Lawrence John Lumley Dundas Zetland.

An Eastern miscellany online

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are being encouraged, and something in the nature
of corporate life among the students is being

1 Sir Bampfylde Fuller.


aimed at ; but at present only 4000 of the 18,000
university students live in collegiate buildings,
and though this shows an increase of 70 per cent for
the quinquennium ending 1907 over the previous
five years, we have very far to travel before we
even come in sight of the ideal Indian university
as depicted in the report of the Commission on
Calcutta colleges. And in view of the fact that
the vast majority of the anarchists who have so
far come before the courts for trial have been
young men of the student class, we are con-
strained to recognise that as far as a large part,
at any rate, of the annual output of our uni-
versities is concerned, we are providing the
makings of serious trouble in the future. It must
be confessed that lack of funds and the extreme
difficulty of securing men of the right type, w^ho
will throw themselves body and soul into the
task of training and teaching students in the
Indian universities, are formidable articles in the
path of reform ; but they are obstacles on the sur-
mounting of which it will well pay British states-
manship to concentrate the full force of its energy
and its genius. Mr Justice Asutosh Mukerjee
was surely right when he said that not until
we have succeeded in creating in India " truly
residential colleges of the type so familiar in the
universities of the West" can we expect to see
" a growth of corporate life among the students,"



or to be able to truthfully describe our colleges
as " corporations of teachers and students banded
together for the promotion of learning."

Unrest is doubtless a wide term, and I am not
unmindful of the economic forces which are at
play in India as elsewhere, and which are re-
sponsible for unrest in some of its phases. Increase
in the cost of living is likely to create resentment,
and failing any other convenient object against
which to display annoyance, the Government pro-
vides the necessary target. The fiscal policy, too,
which has been imposed by Great Britain upon a
most unwilling India, is a genuine cause of griev-
ance upon which something is said elsewhere.
But sufficient cause has already been shown for
the existence of an atmosphere of unrest, and
without further elaboration under this head, we
may pass on to a consideration of some of those
causes which I have described as " having an
exciting effect when acting upon material already
predisposed to respond." But before doing so
I desire to make it quite clear that I am not
in any way reflecting, in anything which I may
have to say, upon those who have for some time
past entertained a very natural and a perfectly
legitimate desire to enjoy the fruit of the training
and education which we have deliberately given
them, by taking a greater part in the government
and administration of the country. It was for


these men that the reform scheme which culmi-
nated in the India Councils Act of 1909 was
devised and put into force. The present source
of trouble is not to be found among these men.
An educated class possessed of very proper am-
bitions and aspirations is a perfectly legitimate
child of the ferment of ideas brought about under
the circumstances already detailed. But there
has been brought into existence, and fostered,
an illegitimate offspring in the " rapidly growing
minority" which has formed itself into "a physi-
cal force party, whose programme is to stir up
disorder and have recourse to every practicable
form of violence, because it regards any disorder
or misery, or even anarchy itself, as preferable to
the presence of the foreigner in the land." ^ It
is these men who are the promoters of sedition
and the instigators of anarchy, and who adopt
every device that their ingenuity can contrive
for working upon the feelings of their highly im-
pressionable fellow-countrymen. Platform oratory
and a seditious press are the chief weapons which
they employ, and which act as the excitants to
which I have referred.

Many examples might be given of the way in
which the mind of the youth of India is poisoned
by the insidious teaching of the seditious press.
Let one suffice. The following was addressed by

^ The Hon. G. K. Gokhale, Nov. 30, 1908.


a young student to the publishers of the news-
paper ' Jugantar ' (New Era) : —

" Sir, — From your advertisement, articles, and your bold
writings, I understand that he alone who has the subver-
sion of the Firingee [British] Government at heart should
by all means read the ' Jugantar.' I, a school-boy living
in a hilly country, don't feel any oppression of the Firingees,
and I give way before people for want of information. I
am therefore in need of 'Jugantar.' For it acquaints us
to a great extent with the devices of driving away the
Firingees, and also makes us alive to wrongs. I am ex-
tremely in straitened circumstances, hardly able to procure
one meal a- day ; nevertheless my desire for newspaper
reading is extremely strong. Hence I approach you as
a beggar. Ah ! do not disappoint such an eager hope of
mine. Please grant my prayer. . . . Further, please don't
fail to send a sample copy."

