Lawrence John Lumley Dundas Zetland.

An Eastern miscellany online

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business arrangement drawn up between two
Powers, and holding the views I do after ten
years' study of these frontier questions, am bound
to criticise somewhat severely particular items in
the Agreement. I sincerely hope, nevertheless,
that the aspirations which his Majesty's Govern-
ment hold with regard to promoting a better state
of feeling, of which this may be the forerunner,
between the two great countries may see fulfil-
ment, in spite of the forebodings which I and
others who have studied the question on the
spot cannot help but feel when we criticise
particular details of the Agreement.




(^4 Speech at the Annual General Meeting of the Central Asian

Society, 1909.)

It is usual for the Chairman to take the oppor-
tunity provided by the annual meeting of the
Society to make a few observations as to the
work and aims of the Association. You will
remember that when we first were constituted
as a Society most of the problems its members
were called upon to consider owed their existence
to the " forward policy " of a great Western
Power — Kussia. For a century the shadow of
her advance had been creeping forward, stealing
across the vast spaces of Central Asia, envelop-
ing kingdoms, principalities, cities, in its sombre
embrace. At one time or another Khiva, Bokhara,
Samarkand, Tashkend, Merve were blotted out
of the map as separate and independent organ-
isms, and converted into stepping-stones for
further advance towards the glacis of India.


Cantonments were laid out, roads and railways
were built, an unceasing activity — the source
of constant anxiety to the statesmen of this
country — was in progress throughout Central
Asia, until the head of the Russian advance bit
like the head of some vast wedge into the very
frontier of Afghanistan itself. On either flank
of this convenient centre such operations were
pushed forward as seemed best calculated to
heighten the prestige of Kussia at the expense
of Great Britain. In Persia political ends were
advanced under the convenient cover of com-
mercial and financial operations, while in Tibet
intrigues calculated to seriously lower the prestige
of this country, if not to create active disturb-
ance on the Indian frontier, were embarked upon.
In short, Russia, with her vast ambitions and
her unarrested advance, stood with drawn sword
in dangerous proximity to the Indian frontier,
and the energies and resource of British states-
manship were concentrated in an endeavour
to preserve such buffer States as remained —
Persia, Afghanistan, and Tibet — from a clearly
threatened extinction. Such a position provided
ample material for useful study and research,
and much expert knowledge of the problems
arising therefrom was collected and made public
through the medium of our Society. I believe
that in the papers and information we were


able to lay before the public at that time we
very well justified our existence.

Ladies and gentlemen, I need hardly remind
you that since we first became a Society great
changes have taken place in the Eastern situa-
tion. Our relations with Russia are far happier
than was the case a few years ago ; the prospect
of collision between the two Powers is, for the
time being at any rate, in abeyance. But
problems of far greater significance to the world
as a whole, and to Great Britain in particular,
are arising, which merit the most earnest
thought and study on the part of members of
our Society. I refer to the problems presented
by the growing desire for self-assertion which
is stirring the pulses of the Eastern races them-
selves. I do not mean to say that we should
ignore the presence of European rivals in the
Asiatic field. On the contrary, I think we
require unceasing watchfulness to maintain our
position in the East against the friendly rivalry
of other European Powers. If I may give you
an example, only a few days ago Germany, by
a skilful coup, elbowed her way into the Yangtse
Valley, through the agency of a railway con-
cession. There are railways awaiting building
in other parts of Asia besides the Yangtse
Valley — in the neighbourhood of the Tigris and
Euphrates Bivers, for instance — and I suggest


to the members of this Society that the many
problems provided by possible railway concessioDS
in different parts of Asia will be well worthy of
their attention in the not very far distant future.

