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the writer of these pages was a member. The
natives of the country were well represented among
the additional members, and a great many of the
Congress guns have been spiked, since the adminis-
tration of the Excise has been improved, the salt-
tax has been largely reduced, the employment of
natives of India increased, and the legislative Coun-
cil reformed in the direction, if not to the extent,
desired, for Lord Cross's Act provided for the annual
discussion of the Indian expenditure in the Viceroy's
Council, for giving members the right to ask ques-
tions, and for the increase in the number of the
members of the Legislative Council.

The moderate wing of the Congress is understood
to favour a gradual development which in the end
will make India an autonomous member of the
British Empire, and Mr. Gokhale is regarded as a



INDIA

member of this branch. Certainly in England his
utterances have been such as are well within the
purview of such a programme. But there are others
who desire to separate from Britain at the earli-
est possible opportunity, and to this end pursue a
persistent campaign of misrepresentation. Of this
school is Mr. Tilak, the extremist nominee for the
Presidentship in 1906, who was convicted some years
ago of attempting to excite disaffection, but it is
only recently that politicians of this type have had
a preponderating influence in what was formerly,
upon the whole, regarded as a moderate and well-
affected association. The Mohammedans, however,
who have good reasons for, and good opportunities
of, being well posted as to its objects and intentions,
have always regarded it with distrust and suspicion.
The partition of Bengal was a godsend to the ex-
tremist section, which, encouraged by the attitude
of certain politicians at home, in and out of
Parliament, made the most of the not unnatural
objections raised by the Babu class to this adminis-
trative measure. Day by day the virulent abuse of
Government gathered volume.

Soon even Babu S. N. Bannerji, whose hatred
and resentment have been sufficiently pronounced,
was surpassed by Babu Bepin Chandra Pal, the edi-
tor, till a prosecution was launched, or part editor,
or proprietor, or part proprietor of New India and
Bande Mataram. The latter paper plainly states
that "our British friends should be distinctly told
that their point of view is not ours, they desire to

226



THE CONGRESS

make the government of India popular without
ceasing in any sense to be essentially British. We
desire to make it autonomous and absolutely free of
British control. We must go to the hamlets."
And they have gone to the hamlets, to debauch the
loyalty of the peasants, and they are endeavouring,
with as small prospect of success, to capture the
Congress caucus, the chief obstacle being the oppo-
sition of the moderate men of means, who supply
the sinews of war, and have no idea of generally
running amok, and losing all that they have in
the resulting disorder. Then the peasants, and the
masses generally, have no sympathy and no concern
with the movement, nor the old-fashioned Hindoos,
nor of course the Mohammedans, who have publicly
recorded their disagreement whenever opportunity
has offered. They have indeed recently started a
Congress of their own, called the All India Moslem
League, as a protest against the assumption by the
Hindoo Congress of the epithets Indian and National.
Among the objects of this league are the promotion
of loyalty to England and of an attitude of
readiness to fight for the British Government.

In the end Mr. Naoroji and not Mr. Tilak was
nominated President for 1906, but the victory really
lay with the extremist party, whose views he ex-
pressed in a speech, asking for self-government
like that of the United Kingdom or the Colonies,
and denouncing the present government of India as
a barbarous despotism unworthy of British instincts,
principles, and civilisation. He further advocated

227



INDIA

the raising of a corps of missionaries to go to the
hamlets and preach this creed under the supervision
of the Congress caucus, which, as has been already
remarked, maintains a branch in England.

The two parties in the Congress are now known
as the Moderates and the Nationalists, the latter
having taken their title from the Irish party, whose
organ, the Freeman's Journal of Dublin, has pub-
lished various articles in favour of an autonomous
India. A nice dispute arose between these two
parties as regards the place at which the meeting for
1907 should be held, and as to the President who
should preside, and finally Surat and Dr. Rash
Behary Ghose were declared the winners. Dr.
Ghose is accounted a Moderate, and no doubt he
may well be so described in comparison with some
of his competitors for the post of President, but it
should be distinctly understood that, though there
may be two factions in the Congress, both of them
are now associated with disloyal propaganda.

