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MR. Lajpat Rai, the author of this book, is one of the most widely known, most honoured and most influential public men in India. For more than twenty years he has been a leading member of the bar in Lahore, the capital city of the large province of the Punjab, and has long been prominent in public affairs both local and national.
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PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
CHAPTER I. THE GENERAL VIEWPOINT OF THE INDIAN NATIONALIST
CHAPTER II. INDIA FROM 1757 TO 1857 A. D.
CHAPTER III. INDIA FROM 1857 TO 1905
CHAPTER IV. THE FIRST YEARS OF THE NATIONALIST MOVEMENT
CHAPTER V. TYPES OF NATIONALISTS
CHAPTER VI. INDIAN NATIONALISM AND THE WORLD-FORCES
CHAPTER VII. THE RELIGIOUS AND THE COMMUNAL ELEMENTS IN INDIAN NATIONALISM
CHAPTER VIII. THE FUTURE
“The people of India are capable of administering their own affairs and the municipal feeling is deep rooted in them. The village communities, each of which is a little republic, are the most abiding of Indian institutions.”
(Lord Lawrence, once Viceroy and Governor-General of British India).
MR. LAJPAT RAI, the author of this book, is one of the most widely known, most honoured and most influential public men in India. For more than twenty years he has been a leading member of the bar in Lahore, the capital city of the large province of the Punjab, and has long been prominent in public affairs both local and national.
From almost the beginning of the National Indian Congress he has been an active leader in that body, which is the most important political organization in the country. The last time I was in India (two and a half years ago) I found that he was being widely talked of for the Presidency of the Congress at its approaching yearly meeting.
Conspicuous in Indian educational work and a founder of the large and flourishing Anglo-Vedic College in Lahore, he has for a dozen years or more held the position of either Vice-President or Honourary Secretary of the College, and also that of Lecturer in History.
He started The Punjabee, a leading paper in the province, published in English, and has edited a monthly magazine and a weekly paper printed in the vernacular, besides writing for other Indian periodicals and for reviews in London.
The Arya Samaj, an important, fast growing and influential movement of religious reform in India, which rejects idolatry and caste and is active in promoting education, social reforms and the elevation of woman, counts Mr. Rai among its honoured leaders.
He has organized relief work during periods of famine in India, and has for some years led in an extensive movement for the elevation of the “Depressed Classes,” that is, the forty millions of “outcasts” or “untouchables” whose condition is so miserable. Several years ago I attended a National Conference to promote this work, at which he presided and delivered a powerful address.
Mr. Lajpat Rai has made three or four extended visits to England and three to America. In England he has spoken in many cities as a delegate from the National Indian Congress, for the purpose of acquainting the British public with the real condition of things in India, and to urge upon the British Government the granting to the Indian people of certain important political reforms. In America he has made a careful study of our history and institutions, our industrial and social movements, our political and religious life, and especially our schools and universities, and our educational systems and methods. He is impressed with the leadership which the United States is attaining in the world of education, particularly education in scientific, industrial, technological and agricultural directions, and he finds much here which he desires to see introduced into his own country.
From the beginning of the New National Movement in India, Mr. Rai has been one of its most prominent leaders. He is an ardent patriot, is proud of his country, her civilization, her literature and her great place in the world’s history, and he believes she is destined to have a great future, commensurate with her great past. But now she is a subject land, ruled by a foreign power, her own people having practically no voice in the direction of their own national affairs or the shaping of their future destiny. This deeply grieves and galls him, as it does a large part of the Indian people. The Nationalist Movement, of which he gives an account in this book, is a protest against present political conditions, and a demand for larger freedom and independence. Indeed, its aim is self-rule; not necessarily severance of connection with the British Empire, but partnership in the Empire,—home rule inside the Empire like that enjoyed by Canada, Australia and South Africa.
