Article 4-Gandhi’s Work in South Africa

After stirring  the  Indian community in South Africa   to unite and oppose injustice being done by the white govt on their national identity  and dignity , Gandhi started concentrating on his court case which was his main assignment in   South Africa . He studied the  case in great details ; the accounts were complex ;  there were agreements signed on Stamp paper as well as on plain papers  ; there were allegations from both sides regarding irregularities etc . In addition , he found Mr Baker , the Sr lawyer more interested to win the case on legality than on facts .  With great personal efforts ,  by repeatedly going through the documents , repeated consultation with Mr Baker , discussion with Seth Abdullah , Gandhi came to the conclusion that case was in favour of his client namely Seth Abdullah .

However this feeling of a possibility of winning the case , did not make him  happy from inside .  He argued in himself  “that even if we win ,  any court case would take a long time may be years because of legal process , the pleasure of win is defeated . The decision of the judge generally depends how well the contesting lawyers argue  and it is not necessary that decision will be in favour of right party . Further because of time element , there would be huge financial implications on both sides . In addition both Seth Abdullah in India and Seth Taiyab in South Africa were  well known persons and have mutual respect for each other ;  prolonged delay in deciding the  case could affect their mutual relations . “

Gandhi  was a Satvik person with noble thoughts . He had something else in mind . He  met Seth Taiyab .  He put forth the arguments of time element and huge money involved in the ongoing  litigation on both sides and  in the process no body would win.  He suggested to withdraw the case from court ,  instead appoint a mediator  whom both parties trust and who can give an impartial judgement .  Seth Taiyab  saw a point in what Gandhi was suggesting and agreed with his  view point  knowing fully well that Gandhi was of the rival party .  Gandhi had already taken the approval of Seth Abdullah and both sides agreed to trust the matter to Hazi Seth for a decision . Seth Hazi was a mature person . He knew both the Seths ; he  understood the sensitivity of the matter . He knew that he had  not only to be  impartial but would have to also take care of the sentiments of both the contesting parties – to whom he was very close and that their pride should not be hurt .

To settle the dispute by mediation than in court    was a great success for Gandhi . This would save his energy , bridge the bitterness among two friends and two important persons and thus  help him in pursuing his greater agenda of welfare of Indians in South Africa . Later Mr Baker was also informed suitably by Gandhi.

Mr Baker as I already mentioned was a devout Christian . He had deep faith in Christ , His philosophy , His sacrifice for human welfare . Mr Baker offered Gandhi to accompany him to Wellington for a annual  congregation of devout Protestant Christians for self enlightenment -Atamshuddhi  under the leadership of Rev Andrew Mare .  Gandhi too had a great interest in philosophy  of different religions and readily agreed to accompany the group  to Wellington . It was a total white group except Gandhi – the India Coolie .  On reaching Wellington , the question of a black staying in the hotel came up again . The manager put forward the usual argument that other occupants of the hotel would  mind and consequently  his business would  suffer , in case he accommodated  Gandhi in the hotel . Mr Baker pleaded a lot that he ( Gandhi ) was a special invitee and could not  be separated from  the group .  Seeing the predicament of Mr Baker , other members of  group intervened and  Gandhi was allowed to stay in the hotel . However manager did not allow Gandhi to share  the dining table with whites and  Gandhi had to dine in his room only , all alone . It was  bizzare  and showed  the narrow mindedness of the devout group who were on a mission for self  enlightenment – Atamshuddhi  yet not accepting an equally  enlightened person though from  a different religion .

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