Many Indian leaders who had formerly held office in the Congress became disenchanted with the strategy adopted by the new generation of Congressional leaders. They disagreed with the latter's 'all or nothing' policy, as they called it, and decided to form a new body. The Natal Indian Organisation was founded on 4 May 1947 Durban. Then, on 11 September 1948 a national body, the South African Indian Organisation, was established. The Natal I. O. and Transvaal I.O. became affiliate members of this national body. Below are reproduced the minutes of an informal meeting held on 23 April 1947, at which the decision was taken to establish the N.I.O. Source: N.I.O. Agenda Book, May 1947, Pachai Collection.
An informal meeting of representative Indians was held, last night (on the 23rd April) under the chairmanship of Hajee Ahmed Sadeck Kajee, who was a delegate of the South African Indian Congress to India. [He] outlined the present difficulties facing the Indian community and referred to a meeting recently called by Mr. Ashwin Choudree on the 18th April 1947, which he and others had been asked to [attend, to] meet the officials of the Natal Indian Congress. He asked the officials of the Natal Indian Congress if they still persisted in their 'all-or-nothing' policy, to which question no definite reply was given. They further declared they were all in favour of a round-table conference between the two Governments; but when asked if they would agree to a decision which was not in conformity with their policy, the reply was that they would have to wait and see what the decision of such discussions would be before they decided to agree or not. It amounted to this, that an agreement between the Government of India and the Union Government may not be acceptable to them.
Mr. P. R. Pather referred to the UNO decision, which called upon the two Governments to hold discussions and report. On his return from UNO he had suggested that passive resistance should be suspended to pave the way for these discussions. Mr. Pather referred to the alarming growth of unemployment in the Indian community and to the boycott movement in the Transvaal. He was opposed to the Asiatic Act and stood for its repeal and for loaded common roll franchise. Mr. Pather pointed out that the present atmosphere was not conducive to discussions; it must be [im]proved by efforts on our part. Mr. Pather suggested three alternatives:
- (1) to go into the fold of the Natal Indian Congress, which would mean fighting among ourselves on questions of policy;
- (2) to form a group on the line of the Anti-Segregation Council which would again result in similar quarrels; or
- (3) to form a body to speak for moderate Indians.
Mr. A. I. Kajee supported Mr. A. S. Kajee and Mr. P. R. Pather, and said that there was an urgent need to state the case of the Indian community as they saw it and speak for those men whom they represented and make every effort to arrest the further deterioration of the position.
Mr. Samuel Joseph of the liquor and catering trade, speaking in his personal capacity, described the disastrous effect of the present policy on the workers, and in this he was supported by other workers presently engaged in leather, furniture and building industries.
Mr. A. M. Moola felt that no attempt to get the Government or Europeans to see the Indian point of view would succeed and felt that we should do nothing in the meantime and bide [our] time. He suggested rather than forming another body they should send Mr. A. I. Kajee to India for discussion with the Indian Government.
Mr. W. S. Seethal and others disagreed emphatically, and asked how Mr. A. I. Kajee could go to India without a mandate or the authority of an organisation behind him. Other speakers, amongst whom were Mr. K. S. Pillay, H. M. Seedat, M. M. Seedat, Satya Deva, Ajam Haffejee, A. B. Moosa, l. V. M. Jooma, M. C. Anglia, E. I. Haffejee and M. E. G. Paruk, expressed their dissatisfaction with the present policy of Congress and were confident that the formation of a new body was the only method by which the situation could be improved. Mr. I. Dhooma, seconded by Mr. J. Maghrajh proposed the following resolution:
That this meeting of representatives of the Indians held at Durban on the 23 April 1947 to consider the present serious political position of the Indian community resolves to form itself into a committee to convene a conference of representation in all its aspects and [take] such action as may be deemed necessary. The meeting empowers Hajee A. S. Kajee and Mr. P. R. Pather to act as chairman and secretary respectively and do all things necessary for the calling of this conference.