We all know how long the Indian freedom struggle was and how much labor and humiliation our countrymen peers had to face in order to get rid of the British. Well, do we know that the Indians, on numerous occasions, were aided by the support of a few foreigners as well? Yes, normally we tend to believe that all of them were cruel and bad, but the reality is never exceptionally “black” or “white”. So, let us take a look at a few of those kind-hearted souls who went against their peers and helped us with our fight for independence—
4. Annie Besant
A famous British theosophist, socialist, orator, activist and writer, Annie Besant came to India as a part of the Theosophical Society, and thereafter became a patron of Indian self-rule.
Annie Besant in 1880s
She was the founder of the Central Hindu School, now known as the Banaras Hindu University. Annie Besant was one of the first persons to demand a self rule for India (she did that before the end of the 1st world war!), and, in 1915, set up the Home Rule League along with Lokmanya Tilak.
In fact, she was even arrested on the allegation of tyranny, and it was a joint effort (protest) of the Congress and Muslim league together that had set her free. She was one of the few foreign members in Congress, and the first to lead a Congress Session (in 1917, December).
Although friends and colleagues for few years, Annie Besant couldn’t come in terms with Gandhiji’s policy behind the Non-cooperation movement and the boycott movement, and finally decided to drift apart from the ongoing political scenario.
3. Charles Freer “Dinabandhu” Andrews
Dinabandhu Andrews, as he is popularly referred to, came to India as a Missionary Philanthropist. However, touched by the social and cultural injustice inflicted upon the Indians by the British, he soon became a part of the social and political movements of the day, and even championed the causes of the laborers, railway workers and other such downtrodden people.
In fact, his service to uplift the causes of untouchables and the Harijans, along with Dr. B.R. Ambedkar won him the title “Dinabandhu” which translates to “friend of the poor”.
With his connection among influential people in England, he also tried to arouse sound public opinion against the atrocities inflicted upon the colonized people in India, Fiji, South Africa and other such colonies.
He also negotiated with the then Indian Government regarding the freedom of Gandhiji from prison.
2. Madeleine Slade
Born in an aristocratic family in London, Madeleine Slade preferred to live a humble and simple life after coming in contact with Mahatma Gandhi.
Young and beautiful Madeleine Slade who dedicated her life to the Indian cause
In fact, she was so much influenced by Gandhinian philosophy that she left all the luxury and began leading a simple life at the Sabarmati Ashram, and even took part in all the Gandhi-led socio-political struggles in India and promoted Khadi and Satyagraha.
Mirabehn with Gandhi at Darwen, Lancashire, 1931
Being from another background helped her to understand the scenario better and, in doing justice to that, she wrote numerous articles in The Statesman, Young India, Harijan, etc. and even accompanied Gandhi to the Round Table Conference in London.
Miraben, as she was fondly called by Gandhiji and his followers, was placed under detention for her support and participation in the Quit India Movement.
1. Satyanand Stokes
No, he ain’t any Indian person who converted to Christianity; his real name was Samuel Evans Stokes Jr. and he was the heir to a wealthy American family.
Young & wealthy Sam who decided to devote himself to the Indian cause
Although he came to India to work in a leaper home in Himachal Pradesh, he went on to champion the cases of the laborers in areas adjoining Shimla and fought relentlessly for their welfare.
While his transformation as a person can be understood by studying his great deeds, here’s a picture depicting a change in his outer persona
He even joined the Congress and attended the Congress Session at Nagpur in 1920, thereby being the sole American to have done so.
He was also the sole foreigner to sign the Congress manifesto in 1921 which called all the Indians to join the National Independence Struggle by giving up on the Government Jobs.
And, like all other foreign freedom fighters, he too was jailed on the pretext of sedition, for a period of 6 months.