The British Government of India frowns upon this Nationalist Movement, tries to suppress it, and places its leaders under ban. This is the way despotic governments always treat subject peoples as soon as they grow restive in their bonds and try to loosen them or throw them off. Mr. Lajpat Rai has had to pay heavily for his patriotism. In 1907 he was seized by the Government and, without trial or even being told what was his offence, was secretly sent away to prison in Burmah, and kept there six months. He was suspected of disloyalty and sedition, but not the slightest evidence was found against him. His only crime was that he was a Nationalist, and was working in perfectly open and legal ways to secure greater liberty for his country. After his release from prison, he brought legal suits against two newspapers, one in India and one in London, that had published charges of sedition against him; and, notwithstanding the fact that the powerful influence of the Government was on the side of the papers, he won both suits,—so clear was his case.
For a full dozen years India has been seething with unrest, seething with dissatisfaction over present political conditions. During the past ten years there has been not a little bomb throwing and not a few signs of revolution. When the present European war broke out there were at once increased outward expressions of loyalty; but the unrest has remained. When the war is over what will happen? That will depend, Mr. Lajpat Rai believes, upon the course pursued by the British Government. If the Government in a generous spirit meets India’s just demands, there will be no revolution. If the Government blindly and obstinately refuses, the worst may happen.
While Mr. Rai is an ardent and uncompromising advocate of the Nationalist Cause, he has always counselled procedure by evolutionary and not by revolutionary measures, by vigorous and determined agitation and not by bomb throwing. Throughout his entire career he has striven by every means, through speech and the press, in India and in England, to move the British Government to prevent revolution, in what he believes is the only possible way, namely, by inaugurating and carrying out honestly a policy of justice to the Indian people.
There is in sight an Indian Renaissance. There is a “New India in the Making.” Indeed the stirrings of new life in India are hardly less marked, less profound or less revolutionary, than in Japan or China. Of this the book gives a vivid and reliable picture,—and, what is of great importance, a picture from the inside.
We have many books which portray Indian conditions as foreigners see them,—particularly as they are seen by Christian missionaries and by the British rulers of the country. At last we have a book which gives us the life, the experiences, the wrongs, the sufferings, the hopes, the aims, the motives, and, what at the present time is most important of all, the political ideals and ambitions of the Indian people themselves, portrayed by one of their own number, a leader who has been in the very heart of the struggle from the beginning, and who has felt it all in his own life and his own soul.
It is a message to every man and woman in America, and in Great Britain, too, who loves justice and hates oppression, and who wants to know about one of the most heroic struggles for liberty now going on in the world.
My own intimate acquaintance with India for many years gives me a greatly increased sense of the value of Mr. Rai’s book. Perhaps nothing in the volume will be found more surprising or more interesting to Americans than the overwhelming evidence of the dissatisfaction of India with her present political condition, and the fact that the Indian people want home rule, want it more earnestly than they want anything else, and that probably nothing less than this will keep them loyal to Great Britain. This feeling, which had been growing fast for years before the war broke out, has since sprung into a passion. And we may be sure that the flame will not burn with less intensity when the soldiers return who have been risking their lives for Great Britain in Turkey and Egypt and France, and who have been learning new lessons of self-reliance, freedom and independence from their contact with the great world.
It is hardly possible today to take up an Indian periodical of any kind, Hindu or Mohammedan, secular or religious (I myself regularly subscribe for and read nine, two of the number making a specialty of a monthly summary of Indian press opinion), without being brought upon some expression of this universal desire for self-rule. The people are disposed to be patient and considerate, and make no demands upon the Government that will be embarrassing so long as the war lasts. But everything indicates that when peace comes they will be in no mood to be treated like children and put off with the usual vague and meaningless promises.
Since India has borne faithfully and loyally her part in the war, one of the distinct stipulations in the treaty of peace at the end should be the granting to her of home rule. This is as much her right as is autonomy the right of Belgium or Poland. This right is recognized by not a few Englishmen; it should be recognized by the whole nation, and put into effect generously, freely, without waiting for struggle and bloodshed. The advantage to Great Britain would be incalculable. It would remove from her as a nation her most threatening danger, and it would give to her Empire a solidity and permanent strength such as it cannot otherwise secure.
