Rio de Janeiro is the most beautiful place in the world. Nature and human hand have done everything to make it look loveliest; Lloyd George was very fond of this place. It was from here that King George learnt Kar Yoka (name of a dance ) and introduced it in England.
Rio de Janeiro, literally meaning river in January, got this name [from one]who discovered it in January and thought that it was situated on a river. In fact, is was sea going into the land. As you approach Rio de Janeiro you see a hill—a bare hill—called Sugar Loaf. There you also see an air train going on a thick chord. Standing on the hill you can see a strip of island, numbering 712. Brazil is full of hills, clear and the sands there are also agreeable to see. The city is equipped [with] modern conveniences.
On arrival there I went to Dr. Janeen with whom I was to stay as his guest. On the following morning, while I was still in bed, the Chief of Police, Dr. Leal, appeared and asken. Dr. Janeen if he had a guest and that he wanted to arrest him. Oh being asked why he wanted to arrest me, the Chief of Police replied that the British had asked him to arrest this person and hand him over to them. Dr. Janeen said that he would not allow anyone to arrest [me], that I was known to him for a number of years, that I was very widely known in Europe and respected by well known people there, and it was there that he had formed friendship with me. He also said that Brazil was an independent country and could not hand over a political refugee to other nations, that he would fight the case against him if he had the courage to touch me. In the face of this emphatic [answer] the Chief of Police gave up the idea of arresting me. After a few days I met many of my old friends made in Europe.
Among them was Senator Muniz Freire and Senator Nilo Pecanha, later President of Brazil. They had become my friends in Switzerland. In the very first week, I had the chance of meeting Jose Bezerra, Governor of Pernambuco, who shortly afterwards became Minister of Agriculture. On coming to know that I knew many influential people in Brazil, the British thereafter never [tried] to have me arrested.
When I arrived in Brazil, there was an all powerful man, generally known as a President-maker, Pinheiro Machadu (a general). At that time Marshall Hermes Da Fonseca was President of Brazil. He was of short stature.
For about 26 years Pinheiro Machadu had been selecting Presidents for Brazil though he himself was never a President; he was the man who was, in effect, ruling Brazil. He could
make anybody whom he liked President of Brazil. There is an interesting story behind Marshall Hermes Da Fonseca becoming the President of Brazil. His predecessor died before completing his tenure of office. One day Pinheiro Machadu was walking in Rio de Janeiro and it came to his head that he would make him President who met him first.
Marshall Hermes De Fonseca met him and he made him President. There was lot of criticism in Brazilian press.
The new President did not possess any qualifications to be head of Brazil administration. He was a duffer. All foolish acts in those days were attributed to him. Once somebody brought for him a stick with a golden knob. The stick was longer. He called a carpenter and asked him to cut a part of it to match the Stick to his size. The carpenter was going lo cut the stick from the thinner end, when he cried, "Don't cut it from this side. The stick is all right From this end but it is longer at the other end”, and he had the stick cut from the golden knob end.
There by losing its golden knob. People fell offended on his becoming President. They took it a national insult. They said he was not an elected President but was installed there
by one man—the President-maker. There was lot of resentment and criticism in the press
Six months after my arrival in Brazil the Carnival festival came. This festival is celebrated all over Brazil with the greatest enthusiasm and no where on the earth it is celebrated with so much joy, enthusiasm and pomp and show. This festival is, in fact. so dear to Brazilians that all the year round they think of this festival. They make preparations for it, set aside money to spend on that occasion, buy new clothes and masks which [they] put on their faces. They take out processions. There are variety shows. Songs are sung. People in reality go mad. From the beginning of year pawn shops make so much money in two or three months that there is no need for then to do anything for the rest of the year. Dramas are played criticizing the Government. There is real democratic spirit in this festival, high and low mix freely, talk to each other, joke with each other and have fun together. There is equality all round. Women also take part in this festival side by side with men.
Once a Japanese ship embarked at Rio de Janeiro at the time of Carnival festival. When the Japanese came ashore the Brazilians encircled them, played all sorts of fun with them. put mask on their faces. When the Japanese returned, one of them, while writing the story of his voyage, wrote about Brazil that they had lived for two days in the country of mad men!