Consider for a moment the second sentence in
this illuminating document. Here was a school-
boy living in blissful ignorance of the fact (sic)
that he was being trampled under foot by a
tyrannous and unscrupulous Government. He
was therefore in need of 'Jugantar.' Why?
Because by reading it alone would he be " made
alive to wrongs." Can any steps for the suppres-
sion of an evil of this kind be too drastic ? " We
cannot look on passively at the progressive de-
moralisation of the youth of India," observed Sir
Herbert Risley on the introduction of the long
overdue Press Bill in February 1910 ; but that


is precisely what the Indian Government had
been doing, on their own showing, for months
past. As far back as November 1907 Sir E.
Baker, then a member of the Government of
India, had declared that it was "a matter of
common knowledg-e that there was a section of
the press which openly endeavoured to excite
hatred of the Government and advocated its
subversion," and he frankly admitted that " dur-
ing the last two or three years . . . these organs
had increased in numbers, in circulation, and in
the virulence and audacity of their attacks on the
established order." Yet it was not apparently
until 1910 that it occurred to the Government
that they " could not look on passively at the pro-
gressive demoralisation of the youth of India ! "

The fatal optimism to which I felt compelled to
draw attention at the beginning of this chapter
has clogged the wheels of the executive machine,
and it is greatly to be feared that this optimism has
not infrequently served as a cloak to shelter tim-
idity — timidity in framing the necessary measures,
and timidity in putting them into force when at
last framed. It is difficult to decide whether the
spectacle presented by Sir Harvey Adamson com-
plaining of the Seditious Meetings Act of 1907,
that it was " unfortunately surrounded by safe-
guards which rendered it somewhat difficult to be
put into operation on sudden and isolated occa-


sions," Is pathetic or ludicrous. In view of the
fact that he was himself responsible for the measure,
most people will probably be inclined to decide
upon the latter. Nor, to take another case, do
the Government appear to have been very success-
ful in their praiseworthy attempts to lubricate the
wheels of the ponderous chariot of justice. The
"Summary Justice Act" of 1908 was designed
to provide among other things for " the more
ready trial of certain offences " — a genuine " long-
felt want " when it is recalled that some of the
persons arrested in connection w^ith the Manick-
tollah Conspiracy only had their ultimate fate
decided on appeal nearly two years after they
first fell into the hands of the police. Yet Kanare,
the assassin of Mr Jackson, who committed the
crime on December the 21st, 1909, was only ex-
ecuted on April the 19th, 1910 — a delay which
scarcely suggests the word " summary." Sardar
Partab Singh undoubtedly gave expression to the
feelings of many loyal Indians when he complained
that " the prolongation of proceedings in criminal
cases had become a public scandal," and he might
have added that retribution rapid and relentless
is essential if evil-doers are to be deterred.

But to return to the root of so much of the
present evil — namely, a poisonous and unbridled
Press. What excuse can the Government urge
for allowing the evil to attain to its present in-


tolerable proportions before attempting to deal
with it ? It is no secret that the Central Govern-
ment were pressed to take action — and refused —
long before February 1910. They did not consider
the matter urgent, was their reply. In view of
this attitude a brief examination of the official
defence of the Press Bill when at length introduced
may not be without interest. Take, for example,
the speech of Sir Herbert Risley on the introduc-
tion of the Bill : —

. . . We see the most influential and most widely read
portion of the Indian Press incessantly occupied in render-
ing the Government by law estabhshed odious in the sight
of the Indian people.

Every day the Press proclaims openly, or by suggestion
or allusion, that the only cure for the ills of India is in-
dependence from foreign rule, independence to be won by
heroic deeds, by self-sacrifice, martyrdom on the part of
the young, in any case by some form of violence.

