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THIRD SINDH PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE HELD AT LARKANA ON THE
21 APRIL 1916 PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS OF THE HONOURABLE
Mr. G.M. BHURGRI
Standard printing works, Hyderabad, Sindh
THE PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS
Brother Delegates and Gentlemen
It is with no small difference that I have accepted the chair on this august occasion. It is, indeed, a proud privilege to preside over the deliberations of this important assembly, which represents the highest thought and aspiration in this Province. I cannot sufficiently esteem the great honour you have done me and can not help feeling that worthier shoulders than mine would have better sustained the burden of this great trust. While thanking you, therefore, for your kindness, I would at the same time crave your indulgence and forbearance for y many deficiencies and shortcomings. Of which I am only too painfully conscious. I do not for a moment take my election to the chair as a compliment to any personal merits of mine, which I am humbly aware, are at the best very slender indeed. I would fain have shrunk from this responsible and difficult. If honourable position, but the call of duty was insistent and I have humbly obeyed.
Our first and foremost duty is to give expression to our deep sense of loyalty and allegiance to the Crown. The British Crown is the embodiment of all that is good and great in human rule and is worthy of our deepest fealty and homage. However, I think it entirely superfluous for me a command to your attachment a rule for which no thinking person in India has anything but the profoundest love and devotion. At the present moment when England is engaged in a deadly conflict with the powers of human darkness, she is especially entitled to our loyal support and assistance, which she is happy to know and we are proud to feel, she possesses in boundless measures.
Our next duty is of a melancholy character. It is to express our deep sense of the incalculable loss sustained by India in the death of two of her noblest and greatest sons, Mr. Gokhale and Sir Pherozshah Mehta. Yielding to none in their consuming love for India. They devoted the untiring labours of their valuable lives to the service of their motherland. Their rare capacities their unequalled knowledge, their fearless independence of character, and their inflexible spirit compelled the respect even of those with whom they were brought into conflict. Men of broad minds and large hearts, patriots in the truest and highest sense, they will ever be an example and an inspiration to India’s coming generations.
Theirs was the proud if responsible, role of guide, philosopher and friend to aspiring India a role which they so abundantly fulfilled. Let us earnestly trust that the inspiring influence of their precept and example will ever abide with us, and fortify and sustain us in all our labours and trials in the cause of our country.
Another painful matter before us is to chronicle the profound sorrow of thaw whole people of India at the departure form office of the late Viceroy. Lord Hardinge Gentlemen, the inestimable qualities of Lord Hardinge are too well known and revered throughout the length and breadth of this country to make it necessary for me, much as I might wish it, to add any feeble words of mine in respectful and loving commendation. Lord Hardinge was statesman of the first rank, a statesman of the widest outlook and of the deepest insight, a stamen who won the unbounded esteem and the undying love and gratitude of the people of India by his evalted sense of justice, by his most wise and kind sympathy with the legitimate ideals and aspirations of the Indian people, and by his devoted labours in the cause of India. The bark of the state was committed to his care during high winds and troubled seas such as the world had not known before. But he guided it wisely and well despite the extreme difficulty and gravity of the situation. He handled the situation delicately, gently, yet with the most signal and conspicuous success. Now that he has been taken away from us, let us earnestly trust that his interest in the cause of the country for which be laboured so lovingly will continue, and that India will never cease to enlist his powerful and kindly exertions in her behalf.
This brings us to our next duty which is to extend to his successor, His Excellency the Viceroy Lord Chemlsford a most respectful and cordial welcome to our country. The mantle of Lord Hardinge has fallen on his shoulders, and we are humbly expectant that his governance of India will be characterized by the same qualities that made the frule of his revered predecessor, Lord Hardinge so loved and respected throughout the country.
The one grand theme of universal interest at the present moment is the Great War that is convulsing the entire civilized world. It is a Titanic conflict such as the world has never before seen in all her history dwindline all previous wars by the incomparable magnitude of its scale by the vital importance of the issues raised and by the momentous character of the effects and consequences it with …….. It is a fight of principles of right on the one side and of might on the other. And it is a matter for supreme and just pride to all of us that Britain stands in this conflict as she has ever stood, and we trust, will ever stand, for the cause of right as against the empire of might, for justice as against oppression, for freedom as against tyranny, for exalted principle as against sordid policy for the sanctity of moral obligation as against disregard for the demands of morality, for the inviolability of national integrity as against the destruction of national independence. Our profoundest gratitude is due to all those who have offered their lives or the lives of those they love as a holocaust with such generous abandonment on the altar of their nation’s cause; to all those boble sons who have shed their blood so unstintingly in this national sacrifice, and to all those boble mothers and wives who have borne the pangs of bereavement with so brave a heart. Our faith in the ultimate triumph of our cause is unfaltering, for we know and feel that he is thrice armed that hath his quarrel just. That Province grant success to our arms is the wish and prayer that lie deep in the hearts of every one of us.
The great part India has been called upon and has been able to play in the war is also a matter for honest pride to all her sons. Our soldiers and citizens alike have rallied round the imperial standard and have spontaneously and enthusiastically responded to the call of the Empire in her hour of supreme trial. India has given her blood, her treasure, her resources with ungrudging heart and in unstinted measure. Her grand spirit of heroism and sacrifice has evoked the admiration of even her enemies. She has established her reputation for loyalty and fidelity before the whole world and for all time. I speak in no high spirit of vain glory or proud vein of self complacency. I do not for a moment mean to imply that India has done anything more than her clear duty towards her rulers. I would emphasize the fact that India has only fulfilled the clear demands of allegiance and gratitude to the Crown in doing all she has does for the Empire a crisis. At the same time it must be recognized that she has discharged these difficult if high, obligations not with any bad will or with any bad grace, not in any selfish or calculating spirit, but voluntarily, cheerfully and is interestedly. Let us earnestly trust therefore that if ever there were any doubts of the loyalty of India to the British Crown, those doubts have been completely and for ever laid at rest by the present war.
Gentlemen, let us come now to our goal, for this cannot be placed before our minds and those of our rulers too often or too insistently. Our clear and definite objective is the attainment by India, by constitutional means, under the aegis of the British Crown a system of self-government which should fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the people. Gentlemen, this is the ideal to which we are immutably committed. And it is an ideal which needs no apology or justification. For self government is on e of the fundamental facts of the physical and moral world. In the words of that great son of India, the Honorable Mr. Surendernath banerji, Self-Government is the order of nature the dispensation of divine Province. India must be master of its own destinies. That is the divine law, and the immutable order of the universe written in every line of universal history written in character by the inserutable hand of divine province. If there is to be a deviation or departure, it must be transitional and transient like the needle of a compass. But always pointing northward, steadily towards the goal which is self-government which ought to be the normal condition of things” and India’s grand old man, Mr. Dadabhai Nowroji also pressed this demand on the attention of our rules when he said than the peasants of Russia are fit for end obtained the Duma from the greatest autocrat in the world, and the leading statesman the Prime Minister of the free British Empire, proclaimed to the world, “The Duma is dead, long live the Duma. “Sarely the fellow citizens of that statesman, and the free citizens of that Empire by birthright and pledged righ5ts, are far more entitled to self-Government, a constitutional representative system, than the peasants of Russia. I do not despair. It is futile to tell me that we must wait till all the people are ready. The British people did not so wait for their parliament. We are not allowed to be fit for 150 years. We can never be fit till we actually undertake the work and the responsibility. While China in the east, and Persia in the West, of Asia are awakening, and Japan has already awakened and Russia is struggling for emancipation- and all of them despotisms- can the free citizens of the British Indian Empire continue to remain subject to despotism- the people who are among the first civilizers of the human race? Are the deseendants of the carliest civilizers to remain, in the present times of spreading emancipation, under the barbarous system of despotism, unworthy of British instinets, principles and civilizations”?
This ideal, gentlemen, has had the sanction of the British Government from the earliest days of her rule and the approval of the most eminent state men all ties. No less a statesman that the late viceroy, Lord Hardinge, impressed this ideal on the attention of his countrymen in India in words of sagest counsel to the present and future generations of English rules in India, and of stimulating encouragement to the people of this country. The words have echoes and re-echoed times without number but they are words which can still bear repetition. The words have been enclosed and re-echoed times without number but they are words which can still bear repetition. These are the words he spoke and I would comment them to your earnest attention. “England has instilled to this country the culture and civilization of the west with all its ideals of liberty and self-respect. It is not enough for her now to consider only the material outlook of India. It is necessary for her to cherish the asprations, of which she has herself sown the seed, and English official s are gradually awakening to the fact that, high as were the aims and remarkable the achievements of their predecessors, a still nobler task lies before them in the present and the future in guiding the uncertain and faltering steps of Indian development along sure and safe paths. The new role of guide, philosopher and friend is opening before you and it is worthy of your greatest efforts. It requires in you gifts of imagination and sympathy, and imposes upon you self-sacrifice, for it means that slowly but surely you must diverts yourselves of some of the power you have hitherto wielded. Let it be realized that great as has been England’s mission in the past, she has a far more glorious task to fulfill in the future. In encouraging and guiding the political self-development of the people.” And, again in his convocation Speech, his Lordship observed that it must be recognized that India cannot and will be not remain stationary, and that it is the task of the imperial Government to guide her development and to help her to at tain her just and legitimate aspirations.” Let us therefore, earnestly trust that British statesmanship will rise to the full height of its high responsibilities, and grant India what she has every right to expect at her hands.
It must not be supposed that, in making this demand, India is for a moment unmindful of her incalculable debt to England. No India is profoundly sensible of, and deeply grateful for, all that British rule has done for her, and has definitely and cheerfully accepted British Supremacy as the basis of her political evolution. But, at the same time, India feels that she is entitled to remind England that her greases good is still to come a good that is hers as much by right as by promise.
As much as to England’s duty by India. That India is fast realizing her duty to herself is clear from the growing spirit of inter-communal amity which she is doing her best to foster. And this brings me to the question of Hindu and Mahomedan relations.
