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Maharaja of Baroda Sayaji Rao Gaekwar III.

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NOTES ON THE FAMINE TOUR



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LABOURERS AT WORK



[Frontispiece.



NOTES ON THE
FAMINE TOUR
BY HIS HIGHNESS
THE MAHARAJA
GAEKWAR






PRIVATELY PRINTED

1 90 1



IQAN SFACK



Printed for MACMILLAN AND CO., Limited, London
By R. & R. Clark, Limited, Edinburgh



CONTENTS



25



I.— KADI DIVISION

1. Kadi Division .....

2. Places visited during the Tour .

3. Codification of Famine Rules

4. Tagavi for Maintenance

5. Tagavi to Ekankadi and Fartaankadi Village-holders

6. Tagavi to Coppersmiths at Visnagar

7. Private Charity in Kadi

8. Gyarmi and Sadavarat Institutions utilised for Relie

Purposes .....

9. Grants to prevent Death by Starvation .

10. Dispensation of Gratuitous Relief at Harij

11. Orphanage at Mehsana ....

12. Lying-in Arrangements at the Hospitals for Destitute

Women .

13. Relief-works .....

14. Too near the Homes of the Rayats

15. Their large Number ....

16. Reduction of Works ....

17. Nature of these Works ....

18. Gangadi Tank, Task System

19. Imposition of Tasks and Classification of Labourers

20. Second Class of Labourers

v a 2



3
3
4
5
6
6
6

7
8

9
9

10
10
10
1 1
12
13
H
»4
'5



8532



FAMINE TOUR



21. Complaints made to me by Labourers

22. Shortcomings of Relief Officials

23. The Complaints of the Labourers relieved

24. Delay in the Payment of Wages

25. How remedied

26. Excessive Tasks

27. Low Wages ; Babashahi Coin

28. Holidays

29. Sheds and Resting-places

30. General Nature of Complaints

31. Assessment and its Remission

32. Advantages of sinking Wells

33. Tagavi for Seeds

34. Tagavi to the Mewasi Villages

35. Tagavi for the Raising of Grass

for Grazing .

36. Grass from Songadh

37. Complaints of Local Officers ; how remedied

38. Subhas freed from their ordinary Revenue Work



and Fodder ; Facilities



PAGE
l6

18

l 9

20

20
21
21
22
22
23
23
27
28
28

28
29

3i

33



II— AMRELI DIVISION

1. Amreli Tour

2. Damnagar

3. Complaints about Works

4. Programme of Relief-works

5. Difficulties found in framing it

6. The Amreli Chital Railway

7. Velan Bunder Improvement

8. Professional Difficulties. Irrigation Schemes

9. Strengthening the Public Works Service

Additional Hands

vi



37
37
37
38
39
39
4 1
41
42

43



CONTENTS



PACE

44
44



io. Tagavi for Well-sinking

11. Wells sunk by Relief-labour

12. Wells sunk at a Government Expense of 2,50,000 rupees 46

13. Number and Nature of Relief-works in Progress . 47

14. Distance Test . . . . . -47

15. Complaints on the Works; Agricultural Class de-

scribed . . . . . .48

16. Low Wages . . . . .49

17. Condition of People in Khambha . . .50

18. Kitchen at Khambha . . . . 52

19. Distribution of Clothing to the Labourers on Works . 53

20. Famine Ward at the Amreli Hospital . . -53

21. Sheds for the Shelter of the Labourers . . .54

22. Complaints away from Works . . . .56

23. Complaints : how remedied . . . -57

24. Tagavi for Seed . . . . .59

25. Tagavi for Maintenance for the Girasias . . 59

26. Loans from Money-lenders to Girasias . . .59

27. Tagavi for Grass . . . . .60

28. Private Charity . . . . . .61

29. Advi Stone Quarry . . . . .61

30. Better Irrigational Facilities in some of the neighbouring

Villages . . . . . .61

31. Olchamandal . . . . . -63

32. Relief-works in Okha . . .64

33. Tagavi for Maintenance to the Waghers . . 65

34. Non- Waghers. Scheme of transporting them to distant

places . . . . . .66

35. Tagavi to Non -Waghers. Del credere System of

Agents . . . . .68

36. Conclusion . . . . . .69

37. Orders to collect Information . . . .69



Vll



FAMINE TOUR



III.— BARODA CITY AND DIVISION



I.


Baroda District .....


73


2.


