if ugly rumours gain credence as to their methods 
and motives of selection. This case, however, will not be 
entirely without advantage if it leads people to ask whether 
it is worth while to squander some thousands a year on an 
office which is worse than useless. Something might be 
said for it if it protected us from the incursions of paupers, 
of men of criminal antecedents, and of men who live on a 
traffic which we need not specify, but nothing is to be said 
for it when it allows the town to be flooded with these, and 
then, to justify its existence, perpetrates an act of gross 
injustice, and one which might easily have serious inter- 
national results. 


" The Japanese are a highly civilized people who have 
set an example of business aptitude, of organizing ability, 
and of patriotic devotion to the whole world. They are 
the allies of Great Britain, whose interests in the East 
they are pledged to maintain, as we are pledged to defend 
theirs. The nation is proud to honour them. At the 
Trafalgar celebration nothing was more prized than the 
message from Admiral Togo, whom the United Kingdom 
will receive next year with a respect and admiration which 
would be accorded to few white men. Though, indeed, we 
are almost ashamed to allude to questions of colour in this 
connection. It may be quite right — we think it is — for a 
country to reserve the right of saying under what conditions 
foreigners may reside and trade within its borders, and of 
regulating their admission, but that does not hinge entirely 
on colour, and is at all events utterly distinct from the 
question of a temporary visit. Moreover, it is only bigotry 
or ignorance which can refuse to recognize those distinctions 
of position, character, and education, which are as patent 
and well-marked in Oriental countries as in Europe. Mr. 
Seddon, indeed, proposes to exclude Japanese from New 
Zealand, but, without any disrespect to that fine Colony, 
we venture to claim a wider and more cosmopolitan outlook 
for the inhabitants of the Transvaal. Even exclusive 
Australia has admitted Mr. Nomura, and yet the Transvaal 
is dragged by some incompetent officials into the absurd 
position of keeping him out. Mr. Nomura is about to 
appeal to the British Foreign Office, and we most sincerely 
hope that his representations may be successful. In the 
meantime we desire to emphatically condemn the action 
of the Permit authorities, to apologize for the indignities 
which have been put upon this Japanese gentleman, and ^ 
to express our abhorrence of the whole wretched affair." 


The following is a leading article from the Rand Daily 
Mail of April 17, 1906 : — 

" It will probably seem curious to many people that a 


man who claims to be a Portuguese subject should be 
granted a privilege which Transvaal officialdom has refused 
to the very same man when he was supposed to be a British 
subject. But this is what happened in the case of Mr. 
Suliman Manga, which has been takenup by Indian Opinion i 
and as a certain principle is involved it is well to note the 
mysterious workings of the official mind. Briefly the facts 
are these. Mr. Manga, who is the son of a well-known 
Indian at Delagoa Bay, is a member of the Middle Temple. 
Returning from his legal studies in England, he landed at 
Durban, and, desiring to visit his parents at Lourenco 
Marques, applied for a temporary permit to pass through 
the Transvaal on his way there. The Transvaal officials 
refused to grant it, and an application to the Colonial 
Secretary was also answered in the negative. Mr. Manga 
thereupon went to Delagoa by sea, but, being still anxious 
to see the Transvaal, renewed his request to the Protector 
of Asiatics there. For the third time he met with a refusal, 
and, as in the other instances, he was not informed what 
precise danger would threaten the Transvaal were he to be 
within its borders even for a day or two. But then Mr. 
Manga remembered that he was a native of Portuguese 
territory in India, and, claiming to be a Portuguese subject, 
he appealed to the Portuguese Government. Then the 
Open Sesame was discovered. The British Consul at 
Delagoa promptly granted a temporary permit, and the 
man who was rejected with contemptuous silence as a 
subject of the British Empire crossed the Transvaal border 
as a citizen of Portugal. Verily the ways of officialdom are 

" Now we object to an influx of Asiatics into the Trans- 
vaal as much as the most vigorous orator at the National 
Convention. No one could hold more strongly than we 
do to the conviction that the Transvaal can be made in a 
large measure a white man's country. No one would more 
emphatically protest against Asiatic labour being imported 
save under the Labour Importation Ordinance ; no one 
could desire a more formidable barrier to the indiscriminate 


immigration of Asiatics than the one we should be pre- 
pared to erect. But it is quite another thing to approve 
of the purblind ineptitude displayed by officialdom in the 
case of Mr. Manga. The refusal to allow Mr. Nomura, the 
Japanese merchant, to enter the colony was a brilliant 
effort of administrative foresight compared to the rejec- 
tion of Mr. Manga one day as a British subject and his 
admittance the next as a Portuguese. Mr. Nomura had 
at least the desire to trade. Mr. Manga had nothing to 
sell ; he would compete with no man ; all he wanted was 
to pass through the Transvaal on his way to visit his rela- 
tions at Delagoa Bay. He asked only for a temporary 
permit. Had it been broken we will give the Transvaal 
authorities credit for sufficient intelligence to have sooner 
or later discovered the fact. But there was not the faintest 
ground for suspecting that the temporary character of the 
permit would not be strictly observed. The refusal was 
simply an instance of that gratuitous stupidity which has 
more than once affected Transvaal officials when dealing 
with Asiatics. Lord Milner was in a prophetic mood when, 
addressing the first Municipal Congress three years ago, he 
said : * The greatest danger of every sound policy is its 
exaggeration and its travesty.' Lord Selborne has more 
than once expressed regret that it should be necessary to 
curtail the movements of British-Indian subjects in a 
British colony. That the necessity does arise, and must 
be provided for, we agree. That the necessity involves 
the refusal of the grant of a temporary permit to an Indian 
lawyer to cross through the Transvaal we cannot admit. 
The colony cannot be made into a twentieth century 
Forbidden Land. Maintain the vital principle by all means, 
even if it is necessary to use the language used by Australia 
twenty years ago. Refuse to allow fresh immigrants to 
enter and compete with the white population. But in the 
name of commonsense do not let us make the Transvaal 
a laughing-stock of the world by comic opera methods such 
as have been displayed by the Permit Office in the case 
of Mr. Manga. Seven years ago Lord Lansdowne, speak- 


ing of British-Indian disabilities in the Transvaal, said : 
* What do you imagine would be the effect produced in 
India when these poor people return to their country to 
report to their friends that the Government of the Empress, 
so mighty and irresistible in India, with its population of 
300,000,000, is powerless to secure redress at the hands of 
a small South African State ? ' What will be ' the effect 
produced in India ' to-day if it becomes known that a native 
of Portuguese Goa is treated in a British colony with a 
consideration which is denied him when he says he is a sub- 
ject of the British- Indian Empire ? Here at least is an 
instance of that ' exaggeration ' and ' travesty ' which Lord 
Milner warned the colony against as the greatest danger 
of a sound Asiatic restriction policy." 

At Volksrust the magistrate fined an Indian boy under 
eleven years of age ;^5o, or three months' imprisonment, 
for being in the Transvaal without a permit. The Supreme 
Court quashed the conviction. 

At the same Court an Indian woman was dragged from 
her husband's side and ordered to leave the Colony 
within seven hours. She refused to go, and the prosecu- 
tion against her was ordered to be withdrawn. 



The following return shows the distribution of the " Euro- 
peans or Whites " and the " Indians and Asiatics " in Natal 
(the Asiatics other than Indians only number a few 
score) : — 

Magisterial Division or Centre. 

Klip River . 

Lion's River . 


♦Alexandra County . 

Upper Umkomanzi . 

Newcastle .... 

Mpendhle .... 

Dundee . . . . 
* Inanda .... 
1 Lower Tugela 

Bergville .... 

Estcourt .... 


Umgeni .... 

New Hanover 

Umlazi .... 

Alfred County 

Camperdown . 

Europeans or Whites 

Males. Females. 

















Indians and A^atics. 

Males. Females. 






























^ Coast districts. 



Europeans or Whites. 

Indians and Asiatics. 

Magisterial Division or Centre. 





Umvoti County .... 





Ndwedwe . 





Utrecht . . 










* Umzimkulu . 





Umsinga . 






Vryheid . . 

1. 533 









Weenen County 





Polela . . . 










Estowe, Zululand 















Emtomjaneni, „ 





Nd wand we, „ 





^ Umfolosi, „ 





1 Umbombo, 










1 Imgwavuma, ,, 




1 Umlalazi, 





Mahlabatini, „ 





Municipality of Pietermaritz- 

burg . . 





* „ ,, Durban 





„ „ Ladysmith 





,, „ Newcastle . 





,, Dundee 





♦Local Board, Verulam . 





Grey town . . 





Utrecht . . 





Vryheid . . 





^ Coast districts. 



The figures are summarized thus : — 
Rural Districts 



Europeans or Whites .... 
Indians and Asiatics .... 



Urban Districts 



Europeans or Whites .... 
Indians and Asiatics .... 

i 16,594 


1 7.784 



Two of the best written and most important official de- 
spatches on the Asiatic question — or in this particular case 
the British-Indian question — were written by Lord Milner, 
High Commissioner of South Africa and Governor of the 
Transvaal, and Sir Arthur Lawley, Lieut. -Governor of the 
Transvaal (now Governor of Madras), in reply to Sir M. M. 
Bhownaggree's letter to the Colonial Secretary. These 
two despatches sum up the Asiatic problem very fairly. 
They are as follows : — 


{Received May 7, 1904.) 

Governor's Office, Johannesburg, 
April 18, 1904. 

I have the honour to enclose a despatch from the Lieu- 
tenant-Governor of the Transvaal, in whch he reviews the 
whole position as regards British-Indians. Of course, the 
proposed legislation on this subject will not apply to British 
Indians only, but to Asiatics generally. At the same time 
it is the fact that the majority of Asiatics in this Colony 
are British subjects from India, and it is owing to this fact 
that the Government of the Transvaal is placed in a position 
of peculiar embarrassment in dealing with the Asiatic 

Sir Arthur Lawley has stated so fully the extent and the 
causes of the strong anti-Asiatic feeling among the Euro- 



pean population of this Colony, that I need not myself 
dwell upon that factor in the problem. I can only say that 
I agree with Sir Arthur Lawley's statements with regard 
to it, and believe that he has not in any way exaggerated 
the caution with which, in view of this feeling, it behoves 
the Government to approach legislation on the subject of 
the status of Asiatics. 

I must frankly confess that I am greatly disappointed 
with the position in which I find myself placed in this 
matter. I have always felt, as strongly as any one, the 
necessity of preventing an indiscriminate influx of Asiatics 
into this Colony, and I agree with all that Sir Arthur Law- 
ley says as to the danger to the white population, and in- 
deed to the whole political position, which such an influx 
would involve. We need a great increase in the white 
population of the new Colonies, and it is obviously desir- 
able that this increase should be mainly British. But it 
is just with the British townsman that the Asiatic trader, 
who has flooded Natal, and who would certainly flood the 
new Colonies if he were allowed to, most seriously competes. 
But while upholding the policy of restrictions on Asiatic 
immigration, I always hoped to be able to carry it out in a 
manner sufficiently considerate of the feelings of our Indian 
fellow-subjects, and of the difficulties of the British and 
Indian Governments in the matter, to mitigate, if not alto- 
gether to remove, the objections which any system of re- 
striction was certain to excite. In particular, I thought it 
would be possible, by giving to Asiatics of a superior class, 
a special status, and treating them virtually like Europeans, 
to avoid, at any rate, the appearance of race legislation. 
I still believe that this would be the best course. I believe 
that if the European, and especially the British, population 
in this country could be induced to see the matter in a 
reasonable light, such a course would provide not, 
indeed, a perfect, but a fairly satisfactory, solution 
of the difficulty. It is not, in my opinion, an influx 
of Asiatics of the upper and middle classes (profes- 
sional men and merchants as distinct from small 


traders) which really threatens this community. If by 
treating this class liberally, we could induce the Govern- 
ment of India to acquiesce in the virtual exclusion of the 
petty trader class, who are out of place here, and at the 
same time to agree to the introduction, under conditions 
ensuring their ultimate return to their native country, of 
Indian labourers, whom we greatly need, and who could 
earn in this country such wages as they can obtain nowhere 
else in the world, I believe that the arrangement would be 
beneficial both to the Transvaal and to India. 

