From the book: Passive Resistance 1946 - A Selection of Documents compiled by E.S. Reddy & Fatima Meer


NIC presses for Round Table Conference

Perturbed by the general trend of events in South Africa subsequent to the UNO decision, the Natal Indian Congress has written to the Crime Minister, General Smuts, that it is in the best interests of the peoples and the Governments of the Union and India "that their accredited is representatives assemble at a Round Table Conference at the earliest possible moment in order to implement the resolution of the United lotions." The Congress Executive points out that it has "noted that the General Assembly of the United Nations has placed equal responsibility upon the Governments of both India and the Union of South Africa for measures leading to a satisfactory settlement which will solve the dispute."

Smuts hints India and South Africa may talk

Talks for the settlement of the Indian question are proceeding and it is likely that a Round Table Conference between the two Governments - South Africa and Indian - will eventuate as a result.

General Smuts, the Prime Minister, speaking in the House of Assembly this week, almost indicated this in his speech.

The Prime Minister was able to get the Indian point of view when he discussed the matter with a leading Indian in Cape Town last week. The first stage of the negotiation will be the return of the High Commissioner for India, Mr. R.M. Deshmukh, who was called by his Government for consultation. One of his duties will be to arrange the preliminaries for the coming conference. It was a matter which had to be taken up by the two Governments directly or indirectly. He hoped to be in a position at a later date to say what had been done in this connection. The time was not ripe for a discussion in Parliament, said General Smuts.

Smuts insists for the return of the High Commissioner

The Senate, Cape Town: The High Commissioner must return to South Africa, otherwise there would be no channel for negotiation between the Union and India, declared the Prime Minister, General Smuts when he spoke in the Senate on Tuesday. He said: "It is quite Impossible in a matter of this sort to conduct negotiations by correspondence. The only channel for negotiations is the High Commissioner."

"The High Commissioner, it should be remembered, was not withdrawn from South Africa. He was recalled for conversations with his Government. The office of the High Commissioner remains in the Union and is functioning, but consists only of minor personnel with whom I cannot conduct negotiations."

"Mr. Nehru does not seem to be very willing to send back the High Commissioner, but says that the original cause for recalling him remains. That, I presume is the Asiatic Land Tenure Act which was passed last year."

"To my mind, that is no answer to the proposition which I put up that is, if we have to conduct negotiations with regard to the United Nations resolution, then it is proper that we do so through the High Commissioner.

South African Indians to observe Independence Day

Calling for the observance of 15August, the Natal Indian Congress, in a statement over the signatures of its President, Dr G.M. Naicker, and General-Secretary, A.I. Meer, to The Leader, states:

"On 15 August our Motherland will have achieved the first steps towards the achievement of its final goal of complete independence. On that historic day will come into being the Dominions of India and Pakistan, enjoying a status equal in every respect with the rest of the Commonwealth. To Indians in all parts of the world, Friday, August 1947, will be Independence Day."

"It is, therefore, only proper that the Indians of South Africa should celebrate this happy occasion of our Motherland's march towards her cherished goal of complete freedom from foreign domination in a fitting manner, and for this purpose the Natal Indian Congress appeals to all Indians to close their places of business on Friday, 15 August 1947, and to observe the day as a day of thanksgiving and prayer. The Congress further appeals to all Indian religious bodies to hold on that date in their mosques, temples and churches special services for the safety and progress of our Motherland."

"On the same day - 15 August - the Congress will hold a mass meeting to pay homage to all the brave soldiers, thousands of whom sacrificed their lives facing lathies and machine-guns in the fight for our Motherland's freedom, and to congratulate the two new Dominions."

NIC holds big meeting in Albert Park to celebrate independence of India and Pakistan

The Natal Indian Congress organised a big meeting at Albert Park on Independence Day. The flags of India and Pakistan were unfurled side by side, and speakers referred to the historic occasion in feeling terms.

Dr G.M. Naicker, President of the Natal Indian Congress, said at the mass meeting:

"On this day we record our proud and grateful appreciation for the sons and daughters of India who have taken part in the great struggle for independence, and have suffered and sacrificed much so that the Motherland may be free."