Once a person got his teeth extracted so that he could not be recognized in the days of festival. An atmosphere of revolt existed those days against one man's authority. They exhibited this by creating image of the President-maker and showing the President and other high officials bowing to him. There were speeches against him in Parliament. He was, however, fearless and never tried to suppress propaganda against him. He was not afraid of anybody and allowed people 10 him. The
entire press was against him. They appealed to the people saying, "Was there no true Brazilian who could deliver Brazil from the clutches of this man?" A young man, impressed by these appeals, killed him". Immediately after his death, 'the attitude of the press underwent a complete change. It declared the young man assassin, and the young man was condemned to imprisonment for life The name of the young man was Manso De Paivae. In the prison, however, he used to revive big help from some unknown people. He received comfort, food, presents, etc.
Brazil had so many things in common with India that it gave me a feeling that I was in India. The climate was very much like that in India, the fruits were the same, plants which are peculiar to India, are found there in abundance—there you get mangoes bananas, oranges, cheku, sugar-cane, water-melons, melons, ginger, pomegranates also you see big pipal trees, which are not seen in any- other American country, This similarity is explained by the fact that the Portuguese, who discovered India a year earlier also discovered Brazil. On finding so much similarity in climate they took seeds and plants from India and transplanted them in Brazil where they nourished.
The members of Parliament in Brazil and other South American countries made good money by raising loans for their countries—loans were readily available from European countries because of big possibilities of development of these countries. Loans were raised for roads, bridges, railways and industrial purposes but were generally consumed by political people in leading gay life- In repayment of loans and interest thereon the people bad to be subjected to severe taxation. Many times people thought that South American countries would be ruined by the unscrupulous mariner in Which loans were being granted to them. South American and repaid all the loans and have now become creditor countries. They have purchased many gigantic industrial concerns and railways which were previously owned by the Britishers.
Rio de Janeiro is one of the healthiest towns : its streets are straight and wide. No new construction is permitted in old streets unless the builder is prepared to leave a portion of
his land to make the street wide. The streets in this way are gradually being drawn back and widened. Houses are very well built, beautiful designs are seen everywhere and There is good arrangement for drainage. Rio de Janeiro, although situated on sea, is free from mosquitoes. The Health Department periodically gets every building disinfected. At [one] time there existed menace of yellow fever, but for 18 years that lived in Brazil, only two cases of yellow fever were reported. Malaria menace has been adequately and satisfactorily combated and it has practically been rooted out. They used Blue Methyl as a medicine to cure malaria cases.
Rockefeller Missions' did a good work in improving the hygienic conditions in Brazil, and Brazilians showed great interest and enthusiasm in profiting by their advice and experience. The Brazilians have improved quality of cotton grown in Brazil. This work was started when I was there and the campaign is still going on. In Brazil are also found cotton trees, and they are met no where in the world. Some of these trees, if they are still there, must be 140 years old and must be giving cotton even now. Egyptian Khaki cotton seeds have also produced good results in Brazil. Brazil is the biggest country in South America, with big future prospects, having huge deposits of various kinds of minerals, mountains of manganese, situated near the banks of river of Plate, there are copper and iron mines, crystals, of great value are available in Brazil." Only they are yet to be fully exploited, a very small portion has been dealt with so far.
The number of the Indians in Brazil is not very great Brazil. There may be some 300 or a little in the whole of Brazil. Among them are some Sindhi merchants who do their business on installment system like the Jews, but the majority of the Indians are Punjabis who work as labourers for the most part on railway lines which are being continually extended in different parts of the country. They do generally the job of cutting jungles, big trees out of which sleepers are drawn for the railway lines ; this work is generally done in the very zones where the railway lines have to pass through. It is a very hard work and this work is very difficult for the people of nationalities other than the Portuguese and the Punjabis
While I was there, through propaganda in Indian press, some 300 Gujaratis of weak constitution went over to Brazil. But on arrival there they were in a very critical situation because physically they were unable to do the job which the Punjabis did. They tried but they could not work for more than 1 ½ hours, while the others worked from 8 to 10 hours a day and they earned naturally very little according to what they had done. In the end they were discharged and were allowed no more work. In this miserable plight they returned to Sao Paulo, the most industrialized town in Brazil. There are many factories there, but these Gujaratis were unable to work even in factories because of their physical weakness. There in Brazil is one Mr.Khairuddin whose name is known to all Indians and who helps every Indian who goes there. These Gujraties went to him, and he told them to do the lightest work of taking some fruits and vegetables in small baskets and selling
in the market or outside the market to earn their living.
