K Subba Rau.

Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

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theory and practice of your business. Seek advice, guidance
and assistance from those who have already succeeded in that
business. Keep them in view as models to follow. Observe
them, study them, and learn what qualities have made them
successful. Avoid quarrelling with your superiors, subordinates
or equals. Keep on good terms with. all. Cultivate ability,
diligence and the highest probity in the performance of your
business. Be humble and respectful to those above you and
unfailingly courteous to all others.

You must not overlook the difference between theory and
practice. One who has learnt the theory of swim-
ud m i n R from the best books may not be able to keep
himself afloat even for a few minutes, while the
practised swimmer can swim long with ease and pleasure. You
well know how to write. Both your hands are equally your own.
Yet, mark what a vast difference practice makes between the
right hand and the left hand. You write easily with the right
hand, you can scarcely write with the left. Consider this, and you
will easily understand why the world values a practical workman
much more than one simply theoretical. Therefore add practice
to theory. If this be not done, the practical man will beat the
merely theoretical one, and the latter must not complain.

Young men fresh from schools or colleges are generally
theoretical men. They must strive to enhance their value by
becoming practical also.

While you strive after increasing success, learn to be con-
tented with what falls to your lot. Without con-
tentment no man can be continuously happy. Do
not postpone contentment to some distant future contingency or
consummation which may not be reached. I do not mean to
dilate on this well-worn topic. I just advert to it, only to remind
you at the outset of your pursuit of happiness that the first three
factors of happiness are, Health, Competence and Contentment.
Do not lose sight of these in the heat and tumult of the battle of
life. They are happily attainable by most men,



1887. Rajah Sir T. Madaca Row. 227

I venture here to offer a suggestion, which may possibly
savour of novelty or superfluity. The anxiety of
Law he Penal an earnest well-wisher will, I hope, excuse it. You
are, of course, conversant with moral principles.
You know what acts morality forbids. But you may as well
know also what acts the law forbids with much greater force.
I refer to acts which the law makes penal. The catalogue of
such offences includes some which may not be always present to
common sense. Again, some of them partake of an artificial or
technical character. It would, therefore, seem desirable that
young men about to enter the world should glance over the
Penal Code and its lucid definitions, in order that they may take
care that they are not unconsciously or inadvertently caught in
the meshes of that comprehensive Code. The law of defamation,
for instance, deserves to be kept in view. It may be usefully
remembered that no one can plead ignorance of the law to excuse
its infraction.

Do not despise good manners, as these form an important
element 011 which success depends. They mate-
ners d rially diminish the friction which attends passage

through life. I have met instances in which bad
manners seriously marred great abilities or moral worth. And
yet it is easy to acquire good manners by a little study and by a
little observation. You may remember with advantage that
good manners are to life what oil is to machinery. I hope it will
not be a consequenco of your English education that you will
superciliously neglect those cheap graces and unbidden amenities
of your social life, which soften and sweeten your relations with
the people immediately around you.

In life you come in contact with innumerable men, whose
feelings are like your own. Be careful not to hurt
tlieir feelings needlessly. By all means express
yourself truthfully, but, as far as possible, refrain
from causing pain. Avoid words which imply passion or vituper-
ation. We Natives are careful in this respect by habit and tradi-
tion, and education may be expected to intensify the good quality.
Great and good men are popular in proportion they cultivate
this habit of respecting others' feelings. Distinguished European
examples are within your sight.

Differences of opinion too often characterise and divide
Native communities implying prevalence of differ-
en ^ degrees of knowledge, differing capacities for
judgment, diversity of interests, differing passions
and prejudices, and multiplicity of standards of right and wrong.



