Lawrence John Lumley Dundas Zetland.

An Eastern miscellany online

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us say. Nonconformist and Roman Catholic ; it
is, as Mr Asquith very properly stated in the
House of Commons, " not merely religious, but
it cuts deep down not only into the traditions of
an historic past, but into the habits and social
customs of the people " ; and it was because the
Mohammedans felt that nothing short of separate
election could secure to them the genuine repre-
sentation of their interests, to which they felt that
they were entitled, that they attached so much
importance to their request.

Lord Minto, as has already been said, expressed
his entire agreement with the Mohammedans in
their two demands regarding representation as
far back as October 1906, and gave them clearly
to understand that they need have no further
apprehension with regard to them. One would
have imagined, therefore, that the question was
closed, and that in this matter at least the Govern-
ment had forestalled controversy by the public


announcement of a clear and irrevocable decision.
Yet it is precisely over this very question that
they made the most portentous muddle, and it
was round this very point that controversy was
allowed to rage most fiercely. The folly of the
Government in inviting controversy by the adop-
tion of a vacillating attitude, and their still greater
folly in shaking the faith of the Mohammedans
in the inviolability of their word, can best be
illustrated by a simple review in chronological
order of their successive pledges and recanta-

Pledge, October 1, 1906. — In replying to the
deputation of Mohammedans already referred to.
Lord Minto said : —

" The pith of your address, as I understand
it, is a claim that in any system of represen-
tation, whether it affects a municipality, a
district board, or a legislative council, in
which it is proposed to introduce or increase
an electoral organisation, the Mohammedan
community should be represented as a com-
munity, and you justly claim that your posi-
tion should be estimated not merely on your
numerical strength, but in respect to the
political importance of your community and
the service it has rendered to the Empire. I
am entirely in accord with you.'^
Recantation, November 27, 1 908. — Lord Morley


suggests to the Government of India a plan of
mixed electoral Colleges on a strictly numerical

Pledge, February 3, 1909. — On the second
reading of the India Councils Bill in the House
of Lords, Lord Morley said : —

" The Mohammedans demand three things.
I had the pleasure of receiving a deputation
from them, and I know very well what is in
their minds. They demand the election of
their own representatives to these councils
in all the stages, just as in Cyprus, where,
I think, the Mohammedans vote by them-
selves. . . . Secondly, they want a number
of seats in excess of their numerical strength.
These two demands ive are quite ready and
intend to m,eet in full."
Recantation, April 19, 1909. — Mr Hobhouse,
speaking for the Government, reads a telegram
from the Viceroy as follows : —

" The method [of election] proposed is simply
that in general electorates, such as municipali-
ties, district boards, and provincial councils,
all sects and classes, including Mohammedans,
will vote together."
Pledge, April 26, 1909. — Mr Hobhouse, speak-
ing for the Government, explains that the above
telegram has been misunderstood, and after promis-
ing that every endeavour will be made to remove


any obstacles that may be found to lie In the way
of the fulfilment of the Government's pledges,
asserts that —

" Wherever elections are found to be pos-
sible they will be conducted on the basis of
separate representation for the Mohammedan
Recantation, May 4, 1909. — Lord Morley, In
replying to Lord Curzon in the House of Lords,
reads a telegram from the Viceroy as follows : —
"I do not understand any Mohammedan
here to claim concession suggested by Hob-
house — namely, that wherever elections are
found possible they should be conducted on
the basis of separate representation of the
Mohammedan community. If interpreted
literally, that would involve separate Moham-
medan electorates within the various elector-
ates proposed. . . . This is manifestly im-
practicable, and has never been suggested."