But even in this job they showed little interest because some of them had studied engineering and were not able to sell vegetables and fruits. Khairuddin then collected funds from all the Punjabis, his own contribution being the maximum, and sent some of them back to India and some to other countries where they had possibilities of doing some work. Some of them went to the Island of Trinity" which was not very far. A few of them settled and found Gujarati brethren already established there, and some others went over to England and found some work on arriving there. Among them was a very patriotic fellow, Patil, known almost to all the people in England. The difficulties for Indians in Brazil were due to the British policy, this I had the occasion to discover. At the time of my arrival there, Brazil had vast portions of fertile land available for cultivation and the facilities offered by the Brazilian Government to agriculturists in Brazil were very great; so much so that according to Brazilian law agricultural immigrants with their families were given all their traveling expenses from the place of departure to Brazil and on their arrival they were guests of the Government; they were shown on the map the lands in all Brazilian states with the description of climates, qualities of land, productive capacity. People could select whichever place they wanted to see; they were taken there at Government expense; if they did not like one place, they were taken to another till they found a suitable place. Then the Government would build house for their living and furnished them with implements of agriculture and seeds till such time they could get out of the land their agricultural products. The Government gave them work to be done near their farms for which they were paid and that payment guaranteed them living. Of course, when the agricultural products gave the immigrants enough means of living independently, they started paying a certain amount per year for the house and land, and after some five or six years, in some case 10 years, these immigrants became proprietors of the house and the land. The land grew in value because it became proper and fit for agriculture.
Some people made enough money by poultry and breeding of animals, and by growing vegetables which they sent to urban areas for sale; but there were some who preferred to sell their property and with the funds [thus raised] established themselves as merchants.
Seeing all this I approached the authorities for the settlement of some Punjabis. I discovered the difficulties which the Indians met. The then Minister of Agriculture, Jose Bezerra, was a great friend of mine because his son had been my pupil in Switzerland at Luzon. He wrote a word to the Secretary asking him to create every facility for the Indians, to show them the best lands available and if he had any difficult he should be him know which he himself would try lo remove. With this recommendation I went to the Secretary, but the Secretary told me that it was nearly impossible for him to give lands to the Indians, and for this he gave the reason that according to law those immigrants who had their families with them could be given lands. He insisted that the best thing would be to find [for] them highly paying jobs on agricultural work which he could at once get for them saying after all what they wanted was money. I told him that I could get from the Minister permission that they be allowed to keep land on the clear understanding of bringing their families within three years, [and asked] what objection he could have then. He again insisted with tears in his eyes that although the Minister could give orders what pleased him, but in his opinion the best thing was to send them on highly paid jobs and not to insist on getting land for cultivation- I asked him to wait a little, I went to the Minister, brought his written order instructions to the effect that if the Indian immigrants signed a document promising to bring their families within three years they must be given the lands they wanted , and that the Secretary should help in finding suitable lands for them.
I returned to the Secretary with this order but in spite of this he persisted and begged, "For God's sake,, do not compel me in getting lands for the Indians. Of course, the responsibility is of the Minister after written instructions in the matter, but Ministers change and I would be blamed for not following the law to the letter by the new coming Minister." Seeing all this I again spoke to the Minister and told him how with tears in his eyes his Secretary was doing his best to avoid what I wanted to be done. The Minister was a frank and straight-forward person, and as he was my friend he said, "Do you see how our people are working in the interest of foreign governments. I know the Ministers change but the staff remains the same and this staff is in the service of foreigners who pay them and they try to serve their interests. You may understand that it is the British instruction not to let Indians settle in Brazil. If I insisted and used my force with my Secretary and everybody the land will be given to the Indians, but be sure when I am out of the ministry, they will create difficulties for these people and they shall be compelled to give up lands- Things are as they are but not as I should like them to be."
