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Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi-VOL016

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi-VOL016

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Published by tij15
This are the volumes form the revised - erroneous - version of the CWMG as published on the CD-Rom "Mahatma Gandhi - Interactive Multimedia - Electronic Book" in 1999. Page and volume nos. are not identical with the original print version of the 1960's-1990's. The content of this CWMG version is to be credited as "The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (Electronic Book), New Delhi, Publications Division Government of India, 1999, 98 volumes"
Vol 016- September 1, 1917 - April 23, 1918
This are the volumes form the revised - erroneous - version of the CWMG as published on the CD-Rom "Mahatma Gandhi - Interactive Multimedia - Electronic Book" in 1999. Page and volume nos. are not identical with the original print version of the 1960's-1990's. The content of this CWMG version is to be credited as "The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (Electronic Book), New Delhi, Publications Division Government of India, 1999, 98 volumes"
Vol 016- September 1, 1917 - April 23, 1918

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Published by: tij15 on Mar 23, 2011
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05/13/2011

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VOL. 16: 1 SEPTEMBER, 1917 - 23 APRIL, 1918
1
1. INDIAN COLONIAL EMIGRATION 
I have carefully read the resolution issued at Simla by theGovernment of India on the 1st instant, embodying the report of the Inter-Departmental Conference recently held in London.
1
It willbe remembered that this was the conference referred to in theViceregal speech of last year at the opening of the Sessions of theViceregal Legislative Council. It will be remembered, too, that this wasthe conference which Sir James Meston and Sir S. P. Sinha were tohave attended but were unable to attend owing to their havingreturned to India before the date of the meeting of the conference.
2
Itis stated in the report under discussion that these gentlemen were todiscuss the question of emigration to certain English coloniesinformally with the two Secretaries of State, i.e., the Secretary of Statefor India and the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Lord Islington
3
,Sir A. Steel Maitland
4
and Messrs Seton
5
, Crindle
6
, Green
7
 
andMacnaughton
8
constituted the Conference. To take the wording of theResolution, this Conference sat “to consider the proposals for a newassisted system of emigration to British Guiana, Trinidad, Jamaica andFiji”. The public should therefore note that this assisted emigration isto be confined only to the four Crown Colonies mentioned and not tothe self-governing Colonies of South Africa, Canada or Australia, orthe Crown Colony of Mauritius.
9
What follows will show theimportance of this distinction. It is something to be thankful for, that“the Government of India have not yet considered the report andreserved judgement on all the points raised in it”. This is as it shouldbe on a matter so serious as this and one which only last year fairly
1
In May 1917 to discuss a new system of emigration
2
Sir James Meston and S. P. Sinha represented India at the Imperial WarConference held in April, 1917. They were also nominated by the Government of India as its representatives to the Inter-Departmental Conference, but both of themhad to return to India before the Conference could meet formally.
3
Chairman
4
Members of the respective Secretaries of State’s establishments
5
 
ibid 
6
 
ibid 
7
 
ibid 
8
 
ibid 
9
 
Vide
also “Statement on Abolition of Indentured Labour”, after 7-2 -1917.
 
2
THE COLLECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI
convulsed the whole of India and which has in one shape or anotheragitated the country since 1895.The declaration too that “His Majesty’s Government inagreement with the Government of India have decided that indenturedemigration shall not be re-opened” is welcome as is also the one that“no free emigrants
1
can be introduced into any colony until allIndian emigrants already there have been released from existingindentures”.In spite however of so much in the report that fills one withgladness, the substantive part of it which sets forth the scheme which isto replace indentured emigration is so far as one can judge, to say theleast of it, disappointing. Stripped of all the phraseology under whichthe scheme has been veiled, it is nothing less than a system of indentured emigration no doubt on a more humane basis andsafeguarded with some conditions beneficial to the emigrants takingadvantage of it.The main point that should be borne in mind is that theconference sat designedly to consider a scheme of emigration not inthe interests of the Indian labourer but in those of the Colonialemployer. The new system therefore is devised to help the coloniesconcerned. India needs no outlet at any rate for the present momentfor emigration outside the country. It is debatable whether in anyevent the four colonies will be the most suitable for Indiancolonisation. The best thing therefore that can happen from an Indianstand-point is that there should be no assisted emigration from Indiaof any type whatsoever. In the absence of any such assistance,emigration will have to be entirely free and at the risk and expense of the emigrant himself. Past experience shows that, in that event, therewill be very little voluntary emigration to distant colonies. In thereport, assisted emigration means, to use a mild expression, stimulatedemigration; and surely with the industries of India crying out forlabour and with her legitimate resources yet undeveloped, it ismadness to think of providing a stimulus for the stay-at-home Indianto go out of India. Neither the Government nor any voluntary agencyhas been found capable of protecting from ill-usage the Indian whoemigrates either to Burma or Ceylon, much less can any suchprotection avail in far-off Fiji or then three other colonies. I hope that
1
“emigration” in the report published in
The Indian Review,
September 1917
 
VOL. 16: 1 SEPTEMBER, 1917 - 23 APRIL, 1918
3leaders of public opinion in India will therefore take their stand on theone impregnable rock of not wanting any emigration whatsoever tothe colonies. It might be argued that we, as a component part of theEmpire, are bound to consider the wants of our partners, but thiswould not be a fair plea to advance so long as India stands in need of all the labour she can produce. If, therefore, India does not assist thecolonies, it is not because of want of will, but it is due to want of ability. An additional reason a politician would be justified in using isthat, so long as India does not in reality occupy the position of anequal partner with the colonies and so long as her sons continue to beregarded by Englishmen in the colonies and English employers evennearer home to be fit only as hewers of wood and drawers of water, noscheme of emigration to the colonies can be morally advantageous toIndian emigrants. If the badge of inferiority is always to be worn bythem, they can never rise to their full status and any materialadvantage they will gain by emigrating can therefore be of noconsideration.But let us for the moment consider the new system.
The system to be followed in future will be one of aided emigration
1
andits object will be to encourage the settlement of Indians in certain coloniesafter a probationary period of employment in those colonies to train and fitthem for life and work there and at the same time to acquire
2
a supply of thelabour essential to the well-being of the colonists
3
themselves.
So the re-settlement is to be conditional on previousemployment under contract and it will be seen in the course of ourexamination that this contract is to be just as binding as the contractsused to be under indenture. The report has the following humorouspassage in it:
He will be in no way restricted to service under any particular employerexcept that for his own protection a selected employer will be chosen for himfor the first six months.
This has a flavour of the old indentured system. One of the evilscomplained of about that system was that the labourer was assigned toan employer. He was not free to choose one himself. Under the newsystem, the employer is to be selected for the protection of the
1
 
The Indian Review
report has “colonization”.
2
 
The Indian Review
report has “afford”.
3
 
Indian Review
report
 
has “Colonies”.

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