A Nationalist’s Letter Box

Undated letter to Naoroji from Rustom H. Appoo, president of the Edinburgh Parsi Union, and someone who possessed immaculate handwriting.

Over 30,000 letters from Dadabhai Naoroji’s correspondence survive today, the vast bulk of which is kept at the National Archives of India in New Delhi. This is, however, probably less than half of what existed during Naoroji’s lifetime and, sadly, most of the letters that Naoroji himself wrote have now been lost. Here are a few items from Naoroji’s letter box, which give a flavor of this rich archive on Indian nationalist, British Victorian, and global anti-colonial history.

8 February 1885: Naoroji to John Slagg

[John Slagg was a Liberal MP in the British Parliament and a sympathetic voice on Indian affairs. In this letter, Naoroji articulates his views on the need for something approaching “Native Rule” or self-government, a demand that he would put on the back-burner for the next fifteen years as he stood for a seat in Parliament and served in the House of Commons.]

5 Khetwady Lane
Bombay 8th February 1885

Dear Sir

Sir W. Wedderburn has placed your letter to him of 3rd [ult.?] in my hands to reply to. The best answer I can give is to send you a set of my pamphlets on “The Poverty of India” and “Condition of India”. If you would kindly study these papers slowly and carefully you will see that I have not made a single statement which is not based on official facts, figures and statements. It has always been an effort with me not to use 2 words when I can do with one and not to be profuse; and that is the reason why I request that the papers be read carefully.

In the official opinion I have given from page 34 to page 44 of the 1st part of the Poverty of India, I have given at page 44, the opinions of Governors-General and Mr. Grant Duff as Under-Secretary of State for India. But you have, since I wrote, a still more emphatic testimony of the highest Financial authority, Sir W. Baring, in his budget speech of 1882. I give you here two short extracts.

“It has been calculated that the average income per head of the population in India is not more than Rs. 27 a year, and though I am not prepared to pledge myself to the absolute accuracy of a calculation of this sort, it is sufficiently accurate to justify the conclusion that the tax-paying community is exceedingly poor. To derive any very large increase of revenue from so poor a population as this is obviously impossible, and if it were possible, would be unjustifiable.”

Again, in the discussion on the same budget, he said, after repeating the above statement of Rs 27 per head per annum—

“But he thought it was quite sufficient to show the extreme poverty of the mass of the people. In England the average income per head of population was £33; in France it was £23; in Turkey, which was the poorest country in Europe, it was £4 per head. He would ask Honourable members to think what rupees 27 per annum was to support a person, and then he would ask whether a few annas was nothing to such people.”

This was observed in connection with salt duty (the underlining is mine). My figure is Rs 20/-.

I request your particular attention to my letter to the Secretary of State from page 147 of “The Condition of India”. This will show what fallacies are running India.

I also enclose a press copy of a memorandum I have just at hand which I have addressed to one or two persons in authority.

The whole problem of India is in a nutshell. Never can a foreign rule be anything but a curse to any country, excepting only so far as it approaches a Native Rule. Unless Britain sees this and with the exception of the higher power of control, leaves India to be ruled by the Natives themselves, nothing on Earth can improve their prosperity. This canker at the root is the cause of all. Remove this […] and India will assume its natural economic and political condition, both to its own benefit, and to the benefit and blessing of England. The whole hope lies in the thinking of England. If they once grasp this most important piece of India’s condition, the consequence of England remedies evil.

After reading the papers, if you wish for any explanation or information bearing upon the subject, I shall do all I can to get it for you.

Yours truly
Dadabhai Naoroji

3 August 1886: Behramji Malabari to Naoroji

[Behramji Malabari, a prominent Parsi social reformer and journalist, was one of Naoroji’s closest friends and political allies (he fondly referred to Naoroji as “Dad” in his letters). Although he remained aloof from from the Congress due to differences of opinion on the importance of social reform vis-a-vis political reform, Malabari still hovered in the background in Indian nationalist circles, becoming a vital supporter to Naoroji during his campaigns for Parliament. Malabari’s letter–written shortly after Naoroji’s electoral defeat in Holborn, when he planned to remain in Britain to find another constituency from which to stand for Parliament–indicates Naoroji’s classic problem: he need to be in two places, Britain and India, at the same time.]