228 University of Madra,



Now, it must be obvious to you that the more opinions differ,
the more must the community be divided, and the weaker must
it consequently be. It is hoped that as education advances,
differences will diminish, and increasing approaches will be made
to a fair unanimity. Let every educated man try to do his best
to verify his facts; to see that his facts are complete, that
his reasoning is sound; in short, to ensure correct judgment.
Do not differ under the false idea that ready assent implies
intellectual servility, or under the equally false idea, that dissent
implies intellectual independence. When a considerable number
of thoughtful and experienced men agree upon an opinion, be
slow to differ from the same. Rather agree than differ- Do
not differ merely to have an opportunity to speak, or to display
your debating power. For the advantage of unanimity, be dis-
posed to sacrifice minor differences. The more carefully you
form your opinions, the greater the deference you pay to men of
judgment and experience, the less will be the chances of dis-
agreement and discord. Remember that a community advances
in proportion as it follows the .guidance of its best members.

If you have, after due inquiry and thought, reached a use-
ful conviction, avow it without fear or favour. You
of wnviction 3 ^ 6 w ^ tnus a ^ ^e P ro g res s and propagation of truth,
so essential to public improvement. For example,
if you are convinced that child- marriage is mischievous, say so
without ambiguity or equivocation. If you believe Astrology to
be a false science, avow it candidly. The same with respect to
good and bad omens and other superstitions or errors. It is
particularly desirable that you not only avow your convictions,
but act upon them as far as possible.

Do not fear or hesitate to change your opinion if you have

good reasons to change the same. We are all

Change of }i a jjj e to form erroneous opinions. And as we

opinion. . -^

advance in knowledge and experience, we discover
error. To still hold to the former erroneous opinion would be
pertinacity detrimental to the public weal. An undue love of con-
sistency is often responsible for a great deal of obstruction to the
progress of reform. The more educated men are, the more loyal
are they to the sovereignty of reason, and the more readily do they
cast off erroneous opinions and accept correct ones. Accordingly,
some of the greatest men of the world, have been known to change
opinions, when truth and reason required them to do so.

A compromise, you know, is an amicable agreement between

parties in controversy to settle their differences by

Compromises. mu tual concessions, Controversies frequently arise,



1887. Rdali N/V T. Mtnlwt, Row.



compromises are therefore eminently useful. I would Advise
educated men to resort to compromises as often as fairly possible
without sacrifice of principle. Do not lightly say " I hate com-
promises ; I am an uncompromising fellow," In many cases
there may be nothing wrong or derogatory in a compromise. It
saves time, it saves money, it saves trouble and anxiety, and it
saves temper. The greatest men have ended controversies by
judicious compromises. Life is a long series of compromises.
There can be no peace in private life without compromises. A
government and a people cannot long get on peacefully without
compromises. Governments settle mutual differences by com-
promises ; otherwise, war would be very frequent. Compromises
tend to unanimity of opinion, unity of action, and reconciliation
of conflicting interests. A compromising spirit is all the more
necessary in India where so many diverse races have to co-exist
and to co-operate for the public good. Why, gentlemen, half
a dozen Hindu, Muhammadan and Christian gentlemen cannot
comfortably travel together in the same railway carriage with-
out a great deal of compromising spirit !

Make these instrumental to the increase of knowledge and
virtue. Learn from your betters, instruct your
inf eriors, as far as opportunities offer. Candidly
but carefully distribute praise and blame, so that
social opinion may become a living beneficial force. Do not be
too ambitious of shining in company and conversation, for, then,
you do not enjoy yourself and have to tkink too much of your-
self to learn or to instruct.

You will be often called upon to accomplish given objects.
Do not impetuously rush into action. First, get a
Means to ends. clear conce pti on of the object, what it is, and what
it is not. Secondly, conceive the different alternative means to
be taken. Carefully consider and select that which is most
effective and most honourable. Conceive the several possible
contingencies which may occur to disturb or defeat your endea-
vours. Think how their occurrence might be prevented. Think
what should be done if any such contingency occur in spite of
preventive precautions. Nothing, gentlemen, should take you
by surprise. Nothing should find you unprepared. Act 011 the
programme thus settled. Such a habit will maximise success and
minimise failure.

