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The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi - Volume III
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    The mass of indentured Indian labourers continued to suffer from various handicaps and restrictions. Gandhiji declared that there should be no immigration of indentured labourers against the wishes of the Europeans, but that no scheme of indenture with a compulsory repatriation clause should be accepted (Indian Opinion, 6-8-1903). Again, when the mining magnates of the Transvaal proposed to import 200,000 Chinese labourers, Gandhiji opposed the move on humanitarian grounds and demanded that the white race in South Africa should not permit the degeneration of the Chinese under inhuman conditions such as their segregation to Compounds (Indian Opinion, 24-9-1903).

    Restrictions on franchise were a constant factor of the Indian situation in South Africa. When the Transvaal Government sought an amendment of the Draft Ordinance for Elective Municipal Councils to disqualify Indians as voters, Gandhiji petitioned the Legislative Council (June 10, 1903), protesting against this discrimination on the basis of colour.

    Apart from these major issues which confronted Indians in South Africa, Gandhiji dealt with many secondary matters like the poll-tax on the children of indentured Indians, the prohibition on Indian riksha-haulers, police excesses on the Indian traders in Heidelberg, and white mob fury against Indian traders in Umtali.

    The outstanding characteristic of Gandhiji's utterances and writings during this period, whether public or private, was his continuing faith in the British Constitution, his appreciation of the privileges of British citizenship and his trust in the Empire as a family of nations. The congratulations he sent to the Queen on her successive birthdays, the memorial meetings he organized on her passing away, the repeated references in his letters and petitions to the personal liberty and equal citizenship rights of British subjects, the frequent invocations of the Queen's Proclamation of 1858, the offer and role of the Indian Ambulance Corps in the Boer War—all these were inspired by the Empire sentiment. "What was wanted in South Africa was not a white man's country", he said in his farewell speech in October 1901, "not a white brotherhood, but an Imperial brotherhood".

    It was only towards the latter half of 1903 that events led him to begin to doubt British bona fides. But the change of technique from patient petitioning to passive resistance and militant satyagraha was yet to come.

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