J. D. (John David) Rees.

India; the real India (Volume 19) online

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The long land frontier between Burma and China
necessarily leads to communications between the
two Imperial Governments concerned. Since 1875
the Home Government has paid two-thirds of the
cost of this diplomatic intercourse, and now a fixed
contribution is annually made on this account by
India. As to our boundaries with Siam, a joint
commission in 1892-1893 settled the frontier line



from the Mekong to Victoria Point, and Great
Britain and France agreed to respect the integrity
of the central districts of Siam in the Menam Val-
ley, France recognising Great Britain's influence in
the territory west of the basin of the Menam, in
the Malay Peninsula, and over the adjacent islands.
Foreign possessions in India are now limited to
five small settlements belonging to the French, of
which Pondicherry and Chandernagore are the chief,
and three small settlements of the Portuguese, of
which Goa is the most important.




OF all the causes of the unrest which has of late
unhappily prevailed in India, the chief, of
course, is the system of education, which we
ourselves introduced advisedly so far as the lim-
ited vision went of those responsible, blindly in view
of the inevitable consequences. It is not too much
to say that in our schools pupils imbibe sedition
with their daily lessons : they are fed with Rousseau,
Macaulay, and the works of philosophers, which even
in Oxford tend to pervert the minds of students
to socialistic and impractical dreams, and in India
work with far greater force upon the naturally meta-
physical minds of youths, generally quick to learn
by rote, for the most part penniless, and thus ren-
dered incapable of earning their living, except by
taking service of a clerical character under rulers
whom they denounce as oppressors unless they
receive a salary at their hands.

The malcontents created by this system have
neither respect for nor fear of the Indian Govern-
ment. Nor is this surprising, for the literature upon
which they are brought up in our schools is fulfilled
with destructive criticism of any system of govern-



ment founded upon authority, and the encourage-
ment given in many quarters to the Congress has
necessarily confirmed them in their contempt for a
system which fans a flame intended to burn it to

Happily, however, it is not the case that educated
Indians, as such, are necessarily hostile to the British,
though when subjected as they are, and all India is,
to Brahminical influences, they are liable to become,
and too often do become, actively disloyal, the voice
of the educated classes and of the Brahmins being
practically one and the same thing.

Various other occurrences tended to intensify the
feelings of disaffection engendered in the manner
above described. For the first time in British-Indian
history the Viceroy and Governor-General, hitherto
regarded as the all-powerful agent of a sovereign
ruling by divine right for Indians recognize no
mere parliamentary title had engaged in a pitched
battle with the Commander-in-Chief of the forces,
and had been beaten. More than that, his corre-
spondence with the Secretary of State on this subject
had, to the general astonishment, been published,
so that all might know exactly what had occurred,
and, incidentally, the administrative partition of
Bengal had been mentioned in such wise as almost
to justify those who resented this measure in think-
ing that the Home Government had sanctioned it,
at least as much because Lord Curzon desired to
bring it about, as because they were themselves
persuaded of its necessity.



Then Lord Curzon's Government had, with the
best intentions, and perhaps upon sufficient grounds,
taken a step which inevitably increased the prevail-
ing disposition to disregard established authority.
He had appointed a commission to overhaul the
police, who are after all the outward and visible
signs of authority, in vast areas; for instance in
the greater part of Eastern Bengal, in which a Brit-
ish soldier is never, and a sepoy rarely, seen. The
police are by no means an ideally perfect body.
There must be among a large force, necessarily
receiving small pay, some, perhaps many, black
sheep. Still they are probably on the whole by no
means unsuitable for the work they have to perform,
and their delinquencies have been grossly exagger-
ated by the classes, who have used them as a pawn
in the game of disaffection. To appoint a commis-
sion was to allow publicly that in the eyes of the
Government they needed radical reform and did
not possess the confidence of their masters. So
another proof of law and order went by the board
in popular estimation.