Avoid the mischievous error of supposing that our ancient
forefathers were infinitely wiser than men of the
WiS " P resen * times - I* cannot be true. Every year of
an individual's life he acquires additional know-



230 University of Madras.

ledge. Knowledge thus goes 011 accumulating from year to year.
Similarly, every generation adds to the knowledge of the previous
generation. Under such a process, the accumulation of know-
ledge in a century is something very large. To assert therefore
that men possessed more knowledge scores of centuries ago than
at the present day is manifestly absurd. Even assuming intellec-
tual equality between the ancients and moderns, men of modern
times have had enormous advantages over those of ancient times
for the acquisition of knowledge. Our field of observation, our
facilities for observation, our instruments of observation, our
highly elaborated methods of calculation, our means of publish-
ing the results of observation, of getting the results scrutinised,
questioned, compared, discussed, and variously verified are
infinitely greater than those of remote generations. The explo-
rations of the ancients were fragmentary and superficial. The
whole world is now one field of observation. We can cross con-
tinents by railways, we can traverse oceans by steamers. We
dive to the bottom of the sea, we pierce to the bowels of the
earth. We rise to far off ethereal solitudes where new worlds
seem to be in process of creation or consolidation. Our visual
powers are infinitely multiplied by such instruments as the
microscope and the telescope. Our power of measuring space
has been enlarged by a variety of the nicest instruments. So
also our power of measuring time. We have a marvellous postal
system which spreads information through a thousand channels.
We employ lightning itself as messenger of news. We have a
wonderful system of printing books, journals and periodicals, by
which the thoughts of the whole human race are exchanged with
ease and rapidity. The observers are innumerable, and include
the most gifted intellects animated by the highest love of truth,
by the highest enthusiasm and the keenest emulation. In short,
an enormous intellectual committee of the whole civilised world
is ceaselessly sitting from generation to generation, and is cease-
lessly working for the collection and augmentation of human
knowledge. Calmly and carefully reflect, and you, gentlemen,
are certain to agree with me. Hesitate not, therefore, to prefer
modern knowledge to ancient knowledge. A blind belief in the
omniscience of our forefathers is mischievous, because it perpetu-
ates errors and tends to stagnation.

India is the scene of the confluence of two mighty civilisa-

Preserve what tions. You will find a great deal that is old and

is good in the a lso a great deal that is new. You are not to accept

whatls goodin either indiscriminately or exclusively. Exercise

the new. your judgment in choosing. In regard to scientific



1887. Rajah Sir T. Madava Row. 231

knowledge, the modern must be given preference. In regard to
virtues, many old ones which have been our inheritance for ages
are excellent, and ought to be retained, such as gentleness, good-
will, self-restraint, fidelity and gratitude to benefactors, polite-
ness, patience, charity, general benevolence, respect and submis-
sion to constituted authority, love of peace and order, happily a
long list, of which we may well be proud. At the same time, some
modern virtues may also be adopted, such as courage, candour,
independence, perseverance, punctuality, public spirit, &c. Simi-
larly, a proportion of our manners, customs and habits deserve to
be cherished, for instance, the simplicity of our lives, our sobriety,
our domestic affections, our cheerful support of needy or helpless
relatives or dependants. Had time permitted, I should have
referred to some of our fine arts, and to a great deal in the
domain of aesthetics, which deserves respect, reverence, and
admiration.

The subject of religion is difficult and delicate ground, and
must be "but sparingly remarked upon. It would,
however, be an error to omit it altogether from
our consideration. Each must, of course, be guided by his own
convictions. In this department exact knowledge is not attain-
able so as to find universal acceptance. Hence a generous
toleration and brotherly feeling to all are great duties. Re-
ligion being viewed as subservient to morality, some religion is
better than none. Where certainty is difficult but error is easy,
I would admit light from all quarters, light from the creation
generallv ; light from human reason, from human instinct, and
from human conscience, enlightened by knowledge ; light from
the opinions and beliefs of the best men of all climes a,nd ages ;
light from the requirements of human society ; light from con-
siderations of what may be probable or safe and solaciug.