This view is consistent with the opinions which I hold 
on the coloured question generally. I think that to attempt 
to place coloured people on an equality with whites in South 
Africa is wholly impracticable, and that, moreover, it is 
in principle wrong. But I also hold that when a coloured 
man possesses a certain high grade of civilization, he ought 
to obtain what I may call " white privileges," irrespective 
of his colour. I have, on more than one occasion, given 
expression to these views. They are very unpopular in 
the Transvaal at the present time, but I do not despair of 
their ultimately prevailing. 

For the present, however, there is no prospect whatever 
of their prevailing, certainly as far as Asiatics are concerned. 
There is, perhaps, more chance in the case of the coloured 
people of South African birth. And no doubt their claim 
is a stronger one, inasmuch as they are natives of the 
country, and have no choice but to live here, while the 
Asiatics are strangers forcing themselves upon a com- 
munity reluctant to receive them. Be that as it may, I 
am satisfied that it would not be possible for the Lieutenant- 
Governor and the Executive Council of the Transvaal, in 
view of the almost unanimous opposition of the white popu- 
lation, to introduce legislation more favourable to Asiatics 
than that which is now proposed. This legislation does 
carry out, to a certain extent, the idea of creating a cate- 
gory of " exempted " Asiatics, id est, of relaxing, in the 
case of Asiatics of the better class, most of the personal 
restrictions imposed upon Asiatics generally. But it is 


very far from putting " exempted " Asiatics on the same 
level as Europeans, as personally I should like to put them, 
and as I at one time hoped, not only with the view of meet- 
ing the wishes of the Government of India, to be able to 
put them. 

There is another respect, in which the proposed legisla- 
tion with regard to Asiatics, as sketched by Sir Arthur 
Lawley, falls short of what I have, in previous communica- 
tions, and notably in my telegram of the ist February, 
indicated as being the length to which the Transvaal 
Government was prepared to go in meeting the wishes 
of the Indian Government. I refer to the question of allow- 
ing Indian as well as European languages to be used in the 
education test, to which would-be immigrants are to be 
subjected. Sir Arthur Lawley and the Executive Council 
now think, and I am disposed, on reconsideration of the 
point, to agree with them, that, in making this concession, 
we should be going too far. I am not sure that it would not 
result in the admission of a very large number of Asiatics 
of the class whom it is desirable, as far as possible, to ex- 
clude. But apart from that, there is another and a very 
serious difficulty, which I admit did not occur to me in the 
first instance, but which was suggested by your telegram 
of the 7th March, 1 and that is that, in admitting Indian 
languages, we should be departing most seriously from 
the provisions of the Immigration Laws of both the Cape 
Colony and Natal, and breaking down the principle of 
uniformity of action with regard to the immigration ques- 
tion between the different Colonies. This would, in my 
opinion, be a most serious evil. Moreover, we have, on 
many occasions, declared our intention of passing an 
Immigration Act framed on the same lines as those of the 
two self-governing Colonies. If the Government of the 
Transvaal were to introduce into the Legislative Council 
an Immigration Ordinance differing materially from those 

^ Not printed. 


of the sister Colonies, and above all, differing from them 
in the direction of giving greater encouragement to Asiatic 
immigration, it would have to face such a storm, both in 
the Legislative Council and outside, as it has never had to 
face yet, even on this subject, and it could only carry the 
proposal, so to speak, at the point of the bayonet. 

It is quite true that, in the present state of public feeling, 
any proposal whatever for dealing with the position of 
Asiatics, short of the absolute exclusion of future immigrants 
and the relegation of the Asiatics already in the country 
to bazaars selected for them by the local authorities, will 
meet with much opposition, and may have to be carried 
in the Legislative Council by the votes of the official mem- 
bers alone. But on such a question as that of dealing 
fairly with the Asiatics already here, I should not scruple 
to employ, though I should regret the necessity of employ- 
ing, the official majority to vote down popular opposition. 
We are entitled to use that majority in order to enable us 
to carry on the ordinary work of Administration, and to 
ensure the safety and good government of the Colony as 
long as we are responsible for them. We are entitled to 
use it to fulfil our obligations, and to do justice to even the 
most unpopular section of the community. But when it 
comes to a question, not of some administrative act of 
immediate necessity, or of the fulfilment of a particular 
obligation, but of permanent and organic legislation, then 
I think that the principle, so often enunciated by His 
Majesty's Government, of dealing with the Transvaal, 
though a Crown Colony, as if it were self-governing, ap- 
plies. That being so, while we should be justified in legis- 
lating, even contrary to pubUc opinion, to protect the 
vested rights of Indians already here, we should not, in 
my judgment, be justified in regulating the Asiatic question, 
in so far as it is, res integra, in a manner opposed to the 
views of the vast majority of the European population. 
And certainly it requires no referendum to ascertain those 
views with regard to Asiatic immigration or the status of 
Asiatics. No doubt, even if this were a self-governing 


Colony, His Majesty's Government would refuse assent, 
as it has done in the case of other self-governing Colonies, 
to legislation involving manifest injustice to any race of 
men or grossly conflicting with the principles of Imperial 
policy as regards His Majesty's British Indian subjects. 
But legislation, such as is now proposed by Sir Arthur 
Lawley and the Executive Council of the Transvaal, is 
yet not legislation which, if adopted by a self-governing 
Colony, His Majesty's Government would demur to. It is, 
indeed, far more favourable to the Indians than any legis- 
lation likely to be passed here when this Colony obtains 
responsible Government, though I believe, if passed now, 
no Ministry holding power under a system of responsible 
Government will care to interfere with it. 

I ought, perhaps, to state definitely, though I think it 
is sufficiently clear from Sir Arthur Lawley's despatch 
that it is the intention of the Transvaal Government, if 
you approve, to introduce, in the forthcoming Session of 
the Legislative Council, two measures bearing on this 
subject : — 

I. An Immigration Ordinance on the lines of the Acts 
passed in the Cape Colony and Natal. This Ordinance, 
though applying to immigrants generally, and not ex- 
pressly directed against Asiatics, will, in practice, have 
the effect of limiting the influx of Asiatics of the lower class. 

II. An Ordinance dealing with the status and privileges 
of Asiatics already resident in the country, or who may 
hereafter become resident here. 

The provisions, which it is intended that this latter 
Ordinance should contain, are clearly laid down in the 
enclosed despatch from Sir Arthur Lawley. 

The immediate object of my present communication is 
to ask whether His Majesty's Government would be pre- 
pared to approve of the Transvaal Government introducing 
legislation on these lines in the next Session of the Legisla- 
tive Council, Whatever difference of opinion there may be 
with regard to this question, no one, who has been resident 
in this country during the last two years, would be inclined 


to doubt that some immediate settlement is absolutely- 
necessary . The present uncertain condition of affairs is 
bad for everybody. It exasperates the European popula- 
tion against the Asiatics, while the Asiatics themselves 
are subject to the most harassing and unfair uncertainty 
as to their future prospects. The controversy has now- 
lasted incessantly since the first establishment of British 
power in the Transvaal, and I have no hesitation in saying 
that every month that it lasts makes it more difi&cult for 
the Government to carry any measures which are even 
moderately favourable to the Asiatic population. No 
doubt the feeling against them has been greatly aggravated 
by the recent outbreak of plague in the coolie location in 
Johannesburg. Had that outbreak been of a more serious 
and protracted character, the position would have become 
very grave. I think it would have required a stern exer- 
cise of the powers of Government to prevent the white 
population, especially in the smaller country towns, from 
taking the law into their own hands, and attempting at 
once to force all Asiatics, regardless of social position or 
vested rights, into locations selected by the local authori- 
ties, which would, in many cases, have been wholly un- 
suitable for their reception. This fever of excitement is 
now subsiding, but the permanent effect of the plague out- 
break in confirming the anti- Asiatic sentiment throughout 
the country cannot be ignored. Even before the plague 
broke out, the anti-Asiatic agitation was steadily gathering 
force. That agitation will, in my opinion, go on and grow 
more and more formidable unless the position is cleared up, 
as it only can be cleared up, by fresh legislation. 

But while asking for the assent of His Majesty's Govern- 
ment to the proposed Ordinances, not because I think them 
good, but because I think them the best we can carry, and 
because any definite settlement of the question would 
be better than the present chaos, I can hardly expect that 
these measures will satisfy the Government of India. It 
is deeply to be deplored that the Government of India 
should refuse to permit its subjects of the labouring class 


to come to this country, where they might earn in a few 
years, and with a certainty of good treatment while here, 
wages which would relieve them from poverty for the rest 
of their Hves. But if, in the opinion of the Government of 
India, it is impossible to allow coolie immigration into the 
Transvaal, unless the laws of the Transvaal with regard to 
Indians generally are framed in a liberal spirit, then I fear 
there is nothing for it but for us to renounce, for the time 
being, the hope of coolie immigration. 

If my opinion could be expected to carry any weight 
with the rulers of India, I should strongly advise that, 
notwithstanding what they must consider the unsatisfac- 
tory character of our Asiatic legislation, they should, never- 
theless, not prohibit the immigration of Indian coolies into 
this Colony. And I should do so on the ground that, 
while such immigration would benefit the coolies, the refusal 
to allow it could not possibly be of advantage to any other 
class of Indians. This, however, is only the expression of 
my personal views. I do not suppose that the Govern- 
ment of India is likely to share them. But, while regret- 
ting the probable failure of our attempts to meet the Govern- 
ment of India in the matter, I feel that, coolies or no coolies, 
it is necessary for the peace and good government of this 
Colony to get the question of the status of Asiatics settled 
without much further delay. And as the settlement now 
proposed by Sir Arthur Lawley is, in my opinion, the best 
we can arrive at without flying in the face of the whole 
white community, and causing a serious strain to the good 
relations of this Colony with the Mother Country, I strongly 
recommend His Majesty's Government to allow us to carry 
it into effect. 

I have, etc., 




Lieutenant-Governor, Transvaal, to Governor. 

Lieutenant-Governor's Office, Pretoria, 

April 13, 1904. 
My Lord, 

The necessity for introducing legislation with regard to 
the status of Asiatics, and particularly British Indians, 
residing in the Transvaal becomes more urgent every day. 
Two incidents have recently occurred which have an im- 
portant bearing on the whole question. 

Having decided that all Asiatic traders should be re- 
moved to bazaars set apart for them in the various towns, 
with the exception of those who had bond fide established 
businesses before the outbreak of war, the Government 
refused to issue licences to certain traders who had not com- 
plied with the condition of removal into a bazaar. 

In so acting the Government relied on the provisions of 
Law No. 3 of 1885. The validity of their action has now 
been challenged, and a test case will shortly be brought 
into the Supreme Court to decide whether under that law 
the Government have power to prohibit trading and resi- 
dence except in places pointed out by the Government. 

I am advised by the Attorney-General that in his opinion 
the decision of the late High Court on this point will prob- 
ably be reversed by the Supreme Court, and that it will 
be impossible for the Government to carry into effect the 
restrictions upon Asiatics in regard to trade and residence 
which they deem necessary. 

The second incident which has brought the whole ques- 
tion into prominence is the outbreak of bubonic plague in 
the location set apart for coolies in Johannesburg. 

The Government have already experienced the greatest 
difficulty in securing the assent of the local bodies in the 
various towns to the establishment of bazaars within the 
municipal area, and it has been necessary for them to over- 
ride the prejudices of the local authorities, and insist that 
the sites for these bazaars should be easily accessible and 
suitable for trading purposes. The clearest indications 


are already apparent that, in consequence of the outbreak 
of plague in Johannesburg there will be most bitter opposi- 
tion from the white residents to any settlement of the ques- 
tion which is not based on the location of Asiatics in bazaars 
outside the towns. What was before merely a difficulty 
has now, owing to the outbreak of the plague, become almost 
an impossibility. 