Bombay Aug 3/86

Dear Dad:


But a few thoughts have been haunting me since I wrote, which you must be acquainted. Public affairs are not going on well here. There is no energy and where it exists amongst a few of us it is almost useless for want of cohesion. You are the only cohesive plaster for the body politic with its numerous disintegrating diseases. All have confidence in you—which few have in few others. Splendid opportunities are going by for lack of organized action. Though something seems as being done it is really doing. Nature takes its course onward; that is all. In the Legislative Council we want a strong man—I don’t like the ring of recent discussions therein. Your presence is thus every way necessary.

On the other hand I know it is grievous to call you out now. You have commenced exceedingly well—and though the Conservatives seem to be stronger than I expected, still you need not quite despair of getting in. Even outside Parliament, you can do more than anybody or many other bodies put together. All this I know full well, perhaps as well as you can. But the trouble is we are unable to help you in the good cause without yr being here helping us to help the country. There is no chance of organization without you here. At Poona something might be done to save our credit. But neither Bombay nor other centres will like to be guided by Poona; there is such intellectual pride and selfishness to be encountered everywhere.

All things considered I think you better return by Nov-Dec. (meantime do your other duties in England—and also watching opportunities). This will enable you to preside at National Congress Bengal, which you must do. Come here, kick up organizations, collect materials and again go, if you like. Meantime you may have an executive committee of friends in London, or better still, a Native friend, paid for doing our work as we suggest from here. This will involve giving up Parliament—tho’ not absolutely so. But, after all, remember, you have to create, gather together & utilize forces, which must generate here, though their final destination is England.

Perhaps there may be some selfishness in this—because of I want to be more free for my own Question, which seems to be coming to a point. The abuse and vituperation of my opponents is becoming so great that I feel something is going to happen.

But consciously I have given you best advice.

Please keep this scrawl, as I have no copy

BM Malabari

6 June 1888: Naoroji to Charles Stewart Parnell

[In 1886, Michael Davitt, an Irish nationalist and a fierce supporter of Irish land reform, suggested that Naoroji stand for Parliament from an Irish seat, therefore demonstrating bonds of anti-colonial sympathy between the Irish and Indians. He made this suggestion to Charles Stewart Parnell, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party and the champion of Irish home rule. Ultimately, nothing came of this idea, although Naoroji remained a steadfast supporter of Irish home rule for the duration of his political career.]

National Liberal Club
Whitehall Place
6th June 1888

Dear Sir

Mr Davitt informs me that he has submitted my name to you for election for Sligo, and that you have kindly promised to give to his proposal due consideration. I shall be pleased to give you a call, when and where you may appoint. In the meantime I send herewith two pamphlets. The biography is taken mostly from one that an Indian Journalist has published in Bombay. 

I need not say more now than that I hope I shall prove myself deserving of any confidence that may be reposed in me

I remain
Your’s [sic] faithfully
Dadabhai Naoroji

C.S. Parnell Esq, M.P.
House of Commons

25 June 1892: Josephine Butler to Naoroji

[Josephine Butler, a prominent women’s rights activist and British suffragist, was a friend of Naoroji and an admirer of Naoroji’s work to improve the condition of Indian women. She relied on him for support in campaigning against the Contagious Diseases Acts. In return, Butler offered her help in Naoroji’s parliamentary campaign. Here, she warmly congratulates him on his victory in Central Finsbury and credits him for his advanced views on women’s rights in Great Britain.]