While India wants freedom to shape her own affairs, her wisest minds do not desire separation from England. They recognize many strong ties between the two countries which they would not see broken. While they are determined not much longer to lie prostrate beneath England’s feet, they would gladly stand by her side, arm in arm with her, firmly united for great ends of mutual welfare and mutual strength. An Anglo-Indian Empire is one of the splendid possibilities of the future, binding Britain and her colonies and her great Asiatic possession together into a powerful world-spanning federation of free peoples. Something like this is the dream of India’s greatest leaders, as it is also the dream of not a few of Britain’s most far-seeing minds.
When this world-revolutionizing war is over, Great Britain must reshape after a larger and more adequate pattern her whole scheme of Imperial Government. She must become a Federated Empire. There must be self-government at home, not only for Ireland but also for Scotland, Wales and England. And there must be self-government abroad, not only for Canada, Australasia and South Africa, but, as not less imperative and not less wise, for India also, to be followed in time, as conditions can be made favourable, by self-rule more or less complete for all of Britain’s more important dependencies.
The danger is that Britain may forget India or thrust her aside, as in the past, to the position of a mere dependency. If she does this she will plant a cancer in the heart of her Empire, she will create a volcano under her throne. It will take courage and large statesmanship to give India home rule, as it took large statesmanship and courage to give home rule to South Africa. But the splendid venture must be made. And, made in the right spirit, it will succeed as perfectly as it did in South Africa.
Has Great Britain statesmen sufficiently far-sighted, with adequate genius and courage, to do to India the splendid justice of giving her the home rule which is her right, and then to create a world-circling federation of free peoples with India a partner in it,—a real Anglo-Indian Empire? It would be the most brilliant, constructive and noble work of statesmanship known to the modern world.
Now that Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans as well as Englishmen, Scotchmen, Welshmen and Irishmen have fought side by side with the soldiers of India, shedding their blood in a common cause, why should they not all gladly welcome those heroic and loyal men of the East to a place by their side in the Empire which they have helped to save?
Need England shrink from the risk? This is her path of least risk. Under present conditions India is her peril. The one thing that will transform India from a source of ever-increasing danger to a bulwark of strength, is to trust her as South Africa has been trusted. She is certainly as worthy of trust as South Africa was. Thus to trust her, and to lift her up to a responsible place in the Empire, will appeal to India’s pride as it has never been appealed to, will create in her an enthusiasm of loyalty equal to anything seen in any of the self-ruling colonies, will bind her to Great Britain with bands of steel.
Is it said that India is incapable of ruling herself? That was said of South Africa; that was said of Canada; that was said of the American Colonies when they broke off from Great Britain and set up a Government of their own; that is what England has long been saying of Ireland. That is what every nation that loves power always says of every section of its people that wants more liberty.
The truth is, the safest Government in the world for every people of any intellectual and moral development at all (and India is advanced, both intellectually and morally) is self-government. No rule so completely destroys the fibre of a nation as rule by a foreign power. India can rule herself far better than any foreign nation can rule her.
If India is incapable of self-government today, what an indictment is that against England! She was not thus incapable before England came. Has one hundred and fifty years of British tutelage produced such deterioration? India was possessed of a high civilization and of developed Governments long before England or any part of Central, Western or Northern Europe had emerged from barbarism. For three thousand years before England’s arrival in the Orient, Indian Kingdoms and Empires had held leading places in Asia, and that means in the world. Some of the ablest rulers, statesmen, generals and financiers known to history, as well as many of the greatest thinkers and writers of mankind, have been of India’s production. How is it, then, that she suddenly becomes imbecile and unable to stand on her own feet or conduct her own affairs as soon as England appears on the scene?
To be sure, at the time when England came, India was in a peculiarly disorganized and unsettled state; for it should be remembered that the Mogul Empire was just breaking up and new political adjustments were everywhere just being made,—a fact which accounts for England’s being able to gain political power in India at all. But everything indicates that if India had not been interfered with by European nations, she would soon have been under competent Governments of her own again.
A further answer to the assertion that India cannot govern herself—surely one that should be conclusive—is the fact that, in parts, she is governing herself now, and governing herself well. It is notorious that the very best Government in India to-day is not that carried on by the British, but that of several of the Native States, notably Baroda and Mysore. In these States, particularly Baroda, the people are more free, more prosperous, more contented, and are making more progress, than in any other part of India. Note the superiority of both these States in the important matter of popular education. Mysore is spending on education more than three times as much per capita as is British India, while Baroda has made her education free and compulsory. Both of these States, but especially Baroda, which has thus placed herself in line with the leading nations of Europe and America by making provisions for the education of all her children, may well be contrasted with British India, which provides education, even of the poorest kind, for only one boy in ten and one girl in one hundred and forty-four.