But above all, I wash to urge upon you once
again — for I have touched upon this matter
before — the immense vista of difficulty and
possibly of danger opened up by the newly
awakened ambitions and aspirations of the
Eastern races themselves. What may be the
final outcome of the collision between the cold,
unimaginative, practical thought of the Western
races and the devout and contemplative mind
of the East it is impossible to foretell. This,
however, is certain — that contact with Western
thought and Western ideals has exercised a
revivifying influence upon all the races of the
East. Those that have come into sharpest con-
tact with it have exhibited most markedly its
effects. Japan, China, Turkey have shown, or
are showing, in greater or less degree, not only
the desire, but the ability, to assimilate some-
thing at least of Western ways and Western
ideals. Even Persia, less open, perhaps, than
the countries I have named to Western influences,
by reason of her geographical position, is under-
going a strange metamorphosis, a phenomenon
which in itself should prove of sufficient interest
and importance to rivet the attention of the


members of this Society. And when we come
to Afghanistan we may at least say this, that
it has exhibited a vitality as to which serious
doubts mio^ht well have been entertained less


than a quarter of a century ago. The pathetic
plaint of the late ruler of that country must
surely still ring in the ears of those who know,
and delight in, Sir Alfred Lyall's ' Verses written
in India ' : —

"The kingdoms of Islam are crumbling,
And round me a voice ever rings
Of death and the doom of my country —
Shall I be the last of its kings ?"

Those who have closely observed the vigour,
and at the same time the restraint, with which
the Mohammedan community in India have
pressed their claims in connection with Lord
Morley's reform scheme must realise that there
is an immense force latent in the world of
Islam, which, when it is attuned — as it is now
being attuned — to modern conditions, may
have an incalculable influence on the destinies
of Asia, and, I need hardly say, on the destinies
of this country as the first European Power in
Asia. (Hear, hear.) I will not expatiate further
upon these questions. I venture to hope that
in this brief review I have said enough to show
that if ever there was justification for the


existence of the Central Asian Society, there
is justification for it now. As Chairman for the
time being, I look forward with confidence to
the career of undiminished usefulness which I
am convinced lies before us as a Society. (Hear,
hear. )




Any one seeking to understand the problems with
which British statesmanship is confronted in India
is foredoomed to failure unless he first learns to
think of India not as a country but as a con-
tinent, and of the Indian people not as a nation
but as a vast and complex mosaic of peoples,
differing from one another as widely as do the
countries in which they dwell. To think of India
as one would think of Great Britain or of France
is to think of a purely imaginary India which
has no existence in fact ; if an analogy from
Europe may be drawn at all, it is to be found
in Europe itself, and not in any one of its
component parts. The reason is simple. The
elements necessary for the creation of a homo-
geneous nation^ — common language, common faith,
common institutions — have never been found in
India. Successive waves of invasion through
centuries of time have left upon her soil frag-


ments of many of the races of mankind, widely
differing in speech, in religion, in custom, and
in tradition — races which have never fused but
remain to this day peoples apart. The Hindu
peoples, vanquished and broken up by the incom-
ing Mohammedans, nevertheless continued to cir-
cumscribe their religious and social condition by
a vigorous caste system ; the Mohammedan con-
querors retained unaltered the language and
customs and habits of thought which they
brought with them from the lands of their
birth. No internal power has ever proved cap-
able of giving cohesion to the unstable congeries
of hostile and warring entities which has been
thus evolved, and it has only been with the
advent of a strong ruling power from without
that internal strife has gradually given place to
peace and chaos to order.

With a handful of British civilians, and an
army of 76,000 European and 159,000 Indian
troops, Great Britain governs and secures against
invasion a population of 231,000,000 people, scat-
tered over 983,000 square miles of territory, while
she also maintains close relations with the great
ruling chiefs of feudatory states, whose joint pop-
ulation amounts to 63,000,000, and whose area
totals 656,000 square miles. And above all, she
has given to India the inestimable blessing of
internal peace. "For a longer period than ever


was known in your land before," runs a signi-
ficant sentence in the proclamation of King
Edward YIL of November 1908, "you have
escaped the dire calamities of war within your
borders. Internal peace has been unbroken."

The Government of India.