Programme of Works in Baroda .


73


3-


Visits to Relief-works in the City


77


4-


Other Measures for Relief


81


5-


Modes of exacting Work


82




Task-work System ....


83




Disadvantages .....


83




Minimum Wages ....


84


6.


Another Inconvenience of the Task-work System


85




Advantages .....


85


7-


Piece-work System ....


86




Advantages .....


86


8.


Disadvantage .....


86


9-


Reduction in the Minimum Wage


87


IO.


Padra and Dabka ....


88


1 1.


Further Tagavi for Padra


89




Condition of the People in the Padra District


90


12.


Petlad . . . . .


91




Petlad-Cambay Railway . . .


9 1




Karamsad Drain ....


92


i3-


Gratuitous Relief ....


94


14.


Limited Piece-work System


95


15-


Penal Ration .....


96


16.


Light Work to the Weak


97


17.


Aliens on the Relief-works of the State .


98


18.


Visit to the Poorhouse ....


98


19.


Orphanage .....


100


20.


Sankheda Orsang Irrigation Work


IOI



Vlll



CONTENTS



DABHOI

21. Invitation ....

22. The Foundation of Asylum

23. Fortifications ....

24. My Thoughts . ...

25. Description of the Day and the Country

26. Visit to Asylum ....

27. Impression left on me .

28. Further Sanction to meet future Contingencies



PAGE

IOI

101
102
102
103
104

105
105



IV.— NAVSARI DIVISION



1. Navsari Tour

2. Programme of Relief-works in Navsari

3. General Aspect of the Country .

4. Meeting with the Officers

5. Grass Operations

6. Poorhouse for Songadh .

7. Petitions for Remission of Assessment

8. Forest Tribes of Songadh
Dress

Ornaments
Marriage

Aversion to Banias, etc.
General Characteristics
Character

9. Their Condition during the Famine Period

10. Forest Produce ....

11. Land Improvement Scheme

12. Tagavi for Maintenance and for Grass .

ix



109
109
1 12
1 12
114
114

"5
116
116
117
117
118
118
118
119
120
120
121



FAMINE TOUR



PAGE



13. Mr. Vaidya, the Naib Subha . . . .122

14. Education promoted among the Forest Tribes . . 122

15. Conclusion . . . . . .123

16. Famine Policy expounded . . . .124



APPENDIX

I. Prominent Mention of those who took a conspicuous

part in the Famine Work .... 141

II. Poorhouses and other Charities . . . 145

III. Concluding Remarks . . . . .149



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



Labourers at Work .






PAGE

Frontispiece


New Admissions in the Visnagar Annagruha


• 17


Relief-work at Patan




22


Labourers' Huts at Visnagar .








37


The Siddhpur Annagruha








53


Relief-works at Visnagar








67


The Vadnagar Annagruha








73


Cattle Camp








82


Inmates of Vadnagar Annagruha








98


A Group of Famished People








104


Labourers at Work .








109


Children fitted for Work in the Visn


agar An


lagruha




122



KADI DIVISION



I.— KADI DIVISION

i. As soon as the Famine administration had Kadi
been well settled and relief-works had been Division -
opened in order to mitigate the distress of the tuh Dcc. t0
people, I thought of visiting my northern 1899.
dominions, where the cry of distress had been
heard at a comparatively early date.

2. I visited Mehsana, Vadnagar, Patan, Places
Kalol, and Kadi, as well as the villages situated y isited dl,r "
in the vicinity of these towns, and acquainted mg
myself with the sufferings of their inhabitants
and their expectation of relief from the State.
The village people were very simple, and it was
a pleasure to converse with these good-hearted,
honest folk, whose unsophisticated minds left a
favourable impression on me. It had never
before given me greater pleasure to converse
with the people in their own language, and to
be able to move among them, often without
their knowing who I was. I frequently try to
mix with the people in this way, and, as
frequently, I discover in the communion a source
of interest and of instruction to myself. The
guileless children of the soil, when simply and
sympathetically questioned, poured forth their
unvarnished tales of pleasure and of pain, of
jealousy and of scandal. They reckoned up the