8, North View, Wimbledon
June 25/92

My dear Mr. Naoroji,

It has given me and many other women very great pleasure to see that you are the accepted candidate for a Division of Finsbury. It has long been very much on my heart that you should gain a seat in Parliament, and I should like to add my little word of testimony to others which you have received in regard to the confidence we have in you. It is not so much as a mere Liberal that I hope for your election, but because you are one of the most uncompromising friends of womanhood. You have already upheld the necessity of equal law for men and women, and your moving appeals on several occasions at our meetings have sunk deeply into our hearts. We have at this moment more than ever painfully the interests of your country women and our fellow-subjects in India on our hearts and I hope that our efforts may result before long in a greater measure of legal justice for the women of India. Your clear insight into all that is false and unequal in our British laws regarding women has not been, to my mind, surpassed in any instance, even of our own countrymen experienced in these matters, and your standard of moral excellence for men and women alike, and of the integrity of marriage and the purity of the home, are all that the most convinced Christian could desire in accordance with the ethical teaching of Christ. You may be sure of our prayer for your success.

I remain,
Yrs very truly
Josephine E. Butler

5 July 1894: Mahatma Gandhi to Naoroji

[This is the first letter that Gandhi wrote to Naoroji, when Gandhi had been in South Africa for a little more than one year. Gandhi asked Naoroji for help and advice as he began political work on behalf of the Indians of South Africa; Naoroji responded by becoming one of his strongest advocates in Britain and India. The original letter has, sadly, been lost, and this excerpt is from Rustom Masani’s biography.]

July 5, 1894

The first Parliament of Natal under Responsible Government has been pre-eminently an Indian Parliament. It has for the most part occupied itself with legislation affecting Indians, by no means favourably. The Governor, in opening the Legislative Council and Assembly, remarked that his Ministers would deal with the Franchise which was exercised by Indians in Natal, although they never exercised it in India. The reasons given for the sweeping measure to disfranchise Indians were that they had never exercised the Franchise before, and that they were not fit for it.

The petition of the Indians seemed to prove a sufficient answer to this. Hence they have now turned round and given out the real object of the Bill, which is simply this: “We do not want the Indians any more here. We want the coolies, but they shall remain slaves here and go back to India as soon as they are free.” I earnestly request your undivided attention to the cause and appeal to you to use your influence that always has been and is being used on behalf of the Indians, no matter where situated. The Indians look up to you as children to the father. Such is really the feeling here.

A word for myself and what I have done. I am yet inexperienced and young and, therefore, quite liable to make mistakes. The responsibility undertaken is quite out of proportion to my ability. I may mention that I am doing this without any remuneration. So you will see that I have not taken the matter up, which is beyond my ability, in order to enrich myself at the expense of the Indians. I am the only available person who can handle the question. You will, therefore, oblige me very greatly if you will kindly direct and guide me and make necessary suggestions which shall be received as from a father to his child.

Early January 1897 (undated): Henry Hyndman to Naoroji

[Henry Hyndman was the founder of the Social Democratic Federation, the first socialist political party in Great Britain. Naoroji and Hyndman left a deep influence on one another: Naoroji left an imprint on Hyndman’s ideas about the drain of wealth from India, and Hyndman constantly coaxed Naoroji to take up more radical political positions. Hyndman also introduced Naoroji to the wider world of European socialism by securing his attendance at the 1904 International Socialist Congress in Amsterdam].

9 Queen Anne’s Gate
London, SW.

Dear Dadabhai,

At the house I was staying at with my wife in Tunbridge Wells I met two young Indian barristers, Mr. Tyabji and another, who both know you.  I told them that I thought a great opportunity was being allowed to slip by in not getting up a plain-spoken memorial to the India Office on the subject of this Famine in India, to be signed by all Indians who will sign now in England.  I also said that I think it a mistake to ask for charity instead of demanding justice.  It cuts the ground from under the feet of those who, like myself, are doing all that is possible to help India.  Nothing will be done unless some serious agitation is set on foot.  I knew Ld. George Hamilton intimately in old days.  He is merely a smart tool of his own & other aristocratic families, working for the Imperial right to extort wealth.  He will do nothing unless he is frightened of the consequences of his supineness. 