Nevertheless the Congress is not sufficiently ex-
treme to satisfy these extremists, for the Amrita
Bazaar Patrika has published a series of articles
entitled, "How to make the Congress useful." In
one of these it is admitted that the association con-
sists merely of English-educated middle-class men
and that to make it really national, zemindars, mer-
chants, and representatives of the cultivators of
the soil should be included within its ranks. The
reason why they keep aloof is well known, for the
Congress only interests itself in political matters, and

228



THE CONGRESS

it is an open secret that zemindars and men of
higher rank, though they may not join it, provide
it with the sinews of war. The Amrita Bazaar
Patrika, however, in an unwonted burst of candour,
asks its readers to remember "that many of our
wants and grievances are of our own making, and
that it is within our power to remove them without
any official or outside help. No nation has ever
been able to regenerate itself by relying on others.
It is impossible for the Indian National Congress to
bring about the salvation of India so long as it does
not teach the people self-reliance. The Congress
to be of any use should teach the people to arrange
for their own education, to cease quarrelling amongst
themselves, to develop their industries and agri-
cultural resources, and to learn the art of self-
government."

It has been mentioned that a schism arose regard-
ing the appointment of a President last year, and
that the extremists wanted Mr. Tilak, whom they
described as a hero and a martyr, because he was
sent to prison ten years ago for good and sufficient
reasons. There are degrees amongst the agitators,
Babu Surendra Nath Bannerji being regarded as
more moderate than Babu Bepin Chandra Pal.
Bannerji is, however, sufficiently hostile, and, though
he is believed to have renounced Hindoo orthodoxy
and prejudices, in his speeches he generally appeals
to them in order to arouse enmity against the Gov-
ernment. It is far too readily assumed that the
railway strike which has lately taken place has not

229



INDIA

been fomented by these agitators, for it is well known
that their emissaries have been exceedingly active
amongst the employees of the East Indian Railway,
and most disgraceful speeches have been made at
important stations on the line.

Mr. Skrine, who compiled a very interesting life
of Sir William Hunter, probably altogether overesti-
mated his hero's influence when he wrote that what-
ever result the Congress achieved was due to the
interest of the latter with the British public. How-
ever that may be, Hunter's support was of that dis-
cerning and moderate character, which the Congress,
now become a society dominated by the anti-British
damned-Barebones school of controversialists never
appreciates. It is more accurate to regard the Con-
gress as one of many results, not as one of the chief
causes, of the unrest in India, to which, however, it
has of late most actively contributed, while, since it
has declared the boycott to be a legitimate weapon,
it has committed itself to open defiance of the law.
At its meeting in 1906 resolutions were sprung and
passed without any real discussion, and votes were
not taken, so that it is impossible to say how far
those present concurred in what are put forward 'as
its deliberate opinions. In 1907 the meeting broke
up after a free fight, and there was not even a pre-
tence of any resolutions. It is, however, highly
improbable that the majority really believe that
representation after the English pattern could or
should be introduced into India, or that compul-
sory education could or should be forced upon a

230



THE CONGRESS

country so utterly unprepared for so advanced a
measure.

As it is of much importance that the facts regard-
ing the Congress should be known, it may be per-
missible to take two exponents of its policy, one in
India and one in England, whereby a fair idea will
be gathered of what this movement really means.

Mr. Subramania Iyer, a capable Brahmin, lectured
at Tanjore not long since, and he is as good an
example of a moderate Congressman, as Congress-
men go, as could well be quoted, having been for
many years editor of one of the best native papers
in India, the Hindu. He spoke of the short, bright
interval of Mahratta rule, when the superiority of
the Hindoo nation was asserted. Now the main
facts regarding this miserable period in the history
of India, when the Mahrattas robbed and plundered
at will, and attempted nothing like peaceable or
orderly administration, will be found in the first
chapter of this little book. His review of the relig-
ion of the country is so little accurate that he
describes temple worship and perpetual widowhood
as practices of Buddhism, and the influence of
Buddhism on Hindooism as bad, which is entirely
contrary to the fact. But "Shadwell sometimes
deviates into sense," and Mr. Subramania Iyer
does point out that prior to British rule there was no
political unity and no political consciousness. He
regards the Queen's proclamation as extorted by
fear, and says the moment the cause for fear
was gone the promised reforms were abandoned.