The only ground at all that exists for the claim that the Indian people are not able to govern themselves lies in the fact that the British Government during all its history in the land has deprived them, and still continues to deprive them, against their constant protest, of practical experience in Government management. They had such experience before the British came, but since that time they have been robbed of it to their great injury. Of course, under present conditions, if the British should leave India in a day, with no body of men trained to take their places, for a time there would be confusion, just as there would be confusion in England if everybody there accustomed to Government management should leave that country in a day.
But the Indian people do not ask England to leave India in a day, or to leave at all; what they ask is for England to associate with herself the competent men of India in the government of their own country, and thus give them the experience in self-rule which is their right and of which they never ought to have been deprived. With such opportunities for practical experience extended to them for twenty years, or even for ten years, they would be ready for the full responsibilities of home rule.
Among the tens of thousands of India’s educated men, and men of natural capacity for leadership, there is no lack of material to fill, and fill well as soon as they are given experience, every kind of official position. Many of the highest judgeships are now filled with great efficiency by Indians. In no department of the Government where Indians have been adequately tried have they been found wanting.
The truth is, not one single fact can be cited to show that India cannot govern herself well if given a chance. It would not be difficult to form an Indian Parliament today, composed of men as able and of as high character as those that constitute the fine Parliament of Japan. India has public men who, if they lived in England and belonged to the English race, would unhesitatingly be adjudged not only of Parliamentary but of Cabinet rank. For twenty years before his recent lamented death Mr. Gokhale was confessedly the equal in intellectual ability and in moral worth of any Englishman in India, not excepting the three Viceroys under whom he served. It is no exaggeration to declare that Mr. Justice Renade had qualifications fully fitting him for the position of Viceroy, or if he had lived in England, fitting him for the position of Premier.
This is only another way of saying that among the leaders of the various States and Provinces of India there is abundant material to form National and Provincial Governments little, if at all, inferior in ability and in moral character to the Governments of the Western world.
1. J. T. Sunderland.
New York, June, 1916.
CONSIDERING that in August, 1916, when this book was published, I was only a stranger in this country, known only to a few individuals, with almost no credentials of any kind to command the attention of the reading public, it is extremely gratifying that the first edition should have been sold out in less than six months. The fact can only be explained by the broad-minded sympathy of the American public for the “under dog.” I had a story to tell which the American public decided was worthy of being heard. So they heard it and now that they have heard it they want more of it.
In launching a second edition I take the opportunity of thanking the American press for their most generous and kindly appreciation of my little work. To the London Liberal press represented by the Nation and the New Statesman also I pay my acknowledgments. Their kindly reception shows the genuineness of their liberalism which, by the by, is the most valuable asset of English public life. Compare with this the treatment that has been accorded to me and my book by the British Indian Government. The first thing they did to injure me was to get the High Court at Lahore to cancel my license as a lawyer in the Punjab, India, on the ground of my being the author of a pamphlet called “Some Reflections on the Political Situation in India,” to which they objected and which they barred from entry into British India. This order is of course illegal; but the High Court of the Punjab has not a high reputation for its legal attainments and is always a willing instrument of the Executive. Then came the order barring this book. This by itself ought to be sufficient to show off the amount of political freedom we enjoy in India, but the year 1916 has been made memorable in the political history of India by other events of even a more significant character. Throughout the year, the Government in India continued to prosecute an English lady of world-wide fame, for the simple reason that that lady had the audacity of identifying herself with the “Home Rule of India” movement. Mrs. Annie Besant is an English woman of international fame. She is one of the most accomplished and eloquent platform speakers which the English speaking nations possess. She is a distinguished author and the revered head of the Theosophical Society which has ramifications all over the world. In addition to her religious and social and literary