British Empire in India grew steadily and in
spite of British Cabinets at home, and a system
of government had to be extemporised, altered,
enlarged, improved, to meet the requirements of
the rapid progress of events. In the early days
of the East India Company the affairs of each
settlement — Bengal, Madras, Bombay — were ad-
ministered by a President and Council, the respec-
tive districts being termed Presidencies. In 1773
Parliament had enacted a law providing for the
government of Bengal by a Governor - General
and Council of four, the decision of the majority
of the Council being final. The impossibility of
government on these lines was made clear by
the notorious dissensions between Francis and
Warren Hastings, and in 1786 the Governor-
General was given the power of overriding the
decisions of his Council. In 1793 the governors
of Madras and Bombay were accorded a similar
power ; the governors of those presidencies were



conceded the right of making their own laws
and regulations, and the supreme authority of
the Governor-General in Council over the whole
of India was distinctly declared.

As time went on the tendency towards the
creation of a supreme central Government for
Imperial requirements and of Provincial Govern-
ments to meet the necessities of local administration
increased. In 1833 the Governor - General in
Council of Bengal became the Governor- General
of India. The Bengal Presidency was divided
into Bengal and the " North-West Provinces,"
the former remaining under the Governor-General
of India officiating as Governor, and the latter
being given into the charge of a Lieutenant-
Governor without a Council. In 1853 the Gov-
ernor-General of India was relieved of that part
of his dual duty represented by the Governor-
ship of Bengal, and that province was placed
under the charge of a Lieutenant-Governor with-
out a Council.

In 1858, the year following the Mutiny, the
Government of India was transferred from the
Company to the Crown, all the powers of the
Company and of the " Board of Control " being
transferred to a Secretary of State in concert
in certain cases with a Council. The system
of Government in India itself remained un-
changed. In 1861 the India Councils Act was


passed, and upon this Act is based the system
of government which has obtained in India up
to the passing of the India Councils Act of

By the Act of 1861 the power of appointing
the Governor-General of India and the ordinary
members of his Council is vested in the Crown.
Under the same Act the Governor-General is
given the power of making rules and orders for
the more convenient transaction of business in
his Council. Thus empowered, Lord Canning,
who was Governor- General at the time, trans-
formed his Council into a Cabinet, each member
being placed in charge of a department. The
above Council is known as the Executive Council.

In addition to the Executive Council there is
a Legislative Council, consisting of the Executive
Council with certain additional nominated mem-
bers. By the Act of 1861 the Governor-General
was empowered to nominate a maximum of twelve
additional members, at least six of whom must
be non-official.

In 1892 a step was made towards more
representative government by the Act of that
year. Under its provisions the number of ad-
ditional members of the Viceroy's Council was
fixed at not less than ten and not more than
sixteen. Under the rules drawn up for carrying
out the provisions of the Act the following pro-


cedure was adopted : ten additional members to be
non-official ; six additional members to be official,
— the official members to be appointed by the
Governor-General. Of the non-official members,
five to be appointed by the Governor-General,
four by the Governor-General on the recommen-
dation of the majority of the non-official addi-
tional members of the Provincial Legislative
Councils — Madras, Bombay, Bengal, and the
United Provinces (North - West Provinces) —
and one on the recommendation of the Calcutta
Chamber of Commerce. This Constitution re-
mained in force up to the passing of the Act
of 1909.

Under the same rules the members of the
Legislative Council were given the opportunity,
not hitherto enjoyed, of criticising the financial
policy of the Government, the annual Financial
Statement having to be made publicly in the
Council. Provision was also made for questions
under conditions similar to those obtaining in
the House of Commons. By the Act of 1892
similar changes were made in the Councils of
Madras and Bombay. Twenty additional members
were appointed in each case by the Governor,
at least eleven of whom must be non-official.
Discussion of the annual Financial Statement
was provided for, and also the asking of ques-
tions. All laws passed by the Provincial Legis-
lative Councils require the sanction of the


Governor-General, and may be disallowed by the

The other Provinces under Lieutenant-Gover-
nors have no Executive Councils ; ^ but the
Governor-General in Council has the power to
establish Legislative Councils in all such Pro-
vinces. This has now been done in every case
— in Bengal in 1862, in the United Provinces
in 1886, in the Punjab and Burmah in 1897. A
new Lieutenant - Governorship was created by
the partition of Bengal, and a Legislative Council
was established in the new Provinces called
Eastern Beng'al and Assam in 1905.