Truly an astonishing record. Besides being a
recantation of the pledges given, this telegram is
quite incomprehensible, since the Mohammedans
have never ceased demanding what the Viceroy
here declares has never been suggested — namely,
" separate Mohammedan electorates within the
various electorates proposed." The bewilderment
created in the mind of the ordinary man by this



series of official utterances was probably surpassed
by the effect produced in the minds of the Moham-
medans themselves, and it is impossible not to
sympathise with the pathetic plaint which runs
through the following letter addressed by the
Rajah of Mahamudabad, a Mohammedan of great
position and influence, and a member of the
Viceroy's Legislative Council, to the Viceroy : —

" Your Excellency, from this plethora of
statements I confess I emerge with my mind
somewhat confused. It is difficult in this
winding labyrinth to discover the pathway
which leads to understanding, and I can
safely state that the general state of feeling
amongst the Mohammedans at the present
time in regard to the question of their rights
and privileges under the Reform Scheme, but
especially in regard to the matter of a sep-
arate electorate, is one of utter confusion.
They fear, however, that a great wrong is
about to be inflicted upon them ; that they
are to be treated with an injustice wholly
undeserved by them, and they are deeply
disappointed. They are not politicians ; they
do not understand the language of diplom-
acy ; they are a patient, loyal. God-fearing
people, who have trusted in a solemn pledge
given to them by their rulers, and who


ask for a sign that that pledge is about to

be fulfilled."
On May the 25th, 1909, the India Councils Bill
received the Royal assent and became the " India
Councils Act, 1909," thus passing beyond the pale
of Parliamentary criticism. Fortunately the Act
itself was little more than a skeleton to be clothed
later with flesh and blood in the shape of " Hules
and Regulations." Fortunately, too, the drawing
up of the "Rules and Regulations" was left to
the discretion of the Local and Imperial Govern-
ments in India, with the result that the end
originally aimed at by the Government of India —
namely, the incorporation in the government of
the country of the " landed aristocracy, the mer-
cantile and industrial classes, and the great body
of moderate men," appears, so far as can at
present be judged, likely to be achieved. The
apprehensions of the Mohammedans have been
to a great extent dissipated, and they have gladly
testified that " the arrangements finally made,
though they may not fulfil the desires of different
sections, ensure to the educated classes sub-
stantial participation in the administration and
legislation of the country." ^ At the same time,
the hope is still cherished that the promise which
they believed to have been made to them, that

1 Annual Report of the London Branch of the AU-Izidia Moslem
League, 1910.


they should be granted a separate register in
elections to all public bodies, may yet be fulfilled.
Representations have again been made to the
authorities, pointing out that "the application of
the communal system of election to the munici-
palities and district boards is essential if cohesion
and symmetry are to be given to the beneficent
reforms with which the names of Lord Morley
and Lord Minto will ever be greatly associated
in the Indian mind. The composition of the dis-
trict and municipal bodies helps to determine the
elections to the Legislatures, and hence the adop-
tion of the principle in the case of these local
bodies is a necessary corollary of its application
to the councils."^ And finally, a salutary douche
of cold water has been administered by the Vice-
roy to those ardent politicians who cherished the
hope that out of the clash of conflicting opinions
which resounded over the fashioning of the India
Councils Act, 1909, might be evolved something
in the nature of Parliamentary government for
India. " We have distinctly maintained," he
declared in the course of his speech at the open-
ing of the New Imperial Legislative Council on
January 25, 1910, "that representative govern-
ment in its Western sense is totally inapplicable
to the Indian Empire, and would be uncongenial

^ Annual Report of the London Branch of the All-India Moslem
League, 1910.


to the traditions of Eastern peoples — that Indian
conditions do not admit of popular representation
— that the safety and welfare of this country
must depend on the supremacy of British adminis-
tration — and that that supremacy can, in no cir-
cumstances, be delegated to any kind of repre-
sentative Assembly.