In Brazil I arranged to form a society of Indians so that they could meet from time to time and get to known each other, hear speeches of their duty towards their country, collect subscriptions to help new-comers in their difficulties and send some Funds to the revolutionary society in Call country and prepared them for fight for the freedom of their country when the call came, because they lived in a free land and especially in Brazil where there were no race distinctions. All the lime I was Brazil, I was trying to get favorable conditions for Indians there because I thought Indians could with benefit settle down in Brazil.
While I was there a special mission from Japan arrived there to study possibilities of Japanese emigration to Brazil, The head of the mission Mr. Hono met me in Rio de Janeiro and asked me as to which place I could recommend as the most suitable For Japanese emigration. As he explained to me that the mission was composed of a doctor a mineral engineer, a specialist in recognizing the qualities of land for agriculture and an economist and some other problems. I advised him that with such a staff they must see what climate would suit their countrymen and after seeing the qualities of land they could select a place after examination of the different points of view—health, capacity of land, what products they wanted the most. He agreed with me, and asked me to give him a special recommendation to the Governor of Para, Dr. Dionysio Benstes, who was a great
friend of mine. I complied with his request and after a short time the Japanese went to see him, and he gave them a big concession of lands, as a result of which one finds today a very prosperous Japanese colony in the state of Para. Behind the history of this colony There [are] some facts which need special mention. Dr. Dionysio Benstes Governor of Para, he had a long talk with me before leaving for the North. He explained the situation of Para state to me, payment to the Government employees in that state was in arrears for the last six or seven months. There was not a single rice mill and he did not know what to do in such a difficult situation. He wanted my opinion about that. I said money could be had only from where it was available. It could be had from America, from England or France but he must be careful in allowing foreign interest to enter his country. He mentioned to me that America was asking for concessions in that state. When asked, he said it was Mr. Henry Ford" who wanted to have rubber plantations in that state because the land there were most appropriate for such plantations. He promised to bring any amount of money and to give work for millions of people if they desired to work. Naturally that could help the state a lot. I advised him to give those concessions, but at the same time he should give similar concessions to the Japanese because the Japanese would be watching and would not allow the Americans to encroach upon the liberty of Brazil, and the same thing will be done by the Americans against the Japanese. By double concessions he could make Brazil safe and his state prosperous. He agreed with me and accordingly a concession to Henry Ford, and a special concession to Furukawa, the greatest Japanese industrialist, were given in that state. At the end of the First World War
all the Japanese immigrants had made Para quite self-sufficient in rice, and a few years later the state had a surplus of 330 tons of rice to export to other states through the Japanese organised labour. On the other Mr. Ford left no man in the state unemployed. Dispensaries were opened by Ford and the Japanese for the people of the state. Nice roads were made. The only condition which Ford had made for workers was that no man who drank alcohol could work on his farms, so the Brazilians who did not get Jobs were only those who could not do without alcoholic drinks.
The background for the Japanese selecting the State of Para was for two reasons. One was to provide cotton to the Japanese textile industry which had beaten in price(s) all other countries of the world. The Japanese were afraid of not being able to get raw materials which they were getting from India, Egypt and other countries for this could be closed to them at any moment by their opponents. So Furukawa, the great textile industrialists, had thought of a plan of having all the cotton they needed to be planted by the Japanese in Brazil, and irr case Brazil made laws against export of cotton to Japan, there was a further plan of erect the spot, Japan was sending immigrants to Brazil regularly and systematically; Government had allotted a number of ships for this purpose. These immigrants were accompanied by doctors, teachers for the children of immigrants, commercial advisers, agricultural specialists, and before leaving Japan they were made to sign a document wherein they agreed not to return to Japan for the purpose of re-settling
but they could come to pay visits to relatives. They were I told that their motherland could not support the numbers in Japan, but they could always expect protection from the
Japanese Government. In Brazil the Japanese immigrants became the prominent factors in the market. For instance, vegetable and fruit markets in Sao Paulo, the biggest markets
in Brazil, passed into their hands within 5 years. I saw their plans work very well. The emigrants got settled near the railway stations between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
They had their own trucks which carried their products to the market. They began to sell cheaper than everybody else; they improved the quality by scientific methods; better quality for cheaper price made them soon masters of market which was earlier in the hands of Italians and Portuguese.The Italians and Portuguese seeing the market pass out of their hands, began to molest the Japanese upon which the Japanese Government intervened and pressed the Brazilian authorities to protect the lives and commerce of the Japanese. As a result the supremacy of the Japanese became a permanent feature.
