IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


7th June, 2023 History

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  • On 7th Jun 1893, Gandhi started struggle against apartheid at the Pietermaritzburg Railway Station near Durban in South Africa.
  • Indian Navy will commemorate the 130 years of this struggle at the same place.

Other Details

  • Indian Navy’s INS Trishul will visit Durban and will pay floral tributes at the Gandhiji Plinth and a give a performance of the IN band in continuation with Azadi Ka Amrit Mahostav.
  • It will also mark the 30 years of re-establishment of diplomatic relations between India and South Africa.


  • In 1893 Mahatma Gandhi had arrived in Durban, South Africa to provide legal counsel services to a merchant named Dada Abdulla.
  • On 7th june of the same year, when Gandhi was on a trip to Pretoria in the Transvaal, he experienced apartheid at Pietermaritzburg Railway Station.
  • Even after having a ticket to travel, He was not permitted in first-class compartments and evicted from first-class compartment.
  • He was considered a coolie by fellow European passengers.
  • This was trigger point for Mahatma Gandhi to start fight against racial oppression which gave the birth to Satyagraha.
  • On the same station in a moving ceremony in 1997 Nelson Mandela, the then President of South Africa, conferred Freedom of Pietermaritzburg posthumously on Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Gandhi was recalled for setting an extraordinary example of personal sacrifice and dedication in the face of oppression and racial discrimination.


Apartheid was the name of a system of racial discrimination, where people were treated differently on the basis of color and race, unique to South Africa. The white Europeans imposed this system on South Africa.

Gandhi and his Experiments with Truth in South Africa

  • He born on October 2, 1869 in Porbandar in the princely state of Kathiawar in Gujarat.
  • He studied law in England, Gandhi, in 1898 and went to South Africa to provide legal council to Dada Abdullah.
  • On witnessing racism and the humiliation there he fought for rights of Indian merchants, plantation workers and indentured labour.
  • They were denied the right to vote, could reside only in prescribed congested locations. Some of them were not allowed to be outside after 9 PM and to use the public footpaths.

Moderate Phase of Struggle (1894-1906)

  • He sent petitions and memorials to the authorities in South Africa and in Britain to make them aware about the plight of these people.
  • Natal Indian Congress and started a paper Indian Opinion were set up in this regard.

Phase of Passive Resistance or Satyagraha (1906-1914)

  • In this phase satyagraha was started. It was begun in 1906.


Satyagraha was a name given to the method of passive resistance or civil disobedience.

This means holding firmly to truth or devotion to the truth.

Satyagraha against Registration Certificates (1906)

  • To comply with new law, Indians mandatorily need to carry at all times certificates of registration with their fingerprints.
  • Gandhi formed the Passive Resistance Association to fight for this without the use of violence.
  • He conducted the campaign to defy the law and asked people not to register themselves.
  • Gandhi and the people retaliated by publicly burning their registration certificates.
  • Gandhi faced penalty and jailed.
  • It finally led to the compromise settlement with government.

Campaign against Restrictions on Indian Migration

  • Inspired by the earlier campaign people also protest against a new legislation imposing restrictions on Indian migration.
  • People crossed over from one province to another without licences and were jailed in this process

Campaign against Poll Tax and Invalidation of Indian Marriages

  • A poll tax of three pounds was imposed on all ex-indentured Indians.
  • All marriages were invalidated, if not conducted according to Christian rituals and subsequently registered, by an order of Supreme Court order.
  • It made Hindu, Muslim and Parsi marriages were illegal and children born out of such marriages, illegitimate.
  • Non-violent Protest against this was started

Protest against Transvaal Immigration Act

  • A Transvaal Immigration Act was also protested where Indians migrated from Natal into Transvaal.
  • In a bid to provide sustain the high pitch of the struggle, he founded Tolstoy Farm in 1910.

Finally in the end viceroy, Lord Hardinge, condemned the repression. Negotiations by government were started with Gandhi and a Compromise Solution was reached.


Explaining the meaning of Gandhi’s Satyagraha, Discuss the related techniques and methods of protest evolved during the fight against apartheid in South Africa. (250 words)