Another word I must say.  I cannot help feeling contempt for the Indians here & in India who, instead of seriously taking up their own cause in a serious way, leave all the work to be done by a man of yours [sic], & pass such a silly resolution of congratulation to the Queen as was passed at the Indian National Congress the other day.  Congratulations for what?  For having ruined India for two or three generations to come?  It is pitiful.

Men in high position have said to me “Where is the evidence of discontent Mr. Hyndman?  Where is the cry for justice from the people of India themselves?  If the people are so poor & oppressed, as you say they are, surely we should hear a little more of it than we do hear.”  What answer can I make to such a challenge?  There is no answer.  For outside of yourself what is any native of India doing?  Even the paper “India” itself is a poor, clique-edited, badly-written sheet which doesn’t interest even me. 

It is time to be up & stirring if any good is to be done.  I will help, & so will our organisation & Justice, as much possible; but “Providence helps those who help themselves”!

 Ever yours sincerely,
 HM Hyndman 

15 December 1898: George Freeman to Naoroji

[George Freeman, originally George Fitzgerald, was an Irishman who emigrated from Great Britain–and pointedly changed his name–to Canada and then the United States, where he was involved in Irish nationalist and anti-colonial activities. He also developed a strong interest in India, and began corresponding with Naoroji in 1897. This was probably the earliest instance of cooperation between Indian nationalists and American anti-imperialists. Here, Freeman notes how some Americans have been studying Naoroji’s writings in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War, drawing similarities between the British occupation of India and the American occupation of the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere. Freeman supplied Naoroji with American newspapers and lengthy commentaries on American and Canadian affairs.]

145 Nassau St.
New York City.
Dec. 15. 1898.

Dear Mr. Naoroji,

I write to ask you to let me have some more of your Address “British Rule in India.”  I have been asked by several people to whom I had given it for some to give their political friends.  They foresee trouble for this country in the way the moneyed class is pushing the U.S. government into the grabbing of tropical territory with semi-civilised populations for American “boys” of the political carpet-bagger class to be sent out to govern and exploit, and they think your address contains a clear warning against it.

Personally I don’t think anything will arrest this country in the career of folly that the power behind the Presidential Chair has launched the country, with a weak president at its head, upon.  They have been well started on the road and must continue on it to the journey’s end.  The President is touring in the South just now to “cement the reconciliation” brought about by the war with Spain.  Yesterday he made a speech which, were he not a temperance man, one would say was the utterance of a man drunk.  It is charitable to believe that it was made in one of those moments of hallucination that he falls into possessed with a belief in his divine mission (he is a Methodist) to do something great, he does not know exactly what.  I send you a marked copy of a paper containing parts of his speech.

Also I send you last night’s Evening Post with a letter by a Mr. Alleyne Ireland that will interest you.  The man seems unable to grasp the idea contained in the previous letter he tries to controvert which I also send you in the E Post of the 13th.

There is a good deal of tribulation in Canada over the way the U.S. government is “playing” with the Commission.  The truth is there is a fixed determination at Washington to force Canada into the Union somehow or other.  The Pan-American idea is to clear the Northern Continent of all European power and influence, and President McKinley himself said just before his election that to see Canada in the Union was “the dream of his life.”  He is just now in a position to make his dream come true.  If England is really trusting in this country it is leaning on a very unreliable support.  Only the other day a prominent man in the Republican party said in my hearing, “We shall have to annex Mexico before long”.  That is how they are thinking about Canada and everything on the Northern half of the Continent not under the Stars & Stripes.  It is generally understood that the Nicaragua Canal question is going to be settled by annexing Nicaragua or doing with [it?] as the English have done in Egypt[—]make it an exclusive preserve.

Yours very truly
Geo. Freeman

23 July 1902: M. Sevasly to Naoroji

[Naoroji’s Poverty and Un-British Rule in India, which was published in 1901, was not just read in India and Great Britain. The book and its ideas circulated amongst many other colonized people, both inside and beyond the British Empire. Here, an Armenian in Cyprus requests a copy of the book].