Owing to these two incidents, the question has become 
intensely acute, and I would, therefore, urge upon Your 
Excellency the desirability of securing the consent of His 
Majesty's Government to the introduction during the next 
Session of the Legislative Council of a measure embodying 
the policy laid down by the Transvaal Government in 
Government Notice No. 356, of 1903,^ and referred to in 
your despatch to the Right Honourable the Secretary of 
State of the ist February, 1904. 

The legislation which it is proposed to introduce would 
contain the following provisions in regard to Asiatics, 
which term is taken to include British Indians : — 

1. It is proposed to exempt from the necessity of resid- 
ing in a distinct Asiatic quarter those Asiatics who satisfy 
the Colonial Secretary that they are possessed of intellectual 
attainments, social qualities, and habits of life such as to 
fit them for a mode of living in accordance with European 

Asiatics to whom such exemption is granted will have 
the right to live anywhere. If they come under the cate- 
gory of the next succeeding Section (2) they will be allowed 
to trade outside bazaars, but otherwise not. 

They will be exempt from registration ; otherwise they 
will not be exempt from the existing disabilities on coloured 

Servants of exempted Asiatics, will be allowed to live with 
their employers. 

2. In regard to Asiatics already here, the vested interests 

1 Printed in [Cd. 1684]. 


of those who had established businesses here before the 
war will be recognized and licences will be renewed to 
trade under the same conditions during the residence in 
this Colony of the licensee ; that is to say, it is not proposed 
to disturb those traders who had been allowed to establish 
themselves here before the war. 

3. With the two exceptions above enumerated all 
Asiatics Uving within muncipal boundaries will be required 
to live or trade within bazaars set aside for the purpose. 
All Asiatics will be prohibited from holding land outside 
bazaars, but this prohibition will not apply in respect of 
land which is now set aside, and used for religious pur- 

4. All Asiatics entering the Transvaal shall, unless 
specially exempted, take out a certificate of registration 
at a charge of /j. 

5. It is not proposed to put any restriction upon the 
issue of hawkers' licences, provided that sanction is given 
to the introduction of an Ordinance which will limit as 
far as possible the immigration of this class of Asiatic. 

I realize very fully that legislation of such a restrictive 
nature may not at first sight commend itself to His 
Majesty's Government, but the events of the past twelve 
months have convinced every member of the Executive 
Council that any modification of such restrictions as are 
now proposed can only be insisted on in the face of most 
strenuous opposition by the public of this Colony. The 
attitude of the Commercial Community in the Colony has 
been made evident by constant resolutions adopted by 
every Chamber of Commerce throughout the Transvaal. 
In the course of debates which took place in the 
Legislative Council on the question of the granting of 
the Municipal Franchise to British Indians, and again, 
on the question of the renewal of licences to British 
Indian traders, the non-official members were — with the 
exception of Mr. Hosken — unanimous in condemning 
any policy which did not impose severe restrictions 
on all Asiatics. The revelation of this strong feeling 


has impressed the Government with the hopelessness of 
securing the acquiescence of the public in any further con- 
cessions to the British Indian than are contained in Law 
3 of 1885. 

The case for the British Indians is fully stated in a letter 
addressed by Sir M. Bhownaggree to Mr. Chamberlain, 
dated the 15th September, 1903,^ which will doubtless be 
before His Majesty's Government when this matter comes 
up for consideration. 

It is I think desirable that if possible the sentiments of 
the white population in regard to this matter should at the 
same time be clearly understood. I have no hesitation in 
saying that in all towns in the Transvaal the Asiatic 
question overshadows all others, and I fear that unless 
we are able to reconcile the opinion in England with the 
opinion held in this country the Government will be landed 
in a serious deadlock. 

I do not seek to justify the prejudices which exist ; I 
merely desire to set them forth. 

They cannot be ignored. They have got to be reckoned 

It is true that the British Government have laid down : — 

" that there shall not be in the eye of the law any 
distinction or disqualification whatever founded on 
mere distinction of colour, origin, language, or creed," 

but the history of South Africa has been such as to set 
up an impassable barrier between the European and the 
coloured races. The introduction and establishment of 
a white race into this country has only been effected after 
constant warfare with savage tribes, who have from time to 
time rebelled against the dominion of the white man. 
These outbreaks have invariably been accompanied by 
murders and outrages of a revolting description, of which 
many men now living have been actual eye-witnesses. 
These episodes cannot be effaced from the memory of any 

^ Enclosure in No. i . 


South African, and have engendered a feeling of animosity 
against the coloured man which cannot be eradicated by- 

Of course, in theory, the white residents of South Africa 
should easily differentiate between the uncivilized negro 
of South Africa and the British Indian, who has always 
been a temperate, law-abiding, citizen, but in the mind of 
the average Colonial, and particularly of the Dutch, a man 
is either a *' white man " or a " coloured man," and the 
nicer distinctions of racial origin are completely lost sight 

Under the old Grondwet the line was distinctly drawn 
between coloured and white. It is there stated there 
shall be no equality berween coloured and white, and 
though in the eye of the law they are equal, there is not 
in this country one man in a hundred who would agree to 
recognize the coloured man as capable of admission to the 
same social standard as the white. 

I do not urge that these sentiments are reasonable, but 
they imbue the mind of every South African, and find ex- 
pression in the universal cry of " A white man's country." 
The result of any attempt to ignore them would be attended, 
I feel sure, with most deplorable results. 

Sir M. Bhownaggree's argument is to the effect that 
England has bound herself by explicit and repeated pro- 
mises to place her Asiatic subjects on a footing of equality 
with British subjects throughout the Empire ; that in the 
Transvaal such equal rights have been denied by the 
jealousy of European rivals, and that the Imperial Govern- 
ment is bound to intervene to redeem its pledges. Such 
a view might esLsily become impressed upon the minds of 
the English Public, but the consequence of an attempt 
to enforce it in this country would, in my opinion, be 
disastrous. Trade jealousy undoubtedly exists, but it is 
really prompted by the instinct of self-preservation in the 
minds of the European trading community. The problem 
does not begin and end with a shopkeeper's quarrel, but 
is more far-reaching than the questions whether this 


country shall be governed by Englishmen or Boers, or 
whether its mines shall be worked by Kaffirs or Chinese. 

Sir M. Bhownaggree's argument is almost entirely his- 
torical, and he begins by reciting certain specific under- 
takings given in this country and elsewhere. When bring- 
ing the Indian Peninsula under the sovereignty of the 
British Crown, the Imperial Government pledged itself to 
make no distinction in law either in favour of or against 
any race or colour. 

In the Proclamation of 1843, preliminary to the annexa- 
tion of Natal, the same principle was expressly embodied. 

There would have been no difficulty in multiplying 
instances of such declarations. The British Government 
enforced the observance of these principles upon the late 
Republican Government of the Transvaal, and so endorsed 
their promises by action. 

In considering the position in which we are placed to-day 
we must remember not only the state of opinion which 
existed in the earlier half of the nineteenth century on the 
subject of racial equality, but also the events which have 
happened since. Pledges such as those contained in the 
proclamation of Sir Charles Napier were made at a time 
when large sections of the British nation had not come 
into touch with coloured races as they have to-day. It 
was commonly supposed that all races irrespective of race 
or colour were capable of the same civilization, and under 
this idea pledges were then made which the British Govern- 
ment has since struggled in the face of insuperable diffi- 
culties to carry out. 

It was in accordance with this policy that the British 
Government resisted by every means in its power the im- 
position by the Transvaal Republic of restrictions upon 
British Asiatics. The British Government were merely 
adopting the policy which, as a matter of course, they 
would have adopted in any country where the rights of 
British subjects were being overridden, but I do not think 
that the consequences which must ultimately result from such 
a policy were reaUzed at that time. To-day, the Government 


cannot fail to perceive the effects on the social composition 
of the country, which have already resulted from the con- 
cessions made to British Indians in the past, or to see clearly 
what will be the consequence of making still further con- 
cessions. The nature of these consequences may be learned 
by examining three typical examples — Johannesburg, 
Pietersburg, and Natal. 

In these three instances the growth of the Indian popula- 
tion has been very different in proportion to the difference 
of the facilities afforded them. In the Transvaal the Re- 
publican Government were able to obey in some degree the 
instincts which prompt a Colonial population to check 
Indian immigration in spite of external pressure from the 
Imperial Government. But in this country, unlike countries 
where governments are more firmly established, law was 
strongly or weakly administered in proportion to the pres- 
sure which the local European population were able to 
apply. In Johannesburg there existed a strong com- 
mercial community with a well-organized Chamber of 
Commerce, and a class of customers whose standard of 
living is exceptionally high. In this town, therefore, 
Indians, though numerous, never became a very important 
element in the population. In the centre of the town 
there exist indeed a few Indian shops, but the great bulk 
of the Asiatic population confines itself to hawking vege- 
tables and conducting a pedlar's trade amongst the Kaf&rs 
on the mines. The general aspect of the town is that of 
a European community, and would remind the visitor 
more of London or Birmingham than of Cairo or Bombay. 
But in a remote community like Pietersburg, the case is 
very different. While the town supports a few substantial 
wholesale merchants almost the entire retail trade is in 
the hands of Indians. There are a few large stores belong- 
ing to European merchants which are the retail depots of 
wholesale establishments. In addition to these there is 
one retail store in the hands of a small English trader. 
With these exceptions, and leaving aside hairdressers, 
chemists, and shops of a special nature, the whole of the 


retail trade round the square is in the hands of the Indians. 
In fact, the white men supported by the trade carried on 
round the Market Square in Pietersburg are numerically 
in the minority. The town from a commercial point of 
view ha^ a hybrid appearance, the Indian element being 
rather more prominent than the European. But the most 
serious feature in this town is the increasing predominance 
of the Indians. A long list might be furnished of small 
white traders who once had stores round the Square, and 
have now been crushed out of existence. The total white 
population of Pietersburg is estimated at 1,684. The 
registers of the Asiatic Department show no less than 135 
Indians almost entirely adult males, and practically all 
engaged in the business of store-keeping. 

Sir M. Bhownaggree is evidently writing in ignorance of 
the existing circumstances of urban life outside Johannes- 
burg and Pretoria when, in Section 18 of his letter to Mr. 
Chamberlain, he states that if the Franchise were granted 
with educational restrictions : — 

*' there is not the shadow of a shade of fear of Indians 
dominating the elections or being sufficiently strong 
to turn the scale between rival parties in the 

To come now to Natal. In that Colony the presence of 
the Indian has had an even more injurious effect upon the 
growth of a European population than in such a town 
as Pietersburg. So prevalent is the Indian element in that 
country that the moment one crosses the Transvaal Border 
he loses the impression that he is travelling in a European 
country at all. Natal has an immense native population, 
which twenty years ago was served in the way of trade only 
by Europeans. Traders of this class formed an important 
element in the white population of Natal. To-day this 
class of trader has vanished altogether, and their business 
is now entirely in the hands of Asiatics. I hope to be able 
to furnish tabulated information, which will give clear 


evidence of the effect which Indian immigration is having 
upon the development of the population. 