HINDU AND MAHOMEDAN RELATIONS
One of the encouraging signs of the times is the increasing rapprochement between the two great communities in India, the Hindu and the Mahomedan. This is full of promise endures. That union is strength is indeed a truism, but it is a truism of such infinite value that it can never be sufficiently emphasized espeicallywhen counsels of separation threaten to prevail. It is in the cordial and whole-hearted co-operation between the various communities in India, in the subordination of communal interest to the national cause. And in the sinking of sectarian differences in a common Endeavour to promote the general good, that India’s salvation clearly lies. In this connection, it may not be out-of-place to refer to the open entente between the Indian national congress and the All-India Muslim League, which was long the pious wish of all true lovers of India, but which is now an accomplished fact. This is a very significant indication of the change for the better in the mutual relations of the two leading communities in India. Which was long foreshadowed by the advance of education and the increasing opportunities of mutual knowledge and contact. This union implies a common recognition of the fact that the time has come when the people of India must no longer be divided into hostile camps but must join hands and devote their concerted efforts to a common cause. Even in Sind, where racial differences were so pronounced in the past, there are observable pleasing indications of an increasing mutual understanding and good will between the various communities. This various communities. This very conference, in which Hindus and Mahomedans have met as members of one household for the promotion of its common interest, is a convincing proof of that inters communal good feeling that is the happiest augury for the future of this Province. And that a still closer union be yet affected is a consummation devoutly to be wished, and towards which it behaves every one who has the interests of this Province at heart to help to the full extent of his power.
While I am upon this subject, it may not be amiss to advert to the regrettable episode connected with the last session of the All-India Muslim League held in Bombay last year. I refer to the incident that led to the break-up of that meeting, and to the part alleged to have been played by the Police, particularly the Police Commissioner of Bombay, in the affair. The importance of the incident can scarely be exaggerated. It has exercised the minds of the whole thinking public of India, and has stirred the feelings of the people, particularly of the Mussalmans, to their very depths. Opinion, and feeling on the subject have found expression in almost every quarter. The press, representative of Indian opinion, has, voiced the people’s feelings in the matter in no uncertain accents, and seldom have the people at large been so affected by a single incidenet as by the incident in question.
Here was a meeting being held that was lawful in every sense of the word. A lawful assembly had met in a lawful manner for a lawful purpose. Clearly it was entitled to hold that meeting without any unlawful disturbance. The Police were in attendance in pursuance of their duty to maintain peace and order. The head of the Bombay Police and the head of the Presidency Magistracy were also on the scene. Yet the elements of disorder deliberately break loose, interrupt the proceedings and finally compel the assembly to dissolve its meeting. Clearly this was an occasion that called for the immediate action of the Police. That action was actually invoked, but was flatly denied.
This incident, you will see, clearly raises an important question of constitution. Indeed, the question transcends the bounds of purely communal politics, and is one of national moment. Hence the imperative necessity for a thorough and impartial enquiry into the matter by Government. That enquiry has been demanded by the general voice of public opinion in India, but I extremely regret that it has not yet been granted. The regret is all the greater as it is the reputation of Government that is undeservedly suffering. Let us, therefore, earnestly trust that enquiry will no long be withheld.
REFORM OF COUNCILS
I come now to the much-needed reform of the Legislative Councils. The Reform Scheme inaugurated by Lord Minto and Morley has worked very satisfactorily since its introduction. The time, I think, has come when the umber of Indians in the Executive Council should be increased. At present, we have only a nominal, and entirely ineffectual, representation in that important council, and I think it is time that a more real and substantial participation in the work of Government were granted to Indians. Again, I think we should press for an elected majority in Council instead of the present nominated majority. For a nominated Indian is virtually an official, an official in effect if not in name. At least, he is so to the people, whether be so in actual fact or not. To the public mind, he is generally identified with the official camp, and can never command the confidence of the people in anything like the same degree as an elected member. Hence it is idle to pretend that nominated members are, or can ever be, to the people what its own chosen representatives are, who are men of its own express selection, as against nominated members, who may not be, and often are not, men quite after its heart.
Another suggestion I should like to make is with regard to Resolutions. The most important right created by the Minto-Morley Reform Scheme was that which enabled the non-official members of the Legislative Councils to move resolutions on matters of public interest. Unfortunately, however, this right is able to be rendered quite nugatory by the absolute and unqualified powers of veto vested in His Excellency the President. Hence what is given by one hand is withdraw able by the other without any restriction whatever, such has actually been the case whenever resolutions that, for some reason or other, did not find favour with Government were sought to be moved by non-official members. Such dictatorial power practically renders the right in fructuous. I, therefore, think that if the right granted is to be of any use, the power to control its exercise must be subject to some condition or qualification.
Again, the resolutions themselves, when passed by the council are at present only allowed the force of recommendations, and stop short indecisions. This leaves Government free to give effect totem or not, just as it may choose to decide, and robs resolutions of their main value. I would therefore, submit that. If resolutions are to be of any practical worth, decisive effect should attach to them.
SEPARATION OF EXECUTIVE AND JUDICIAL FUNCTIONS.
One of the most important matters for reform is the time-honoured combination of judicial and executive functions in one officer of Government. The subject is as old as the time of Lord Cornwallis, Governor-General of India, when attention was first called to the importance and urgency of this much needed reform. The system which allows the same officer of Government to collect the revenue, to control the police to institute prosecutions and , at the same time, to exercise large judicial powers has been condemned not only by the general voice of public opinion in India but also by some of the highest officers of Government and some of the greatest judicial authorities in this country, it has been perhaps, the most insistent subject of complaint and representation to Government by the Indian Press and by representative public bodies and individuals throughout a long series of year. It formed part of the subject matter of the famous memorial addressed to the secretary of State for India. The very names of the signatories to this memorial are such as spell unquestionable. They are:- The Right Honourable Lord Hothouse )late Legal member of the Viceroy’s Council, Member of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council), the Right Honorable Sir Richard Garth (late Chief Justice of Bengal), the Right Honorable Sir Richard Couch (late Chief Justice of Bengal, Member of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council), sir Charles Sergeant (late judge of the high court, Calcutta), Sir John Phear (late judge of the high court, Calcutta, and chief justice of Ceylon), Sir John Scott (late judge of the high court Bombay), Sir William Wedderburn (late Reader in Indian law at the University of Cambridge) and Mr. Herbert Reynolds (late member of the Bengal legislative council), surely, gentlemen these are names to conjure with and they impress a hall-mark, so to speak, on this scheme of reform. The memorial itself is most instructive reading. It shows that from the earliest them the Government of India have clearly recognized the evil of combination of functions, and have frankly approved the principle of separation. It would take me too long to place before youth opinions of all the high officers of government who have form time to time expressed themselves on this subject. But one passage may be quoted with advantage. Thus Sir Frederic Halliday (sometime Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal and member of the Council of the Secretary of State) said: - “The evil which this system produces is twofold; it affects the fair distribution of justice, and it impairs, at the same time, the efficiency of the Police. The union o f Magistrate with Collector has been stigmatized as incompatible, but the junction of thief-catcher with Judge Issue relies more anomalous in theory, and more mischievous in practice. So long as it lasts, the public confidence in our criminal tribunals must always be liable to injury, and the authority itself must often be a used and misapplied.
The memorial then summaries the arguments for the proposed reform. I could not do better than to quote its very language. The objectifies to the present system, the Memorial recites, are (1) that the combination of judicial with executive duties in the same officer violates the first principles of equity, (2) that while a judicial officer ought to be thoroughly impartial, and approach the consideration of any case without previous knowledge of the facts, an executive officer does not adequately discharge his duties unless his cars are open to all reports and information which he can in any degree employee for the benefit of his District, (3) that executive officers in India, being responsible for a large amount of miscellaneous business, have not time satisfactorily to dispose of judicial work in addition. (4) that, being keenly interested in carrying out particular measures they are apt to be brought more or less into conflict with individuals, and therefore, it is inexpedient that they should also be invested with judicial powers, (5) that under the existing system, Collector- Magistrates do in fact neglect judicial for executive work, (6) that appeals from revenue assessments are apt to be futile when they are heard be revenue officers, (7) that great inconvenience, expense and suffering are imposed upon suitors required to follow the camp of a judicial officer who, in the discharge of his executive duties, is making a tour of his District, and (8) that the existing system not only involves all whom it concerns in hardship and inconvenience but also, buy associating the judicial tribunal with the work of the police and of detectives, ad by diminishing the safeguards afforded by the rules of evidence, produces actual miscarriages of justice and creates although justice be done, opportunities of suspicion, distrust and discontent which are equally to be deplored.” The memorial appends summaries of various cases which illustrate in a striking way some of the damagers that arise form the present system, and then makes the following instructive observations. “These cases of themselves might well remove the necessity of argument a priori against the combinations theory. But the present system is not merely objectionable on the ground that, so long as it exists, the general administration of justice is subjected to suspicion and the strength and authority of the Government are seriously impaired. For this reason it is submitted that nothing short of complete separation of judicial form executive functions by legislation will remove the danger. Something, perhaps. Might e accomplished by purely executive measures. But such palliatives fall short of the only complete an satisfactory remedy, which is, by means of legislation, to make a clear line of division between the judicial and the executive duties now often combined in one an the same officer.”
This reform has received repeated endorsement from the highest quarters. Thus Lord Cross, secretary of State for India in council, refereed to the proposed separation of functions as “an excellent plan which would result in vast good to the Government of India, Lord Kimberley, a later Secretary of State, also approved the proposed reform. Finally, Lord Duffer in, Viceroy of India. Characterized the proposal for separation put forward by Indian opinion.
I trust I have sufficiently shown that the present system is vicious both in theory and in practice. In theory it offends against the most fundamental principle of justice, the principle which demands that the judge of any matter shall not be one who has any previous knowledge regarding it, or any interest in its adjudication in any particular way. In practice, the system has proved itself to be absolutely incompatible with the proper administration of justice. The mind of man being constituted as it is, it is almost impossible for an official to prevent knowledge or interest acquired by him when acting in one capacity from influencing him, when he is acting in an other. And even if this were possible, the public conviction of its impossibility would still be there to reckon with. And herein has the inherent and inevitable vice of the system. Hence I mean no reflection on the officers of Government who conscientiously Endeavour to discharge the conflicting duties developing upon them in the best way possible. The fault, I re-iterate, lies in the system, not in the men.
The traditional objections that have been urged against any departure from the present system are mainly two. It is either contended that the
Removal aft judicial powers farm an executive officer would impair his authority and prestige, thus detracting farms his executive efficiency,
Is that the proposed separation of the two? Functions would entail an increased expenditure, which is prohibitive in the present condition of Indian finances. The first contention is sufficiently met by the fact that the authority of executive officer is adequately protected by the powers he otherwise possesses. There is the Revenue Cadre which vests him with powers by which he can make his authority respected and feared throughout his District. Hence his authority does not need any support in the shape of judicial power. It is not as if the prestige of an officer necessarily depends a possession of judicial power. For, if this were so, we should expect the prestige of His Excellency the Viceroy Nat only to suffer by comparison with that of a District are Sessions Judges, but even to be in serious jeopardy. Besides, the reform in question does not propose to do away with judicial, power's altogether, but only to sever the judicial function from the executive, and to vest them in separate officers. The present judicial powers, therefore, will be maintained in toot, but only their devolution will change.