Nor were causes wanting in England. No sooner
was the General Election of 1906 over than a meet-
ing was held at the instance of Sir William Wed-
derburn to reconstruct the Indian Parliamentary
Committee and to consider "what action might be
taken in the new Parliament to advance the inter-
ests of the Indian people." Sir William spoke of
their great dissatisfaction with their condition and
said the way to improve matters was to work upon



the lines of the Indian National Congress. Sir
Henry Cotton, not to be outdone in misrepresenting
the position, said "the election of an overwhelming
Liberal majority had roused in India hopes and
aspirations, and the people were trembling in hope
that due consideration would now be given to their
wishes." He advised his friends to go on agitating,
but to adhere to constitutional methods. But the
grave anxiety, which speeches such as those have
not tended to alleviate, is lest these methods, what-
ever they may be, should pass into a dangerous
phase of discontent and disaffection. The advice
of Sir W. Wedderbura, the extra-parliamentary
chief of the Congress party in England, has been
taken, and a few members of Parliament who serve
under this banner have left no opportunity unused
in order to promote the aims and objects of the

For instance, they voted against Mr. Morley and
the Government on Mr. Keir Hardie's motion that
the salary of the Secretary of State should be brought
upon the estimates, and persistently questioned Mr.
Morley regarding the deportation of Lajpat Rai, to
which, of course, they objected, asked for the repeal
of the Regulation of 1818, as inconsistent with the
principles of Liberalism, and for the appointment of
a royal commission. The Regulation was denounced
as wholly unparalleled in the British Empire. As a
fact, however, in the East Africa Protectorate an
order in Council authorises the deportation of any
person who, in the opinion of the administration,



conducts himself so as to be dangerous to the peace
and good order of British East Africa. In native
states in India such power is always taken, and not
infrequently exercised, an instance having occurred
quite recently in Hyderabad. The brothers Natu
were, moreover, dealt with under this Regulation
not many years since in the Bombay Presidency, and
it will probably be found that in the agency tracts
of the Madras Presidency instances of its use have
recurred at irregular intervals to the close of last

Strong attacks were also made on Renter's Agency,
which the agitators in India were unable to muzzle,
and which has done good public service by faith-
fully reporting events from Calcutta. Mr. Morley
refused to depart from the attitude he had taken up
regarding Lala Lajpat Rai, and said that he saw no
cause for apology in the use made of the Regulation
of 1818, though he would be the first to rejoice when
its application would no longer be necessary, and as
a fact he released the two agitators, Lala Lajpat
Rai and Ajit Singh, when they had been detained
for about six months.

Nor were the anti-British agitators without sup-
port in England other than that afforded by the
British Branch of the Congress and their supporters
in and out of Parliament.

At Oxford a University India Society has been
formed, one of the objects of which is the discus-
sion of the advisability of introducing representative
government. At its meeting addresses were deliv-



ered by Sir W. Wedderburn and Mr. Gokhale, when
the latter said that "if the Indians had to choose
between gratitude for the past and duty to their own
people there could only be one choice." This was
mild for the speaker, but it would do him good to
try the effect of a speech on similar lines at a Rus-
sian university. At Cambridge also there is an
Indian Club, which is believed to be none too loyal,
and the same may be said of Edinburgh, where till
now Indian students have been left like lost dogs to
wander at will, a state of affairs which an influential
committee now seeks to amend by providing a club
under responsible and respectable management.

In Dublin and elsewhere violent attacks were pub-
lished upon the Government of India, which in Sep-
tember prohibited the introduction into that country
of Justice, The Gaelic American, and The Indian
Sociologist, the last-named organ at any rate richly
deserving to be excluded, whatever may be the
character of the other two. The editor, an M.A. of
Oxford, is described as the president of the Indian
Home Rule Society, which is no doubt some asso-
ciation designed to tamper with the loyalty of young
Indians in this country. Inasmuch as this person
has, of course falsely, described himself, because he
is a subject of a native state, as owing no allegiance
to Britain, it is to be regretted that he is not deprived
of the hospitality he abuses, by being expelled as an
undesirable alien.

Mr. Morley has appointed a committee to con-
sider what can be done to afford to Indian students



protection from agitators, who lie in wait for them
and provide them with lodgings, the atmosphere of
which reeks with disloyalty to the British Crown.