Unfortunately for the Japanese after the last revolution in Brazil, a new constitution was framed for the country which was completed after I had left Brazil for Europe. The American diplomats, (who) could not tolerate Japanese influence and entrance in any part of America and especially in Brazil, spent huge sums in making the Constituent Assembly frame laws according to which only a fixed percent age of the existing number of a nationality could come into Brazil every year. The name of the Japanese was not mentioned therein, but this clause was made only to stop the Japanese emigration. According to this ratio, 6 Indians could go to Brazil- But the Japanese diplomats, even after passing of that law, managed with the Governor of Mato Grosso, a big state in Brazil, to bring that number of Japanese which could come during the 10 years to come at one time and this for the special needs of that state. The Japanese selected Amazon where people can live on cultivation for millions of years; the area is also full of mines of all sorts of minerals.
While I was in Brazil there took place two revolutions" in which I also participated. My contribution to these revolutions was in helping the progressive party by propaganda for raising armies, offering shelter and protection to revolutionaries and in preparing spirit of the youth for revolution. In appreciation of my contribution to progressive cause I was requested to secure citizenship of Brazil which I did. While in Brazil I visited other North American countries.
I was in touch with the Ghadar Parly in U.S.A. They used to seek advice. Bhai Rattan Singh', Teja Singh, and many members of the Ghadar Pany developed a tendency for communism, although they remained true to the cause of their mother country.
Bhagat Singh tried his level best to contact me through correspondence. Students going abroad for studies were charged to trace me and contact me- One such student named Amar Chand son of Madho Ram, a Punjabi living in U.S.A. and member of the Ghadar Party, was also charged with this task. He enquired of his father if he knew anything about me. His father replied he could send any message to me but could not give him my address. Thus I got the first letter from Bhagat Singh. Bhagat Singh wrote to me to come back to India and to continued unfinished work here and that he would be by my side: also he wrote me that the country was ripe for revolutionary struggle and sent me cuttings from papers showing that questions were asked in Assembly about my whereabouts; and in case the Government arrested me on my return to India and started any case against me, the Government’s reply was that I was free to return to India and that no case would be started against me. I wrote him back that it would be better if he came here and this would afford him an opportunity to study how revolutionary movements were organised in other countries. Bhagat Singh, in his letters, informed of the formation of Naujawan Bharat Sabha and their activities. I received from him only a few letters. Then I read in
London Times about Bhagat Singh's arrest and the bomb episode in the Assembly. Bhagat Singh was also in touch with Rash Behari Bosu" who wrote to him to get in touch
with Ajit Singh and get military training by Joining him abroad- Even the Japanese Government wanted reliable Indians, Bose added, and that if he came here he could arrange for his military training and this would help him when the next war broke out which was expected in another 4 to 5 years. All arrangements had been completed and passport for Bhagat Singh had been obtained when the whole plan was upset by irresponsible remark by one of his party members to the effect that Bhagat Singh was afraid of arrest, that was why the job of throwing bomb in the Assembly had been entrusted to one Ram Saran Das" although Bhagat Singh was the fittest person to do it. It was too much to offend the bravery of Bhagat Singh and he decided to do himself. When Bhagat Singh was under trial Pandit Moti Lal Nehru asked him if there was any desire of Bhagat Singh, and he replied his only desire was to meet his uncle, Ajit Singh. Motilal was very sorry for Bhagat Singh's arrest and he remarked to a friend that if he had known that Bhagat Singh was capable of accomplishing any hazardous task for the sake of country he would have tried at the time of the bomb episode to see that Bhagat Singh was able to make good his escape. Through newspaper reports I kept on getting news about Bhagat Singh's trial and later his execution.