Many educated persons wish to be either or both. The
wish is natural, strong and almost intuitive. And

Politician and -^ venture * sav ^ nat ^ * s useful and honourable.
None need regret it ; all may rejoice at it. If
educated men are not to be patriots and politicians, who else
can be ? The preservation of all the good which India at
present happily enjoys, and its future advancement depend upon
her patriots and politicians. This is the class which, of all the
vast and varied population of India, is most capable of under-
standing, appreciating and using the magnificent opportunity
which England affords us of learning all that ought to be learnt
by progressive communities. England has spread before us the
vast stores of knowledge accumulated during many centuries of



232 University of Madras.

hard and honest investigation. Let us diligently appropriate
these stores. To shut our eyes to them would be worse than
intellectual folly ; it would be an intellectual sin. Useful know-
ledge of all kinds must be acquired and assimilated; and poli-
tical knowledge certainly is not the least important part of it.

It is sometimes asserted in a reckless spirit that the old
political condition of India was better than the
present. I trust you will not accept such an asser-
tion. Ancient ideals of Government have come
down to us in prose and poetry. If the best of those ideals were
restored to us in all its integrity, India would loudly protest
against it. Coming to more recent times, I do not think India
would tolerate any Government as it was in Pre-British
times. The truth must be frankly and gratefully admitted that
the British Government of India is incomparably the best
Government we have ever had. It is the strongest and the most
righteous and the best suited to India's diverse populations and
diverse interests. It is the most capable of self-maintenance,
of self -renovation and self-adjustment, in reference to the pro-
gressive advancement of the subject-races.

But it would be contrary to human nature itself to expect
that the British nation should undertake the heavy
th?impoSe fc dut y and responsibility of governing and defend-
ing India without any advantage whatever to
itself. That some advantage should accrue to the British nation
by way of compensation is only natural and legitimate. Try to
set due limits to that advantage, but it would be irrational to
abolish it altogether. It would be impossible to deny all ad-
vantage to England for governing India. But. were it possible,
it would be undesirable in a high degree. Why so ? Because
if England got no advantage by governing India, England
would say of India what Prince Bismark said of Bulgaria,
namely, " I do not care what becomes of it, or who rules it."

Everyone wko is not a visionary, and who has paid any
attention to the condition of the world as it is,
India cannot must feel convinced that India cannot, for a long
time to come, be a self-governed and independent
country. Her only chance of life, re-invigora-
tion, progress and prosperity, lies in her being under the wings
of some strong, just, and generous power. And what power
better than England ? Without powerful patronage and pro-
tection, India, weak and fascinating, would be exposed to the
lawless violence of any Imperial Dacoit ! Educated men should
ponder over these truths deeply and well-



1887. Rajah Sir T. Madam Row. 233

As associated efforts are more productive of good than
. isolated or individual ones, educated men have

properly established various societies or combina-
tions all over the Presidency. This is a prominent and praise-
worthy feature of the times. As an important consequence a
new and unprecedented interest has been awakened in public
affairs, which are now better known and more extensively dis-
cussed and judged tending to the formation of a sound
public opinion which is so potent and salutary a force in the
modern world. These associations may do useful work in
various directions. As regards the great body of the people,
they may disseminate useful general information ; they may
promote political education ; they may correct or dispel errors
and delusions ; they may promote various reforms ; they may
make known local wants and wishes ; they may afford advice
and guidance. As regards the Government, they may make
themselves still more useful ; they may vigilantly watch the
action of Government at all times and in all places, in view to
wholesome criticism. The ideal of the Indian Government
is happily very high. But to keep it on a level with its own
ideal, vigilant criticism is very necessary. High ideals have a
natural tendency to decline. The Indian Government is very
liable to errors or lapses. It does not sufficiently understand
the religions, habits and feelings of the subject-population. It
is apt to become high-handed owing to its vast superiority over
the subject-peoples. The people are extremely divided and
weak. The Home Government is far away. There is temptation
to prefer English to Indian interests. The European officers of
Government are birds of passage without permanent interest or
sympathy in India. There is temptation to overlook their faults
and shortcomings few as they may be. There is temptation to
favour the stronger races of India at the expense of the weaker
ones. There is temptation to treat foreign settlers in some
respects with excessive indulgence. There is temptation to
prefer foreigners to natives for public employments. Such are
some of the reasons which, call for and justify watchfulness and
criticism. One of the noblest characteristics of the British
Government is that it permits, tolerates, and even welcomes such
criticism. Such criticism sometimes actually strengthens the
Indian Government in the performance of its difficult and sacred
duties. Special care should be taken that the facts criticised
are correct, and are not exaggerated, and that the criticism
itself is just and moderate :