July 23rd 1902

Dear Sir,

I have been following with much interest the controversy on the subject of Dr. Digby’s book on India and am most anxious to peruse your “Poverty & un-British rule in India”. You will be conferring me a great favour by forwarding me a copy of your work.

Here in Cyprus, we have been discussing the question “whether the net effect of British rule has been to impoverish Cyprus”. We have had no famines so far, but we are fast approaching hopeless indebtedness. We are studying the matter by analogy.

As I do not know your  personal address I am sending this thro’ the Review of Reviews. 

I had the honour while in London laboring for the cause of Armenia to meet you at the National Liberal Club where I was privileged to make your acquaintance.

I am Sir
Yours most faithfully
M. Sevasly

5 July 1903: Naoroji to Romesh Chunder Dutt

[In early July 1903, Romesh Chunder Dutt and Naoroji exchanged a series of letters arguing about the root of India’s extreme poverty. Dutt maintained that the cause was exorbitant land taxes; Naoroji replied that the true cause was the drain of wealth, which resulted in increasing impoverishment that made any taxation increasingly impossible for peasants to bear. At the conclusion of this correspondence, Naoroji articulated the objective of “Self-Government under British paramountcy,” an idea that he would propound until the Calcutta Congress of December 1906. It marked the first time since 1885 that Naoroji publicly invoked the demand for self-government. The rider of “British paramountcy” proved controversial with some of Naoroji’s allies, such as Henry Hyndman, as well as with extremist nationalists.]

Washington House, 72 Anerley Park, London
5 July 1903

Dear Mr Dutt

I am very glad indeed to receive your reply about land controversy.  My puzzle about [it] is somewhat solved.

You say “But this drain will not be stopped until you stop its main source,—the land revenue; and therefore by endeavouring to restrict the land revenue I am doing exactly the same work which you are doing in endeavouring to stop the drain.”

True that I took up at one time the subject of land revenue, and for the matter of that also, that of “development of resources”—extension of public works and other subjects that were on the surface.  But as I studied each and went into it to [a] certain extent, I saw that I was on the wrong course, and that the real cause was actually outside and much deeper than these subjects and I dropped them one after another naturally.  My ideas were a gradual evolution, till I saw light and the bed-rock of all our miseries—i.e. the employment of foreign plundering services—both in India and here.  We are simply subject to an unceasing foreign invasion carrying away unceasingly our wealth.  No alteration in land revenue, or extensions of public works, or the so called “development of resources” or any of the palliatives on the fringe can in the least affect the bleeding by the European services and as long as that remains untouched, unattacked and discontinued nothing on earth can relieve India.  Not only the land revenue, but the whole revenue in absolute quantity is but a bagatelle.  India if left with its own produce can pay two or three times its present revenues without any suffering but with much benefit.

The Europeans plunder and take away the wealth—the capacity of the people becomes weakened, and the taxation becomes oppressive.  The Government wants its pound of flesh for the European services—increases the rate of taxation—the whole vicious circle goes on revolving.  The Fundamental cause, the cause of the whole mischief is the “Foreign domination” and as long as that continues, there is no hope.  It was after much progress in my study and work in Indian matters that I fully realised Sir John Shore’s little para[graph] which I frequently quote, the last words of which are “There is reason to conclude that the benefits are more than counterbalanced by evils inseparable from the system of a remote foreign dominion.” 

This is the whole and very cause of all other troubles and diseases—oppressiveness of the land revenue (light though it is) and of every other source of revenue.  It is not the quantity of the revenue that kills.  It is the increasing incapacity to bear the burden.  Every year the same burden becomes heavier and heavier.  Your letter makes me write to you the more and more earnestly to wish that you will take advantage of my experience or mistakes to avoid the loss of time and energy which I have made.

You are the only man at present who is devoting yourself to the main fight of removing the true and fundamental cause of India’s woes.  The course you have taken is very round-about, if it will ever produce the result you expect—viz., that if the land revenue is curtailed and government does not get enough of money, government will think of, or will be obliged to remove the European services.  No, Government will go on [with] exactly what it wants, as long as we do not create a great agitation that “Foreign dominion” by foreign services must cease, except so far as to allow only supreme control or paramountcy.  If we begin the fight for it today, it may be half a century or a century perhaps, that the object will be attained.  I shall not live and perhaps you will not live to see the day.  The course you have taken will simply delay the end much longer.