And again : —

We are at the present moment confronted with a
murderous conspiracy, whose aim it is to subvert the
Government of the country and to make British rule
impossible by establishing general terrorism. Their organ-
isation is effective and far-reaching; their numbers are
believed to be considerable ; the leaders work in secret and
are blindly obeyed by their youthful followers. The method
they favour at present is political assassination.

To which let me add the opinion of so prominent


a member of the forward political school in India
as Mr Gokhale : —

It is not merely the assassinations that have taken
place, or the conspiracies that have come to light, or the
poHtical dacoities that are being committed, that fill me
with anxiety. The air in many places is still thick with
ideas that are undoubtedly antagonistic to the unquestioned
continuance of British rule.

Does the air become "thick with ideas" in a
day ? And is not the whole official defence of
the Bill the most damnino- indictment of their
incomprehensible delay? Can it be held for a
moment that the situation as sketched by Sir
Herbert Risley^ had not urgently called for action
for months past ? Lord Morley once preached a
little sermon for the especial benefit of those who
" talk nonsense about apathy and supineness," and
who were urging him to curtail the licence ex-
tended to Indian political orators and the Indian
press. " We are representatives," he said, " not
of Oriental civilisation but of Western civilisation,
of its methods, its principles, its practices ; and
I for one will not be hurried into an excessive
haste for repression by the argument that Orien-
tals do not understand patience and toleration," ^
Lord Morley has kept his promise ; and Sir Herbert
Risley and Mr Gokhale have described the result.

^Speech at Arbroath, October 21, 1907.


And what of the Bill itself? Its main provision
requires that in addition to the declaration before
a magistrate required by the " Press and Registra-
tion of Books Act, 1876," a deposit of not less than
500 Bs. and not more than 2000 Bs. shall be made
by any intending publisher or owner of a press,
unless the magistrate thinks fit to dispense with
such deposit. On conviction of an offence against
the Act the deposit may be ordered by the Local
Government to be forfeited, and a further deposit
of not less than 1000 Bs. and not more than 10,000
Bs. demanded. On the commission of a second
offence both the deposit and the press are liable
to confiscation. Existing owners and publishers
are not called upon to make any deposit until
accused of offending against the Act, and in all
cases an appeal to a special tribunal of the High
Court is allowed. The Customs ofiScials are em-
powered to detain packages imported and sus-
pected of containing seditious literature, and the
postal authorities suspected articles other than
letters or parcels. The italics are mine. What
a fatuous exception ! Literature, no matter how
seditious, may be sent under cover of letter or
parcel, and the postal authorities shall touch it
at their peril !

The clause is a most unfortunate example of
the flabbiness of the Government. That they
thought it necessary to give the postal author-


ities full power to detain any suspected matter
is obvious from the fact that such powers were
accorded in the Bill as originally presented by
them. Why, then, did they allow their clause
to be erased ? If they did not believe the clause
to be necessary, why did they ever insert it in
their Bill? If, on the other hand, they did
believe it to be necessary it was an exhibition
of intolerable weakness to give it up. Cannot
they understand that in vital matters of this
kind timidity and deference to their opponents
will, far from conciliating them, merely invite
their contempt, while it will most assuredly
tend to alienate their friends? The words of
the Eajah of Kurupam were significant when,
speaking as a member of the Viceroy's Council,
he adverted to the " astonishing patience " of the
Government, and declared that " it was the long-
suffering shown by them . . . that had been
construed into weakness, and undue and hostile
advantage had been taken of the same."

It is notorious that some of the most mis-
chievous of the literature which is poisoning the
minds of Indian youths at the present time is
being printed and published in Europe and
America and sent into India by post. To my
certain knowledge the ' Tulwar ' or ' Sword ' is
finding its way to India through the letter post.
With the suppression of the ' Bande Mataram'
in Calcutta, a journal bearing the same name


appeared in Geneva. Its raison d'etre was frankly-
stated in its first issue in September 1909 to be
the '* continuance, commemoration, and consolida-
tion of the work that was inaugurated by that
redoubtable champion of Indian freedom the
' Bande Mataram ' of Calcutta." A few extracts
will suffice to show the pitiful stuff of which it
is composed : —

The debris of the old regime must be removed. And
the only agent that can accomplish this is the sword. No
subject nation can win freedom without war — without a
war to the knife with its alien rulers.

