The International Aspects of the South African Indian Question, 1860-1971

The International Aspects of the South African Indian Question, 1860-1971

The International Aspects of the South African Indian Question, 1860-1971

The International Aspects of the South African Indian Question, 1860-1971


This book, which is based largely on material submitted for a Ph.D. degree of the University of Natal, concerns itself with the international aspects of the South African Indian question: the aspects which deal with inter-governmental matters as between states and countries (such as between the South African Republic and Natal, before the days of Union, and India and Great Britain) and international aspects involving international institutions such as the League of Nations and the United Nations. In short, the scope of this study embraces both inter-national as well as international aspects.

Though the aim is not to deal with local, national or domestic issues at length, it is necessary to point out that these issues cannot be ignored or overlooked. Any issue only reaches international proportions after it transcends its national limits. The external or international plane is nothing more than the lengthened shadow of the internal or national plane. Any understanding of the one is not possible, at least with any thoroughness, without a discussion, however brief, on the other. But pains have been taken to ensure that the international aspects do not take second place to the national aspects; local events have been dealt with as briefly as is necessary to elucidate the main points of this study.

Another facet of this study is that it cannot be dealt with in isolation. The Indian Question (which today represents the story of only 3 per cent of South Africa's population) cannot be entirely divorced from the rest of South Africa's racial problems and this study takes note of this situation.

An Epilogue has been included in the last chapter to bring the story of the South African Indian up to date. This has been necessary not only because the study from which this book has emerged itself stopped with the introduction of the Republic of South Africa in 1961 but more because the decade following it has been a significant one. Much of Africa has since become independent and in South Africa old policies have hardened and new ones have appeared. In these developments the international influences have had their say, with varying results.

When the thesis was originally written I was still in South Africa. Times were hard and financial support was hard to come by. In those difficult days local support was almost non-existent. It was not "fashionable" for a backwood man, the son of an ex-indentured labourer, to be engaged in such pursuits. No South African Indian had before this obtained a doctorate in History. To say the least, it was not the thing to do. The fact that the undertaking succeeded at all was due to my Supervisor, Professor Edgar H. Brookes, Head of the Department of History and Political Science of the University of Natal, who not only provided me with academic guidance but often found me sums of money to tide me through my many financial crises. He has remained a good friend.

Two of my colleagues in the service of the Natal Education Department must be remembered. They are Dallip H. Singh and Sarwanth L. Sewgolam.

For documentary material, I am grateful for the help I received from the United Nations headquarters; the Government of India, Ministry of External Affairs; the South African Institute of Race Relations; the Natal Society Library; the University of Natal Library; the Natal Archives and the Killie Campbell Library. Individuals who made available . . .

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