The population of the South African Colonies may be 
divided into three classes. There is, first of all, the class 
engaged in official and professional work, and in the con- 
duct of large undertakings. In this sphere the European 
will always remain supreme ; it is, nevertheless, open to 
invasion by Asiatics. On a level with those, but in a cate- 
gory apart, are the farmers, almost entirely Dutch in 
nationality, whose sphere is unaffected by Asiatic competi- 
tion. Secondly, there is the class of retail traders, and small 
cultivators or market-gardeners. It is quite possible for 
the Asiatic to exclude the European from this sphere alto- 
gether. Again, on a level with this second class, but quite 
apart from it, are the skilled tradesmen and mechanics, 
whose place might be taken by Asiatics, but who can prob- 
ably be trusted by combination to maintain their ground. 
Thirdly, there is the class of unskilled labourers. This 
consists exclusively of Kaffirs whose insufficient number it 
is now proposed to supplement by indentured Chinese 
coolies. For the present, if not permanently, the white 
man steadily refuses to share this sphere with the Kafi&r 
races. The statesman would be more than sanguine who 
expected to find room in this third division for the expan- 
sion of a white population. All we can say with certainty 
is that the numbers which can be maintained in the first 
two classes are dependent almost entirely on the numbers 
obtainable for the third class. The direct practical and 
immediate way to make room for white men in this country 
is by additions to the labouring classes, which is the 
necessary foundation upon which the superstructure of 
the other two classes can be built. As you enlarge these 
foundations so the two other classes will be enlarged auto- 
matically, but not in the same ratio, for the second and 
larger class will increase much more rapidly than the first. 

Assuming, therefore, that the first duty of statesmen in 
this country is to multiply homes for white men, there is 
every justification for the enlargement of the labouring 


class by the introduction of Asiatics, provided the limita- 
tion of their sphere of work to that of unskilled labour is 
maintained. But it is very dif&cult to prove that the 
admission of Asiatics of the second class enlarges in other 
directions the sphere for white men to a degree which com- 
pensates for such admission. It may lead to a slight reduc- 
tion in the cost of living, and thence to a certain enlarge- 
ment of the mechanic class, but no new sphere for white 
men is created, which at all corresponds to the space which 
is filled up by the intrusion of the Asiatic into the sphere 
of commerce and agriculture. The nett result will be that 
to which Natal is approximating, where for 73,000 whites 
you have a population of 80,000 Indians, and where white 
men as small cultivators and retail traders have been well- 
nigh eliminated. 

Sir M. Bhownaggree regards as most unfortunate the 
description of Indians of this country as " Asiatics of a low 
i/pe." I have appended to this memorandum a recent 
correspondence in which Indian writers themselves lend 
colour to this observation. It is evident that it is not the 
Secretary of State who has been misinformed by Your 
Excellency, but Sir M. Bhownaggree who hcis been misin- 
formed by his local correspondent. He remarks for in- 
stance that Dr. Porter's evidence as to the insanitary 
condition of the coolie location, and as to the danger of an 
outbreak of plague from that quarter : — 

" was controverted by (Dr. F. P. Marais and Dr. 
Johnson) medical men of at Iccist equal authority, 
and of larger South African experience." 

Dr. Porter's opinion was supported by the Medical 
Of&cer of Health for the Transvaal, the Medical Officer 
of Health for the Witwatersrand, and Dr. Murray, a medical 
man of long South African experience. Dr. Johnson 
definitely committed himself to the opinion that plague 
was not likely to break out in the location (see questions 
6775 and 67 y^ of the Johannesburg Insanitary Area Com- 


mission Report). The present outbreak of plague originated 
in that location. Dr. Marais, on the other hand, steadily- 
refused to commit himself to any such opinion, and the 
last two weeks have appended a tragic commentary to his 
caution on this point. After devoted attendance on sup- 
posed cases of pneumonia in the location. Dr. Marais himself 
died of the same symptoms on the i8th March, the day before 
the outbreak was identified as Pneumonic Plague. Within 
a week his wife, three of his four children, and his attendant 
succumbed to the disease. 

Again, Sir M. Bhownaggree has been led by a petition 
to which the signatures of forty Europeans are attached 
to question the belief that public opinion is intensely hostile 
to the Indian Community. The signatories to the petition 
are leading residents of Johannesburg ; and while I do not 
question for one moment the genuine nature of their appeal, 
the fact must not be lost sight of that, as I have demon- 
strated above, the conditions of Johannesburg at the 
present time are such that the big European firms can 
well ignore the competition of Asiatic traders, and are in 
quite a different position from that of the European trader 
in the smaller towns. The difficulties experienced by the 
Colonial Secretary in establishing Asiatic Bazaars within 
reasonable distance of these towns in the face of strenuous 
opposition from their inhabitants point to the fact that 
Sir M. Bhownaggree has been strangely misinformed. 

In my opinion we are face to face with a most difi&cult 
problem of modem civilization. The British Empire is 
now so extended as to include countries typical of every 
climate ; it contains large tropical tracts, some, like India, 
thickly peopled, others, like Central Africa, almost destitute 
of population, both alike incapable of becoming the per- 
manent home of a white nation. It likewise happens to 
contain a certain principal share of the temperate countries 
still open for settlement by European races. India belongs 
to the first class, and is a country in which the European 
leads a purely exotic existence. The European element 
as compared numerically to the native can never be other- 


wise than insignificant, and must always be confined to 
the official and military classes, and the higher branches 
of commerce and industry. In any other branch there 
never was and never will be any question of the European 
ousting the native. India has in her climate a protection 
more permanent and more effective against social invasion 
than any act of alien immigration could ever afford her. 

But South Africa is one of the countries inhabitable 
alike by Europeans and Asiatics, and it is difficult to con- 
ceive any question at the present moment more momentous 
than the struggle between East and West for the inheritance 
of these semi-vacant territories. Promises have been 
made without knowledge or perception of the consequence 
involved in their fulfilment. 

If the redemption of the pledges upon which Sir M. 
Bhownaggree depends both in letter and spirit means that 
in fifty or a hundred years this country will have fallen 
to the inheritance of the Eastern instead of Western popu- 
lations, then from the point of view of civilization they 
must be numbered among promises which it is a greater 
crime to keep than to break. As India is protected by 
her climate against Europeans, so England is protected by 
the same agency against the invasion of the Asiatic, to 
which this country is subject. But if it were not so would 
the faith of these pledges be held to entitle the Indian shop- 
keeper to eliminate from English society the small shop- 
keeper and farmer ? They would be held by English 
statesmen to be no more sacred than a promise which 
inadvertently committed a man to suicide. It was pre- 
cisely this feeling which the anti-Chinese agitation aroused. 
The English electorate then showed themselves sufficiently 
strenuous for the exclusion of Asiatics who would reduce, 
it was thought, the market for white labour. 

I have not touched upon the sanitary dangers arising 
from the presence of an Asiatic population, except to correct 
Sir M. Bhownaggree's statement. I have preferred to 
place the matter upon what I regard as its true footing. 
The Europeans who form the Commercial Community 


of this country are struggling for continued existence which 
is threatened by an influx of Asiatics. Owing to past 
events, vested interests have been acquired, which it is 
impossible for the Government of the Transvaal to ignore, 
but if this country in the future is to be a sphere for the 
development of an English population, the principles of 
our Asiatic policy must in my opinion be such as make 
the granting of traders' licences subject to the conditions 
enumerated above, and to control the future immigration 
of Asiatics by a law similar to that of Cape Colony and 
Natal. In considering the provisions restricting the immi- 
gration of aliens, it is obvious that as far as possible the 
legislation introduced by the various Colonies should be 
uniform. Cape Colony and Natal would have a legitimate 
grievance against the Transvaal if the laws in force in the 
latter Colony were less stringent than those in force in the 
former. If such were the case it would be quite easy for 
immigrants to enter the Transvaal via Delagoa Bay, and 
to make their way into the neighbouring Colonies. It is 
quite impossible to control ingress and egress from adjoining 
countries divided by a border line so extended as that 
which separates the Colonies of South Africa. I do not 
for one moment believe that the Legislatures of either 
Cape Colony or Natal will consent to the proposal to include 
the Indian language in the test to be applied to immigrants 
contained in the telegram from the Secretary of State of 
the 4th January, 1904. 

Even if they are wilUng to do so, I am not, after mature 
consideration, prepared to submit such a proposal to the 
Legislative Council of the Transvaal although when it was 
originally suggested I offered no opposition thereto. 

The episodes of the past few weeks have brought the 
Asiatic question into prominence, and I think that I am 
able to gauge with accuracy the feeling of the people of 
this country towards British Indians generally. 

The outbreak of plague has demonstrated the bias of 
the European population, but I base my judgment rather 
on the exhibition of public feeling recently manifested 


in the Legislative Council, in the discussions of every 
Chamber of Commerce, and by the whole body of the public 
at the time when the Government undertook the task of 
selecting sites for bazaars. The British Indian Association 
maintains that these sites are quite unsuitable, but they 
have, in my opinion, overstated their case. 

The objections raised by the townspeople have been also 

I think that the selections have been well made. 

Speaking generally I am convinced that a modus vivendi 
is only possible by a compromise, and that the basis of a 
compromise which will be acceptable to the Europeans of 
the Transvaal must be to treat fairly those Indians who 
have been allowed to come into the country, and to let any 
future immigrants know the disabilities under which they 
will be allowed to enter the Transvaal. 

The prohibition which exists against the owning of land 
by British Indians is due to the same general instinct of 
self-preservation which has led to the protests against 
Indian traders by the Commercial Community. It is 
perfectly true that if it were possible for the Indians to 
acquire land and devote themselves to the cultivation 
of the soil, the necessaries of life in the way of garden 
produce which are now for the moment abnormally costly 
would be considerably cheapened, but the community 
would infinitely prefer to suffer a temporary disability in 
this respect than to see the establishment in their midst 
of a race of landowners whom they instinctively regard as 

At the present time the market is glutted with farms 
for sale, and I have no doubt that if the restrictions now 
placed upon the acquisition of land by Indians were re- 
moved thousands of acres would at once pass into the 
hands of British Indians, many of whom have acquired 
immense wealth in trade both here and in Natal. The 
ignorant Dutch farmer is a credulous person, and just now 
is being crammed by unscrupulous people with the most 
absurd stories to the effect that the British Government 


is determined to wrest his land from him. The Fencing 
Act, the taking of a Census, the Stock Regulations, are 
interpreted as insidious means whereby the Government 
is seeking to acquire his farm. These stories are, of course, 
ridiculous, but they receive ready credence from the un- 
educated Boer, and they produce in his mind a sense of 
uneasiness, and a desire to " make hay while the sun 
shines," and dispose of his land on the first opportunity. 
The present would be a most unfortunate moment to bring 
into the land market an entirely new speculator, and it is 
our duty to save the farmers of the country from this 

For these reasons the Government deem it impossible 
to allow the indiscriminate acquisition of land by Indians, 
but they are prepared to allow Indians to hold land in 
bazaars or any other areas set apart for Asiatics. It 
would, moreover, be only reasonable to remove the vexa- 
tious provision of the existing law, by which Indians are 
prohibited from holding in their own name land devoted 
to religious purposes. 

I have endeavoured to set forth clearly what I believe 
to be the true feeling of the general public in regard to this 
question as well as to give an outline of the legislation 
which we propose to introduce during the next Session of 
the Legislative Council. It embodies the policy contained 
in Government Notice No. 356, of 1903, to which this 
Government has steadily adhered. As I have already 
stated, I anticipate that the proposed restrictions on 
British Indians may appear to His Majesty's Government 
to be somewhat severe, but I am quite certain that we 
shall have the greatest difficulty in carrying in the Legisla- 
tive Council even such a measure as I have described. 
There is no mistaking the feeling of the public on this 
question, and I am confident that great pressure will be 
put upon the Government to impose still further restrictions 
than those at present proposed, but it would be most 
unfortunate if we were after meeting with strenuous opposi- 
tion to pass any measure in the Legislative Council which 



might afterwards fail to receive the approval of the Secre- 
tary of State. 

Some legislative measure is urgently necessary, and I 
therefore earnestly hope that we may be informed with 
the least possible delay whether the Secretary of State 
will now give his approval to the introduction of legislation 
containing the provisions which I have enumerated above. 
I have, etc., 

Arthur Lawley, 

His Excellency 

The Right Honourable Viscount Milner, 
P.C., G.C.B., G.C.M.G., etc., etc., 



The following is a verbatim official report of the deputa- 
tion of the Transvaal British Indian Association to Lord 
Elgin, Secretary of State for the Colonies, on November 
8, 1906. 

The Deputation consisted of the following gentlemen : — 

Lord Stanley of Alderley. 

