From the book: A Documentary History of Indian South Africans edited by Surendra Bhana and Bridglal Pachai

In the following article, Albert Christopher reflects on what settlement held for South African-born Indians. As he rather profoundly remarked, the solution to the Indian question lay in their own hands, and the Gandhi-Smuts Agreement merely provided breathing-space. Christopher's article was entitled, 'The Colonial born Indian: The Settlement and His Future.’ Source: Golden Number of Indian Opinion: Souvenir of the Passive Resistance South Africa, 1906-1914, 1914, pp. 29-30.

The writer proposes to view 'the settlement' born of the Passive Resistance Movement initiated by that great Indian leader, Mr. Gandhi, and brought to a head by the unparalleled event in the life of the Indian community in South Africa, which assumed the form of a huge strike demonstration by thousands of Indian, labourers and others ”” (these have now become matters of history) ”” and, incidentally, to consider an aspect or two of the future of colonial-born Indian. It is but fair to preface the introspection with the qualification that whilst Mr. Gandhi has declared 'the settlement' to constitute the ‘Magna Charta’ of the Indians in South Africa, he has been careful to add that it would give the Indians a breathing-space of time, thereby leaving it to be inferred that, as the Magna Charta signed by King John at Runnymead was but beginning of what today are the liberties, privileges, and responsibilities of the Briton, so from the endeavours of the Indian community following upon 'the settlement', [called] the Magna Charta of South African Indians by Mr. Gandhi, must come the eventual complete recognition of the Indian in the life of the state here. But to speak of the redress in a fuller or lesser measure of Indian grievances as a settlement of the Indian question is a misnomer and can but be true in a restricted sense. The abolition of that iniquitous tax of £3 on ex-indentured Indian immigrants is a settlement, and its effect especially upon the future Indian population will be tremendous and for the good. The legislation upon the marriage question is as much as can be reasonably expected in a country like South Africa, particularly when it is remembered that some provision has been made for the safeguarding of plural wives where such already exist. The removal of the racial bar is a matter of paramount importance to the future of Indians. The just administration of the laws of the country has been promised. Regulations have been framed under the Indians Relief Act, but so short a time has elapsed since these things have happened that it would be speculative to express dogmatic views upon the details of the settlement. But the restoration of the right of South African-born Indians to enter the Cape Colony is in a sense a settlement, though it carries with it the reservation that, in the event of that province being 'flooded' with Indians born in the other provinces, that right may be administratively withdrawn. Whether such a reservation was expressed or not, it is in the power of the Legislature to do whatsoever it wills, and where, as in human affairs, there is ever change, there can be no finality, though the settlement of a question at the time it is effected and so long as no developments take place therein may be viewed as final. This observation on the changes to which man is ever subject is especially applicable to the colonial-born Indian, who, it has been admitted from the statesman, the public commission economist, to the veriest scribbler in the dailies of the country, is a problem in himself, and the solution of this problem will be the end of what is known locally as the Indian question. The Hon. Mr. Gokhale, when here, advised colonial-born Indians to seek their own salvation, as to them this land was their home, however much they might look to India as their motherland. Patriotic they might be, and there can be no doubt that they are, but immediately they were concerned with the affairs of South Africa, and their efforts should be directed to their acceptance in its polity; but this phase of the question is so vast that it permits not a cursory discussion here. Mr. Gandhi, on the eve of his departure from South Africa, as emphatic in his advice that, as the salvation of the Indian community was in the hands of the colonial-born Indians, if they who had come to this country were to cut themselves away from them, they would surely be driving a nail into their coffin. These expressions are worthy of remark. They suggest that with the stoppage of Indian immigration ”” free, restricted or conditional – and with the elimination of the India-born Indian by the hand of death or by return to India, gradually, in the course of a number of years, the entire character of the future Indian population here would be South African. To the South African-born Indian, then, must they who would solve the Indian question turn, and in him they will find material worthy of a part in the structure of South Africa. He is in a state of transition from the East to the West, and, if it were possible that the virtues of the Occident and the Orient would be blended in him, then the prediction of Kipling, that the East and the West will never meet, will have been falsified. And there is hope for the colonial born Indian, given the opportunities of trade, calling, occupation and freedom of locomotion, with facilities for academic, technical, agricultural, and industrial education, that he will hold his own; but his condition will be cribbed, cabined and confined, so long as the proverbial barriers remain in the country with a Union which cannot for ever keep the Indians born in South Africa from realising their oneness of interests and aspirations in life; and this must happen sooner than most people would expect, as the colonial-born Indian must, by the force of his circumstances and environment, become more and more anglicised. If though the Jew, than whom none is more tenacious of the language, religion, customs, traditions and history of his nation, be anglicised and yet remain a Jew, it is probable that the Indian may become anglicised and yet be not denationalised. Evidences of this are not wanting, for, with the absorption of much that is English, such as, for instance, certain sports, there goes along with these their national games, and this process is noticeable in almost everything connected with them. But at the same time, the attractions of the West appear to be gaining in strength, and the risk of the colonial-born Indian eventually in the course of generations losing his power to withstand them even partially is very great indeed. The position, however, is not hopeless, if the communication that existed between India and South Africa by the immigration and emigration of Indians is restored, in any case for the present, by the organisation of a means by which colonial-born Indian boys and girls may spend some years of their life in India, learning as much as is possible during those years of something of India, its wealth of intellectual and spiritual knowledge, its greatness and its resources, past and present, and, if he or she dare, peep into its future.

And this leads one to consider the means by which the colonial-born Indian, irrespective of sex – for the education of the girls, the mothers of the nation, is as important as that for the boys ”” may live and study in India, and the means that suggest themselves are scholarships tenable in India, enabling the student to return from thence the better qualified to earn, and learned in the lore of India to serve his community in a distant land and be patriotic to the country of his fathers. Education doled out to the colonial-born Indian leave much to be desired. Mr. Gandhi has already indicated his willingness to assist in the education of colonial-born Indians in India, and may not the colonial-born Indian ask the nation-builders of India: Have we not a place in the structure of the national edifice you contemplate, and will you not assist us, so that we may assist you in your patriotic work?