After having congratulated itself on having
"thrown the Administration into a panic" it goes
on to pass an encomium upon Dhingra, the
murderer of Sir Curzon Wyllie : —

Dhingra has found out the secret of life : he has
discovered the path of immortality. He has realised the
highest destiny of man. He has lifted himself above the
common run of men and joined the company of saints and

Finally, its attitude towards law and order is
set forth : —

In our work for the triumph of Justice and Truth we
never take account of laws enacted by our enemies. . . .
The laws of British India are no more binding on us than
the laws of Matabeleland. ... As far as we are concerned
they simply exist not, or exist only to be defied and violated
at the call of duty.


Pitiful stuff indeed ! But sufficiently mis-
chievous, unfortunately, when acting upon the
mind of the impressionable Indian student. Both
the ' Bande Mataram ' and Mr Krishna varma's
' Indian Sociologist,' which excited some atten-
tion in England by preaching the doctrine that
" political assassination was not murder," are of
a size which is easily inserted in an ordinary
envelope, and it is hardly likely that the astute
engineers of the seditious movement will fail to
take advantage of the secure and easy channel
which the Government have left open to them
in the shape of the penny post. If any doubt
be entertained as to that, the following extract
from a later issue of the * Bande Mataram '
should suffice to dispose of it : —

The circulation of revolutionary leaflets, journals, and
manifestoes should be looked upon as a sacred duty by all
patriots. Let us look upon every leaf of revolutionary
literature with almost superstitious veneration, and try to
make it reach India by all means in our power.

It must be said in extenuation of what may
euphemistically be called the caution shown by
the Government of India in administering drastic
remedies, that any vigorous action which they
take is instantly assailed by a stream of hostile
and virulent criticism from a certain quarter of
the House of Commons. The little party com-
posed of Labour members and Radicals of an ultra-


visionary type who have made a speciality of
criticising British rule in India, have been guilty
of almost inconceivable folly in reviling those who
are engaged in maintaining law and order in that
country. In England, where the majority of those
who take any interest in Imperial affairs are
capable of discriminating between members of
Parliament, a campaign of this sort is merely
foolish, and can be appraised at its true value.
Unfortunately, the native of India is not capable
of so discriminating, nor does he realise how
abysmal are the depths of ignorance of Indian
conditions on the part of many of those who
dogmatise in the House of Commons upon Indian
affiairs ; and what is in itself mere folly becomes
fraught with mischief when reported in India.
The extremists are led to believe that they have
the support of an influential section of the British
Parliament, and are encouraged in the evil of their
ways, while the task of the British administrator
is rendered infinitely harder. They denounce
the Press Act of the Indian Government, and
declare that India should be governed in accord-
ance with Indian ideas. That they are childishly
ignorant of Indian ideas does not apparently occur
to them. "When you came into India, the char-
acteristic of Indian thought," said Mr Montagu,
" was an excessive reverence for authority " ; and
he might have added that the reason for this


characteristic was to be found in the fact that
Indian rulers took care that their authority was
respected. A law or ordinance should, according
to Indian ideas, be so drafted as to secure the
object desired, regardless of whether such law
or ordinance might or might not violate the
eternal principles of some theoretical doctrine of
liberty as propounded by the philosophers and
doctrinaires. The recently enacted Press Act of
Mysore — one of the most progressive of Native
States, and one, moreover, which is held up by
Mr Keir Hardie as a shining example of what
a well -managed Indian State ought to be — may
confidently be commended to the critics of our
own Indian administration as an admirable ex-
ample of legislation in accordance with Indian
ideas. It is therein laid down with delightful
simplicity that no printed work containing public
news or comments on public news shall be edited,
printed, or published in Mysore without permis-
sion of the Maharajah, and that such permission
may be at any time withdrawn by the Govern-
ment. The fact of the matter is, that the ideals
of democracy as set forth by its present-day
apostles in England, far from being in accordance
with Indian ideas, are wholly alien to them. The
extent to w^hich liberty of criticism and free speech
is tolerated in England is incomprehensible to the
Indian mind. It was perplexing to the mind,