Mr. H. O. Ally) Delegates from the 

Mr. Gandhi J Transvaal. 

Sir Lepel Griffin. 

Mr. J. D. Rees, CLE., M.P. 

Sir George Birdwood, K.C.S.I. 

Sir Henry Cotton, K.C.S.I., M.P. 

Mr. Naoroji. 

Sir M. M. Bhownaggree, K.C.I. E. 

Mr. Amir All 

Mr. Harold Cox, M.P. 

Mr. Thornton, C.S.I. 

The Earl of Elgin : I should like to say, gentlemen, 
that I made this interview a private one because I thought, 
from experience of other meetings of the same sort, we 
should be better able to discuss the matter friendlily across 
the table without the presence of public reporters ; at the 
same time, I am quite aware that the Deputation wish to 
go into matters of some detail, and therefore I have made 
arrangements for a note to be taken, so that anything which 
may be said shall be on record. Then I should like to say 
one other word. I recognize among the Deputation some 



of those with whom I have had the pleasure of working in 
India, and I hope they have explained to the Deputation, 
if it was necessary, that my sentiments would all be in 
favour of doing anything I could for the interest of the 
British Indians. (Hear, hear.) 

Sir Lepel Griffin : My Lord, what you have just said 
makes my duty in introducing the Delegates more easy. 
We are very much obliged to your Lordship for admitting 
this deputation of men who are all known to you as gentle- 
men connected with India, who have been most of them 
in India themselves, and all are interested in India, and 
we are very glad, without any question of party feeling, 
because all sides are represented in this Deputation, to 
introduce to you the Delegates from South Africa, Mr. 
Gandhi who is, as your Lordship is aware, a barrister of the 
Inner Temple, and a man who, in the late Boer War, and 
in the late rising in Natal, has done most excellent work 
for the country in organizing ambulance corps and in other 
ways — he practises now in Johannesburg — and Mr. Ally, 
his colleague, who is the representative of the Mohammedan 
part of the Indian community in the Transvaal, a merchant 
of very good position, and the founder and, I believe, the 
Chairman of the Islamic Association in the Transvaal. To 
those gentlemen I propose to leave any details of the Ordi- 
nance which has now been passed and which we are about 
to ask His Majesty's Government to veto. But I would 
like to say a few words in explaining the matter before the 
Colonial Office, and I shall take up the time of your Lord- 
ship only for a few minutes. I have been asked to 
present this Deputation, principally, I fancy, because 
I happen to be the Chairman of the Council of the East 
India Association, of which your Lordship is a distinguished 
Vice-President, but the question which the East India 
Association has so often urged upon successive Colonial 
Secretaries and Secretaries for India and Viceroys of India, 
is not directly concerned in our presence here to-day. The 
bed-rock, as your Lordship is aware, of the East India 
Association's protest, that all well-conducted, loyal, and 


industrious British subjects, whatever their race or colour, 
should receive equal rights in all colonies of the British Empire; 
that is the bed-rock of justice which has always been refused 
in the past, but on which the East India Association, 
which is represented largely here to-day, begs to continue 
to rely, and from which it must continue to make its pro- 
test. That, my Lord, is not precisely the question which 
this Deputation desires to put forward this afternoon ; 
they are not making any of those large claims which we have 
before made ; they only ask that a certain Ordinance, apply- 
ing to the Transvaal alone, may not receive the sanction 
of His Majesty's Government. A few words only are 
necessary on this point. During the Boer Government, 
the 'British Indians were treated with considerable harsh- 
ness, but their immigration into the Transvaal was not 
prohibited, and with the exception of a fee for licence for 
adult traders, they were not interfered with. But their 
position was an exceedingly uncomfortable one, and many 
protests were raised, which, we understood, when the 
country fell into the hands of the English, would be redressed. 
So far from being redressed, their position is made worse, 
and the rules for registration and identification were made 
exceedingly more rigorous. The Ordinance, which has 
now been passed, makes, whatever people in South Africa 
may choose to say, their position infinitely worse and more 
degrading. It may be said that, in the Transvaal, these 
rules are for the benefit of the Indians, but the toad under 
the harrow knows where the harrow grips him, and the 
Indians in the Transvaal consider that the new regula- 
tions of this Ordinance are a grievance and an insult which 
is almost too grievous to be borne ; and I for one most 
strongly support their claim and their protest. Under 
this Ordinance, every one in the Transvaal is exposed to 
the most rigorous investigation ; the impressions of his 
fingers are to be recorded on every pass ; no one is allowed 
in, man, woman, or child, without registration of so rigorous 
a character, that it has been unheard of in any civilized 
country within a recollection. Under this regulation, every 


Indian in the Transvaal, whether an adult male, woman, or 
whether a child, and even babes in arms, will be obliged to 
be registered under such conditions as only ordinarily apply 
to convicts in a civilized country ; and evasion, or ignor- 
ance, or even forgetfulness on this point is punished by 
crushing fines, by imprisonment with hard labour, by expul- 
sion, and by ruin. You, my Lord, who have been Viceroy 
of India, and whose sympathy is with the country, must 
know that legislation of this sort is unheard of under the 
British Flag ; indeed, to-day, in Europe I may say, with- 
out any exaggeration, that with the exception of the Russian 
legislation against the Jews, there is no legislation compar- 
able to this on the Continent of Europe ; and in England, 
if we wanted a similar case, we should have to go back to the 
time of the Plantagenets. And against whom is this legis- 
lation directed ? Against the most orderly, honourable, 
industrious, temperate race in the world, people of our own 
stock and blood, with whom our language has, as a sister 
language, been connected. There is no occasion, in the 
presence of people connected with India, who know its 
history, to say what the Indian community is to-day ; it 
is almost an insult to refer to it. And by whom is this 
legislation instigated ? I am told, and I believe it, that 
it is not by the best part of the British Community in the 
Transvaal, who are, I believe, in favour of giving all reason- 
able privileges to British-Indian subjects ; it is by the alien 
foreign population in the Transvaal, who are, perhaps, to 
some extent inconvenienced by Indian traders, who are 
so very much more temperate and industrious than them- 
selves. It does not come from the English. The legisla- 
tion is prompted, and the prejudice against the Indians is 
encouraged, by the aliens, by Russian Jews, by Syrians, 
by German Jews, by every class of aliens, the very off- 
scourings of the international sewers of Europe. The 
English residents, against whom I do not wish to say one 
word of criticism, are a part, in my mind, of the Transvaal, 
but the Transvaal is only a colony by conquest, not by 
settlement, and it is the aliens who are opposed to this 


honourable Indian community. My Lord, I do not wish 
to take up more of your time, but what I wish to say is, 
that to-day we ask you, as representing His Majesty's 
Government, and as we know your sympathies are with 
the Indians over whom you have ruled with so much dis- 
tinction, to procure the vetoing of this Ordinance. No large 
questions are brought before you to-day by this deputation. 
They are not asking for poUtical rights ; they are not ask- 
ing for gratitude for their great and devoted services in the 
Transvaal War, where so many of them lost their lives in 
their devotion to England, doing as courageous work as 
any one of the members of the armies which were sent by 
England, by Australia, or by Canada. Those services have 
not been recognized ; on the contrary, they have been 
ignored, and further burdens have been placed upon them. 
We ask for nothing to-day except the merest, barest justice. 
We ask that the whips which the Boers have inflicted upon 
us may not be changed into scorpions wielded by the 
British Government. I would say, in conclusion, that we 
hope everything from the present Government, and for 
this reason, that the grievances of the Chinese have received 
the utmost sympathy at the hands of the Government, 
but so far as this Deputation is concerned, the Chinese and 
other alien nations do not count. We ask, not for the Chinese, 
but for our own fellow-subjects, and we ask that justice, 
if not generosity, may be dealt out to them, and that your 
Lordship will save them from insult and oppression. It 
was at your Lordship's request that this deputation was a 
small one ; it might have been indefinitely extended. This 
is a test-case — a question of going forward or going back. 
Your Lordship, as a past Viceroy of India, is aware that the 
attention of the whole of India, 300 millions of Indians, is 
intent to-day upon the decision which will be given in this 
test-case, and I beg your Lordship to think and to remember 
that, besides the Indians of Indian birth, against whom the 
insults of this Ordinance are directed, there are the whole 
body of Indian officials, to which I and most of the members 
of this Deputation belong, who are insulted with the natives 


of India. Is it not to be supposed that we, who have worked 
with, we who have governed, this province of India under 
your Lordship and under your predecessors and successors, 
have been governing degraded creatures who are placed 
lower even than the Zulus and Russian Jews ? No my 
Lord ! We trust to you to do what you can to defend the 
people whom you have governed so well. And I will beg 
you to excuse any exciting warmth in my way of speaking, 
because I assure you that any warmth in my words is very 
much exceeded by the feeling of shame and resentment which 
fills my heart at the way in which the British Indians of 
the Transvaal are treated to-day by the settlers (I will not 
call them colonists) of that country. 


Mr. Gandhi : Both Mr. Ally and I are very much obliged 
to your Lordship for giving us the opportunity of placing 
the British- Indian position before you. Supported though 
we are by distinguished Anglo-Indian friends and others, 
I feel that the task before Mr. Ally and myself is very diffi- 
cult, because your Lordship, in reply to the cablegram sent 
to you through Lord Selborne, after the great Indian 
Mass Meeting in Johannesburg, was pleased to inform the 
British India Association that, although you would be 
pleased to give us every opportunity of stating our case, 
no good purpose was likely to be served, as your Lordship 
had approved of the principle of the Ordinance, in that it 
gave some measure of relief to the British- Indian com- 
munity, though not as much as His Majesty's Government 
would desire. We, who are the men on the spot, and who 
are affected by the Ordinance in question, have ventured 
to think otherwise. We have felt that this Ordinance does 
not give us any relief whatsoever. It is a measure which 
places British Indians in a far worse position than before, 
and makes the lot of the British Indian well-nigh intolerable. 
Under the Ordinance, the British Indian is assumed to 
be a criminal. If a stranger, not knowing the circumstances 


of the Transvaal, were to read the Ordinance, he would have 
no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that an Ordinance 
of that nature, which carries so much penalties, and wounds 
the British-Indian community on all sides, must only apply 
to thieves or a gang of robbers. I venture, therefore, to 
think that, although Sir Lepel Grifi&n has used strong lan- 
guage in connexion with the Ordinance, he has not at all 
exaggerated, but every word of it is justified. At the 
same time, I beg to state that the Ordinance, as amended, 
does not apply to British- Indian females. The draft Ordi- 
nance undoubtedly applied to females also, but owing to 
the very strong protests made by the British- India Associa- 
tion, and by Mr. Ally separately, as Chairman of the Hamidia 
Islamic Society, pointing out the great violence that would 
have been done to female sanctity, if I may say so, the Ordi- 
nance was amended so as to take females out of its operation. 
But it applies to all adult males and even to children, in that 
the parents or guardians have to take out registration 
certificates for their children or wards, as the case may be. 
It is a fundamental maxim of the British law that every 
one is presumed to be innocent until he is found guilty, but 
the Ordinance reverses the process, brands every Indian 
as guilty, and leaves no room for him to prove his innocence. 
There is absolutely nothing proved against us, and yet every 
British Indian, no matter what his status is, is to be con- 
demned as guilty, and not treated as an innocent man. My 
Lord, an Ordinance of this nature it is not possible for 
British Indians to reconcile themselves to. I do not know 
that such an Ordinance is applicable to free British sub- 
jects in any part of His Majesty's dominions. Moreover, 
what the Transvaal thinks to-day, the other colonies think 
to-morrow. When Lord Milner sprang his Bazaar Notice 
on British Indians, the whole of South Africa rang with the 
idea. The term " bazaar " is a misnomer ; it has been really 
applied to locations where trade is utterly impossible. How- 
ever, a proposal was seriously made, after a bazaar notice, 
by the then Mayor of Durban, Mr. Ellis Brown, that Indians 
should be relegated to bazaars. There is not the slightest 