of famine
rules



4 FAMINE TOUR

out-turn of their crops, and the heavy demand
made on their income by the savkar. They told
me of the way in which they helped their blind
or infirm neighbours, their professional beggars
as well as those who, through some mischance,
had been reduced to mendicancy. But when an
inkling of the rank of their questioner began to
dawn upon them, as they noticed the number
of armed followers present, they would very
naturally begin to make their little personal re-
quest for remission and for more tagavi, demands
which would form a most useful base of inquiry
and scrutiny after one's return from such riding
excursions.
Codification 3. As soon as the signs of famine became
dimly apparent in the latter part of August, I
applied myself to the study of the famine rules
which lay hidden among the State records ; and
after their perusal I set myself to work to
amplify and codify them, with the assistance of
some of my officers. I gave special attention
to the question of organisation, as the rules
touching this matter were either altogether
wanting, or were startlingly deficient. It is the
very point in which the executive, and emphatic-
ally our executive, has to be strengthened by
the clearness of the instructions imparted.
Apart from this, I had my own ideas regarding
some of the matters dealt with in the famine
code ; but as I was pressed for want of time,
owing to the rapidity with which the famine
was assuming a more and more threatening
aspect, I had to postpone any attempt to
introduce my ideas into the rules. I gave
certain orders, however, which were really



KADI DIVISION 5

meant to test the value of some of the plans
that had suggested themselves to me. Later,
and as soon as I had had the opportunity of
coming into closer contact with the relief-works,
I set myself to collect information and statistics
with a view to see if I could gather sufficient
material for the success of my general plan. I
tried to collect this information on some of the
works in a way which might serve to illustrate
my views, and I now leave it to speak for itself.
The information, though meagre in quantity and
quality, had to be extracted under considerable
pressure both from the sufferers and from those
who had been sent to assist them, and in some
places special machinery and a special agency had
to be applied to obtain it. The official world is
slow to move, and is slower still to imbibe new
ideas. I have, later on, drawn up a regular form
of the information which almost every labourer
is expected to bring with him filled up by his
village Patel. Apart from my desire to solve
certain general problems, I consider it essential
to know the condition and status of the men we
have to deal with on famine relief-works. In
this, as well as in many matters, I am aware that
I can create a spirit of inquiry by initiating
measures, but their proper execution must
depend upon the willingness and energy of
others. What the ultimate success of my
schemes may be will be discovered only some
time after the famine has passed away.

4. I issued orders that tagavi advances of Tagavi for
amounts not exceeding thirty rupees might be
granted for the maintenance of people who had
neither a holding nor property of any other



mainten-
ance.



FAMINE TOUR



Tagavi to
Ekankadi
and Fartaan-
kadi village -
holders.



Tagavi to
copper-
smiths at
Visnagar.



Private
charity in
Kadi.



kind, but who were withheld by sentiment from
resorting to the relief-works. This tagavi for
maintenance was advanced to the recipient with-
out any collateral guarantee.

5. The condition of the people living in
villages held on the Ekankadi and Fartaankadi
tenures also attracted my early attention. The
Matadars of these villages had scarcely the means
to maintain themselves, absolutely none to
support the poor agriculturalists in their villages
who had been thrown out of employment in this
season of general distress. Orders were passed
during my tour sanctioning the expenditure of
one lakh of rupees on tagavi for the maintenance
of landholders in the villages of the two above-
mentioned classes.

6. During my visit to Visnagar I was told
that the coppersmiths of that town were actually
starving for want of any demand for the produce
of their labour. Visnagar in normal years is a
busy mart for the copper-trade, and its artisans
make a fair profit. Copper, however, had lately,
owing to several circumstances, greatly risen in
price, and the famine had had its usual depress-
ing effect on the trade conditions of the country.
The artisans had consequently been thrown out
of employment and were reduced to a pitiable
plight. Orders were given to set apart a sum of
2000 rupees to be spent in tagavi advances to
the smiths. Sentiment had prevented them
from resorting to the relief-works, and they were
only too glad to avail themselves of the relief
thus provided.

7. I was much gratified at observing the
extent to which private charity was exerting



KADI DIVISION 7

itself to mitigate the effects of the famine. In
every large town a poorhouse had been opened
where numbers of maimed and crippled desti-
tutes were being fed and lodged. In Patan two
poorhouses were being entertained on a grand
scale, and others have sprung up since. Visnagar
also possessed a decent poorhouse managed by
private enterprise. The Subha of Kadi deserves
credit for having evoked such philanthropic
sentiments in the minds of the wealthy citizens
of his division, for their noble charity could not
have secured better objects for help and support
than the emaciated sufferers of Kadi. The
resources of Government are not unbounded, and
the ways in which Government has to mete out
relief are many. If private charity supplements
the work of Government, the latter has more
scope to utilise its resources in ways which must
perforce baffle private enterprise. The Subha, as
well as his private coadjutors, has deserved well
of his country by fostering institutions for the
relief of the poor, the infirm, the aged, and the
decrepit. They have maintained the good name
Gujarat has always proudly enjoyed, of being a
land where charity abounds.