This objection is, therefore, clearly untenable. It has 'never even been seriously, or at least openly, urged by any responsible officer of Government, however much it any underlie, as it is, rightly lor wrongly, believed to underlie, the attitude of Government towards this question.
The other objection urged is equally unsustainable. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that this reform need notaccasion any increase of expenditure; that, even if it did, the additional expenditure could be met by a judicious diversion of the State revenues farm other purposes; and that, even if this were 'not acceptable, the caddied expense would be cheerfully barne by the people. But, even if the above
Objections had any force or substance inihem, which they have not; it still behaves a Government that stands for justice to. Subardinate what "¬are after all comparatively petty considerations to the clear and force or substance in them, which they have nat, it still behaves a
Government that stands far justice to subordinate what are after all comparatively petty considerations to. The clear' an admitted demands of right and fairness. If the present system is an evil, and a great evil, as it’s admitted to. Be an all hands, then it must be remedied, whatever be the cost or consequences entailed. For it is a question that is obviously momentous both in its scope and its effects, for it affects, and very gravely affects millions of men in their very liberties.
It is some satisfaction to. Knaw that the reform in question has already reached the stage ofpramise. For, a few years ago, Sir Harvey Adamsan, speaking in the Vuceregal Council, salemnly promised that, an experiment would be made. That premise, I regret ha snot yet fructified, and we owe it to ourselves to. Press with might and main far its performance. Government has charged itself with a clear duty in 'this matter and ours is bathed the right and thy duty to. See to the fulfillment of this obligation by Government.
COMMISSIONS IN THE ARMY &c., &C.
Yet another direction in which, I think, reform has been long delayed, is that of the grant to. Indians of Commissians in the army, the grant of
Arms and the admission of Indians to volunteering. These have been long the hope and prayer after people of India, and I earnestly trust that England will no. Langer demurs to granting them. The present disabilities in these directions are bath inequitable and invidious. For has not India deserved well enough of England to receive better treatment than this at her hands? Has India nat earned England's trust abundantly? Besides trust begets trust, and it is therefore, to be fervently happed that England will realize both the unfairness and the Unisom of her
Policy in this direction.
I now came nearer home, and propose to. Survey our Provincial situation. Here we have a Commissioner-in-Sindh who, by virtue of the Commissioner-in-Sand's Act (Act V of 1868), practically constitutes the Local Government of the province. That Act enacts that¬
"1. It shall be lawful for the Governor a f Bombay in Council, by a notification published in the Bombay Government Gazette, to delegate to the Commissioner-in-Sindh all or any of theaters conferred on the said governor in Council, as the Local Government of the province of Sindh, by any of the Bombay Regulations, or by any Act of the Governor-General of India in Council solely applicable to the presidency of Bombay or by any Act passed heretofore or hereafter by the Governor of Bombay in Council, or by any of the Acts of the Governor General in Council in the schedule to this act. '
2. It shall be lawful far the Governor of Bombay in Council, with the consent of the Govern~-General in Council, to. Delegate to the Commissioner-in-Sindh all or any of the pawers heretofore are hereafter conferred by any Act of the Governor-General in Council are the
Governor of Bombay in Councilor the local government of the province of Sindh.
3. All Acts dane by the C6mmissioner~in-Sindh under the authority of any power so, delegated shall be as valid as if they had been done by the Governor of Bombay in council."
This wide delegation of power makes the Commissioner-in-Sindh, without a council, supreme and sole arbiter in many matters that in anther parts of the presidency are decided by the Governor of Bombay in council, and often places the decision of questions of the first magnitude and importance in his sale hands. It entails all the evils of absolute authority, and freedom farm control witch are inherent in every farm of autocracy. It is one man's rule, instead after rule by council, which the other parts after presidency enjoy. This is the root defect of
The administration of the province, and our interests '
Demand that Sindh be placed in the same position in this respect as the other part of the presidency. The Act was passed as long ago an s 1868, and, no. doubt awed its argon to. The primitive and undeveloped state of the province at ate time, which necessarily called for the
Existence of large and absolute powers within the province itself. By with the passage of time and the great progress and development of Sindh since them, these powers have entirely last their justification, and Cali far repeal.
Hence it is clear that we can no. longer remain, in this position. There are, it appears to. Me, two obvious courses open to us, either to demand a
. Repeal of this Act, are to demand that Send, go with the Punjab and be under a Governor in council. I need scarcely say that, in making this
Suggestion, I mean not the slightest reflection and the eminent officers who. Have filled this office with such credit to themselves and to
Government. I have nothing but the deepest respect and regard for their high qualities and character, and my suggestion is nat the least
Detraction farms their acknowledged merits. It is the system that is objectionable.
Ingenuity or cruelty can suggest is brought to bear on supposed offenders for the purpose of ~extorting confessions. No doubt, confessions made to the police under any circumstances are inadmissible in evidence. But confessions made to private persons or to Magistrates are so admissible. And here is a field for Police oppression which that body never neglects. Resort to pressure soon impresses their victims with the advantages of confessing. Pain, or the fear of it, compels such confessions. And these are what are afterwards made to masquerade as voluntary confessions. Similar methods are also resorted to in the plausible restorations of property by supposed offenders that the Police
Sometimes fake. The cases that ~occasionally come to light vividly bring home to one the withering sway wielded by the all powerful Police in Sindh. Even Seminar of position and respectability are the victims of their oppression. And these instances are certainly too isolated occurrences by any means. They are only a few out of a very large number of similar cases, which are never brought or come to the notice of the authorities. Verily, their name is go ion, but it is seldom that the aggrieved parties have the hardihood of jeopardizing their interests by complaint to the authorities; a course which they know only too well will earn them the odium of the Police’ which is a terrible thing to them. But sheer desperation now and again drive s these Zemindar to throw all prudence to the winds and to bring their grievances to the notice of responsible officers of Governments. And the very fact that Zemindar of Sindh who are remarkable, if for nothing else, at least for their docility, patience and submissiveness- qualities they possess even to a fault should be goaded on to a course which they well know is full of peril is proof abundant and eloquent 0 the extent of the oppression practiced by the Police in Sindh. The reign of terror instituted by the Police in this province has no clearer index and no more powerful commentary that such occasionally desperate action on the part of their victims.
It will thus be seen that the present activities of the Sindh Police area regrettable diversion of their attention and energy from their legitimate and' necessary duties, which are the real prevention and detection of crime, to a plausible make-believe of such activity, such as has been referred to above. The deplorable result of this misdirection of effort on their apart has been that crime, especially serious crime, has not received the attention it deserves at their hands.
AMENDMENT OF THE CRIMNAL PROCEDURE CODE
As the Bill to amend the Criminal Procedure Code is on the legislative anvil, I might venture to offer a few suggestions in regard to the more important provisions dfthe Bill. Much the most important matter for amendment is Chapter VIII of the Code, particularly Section 110. It is a matter of notoriety that the provisions of this, section are being abused in Sindh, and that there is a general outer against the oppressive working of this branch of the law in this Province. It is, unfortunately, a handy and powerful weapon of oppression in the hands of the Police and of all unscrupulous persons generally. As matters stand at present, there is nothing to prevent any ill-disposed person from ruining the object of his aversion by putting into operation the terrible and easily' worked provisions of this section. The police, through a mistaken sense of duty and misdirected zeal, are only too ready to play into the hands of every unprincipled person who has a bone to pick with his fellow or a grudge to repay. The result is that innocent persons are being damned every day by the machinations of their private enemies, who make common cause with Police, or y the activities of the 'Police themselves, who press into service every private means, whether fair or foul, to comtfa.ss the ruin of those who. Have had the misfortune to incur their disfavor. Things have gone so far that pressure is brought to bear even on respectable persons to damn men not only to whose discredit they know nothing, but of whose unimpeachable character they are fully persuaded. Instances of such oppression are innumerable, and are mutinying daily.
Now, unless earth blanche is to be given to the gratification of private malice or to Police oppression than which nothing could have been further form the intention or desire of the Legislature- something needs to be done very urgently in the mater. If the whole section is not to be abolished altogether- which, in my humble opinion, is much the best things that could be done, as it does on the whole more harm Than good to the people-let it at lest be so fended in by proper safeguards and restrictions as to ensure its working for the well-being of the people, and not to’ their harassment, as is unfortunately the case-at present. The state of things is painful and even alarming to a degree and. the need of reform 'is imperative. . .
Some time ago, an official enquiry had been institute by Government into the working of this branch of the law in send. On that occasion, the public at large were not consulted in any way. I had therefore taken the opportunity of placing some material of facts, opinions and suggestions on the subject before the public and representative bodies and persons, with a view to a final representation on the matter to Government. That representation was postponed till the completion of the Government enquiry. But as we are yet, and will probably continue to be, in the dark as to the results of that enquire, the public representation in this important matte should no 'longer be delayed.
It will be convenient to refer here to the Law of Confession, though strictly, it does not form a substantive part of the Procedure Code. This branch of the law too works, in actual proactive, under the best conditions, more harm than good, and I would therefore make bold to advocate its repeal in toto. There can never be, I will n to say absolute, but even marl, certainty of the voluntary character foamy confession owing to the fact that the accused are generally in the custody, and under the influence, of the Police prior to the confessions. And every reasonable inference, that inherent probability and practical experience suggest is against the voluntaries of confessions in general. For this reason, confessions do not deserve any evidentiary value being attached to them, and might well be excluded 'form the law altogether.
Then there are several provisions of the Bill which propose to extend the already wide powers of the police in matters of procedure. My emphatic, if respectful, opinion is that these powers are wide enough in all conscience, in fact much too wide to be safe, and it behoves us to resist tooth and nail any proposal to still further enlarge those powers. For, human nature began what it is, large and all but irresponsible power is peculiarly liable to be abused, and power is only likely to be well used when duly restricted a controlled. And bitter experience has taught us how long a powerful the arm of the Police can be even today.
I am quite aware that some of the measures I have above ventured to suggest are somewhat heroic in character. But I feel, and strongly, that nothing short of such drastic remedies will cure evils for which palliatives can do but little.