231



INDIA

Chapters II, III, IV, and V of this work, which are
wholly unargumentative, should supply a sufficient
answer to this charge.

He then declares that not complete severance
from England, but self-government on the Colonial
model, is the object set before himself and his friends,
and he quotes a judgment which, not without reason,
occasioned great surprise, by Mitter and Fletcher,
JJ. of the High Court of Bengal, which he describes
as a golden declaration, and which certainly gave
to Svaraj a meaning contrary to that which the
word obviously owns. "Svaraj then," says the ex-
editor, "is our political ambition, and Svadeshi and
boycott are our weapons. India will not be a sub-
ject nation forever, now we have the support of the
High Court judges."

Now, svaraj simply means self-government sans
phrase, and does not connote dependence. On
another occasion, these discourses being suited to
the audiences, the same speaker said: "What is the
result of a century's rule in India? Destitution,
disease, physical and moral emasculation." Of
course Lord Curzon, who endeavoured to deal with
the difficulty at the root, and to amend the deplo-
rable educational system, comes in for unmitigated
condemnation for "his reactionary designs and his
autocratic manners."

Then take a representative of the Congress in
England, preferably a Member of Parliament, either
Mr. O'Donnell or Sir Henry Cotton, whichever be
the leader of the little company of captains which



THE CONGRESS

represents in the House of Commons views which
are abhorred by all the Europeans in India, civil,
military, and commercial, and receives no support
from any quarter, other than the Congress, the
Babus of Bengal, and the Brahmins of Poona. It
may be convenient to take Sir Henry Cotton in
preference to Mr. O'Donnell for the moment,
because, like myself, regardless of the warning of
Job, he has written a book, in which he says that
"the existence of a Liberal administration compels
the adoption of liberal and sympathetic principles
in dealing with Indian questions on the spot."
Now if there is one thing upon which all sane men
are agreed it is that party politics should not be
introduced into our Indian Empire, the inhabi-
tants of which regard them in the same light as the
Shah, of whom I heard in Persia, who when an effort
was made to explain to him what Whig and Tory
meant in England, summed up the subject by say-
ing : " Why does not the King knock these madmen's
heads together till they do agree?" At any rate it
is needless to say that the slightest suspicion of
party advocacy is forbidden to civil servants, and
any infraction of this rule would very properly
involve their dismissal from the public service.
Indeed continuity of policy has been followed with
rare exceptions, and these relate solely to external
relations. Again, a complete ignorance of what is
common knowledge in India, or an evident desire to
obscure the facts, is exhibited by assertions like
this: "The Babus rule public opinion from Peshawar

233



INDIA

to Chittagong." Now the Babus are the most
unpopular class in India, and no traveller returns
and writes a book without anecdotes which illus-
trate this perfectly notorious fact. It might fairly
be said that the Babus of Bengal and the Brahmins
of Poona are the leaders of the English-educated
anti-British class, but public opinion, thank heaven !
is not yet confined to these classes. What is to
become of the English, who have made such a mess
of the great Indian problem, whose chief success in
the opinion of Sir H. Cotton has been the perma-
nent settlement of Bengal, to protect the cultivating
tenant against the landlord, under which settlement
the British Government has been actively legislating
at frequent intervals ever since the days of Lord
Cornwallis; whose Indian railways have ruined the
carrying trade, just as English railways ruined the
stage-coaches; whose education is only partially
successful because it is not compulsory; whose tea
and indigo industries are bolstered up in some man-
ner of which no one else is aware by public money,
while the estates themselves are watered with the
blood and tears of unwilling slaves, who neverthe-
less cannot be got, at the expiry of their indentures,
to leave their prison, in which they settle for life;
whose census commissioners are such lunatics that
they see in these settlers the salvation of at least
one little province? Surely it would be better that
these bunglers and oppressors, the English, should
as soon as possible leave the country to be governed
by the Babus, and that, it appears, actually is the