8. Though private charity was thus in a Gyarmi and
measure able to take care of the poor and the Sadavarat

,..,.■, - x . , institutions

helpless in large towns, the same generous aid utilised for
could not always be extended to small out-of-the- relief
way villages. There we could not look for the P ur P os
humane support of the wealthy, and Government
stepped in where private charity slackened or was
found wholly wanting. The moment had not
then come to open poorhouses broadcast over the
country. That might have had a demoralising



8



FAMINE TOUR



Grants to
prevent
death by
starvation.



influence, one tending to foster habits of indo-
lence and to produce a want of self-reliance.
Besides, the burden on the State would scarcely
have been bearable. With a view to avoid too
lavish an expenditure at a very early stage, and
yet to secure the objects of relieving the wants of
the helpless and the infirm, other measures were
adopted. In every Mahal some grants from the
State are provided from which Sadhus and
Fakirs are feasted on stated days and occasions.
These Gyarmi and Sadavarat institutions, though
quite in consonance with the old and cherished
ideals of our Native States, may not be deemed
quite deserving of retention in a season of wide-
spread distress and suffering. The indiscriminate
charity bestowed on institutions which support a
crowd of tricky and lazy ascetics could not be
regarded as a fit form for State charity, so long as
such a truly bitter appeal for help came to us
from other quarters. The Vahivatdars of Pattan
and other talukas were accordingly instructed
gradually to stint the rations served out to the
Fakirs and the Jogis, and to employ the saving
thus effected in relieving famine-stricken people
who had not strength enough to work on the
relief-works.

9. The Vahivatdars and higher revenue
officials were directed to be constantly on the
move and to inspect village after village in order
to see that no helpless or destitute person was
neglected and left to die. Subhas were invested
with discretionary powers to make grants up to
100 rupees, and Vahivatdars up to 50 rupees,
to individuals in want of help. These grants
were renewable when exhausted. The district



KADI DIVISION 9

officers were thus enabled to help the really
needy and to prevent the occurrence of deaths
from starvation.

10. The Peta Mahal of Harij, even in times of Dispcnsa-
prosperitv, is proverbially poor, and has for its t,on ? f

r \ . J K r i • i i- r gratuitous

population a class or cultivators who live from relief at
hand to mouth and can ill afford to lay by Harij.
wealth for times of adversity. The land, the
great natural agency of agricultural wealth, is
poor and apt to turn saltish ; nor is there any
fresh subsoil water which can be utilised for
irrigation, so that the Peta Mahal has always to
depend upon the fall of the monsoon. In such a
tract it is not difficult to conceive that the cry of
distress was very great, and it was not an act of
folly on the part of the inhabitants to quit their
homes and homesteads in quest of " fresh fields
and pastures new." From the reports received
regarding the prevailing distress and from
specimens of Harij inhabitants observed on the
Gangadi tank, it was thought desirable to give
them early relief. The Minister and the Sar
Subha very praiseworthily undertook to visit this
Mahal and to see for themselves what was the
condition of its people.

ii. Most of all, among the helpless and Orphanage
destitute, did the little children inspire me with ot Mehsana -
the greatest compassion. Their famished and
miserable appearance and their plaintive cries in
the streets had from an early date made a most
painful impression on me. An orphanage was
ordered to be opened and located at some central
and convenient spot, where all deserted children
and orphans below the age of twelve could
be comfortably housed, fed, and trained up.