activities Mrs. Annie Besant has for some years been taking an active interest in the Indian Nationalist movement. She owns and edits two papers, one a daily and the other a weekly, both written in English and published at Madras, India, in the interests of Indian Nationalism. She is the founder and President of an Indian Home Rule League. She is an outspoken critic of the Russian methods of repression, suppression and confiscation that are in vogue in the Indian Administration. During Lord Hardinge’s viceroyalty her criticism was tolerated, as the Head of the Government was known to be friendly to her. As soon, however, as Lord Hardinge turned his back on India, Mrs. Besant’s good luck abandoned her and down came the hand of the Madras Government. The first order against her demanded security for her daily paper, New India. This security was duly furnished and has since been confiscated and a new security of a much larger sum has been demanded. Mrs. Besant has complied with these orders also, though under protest and is contesting them in the courts. One court has rejected her appeal, holding that though the order of the Government was illegal, the statutes gave them no power to give relief. She is now appealing to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, in London, and the matter rests there. Two other Provincial Governments, those of Bombay and the Central Provinces, took action to restrict her liberty of movement, by prohibiting her entry into their respective jurisdictions, under the Defence of India Act. All this has made a sensation and Mrs. Annie Besant is one of the most popular persons in India at the present moment. She is considered a heroine and the Nationalist party is backing her up fully. Her financial losses have been made up to her and her papers are flourishing. Her Home Rule League is spreading.
Mrs. Annie Besant has not, however, been the only recipient of Government attention during the course of the year. The Nationalist leader, Bal Ganga Dhar Tilak, has been persecuted in various ways. A Magistrate was found to adjudge some of his speeches in favour of Home Rule as seditious and on the basis of that adjudication, Mr. Tilak was ordered to deposit security of over $13,000 for good behaviour for a year, the object being to gag him. On Mr. Tilak appealing to the High Court the Judges quashed the order, holding that the speeches, read as a whole, did not violate the law. He is, however, still being followed and persecuted otherwise.
Press Act. The following resolution passed by the Council of the Bombay Presidency Association in connection with the proceedings taken by the Government against Mrs. Besant’s New India speaks for itself:
“Having regard to the arbitrary character of the provisions of the Press Act of 1910 and the manner in which it has been enforced in the case of several newspapers, and recently in the case of New India, thereby causing public dissatisfaction and discontent, this Council is of opinion that a representation should be submitted to the Government by the Association pointing out the oppressive character of the Act and its administration and asking for its appeal. The Council, therefore, resolves, that a committee consisting of Sir Narayan Chandavarkar, Messrs. B. G. Horniman, D. N. Bahadurji, A. M. Jinnah and the Honorary Secretaries be appointed to draft a memorial for the purpose and submit it to the Council within a fortnight.”
Political Crime in Bengal. In Bengal there has been no falling off in the activities of the Revolutionary party in spite of the fact that the powers taken by the Government under the Defence of India Act have been ruthlessly exercised. The following extracts taken from a press comment on the Resolution of the Government of Bengal relating to the working of the Police Department in 1915 may be of some interest in this connection:
“The Resolution of the Bengal Government on the Report of the Police administration in the Presidency for 1915 says that the criminal record of the year was a black one. Serious crime of all kinds except rioting showed considerable increase, which was most marked in the case of offences against property. True cases of dacoity increased from 289 in 1914 to 643 in 1915, burglary cases from 30,294 to 39,812 and theft cases from 17,730 to 31,552. The increase in theft and burglary may be ascribed mainly to the unfavourable economic conditions caused by partial crop failures in many districts of the province and by a heavy fall in the price of jute. In the case of dacoity, however, there appears to be good reason for attributing the increase almost entirely to the state of unrest caused by the war.
“Referring to revolutionary crime in Bengal the resolution says: The outbreak of revolutionary crime in the early part of the year was followed by a lull after the introduction of the Defence of India Act in April. The latter part of the year was, however, marked by renewed activity on the part of the revolutionary party and the total number of cases believed to be connected with the movement was 36 as compared with 12 in the previous year. These cases included 34 dacoities, 2 attempted dacoities, 9 murders and one attempted bomb outrage.