reason why this Ordinance also, if it ever becomes law, should 
not be copied by the other parts of South Africa. The 
position to-day in Natal is that even indentured Indians 
are not required to carry passes as contemplated by the 
Asiatic Law Amendment Ordinance ; nor are there any 
penalties attached to the non-carrying of passes as are 
defined in the Ordinance under discussion. We have 
already shown, in our humble representation, that no relief 
has been granted by this Ordinance, because the remission 
of the £-^ fee referred to by Mr. Duncan is quite illusory, 
because all we British Indians resident in the Transvaal, 
who are obliged to pay £'^ under Law 3 of 1885, and those 
who, under Lord Selborne's promises are likely to be allowed 
to re-enter the Transvaal, have paid the ^3 already. The 
authority to issue temporary permits is also superfluous, 
in that the Government have already exercised the power, 
and there are to-day in the Transvaal several Indians in 
possession of temporary permits. They are liable to be 
expelled from the Colony on the expiry of their permits. 
The relief under the Liquor Ordinance is, British Indians 
feel, a wanton insult. So much was this recognized by the 
local Government, that they immediately assured the 
Indians that it was not intended for British Indians at all, 
but for somebody else. We have no connexion with any- 
body else, and we have always endeavoured to show that 
the British Indians ought to be treated as British subjects, 
and ought not to be included with the general body of 
Asiatics with respect to whom there may be a need for some 
restrictions which ought not to apply to British Indians as 
British subjects. There remains one more sentiment, that 
is, in connexion with the land owned by the late Aboobaker. 
The land should belong to the heirs by right, but under the 
interpretation reluctantly put upon it by the Supreme 
Court, that it is only individual in character, and does not 
touch the community, the land cannot be transmitted to 
the heirs. The Ordinance is intended to rectify the error, 
but as I had the honour to represent the heirs, I ventured 
to think that even they would not consent to pay for getting 



this relief at the price, in the nature of the Ordinance for 
British Indians ; and certainly the Indian community can 
never exchange, for the relief given to the heirs of the land 
of Aboobaker, an Ordinance of this nature, which requires 
them to pay so great a price for what is really their own. 
So that under the Ordinance, in that respect again, there 
is absolutely no relief. As I said before, we shall be under 
the Ordinance branded as criminals. My Lord, the exist- 
ing legislation is severe enough. I hold in my hands returns 
from the Court of the Magistrate at Volksrust. Over 150 
successful prosecutions of Indians attempting to enter 
the Transvaal have taken place during the years 1905 and 
1906. All these prosecutions, I venture to say, are by no 
means just. I venture to believe that if these prosecutions 
were gone into, you would see that some of them were abso- 
lutely groundless. So far as the question of identification is 
concerned, the present laws are quite enough. I produce 
to Your Lordship the Registration Certificate held by me, 
and it will show how complete it is to establish identification. 
The present law can hardly be called an amendment. I 
produce before Your Lordship a registration receipt held 
by my colleague, Mr. Ally, from the Transvaal Govern- 
ment. Your Lordship will see that it is merely a receipt 
for £Tf. The registration under the present Ordinance is of 
a different type. When Lord Milner wished to enforce 
Law 3 of 1885, he suggested new registration. We pro- 
tested against it, but on his strong advice, as a voluntary 
act, we allowed ourselves to be newly registered ; and hence 
the form produced before Your Lordship. At the time 
the registration was undertaken. Lord Milner stated emphat- 
ically that it was a measure once for all, and that it would 
form a complete titj[e to residence by those who had such 
registration certificates. Is all this now to be undone ? 
Your Lordship is doubtless aware of the Punia case, wherein 
a poor Indian woman, in the company of her husband, was 
torn away from her husband, and was ordered by the Magis- 
trate to leave the country within seven hours. Fortunately 
relief was granted in the end, as the matter was taken up 


in time. A boy under eleven years was also arrested and 
sentenced to pay a fine of /30 or to go to gaol for three 
months, and at the end of it to leave the country. In this 
case again, the Supreme Court has been able to grant justice. 
The conviction was pronounced to be wholly bad, and Sir 
James Rose-Innes stated that the Administration would 
bring upon itself ridicule and contempt if such a policy was 
pursued. If the existing legislation is strong enough, and 
severe enough, to thus prosecute British Indians, is it not 
enough to keep out of the colony British Indians who may 
attempt fraudulently to enter it ? It has been stated that 
the reason for passing the Ordinance is that there is an 
unauthorized influx of British Indians into the Transvaal, 
on a wholesale scale, and that there is an attempt, on the 
part of the Indian community, to introduce Indians in such 
a manner. The last charge has been, times without number, 
repudiated by the Indian community, and the makers of 
the charge have been challenged to prove their statement. 
The first statement has also been denied. I ought to 
mention one thing also ; that is, the fourth resolution that 
was passed at the British- Indian Mass meeting. It was 
passed by the meeting solemnly, prayerfully, and in all 
humility, and the whole of that great meeting decided by 
that resolution that if this Ordinance ever came to be 
enforced and we did not get relief, the British Indians, 
rather than submit to the great degradation involved in it, 
would go to gaol — such was the intensity of the feeling 
aroused by the Ordinance. We have hitherto suffered 
much in the Transvaal and in other parts of South Africa ; 
but the hardship has been tolerable ; we have not con- 
sidered it necessary to travel 6,000 miles to place the position 
before the Imperial Government. But the straining point 
has been reached by the Ordinance, and we felt that we 
should, in all humility, exhaust every resource, even to the 
extent of sending a deputation to wait on Your Lordship. 
The least, therefore, that in my humble opinion is due to 
the British-Indian community, is to appoint a Commission 
as suggested in the humble representation submitted to 


Your Lordship. It is a time-honoured British custom 
that, whenever an important principle is involved, a Com- 
mission is appointed before a step is taken. The question 
of Alien Immigration into the United Kingdom is a parallel 
case. Charges somewhat similar to the charges against the 
Indian community were made against the aliens who enter 
the United Kingdom. There was also the question of 
adequacy of the existing legislation, and the necessity for 
further legislation. All these three points were referred 
to a Commission before any step was taken. I therefore 
venture to think that a Commission should be appointed, 
and the whole question thrashed out before any drastic 
measures are taken. I venture therefore to hope that Your 
Lordship will see your way to grant this small measure of 
relief to the British-Indian community. 


Mr. H. O. Ally : My Lord, we are very much obliged 
to you for the patient hearing Your Lordship is giving to 
the deputation. Mr. Gandhi has stated the case fully before 
Your Lordship, and I do not wish to add much to what has 
already been said. I am not a lawyer, but as a layman, and 
as a resident of old standing in the Transvaal, I do wish to 
submit to Your Lordship that the hardships that the present 
Ordinance would inflict upon us are unbearable. And I 
can assure Your Lordship that, immediately the Ordinance 
was introduced into the Legislative Council of the Trans- 
vaal, my fellow-countrymen felt, and felt very keenly, to 
think that such laws can be passed under a British Govern- 
ment. It is what I should never have believed years ago. 
Our lot is to-day infinitely worse than under the Boer regime ; 
we were able to get protection from the British Govern- 
ment during that time. Are we now, under the same 
Government, to be persecuted ? When aliens of all classes 
are, at the very moment that the Ordinance is introduced, 
pouring into the Transvaal, and when they enjoy all the 
rights and privileges granted to British subjects, my country- 
men, who are always to the fore for the defence of the 


Empire, are suffering these serious disabilities and the dis- 
abilities threatened by the Ordinance. To-day, in India, 
the frontier is guarded by my countrymen, who shoulder 
the rifle in defence of the Empire ; and it is very grievous 
that they should have to suffer such misery, and that there 
should be class-legislation against them of this type. I 
appeal for justice, and I appeal to Your Lordship, in the 
name of the British traditions, that you will be pleased 
to remove the disability that the Ordinance will place upon 
us, by vetoing it, or, at least, by granting a Commission. 
We are loyal British subjects, and, as such, we are entitled 
to the fullest protection. We have not asked for, and we do 
not now ask for, political rights ; we are content that the 
white man should be predominant in the Transvaal, but 
we do feel that we are entitled to all the other ordinary 
rights that a British subject should enjoy. 


Sir Henry Cotton : I wish to say one word, my 
Lord, if I may. I am here not only as a retired Indian 
Official, like many distinguished men I see around me, but 
also as a member of the present Parliament and as Chair- 
man of a meeting, which sat in the Grand Committee Room 
upstairs in the House of Commons, attended by more than 
100 Members of the Liberal party. I take this opportunity 
of saying that I deeply regret that the invitations to attend 
that meeting were not extended to both sides of the House 
(Hear, hear). It was an unfortunate oversight, which we 
all regret. But that meeting, I say, was attended by lOO 
and more members of the House of Commons, and their 
feeling was very strong indeed upon this subject ; indeed, 
they went so far as to record a resolution that they sympa- 
thized with and supported the prayer of the petitioners. 
Since that meeting. My Lord, I have been brought in contact 
with many members of the House of Commons who were 
not present at the meeting, gentlemen on both sides of the 
House. Many gentlemen on the opposite benches have 
also intimated to me that there is a complete sympathy 


with the attitude taken up by Messrs, Gandhi and Ally- 
on behalf of their fellow-subjects in the Transvaal. 

I wish also, in associating myself, as I do completely, 
with the observations which fell from Sir Lepel Grif&n, 
to remind your Lordship that it was Lord Lansdowne, 
for whom we all have the greatest regard and respect, who, 
although he is the leader of the Opposition in the House of 
Lords, is at all events, as we know very well, a most liberal- 
minded statesman, who drew prominent attention in Eng- 
land to the grievances which the British Indians in the 
Transvaal suffered from under President Kruger's admin- 
istration. Nothing, he said, roused so much indignation 
in his mind, or so much anger as the ill-treatment which the 
British Indians received in South Africa. And he went 
further even in his speech — it was a speech delivered at 
Shefi&eld two or three weeks after the outbreak of war — 
for he said that he regarded with grave anxiety the state 
of feeling which must inevitably exist in India, when it was 
known that the British subjects of India in South Africa 
were so ill-treated and ground down. And he pointed out 
the imperative duty of the British Government to improve 
their status and position. 

Now, My Lord, that was a pledge which was given by 
the head of the Opposition in the House of Lords, and I 
appeal to you. My Lord, as the representative of the Liberal 
Government, in dealing with this matter of South Africa, 
that your duty is at least as decisive as Lord Lansdowne 
claimed for himself a few years ago. It is true that the 
people of India do feel this matter very deeply. It is true 
also that the British Indians in South Africa have greater 
grievances to complain of now than they had under the 
Dutch Government, and the climax has been reached in the 
passing of this Ordinance of which Messrs. Gandhi and I 
here so grievously complain. Representing as I do a very 
influential and large section of the House of Commons, and I 
believe the almost unanimous official feeling in India on the 
subject, I do trust that Your Lordship will be able to give 
this petition your favourable consideration. 



SirM. Bhownaggree : My Lord, I think the case has been 
so ably and clearly put before Your Lordship that there is 
not the least occasion for me to go into any details, and if I 
feel called upon to address Your Lordship for a very few 
minutes, it is simply on account of the interest I took in 
this question all through my ten and a half years' career 
in Parliament. I want to bring to your Lordship's notice 
a few points which perhaps may not be within your know- 

In complaining of the grievances of British-Indian subjects 
in South Africa, I had opportunities of seeing your predeces- 
sors, Mr. Chamberlain and Mr. Lyttleton, very often on the 
subject. My activity had taken the form at last of a long 
printed letter, in which I detailed the whole narrative 
of the facts, and Mr. Lyttleton thereupon assured me that 
the case had been so fairly put, and the demands made so 
reasonable, that he hoped to get some relief. I, on the 
other hand, knew what the local forces of opposition to a 
liberal policy on the part of any Ministry of the Imperial 
Government would be, and whilst I thanked him for his 
sympathetic answer, I told him it might be necessary to 
appoint a Commission to inquire into the whole subject. Sir 
George Farrar, who represented the anti-British Indian 
interest in the Transvaal Legislature, also happened at the 
same time to suggest that the appointment of a Commis- 
sion would ventilate the matter, and might bring some 
solution of that very difficult problem. Thereupon, I 
addressed Mr. Lyttleton again, accepting Sir George Farrar's 
offer, and matters were in that train, and I believe Mr. Lyttle- 
ton would have ultimately appointed a Commission, but 
the Government of which he was a member then, went out 
of office. Recognizing the very difficult position in which 
the whole question stands, I now urge that a Commission 
might be appointed, pending the report of which this Ordi- 
nance might at least be held in abeyance, so that you may 
have the benefit of judging the whole question by the report 
of that Commission. 


