biography of Charles Fre­er Andrews

  • An English missionary and philanthropist, Charles Fre­er Andrews will always be remembered for his selfless social service. While he was in England, he did substantive humanitarian work to emancipate the downtrodden. After coming to India, he was attached to St. Stephen's College, Delhi for eight years. During this period he came into contact with several prominent nationalists and social reformers of the time, such as Dadabhai Naoroji, G.K. Gokhale, Lajpat Rai, T.B. Sapru and Rabindranath Tagore.
  • With time, he came to identify himself as an Indian and not a foreigner. He extended his whole­hearted support to the freedom struggle and criticised the British for their unjust and racial policies. He also took part in political and social movements launched by Indian leaders.
  • He expressed his concern for Madras cotton weavers during their strike in 1918 and in 1919 organised relief campaigns among the unemployed labourers of tea estate at Chandpur. Similarly, he championed the rights of labourers in Rajasthan and Simla and those of the striking railway workers at Tundla in 1921-1922. He was twice elected President of the Trade Union Congress, in 1925 and 1927. He actively worked with B.R. Ambedkar for formulating proposals for Harijan demands (1933) and joined campaigns launched against untouchability. His compassion for the poor and the underprivileged earned him the title Deenabandhu from Gandhi.
  • Charles Andrews advocated the rights of Indians settled in other parts of the world as well, especially in English colonies. He visited South Africa several times to assist the Indians settled there fight against the inequities of the British administration. (He stayed with Gandhi at the Phoenix ashram in South Africa) He brought to light the difficulties faced by Indian labourers in South Africa, East Africa, West Indies, Fiji etc., through authentic data collected by him. He used his influence in England to arouse public opinion against colonial exploitation. He even negotiated with the government in England for Gandhi's release from prison.
  • After 1935, he devoted himself to missionary work. In 1938, he attended the Christian World Conference at Tambaram. According to Gandhi, "he preached the purest love". Rev. Charles Freer Andrews passed away in 1940 at Calcutta.

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