"We record our pride and appreciation of the Indian National Army; to the men of the Royal Indian Navy and the Royal Indian Air Force, whose post-war strike wave culminated in the epic "R.I.N. Mutiny" , which was a reminder to the British Imperialists that the spirit of revolt had caught the Indian armed forces, and, therefore, the end of oppression and exploitation was at hand."

"We appreciate the part played by the Trade Unions, the peasants, '^sacrifices of the merchants and other members of the commercial "immunity during the boycott movement; the invincible spirit of womanhood of India, who left the comforts, security and the safety of their homes to come out and struggle for the freedom of their land the part the youths and students of India played," concluded Mr. Naicker.

"Whether the two new dominions choose to remain in such partnership or decide to become completely independent and separate entities is a question they themselves will have to decide or perhaps it would be more correct to say that question will be decided for them by the treatment accorded to Indians living in the different parts of the Commonwealth," went on Mr. Meer.

"It would be inconsistent to accept in theory India and Pakistan as members of the Commonwealth on the basis of equality and at same time to practise racial discrimination against Indians within the Commonwealth itself," added Mr. Meer.

Correspondence between Nehru and Smuts on the implementation of the United Nations' Resolution

Pretoria, Monday: General Smuts has informed Pandit Nehru, Prime Minister of the Dominion of India, that South Africa cannot accept the implementation of the United Nations General Assembly's resolution as a basis for discussion between the Union and India.

This is disclosed in a letter dated 28 July sent by General Smuts to Mr. Nehru in reply to the latter's letter of 30 May about the resumption of relations between the two countries. The letter said:

"I have your letter of 24 June and note that you insist that the Union Government should accept the implementation of the United Nations General Assembly's resolution as the basis for discussion between the two Governments."

"I assume that you mean that the Union Government must admit that it has broken the agreements between the two Governments and has violated the principles of the Charter.

"The Union Government wishes to point out the following facts: First, when the Union Minister of the Interior laid the Cape Town Agreement before the Parliament, he declared that the agreement was not rigid and binding, and did not take away the right of the Union to resist interference from outside in its domestic affairs, and that the Union Government reserved the right to deal legislatively with the Indian problem whenever and in whatever way it deemed necessary and just. No exception was taken by the Indian Government to this declaration."

In view of the vagueness and generality of the charges against the Union and the highly charged emotional atmosphere in which they were discussed, the Union Government must be specially on its guard against complying with your request and accepting the so-called implications of the resolutions referred to."

"The refusal of the Indian Government to avail itself of the offices of its own High Commissioner, and its enforcement

of unilateral trade sanctions against the Union without the authorisation of the United Nations Organisation, are of such unfriendly character that there is little prospect of advantage from consultations between the two governments under such circumstances."

Mr. Nehru, in his reply to General Smuts on 28 July, said, "I should have thought that prolonged debates in the appropriate committees of the General Assembly last year and the Assembly's decision had made the purport of the resolution perfectly clear."

"You seemed to regard the resolution as uncertain and obscure, and its adoption by the General Assembly of the United Nations as the result of discussion in a highly charged emotional atmosphere. I confess my inability to see how the return of India's High Commissioner to the Union can help to resolve the matters which, in your opinion, the Assembly and its committees left obscure and uncertain."

"I have tried my best to end the deadlock between our two Governments, but must observe with regret, that, though no fault of ours, no common statement of negotiations between us has been found.

"Yours Sincerely,

Jawaharlal Nehru"

General Smut's letter to Mr. Nehru is the latest in a correspondence between the two statesmen which began with a cable from Mr. Nehru General Smuts on 24 April last to which General Smuts replied on 28 April. The correspondence was resumed again on 18 June with letter from General Smuts in reply to a letter from Mr. Nehru dated. General Smuts told Mr. Nehru that at the time of the receipt of his letter, and subsequently, conversations between the Government and groups of South African Indians were going on over the Indian question. General Smuts said:

"These groups representing all classes of Indians who were dissatisfied with the conduct of their affairs by the Natal Indian

Congress, whose leadership was under ideological influences of which they disapproved and whose approach they considered harmful to Indian interests. They had subsequently separated from the Natal Indian Congress and formed themselves into a new organisation determined to make a new and more conciliatory approach to the Government for the remedy of Indian grievances."