" We have aimed at the reform and enlarge-
ment of our councils, but not at the creation of
Parliaments. I emphasise what I have just said
in view of the opinions to which advanced Indian
politicians appear not infrequently to commit




In the course of an admirable speech on India
in the House of Commons on July 26 last
(1910), Mr Montagu, while fully admitting the
gravity of the movement against British rule
on the part of certain sections of the population,
expressed the opinion that "within the last six
months there had been a considerable revulsion
in our favour." This confession of faith was
made deliberately and with transparent sincerity,
and that it was well founded must be the
earnest hope of all ; yet it must be admitted
that it would have carried greater conviction
had it not been so frequently demonstrated that
the official mind is habitually pervaded by an
optimism which cannot be justified by the facts.
The audacious murder of Inspector Shams -ul-
Alam within the precincts of the High Court
itself early in 1910 occurred within a week of
the issue at Calcutta of encouraging assurances


to the effect that " the general situation was re-
garded as better than it had been for some time."
While Lord Minto's assertion in January (1910),
that he " believed the situation to be better than
it was five years ago," was made on the very eve
of the introduction of the most drastic Press act
which modern India has known — a fact which in
itself provides a somewhat curious commentary
upon the hopeful optimism of the Viceroy's
belief One would scarcely be entitled to ex-
press surprise were some captious critic to ask,
If the improved situation demanded the Press
act of 1910, what sort of a Press act ought
to have been passed five years before ?

It is obviously a matter of no ordinary diffi-
culty to gauge correctly the precise state of
ferment in which a complex society like that
with which we have to deal in India may be
at any given moment ; but even assuming that
" the situation is better than it was five years
ago," and that there has been " a considerable
revulsion in our favour within the last six
months," we are still constrained to admit that,
judged merely by appearances, the general state
of the body politic gives little enough cause
for premature rejoicing. Consider some of the
more notorious of the doings of the forces of
disorder during the last eighteen months alone.

In November 1909 a bomb was thrown at


the Viceroy at Ahmedabad, and the perpe-
trator of this outrage remains undetected and
at large.

In December, Mr Jackson, a civil servant whose
relations with the native population were notori-
ously good, was foully murdered at Nasik ; and
spurred into activity by this particularly re-
volting crime, the police discovered extensive
stores of concealed arms and ammunition, not
only in Nasik, but throughout the Deccan, and
simultaneously in various districts of Bengal ;
and as illustrative of Anglo-Indian opinion on
the situation, the ' Pioneer ' declared that — " over
a large part of the country every magistrate
and judge who does his duty carries his life in
his hand." The murder of Inspector Shams-
ul-Alam has already been mentioned. In the
spring a revival of political agitation in Eastern
Bengal necessitated the proclaiming of various
districts under the " Seditious Meetings Act."

For a brief spell in the early summer the
country enjoyed comparative freedom from open
outrage and assassination ; but early in July news
came to hand of a murderous attack upon an
Indian gentleman, Kamalish Bai, uncle of the
Bajah of Naldanga, who was believed to have
given information to the police against political
agitators ; further discoveries of concealed arms
and ammunition were made in Calcutta ; and
during the first week in August, a number of


arrests were effected in the capital and Dacca,
included among them being Pulin Behari Das,
a recently released deportee. Finally, it was
asserted that the discovery of a mass of letters
and documents in conjunction with the arrests
had confirmed the opinion of the authorities
that they had unearthed " a far-reaching and
active conspiracy for the subversion of British
rule affecting every province in India." ^ For
some months past, it is true, there has been no
fresh outbreak of anarchical crime, and it is to
be devoutly hoped — though it would be rash
to assert — that this phase of Indian unrest has
passed never to return. But anarchical crime is
merely one symptom of a state of unhealth, and
the disappearance — even if it has finally taken
place — of a single symptom by no means signi-
fies that all cause for anxiety has gone. Indian
unrest in its wider aspect will not disappear in
a day ; and it is well to make some attempt to
understand the real character of the problem
with which we have to deal.

We are face to face in India with serious dis-
content and consequent disturbance produced by a
state of mental unrest on the part of a small frac-
tion of the population. This mental fever is in
the main responsible for two distinct phenomena
— first, a vaffue movement aofainst constituted
authority and in the direction of representative

' 'Times' Dacca CoiTespondeut, August 7, 1910.


government ; and second, the growth of a spirit
of racial antagonism and consequent agitation
aefainst Western domination.