The public service is another department in which I feel Sindh has a grievance. The Report of the Royal Public Service Commission is not yet out, and we therefore do not yet know what recommendations have been or will be made, and how their will affect Sindh. Let us, however, earnestly trust that when the Report does come out, it does not prove disappointing to the legitimate claims and aspirations of the people in this direction. Meanwhile, however, I may venture to suggest, with regard to tis province, that certain high appointments, such as those of collector, district judge, district superintendent of Police, etc. which are at present open to Indians in the Presidency, be thrown to Indians in this Province as well. For, in point of competency, Sindh does not, I think, compare unfavorably with the Presidency, and place that can be satisfactorily filled by the people of the Presidency can, I feel, be done justice to by the people of this Province as well. I would also urge that at lest one seat on the Court of the Judicial Commissioner in Sindh be allotted to the Provincial Bar, which. I am sure contains many men who could fill such a place with credit.
DECENNIAL SYSTEM OF SETTLEMENT
Perhaps the most important department of State activity is 'the Land Revenue administration. On the one hand, it constitutes Government's principal source of income, and, on the other, it affects the vast majority of the population. The most important matter for consideration in this branch of administration in Sindh is the term of settlement obtaining hirer. In this matter as in so many others, Sindh is dealt with in a measure different from that of the rest of India. For, whereas the rest of India enjoys either a permanent settlement or a settlement of 60 or 30 or 20 years- the last being the least period obtaining elsewhere- this Province is asked to be content with accordingly elsewhere- this Province is asked to be content a niggardly period of 10 years. Now the history of the decennial system of settlement in Sindh clearly shows that, originally, it was a provisional and experimental measure, adapted to the then primitive conditions: though it is remarkable that, even in those really days, the then highest opinion-that of the Commissioner-in-Sindh, the Governor of Bombay, and the Secretary of State for India - was in favor of an extended period. However, whatever justification there may have been for a short period at that early tie, there is no warrant whatever for the maintenance oath period in the present conditions. It has been repeatedly and conclusively shown that there is every reason, whether a priori or a posteriori, whether of experience, economy, justice or policy, against the short period, and every possible reason for a longer period. The resins advanced in support of the present term of settlement by the Government of India and by responsible officers of Government have been so often shown to be quite void of substance or force. On the other hands, the reasons against the present period have been proved to the hit both in theory and in practice. The stability of present conditions, warranting long settlement, the adverse effect of a short settlement on the value and on the improvement of the land. The speedier enhancements- for revisions are almost synonymous with enhancements-it brings in its train, and the countless other hardships and discouragements it entails on the Zemindar have been demonstrated by actual experience. It Was for Government to make out their case for an admitted exception. This type has failed to do; while, on the other hand, the people have succeeded in proving the applicability of the rule. Though the attitude of Government, therefore, in regard to this question has not been very encouraging in the past, it was some satisfaction to the people to know that the matter was finally to come before a Commission. That Commission has now completed its enquiry, and we are anxiously awaiting its Report, which 1 think, is overdue. And let us earnestly trust that that Report will not prove a disappointment to the people of Sindh, who has every reason to expect a recommendation for a longer period-30 years at the very least-in view of the vast mass of competent a responsible opinion in favor of an extended settlement.
Next in importance to the question of the term of settlement 'in Sindh are the subject permissions. Remissions are a necessity born of the seasonal vagaries. The demands of Government are fixed and rigid, while agricultural conditions are as variable and indeterminate. Hence the call for remissions, which are abatements of the claims of Government, intended to afford relief Zemindar in seasons of agricultural depression. Remissions are, therefore, unquestionably a most equitable and benevolent idea. It is, however, a matter for deep regret that in practice they almost entirely fail of their just and kind purpose. The rules regarding remissions are open to the gravest exception, both in respect of their design and their manner of working. On the merits of the rules it is not possible for me to comment at any length, as by far The larger number of the are objectionable, and often on more than one ground. I shall therefore leave their fuller discussion to the mover of the resolution on the subject. One rul3e, however, I think, calls for special criticism. It is the rule that bass the claim for remissions on a certain proportion-less than-2: 1- between the value of the produce and the amount of assessment. But this value must in all fairness be the net value of the Seminar produce, and not its gross value, which is subject to considerable reduction by reason of the haris share, the expenses of cultivation, clearance, etc, and the other multitudinous drains on the Seminar's finances in the shape of illicit exactions on the part of subordinates of the Revenue and irrigational Departments. These various charges are in much case known to reduce the net value of the Seminar's share almost to zero. But in any case the net value falls considerably short of the gross. I would therefore suggest that the net value of the produce. Which is the real value, and not the gross value, which is a fictitious value, be the baris's ofca\culation for remissions. Further, one ratio cannot properly be at once applicable to both flow and lift land, owing to the difference in the basis share of the produce in the two species of land the haris. Share being more in lift that in flow. All these considerations lead me to my final suggestion in this connection, which is, that the proportion between the net value of the produce and the amount of assessment, entitling the Seminar to remi9ssion be fixed at less than3: I in the case of flow and at less than 4:4 in the case of lift. Only then will something be left in bad seasons to the Zemindar, who at present gets next to nothing in most cases, and nothing at all in some.
I think it is also necessary for me to refer to the regrettable attitude occccasionaly taken by the higher officials in regard to remission work. Liberal recommendations have been know to rise suspicious regarding the integrity of the officer's liberality. The deplorable result is vernal demoralization. For, if honest work by subordinates is to beget, the distrust of their superiors merely by reason of this result being unfavorable to Government there must soon be an end of all such hazardous integrity. This lamentable tendency, which has in the past resulted the breaking of a few Mukhtyarkars, has had its natural effect on all officers who have been subsequently entrusted with this responsible work.
Finally, in view of the fact that the assessment inn Sindh is demonstrably a high one, I think that people have every right to expect a more liberal grant of remissions that has hitherto been the case. So far, remissions have only been keeping the word of promise to the err and breaking it to the hope.
It is some satisfaction for the people to know that these rules are at present under the consideration of Government. However, they cannot but regret that they have not at all been consulted in the matter so far, and I therefore hope that Government will not any longer abstain from taking full and free counsel with the people to eb affected by the rules.
Fallow Rules are yet another matter connected with the land revenue administration that urgently calls for reform. In an addition to being indefensible in principle. They are mischievous in practice. They are a clear violation of the proprietary rights of the Zemindar in his land of witch he cannot properly be divested under any circumstances. Hence the resumption of this right by the State is absolutely unwarranted. This proprietary right of the landowner in the soul was clearly re cognized by the old officers of government, and was even acknowledged by the Government of India. In their Resolution No. 2280, dated the 30th March 1874, the Supreme Government, in Sindh distinctly stated that they left the nature of the settlement to the decision of the Bombay Government, provided due regard was paid to the proprietary rights of the people in the soul. His Excellency the governor-General then observed that "he had little doubt but that proprietary rights of the people in ihe soul do crist throughout that province and that it only requires the application of knowledge and experience of the subject to develop and record the,." But unfortunately that Bombay Government overlooked or overrode the orders of the Supreme Government in this connection, and disregarded the proprietary rights of the Zemindar. This matter was represented to Government at the time, but the whole question was closed by Bombay Government Resolution No. 1836, dated the e25th August 1884 which in intruding the temporary Settlement, held out the assurance that (1) Zemindar would always have at their dispersal all their waste, land without being charged anything, and (2) that Fallow Rules which charged assessment on time-expired fallow numbers ad resumed land in default would be done away with.
A year or two after the question of the Seminar's proprietary rights in the soil was settled in this manner, the temporary settlement was converted into an irrigational one, and the Fallow Rules were introduced in clear breach of the above assurance on the strength on which the question of proprietary rights had been dropped. It is, perhaps, futile to revive that question now, but I think we are in justice entitled to hold Government to the solemn pledge given tat that time with regard to the abolition of the Fallow Rules, particularly Rule 4, and this irrespective of the merits or demerits of the Rules.
To come now to the merits of Rules 4 of the Fallow Rules which is the principal rule, I shall first take the case for the Rule. The reasons advanced in its support are (I) that the assessment is fixed on the assumption that a holding will be cultivated entire once in every 5 years and that, if the whole land is not brought under cultivation during that period, Government loses in assessment, and must make up the loss be charging assessment on that time-expected fallow numbers: (2) that it acts as a stimulus to the Zemindar, who is compelled to bring his whole land under cultivation at least once in 5 years on pain of its being forfeited or being charged fallow assessment, and (3) that is a cheek on the tendency of Zemindar to take up more land that they are able or willing t cultivate.
Now a little examination will show that these reasons are untenable. In the first place, Government receives not only the deficit of the full assessment, but unduly obtains a great de a] more as fallow assessment through there. Be no deficit at a]l. For Government charges assessment on time-expired fallow number even when the total area cultivated in the 5 years is equal to, or more than; the entire holding. For example, a Zemindar holding 1000 acres will in 5 years have paid the full assessment of his entire holding by cultivating 200 acres a year. But the effect of the present rule is that, even if the Zemindar in this case were to cultivate as much as 400 or 600 acres a year and thus pay Government in 5 years double or treble the full assessment, but were to fail to cultivate during the period any particular portion of is land, say about 100 acres. He would still be charge fallow assessment on those 100 acres. Surely, this is a most unfair exaction on uncultivated land, and I do not think that it was ever the intention of Government that the rule should have this effect. But that it does have this effect in the vast majority of cases is a demonstrable fact. Secondly the stimulus to energy, which, it appears. This rule is intended to be is, I think a stimulus with a vengeance a stimulus so strong that it paralyzes rather, that stimulates. Besides, why is any artificial stimulus necessary? Is not self interest by itself much the most powerful stimulus known to human nature?' It is altogether fatuous to suppose that any Zemindar would fail to cultivate as much of his land as he possibly could if he could do so with advantage. If he leaves any survey numbers uncultivated for some time, we may be sure that he has the best reasons in the world for doing so, all at government should I think desire is that the Zemindar should cultivate a particular portion, say of his holding, every year. This most Zemindar can do, and actually do in point of fact. But I entirely fail to see why they should be compelled, on pain of fine or forfeiture, to cultivate even those portions of their land which they have good reasons to leave fallow for some time. These good 'reasons may be (1) exhaustion of the soul which calls for longer rest (2) the land being overgrown with weed owing to excessive rain, a condition which necessitates a longer fallow to enable the land to become fit for cultivation (3) scarcity of water due to the unfavorable set of the river at the mouths of the canals, and a variety of other causes. These reasons clearly indicate a long fallow, which the Zemindar would, but for the rule, have allowed. But the fear of being charged full fallow assessment or having his land forfeited, compels the poor Zemindar to incur heavy expensive on excavation or clearance or reclamation of the soul, and to give it for cultivation to haris on nominal rent, which is often less that the government assessment. In such a case, the cultivator, on the one had, gets less for his time and trouble, and the Zemindar on the other, not withstanding his expense, gets nothing. So much for the effect of the stimulus in question. Were it not for this stimulus, other land in the same holding would have been cultivated, with advantage both to the Zemindar and to the cultivator, and without any loss to Government. Further if the expense of bringing any land under cultivation be excessive, the Zamindar prefers to let it lie fallow and pays the fallow assessment, rather than suffer the loss of his land.