“With regard to the circulation of seditious literature, the report of the Inspector General of Police says: Increased activity in the circulation of seditious leaflets came to notice about June and continued throughout the year. Under the existing law mere possession of seditious matter is not an offence and consequently there are no means of checking the serious evil at the fountain head. It is only after the seditious and inflammatory matter has been circulated and mischief done that the law can be put in motion. There is convincing evidence that the revolutionary party in Bengal depend largely upon seditious literature to recruit their ranks and several youths have confessed that they were drawn into the movement through reading leaflets issued by the revolutionists. Penalising the possession of seditious matter may not be a complete cure for the evil, but it will materially assist to check it.”
As recently as December 11, 1916, the Governor laid renewed emphasis upon the continued existence of serious political crime in Bengal and of their failure to check or extirpate it.
Since then a new ordinance has been promulgated making the mere possession of seditious literature penal.
In the Punjab the Government prosecuted a third batch of persons on charges of political conspiracy, six of whom have since been sentenced to death and the others to varying terms of imprisonment and transportation.
The united demand for autonomy. The most significant political event of the year, however, is the presentation to the Viceroy of a joint memorandum of post-war reforms signed by nineteen out of twenty-two elected members of the Viceroy’s Legislative Council. In the opinion of the signatories this is the minimum which will satisfy Indian public opinion for the present. The demands are not far-reaching enough on the way to autonomy but the document is remarkable as a symbol of unity between the different religious communities and castes of the Indian population, on the so-called lack of which the British Imperialist so much relies, in justification of denying self-government to India. Coming from men of varying shades of political opinion, pledged by their oath of allegiance to loyalty to the British Government and by their connection with the latter, the document is the most conclusive and scathing condemnation of the existing system of Government in India. We make no apology for giving the document in full.
Memorandum submitted to H. E., the Viceroy, by the undersigned elected Additional Members of the Imperial Legislative Council with regard to Post-War reforms.
There is no doubt that the termination of the war will see a great advance in the ideals of government all over the civilised world and especially in the British Empire, which entered into the struggle in defence of the liberties of weak and small nationalities and is pouring forth its richest blood and treasure in upholding the cause of justice and humanity in the international relations of the world. India has borne her part in this struggle and cannot remain unaffected by the new spirit of change for a better state of things. Expectations have been raised in this country and hopes held out that, after the war, the problems of Indian Administration will be looked at from a new angle of vision. The people of India have good reasons to be grateful to England for the great progress in her material resources and the widening of her intellectual and political outlook under British rule, and for the steady, if slow, advance in her national life commencing with the Charter Act of India of 1833. Up to 1909, the Government of India was conducted by a bureaucracy almost entirely non-Indian in its composition and not responsible to the people of India. The reforms of 1909 for the first time introduced an Indian element in the direction of affairs in the administration of India. This element was of a very limited character. The Indian people accepted it as an indication on the part of the Government of a desire to admit the Indians into the inner counsels of the Indian Empire. So far as the Legislative Councils are concerned, the number of non-official members was merely enlarged with increased facilities for debate and interpellation. The Supreme Legislative Council retained an absolute official majority, and in the Provincial Legislative Councils, where a non-official majority was allowed, such majority included nominated members and the European representatives. In measures largely affecting the people, whether of legislation or taxation, by which Europeans were not directly affected, the European members would naturally support the Government, and the nominated members, being nominees of Government, would be inclined to take the same side. Past experience has shown that this has actually happened on various occasions. The non-official majorities, therefore, in the Provincial Councils have proved largely illusory and give no real power to the representatives of the people. The Legislative Councils, whether Supreme or Provincial, are at present nothing but advisory bodies without any power of effective control over the Government, Imperial or Provincial. The people or their representatives are practically as little associated with the real government of the country as they were before the reforms, except for the introduction of the Indian element in the Executive Councils, where again the nomination rests entirely with the Government, the people having no voice in the selection of the Indian members.