That is the situation, and its origin is of a far
more complex character than is sometimes sup-
posed — at any rate, by those who have given
nothing more than a passing thought to the
matter. I remember on one occasion hearing it
suggested in the House of Commons by a gentle-
man who had once held the office of Under
Secretary for India, that the difficulties which
had grown up in that country were attributable
to the acts and speeches of Lord Curzon. Any
such suggestion shows an entire inability to
appreciate either the character or the origin of
the present unrest. No one man, however power-
ful his personality and however far-reaching his
influence, — and I should be the last to deny either
the commanding personality or the vast influence
of Lord Curzon, — can be said to be in any way
responsible for the present state of afiairs. Its
causes lie far deeper, and may in the main be
divided into two classes — namely, those which
are predisposing to unrest, and secondly, those
which have an exciting effect when acting upon
material already predisposed to respond. Let
us consider for a moment the former.

In the first place, we have as a predisposing
cause of mental unrest many years of contact
between the cold, mechanical, and inexorably


logical mind of the West and the contemplative,
imaginative, introspective mind of the East. In
our contact with Eastern races, and especially
in our efforts to educate them, we have endeav-
oured to force upon them the morality, the ideals
— the whole mode of thought, indeed, of the
West. They have shown extraordinary aptitude
in acquiring the language, the literature, and the
science of Europe, and the profound mistake
which is too often made by the doctrinaire is
to imagine because the Oriental acts and speaks
as a European, that therefore he thinks as one.
He does not. His whole outlook upon life is
different.^ The evolution of the Eastern races
and of those of the West has not proceeded
along parallel but along divergent lines. The
ideals after which they respectively grope and
the goals to which they have so far attained are
separated by generations of men and by centuries
of time. The results of contact under such circum-
stances are now being revealed, and I do not
think that I shall meet with serious denial if I
say that one of the results has been to imbue a
certain section of the Indian peoples with an un-
natural desire for a form of government for which
they have no aptitude either by instinct or by
tradition, and which is in fact wholly alien to
that particular form of social structure which is

^ I am, of course, aware of the existence of exceptions to this


the product of the distinctive genius of the
peoples of the East,

In the second place, the Eastern races have
admitted, grudgingly perhaps but still implicitly,
the superiority of Europe in mechanical ability —
in the invention and perfection of ships and guns,
and of the whole gamut of appliances which have
revolutionised the conduct of war ; and it is
largely because they have done so that they have
acquiesced in Western domination. In other words,
one of Europe's most efficacious weapons in
governing Asiatic races has been prestige. I
know well that this assertion will bring me into
conflict with the doctrinaire. He is disposed to
ridicule the value of prestige. But the doctrin-
aire is wrong. He is pitting his theories against
the universal experience of those upon whose
shoulders has fallen the task of governing Orien-
tal races on the spot, and nothing that the
doctrinaire may say can alter the fact that it is
largely owing to prestige that Great Britain,
with a trifling force of 70,000 white troops and
a handful of English civilians, successfully controls
a population of 300,000,000, scattered over the
vast extent of a whole continent.

But the belief in the superiority of Europe in
this direction has been rudely shaken during
recent years. As the tale of victory for an
Eastern Power over a Western Power was told


with dramatic effect on the plains of Manchuria,
the pulse of hostility to Western domination
throbbed with new vig-our throug^hout Asia.
What Japan had done India could do, so doubtless
argued many ; ^ and had discontent with Western
rule permeated the masses, the world might well
have been involved in a racial war of incalculable
dimensions and of cataclysmal consequences. It
is, however, precisely the masses who benefit
beyond computation from British rule, and a
revolt on any large scale is an eventuality which
we are fortunately not at present called upon
to contemplate.