Third]y, the tendency of the Zemindar to take up more land that hi Is able or willing to cultivate could, think, be easily checked by Government ruling that no land should be given to' a seminar who ha s for 5 years failed to cultivate an area equal to his holding. To secure full assessment in 5 years, the fairest course, if any were needed at all, would, I think, be to make final settlement of assessment every 5 years. The number Shumari being kept for 5 years, the total area of cultivation of every khatedar during 5 years could be made out, and if that were less than the area of his hold, the deficit of the assessment could be charged him, and, in default, a proportionate area could be confiscated. However, as I have said before, such cases are quite exceptional.
Thus it is clear that the rule works most injuriously in practice on the poor seminars. The loss incurred in bringing under cultivation land under temporary unfavorable conditions, or otherwise, by the payment often unfair exaction, plunges the Zemindar into debt. This steadily accumulating year by year eventually compels the Zemindar to part with a portion of what is so dear to a Sindhi and what, to a Zemindar, is the only means of livelihood,- his land.
The futility of these. Rules were even admitted by the Commissioner-in-Sindh in his Circular letter, inviting the options of the various officers in Sindh on the subject. The Commissioner, Mr. .Muir Mackenzie, therein observes that "it has occurred to the Commissioner that the rule might be abolished altogether. In a bad year its operation is always suspended and in a good year. When all land is pretty certain to be cultivated for which water is available, there should ordinarily be little occasion to enforce it. The forfeiture of time expired fallow lands is, moreover, merely nominal since forfeited lands are almost always given back to the original proprietors. The amount of revenue realized in the shape of fallow assessment and the arrears of fallow assessment recovered when forfeited lands are restored to original occupants is not large compared with the total revenue of the province. The abolition of the rule too is likely to result in an appreciable saving of work all round.
In this connection, I may point out that the restoration of fallow-forfeited number to the original holders in the first instance is all very well in theory. But, in practice, great delay, inconvenience and expense are occasioned to these holders in getting back their forfeited land owing to the change of that a, and the consequents necessity for applying for restoration of name, etc. and the countless other practical difficulties in the way. Besides there is observable of late a tendency to disregard the preferential claims of the original holders to their forfeited land, which is occasionally given away to strangers.
Against, there is a clear difference between lift and Flow land in respect of fallows. Hence even if the rule is to be retained with regard to Flow land there is no case for its retention in respect of lift land. In this I am supported by the opinion of such an eminent and distinguished revenue officer as the late Sirdar Mahomed Yakub, who observes in this connection, as follows: - "Whereat Charkhi" number is fanged with "kallar" or in rather sandy or of any reason is of poor soil the Zemindar gets into serious difficulty. Cultivators do not agree to devote their labor and expense on land which will pay in sufficient; their whole year's subsistence in "charki" tracts depends on "khrif' cultivation only, and there is always more land than there are cultivators the "haris" refuse to cultivate inferior land. If the Zemindar gives u the Survey Number, he finds undesirable neighbors in the midst of his holding. He pays the follow assessment, or, in some cases, attempts to have it cultivated. The stimulus to energy in those cases compass the Zemindar to give the land for nominal rent; the cultivator gets less for his time an trouble and the Zemindar nearly nothing while remembering that the number of cultivator is shall had the stimulus not been at work, the cultivator would have cultivated a better piece of land in the same holding with advantage to all concerned. In other cases, when the set of the river is against the canal, and there is deep silt in certain bad "karias" and water ceases to flow in the midst of the season the expenses required are too excessive. But the stimulus to energy plunges the Zemindar into debt, the crops fail, his "haris" run away with large advances, and he is left involved 'in the meshes of the money-lender. For these reasons, I am of opinion that the rule in question should not apply to "charkha" Survey Number.
It is, therefore to be hoped that these important considerations, and the decided opinions of its own most responsible and competent officers will weigh with Government, and induce Government to abolish the rule in toto, or at least with regard to lift land.
REDUCTION OF WATER SUPPLY
The reduction of water supply throughout Sindh by reduction of the size of the sluices which have existed from time immemorial has created great discontent among the Seminars of Sindh. The public works department would appear to have entered upon a veritable crusade. In 1908, they began with the Bagari canal, and within 20 miles of it, went on promiscuously pulling down the old sluices and building their own new ones. This created serious dissatisfaction, and various complaints were made to the Engineering authorities and to the Commissioner-in-Sindh. In some instances, it was found that the complaints were reasonable, and some of the new sluices were demolished.
The Public Works Department, and with it Government, would appear to have overlooked or ignored the whole history of the present. irrigational settlement in Sindh. Before its introduction, a diffused settlement obtained in this Province, under which the land was divided into large nos., and the Zemindar had to pay assessment for the whole land, whether cultivated or not. As the assessment was levied on the entire holding Government was, on its part, bound to supply water for the whole, and it was on that calculation that sluices at the heads of Karias and Canals were built by the P.W.D. at the expense of the Zemindar. The rate of assessment was very light.
The irrigational settlement was intended to curtail the extent of cultivation and to improve its quality. The large S. Nos: were split up into small ones and the amount of assessment livable on the whole and was’ imposed on a portion of it, with an option to the Zemindar to cultivate as many small Nos: as he chose, leaving the rest to lay fallow for which he was exempted form payment of the assessment. The Zemindar cold, if he chose, cultivates all the land contained in his old. No.s against the rate of assessment depends on the species of crops he wants to raise on the land. Thus there is no limitation either on the quality or the quantity of cultivation to be raised by the Zemindar. But the P.W.D has been trying to impose their own conditions on this power of the Zemindar. They base their calculation of water supply on the assumption that the Zemihdar should be provided water for only 1/3 of his holding, and that he has no right to cultivate more, and that, if possible, he should not be allowed to cultivate rise. This is a clear encroachment on the rights of the Zemindar. Law does not impose any limitation the kind proposed by the P.W.D. the law on the subject is contained in the Bombay Irrigation Act VII of 1879, and no power is given then to the P.W.D. to c7urtainl the usual water supply or to cut or confme the cultivation in any way.
Again, the P.W.D. pleads for the lower Zemindar. They believe that all riparian holders have equal rights. This can to be. YOl cannot deprive the higher holders of their rights in under to make provision for the lower holders; possibly nay probably, the lands on the lower reaches were not originally under cultivation. Their holders took up those lands with full knowledge of the disadvantages under whist they were laboring. They paid less for the, they cannot now turn round and call upon the higher holders to make provision fro them. This I~ any thing but equitable. The P.W.D. is encroaching upon the rights of the Zemindar arbitrarily and illegally, and this encroachment should be checked. The infection has spread from the Begary to the fully, the Methrao and other canals in Sindh; and unless steps are taken. It is feared (that this policy of reducing the water supply will produce serious and deep-rooted discontent among the Zemindar.
Mr. Younghusband, one of the most sagacious and farseeing Commissioners that Sindh has had, has struck a note ofwrining on this subject in his letter No. 555 of 5th July 1916, attached to the Government Resolution No. W.I.254/1907.
In Para 3 of that note he observes as follows :
“The irrigation question in Sindh presets marked peculiarities differentiating it probably from every thing else of the kind in Sindh. Secondly, irrigation in Sindh is not in any sense a creation of the British administration. The works carried out by the Engineers have consisted mainly, until the last few years solely, in the development and improvement of previously existing indigenous systems of irrigation, and we are confronted on every side with an ancient usages and vested rights, which have to be carefully guarded against the well meaning encroachments of the zealous advocates of scientific irrigation. Where ancient rights and usages are distributed compensation should be proposed.”
Again in Para 3 of Government Resolution No. 1050 of 9th April 1906, we find the following remarks:-
“Some lands have probably prior rights of irrigation, and arrangements for their supply, in preference to others, must be made.”
In view of these considerations, I think it behooves Governments to respect the rights of the zemindar instead of completely ignoring them by demolishing their existing sluices without their knowledge and behind their back and creating new ounces of much smaller dimensions to their great prejudice.
This attitude of the P.W.D has compelled the quiet and pece-l9 oving Zemindar of Sindh to go to Courts of law against their will. Using Governemnt is not an easy or pleasant task. The person who does so incurs the deep resentment of the whole official class. But the Zemindar has the right to expect Government to afford them the protection against unrighteous encroachment which is their due.
THE SUKKUR BARAGE
The Sukkur Barrage is a projected scheme of improvement on the present water supply which has long been under the consideration
Of Government. It is vital importance to the Province. Let us, therefore, earnestly trust h that circumstances permit.
CO-OPERATIVE CREDIT SOCIEITIES
Co-operative Credit Societies are excellent institutions for mutual assistance. They have done good work in Sindh and this in spite 01 the drawbacks which have attended their working in this Province, to which I shall presently refer, indirectly, in the suggestion I intend the offer. An examination of their records will show that regular, if not very appreciable, progress has been made by them. These institutions were first introduced in 1906-07 when there was one society. In 1910-11, there were 4; in 1911-12.7: in 1912-13, II; in 1913-14, 17; ill
1914-15, 19; in 1915-16 there were 29, and by the 1st of April 1916 there were 30. 1 Mahratta, and I Telegraph office, societies- the last 2 being non-agricultural. This, no doubt, shows progress, but it is still very slow progress.
Perhaps the greatest drawback to their spread is the general ignorance of the people due to their wants of education; The vast mass of the people are not yet in a position to understand or appreciate the purpose or the advantages of these institutions, and are hence unconcerned about them. For this indifference the extension of education will I think do the most. But meanwhile something can still be done to popularize these societies by the appointment of a special Indian officer in charge, who should have no other work, and who should also go about instructing the masses regarding the benefits of such institutions. If that is not possible, an assistant should be given to the present officer, who has done so much of the cause of these societies.