The object which the Government had in view in introducing the reforms of 1909 was, as expressed by the Prime Minister in his speech in the House of Commons on the second reading of the Indian Councils Bill (1st April, 1909), that “it was most desirable in the circumstances to give to the people of India the feeling that these Legislative Councils are not mere automatons the wires of which are pulled by the official hierarchy.” This object, it is submitted, has not been attained. Apart from this question of the Constitution of the Legislative and Executive Councils, the people labour under certain grave disabilities, which not only prevent the utilisation, but also lead to the wastage, of what is best in them, and are positively derogatory to their sense of national self-respect. The Arms Act which excludes from its operation Europeans and Anglo-Indians and applies only to the pure natives of the country, the disqualification of Indians for forming or joining Volunteer corps, and their exclusion from the commissioned ranks of the Army, are disabilities which are looked upon with an irritating sense of racial differentiation. It would be bad enough if these were mere disabilities. Restrictions and prohibitions regarding the possession and use of arms have tended to emasculate the civil populations in India and expose them to serious danger. The position of Indians in India is practically this, that they have no real part or share in the direction of the government of the country, and are placed under very great and galling disabilities from which the other members of the British Empire are exempt and which have reduced them to a state of utter helplessness. The existence, moreover, of the system of indentured emigration gives to the British Colonies and the outside world the impression that Indians, as a whole, are no better than indentured coolies, who are looked upon as very little, if at all, above the slave. The present state of things makes the Indians feel that, though theoretically they are equal subjects of the King, they hold a very inferior position in the British Empire. Other Asiatic races also hold the same, if not a worse, view about India and her status in the Empire. Humiliating as this position of inferiority is to the Indian mind, it is almost unbearable to the youth of India whose outlook is broadened by education and travel in foreign parts where they come in contact with other free races.
In the face of these grievances and disabilities, what has sustained the people is the hope and faith inspired by promises and assurances of fair and equal treatment which have been held out from time to time by our Sovereigns and British statesmen of high standing. In the crisis we are now going through, the Indian people have sunk domestic differences between themselves and the Government and have faithfully and loyally stood by the Empire. The Indian soldiers were eager to go to the battlefields of Europe, not as mercenary troops but as free citizens of the British Empire which required their services, and her civilian population was animated by one desire, namely, to stand by England in the hour of her need. Peace and tranquillity reigned throughout India when she was practically denuded of British and Indian troops. The Prime Minister of England, while voicing the sentiments of the English people in regard to India’s part in this great war, spoke of Indians as “the joint and equal custodians of one common interest and future.” India does not claim any reward for her loyalty, but she has a right to expect that the want of confidence on the part of the Government, to which she not unnaturally ascribes her present state, should now be a thing of the past and that she should no longer occupy a position of subordination but one of comradeship. This would assure the Indian people that England is ready and willing to help them to attain self-government under the ægis of the British Crown, and thus discharge the noble mission which she has undertaken and to which she has so often given voluntary expression through her rulers and statesmen. What is wanted is not merely good government or efficient administration, but government that is acceptable to the people because it is responsible to them. This is what India understands would constitute the changed angle of vision.
If, after the termination of the war, the position of India practically remains what it was before, and there is no material change in it, it will undoubtedly cause bitter disappointment and great discontent in the country, and the beneficent effects of participation in common danger, overcome by common effort will soon disappear, leaving no record behind save the painful memory of unrealised expectations. We feel sure that the Government is also alive to the situation and is contemplating measures of reform in the administration of the country. We feel that we should avail ourselves of this opportunity to respectfully offer to Government our humble suggestions as to the lines on which reforms should proceed. They must, in our opinion, go to the root of the matter. They must give to the people real and effective participation in the government of the country, and also remove those irritating disabilities as regards the possession of arms and a military career, which indicate want of confidence in the people and place them in a position of inferiority and helplessness. With this view, we would take the liberty to suggest the following measures for consideration and adoption:
1. In all the Executive Councils, Provincial and Imperial, half the number of members should be Indians; the European element in the Executive Councils should, as far as possible, be nominated from the ranks of men trained and educated in the public life of England, so that India may have the benefit of a wider outlook and larger experience of the outside world. It is not absolutely essential that the members of the Executive Councils, Indians or Europeans, should have experience of actual administration, for, as in the case of Ministers in England, the assistance of the permanent officials of the departments is always available to them. As regards Indians, we venture to say that a sufficient number of qualified Indians, who can worthily fill the office of members of the Executive Council and hold portfolios, is always available. Our short experience in this direction has shown how Indians like Sir S. P. Sinha, Sir Syed Ali Imam, the late Mr. Krishnaswami Iyer, Sir Shams-ul-Huda and Sir Sankaran Nair have maintained a high level of administrative ability in the discharge of their duties. Moreover, it is well known that the Native States, where Indians have opportunities, have produced renowned administrators like Sir Salar Jang, Sir T. Madhava Rao, Sir Sheshadri Ayer, Dewan Bahadur Raghunath Rao, not to mention the present administrators in the various Native States of India. The statutory obligation, now existing, that three of the members of the Supreme Executive Council shall be selected from the public services in India and similar provisions with regard to Provincial Councils should be removed. The elected representatives of the people should have a voice in the selection of the Indian members of the Executive Councils and for that purpose a principle of election should be adopted.