Nevertheless, the effect of these two processes —
namely, long contact between minds of wholly
different type and structure, and the growing
belief on the part of Eastern races in their
ability to successfully meet the races of the
West with their own weapons — has been to
create an atmosphere of unrest. Unfortunately
they are causes with which it is obviously be-

1 There is, of course, in reality no analogy between Japan and
India. The former consists of a small, compact, homogeneous people
inspired by a burning patriotism to an Emperor of their own race,
the representative of a dynasty whose origin is lost in the legendary
mists of antiquity. The latter consists of a heterogeneous congeries
of peoples of different race whose manners, customs, religions, and
languages have nothing in common; and who, far from possessing any
centre upon which to focus either loyalty or patriotism, apart from
the King-Emperor, have in the past been immersed in incessant and
mutually destructive strife.


yond our power to interfere, though it is only
by subjecting them to examination that it be-
comes at all possible to form any opinion as to
the character and extent of the effect which
they are likely to produce. But are there no
causes predisposing to unrest with which it
may still be found possible to deal ? Un-
doubtedly there are, and foremost among them
must be placed the unsatisfactory nature of our
educational system. Let me touch upon one
aspect only of the educational question-^namely,
that which is presented by the system of Uni-
versity education which we have set up.

In India teaching is not undertaken by the
university itself, but is left to colleges which
are affiliated to the university and which are
scattered over vast areas. Thus the Calcutta
university serves the immense area of Bengal,
Burma, and Assam, — an area, that is to say, of
459,000 square miles, with a population of up-
wards of 92,000,000, while the Madras Univer-
sity possesses affiliated colleges in Ceylon. Under
the provisions of comparatively recent legislation
(1904) the universities systematically inspect
the colleges to see that the conditions of affili-
ation are fulfilled, and they have also acquired
teaching powers ; but these latter have not so
far been developed, and to all intents and pur-
poses the university remains to - day what it


has been in the past — namely, Httle more than
an examining board.

Examination is no doubt one of the most im-
portant functions which a university is called
upon to exercise ; but as long as the university
continues to be merely an examining board and
nothing more, and as long as the sole ambition
of the university student is to commit to memory
sufficient matter to enable him to pass an exam-
ination which will secure for him salaried employ-
ment, so long will the system continue to produce
a type of humanity peculiarly susceptible to dis-
affection and discontent. But can it be denied
that such is the case now ? Picture for a moment
the career of the average student aiming at a
university degree. He has to attend a minimum
of 1120 lectures; and he does so willingly, because
this is the only form in which instruction is im-
parted to him. The hours during which he is
not engaged in attending lectures are spent in
committing to memory the notes which he has
made. His intellectual life, in other words, be-
comes one long, hideous, mechanical grind. And
what of his physical surroundings ? He resides,
in all probability, in a lodging in the slums of a
crowded city. Of the social side which forms so
marked a feature of university life in the West
he knows nothing. No salutary moral influences
are brought to bear upon the formation of his


character, and such morality as he acquires is
merely, as a recent writer has well said, " a
morality which is enjoined by the criminal law
or is supported by calculation." ^ And just as
no moral influence is brought to bear upon the
formation of his character, so no physical exercise
in the shape of athletics, or indeed in any other
shape, is provided to promote the health of his
body. At fifteen he is quite likely to be married ;
at twenty-one he is more than likely to be. Under
these conditions and amid these surroundings,
poorly fed, peculiarly open to the attack of
disease, overwrought in mind and body, he
struggles for his degree. The 18,000 students
at college provide an annual output of little more
than 1900 B.A.'s. What become of the thou-
sands who fall out by the way ? Is it to be
wondered at if, with their physical strength
undermined, without moral stamina, soured by
disappointment, they fall an easy prey to disaflec-
tion and discontent ?

Let us admit, at once, that something is being
done to remedy this state of affairs, and let us
render our tribute of praise to those who have
tried, and who are still endeavouring, to grapple
with the evils of the system. Residential colleges

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Online LibraryLawrence John Lumley Dundas ZetlandAn Eastern miscellany → online text (page 13 of 24)