Among other causes of the unrest must also be
reckoned the measures taken to stamp out plague
in Bombay Presidency and the prohibition of the
holding of great assemblages of pilgrims at religious
shrines during the prevalence of cholera. It is not
the case that the salt-tax, lately twice reduced, pro-
voked opposition, for it is no new thing, but was an
important source of revenue under the Moguls. Its
levy therefore is not resented and illicit manufacture
and smuggling have declined, while consumption
has increased, so that the tax evidently does not
press hardly upon the people, though the Deccani
Brahmin and the Bengali Babu naturally say it
does, in order to discredit the British Government,
who get little else by way of revenue from many
millions who profit by its existence.

Among the agricultural population there is as yet
no serious discontent; it is among the town dwellers
and the artisans that the seditious speakers and
writers find support, and only among Hindoos in
the towns. There is, however, and must always be,
a certain solidarity of Indians against Europeans,
which Brahmins can easily divert towards disaffec-
tion, and though they are the natural and intellec-
tual leaders of the people they have now joined
hands with anti-Brahminical societies, such as the
Arya Samaj, which was at the root of the agitation
in the Punjaub. This sect or society accepts the



Vedas as the only and, when rightly interpreted, the
infallible revelation, but rejects all the accretions
and additions to the sacred texts and all the corpus
of rites and ceremonies which now forms the actual
working religion. The Brahmins, once in supreme
power, would, however, make short work of the
innovators and heterodox sects by whose help they
had reached their goal.

It is the fashion to speak of want of sympathy as
one of the causes of the unrest. Sympathy without
sentiment is indeed a great gift, though ill-regulated
sentiment is necessarily either foolish or mischievous,
or deserving of both epithets. It is easy to pre-
scribe the treatment, not so easy to apply it, when
sympathy with one exposes the sympathiser to the
suspicion of another race, caste, class, tribe, sect,
or religion. Rigid impartiality does not make for
effusive sympathy the two things are hardly com-
patible, and the first is essential.

No doubt, however, the rank and file of the Euro-
pean industrial army are often guilty of arrogance,
and generally of ignorance, in their life and conver-
sation among the natives, though, as their numbers
are not large, they may be dismissed as other than
a serious factor in the situation. The planters, on
the other hand, are an important and a wholly bene-
ficial element. Behar, alongside Bengal, and well
in touch with Calcutta, the capital of Babudom and
India, is prosperous, contented, and without a parti-
cle of sympathy with the agitators. This is due in
a great degree to the fact that it is, and has been for



over eighty years, the home of large numbers of
European planters, who are respected and beloved
by those whom they employ, for whom they care,
as it is feared few Indian employers of labour care.
A similar state of things may be observed in other
planting districts, with many of which I am inti-
mately acquainted, and the planter keeps touch
with the people, not with the English-speaking upper
castes and classes, with whom, and not by accident,
the official is almost exclusively associated.

The European planter is a most useful auxiliary
and a most valuable adviser to the administration,
to whom he can impart information by which the
latter can otherwise hardly come. It is difficult
here to avoid reference to the recent judgment of
Mr. Justice Mitra, in regard to the murder of Mr.
Blomfield by a gang of coolies, which has given rise
to natural apprehension amongst the planters of
Behar. To the lay mind it appears that the learned
judge laid it down that a sufficiently large number
of men may, without committing murder, kill a soli-
tary victim, provided no one blow dealt by any one
of the gang was sufficient in itself to cause death. * It
is not surprising that the planters have memorial-
ised the Secretary of State, and, though it is difficult
to see what he can do, the effect of such a judgment
cannot be other than disastrous, and it may be per-
mitted to hope, at any rate, that in no long time it
may as a precedent be superseded by another in
which equity may subsist alongside law.