I have only one word to add, my Lord. For five years 
Your Lordship has been the custodian and guardian of 
Indian interests, and the protector of their rights during a 
memorable and distinguished Viceroyalty. To-day as our 
leader, Sir Lepel Grifl&n, has well said, the eyes of all India 
are focussed on the proceedings which are taking place in 
this room, and I am only expressing the sentiments of the 
three hundred millions of people in India when I express 
the hope that Your Lordship will, on account of the sym- 
pathy which you have shown, and which I believe you are 
ready to show, and of which even on our entrance into this 
room you assured us, allow no other consideration but that 
of justice to weigh with you, and will grant the prayer 
which these gentlemen have come all this long distance here 
to ask at your hands. 


Mr. Rees : I am not going, my Lord, into the subject 
of the merits of the case . I think they were amply dealt with 
by Sir Lepel Griffin ; nor am I going to speak of my interest 
in this subject, which I have often brought before Parlia- 
ment myself, but when Sir Henry Cotton spoke of the 
meeting yesterday, I should like to say that it was not only 
a party meeting, but it was a meeting of a part of a party, 
and that I do deprecate with all my heart and soul, in 
a matter which is of such serious importance, any endeavour 
to make any subject connected with British India a party 
subject. I do not think that there can be a more serious 
matter than this very serious one upon which we have come 
before Your Lordship, viz.: the unfortunate manner in 
which our fellow -subjects have been treated in the Trans- 


Mr. Harold Cox : My Lord, I am in a somewhat differ- 
ent position from most of the gentlemen here, because I 
am neither an ex-official of the Government of India, nor am I 



myself Indian by birth, but I did have the honour personally 
of serving in India for two years under a Native Prince, and 
I look back to that period of my life with the greatest 
pleasure. That is one special reason why I am here to-day. 
But at the back of my mind, the real reason why I am here 
to-day is because I am English, and because I think this 
matter is a disgrace to my country. Our country was 
pledged, when we went to war with the Transvaal, to do jus- 
tice to the British Indians. That justice has not been done, 
and I contend that it is not possible for the present Govern- 
ment, of which Your Lordship is a part, to ride off on the 
plea that the Transvaal is a self-governing colony. It is 
not a self-governing colony. It is absolutely subject to 
your authority, and whatever is done by you to-day or at 
any other time, is done, not in the name of the Transvaal, 
but in the name of the English people, and in the name of 
the English people, I protest against any injustice being 
done to British subjects. 


Mr. Naoroji : I do not want to take up Your Lordship's 
time, and after the able manner in which the whole subject 
has been laid before you, I would only join in the appeal that 
has been made to you on behalf of my fellow-subjects 
under the British flag. If there is one principle more 
important than another, it is that of the freedom of 
British subjects under the British flag, and I do hope that 
the British Government, especially a Liberal Government, 
will stand upon this basis. 


Mr. Ameer Ali : Will Your Lordship allow me to make 
one observation only ? Perhaps my recent experience of 
India is the most recent of all. I venture to say this : that 
the feelings of India are very strong on this subject of the 
injury done to British Indians in the Transvaal, and it will 


be a serious mistake if the subject is put on one side. That 
is the only matter I want to present to Your Lordship. 


The Earl of Elgin : In the first place, I would like to 
say that I entirely accept the position which Mr. Cox put 
upon me. I am responsible, no doubt, for the advice which 
is given in this matter and nobody else, and I do not wish 
to shirk my responsibility. In the second place, I wish also 
to express my adherence to what was said by Mr. Rees, Sir 
Henry Cotton, and others, that I regard this as no party 
question at all. Sir Henry Cotton quoted from Lord 
Lansdowne, but I have before me a despatch from the 
Colonial Secretary of the last Government from which I 
should like to read one paragraph : 

" His Majesty's Government cannot believe that the 
British community in the Transvaal appreciate the true 
nature of the proposition which some of its members are 
pressing upon you. They, as Britons, are as jealous 
of the honour of the British name as ourselves, and even 
if a material sacrifice were necessary to vindicate that 
honour, I feel assured they would cheerfully make it. 
His Majesty's Government hold that it is derogatory to 
national honour to impose on resident British subjects 
disabilities against which we had remonstrated, and to 
which even the law of the late South African Republic 
rightly interpreted did not subject them, and they do 
not doubt that, when this is perceived, the public 
opinion of the colony will not any longer support the 
demand which has been put forward." 

Sir Henry Cotton : May I ask which Colonial Secretary 
that was ? 

The Earl of Elgin : It was from Mr. Lyttleton, written 
in 1904. 

Now I understand from the gentlemen who have come 
before me to-day that we are not here to discuss general 


sympathies, nor are we to consider anything further than 
the rights which the British-Indian communities possessed 
in the past. They do not ask at this present moment for 
an extension of those rights. That limits the matter, as I 
think you wish it to be limited, to the question of this 
Ordinance itself. 

Sir Lepel Griffin : For the present, my Lord. We are 
going to fight the question hereafter. 

The Earl of Elgin : Oh, yes, I am thinking of to-day, 
and the answer I have to give. 

Sir Lepel Griffin : Yes. 

The Earl of Elgin : I only make that observation in 
order that I may be precise in my answer. The question 
therefore is with reference to this Ordinance, and following 
up the remark I made just now about its being no party 
question, I hope you will accept it from me that it was no 
intention of the men at the head of the Transvaal Govern- 
ment — they distinctly stated so to me — that they had no 
intention whatever, in the legislation they brought forward, 
to do otherwise than to improve, rather than to make worse, 
the condition of the British-Indian community. I am not 
saying that the subject is not perfectly open to your 
criticisms, but I wish you to accept from me that that 
was the intention with which this legislation was brought 
forward. Now, Mr. Gandhi explains that, in some cases, 
for instance, in the case of the poll-tax, this concession 
which was supposed to be given under the Ordinance was 
illusory. I admit that I think there was something in 
his statement that most of those who would come under 
the restriction I have mentioned would probably have paid 
the ;^3 . But at the same time, dealing with this as a matter 
of the status of the British Indians in the Transvaal, I can 
see that the Government might quite fairly have held that, 
in removing the imposition of the poll-tax once for all, 
they were pro tanto improving the status of the British 

Then, with regard to the question of permits or registra- 
tion, we have seen one of the permits given under the Boer 


Administration. It is merely a receipt for the money. 
The Boer Administration, in that respect, as well as in a 
good many others, was not so accurate as the administra- 
tion which necessarily, with our ideas, obtains under the 
British Government, and therefore I am only stating the 
view which has been put before me — the view of the Govern- 
ment of the Transvaal is this : that as it stood under the 
rules of the Boer Government, which they had inherited, 
there was great confusion and there were great administra- 
tive difficulties, and that, consequently, there was a consid- 
erable degree of friction and also there arose considerable 
delay in the determination of cases, of which I see traces in 
the petition itself. It was for that purpose, as I understand 
it, that the Government of the Transvaal proposed to con- 
stitute the form of registration ; but according to their 
representations to me, there was no intention whatever 
of making that form of registration in any way more op- 
pressive than the form of permits properly administered. 
And, if I may just for a moment — I do not want to go into 
all details — follow this question of thumb-marks, I think that 
thumb-marks first came into notice prominently when Sir 
Henry Cotton and I were associated in the Government 
of India under our friend Mr. Henry, who occupies a promi- 
nent position in this City now. No doubt the imposition 
of thumb-marks was introduced in that case for the detec- 
tion of criminals, but I do not know why the imposition of 
a thumb-mark in itself should be a very debasing operation. 
In fact, as they say, it has always seemed to me a most 
marvellous thing that they say they can trace every thumb- 
mark ; there might be an advantage over the hierogly- 
phics which some of us call our signatures. And there is 
this fact, I want just to mention, and to bring to the notice 
of Mr. Gandhi, that on the permit which he has handed to 
me issued under the present Ordinance, there is a thumb- 
mark already imposed under the present Ordinance in 
just the same way as it will be imposed under the new 

Mr. Gandhi : Only that that, as I said, is a purely 


voluntary act done by us on the advice and the instigation 
of Lord Milner. He asked us to do that. 

The Earl of Elgin : Quite so ; but still here is a 
certificate which is an official certificate, and it bears a 

Lord Stanley of Alderley : It was affixed without 

The Earl of Elgin : I do not see why it should not 
be affixed to the Registration certificate without preju- 

Sir M. M. Bhownaggree : Might I explain one thing 
here ? Whatever Lord Milner asked British Indians to 
do was done on the understanding that the whole question 
of the treatment of the community was one of consid- 
eration between the Colonial Secretary for the time being, 
and Lord Milner and the local authorities ; so that they 
might have submitted to Lord Milner's injunction in a 
respectful way, and, as Lord Stanley just now said, without 
prejudice. But this imposes a sort of distinction between 
one subject and another in the Transvaal. 

The Earl of Elgin : Do not suppose I am taking it 
further than this ; I am only saying, here is a document 
which at present is in use with a thumb-mark and it cannot 
be called debasing. 

Mr. Gandhi : It is the " ten finger " mark. 

The Earl of Elgin : Is it more debasing with ten 
fingers ? 

Sir Henry Cotton : It is only required in the case of 

The Earl of Elgin : I do not want to argue it, but I 
think there is just that much to be said. Then there is 
one matter about registration. That is, that if the system 
of registration was carried out, it would give a final and 
indefeasible title, to those who are registered, to their 
rights in the Transvaal. That is the position of the Trans- 
vaal Government on that matter. And as regards the 
carrying of a pass, and any oppressive use of the power of 
inspection, I am informed, and I have taken some trouble 


to ascertain it, that all that would be intended, so far as 
checking the Ordinance Certificate is concerned, is that it 
would probably be inspected once a year. As regards any 
other casual demand for it, it would be, as I am told, exactly 
in the same position as this permit is, which, if I am right, 
may be demanded from anybody in the Transvaal. That 
is the position. I do not want to elaborate too much on this 
subject ; I only wish to make this explanation, that those 
were the sorts of reasons which the Government of the 
Transvaal put before me when they asked my assent to 
the introduction of the legislation on these grounds, and it 
is distinctly upon my apprehension that these modifications 
of the law would in the long run be for the benefit and not 
for the oppression of the British-Indian community, that I 
gave my assent to the introduction of that legislation. Now, 
gentlemen, we are in the position that this is challenged. 
I think I ought to say, without in any way challenging the 
authority with which Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Ali come here 
as the representatives of a large meeting, that I have got 
telegrams from the Transvaal advising me of the forwarding 
of a Petition from British Indians, which they say has 
been lately signed, in opposition to the views which have 
been placed before me to-day, and with regard to the 
general feeling I have to-day received two more telegrams — 
I say two more, because there are a good many others 
from different Municipalities in the country — urging the 
passing of the Ordinance, and so on. I cannot therefore 
entirely subscribe to what Sir Lepel Griffin said about the 
opposition, and the nature of the opposition, to this matter. 
I regret it more than anybody in this room. I suppose 
there could be found, if not in the records of this Office, 
at any rate in the records of the India Of&ce, despatches, 
with my signature attached to them, protesting, in as 
strong language as has been used here, against the restric- 
tions on British citizens, and I do not go back from one 
single word. But we have to recognize the fact that all 
over the world there are difficulties arising on the part 
of white communities, and we have to reckon with them. 