The minor Provinces have no Legislative Coun-
cils and are under officials known as Chief Com-
missioners — i.e., the Central Provinces, the Anda-
mans, Coorg, Ajmeer, the North- West frontier
Province (created in 1901), and British Baluchi-
stan. British India is thus divided into thirteen
local Governments of varying rank and import-
ance ; two Presidencies — Madras and Bombay ;
five Lieutenant - Governorships — Bengal, the
United Provinces, Eastern Bengal and Assam,
the Punjab, and Burmah ; and six Chief Com-
missionerships. It may be added that changes
have taken place from time to time in the com-
position of the Viceroy's Executive Council, which

1 By the India Councils Act, 1909, power is given to create an
Executive Council in Bengal, and such a Council was created by
proclamation of the Governor - General in Council on November
18th, 1910.


is now composed as follows : (l) The Minister
of Foreign Affairs (the Governor-General) ; (2)
The Minister of the Home Department ; (3) The
Minister for Revenue and Agriculture and Public
Works ; (4) The Minister for the Legislative
Department ; (5) The Minister for the Financial
Department ; (6) The Minister for the Depart-
ment of Commerce and Industry ; and (7) The
Minister for Education.^

The Home Government.

As has already been said, when the Govern-
ment of India was transferred to the Crown the
powers of the East India Company and of the
" Board of Control " were vested in a Secretary
of State, at whose disposal was placed a consul-
tative body known as the Council of India, con-
sisting of fifteen members all experienced in
Indian affairs. In 1889 an Act was passed em-
powering the Secretary of State to reduce the
number of his Council to ten by abstaining from
filling vacancies, and it was enacted that the
majority of the Council must have resided in
India for at least ten years and have left that
country not more than ten years on their appoint-

^ August 1910. The creation of a department for education
was officially announced in July.


By the India Council Act of 1907 the number
of the Council was raised from twelve, at which
it then stood, to fourteen, and the salaries of
the members reduced from £1200 to £1000.
More noteworthy than the change in number was
the nature of the two new appointments. For
the first time two natives of India — a Hindu,
Mr Krishna Gobinda Gupta, C.S.I. , and a Moham-
medan, Mr Syed Hussein Bilgrami, C.S.I.^ — were
appointed, though no new Act was necessary on
this ground. Other changes brought about by
the Act were the reduction of the period of
absence from India before appointment from ten
to five years, and the reduction of the term of
office from ten to seven years.

The Council of India is in the main a consul-
tative body ; but it also possesses some powers.
By the Act of 1858 it was laid down that the
expenditure of the revenues of India should be
subject to the control of the Secretary of State in
Council. This, however, only applies to the ordin-
ary business of the administration. All matters
requiring secrecy may be disposed of by the
Secretary of State alone — matters relating to
Foreign Powers, the making of peace or war,
&c., — and despatches from India on similar
matters marked "secret" are not communicated

^ Since resigned. Mr Mirza Abbas Ali Baig appointed in his
place, June 4, 1910.


to the members of the Council unless tlie
Secretary of State so directs. Generally speak-
ing, all ordinary business passes through the
Council, and though the Secretary of State can
decide against his Council except in the matter
of expenditure of Indian revenues, every order
proposed to be made by him must either be
submitted to a meeting of the Council or be
placed in the Council room for seven days,
unless the matter is one of extreme urgency.

The Reform Scheme of 1909.