234



THE CONGRESS

solution. Sir Henry Cotton positively writes: "It
is the purest folly for us to continue to rule on worn-
out lines only suited to a slave population, and the
principal object of the Indian Government should be
to apply itself to the peaceful reconstruction of a
native administration in its place. The withdrawal
of the military support would not be injurious to
Anglo-Indians, but would constrain them to adopt
a more conciliatory demeanour towards the people
of the country. England could withdraw her own
standing army, and secure treaty rights for India
from the European powers." This she would no
doubt do after the abolition of the army and the navy,
and with this climax of preposterous politics, quota-
tion from " New India " may end. It will indeed be
a new India when these principles are adopted, and
yet it is curious to see how, even in a work like this,
a residuum of common-sense clings to a man who
has gone through what in most cases proves to be a
highly educative experience. It is doubtful whether
the Labour benches will altogether agree with Sir
Henry Cotton when he writes that "the basis of
internal order in India is a patrician aristocracy
of indigenous growth trained to control and lead
the lower orders." Now such aristocracy would of
course govern India, if they had the chance, accord-
ing to Indian ideas, as the Congress party says; and
what are Indian ideas? The rule of caste, wealth,
birth, and strength, and of forced labour, which is
not exactly the theory which finds favour with those
who have been induced to support this propaganda

235



INDIA

in England. Again, what will the allies of the little
Congress party in Parliament say to this: "The
maintenance of an hereditary landholding class is
the corner-stone of internal political reconstruction.
The lower orders stand in urgent need of an aris-
tocracy above them. The prosperity of every coun-
try requires that there should exist within it, not
only a proletariat, the great body of the people who
devote themselves to labour, but also a class of
capitalists who provide funds which enable labour
to become productive. It is only under the fertil-
ising influence of capital that labour is productive"?
This is not quite the note of the ^speeches* which
are delivered on this subject by socialists. Nor do
they recognise that birth as well as election and
nomination is a principle of selection. Mr. Ramsay
Macdonald, the whip of the Labour party, commits
himself to the plain statement that capital is the
enemy. In short, Sir Henry Cotton can no more
than other people run with the hare and hunt with
the hounds, and it is impossible to condemn your
fellow-countrymen, root and branch, and throw in
your lot with hostile and unreasonable critics of your
class and calling, and at the same time to obtain
credit for retaining some saving sense of sanity upon
side issues of the alphabet of economical and politi-
cal questions. It is of course very difficult to sat-
isfy democrats and socialists in England and an
aristocratic oligarchy of Brahmins and landlords in
India, and although the latter seems able to per-
suade the former that all will be right, if they can

236



THE CONGRESS

oust us, as the Peshwas ousted their masters, and
ruled in their stead, yet an ex-official turned anti-
official writing on this subject obviously occupies
so difficult a position as to be entitled to com-
miseration.

Another ex-Indian civilian and ex-Member of
Parliament, Sir William Wedderburn, lately pub-
licly stated that the Indian people complained that
the masses are in extreme destitution, and that it is
owing to the effects of a disastrous administration
that the country is scourged by disease and famine.
It is a sufficient answer to this that, upon the agi-
tators' own showing, the people of India have no
means of making known their feelings; that no such
opinions as these are expressed by their hereditary
leaders, and that the people repudiate as their rep-
resentative the English-educated Babu class, which
is practically denationalised, and merely joined for
the present with the members of the Brahmin caste
because they can, when thus reinforced, more easily
harry and harass the administration.