'Let three F's characterise the criticism,
It should be Free, Fair, and Fearless.

30



234 University of Madras.

But associations should support Government as well as
criticise it as occasions arise. There must naturally be more
occasions to support than to criticise. Government has a right
to expect from educated men the most sincere and sympathetic
support as well as free and fearless criticism. Peace and order
being vitally essential to civilised existence, progress, and pros-
perity, nothing should be done by word or deed which may have
any tendency to disturb public peace or order. Nothing should
be done which may have a tendency, present or future, to
weaken those invaluable habits of obedience to the law which
the vast community of India has happily inherited. If the
uneducated masses misunderstand t Government in any particular,
the associations should be prompt and eager to set them right.
The associations should recognise it as an imperative duty to
vindicate the ways of an honest Government to the millions of
its subjects. If these are aggrieved in any respect, the associa-
tions will act as their faithful interpreters or advocates. The
associations should avoid causing any embarrassment to Govern-
ment by inopportune, impractical or difficult proposals. They
should avoid the reality and even the appearance of a mistrustful
or militant spirit. They should afford the ruling power every
reavson to regard them as co-efficient agencies alike in trouble
and tranquillity. Besides such duties, the associations have to
deal with large questions of the day.

For instance, I think the people of India must press for
examinations being held in India for appointments
Eza^nationBin to the Civil Service. In every respect it is a
India for the matter of justice and good policy. To insist upon
the youth of India proceeding to England and
staying there and passing would, in effect, be to place a number
of barriers in their way to prevent or greatly check their entrance
into the Covenanted service. Just see what the barriers are.
They are, the great expense involved which many cannot afford ;
great inconvenience; withdrawal from friends, guardians and
natural well-wishers ; risk of youth going astray ; risk as to
health ; great loss of time ; difficulty of competing with English-
men in their own language and on their own ground ; risk of
eventual failure ; loss of touch with his own country and people ;
probable impairment of social status ; a certain amount of dena-
tionalisation. These barriers would be insuperable to most
classes and particularly to the Bramin community, which has,
from time immemorial and through successive dominations,
maintained intellectual and moral ascendancy and social influence
in India. The difficulties would be felt also by a considerable



1887. Rajah Sir T. Madava Row. 235

proportion of the landed and moneyed aristocracy. As regards
the best families, the plan would amount to a sentence of exclu-
sion. Judging from my own feelings in the matter, I should say
that the discontent would be great, though, in the old Indian
fashion, it would be a good deal disguised. Gentlemen, for
my part, I have run my course, and have reached the serene
air of private life, but I cannot be unconcerned about my pos-
terity ! Just imagine what the people would have felt if the
Muhammadan rulers, even in the plenitude of their despotic
strength and prosperity, had declared that no Hindu would be
eligible to high office without going to Mecca and staying there
several years !

To pass to another topic of the day. The people of India
are deeply interested in seeing that high collegiate
education is not made to suffer under a narrow spirit
of financial economy. It cannot be too strongly
urged that the intellectual emancipation of India depends upon
the maintenance of such education. The native intellect shows a
capacity for indefinite development. Noble England cannot have
a more docile pupil than India. The associations, however, know
how to deal with this matter. Again, we are right to press for



Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 56 of 66)