As has been stated, the India Council's Act of
1892 was designed to give Indians a greater
share in the government of the country than
they had hitherto possessed. Though the Indian
element which was thereby introduced into the
legislative councils was not large, and the power
thus acquired by Indians for influencing legis-
lation limited, the Act marked a new stage in
the advancement of India. And it was only to
be expected that with the continued spread of
education of a Western type and the expansion
of the Eastern mind induced by a variety of
causes,^ the progress of events should demand
a further advance along the lines laid down

1 See Chapter XII.


by Lord Lansdowue's Government in 1892. Nor
was the twentieth century many years old before
it became evident that the demand was about
to be made. Lord Minto, who had gone out to
India as Viceroy in the autumn of 1905, soon
realised that among the many and complex ele-
ments which went to swell the volume of unrest,
so soon to provide the supreme problem for
British statesmanship in India, was a not un-
natural discontent among the educated classes
with the restricted opportunities afforded them
for taking that share in the government of the
country to which they considered themselves en-
titled. It was fully understood that there was
a growing section of the educated community
which harboured desires which were wholly
inimical to the continuance of British rule, and
it was realised from the outset that any hope
that . the extension of political privileges would
meet the case of these men was foredoomed to
disappointment. But it was held that the ex-
cesses of the extremists ought not to be allowed
to stand in the way of the fulfilment of the
legitimate aspirations of moderate men, and with
a courage which calls for the highest admiration.
Lord Minto's Government set to work on the
onerous and immensely difficult task of devising
a scheme of reform to meet the claims of the
Constitutionalists, while at the same time con-


triving measures to deal with and defeat the
threatening situation arising out of the seditious
agitation engineered by the disloyal.

With this end in view a circular embodying
the views of the Government of India upon
possible reforms in the system of government,
and asking for comments and criticisms thereon,
was issued to the local Governments and Admin-
istrations in August 1907. The proposals con-
tained therein were duly reported on by the
local Governments, and on October 1, 1908, the
Government of India submitted their revised
programme to the Secretary of State. The pro-
posals made were briefly as follows : —

(1) The creation of a Council of Chiefs as

an Imperial Advisory Council to the
Government of India.

(2) The enlargement of the Imperial and

Provincial Legislative Councils.

(3) The provision of more ample facilities for

the discussion of the Imperial and Pro-
vincial budgets.

(4) The extension of the right to ask ques-

tions to the members of all Provincial

(5) The accordance of a statutory right to

the members of Legislative Councils
to move resolutions on subjects of
public importance, subject to certain


checks ; such resolutions to have as
much, but no more force than resolu-
tions moved by private members in
the House of Commons.
The scheme embodied in these proposals was
a moderate one which aimed at incorporating in
the government of the country " the landed
aristocracy of India, the mercantile and indus-
trial classes, and the great body of moderate
men who, under existing conditions, have no
sufficient inducement to enter political life and
find but little scope for the exercise of their
legitimate influence." ^

It was, perhaps, inevitable that in the eyes of
a man like Lord Morley, with no personal experi-
ence of Eastern conditions to counteract an in-
grained bias towards the ideals of Western
democracy, and with a natural inclination, con-
sequently, to give too large a perspective to the
views and ambitions of the Indian Congress
party, the scheme of the Government of India
should suffer from an undue Conservatism. There
was much in the scheme that might be improved,
he thought, by the application of a little radical
embrocation. The official majorities on the Pro-
vincial Legislative Councils which the Govern-
ment of India proposed retaining, and to the
retention of which they attached supreme import-

* Circular issued by the Government of India, August 24, 1907.


ance, should be swept away ; the elective system,
which is wholly alien to Indian ideals and Indian
tradition, should be widely extended by means of
a scheme of electoral colleges ; the right of asking
supplementary questions should be — quite gratui-
tously — granted to members of the Legislative
Councils ; power should be taken to create Ex-
ecutive Councils in place of existing Lieutenant-
Governorships ; and finally, Indians should be given
seats on such Councils, and an Indian should be
admitted to the Cabinet itself^

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Online LibraryLawrence John Lumley Dundas ZetlandAn Eastern miscellany → online text (page 11 of 24)