Another suggestion which I would venture to offer is that these institutions should receive not only official countenance, but official encouragement and support. Officials should Endeavour to help the spread of these societies by inculcating their benefits on the people at large. There is very wide scope for the helpful activities of such~ bodies, and no means should be spared which can assist their growth. Finally the work of honorary workers in the cause of these societies should be generously recognized and commended.
THE Disintegration OFEST A TES.
The designation of estates by the operation of law is another matter for anxious consideration by the Zemindar of Sindh. At present the devolution of property prescribed by the Hindu and Mahomedan Law on the death of an owner has the effect of dividing and subdividing an estate continually, till the sub-division reaches a stage at which the estate almost becomes a negligible quantity. For, a very small holding is just as good as no holding at all. By its very smallness it ceases to be an economic holding. This process of disruption is ever at work, and the time will come when holders will be reduced to the condition of peasant proprietors. This is a grave political evil which I think must be averted. I am aware that I stand here on delicate ground, for it is no light matter to think of interfering with the operation of law and the clear rights of parties. I am fully sensible of these and other difficulties in the way, but I think these difficulties must be boldly faced in view of the paramount importance of the preservation of estates
Perhaps one of the greatest evils under which the people of Sindh have been groaning is the system of Rasai. This institution is too well known to need description. It is peculiar to this Province, and is unknown in the rest of the Presidency. It had its origin the spirit of hospitality that is at once the pride and the curse of the people of Sindh. The prevalence of the evil is not a point that I need at all labor. It ahs been the subject of almost infinite complaint and representation from every quarter. It has been discussed, almost threadbare, it its every aspect and feature, by responsible officers of Government, by the Press, by public bodies, by public men and by private individuals. And, finally, it has arrested the attention of Government itself. But, beyond the issue OT Resolutions and Circulars, nothing effectual has yet been done by Government towards its suppression. These official orders, as everyone knows, fast become dead letters. At the outset they have some effect, but that effect is very fugitive. Soon they are honored more in the bre4ch than in the observance. They are finally allowed to crystallize and beyond, perhaps, some historic interest and value are void of any listing effect. Hence the evil has only grown and gained strength with the passing of the years and the evident impunity that would seem to accompany it, and has, I might almost say, been sanctioned and hallowed by a long and undisturbed existence. The evil has, indeed, attained the proportions of an open scandal and a public calamity.
As this abuse, therefore, urgently calls for reform, I may venture to officer a few suggestions. The first is the substantial curtailment of official tours to the extent that is absolutely necessary. For Rasai is an evil directly begotten of the touring system? That official touring is a necessity to a certain extent must be admitted. But touring on the scale that obtains at present goes, I think, beyond the actual necessity. The existing tours, therefore, should I am of opinion, be materially abridged. Their present extent is a source of much unnecessary trouble both to the officials and to the people. An official sometimes tours not because it is absolutely necessary to do so but because he is required to travel for a certain fixed number of days in the year, a period which, I think, exceeds the actual requirements of the situation. The people themselves would much prefer to come’ to head quarters for most of their business for the transaction of which hear-quarters afford them greater convenience.
My second suggestion is that the present system of supplies be supplanted by a system analogous to the Military Commissariat. The contracts of supplies could be farmed out to private individuals and neither Zemindars, on the one hand, not Tapadars nor other officials, on the other, should be allowed any hand in these contracts.
In conclusion I should like to acknowledge, with deep thankfulness on behalf of the people of Sindh, the earnest and whole-hearted endeavors of several officers of Government, more particularly our commissioner, Mr. Lucas, Mr. Beyts, Collector of Hyderabad and Mr. Monie, late Collector Onawa shah, to combat an evil which has been wreaking such have in this'Province.
Last, but not least, is the important question of education in Sindh. Education is, as you well know, the basis of all progress, whether material or moral. It is the key to most of the problems that life presents whether in the social, economic or moral world, and it is almost a sovereign panacca for the ills that afflict mankind. Knowledge is power, indeed; while, on the other hand, there is no greater disability than ignorance. But ignorance is even worse than a mere negative defect. It is a danger and evil, and is the root of almost all evils. Thus most of the evils we have just discussed have their origin in the ignorance of the people. In point of education, our unfortunate country is in the rear of almost the whole of the civilized world. And our benighted Province is in the rear of the rest of India. No doubt, great strides have been made in this direction by the people of Sindh, but by far the greater portion of the ground still remains to be covered. It is therefore the
I bounden duty of all those whose rare good fortune it has been to receive the benefits of education to lose no opportunity, of inculcating the supreme value of education on all those with whom they may be brought into contact and on whom they may have some influence. For in the spread of education alone lies the hope of this Province. However, it is comforting to see that Sindh is fast waking from its long slumber. The wave of progress has passed over the Province, and at least the thinking portion of the people is now athrob with aspiration and astir with effect. But it is for us to see that this enthusiasm does not languish or die, but that it is kept vigorously alive, and is even still further
Stimulated. For, after all, we must remember that our system of education is still a purely voluntary one, in which there is much room for the operation of prejudice or apathy. These are the obstacles in the path of education which we must expect to encounter, and which we must set ourselves strenuously to overcome, as long as the present voluntary methods obtain with the introduction of compulsion, however, a principle which was warmly advocated by the Late Honourable Mr. Gokhale, in the Bill designed to give effect to it which he brought before. The Imperial Council, the educational question will have automatically solved itself. That time must inevitably come, and that it come as possible must be the hope and wish of every one who desires the regeneration of India. For the voluntary system, however successful, cannot secure that wide extension of education which is necessary if a whole people are to be enlightened. The history of other countries has proved this fact beyond controversy, and India must follow in their wake if the general emancipation of her people from ignorance and error is to be secured. In this connection, I would beg leave to refer to a matter, which though sectional in scope and purpose, is found upon a principle of universal application. I refer to the Sindh Mahomedan Education Cess Bill, which I introduced some time ago in the Legislative Council. The principle underlying the Bill was that of voluntary self-taxation by the community for the purpose of communal education. Government, however, while accepting the principle, demurred to give it the force of, law until they were fully, persuaded that the measure had the support of the entire community. There has long been a vast body of opinion in its favour, and the community are in hopes that the time will soon come when this measure of self-help will receive legislative sanction, and their progress be finally assured.
It may also not be inappropriate here to refer to the representation of Sindh on the Bombay University syndicate. It appears that, during the last 20 years, only one gentlemen form Sindh has been appointed on the Senate. I do not think this is sufficient justice to the claims of this Province in this direction. For Sindh has made substantial advance in education, and is still progressing apace. I have, therefore, placed this matter before the consideration of the University, and am in hopes that the claims of Sindh to adequate representation on the Senate will receive the recognition they deserve.
Before concluding this subject, I may say a few words regarding the condition of prifuary and secondary education in this Province. It is gratifying to observe the fair progress made by Sindh in the direction of primary education; However, I think there is still considerable room for improvement, for a thorough dissemination of education among the masses is the consummation that is to be attained. Our grateful acknowledgments are due to Government for what it has already achieved in this direction. But Government will, I trust, itself realize that its duty is by no means done and will push on with the responsible work of universal enlightenment to the end.
Secondary education, I am sorry to think, has not al all received the encouragement it deserves, and is still in a very unsatisfactory condition. This fact has been repeatedly commented upon by the Educational Inspector in Sindh, though his remarks have especial reference to the needs of the Mahomedan Community in the Province. But, gentlemen, I am sure you will agree that the educational advancement of this community is tantamount to the educational advancement of Sindh of which the Mahomedans form the vast majority and are still very largely in the darkness of ignorance. The progress of secondary education can I think, be secured by the increase of muddle and high schools' in convenient places, by the further grant of endowments and scholarships, and. Above all, by the maintenance of a low scale of fees. The raising of the fees by Government is clearly a measure which must retard the progress of secondary education and I trust Government will realize this and reduce these fees. For, while primary education is, no doubt, the first step in mass emancipation, no great progress is possible without secondary and higher education. Secondary and higher education means the diffusion of the English language among the people, which has been perhaps one of the greatest benefits that British rule has brought to this country. It s influence has been to illumine, to elevate, to inspire, and, above all, to consolidate the people of India, and I feel that yet greater possibilities of good wait n its further diffusion.
5th Sindh Provincial Conference Karachi
I fail to find to express the gratitude I feel for the great and the signal honour which you have been pleased to do me for electing me to preside over deliberations on this memorable occasion in our capital city of Province. I realize that this honour is the highest distinction which is the power of my country-men, next to the Congress Presidentship, to bestow. But when I realize the responsibility attached to this honour, I sincerely feel that worthier shoulders than mine would leave better sustained the burden.
When however, I received your mandate in the midst of my humble work at first hesitated, but then I felt my duty to obey and here I am, for better or for worse.
At a time like this, I feel that what is required is a bold, emphatic and respectful declaration of our grievances, desires and aspirations. I shall endeavour to fulfill this task to the best of my ability and will rely on your indulgence for my short-comings.
THE KING EMPEROR
Gentlemen - Our first duty today is to lie at the feet of our august and beloved Sovereign George V king an emperor, our unswerving fealty, our unshaken allegiance and our enthusiastic homage. The throne in England is above all parties beyond all controversies.
It is the permanent seat of the majesty, the justice, the honour and the beneficence of the British Empire.
And in offering our homage and our fealty to its illustrations occupant, we not only perform a loyal duty but also express the gratitude of our hearts for all that is noble and high-minded in England’s connection with India. The late Queen Empress Victoria the Good and her worthy son, King Edward the peace maker are known to have exercised within the limits of their constitutional position vast influences for good in favor of a policy of justice and sympathy towards India. Our present king emperor had announced his resolve to walk in the foot-step of his father and grand mother. We have therefore our fullest trust in him and the British Parliament that a policy of righteousness wills the pursued towards India in the decision of India’s claim to self-government within the Empire, after Mr. Montagn goes lack and submits his report on the subject. “We only claim that we should be in India what Englishmen feel to be in England and in the Colonies.”
Tribute to the Dead
Ladies and Gentlemen- We have every year to mourn the loss of some of our brilliant and enthusiastic workers, who pass away leaving us poorer in the ranks of our public men.