"These conversations covered such matters as land areas set aside for Indians, or open to Indian acquisition under the Asiatic Land Tenure Act of 1946, education, health, amenities generally for the Indian community in Durban, trading licences and inter-provincial movements. Some of these matters could be definitely settled and others were reserved for further consideration after consultations with the local authorities concerned. These Indian representatives of the new organisation were rightly of the opinion that their ultimate aims can best be achieved in a spirit of goodwill and understanding and negotiation with the Government and people of South Africa."

"Under all these circumstances, and backed up by a considerable volume of responsible Indian opinion in South Africa, I can fairly claim that our relations should be normalised, and that the Indian High Commissioner should be returned to his duties in the Union. I ask you to give serious consideration to our claim."

"As you have sent copies of our previous correspondence to the Secretary-General of the United Nations Organisation. I shall for convenience, take the same course."

Believe me,

Yours faithfully,

J.C. Smuts."

On 24 June General Smuts received the following reply from Mr. Nehru:

"In my last letter, I requested the Union Government to accept the implementation of the resolution passed by the United

Nations General Assembly on 8 December 1946, as the common and immediate purpose of our respective Governments was cooperation for finding a basis for the solution of the problems with which our two Governments are concerned; and added that, as soon as the Union Government had acceded to this request, a common basis for future discussions would be established. You would allow me to point out that, although in your present letter the Union Government had insisted on the return of our High Commissioner, we have so far, had no indication that they agree to proceed on the basis of the United Nations resolution."

"It still is our view that, in the absence of an agreed basis for discussion, the High Commissioner would not be able to achieve much. What is required is to agree first on a basis of discussion, and after that, a channel of discussion can be settled without much difficulty."

"The Government of India is firmly of the opinion that further discussion between our Governments, which they would warmly welcome, can only be on the basis of the United Nations resolution. They also feel that the issues involved arc so highly contentious, that these discussions could be brought to a satisfactory conclusion more expeditiously through a conference of fully accredited representatives of both Governments, than through the High Commissioner."

"Nevertheless, should the Union Government accept the United Nations' resolution as the basis for discussion, the Government of India would, in deference to the wishes of the Union Government, and as a mark of their earnest desire to reach a friendly settlement, be prepared to send their High Commissioner to South Africa to initiate these discussions. They regret, however, that their last High Commissioner, Mr. Deshmukh, will not be available for this purpose. .

Jawaharlal Nehru."

India submits South African case to UN

Lake Success (New York), Wednesday: The Indian Government has submitted to the UNO, an 18 page memorandum on the question of the treatment of Indians in South Africa.

The memorandum declared that anti-Asiatic feeling and the boycott had increased in South Africa as one direct result of the General Assembly's resolution calling for negotiations.

The memorandum said that the boycott had at first been confined to the Transvaal, but had later spread to Natal and had the active support of members of Parliament of both parties.

India and Pakistan unite over the South African Indian issue

New York, Friday: In the South African Indian issue at the UN, India and Pakistan will act in the closest co-operation and unanimity, said Mrs. Vijayalakshmi Pandit, leader of India's delegation, in a interview.

The question of voting, however, is open. She will not only champion the cause of the Indian minority of South Africa, but of all people whose treatment does not square up with the principles of the UN Charter.

South Africa has ignored UN: India makes a charge

New Delhi, Monday: In a report submitted to the United Nations in New York, the Government of India expresses the view that the South African Government has completely ignored the United Nations General Assembly resolution passed on 8 December last year, relating to the treatment of Indians in South Africa.

"Not only did the Union Government take no action to implement the resolution, but by refusing to agree to the Government of India's to request to accept the terms of the resolution as a basis for discussion, they have clearly indicated that they have no desire to take any steps to remove discriminatory treatment against the Indians and other Asiatics imposed by legislative and administrative measures," said the report.