I do not say that they ought always to succeed ; they 
certainly ought not to succeed in points of detail which 
would in any way involve oppression. But the fact of 
there being that sentiment has to be borne in mind when 
we have to deal with matters of this description. I do 
not think I have much more to reply to. A reference has 
been made to the proposition, towards the end of the 
Petition, that at any rate there might be a postponement 
for the examination of the subject by a Commission. That, 
no doubt, is an alternative which might be adopted ; but 
I am not in a position to-day to say whether that is so or 
not. Indeed, I think you will easily acknowledge that I 
did you the best compliment when I did not endeavour 
to make up my mind until I had seen you and heard what 
you have to say. That is my position : I have now heard 
what Mr. Gandhi had to say. I hope he has put before me 
as fully as he desired what he had come so far to say. I 
have heard the other gentlemen who have accompanied 
him. I will give the best consideration to their repre- 
sentations, and I shall think it my duty to make up my 
mind with the full responsibility which I have to as- 

Mr. Gandhi : May I make one statement, my Lord, 
for one minute ? I have listened with the very greatest 
attention, and with very great obligation, to Your Lord- 
ship's statement, but I must submit that the information 
placed before Your Lordship on some points is not accurate, 
and I am in a position to refute that information by docu- 
mentary evidence with regard to permits, as Your Lord- 
ship used the term in connexion with the Ordinance of 
1885, but this is not the occasion when I could do it. But 
if your Lordship will ask us to wait upon you, we will do 
it. But that just shows that nothing short of a Commission 
would place our position accurately before Your Lord- 

Sir Lepel Griffin : My Lord, I beg, on behalf of the 
Deputation, to express our best thanks for the exceedingly 
kind and courteous way in which you have received us, 


and the patience with which you have listened tp what 
we had to say. We were assured before of your full sym- 
pathy in this matter, and knew it perfectly well. 

The Deputation then withdrew. 


Account books in English, 

Accountants, Asiatic, 33 

Adelaide, 74 

Agents (Indian), S3 

Agriculturists, Indian in Na- 
tal, 29, 30 

America, effect of immi- 
gration into, 3 

American goods boycotted, 5 

Arab store -keepers, 41, 57 ; 
ditto traders, 96 

Arbitration, Transvaal In- 
dian complaints, 57 

Asia, awakening, 4 

Asiatic peril, 2 

— immigration, character 
of, 3 

Asiatics remain apart, 4 ; 
administrative difficulties, 
4 ; in Natal, 27 ; in Jo- 
hannesburg, 49 

Australasia, case of, 70-80 

Australasian Conference, yy, 

Bakers (Indian), 33 
Balfour, A. J., on markets, 

Bazaars, removal into, 63 ; 
Transvaal Progressives' 
policy, 64 ; Lord Mil- 
ner's notice, 68 

Beaulieu, Leroy, on Asiatic 
immigration, 19 

Bengalis, Natal, 22 

Bhownaggree, Sir M, M., 59, 

Binns, Sir Hy., 38 

Boers, 54, 59, 61 

Borneo, 107 

British Columbia, 72, 100 

British Guiana, 15, 18, 22, 99 

British Indians, Natal (num- 
bers), 28 

Butchers (Natal), 33 

Canada, 95, 100, 105, 107 
Cape Assembly and Asiatics, 


Cape Colony, — Indian tra- 
ders, 43, 44. 105 ; Im- 
migration Restriction Act, 
98 ; Chinese in, 47 

Cape Town, 44 

Carrington, Lord, 74, 78 

Chamberlain, 95 

China boycotts America, 5 




Chinese immigration, Aus- 
tralia, 6 ; Sir H. Parkes- 
on, II; in Cape Colony, 
47, 48 ; in Johannesburg, 
49 ; in British Columbia, 

Chinese Registration Bill, 

Civil Servants (Indian), ^3 
Clayton, Mr., 95 
Clerks (Indian), 24, 33 
Colonial attitude, Asiatics, 


— Nationalism, 8 
Colonization, State-aided, 19, 

Colour, elimination of, 9 
Commercial travellers, 33 

— interests, Australia, 6 
Compensation, Transvaal, 63 
Competition, Asiatic, 24-52 
Contracts, Asiatic labourers, 

20, 21 
Convicts (Australia), 70 
Cultivators (Indian), 30 

Dairy farmers (Indian), 30 

Danger to the Colonies, 5, 6 

Dominica, 15 

Durban Corporation, 15 ; 
agitation against Indian 
immigrants, 16 

Durban Indian trader's li- 
cences, 35, 36 

Durham, Lord, 2 

East London, 44 

Egerton, Prof., on Asiatic 

immigration, 19 
Elgin, Lord, 8 
Escombe, Harry, 35 
Eurasian compositors, 71 
European immigration, 3, 

Europeans, Natal, 26, 30, 32, 

— driven out by Indians, 

32. 35. 39.44, 51 

Evans, Maurice S., 17, 24, 
26, 31 

Exemption Clause, Trans- 
vaal, 64, 65 

Farm labourers. Natal, 30 
Farmers, Natal, 30 
Farming in Natal, 88 
Fiji (natives and Indians), 

23. 83 
Free labour. Rand, 99 
Fruit farmers, Natal, 30 
Fruiterers, Natal, 30 

Gardeners (Indian, Natal), 

General dealers' licences, 35 
Great Britain, i , 90 
Grey, Sir George, 1 5 
Grocers, Natal, 33 
Griffiths, Sir Samuel, 80 
Guiana, British, coolies in, 

22 ; contract system, 99 

Hawkers, Johannesburg, 



Hongkong declared in- 
fected, 79 
Hotham, Sir Charles, 71 

Immigration, Natal, 27 

— effect of unrestricted, 2 

— America, 3 
Inanda, 39 

India, 48 ; Southern, 6 
Indian agriculturists, 29, 30, 


— Government and the 
Transvaal, 69 

— Government's demands, 


— traders, 40, 41 
Indians, imitation of, 7 ; 

salvation of West Indies, 
15 ; in Natal, 16, 18 ; 
contracts, West Indies, 20 ; 
contracts. Natal, 21 ; Brit- 
ish Guiana, 22 ; Jamaica, 
22 ; numbers. Natal, 26, 
27 ; claims, Transvaal, 67; 
complaints, etc., 108-120 
Industries (Natal), 41 
Insults to Asiatics, 1 1 
Ixpopo, 40 

Jamaica, coolies in, 22 
Japan, relation with, 1 1 
Japanese insulted, 3 
Java declared infected, 79 
Johannesburg Star, 95 
Johannesburg traders' licen- 
ces, 49, 50 

Kaffir stores, 41 

Kaffir trade in Natal, 41 

— "Truck," 20 
Kaffirs and Asiatics, 83 

— as workers, 84 
Kanaka labour, 77 
Kimberley, 44 

King William's Town, 44 
Knutsford, Lord, 6 
Kruger, Paul, 60, 61 
Krugerism, 56 
Krugersdorp, action of Town 
Council, 52 

Labour Importation Ordin- 
ance, 63 
Ladysmith, Indian traders, 

Land, owned by Indians, 35, 

Lansdowne, Lord, 59 
Law 3 of 1883, 57, 60 
Lawley, Sir Arthur, 39, 54, 

61, 103, 147-162 
Legislation, Lord Milner on, 

Licences, Indian traders', 

35 ; hardships, 36, ^7 ; 

Supreme Court's view, 

Locations,Transvaal scheme, 

London Convention, 1884, 

Lower Tugela, 39 

Madras, 18, 71 
Madrassis, Natal, 22 



Malay States, labour con- 
tracts, 22 
Malaya, 14, 107 
Maritzburg, 17, 29 
Markets, Europe's need of, 

Milner, Lord, address to 
Municipal Congress, 10 ; 
Imperial veto, 54 ; bazaar 
notice, 68 ; solution of 
problem, 102 ; general 
policy, 139-145 

Nabob Motan v. Transvaal 
Government, 61 

Natal, — labour shortage, 1 5 ; 
first Indians arrive, 16 ; 
search for labour, 18 ; 
number of Indians, 22 ; 
population, 26 ; Indian 
immigration, 27 ; agri- 
culturists, 29, 30 ; occu- 
pations of Europeans and 
Asiatics, 30, 34 ; immi- 
gration restrictions, 98 

Natal Census Committee on 
Indian increase, 27 

National Convention, Asia- 
tic, Transvaal, 62, 63,64 

Ndwedwe, 40 

New South Wales, 74, 79 

Newcastle trading Ucences, 
38 ; traders, 41 

Occupations, Europeans, 
Natal, 30-34 ; ditto Asia- 
tics, 30-34 

Orange River Colony — 
Chief Justice arbitrates, 
57 ; memorial against In- 
dians, 58 

Parkes, Sir Harry, 11, 71, 

74. 79, 91 
Petitions for and against 

Indians, 58 
Pietersburg Indians, 50, 5 1 
Planters, Natal, 30 
Polak, Mr. H. S. L., 40, 42 
Polynesian labour, 70 
Population, Natal, 26 
Port Darwin, 74 
Port Elizabeth, 44, 48 
Potchefstroom, 50, 51 
Poultry farmers (Indian), 30 
Produce dealers (Indian), 30 
Progressives ', Transvaal, 

manifesto, 65 
Protector of Indians, Natal, 

18, 27, 28 
Punjabis, Uganda, 14 

Queensland, at Australasian 

Conference, 77 
Queensland, Northern, 14, 


Railways, Indians on, 67, 

— labour on, Z7 
Rand mines labour, 85, 98, 

Recruiting for Transvaal, 




Restaurant keepers (Natal), 


Restrictions, immigration, 

65 ; Acts, 97, 98 
Revenue from Europeans 

and Asiatics, 90 
Ripon, Marquis of, 48 
Robinson, Sir W. C. F., 6 
Rosebery, Lord, 72 
Rose-Innes, Sir James, 62 
Ruby mines, Chinese for, 74 

Seeley, Prof., 9 

Selborne, Lord, 50, 103, 

Social chasm in India, 4 

South Africa, — labour short- 
age, 18 ; first Chinese 
scheme, 14 

Southern India, 6 

Spanish Labour Commission, 


Store-keepers, Natal, 33 
Storemen (Indians), 24 
Straits, 14 
Sumatra declared infected, 

Swadeshi movement, 4 
Sydney, 16 
Sydney, Conference at, yj 

Tasmania, yy 

Tongaat Sugar Company, 93 
Townsend, Meredith, 3 
Traders, Indian, Natal, 35 ; 
Cape, 43, 44, 45 ; Johan- 
nesburg, 49-50 

Transvaal National Con- 
vention, Asiatics, 10, 51 ; 
Municipal Congress, 10 ; 
Labour problem, 17 ; La- 
bour Commission Report, 
18 ; Chinese labour con- 
tracts, 19, 21, 23 ; Asiatics 
in, 51 ; natives and land, 

Trinidad, Indians in, 15, 23, 
land bought by Indians, 

Tropics, Asiatic labour in, 


Uganda Railway, 14 
Uitlanders, 58 
Umbilo Valley, 17 
Umgeni, Indian traders, 

Umlazi, 39 
Umvoti, 40 
United States, low class 

immigrants, 3 ; protest to 

China, 5 

Van Riebeek and Chinese, 

Verulam, 39 

Victoria (Natal), Indian 

landholders, 32 
Victoria, 76, yj 
Volksraad, 54, 57, 58 
Vryheid, Indian trader, 36 

Waiters in Natal, 24, 34 
.Wagenaar and Chinese 14. 



West Australia, tj 

West and East, old struggle 
renewed, 2 

West Indies — Spanish La- 
bour Commission, 13 ; 
labour problem, 14 ; Pro- 
fessor AUeyne Ireland on, 

White V. Indian traders, 

51. 52, 56 
White nations, 9 
Worcester (C.C.) Chamber 

of Commerce, 47 


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