It is of course extremely mischievous that ex-offi-
cials should become anti-officials, and lecture about
the country that independent opinion is unanimous,
that the people think this and think that, and it is
worse than mischievous that they should asperse an
active and able administration by attributing to its
action calamities which it does all that humanity
can do to alleviate. Nor is it easy to refrain from
noticing that ex-officials who have spent their lives
as concurring, and presumably willing instruments of

237



INDIA

Government, and who no sooner leave its service
than they state that contact between Europeans and
Asiatics is prejudicial to the latter race, have to
explain why in their own careers they failed so
conspicuously to practise what so incessantly and
insistently they preach. Hostile though it is to Gov-
ernment, the Congress at first welcomed Lord Cur-
zon, and flattered him profusely, but they roundly
denounced him when he declined to be led, and
refused to receive the President of one year who
wished to lay the resolution of the Congress officially
before him. It might, however, lead to the grossest
misunderstanding in India if the head of the Govern-
ment received officially a member of a body which
claims to represent 300,000,000 of people, of whom
probably 99J per cent, have never even heard of its
existence. Nor would the Viceroy be carrying out his
elementary duty if he encouraged anything which
admitted the false and fatal principle of party poli-
tics into Indian administration.

Partition gave an opportunity to the Congress
party of exhibiting their strength, and, success-
ful as they have been in making demonstrations,
their success would have been even greater had
they not combined with this agitation the policy
of Svadeshi, which their sympathisers outside Ben-
gal have shown little inclination to accept, and of
boycott, which has altogether failed from the com-
mencement.

The meeting of 1907 proved altogether abortive
and broke up in confusion, but even then some craft

238



THE CONGRESS

and subtlety was displayed by the leaders in claim-
ing that the Moderates were overwhelmed by the
Extremists, the fact being that both wings are
hostile to British rule in India.



239



CHAPTER X

SOCIAL REFORM

THE movement in favour of social reform in
India has been overwhelmed by political
agitation, which alone has of late engaged
the energies of the English-educated classes. Indeed
the agitators have realised the absolute necesssity
of adopting the conservative attitude which is that
of the masses. Ten years ago all those who are
now clamouring against British rule in India were
eagerly attacking customs which are woven into the
very framework of Indian society, and at that time
a great deal was heard about the necessity for edu-
cating women. Even then, in South India at any
rate, where female education is most advanced, the
prejudice against sending girls to public schools was
somewhat wearing away, partly owing to the parents
having become wise enough to see that there is no
greater impropriety in girls going to school than
boys, and partly because of the substitution, wher-
ever practicable, of female for male teaching agency.
There is no doubt that among Hindoos generally
the impression prevails that education is likely to
lead women to wrong-doing, and however much the
Government, philanthropic and missionary bodies,

240



SOCIAL REFORM

and wealthy and generous individuals may do to
advance this cause, the real spadework must be
accomplished, and the greater part of the cost must
be borne, by the people themselves, who have the
cause at heart. As the eminent Indian education-
alist, Mr. Raganatha Mudaliar, said of persons of
his own position and education, "We feel it to be a
grievous sin to marry our infant daughters, but even
if we could summon up sufficient courage to set at
naught the Shastraic prohibition, we succumb to the
weeping entreaties and expostulations of our wives.
There is a general consensus of opinion amongst edu-
cated men in India that widows should be allowed
to remarry, but such remarriage on a large scale will
be possible only when women learn to assert their
rights against perpetual widowhood. We would
allow the members of each division of a caste"
only that, be it noted, not the members of different
castes "to intermarry, but there is no hope of this
reform, small as it is, being carried into effect unless
our women rise to something like the intelligent
level we have ourselves attained." Such was the
feeling in Madras, the province most advanced in
respect of social reform, and most backward in
accepting the Congress political programme.

The subject of social reform is necessarily vague,
comprehensive, and ill defined. The Indian masses,
it has never been denied, are fulfilled with the con-
viction that the social customs and institutions which
have so long stood the test of time possess peculiar
merit, and are superlatively well adapted to their

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INDIA

own requirements. The masses in this behalf include
all Hindoos who are not, and, off the platform,
a great many of those who are, English-educated.
The people are passionately attached to the simple
faith and primitive ways of their forefathers; they
are prepared to take what a Brahmin says as gospel,
and the women, who are the most conservative half
of the population, exercise the strongest possible
influence over the men, though the true position in


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Online LibraryJ. D. (John David) ReesIndia; the real India (Volume 19) → online text (page 15 of 21)