Mrs. Pandit charges South Africa with ignoring UN Resolution

Flushing Meadows: Alleging that South Africa had not given a satisfactory reply to the United Nations on her treatment of Indians, Mrs. Pandit called on the Assembly to consider means of ensuring that its decisions are treated with respect.

"What if Assembly recommendations are ignored and treated with disrespect by member states, especially those to whom a recommendation is specifically directed?" she asked.

"I will have more to say on this subject later, but it is necessary at this stage to call your attention to the fact that the South African Government has taken no action to give effect to the principles underlying 'the resolution that we adopted here last year."

"A denial that any discrimination has been practised against Indians in South Africa is not, I submit, a serious or convincing reply to the General Assembly."

"Correspondence between the Prime Ministers of the two dominions, recently published, reveals India's anxiety to reach a fair and honorable element."

"This issue concerns not only the relations between the two dominions. If it is not resolved, it may spread misrepresentation and conflict over a much wider sphere because of its basically racial character".

"I believe this is not the only case where a member state disregarded the clearly expressed will of the Assembly. It will therefore be necessary for us to consider and determine means that may be open to us to ensure that the Assembly's decisions on such matters of importance are treated with respect." Later in her speech Mrs. Pandit criticised the eagerness on the part of some member states to invoke the "domestic jurisdiction" clause whenever a certain type of question is raised.

India" , she said, "had no desire nor power to dispute the

sovereignty of member states nor to attempt to interfere through the United Nations in their internal affairs."

"It must be recognised, however, that every international question may be regarded as having a national aspect and we cannot afford to permit a member state to evade its obligations and thus reduce the value of the Charter."

Mrs. Pandit's message to Indians in South Africa

New York, Thursday: "We are with you in spirit and continue to admire your brave attitude in the face of such tremendous opposition. The case of discrimination in South Africa has again come up before the United Nations General Assembly, and it is again my privilege to be associated with the Indian delegation in this great forum."

"We believe that the new order, which humanity so ardently desires, cannot be created except on the basis of justice and fundamental rights. To see that this may be assured to every individual, we shall work without ceasing."

Smuts sneers at UN: "Why bother"

Cape Town, Friday: South Africa's Premier, General Smuts, descended from the international plane of the statesmen to the position of party leader and petty politician, obviously without any qualms for he himself did not hesitate to sneer at the UNO at the concluding session of the United Party rally in the City Hall last night.

Speaking on the Indian question at the UNO, he asked, "Why bother about what the UNO may ask?" He was greeted with derisive laughter. "I have great respect for the UNO but it is only an infant. People are talking there about world conditions who do not know world conditions."

India moves resolution on South West Africa at UN

Lake Success: The Indian resolution on South West Africa, setting a time limit for the submission by the Union of a Trusteeship Agreement for the territory, was approved in the United Nations Trusteeship Committee by 27 votes to 20, with four abstentions. The voting on the Indian resolution was:

For: Afghanistan, Byelo-Russia, China, Columbia, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iran, Lebanon, Liberia, 'Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Persia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Ukraine, Russia, Venezuela, Yemen, Yugoslavia.

Against: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Salvador, France, Greece, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Sweden, Turkey, South Africa, United States, Britain.

Abstentions were: Bolivia, Chile, Ethiopia, and Uruguay.

Final Stage in UN Debate on South African Indians

The final stage in the Indian-South African dispute over the treatment of Indians in South Africa was brought before the United Nations General Assembly. Belgium, Brazil, Cuba, Denmark and Norway introduced their joint resolution, asking the Assembly to call upon both Governments, "to continue their efforts through a Round Table Conference or other direct means, or, if necessary, by mediation or conciliation, with a view to reaching agreement in settlement of their dispute, and should they fail to reach such agreement, to submit to the International Court of Justice, the question of the extent of obligations under the agreements and under the provisions of the Charter." Mr. H.G. Lawrence (South Africa) challenged Mrs. Pandit directly to tell the Assembly that India did not - for purposes of the proposed Round Table Conference - expect the Union Government to admit that they had broken agreements and violated the United Nations Charter. He told the General Assembly that the South African Government still strongly believed that the matter was essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of the Union, and therefore, beyond the competence of the Assembly. "If the Indian resolution is accepted, the Hindustan Government will only construe this as an endorsement belief by the Assembly that the South African Government must make these admissions," he said. "With a resolution which could be taken to confirm the unrelenting attitude of the Hindustan Government, lam very much afraid that the possibility of negotiations will disappear altogether." Mrs. Pandit (Hindustan) said the Indian resolution on the treatment of Indians in South Africa affected not only the Indians in South Africa but also the peoples of Asia and Africa. "For us it is Solution not the mere assertion of certain rights and privileges. We look upon it primarily as a challenge to our dignity and self-respect,"

