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  History and Significance of Indian Opionion
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began and in colonial Natal there was reason to be cautious. The owners of Ipepa lo Hlanga chose to close down after it offended the Natal government with an article urging people Vukani Bantu! Rise Up you people'. For the time being Gandhi was anxious not to offend white officialdom but to secure their support to improve the position of Indians. The pages of Indian Opinion provide a valuable historical record of the disabilities that Indians suffered under. It also provides an invaluable record of the life of the political life of the Indian community. It represents an alternate voice to that of newspapers such as the Natal Mercury which were often hostile to Indian interests. Soon Gandhi would move from political petitioning to active resistance and his paper changed too.
One significant moment in the paper's history came in 1904 when Gandhi relocated it to a one hundred acre farm named Phoenix just 24 kms from Durban. This reflected the influence of Leo Tolstoy and John Ruskin on Gandhi. Gandhi drew on Tolstoy's distaste for city life, his praise of agricultural labour and his renunciation of wealth. From Ruskin he drew the idea that all labour whether that of the professional or the manual labourer was equal but also that `the life of a tiller of the soil and the handicraftsman, is the life worth living.' At Phoenix the press workers were governed by a new work ethic - they would all have a share in the land, in the profits if there were any, they would grow crops to sustain themselves and they would work jointly to produce Indian Opinion. Thus the history of Indian Opinion becomes intertwined with Phoenix, Gandhi's first communal settlement. While at Phoenix the rhythm of life was dictated by the production of the paper, in India it was the spinning wheel which was the centre of ashram activity.
Indian Opinion played a very significant role in the early years of the twentieth century by fostering the idea of one united Indian community and a national identity. This was no mean task for Indians were divided by religion, caste, class, and even Indian regional affiliations. ‘we are not, and ought not to be, Tamils or Calcutta men, Mohammedans or Hindus, Brahmins or Banyas, but simply and solely British Indians'. Indian Opinion especially highlighted the poor conditions under which indentured labourers worked. Editorials asked `Is all well on the Estates', cases of harsh treatment by employers were publicised and the astoundingly high rate of suicide was pointed out. A campaign to end the system was launched and editor Henry Polak, a friend of Gandhi's went to India to mobilise support. Indian Opinion was a means of bringing news about Indians in the colonies before the public in India.
Indian Opinion and political activism on the part of its editors became an established tradition. This is what would, throughout the 20th century distinguish Indian Opinion from other newspapers that would arrive on the scene during the 20th century. All but one of its editors spent some time in jail. This tradition began during the satyagraha campaign between 1906 and 1913 which began because of attempts to impose passes on Indians in the Transvaal. The newspaper came into its own. In 1904 its aims had simply been to educate whites in South Africa about Indian needs and wants. From 1906 onwards it became a vehicle for challenging state laws and urging defiance of these when these were clearly unjust. It is this that elevates this tiny newspaper produced from a farm to one of world significance for it became linked with Gandhi's transformation to a mass movement leader and his philosophy of satyagraha which can be interpreted as active non-violent resistance. The law was translated into Gujarati, readers were urged to defy