Gandhi’s non-violence liberated India from the clutches of British. Interestingly, he was instrumental in freedom of Mauritius, too
IT is very exciting to know that Mahtma Gandhi had not only played a vital role in the independence of India but he was the one, to light the torch of independence for many other island and countries where Girmitiyas (descendents of indentured Indian labourers) were living. Gandhi was like a family head to all dispersed Girmitiyas, who were transported in huge numbers from India to different countries.
Mauritius was one of the many crown colonies (British Overseas Territories).My Mauritian friend Raj Hiraman keeps narrating me the stories from Mauritius and everytime it leaves me amused. Mauritius had been special to Gandhi since the time he was mere Mohandas and hadn’t become a Mahatma. Although he visited Mauritius in 1901(it was just coincidence) but he mentioned about this sland on 22nd May, 1896 for the first time. In many of his books he talked about Mauritius.
For the first time in Durban(South Africa) he wrote about right of voting in Mauritius. In the same year, on 21st December again he wrote regarding it. In fact, in 1901 his ship ‘Naushera’ had anchored on Port Louis seaport. He met few people over there and visited few places. While returning, he had instructed the people from Indian origin there. His major instructions were -
1. Educate your kids.
2. Motivate kids towards politics.
3. Keep a watch on the progress of India.
On 24th December 1901, Congress session was held, in that too, he talked about it, he said, “our brother and friends have shifted to countries like Africa, Janjibar, Maritius, Fiji, Singapore. Did Indian missionaries, lawyers, doctors and professionals follow them? Now, Europeans are serving them. European missionaries are teaching them religion.” He requested people to visit South Africa and take care of NRIs there so that their sorrow and pain could be reduced.
On 3rd September 1893 in his newspaper ‘Indian Opinion’ he wrote an article on epidemic in Mauritius. On 26th June he invited great freedom fighter Gopal Krishna Gokhale to South Africa. He had asked him to reach South Africa via Ceylone and Mauritius so that he could see and observe the pathetic situation of people of Indian origin over there.
On 7th January 1911, he wrote in his news paper Indian Opinion, ‘In Mauritius the situation of NRI’s is piteous. They are living life of a slave; this kind of bondage should be resolved.’ He was spreading the seeds of independence. He even used to keep eyes on types of newspapers, “In Mauritius there is scarcity of people to publish good newspaper.” That newspaper was published by the Doctor Maganlal Manilal who was sent by him only. On 24th October 1911, in Transvaal (South Africa) Gokhlae praised him and wrote, “Doctor in Mauritius is doing a great social service. He has won the heart of poor non residents and has become their friend”. In India Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Swami Dayanand had spread the wave of renaissance against polygyny. Gandhi was concerned about Mauritius in same context. On 14th Dec 1912, law regarding polygyny was passed. On 8th July 1914, Gandhi wrote against it. In those days, he received a request letter from Pt. Totaram Sanadhya regarding the deteriorating situation of Girmitiyas from. He requested for their liberation. Gandhi was not in a situation to go himself, so he sent doctor Maganlal Manilal to Fiji.
Thus, it was Gandhiji’s effort only to spread the seeds of reform from South Africa and Mauritius to the third island Fiji. Till his death, he remembered Mauritius, he remembered Fiji and remembered the ill conditioned Girmitiyas over there. Gandhi’s interference was truly an Indian way, not just these nations achieved their independence, but also the people of Indian origin gained political power. Indian languages and tradition could be maintained there. While in Mauritius and Suriname, Bhojpuri was flourishing, Awadhi was gaining grounds in Fiji. The fire of liberation spread to all the Crown Colonies. The indebted people of Indian origin remembered him profoundly. On 12th March 1968, Mauritius got its independence and they selected this date because it is the date when Dandi March started. The ideas of liberation was spreading, in all the places where
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