Sunday, 15 July 2018

Irish MP and ''Quaker'' Alfred Webb who supported India's freedom struggle

Alfred Webb supported Indian freedom movement, en.wikipedia.org/

Alfred John Webb (1834–1908),  an Irish Quaker, hailing  from a family of activist printers, was a no-nonsense  politician of independent thinking  who globally supported people's freedom and fundamental rights. Having become  an Irish Parliamentary Party politician and Member of Parliament (MP), he was an enthusiastic participants  in nationalist movements around the world. He was a staunch supporter of Issac Butt’s Home Government Association, a pressure group that called for Home Rule in Ireland (May 1870) and the United Irish League that was launched in Jan, 1898 and their motto was: ''Land for the people''.  As Alfred Webb had been watching the struggle going in India and the protests to get freed from the British yoke, he took keen interest in the nationalist movements going on in the subcontinent,  Obviously, there was no surprise that  he came over to  Madras in 1894 and became the third non-Indian (after George Yule and William Wedderburn) to preside over the Indian National Congress that was founded in 1855 - first modern  national movement emerged in the British Empire in Asia and Africa.

Alfred Webb, only son of the three children of Richard Davis Webb and Hannah Waring Webb, was a native of Dublin. In those days there existed a group "called ''Quakers" and this group, being humane and just as they were, supported reforms such as suffrage, the abolition of slavery and anti-imperialism. The people in the British colonies world over underwent untold misery and suppression of justice with no solution in sight.  Webb's family ran a printing shop in Dublin and  printed booklets for many of these causes and, in turn, their regular customers grew to include other similar organizations.

Hindustan Times front page on August 15, 1947.Hindustan Times

While  taking a keen role in Irish politics, Alfred Webb  found time to  write a Compendium of Irish Biography. In 1865, he began to take  more active interest in Irish politics and was first elected to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom on 24 February 1890, when he won a by-election for the West Waterford constituency. He was again returned for West Waterford in the 1892 general election, this time as an anti-Parnellite MP.

His  politically motivated family began to focus on the welfare of British colonies  where the natives were subject to oppressive rule. Alfred Webb and his family became  and had been an unequivocal opponents of the opium traffic into China which affected the Indian land owners on one hand and on the other the health of the Chinese population.  Webb, being a close friend of Dadabhai Naoroji (Indian patriot and MP British Parliament 1892 -1895), a key member of the Indian National Congress, was closely watching the Indian situation. It was Naoroji who invited Webb to preside over the Indian National Congress  session in 1894 in Madras (Chennai).

India freedom struggle fotosearch.com

His fellow Quaker activist Catherine Impey founded in 1888 a journal in support of Anti-Caste, Britain's first anti-racism. Besides being a supporter of the journal, Webb went one step ahead  to rally subscribers and activists for the journal around the world. Along with Dadabhai Naoroji, Webb requested people to support the new association  so that globally people would be free from such evils such as racism, slavery and exploitation as the new society stood for the Furtherance of Human Brotherhood’.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Webb