The drain is the Cause and only cause—all others are consequences, direct and indirect.  The Cause must be removed or the evil will never be remedied.  It is now high time—after the proof of the evil by famines and pestilences—that the fundamental agitation must be vigorously commenced, and instead of the people in India being misled into the idea, that land revenues or any other administrative work is the cause of their sufferings, they must be taught the true cause at the bottom, and must be led to demand the cessation of that cause—The Drain.”  It will need no little and no short effort, first to teach the people themselves to realise this position and then to raise the cry and agitation for the remedy.  Of one thing I feel certain—that if one the mass of the people understood the cause and raised the cry—the British rulers will very soon understand the situation and climb down to meet.  There are many Englishmen who fully realise the situation who know that if the people of India once understood their condition and their strength the British will have either to leave precipitately, or be destroyed in India, or if they see the danger of the disaster in good time and apply the remedy, to save the Empire by putting an end to the Drain, and finding their true benefit in trade with a prosperous and vast people—as Mr Bright so strongly insisted on as the only right course.  To trade with India, and not to plunder India[.]

It is not enough that you refer to the drain.  It must be the chief and most prominent subject of the fight—the other subjects coming in illustration and enforcement of the chief argument.  The more I think, the more I feel that any other course is a red-herring and delay and a serious injury to the people of India, instead of a service to them. […]

5 July 1903: Naoroji to Romesh Chunder Dutt

Washington House, 72, Anerley Park, London. S.E.
5th July 1903

Dear Mr. Dutt

I mentioned in my other letter today that Lord George Hamilton has made a dead set to get the Indians out of the higher services[.]   He is employing every subterfuge for that purpose to increase the Europeans in the services.

Things are growing critical.  I have every fear that the attempt which Lord Lytton’s government openly made to stop Indians from competing for the Civil Service here—and which Lord Cranbrook nipped in the bud under Sir Erskine Perry’s inspiration, will be sooner or later carried out if the present Conservative Government continues for any length of time[.]  The time is come when an agitation must be begun for “Self Government under British Paramountcy.”  The work will be slow, but every effort needs to be concentrated on this purpose.  The bleeding must begin to stop.

At my age it will not be my lot to take any long part in this great battle—and I am therefore the more anxious to see that younger hands and hearts set themselves to work[.]

Yours truly,
Dadabhai Naoroji

21 September 1906: Bal Gangadhar Tilak to Naoroji

[On the eve of the Calcutta Congress of 1906, a bitter controversy broke out over who should be elected as the Congress’ president: a moderate or a radical such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Naoroji was eventually selected as a compromise candidate, someone who was acceptable to both moderates and radicals. Here, Tilak urges Naoroji to see the validity and necessity of radical nationalist tactics, arguing forcefully that so-called constitutionalist methods had achieved little. While polite and civil in tone, Tilak’s frustration is clearly apparent in the letter].

Poona City,
21st September 1906.

Dear Sir,

I was glad to receive your favour of 16th August last, through Mr. Wacha. Any advice coming from you is always welcome. You are the guru of us all in political matters & I need not say that I highly value the privilege of receiving advice from you.

It seems however that matters have not been properly represented to you. You may have learnt by this time why they are fighting in Bengal. I have not the least connection with it, nor is the quarrel there is [sic] encouraged by me in any way. They are, no doubt, using my name, without my consent or authority, to serve their purpose; but I cannot prevent it in a decent way. I can however assure you this much that the Congress wd never suffer on this account. Babu Motilal, if not Bipin, may be fully relied upon for the purpose.

