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Gandhi's loyalty to British Crown

british-crownby Dr Radhasyam Brahmachari

The January 5, 2009 edition of the renowned daily The Times of India carried a press report titled Gandhi donned army uniform for the British”, that said, “It might seem surprising but it is that in the year 1899, Mahatma Gandhi donned a uniform. This uniform belonged to a voluntary ambulance unit, which he created” (article by J P Chaturvadi published in the Sainik Samachar edition of October 9, 1977). The article contained a rare picture of Gandhi sporting the British Army uniform during the Anglo-Boer war that broke out in South Africa in 1899. It should be mentioned here that the Dutch had their own colony in South Africa and in 1899, a clash of interest began between these two colonialists which turned into a military confrontation in December, 1899 and simply to please the British Government, Gandhi created the said 1,100 strong Indian volunteer and the stretcher bearer corps. During the war Gandhi was personally sympathetic to the Dutch. But, he later on confessed that, to please the British he sacrificed his conscience.

“The performance of his voluntary ambulance unit was appreciated by all when the Anglo-Boer war ended in 1902, after the capture of Transvaal. The commander-in-chief of the army mentioned the heroic deeds performed by this ambulance unit, whose workers walked 20 to 25 miles a day to carry out voluntary duties to help the injured”, says the article. After the victory in the war, British Government presented a medal and a citation to Gandhi which he preserved with great respect till his death. It should be mentioned here that Gandhi strongly believed that the British Empire was for the welfare of the entire world and he maintained this view till his death. Later, Gandhi proudly recalled how he loyally served the British during the Boer War and put his life in peril, particularly while his ambulance corps was working at the battle fields of Colenso, Spion Kop and Vaalkranz.

While in South Africa, Gandhi did not miss a single opportunity to please the British crown. Just after the Boer war, Gandhi expressed his loyalty by sending felicitation to Queen Victoria on her birthday. Queen Victoria died in January, 1901 and Gandhi sent a condolence message to the Colonial Secretary in London, laid a wreath on the pedestal of the Queen’s statue in Durban and distributed picture of the Queen among the school children. Later on, when George-V was coroneted as the king of England, Gandhi expressed his loyalty by sending congratulatory telegram to England that read, “The Indian residents of this country (i.e. South Africa) sent congratulatory cablegrams on the occasion, thus declaring their loyalty”.

To please the British colonialists, Gandhi used to sing National Anthem of England in public meetings though he could discover violence in the following two lines of the song

Scatter her enemies, and make them fall;

Confound their politics;

frustrate their knavish tricks”. Continue reading

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March 11, 2009 Posted by | Gandhi | , , | 8 Comments