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Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi-Vol 007

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi-Vol 007

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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"
Vol007-June 1907 - December 1907
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"
Vol007-June 1907 - December 1907

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Published by: tij15 on Mar 04, 2011
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03/08/2013

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JOHANNESBURG,

August 19, 1907

TO

THE EDITOR

THE STAR

[JOHANNESBURG]

SIR,

In honouring by a leaderette what you please to call my

“scheme”2

with reference to the Asiatic Law Amendment Act, you
have done it and me less than justice by studying it superficially. By
admitting the clauses, as per my draft, into the Immigration Bill, the
Government get the legal right to recall every permit and, in place
thereof, to issue certificates of domicile to every bona fide Asiatic
resident of the Transvaal. What form such certificates should take has,
if you will re-read my draft, been left to the Government to fix by
regulation. The question, therefore, of finger-prints is not made an
issue at all nor, so far as I am concerned, has it ever been a
fundamental point, the main objection being against the compulsion
and the odour of criminality about the Act. The draft submitted by
me would enable the Government to ascertain the exact number of
Asiatics entitled to claim domiciliary rights in the Colony andsuch
Asiatics would be completely identified. What the draft does leave out
are the elaborate machinery and the penalties provided in the Asiatic
Registration Act, and it leaves children under the age of 16 free from
molestation, and avoids the pin-prick inspection, with the power to
take, at every street corner, identification particulars contemplated by
the Registration Act. But I submit that any surreptitious entry on the
part of children is completely checked by reason of the provision that,
on attaining the age of 16 years, they must also take out certificates of
domicile, and by stating on the certificates of domicile the number of
children under 16 years. But, if my scheme be considered faulty, the
principle of embodying identification legislation in the Immigration

1

This was reproduced in Indian Opinion, 24-8-1907.

2

The reference is to the proposal submitted with “Letter to Private Secretary to

General Smuts”, 8-8-1907

VOL. 7 : 15 JUNE, 1907 - 12 DECEMBER, 1907

145

Bill can hardly be so considered, and any defects that I may have
overlooked can be remedied. The question, therefore, still remains
whether the public will take sufficient interest in the welfare of Indian
subjects of His Majesty to seriously study the alternative proposed.
With reference to the other portion of your leaderette1

, I can

only say that, if an honourable status be [not]2

guaranteed to my
countrymen, no matter how humble they may be, imprisonment,
deportation, and any other similar calamity would be comparatively a
boon as against a surrender of their self-respect and a reversal of their
solemn declaration. Of one thing I can give an emphatic assurance,
namely, that there is not a single Indian who does not dislike the Act
from the bottom of his heart. I know most of those who have accepted
registration under the Act in Pretoria, and I know this that they admit
having committed a crime against their nationality and their God, but
they have done so because, in their own words, they prized their
pockets more than their honour.

I am, etc.,

M. K. GANDHI

The Star, 20-8-1907

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