South African History Online
location: home | timeline | 1946 Passive Resistance: Timeline

1946 Indian Passive Resistance
| 1946 |

Our Related Projects
1. A history of Passive Resistance in South Africa
2. A history of South African Indians

Prime Minister J.C. Smuts announced the intention of the government to introduce new legislation to replace the Pegging Act, due to expire on 31 March prohibiting Indians from purchasing land from non Indians. Indian would be entitled to elect three white Europeans to the House of Assembly, two whites to the Senate, and three members to the Natal Provincial Council on a communal franchise with educational and property qualifications

Natal Indian Congress (NIC) sent a cable to government of India urging an appeal to the United Nations on behalf of the Indians in South Africa

NIC called a mass meeting to protest against the proposed Asiatic Bill. A resolution was passed condemning the bill, rejecting communal franchise, proposing a round table conference of South Africa with India, and advocating effective mass resistance.

South African Indian Congress (SAIC) Conference, held in Cape Town, unanimously resolved to oppose the proposed legislation by "proceeding immediately to prepare the Indian people of South Africa for concerted and prolonged resistance". During the conference a large deputation of sixty Indians called on the Prime Minister, Field Marshal Smuts, on 11 February and urged him to postpone the legislation, pending a round table conference with India. He refused their request for a Round Table Conference and insisted that he would proceed with the Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representations Bill. The Conference then decided on 12 February to prepare resistance. It also decided to send delegations to India, Britain and the United States. The delegation to India was to request the government of India to seek a round table conference with South Africa, and, if that failed, to withdraw its High Commissioner from South Africa and apply economic sanctions against South Africa.

A Day of Prayer, called by NIC, was observed very widely. Indian businesses were closed at 1 pm. And many Indians took a resistance pledge.

SAIC delegation led by Sorabjee Rustomjee visited India. It met Gandhiji and other leaders, and was received by the Viceroy. The Working Committee of the Indian National Congress declared its full support to the South African Indians in their struggle

1946-03-03   SAIC delegation met Mahatma Gandhi in Poona

The SAIC delegation - Sorabjee Rustomjee, SR. Naidoo, A.A. Mirza and A.S.M. Kajee was received by the Viceroy, Lord Wavell, in Delhi. It was introduced by the Aga Khan, supported by leaders of the Indian National Congress and other prominent Indians. It submitted a petition drafted in consultation with Mahatma Gandhi. Government of India announced that it had decided to terminate the trade agreement with South Africa

1946-03-15   The Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Bill was introduced in House of Assembly

Mahatma Gandhi sent a telegram to Field Marshal Smuts asking him to withdraw the Asiatic Bill. He also issued a press statement describing the Bill as a challenge to Asia and Africa

The Executive of the SAIC, at its meeting in Cape Town, decided to instruct the Natal and the Transvaal Indian Congresses to "proceed immediately to plan and prepare the details of a concerted and prolonged resistance"

Debate on the Second Reading of the Bill began in the House of Assembly. On the same of India gave formal 3-month notice of the 1938 trade agreement with provided for "most favoured nation"



A special provincial conference of unanimously decided that resistance immediately after the Asiatic Bill Passive Resistance Council to. It issued a manifesto of resistance "Workers, businessmen, only your united action can save us! Either we perish as a whole, or we resist as a whole. There is no turning back. The time has come for suffering and sacrifice. it is your duty to give to the utmost physically, financially and morally. "Any Indian man or woman who serves on the Advisory Board, accepts the communal franchise or obstructs the struggle in any way whatsoever, will be guilty of an act of despicable treachery against his family, his community and the principles of democracy. Fellow Indians, forward to united action!"

6000 Indians marched in Durban to protest against the Asiatic Bill, and support the South African Indian Congress resolution for Passive Resistance. Dr G.M. Naicker, President of the NIC, addressed the demonstrators. H.I.E. Dhlomo (African National Congress) and L.A. Smith (African People's Organisation) spoke at the meeting and declared the support of the African and coloured people to the Indians in their struggle

A. Ramaswami Mudaliar, Leader of the House in the Central Legislative Assembly of India, announced that the government of India would initiate steps to bring the issue of the oppression of Indians in South Africa before the United Nations

At a mass meeting in Johannesburg, the Transvaal Indian Congress (TIC) decided to set up the Transvaal Passive Resistance Council with 15 members, under the chairmanship of Dr Y.M. Dadoo

The first meeting of the Joint Passive Resistance Council of Natal and the Transvaal was held in Durban




India asked its High Commissioner in South Africa, Ramrao Madhavrao Deshmukh, to return for consultations. He sailed for India the next day

Mahatma Gandhi supports the withdrawal of the Indian High Commissioner


The certificate of Honour presented to those who were imprisoned in the Passive Resistance campaign.
Click on the thumbnail to see it larger ..
Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Bill, called by Indians the "Ghetto Act", received the assent of the Governor-General and became law

Best viewed 1024x768 or 800x600. Any comments or queries, please contact the   
This page and others on the site require Macromedia Flash Player to be displayed correctly