declared the Maharajah of Burdwan, in the course
of a speech on the Indian Press Bill, " that while
the Government takes active measures for putting
down sedition in India, it allows a Labour member,
in the shape of Mr Keir Hardie, to have the
audacity to say that ' the time had come for the
crown to be thrown into the melting-pot.' " And
so entirely out of harmony with Indian thought
are ideas of this kind, that he urged that steps
should be taken to safeguard India from further
samples of this type of Western rhetoric. " I
beg to point out that the time has come to seri-
ously consider whether we are to allow India to be
made the dumping -ground of Western politics,
political thoughts, and socialism."

If the Labour Party and their sympathisers
are sincere in their desire to promote the best
interests of the Indian peoples, why do they not
devote some part of the energy which they at
present reserve for criticising British administra-
tion and feeding the fires of political unrest to
the far harder but infinitely more praiseworthy
task of advocating much - needed social reforms.
To urge social reform in India demands courage,
since it cuts deep into the roots of Hindu caste
prejudice. It was on the rock of social reform
that the Brahmo Somaj practically wrecked itself
Yet a little band of reformers, led by men like Mr
Chandavarkar, who place the good of their country


above easily acquired political notoriety, courage-
ously perseveres in the thankless task of urging
upon their countrymen the abolition of child
marriage, sanction of the re-marriage of widows,
temperance and morality, and training for indus-
trial and commercial careers. The task of laying
the axe at the root of immemorial custom is one
which at best is rewarded with apathy or sus-
picion, and is more likely to bring down upon the
heads of those who undertake it unpopularity and
loud-voiced hostility ; yet this, surely, can scarcely
be held to account for the fact that upon topics of
such vast importance the self-styled " friends of
India" in the House of Commons — "politicians,"
as Lord Morley has it, " of generous but unbalanced
impulse " — maintain so strange a silence !

There is one more factor of incalculable im-
portance in the situation as it exists in India
to-day. It is not too much to say that upon
the efficiency and calibre of the Indian Civil
Service depends the successful continuance of
British rule. It is upon the shoulders of the
District Officer that the responsibility of Great
Britain's vast inheritance falls with greatest
weisfht. Personal rule is what the masses in
India are accustomed to, and what they under-
stand and desire. Never was there a time
when it was of greater importance that the
Indian Civil Service should attract to itself the


flower of English manhood. Yet it is precisely
at this juncture that it is being realised that
the attractiveness of the service has undergone
a disconcerting set - back. The Chancellor of
Oxford University has recently commented upon
the falling - off in the number of Oxford men
taking the highest places in examination who
select an Indian career. This is a serious matter,
and demands the most careful attention. There
are no doubt various causes which have con-
tributed to the waning popularity of the Service.
Pay has fallen in value ; pensions do not go as
far as they did ; the officials have not the same
power and authority as formerly, and they are
overburdened with the mass of clerical work
which they have to get through. But above
all there is a feeling that in the discharge of
the difficult and onerous duties which fall to
their lot they cannot count upon the support
of those in authority to the same extent as
formerly. How far such an impression is justi-
fied I am not in a position to say ; but of this
there is no doubt, that whatever want of con-
fidence may be felt in the attitude of the Govern-
ment is enormously stimulated by the knowledge
that not only individual action, but the action
of Government both in India and at home, is
subject to a stream of suspicious and hostile
criticism in the House of Commons. It would



indeed be astonishing if under these circum-

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Online LibraryLawrence John Lumley Dundas ZetlandAn Eastern miscellany → online text (page 14 of 24)