Such are some of the chief causes which have



enabled disaffected Bengali Babus, with the aid of
a licentious press, to work up anti-British feeling in
Bengal. Upon this or upon any question, however,
it is well to see ourselves as others see us, and a
representative critic is M. Raymond Recouly, the
well-known French publicist. Writing in the Revue
Politique, he admits that the English, wherever they
go, take with them peace, justice, and material
prosperity, born of commercial and industrial devel-
opment, but holds that they do not understand how
it is precisely this material prosperity which gives
rise to new aspirations and desires. In proportion
as people acquire material well-being so do they
exact more liberty. Then, to point the moral, the
writer adds that Lord Curzon was too stiff and
unbending, too full of Csesarism in his external and
internal policy. It is not clear what the writer
would have us do. Should we cease to bring about
material prosperity, or should we regard it, when
created, as an extinguisher of the benevolent power
which gave it birth? and in that event what
becomes of the masses, who have profited by this
regeneration? Are they to be handed over to the
classes, whose sole aptitude is for destructive criti-
cism, and whose wish is to govern the masses in the
stead of the creators of prosperity at whose success
they carp, whose methods they criticise, and whose
success they, for their part, deny?

The so-called partition of Bengal was, of course,
one of the chief causes of the unrest, though it
rather focussed disaffection which had previously



existed among the Bengali Babus, than was itself
the cause of the agitation.

The whole movement originated, to a great extent,
with a small society of the literary, or, as they are
called in Russia, the intelligent classes, who desire
to retain a monopoly of the Government appoint-
ments, which, with the exception of those enjoyed
exclusively by the Imperial Civil Service, they had
hitherto enjoyed in the undivided province of Ben-
gal, and who saw in the partition an attempt to
break Hindoo predominance. The members of this
small society control the native press, by means of
which they established at once a paper boycott, a
paper national fund, a paper national unity, and
a paper home industries association, as a result of
which no English goods were to be imported into
India. Although the latter, commonly called Sva-
deshi, has upon the whole failed, not without, how-
ever, having inflicted great loss and suffering upon
innocent people chiefly Mohammedans it is yet
capable of mischief, for the party which promotes
it now asserts that imported British goods are
tainted like the greased cartridges, that European
salt is purified with blood, and sugar with bones, and
that European piece-goods are sized with the fat
of cows and pigs. Moreover, Svadeshi was merged
into Svaraj, or independence, and denunciation of
British goods eventuated in the condemnation of
British rulers. Unchecked by Government, as for
a long time they were, the agitators next endeav-
oured in vain to undermine the loyalty of the army,



but it gives occasion for thought that this agitation,
which only began in the middle of 1904, has been
spread throughout India, by means of the vernacu-
lar journals, with a success which an electioneering
agency in England might well envy.

Lord Minto, following upon utterances by his
predecessors to the same effect, said in one of his
speeches that a genuine Svadeshi movement would
always have the support of the Government of India.
The word itself means "own country," and it in no
way connotes a boycott of foreign goods, fomen-
tation of labour troubles, and seditious disorder.
Agitators had induced large numbers of people to
make a vow to purchase only home-manufactured
fabrics, but no effort was made in Bengal to initiate
or develop industrial enterprise, in respect of which
this province has been surpassed by most other
provinces. Its jute mills are controlled by Euro-
peans, while the cotton spinning and weaving indus-
tries of Nagpur, Ahmedabad, and Bombay have
been chiefly carried on with Indian capital. It is in
Bombay at present that real efforts are being made
to develop a true Svadeshi policy, and an iron and
steel company with a large capital has recently
been floated there by the sons of the late Mr. Tata,
who founded the Institute of Science at Bangalore.
This new company will be financed by Indians,
managed by Indians, and the iron ore used will be
Indian. Great preparations are being made for the
works, which will be situated on the Bengal-Nagpur
Railway at Sini, and the plant to be erected will



have a minimum capacity for the annual output
of 120,000 tons of pig-iron, two-thirds of which will
be converted into finished steel. The Government
of India is giving this great enterprise very practical

Another great scheme projected is the utilisation
of the rainfall of the Western Ghats for the genera-
tion of electric power to work the cotton mills of Bom-
bay city. These schemes illustrate what Lord Minto
describes as the true Svadeshi movement, and Bengal
will be searched in vain for any proof of the existence
of this spirit.

