Post Prayer Speech 1948-01-28


Mahatma Gandhi

Dr. Sushila Nayyar and Mr. Leslie Cross went to Bahawalpur and the Nawab has promised to help them in every way. In the Union Capital, by the grace of God, there is again peace among the three communities. This will certainly improve the situation all over India.

You know in South Africa our people are fighting for their rights. Here in India there are no laws depriving the people of the right of owning land or living wherever they please. It is true we have reduced Harijans to some such condition but for the rest of society that is not so. But I have seen with my own eyes that that is so in South Africa. The Indians therefore are having to put up a struggle to safeguard their rights and in defence of the honour of India. They can resort to various means in their struggle but they claim to be satyagrahis and their struggle has taken the form of satyagraha. They keep on sending cables. They cannot even move from one province to another without a permit. South Africa is like a continent. It is a very large country. Indians wishing to go to the Transvaal from Natal can do so only if they have a permit. They say it is as much their country as anyone else’s and ask why there should be such restrictions imposed on their movements. Many have succeeded in moving to the Transvaal and the Government this time have been decent. They have not been arrested so far. They first went to Volksrust which is the first city after crossing the border. There were policemen present in strength but they only looked on and did not arrest them. There they found a motor vehicle and proceeded in it further on. Then a meeting was held there at which they were given a warm welcome. I thought I should give you this information. Those Indians have performed an act of great courage. Indians in South Africa are few in number but, if they all become true satyagrahis, their victory is certain and no obstacle can stop them. But this has yet to be achieved. There are, as here, many kinds of people. There are Hindus and there are Muslims. They all work together. They know they cannot fight their battle separately. They have reached Johannesburg but they cannot stop there. They must go on and on till they are arrested. The Government have a right to arrest them, for satyagraha implies the acceptance of punishment for the violation of a law. They deserve congratulations. I shall ask the Government of South Africa not to be too severe with people who carry on their struggle with such decency. They should understand their grievances and come to a settlement with them. Why should it be that one with a white skin cannot have a dialogue with one with a black skin? Why should Indians have to fight for their legitimate rights? How does it harm the whites if Indians too are allowed to live there? Today we are also a free country as South Africa is and are members of the same Commonwealth, which implies that we should all live like brothers and equals. But if they consider Indians their enemies and deprive them of their basic civic rights, then they are not behaving as friends but as enemies. It is something which is difficult to understand. Why should they look down on the coloured people? Is it because they are industrious and thrifty? I shall tell the Government of South Africa through this meeting that it should mend its ways. I have myself lived in South Africa for twenty years and I can therefore say that it is my country. I should have told you all this yesterday but I could not do so.

Some Muslims from Mysore had sent me a wire a few days ago saying that my fast had produced no effect there and Muslims were still being killed there. I had also said a few words on the matter.² Now I have a telegram from the Home Minister of Mysore in which he has refuted the charge made in the wire and has explained that the Government is trying to be just to the Muslims. I must tell the Muslims of Mysore what I have told all others, namely, that they should not indulge in exaggeration. This hampers me and I am able to do nothing. If anything they should try to water down such reports. This is the only way Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs can live as brothers.

Our people are so simple that they send money by post. I recollect an incident from my childhood. My father had some

jewellery among which was a valuable pearl. He mailed it by post. That was not cheating but it certainly was risky because, if anybody had suspected it, they could have opened the envelope. In any case the money was not saved because he wanted the acknowledgment by wire. It seems there still are innocent people like my father. A friend sent currency notes of over a thousand rupees in this way. He had the envelope neither registered nor insured. He sent it by ordinary post. When there is dishonesty and corruption everywhere it is a matter of great credit to our Post Office that envelopes with money are safely delivered. They do not even want to see what an envelope might contain. My advice to people who send money like this is not to take such risk because in the postal department there are bound to be some dishonest men and, if the money is misappropriated in the post, the loss will be mine or that of the Harijans for whom this money is intended, and also of the donor. I congratulate the postal department on displaying such honesty. Let the other departments follow their example and take care of other people’s money and keep away from graft and peculation.

The Hindustan Times, 29-1-1948, and Prarthana Pravachan—II, pp. 348-51


  • 1. The Hindi version in Prarthana Pravachan has been collated with the report in The Hindustan Times.
  • 2. Vide pp. 485-6.


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