2. All the Legislative Councils in India should have a substantial majority of elected representatives. These representatives, we feel sure, will watch and safeguard the interests of the masses and the agricultural population, with whom they are in closer touch than any European officer, however sympathetic, can possibly be. The proceedings of the various Legislative Councils and the Indian National Congress and the Moslem League bear ample testimony to the solicitude of the educated Indians for the welfare of the masses and their acquaintance with their wants and wishes. The franchise should be broadened and extended directly to the people, Mohammedans or Hindus, wherever they are in a minority, being given proper and adequate representation, having regard to their numerical strength and position.
3. The total number of the members of the Supreme Council should be not less than 150, and of the Provincial Councils not less than 100 for the major provinces, and not less than 60 to 75 for the minor provinces.
4. The Budget should be passed in the shape of money bills, fiscal autonomy being conceded to India.
5. The Imperial Legislative Council should have power to legislate on, and discuss and pass resolutions relating to, all matters of Indian administration, and the Provincial Councils should have similar powers with regard to Provincial administrations, save and except that the direction of military affairs, of foreign relations, declarations of war, the making of peace, and the entering into treaties, other than commercial, should be vested in the Government of India. As a safeguard, the Governor-General-in-Council or the Governor-in-Council, as the case may be, should have the right of veto, which, however, should be exercised subject to certain conditions and limitations.
6. The Council of the Secretary of State should be abolished. The Secretary of State should, as far as possible, hold in relation to the Government of India a position similar to that which the Secretary of State for the Colonies holds in relation to the Colonies. The Secretary of State should be assisted by two permanent Under-Secretaries, one of whom should be an Indian. The salaries of the Secretary and the Under-Secretaries should be placed on the British estimates.
7. In any scheme of Imperial Federation, India should be given through her chosen representatives a place similar to that of the self-governing dominions.
8. The Provincial Governments should be made autonomous, as stated in the Government of India’s despatch dated 25th August, 1911.
9. The United Provinces, as well as the other major provinces should have a Governor brought from the United Kingdom and should have an Executive Council.
10. A full measure of local self-government should be immediately granted.
11. The right to carry arms should be granted to Indians on the same conditions as to Europeans.
12. Indians should be allowed to enlist as volunteers and units of a territorial army established in India.
13. Commissions in the Army should be given to Indian youths under conditions similar to those applicable to Europeans.
Manindra Chandra Nandy of Kasimbazar.D.E. Wacha.Bhupendranath Basu.Bishan Dutt Shukul.Madan Mohan Malaviya.K. V. Rangaswamiengar.Mazharul Haque.V. S. Srinivasan.Tej Bahadur Sapru.
Ibrahim Rahimtoola.B. Narasimheswara Sarma.Mir Asad Ali.Kamini Kumar Chanda.Krishna Sahay.R. N. Bhanja Deo of Kanika.M. B. Dadabhoy.Sita Nath Roy.Mohamed Ali Mohamed.M. A. Jinnah.
It might be noted that the demands are extremely moderate and accompanied by rather exaggerated acknowledgments of the effects of British rule in India. They proceed from a body of professed loyalists. They have received wide support from representative organisations of Hindus and Mahommedans as well as from representative men of all classes, castes and denominations.
India in England. In England the exigencies of the war have left no time for the British Parliament to devote to the meagre discussions of Indian affairs
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