Since we met last at Shikarpur, the cruel hand of death has snatched away from us Mr. Achalsing Advani, a leading pleader of Karachi, a men of great intellectual abilities, undaunted courage brilliant powers of expressions and un bounded enthusiasm. He was the rising star in the political horizon and a man of great personality who took keen interest in unifying political forces in Sindh. It was only last year at Shikarpur, that while addressing you from the conference platform, this young man gave you a promise that he will thoroughly master the Sindhi language at today’s Conference. But it was not to be. It was he who pressingly invited the conference to Karachi this time. He has passed away. How greatly do we miss today his familiar and sweet face from this plat-form!
Next, gentlemen, we have to mourn the loss of that great and towering personality-the Pioneer of modern nationalism, who was our pilot under storm and stress-Our India’s grand old man, Mr. Dadabhai Noureji. He was India’s greatest leader and friend. No language suffice to describe his deeds, and service to his country, his splendid courage and his unfaltering devotion in the cause of Home Rule. His name is a bye-word in every family in India. To him is due the word “Swaraj”.
Another great patriot and friend of India, -Sir William Wedderburn has been removed by death. He was the last of that noble trio who for long years and under the most trying circumstances toiled hard and incessantly and unselfishly for the uplifting of India. Most of us knew Sir. William personally as the judge of our Sadar court and then of Bombay high court. Twice was he president of Indian National congress at Bombay and Allahbad. Any one like myself, who had the good fortune to know him personally, will testify how he inspired, elevated and educated those who came under his influence by the nobleness of his nature, his world-wide sympathies, his profound earnestness, his ceaseless devotion to the cause and by his indomitable faith in the British sense of justice and in the principle that right and justice will eventually triumph. He was not daunted in his inestimable exertions even by the clammy end obloquy which is own countrymen heaped on hi head. He was deeply touched and greatly distressed by the sad plight of the poor Indian raiyat and like Mr. Dadabhai his whole heart was taxed upon devising, advising and insisting on measures calculated to alleviate their unfortunate condition. Sir. William at the age of 72 came all the way from England in 1910 to preside at Allahbad session of the Congress in order to cement the bonds of unity between Hindus and Mahamadans.
We have suffered another great loss in the cause of Indian nationalism in the depth of Hon: Mr. A. Rasul of Calcutta. He in his intense passion for his motherland recognized that the cause of Mahomedans was indissolubly bound up with that of the Hindus and took a leading part in effecting that rapprochement between the two communities which has been so valuable in a political unification. And yet another eminent and distinguished Indian, an enthusiastic worker in the cause of our motherland the great promoter of the Hindu University, Sir Sunder Lal has just passed away. His death is indeed a great loss to the country.
Gentlemen our gratitude to those dear and noble souls will be best paid, in the words of our noble leader Mrs. Annie Besant:- “By following in their foot-steps, so that we may win the Home rule which they longed to see with us and shall see ere long from the other world of life in which they dwell today.”
WAR AND HOME RULE
Brother delegates;- The great war still continues. Our leader Mrs. Annie Besant said early in the course of the war. “That the war could not end until England recognized that autocracy and bureaucracy perished in India as well as in Europe”. Did not bishop of Calcutta declared the other day that, it would be hypocritical to pray for victory over autocracy in Europe and to maintain it in India? The one prominent feeling, that arises in the minds of all of us, is one of the deep admiration for the self imposed burden which Britain is bearing in the world’s struggle for liberty and freedom and a feeling of profound pride that India had not fallen behind other parts of the British Empire, but has stood shoulder to shoulder with them by the side of the Emperor mother in the hour of her sorest trial. In the great galaxy of heroes there are now and there will never cause to be beloved Indian names testifying to the fact that our people would rather die unsullied then outlive the disgrace of surrender to a bastard civilization. Our conviction is firm that by the guidance of that divine spirit which shapes the destinies of nations, the cause of right will ultimately triumph and the close of struggle will usher a new era in the history of human race,
Gentlemen. When England took my arms in the cause of Liberty and freedom, we in India believed whole-heartedly that England was fighting for the course of freedom of all nationalities including India. However, as war went on, India slowly release what it was loath to believe that antipathy towards autocracy were meant only for the west and liberty and freedom were being preached and promised for the white races. India was markedly left out of calculation in the speeches of statesman dealing with the future of Empire. When ministers of Empire and leaders of men in England were waxing eloquent over the new consciousness that had arisen and which would eventually lead to a reconstruction of Empire on an enlarged bases, and when ever part of the colonial Empire was preparing to assert its existence and its opportunity, our leaders in India realized that it was that it was time for them to awaken and lay the claims of their land before the exponents of British sense of fair play. The Congress and the Muslim League then placed their modest schemes before the Government. Naturally this action of our leaders was at first ridiculed , the resented and finally oppose by Anglo Indians. It was said that the step was premature, we were told that we were embarrassing the Government in war times, even our loyalty was doubted. We were told that we were not yet fit for even agitating for liberty, that we were not yet sufficiently educated, that the agitation was only confined to a few and inspired, that we were in fact harming the cause of India. We were then paternally advised to keep quiet and sleep, till the war was over. In India and specially in Sindh, people know the attempt that was made in mislead the Mahomedan mind by telling them that Home Rule would mean Hindu Rule. But our brethren stood firm in the realization that has dawned, that the interest of Hindus and Muslims must rise or fall together. India saw through various obstacles raised and risen in the realization of this scheme but since the united claim of India’s greatest national bodies was expounded. India had already better experience of breach of promises and pledges. But thanks to our great patriots that agitation was nobly continued and sustained and just as India’s trust in England’s goods faith was being strained nearly to breaking point. came happy news for the declaration of policy by the Secretary of state that self Government will be granted to India. The further welcome news gladdened the heart of India was that Mr. Montagu was appointed Secretary of state for India. This was followed by another announcement that at the invitation of Viceroy, Mr. Montagu was coming to India to hear for himself what India wanted and to confer with the Indian leaders. The Anglo-Indians were put in a rage at this. Most mischievous anti-agitation and vituperative language was restored to by the Anglo-Indians in the Press and on the Platform and in Parliament in order to frighten Mr.Montagu. But there tactics failed and the Secretary of state is in India .He and the Viceroy have received numerous memorials and schemes of reforms. But gentlemen our faith is firmed in the righteousness of the true English-men, all this oppositions, all this vituperation conflicting schemes and suggestions cannot obscure the main issue. India’s claim for a free and unfettered development of national existence and its justification at the present stage.
This attitude of the Anglo-Indian element need cause no surprise. It is a war vested and cherished interest. When the Anglo-Indian element both in state service and in commerce have monopolized the Incrative and the paying situation it is not easy for them to be now willing even for the sack of fairy-play and justice to a abandon the situation without an effort of unprecedented magnitude. The effort is being made. We Indians are claming what true English man term a birthright of citizenship. Right Hon. Mr.Montagu is fresh from the seat of liberty and nationalism and of him we expect to see through the Anglo Indian narrow –mindedness and our needs in the Governance of our country. I am confident Mr.Montagu sufficiently realizes by now whether or not Indians do want Home Rule and what they mean by the home rule. The strength that the labour party is gaining in England is reflecting itself on the world’s political situation. India is not free from the movement and at no distant date that movement will be of incalculable gain to the country. This is a result of the war which has created an atmosphere of love, freedom and liberty and given an impetus to the labour movement without whose co-operation successful prosecution of the war is not possible. With them are co-operating the women organizations which now possess six million votes. Our representatives Mr. Baptista and Mr. Polak and other friends have been doing immense service by creating public opinion in England in favor of India by appealing to the powerful masses of that country.
Mr. Henderson has emphatically declared “Further the labour party accepts the principle of self determinations for all people and believes that this can be secured for England and India by a rapid extension of self governing institutions on dominion lines. Again “We all recognize that all dishonourable and unjust ambitions of world domination, whether they be military, political or commercial must be renounced by every nation.
When we recognize that a popular movement gains strength by the volume of its educational propaganda we at once recognize the good that Mr.Tilak’s campaign of educating the masses does .It is being pursued in Sind by men of sturdy independence, Mr. Durgdas, Mr.Jethmal, Mr.Jeramdas, but what should be every body’s endeavour now is that the movement should spread and he popularized , the volunteers may increase and we must therefore set our faces and be right earnest in that direction by suitable organization . We can and shall succeed as the labour party is succeeding. All that is a concentration of all energies to the winning of our ideal – Home Rule in India and a wide organization of all the elements of the population with a definite propaganda of work . I shall therefore particularly deal with industries and Sawadeshism . National Education and local Self-Government as a part of our propaganda .
It is a matter of vital importance and urgency that we should not abate the volume and force of our efforts but continue with additional vigor and we should send a fully representative and competent deputation to England. They should address the great centres of shipping and manufactures and stir the country there to support India’s claims in Parliament. Let our deputation speak out India’s case plainly and definitely. To an Englishman, no begging of boons ever appeals. He values the man who asserts that “Freedom is our Birth-Right.” “India is no longer on her knees for boons but on her legs for rights” so said Mrs.Besaut. When India gets her rights, the tie between India and England becomes a golden link of mutual love, respect and service.
Swadeshi Movement and our Industries
Brother Delegates:- I will now to a movement which had once spread so rapidly and was hailed with so much enthusiasm all over the country in the year 1905-1966- the Swadeshi Movement.
Next in importance to Swaraj I would give place to this question, interwoven as it always is, with our industrial problem. The industrial domination of our people by another, attracks much less attention that the political domination but is nevertheless a great factor. The political domination is visible on the surface as we see a foreign race openly monopolizing all power and authority and keeping the people in state of subjection. These are facts which we see and feel acutely everyday of our lives and in every act and in every restrictions over our liberty, and in the deprivation of our natural rights as sons of the soil.
As it is true that human feelings often matter more then interest we have been constantly thinking and feeling that we are living under a foreign domination. In fact we had been for a long time engrossed in our struggle for political aspirations and status and never gave thought to our industrial and economic question.
Moreover this industrial foreign domination invaded us in an attractive garb. Articles of greater finish and attractiveness tempted us, so that in the supply of our daily wants, we welcomed the foreign domination though quite unconsciously at first, in preference to articles made by our men, from materials produced by our motherland and by our labor. In fact we were so much` tempted by the attractive exterior that we did not look at the quality of the things etc, and welcomed the shadow for the substance. This evil grew a pace and we owe it to another evil that we were disillusioned. Had it not been for Lord Curzon’s ill-planned and ill-advised measure the crowning act o reactionary Viceroy, the partition of Bengal- the Swadeshi movement would still have remained in his embryo. But from evil cometh good, so it was in the case . the amount of indignation and resentment raised up by Lord Curzon put the whole o Bengal in blaze. The nation rose with one voice and when our Bengalee brothers found that nothing would turn the Viceroy from his set purpose of partitioning Bengal. That all their petitions, all their protests in the press and on the platform, all their memorials to him, to the Secretary of State and to Parliament went unheeded, that Government exercised despotic authority regardless of their cherished feelings and interests and that no protection was forthcoming from any quarter, they resolved to have recourse of swadeshism. Under the then circumstances the movement took the form of boycott in afflicted to Bengal but it spreads to other parts of India in the legitimate form of swadeshism.