Assembly rejects Indian Resolution

The Indian Resolution on South Africa was passed by the General Assembly tonight by 31 votes to 19 and thus failed to get the required two-thirds majority. The resolution called for a Round Table Conference based on last year's decision on the treatment of Indians in South Africa. The joint resolution also failed to get the required two-thirds majority. Both resolutions were thus automatically rejected.

The UN Decision: "Not a Failure" - Mrs. Pandit

In a press statement after the debate, Mrs. Pandit, of India, said: "It is a matter of regret that the result of the General Assembly debate should have proved so negative. My delegation had hoped that once again the nations of the world would give a clear verdict against racial discrimination, but the fact that the Indian resolution failed to get a two-thirds majority must not be regarded as a failure."

"The cause we represent is far-reaching in its implications and the question of Indians in South Africa is merely a symbol of a much bigger issue which will, sooner or later, challenge the attention of the world in a manner which will then brook no denial. All the talk of peace becomes a mockery when the causes of the conflict are permitted to continue. We shall continue to fight for the removal if disabilities and discrimination, wherever they exist, in the firm belief that ultimate success will crown our efforts."

Mrs. Pandit said she still considered last year's General Assembly solution on the question as being in force. The two resolutions which were rejected "cancelled each other out," she said. Mrs. Pandit had a conversation with Mr. Gromyko, of Russia, after the votes had been taken, said later that she was considering whether to reopen the discussion in the Assembly. Delegates who supported the Indian solution questioned the Indian delegation why they had not challenged the President's ruling that a two-thirds majority was required for a conclusive vote. They maintained that a simple majority was sufficient.

Mrs. Pandit comforts South African Indians

New York, Monday: Before leaving for India today Mrs. Vijayalakshmi Pandit addressed a message to all Indians in South Africa in which she asserted the struggle of the Indians in South Africa is a symbol of much wider struggle now going on in the world for human rights and it will continue until all forms of discrimination between men and nations are ended. The message which she handed to Mr. A.I. Meer, General Secretary of the Natal Indian Congress and the Passive Resistance Council delegate to the United Nations said: "The message I send to my countrymen and women in South Africa is one of good cheer. It is true we lost our case on technical ground that we were unable to secure a two-thirds majority but we have no cause for disappointment. Ours has been a special victory of no small importance and it is for the nations who voted against us or who abstained from voting to reflect on the consequences of their action. One thing is certain that it is not a good augury for the future of the United Nations that it should be increasingly difficult to get an affirmative vote on an issue of racial discrimination."

The Future is full of difficulties - P.R. Pather

Referring to the failure of the Indian resolution to get a two-thirds majority in the General Assembly of the United Nations last week, Mr. P.R. Pather, Joint Secretary of the Natal Indian Organisation, told a representative of The Leader that the future of the Indian community bristled with difficulties.

"Our problem has to be handled with care. The time has come for all sane and reasonable Indians to build up a strong and virile organisation to work in the best interests of the Indian community. When I came back from New York early this year, I paid tribute to the Latin American States which played a glorious part in the victory that India had achieved. While the Latin American delegates hammered at the prolonged debate time and again, M. Gromyko, the Russian delegate, spoke once only. And I remarked at the time that at the next session, the Latin American States would hold the balance or power. My statement was not taken seriously because our local Communist leaders - Stalins in replica - refuse to admit that such a statement was a true assessment of that position. The recent voting at the General Assembly on the South African Indian issue proved conclusively that I was right."