io FAMINE TOUR

Becharaji was first suggested as a suitable spot
for such an orphanage, but afterwards Mehsana
was selected as a more accessible centre for the
Kadi division, and the Subha was instructed to
collect all unclaimed children and orphans and
to maintain them in the institution. Since then
another State orphanage has been opened at
Baroda for the Baroda division, and instructions
were issued to harbour in it some 200 orphans.
In Baroda, too, private charity has been instru-
mental in founding a second institution for
orphans, where about 300 young children are
maintained under the supervision of a private
committee.
Lying-in 12. The other objects of special pity and

arrange- solicitude were women who had either just been

ments at the r , , « r j tu

hospitals for confined or were about to be confined. 1 here
destitute were instances in which such women had to work
women. Qn ^ re Xi e f-works when on the eve of their
travail. Orders were issued to grant accommoda-
tion and assistance to all child-bearing women
who could obtain no other assistance. The
hospitals and dispensaries of the State were
thrown open to them for a certain period of
time before and after their confinement. It is
gratifying to see from the monthly returns that
a number of these destitute women are taking
advantage of the provision made for them.
Relief- 13. After having thus met the needs of the

works. helpless and the destitute, my attention was

directed to the relief-works in the Kadi division,
and I made it my object to discover what they
were, how they were managed, and what good
they were effecting.

14. There were about sixty relief-works



KADI DIVISION ii

going on in the Kadi district in December, Too near
which employed a daily average of about 1 6,000 the homes
labourers. Most of them were of purely local
interest, having been opened too near the homes
of the necessitous rayats. Some not only com-
pletely set at naught the principle of the distance
test, but were unscrupulously monopolised by
the people of the village within whose boundaries
they had been opened. The inhabitants success-
fully prevented people of other villages from
resorting to their works, either by actual threats
or by a display of unfriendly feeling. The
officials who looked after these works seldom
bestirred themselves to inquire into and set right
the selfish action of the Mewasi relief-seekers.
The Huzur officials, either owing to coercion
from certain quarters, or under a gush of feeling
(shall I say of misplaced philanthropy ?), or from
a desire to make up for previous shortcomings,
rushed hurriedly into ill-considered enterprises,
and started fresh works, though they possessed
no knowledge of the country and had not
consulted local officials. The local officials, who
got rid of the trouble of minute supervision by
appealing to the orders which came to them
direct from the Huzur, attempted to account for
their own shortcomings by advancing the old
plea that they feared the " omnipotent " Huzur
officers. They too deserve censure, but we may
now afford to forgive and forget these petty
bickerings, at any rate in instances where the
result has not been positively injurious to the
rayats or costly to the State.

15. In consequence of the mistakes made, Their large
great multitudes of people were attracted to the numbcr -



12



FAMINE TOUR



What fol-
lowed ?



Reduction
of works.



works ; and as the distress was then only at an
initial stage, the numbers of the relief-seekers
gave no sure indication of the degree of distress
prevailing in the district.

I must further note that most of the works,
whether proposed or actually in operation at
this date, consisted of tanks or small roads of no
definite utility. The Public Works and other
Departments had been dilatory in preparing relief
programmes, and in submitting large useful
projects to the consideration of Government ;
and the consequence was that these minor works
were the only means of support the labourers
could fall back upon.

In view of the unsettled state of the programme
of relief-works and the fact that the proximity
of works to villages afforded too easy an admission
of labourers, I directed some of the minor works
to be closed, so as to bring the entire number of
them down to between thirty and forty.

1 6. I trusted that the following advantages
would accrue to us from the reductions if the
order was properly carried out : —

(a) A saving would take place in the labour
of supervision, with a proportionate increase of
efficiency.

(b) The distance test would give us a true
indication of the degree of distress, and would
exclude any element of recklessly lavish, and
therefore mischievous, expenditure. It was
advisable that only those labourers who were
really pinched should elect to go to the works,
and the end would be obtained by placing these at
a distance from the homes of the relief-seekers.

(c) The mere tinkering at tanks which



KADI DIVISION 13

admitted of considerable enlargement would be
avoided by starting a few works at a time and
by finishing them to the utmost. It was a
mistake to take up a multitude of works, only
to leave them in a state of incompleteness and
proportionate uselessness.

17. At the time I was on tour, the Kadi Nature of
programme contained only two or three works these works -
of any magnitude, viz. : the Vijapur-Kalol
railway and the Vadnagar feeder. But if these
were started early in the season there were
legitimate grounds for anticipating a dearth of
useful projects at a later date. The distress
might by that time have become far more
serious and the urgency of the need for relief
might be really pressing. Similar fears had
been realised in the Amreli division. To avoid
the danger, and after taking into consideration
the number of large works at my disposal, I
was forced to indicate such dates for the starting
of major works as would leave a provision for
the more advanced stages of the distress. The
liberality of Government in furnishing relief-
works should, I felt, develop as the distress
grew keener. Since then some large schemes
have been prepared and sanctioned for the Kadi
division. Had these schemes been matured


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