The policy of Svadeshi has already proved a fail-
ure, the people declining to taboo foreign goods,
which till now are cheaper and better than those
produced in their own country. The policy of Sva-
raj must also fail so long as England has a spark of
spirit left and continues, for India's good, and for
her own, to govern the latter country.

Notwithstanding a judicial pronouncement to the
contrary, the word Svaraj can only mean, and of
course is only intended to mean, independence. The
pretence that it means self-government under the
dominion of another power, impossible where half
the world intervenes and the self-governed are
300,000,000 as against 40,000,000 of the dominion
holders, is altogether too thin. No such form of
government as that indicated has ever been known
to Asiatics, nor is any such form of government
possible. Those who cry out for Svaraj want to be
rid of British administration, and all they would



retain that is British is the protection of the fleet and
army, for which a new generation of Englishmen,
madder than their predecessors, would pay, while
all the appointments and all the power in the pro-
tected continent would fall, not to its inhabitants,
but to one small oligarchy of Brahmins who despise

Intimately connected with Svadeshi is the boycott
movement started in 1905, which has been practi-
cally confined to Bengal and Eastern Bengal, and
in spite of which the imports of cotton goods and
sugar have concurrently grown in volume. There
has been talk of starting Svadeshi cotton mills, and of
other Svadeshi enterprises, but it has had no result.
The agitators never calculated their requirements
in men and money, but they have been vociferous
in speech, and the anniversary of the movement
is held in Calcutta, where Mr. Surendra Nath
Bannerji harangues a crowd composed chiefly of
students and claims great things for his policy.
Meanwhile in Bande Mataram readers were reminded
that the independence of America first found expres-
sion in the boycott of British goods, and that India's
position was similar to that of all subject nations
in the initial stage of their struggle.

Lest there be any mistake as to the attitude of the
boycott towards the produce of Britain, let me quote
the Sanjibani: "Oh, brothers, we will not pollute our
hands by touching English goods. Let English
goods rot in the warehouses and be eaten by white
ants and rats.'* ;



The mention of the Bande Mataram newspaper
suggests a word upon the signification of this now
famous expression, which is translated: "Hail, Moth-
erland!" whenever the object is to give it an inno-
cent and commonplace meaning. The words, however,
mean not: "Hail, Motherland!" but "Hail, Mother!"
"I reverence the mother" that is to say, Mother
Kali, the goddess of death and destruction. The
word mataram is never used in the sense of the mother
country. I have, myself, never come across it with
this signification, neither has Mr. Grierson, who at
any rate is a great authority. The expression, in
fact, is on all fours with the cry: "Victory to Mother
Kali!" which is associated with many scenes of riot
and bloodshed.

It is an appeal to the lower instincts and ideals of
Hindooism in its most demoralising aspects. Students
now shout the cry into the ears of passing white
men far more aggressively than Chinamen exclaim,
or did at any rate twenty years ago: "Fankwei," or
foreign devil, as an European passed them in the

Again consider the origin of the phrase. Bande
Mataram is the rebel national song. It was put by
Babu Bankim Chandra Chatterjee into the mouths
of Hindoo Sanyasis who rebelled against their sov-
ereign lord, the Nawab of Bengal, in the eighteenth
century. The novel "Anandamath" was published
in 1881, and of course, owing to its origin, the phrase
Bande Mataram is peculiarly obnoxious to the Mo-
hammedans. It is now habitually used with the inten-



tion of conveying an insult to them and to the
English, and so kills two birds with the one stone,
while boycott and Svadeshi were both alike intended
to further the anti-partition policy, upon which the
efforts of the agitators in Bengal and Poona were

The case for partition is seldom or never stated,
and the fact is always overlooked that it had already
been decided by Lord Elgin that Bengal was too
large and that division was necessary. ;

The political agitators, who organised and main-
tained the anti-partition movement, and control the
Bengali press, are for the most part journalists and
schoolmasters the latter being very frequently
politicians barristers and pleaders, whose inter-
est it is to concentrate their legal practice in Cal-
cutta, and zemindars with large estates in Eastern
Bengal, who, living by choice in Calcutta, find it

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Online LibraryJ. D. (John David) ReesIndia; the real India (Volume 19) → online text (page 11 of 21)