The present controversy is one of methods. Many of us honestly think—specially since the starting of the Boycott movement—that we can help ourselves in many ways, and that the Congress may, instead of merely focussing public opinion ever year, do some real good by organising the methods of self-help in this country. We are not going to charge Mr Morley or any of our friends with dishonesty. What we say is that they are helpless under the circumstances; and that we must help ourselves before they can help us. Svadeshi, boycott, strikes, national education, are pointed out as instances or directions in which the Congress may do useful work; and though some of the advocates of this new method have used rather exaggerated language, yet you may rest assured that no one has the least idea of taking up to the revolutionary methods. All that the Congress has been hitherto doing is to pass resolutions every year & submit the same to Govt. This was supplemented by educating the public opinion in England. Can we not go a step further? That is the real question at issue, and we want to have it decided in the Congress itself & not by keeping aloof from it. The advocates of this school have no idea of ruining the Congress. If any one has represented the matter to you in this light, it is due to prejudice. One year’s expense of the Swadeshi movement has naturally brought the question to the front, & I for myself do not see how it could be avoided. I know that we are, at present, utterly helpless. But for that very reason the sooner we begin to remove this disability the better for us all. We have prayed & petitioned so long and the present Liberal Govt may make some concession, at any rate a beginning may be made now. But Liberal Govt can not be expected to be always in power; & what is granted now may be withdrawn tomorrow by the Conservative party. This is not an imaginary fear. Lord Curzon has cut down the privileges granted by Lord Ripon. It is therefore, I need hardly point out to you, essential that even for preserving in fact the concessions made to us, we must learn self reliance; and that is exactly what the new party, if it can be so called, propose to do. They wanted to begin with the choice of the President, but as you have consented to come down, no one will dispute the choice. But the question of methods still remains to be settled & I, for one, shall be glad to have it settled under your presidentship. My views are fully expressed in the Kesari & I shall be the last person to see the Congress ruined or injured. But I can not see why some people shd attempt [to] keep the strings of the Congress so tight in their own hands. If the Congress is not to be utilised for developing or organising the methods of self reliance, I think it better to make once for all an announcement to that effect, so that those who hold different views may create other organisations for the purpose. On the contrary if the work of such organisation falls properly within the scope of the Congress, why make such a fuss over the present question. I know that the Anglo-Indians are wide awake & that we should not play into their hands. But for that reason we shd not, I think, stop urging the adoption of the new methods of work. Of course we shall take care to see that our discussions do not reach the stage of permanent split. But short of that we must try to make the Congress progressive. This is what is being said & attempted at present, & I am afraid that the matter was misrepresented to you, at least as far as my share in the controversy is concerned. Under these circumstances I can only repeat my assurance to you as stated above & trust that you will be satisfied with the same.

I can not, with the limit of a single letter, make myself clearer to you; but if I have left anything unsaid you can easily supply the same & understand me in the right spirit.

With my respectful regards
I remain
Yours Obediently
Bal Gangadhar Tilak

3 September 1909: Henry S.L. Polak to Naoroji

[Polak, Gandhi’s deputy and close friend in South Africa, traveled to India in 1909 in order to canvass support for the activities of Indians in South Africa. He met with Naoroji, then in retirement in Versova, before leaving Bombay.]

Bombay 3. 9. 1909.

Hon. Dadabhai Naoroji,
Vasova. [sic]

Dear Sir,

On behalf of the Transvaal & Natal Indians, I venture to offer you warmest & most respectful congratulations upon the occasion of the anniversary of your birthday.

I may be allowed to say that it has been largely the recollection of your sustained self-sacrifice on behalf of India, covering a period of over half-a-century, that has been our inspiration in the Transvaal during the last three bitter years. Your own lofty example has done much to encourage us in the midst of adverse circumstances, and we know how you have felt for us in our time of suffering. The Indians of South Africa will always bear your venerated name in the most grateful & affectionate remembrance. On their behalf I trust that you may be yet spared for many days that your fellow-countrymen may benefit by your wise counsel and noble statesmanship. 

I am hoping, with the next few days, to call upon you to pay my respects, & beg to thank you for your courteous invitation.

Believe me,
Yours truly,
H.S.L. Polak

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