There could be my no denying the fact that our Bengali brothers rightly used it as a weapon which after all struck the vital interests of the British cotton industries and achieved the object in view. Not only did the movement, in spite of strong opposition from Angle Indian element, draw anxious attention of the people in England to the grievances of our Benagli brothers but it demonstrated the deep resentment of our brothers at the treatment they were receiving. The result was that even though, Lord Morely the then Secretary of State had declined interference and had declared partition to be a settled fact, our wise Emperor was graciously pleased to unsettle the condemned measure in this memorable speech at the Delhi Durbar.
Thus gentlemen, the movement in Bengal was purely a peoples’ Movement and took the form of boycott of foreign made goods as a political weapon for a definite political purpose under an overpowering sense of necessity. In other parts of India though the movement of pure Swadeshism remained, it received no encouragement at the hands of our government. Thou the government has by now realized that encouragement of Indian resources is its only salvation. Can it ever be disputed that swadeshi movement is both a ….. and an economic movement ? Swadeshi means “one’s own country” it implies that we must support our indigenous arts and industries. It is … only an industrial movement but it affects the very existence of a nation. At its highest it is deep, passionate, fervent and all embracing love of the Motherland and this love manifests itself not only in one’s sphere of activity but it invades the whale man. Its very though thrills him and its actual touch lifts one out of oneself. Love of Swadeshism is like the love one possesses and manifests for his chichi just as the pad has truly asked:-
“Breathes there a man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my untire land”?
Gentlemen we need today that gospel of devotion which is conveyed by the above. This soul striving devotion should be manifested by the high and the low, by the prince and the peasant, by every Indian in the town and the village, on the hills and on the plains, towards Swadeshim. How soul stirring and sweet is our Swswdeshi- Bande matram- it is Swadeshism which presents itself to the mass of our people in a form which they easily comprehend. It is Swadeshims which turns the thoughts of the masses towards their political status and enables them to take interest in the economic development of their Mother-land. It is Swadeshims which teaches the lesson of unity and co-operation with one another for an national end. It is Swadeshism which inspires all India with thoughts and acts of sacrifice for the sake of the Mother-land. Believe me gentlemen it is my conviction that our political success will in a great measure be accelerated by swadesghism. In fact we shall ultimately find the true salvation of India in this movement.
Let us take the economic aspect of the question. There can be no gainsaying the fact that foreign industrial domination of India under British rule has been the cause of industrial down-fall and consequent poverty of India.
The political and administrative results of British Rule have to their debit the shutting out of a whole race from positions of real trust and responsibility and thus denying to them opportunities for developing their powers of initiative and training. Similarly the forcible disarming of the whole people has a disastrous effect upon their manhood and material spirit and denying to them free education at state expense and distrust of the educated have had the effect of keeping the masses in perpetual ignorance. But in this respect there are some redeeming features and compensating advantages such as the liberalizing effects of western education and institutions, advantages of Railways, Telegraphs, Post Offices and other modern appliances of modern material civilization. There are also the blessings of peace and of order firmly established; so that in the midst of this terrible world war we in India are living quite peacefully.
But I am sorry this cannot be said of the industrial domination, there is not a single redeeming feature in the industrial field. Just glance at history to see what India was before, the statements of visitors from foreign parts of historians, of invaders, and of poets contain ample testimony of the tempting prosperity of India and high standard of it s arts, crafts and industries. Silk goods, cotton goods and woolen goods used to be freely exported form India. The superiority of India’s silk and fine cotton manufactures had at one time attracted the marked attention of foreign countries. In the year 1813 Calcutta reported to London cotton goods alone to the value of 20,00,000/ history shows that only some 300 years back ships built in India sailed up the Thames to London and were regarded with envy and admiration because of their admirable workmanship. We had plenty of good sailors, and enterprising merchants and artisans who enriched the country at the same tiem that they enriched themselves. This same industrial India whose initiative has been the glory of the world at one time has been so crippled that it has become dependent for its daily supplies upon foreign countries.
The East India Company came to India under a Royal Charter to trade. Its first effort was to supplant the industries of the country and make room for those of Western manufacturer and to adopt measures to crush the local industries. This has been acknowledged by eminent English writers. The Campaign began as early as 1769. the directors in their letter dated 17th March of that year sent orders that silk winders should be made to work in the company’s factories only, on pain of severe punishment. In 1828 heavy duties on piece goods from India were in force:-
Wilson the historian says that till these prohibitive duties had been imposed by England, Indian piece good, could be sold for a profit in the British markets at prices from 50 to 60 percent. Lower than those manufactured in England. He says further “Had not prohibitive duties existed , the mills of Paisley and Manchester would have been stopped in their outset and could scarcely have been set in motion again even by power of steam. They were created by this forced sacrifice of India. India could not retaliate. This act of Sefl-defence was not permitted her. She was at the mercy of a stranger. British goods were forced upon her without paying any duty and the foreign manufacture employed the arm of political injustice to keep down and ultimately strangle a competitor with whom he could not have contended on equal terms.”
Things had become much worse in 1833 and severe measures were introduced against weavers. Montgomery Marfin writing in 1837 complained in strong language of the cruel selfishness of English commerce. He wrote under the pretence of free trade. “England has compelled the Hindus to o receive the products of the steam looms of Lancashire, Yorkshire, Glasgow etc, at mere normal rates; while the hand wrought manufactures of Bengal and Bihar beautiful in fabric and durable in near have had heavy and almost prohibitive duties imposed in importation to England “ by these means the industrial capacity of India was so ore poured that while Calcutta had exported to London cotton goods of value of 20,00,090/- in the year 1813, the same Calcutta imported British cotton goods of the value 20,00,000/- in the year 1830 i.e. only within a short period of seventeen years. In that year 1930 Sir John Malcome Governor f Bombay pointedly called attention to the ruin of Indian industries and growing poverty of our people, but those in power did not hesitate to pursue successfully the policy of converting India into a land of raw produce for the benefit of England.
Let us quote from list:- “England forbade the cotton wears of our own seat Indian traders, she prohibited them absolutely. She would have no thread of them. She would have none of those cheap and beautiful wares. She preferred to consume her own dear and inferior stuffs……..Enland gained power, immeasurable power--- India the very reverse, dependence.” Macaulay himself wrote “The marvelous expansion of English industries was contemporaneous with the impoverishment of India.” Thus there was the Indian manufacturer sacrifieced from time to time.
Even after the Government was taken away from the hands of the East India Company the policy of free trade from England, not free trade between India and England, was persistently pursued.
Another disturbing cause was the alienation, by Government of our country of rich lands and minerals to foreigners. The khopra and coir industries on the west coast were let into the German hands. Similarly several other industries were allowed to be absorbed by Germany. The door of Indian markets was left wide open to the competition of the whole world to the ruin of India, though England’s own policy had been one of protection of its own industries against the whole world, till England had completed building up its vast industrial system.
Gentlemen, the duties of the Government in an industrial country like India are:-
I leave it to you gentlemen to consider how far our government has performed any of the above duties during its reign of one hundred and fifty years. Though it is aware that our country is rich in it natural resources, its export figures show that abundant raw material is yearly sent out of India.
Is it not therefore surprising that India should be ale to produce all raw materials and supply the European world but should unable to manufacture goods for its own consumption ? while the total imports before the war were over 100 crores, total exports were over 150 crores. Deducting from this precious metals that come to this country to redress a part of the balance and payments for the salaries and pensions of officers in England it will be found that a loss of 2o to 30 crores has thus to be borne by India every year. As the late lamented Hon. Mr. Gokhale had pertinently put the case, supposing 150 crores go from your financial house every year and 120 crores come in, will you be growing richer or poorer? The result is that there is no doubt that India is daily growing poorer. Do not be led away by the fact that a few individual s appear to possess money to invest or a few mills have been built. Consider the case of the majority of 315 millions of the people of India. We are poorest in the world and England (now we may say America) the richest. Production per head in India is Rs. 30/- according to government calculation and Rs. 20/- according to Indian calculation while in England it is Rs. 900/- her head (i.e) 20 times more.
Look at our agriculturist who form nine-tenths of the population in Sindh. Who can ever deny that they are living in extreme poverty ? The men, who till the soul from morn t night, who can hardly afford to have one change of clothes in a year; what are their belongings ? A straw hut, which can give them little protection against the sun and storm, a pair of bullocks often under mortgage, a few earthen pots, a few cattle to give milk, and growing debts, are all they have. They begin the year by borrowing for seed, Takavi and bare necessaries of life and end it by paying either the interest alone or a part of the debt. This goes on year after year. Of course the crushing load of Rasai also lies on their shoulders.
Plague is ravaging all our towns and villages in Sind and who can deny that mostly the people in poverty succumb to the epidemic. Only recently when plague visited Shikarpur, the weavers, the blacksmiths the washermen, the petty hawkers, the day labourers reached a state of starvation within a few days of their being out employment, and relief works had to be opened for them. This then gentlemen is the condition to which people are reduced.
The war stopped the door to German goods getting into the Indian markets and here was the golden opportunity for India. India is poor; therefore without state aid what could be done? Our leaders cried themselves hoarse on the platform and in the press but bas any thing tangible been done by the government to enable India to supply the place of German goods even for its own consumption ? and it was Japan that stepped in and captured Indian markets. The government knows it, and it cannot be denied that it has flooded the Indian markets with Japan made goods.
The Government of Bombay finding that on account of war, the hand—loom industry, match, copper, brass pot, silk and gold and silver thread industries had severely suffered, appointed an advisory committee as for back as 1615-1916 to enquire into the conditions of indigenous industries and to suggest means for improving the existing industries establishing new ones. This committee enquired into the oil- pressing, match, sugar-cane, butter, glass, bamboo, paper pulp and other industries and made in each case certain recommendations to Government. Three years have passed but the Bombay government instead of taking full or partial action immediately, have remanded the report as received for further consideration, and there it rests.
The war has no doubt turned the attention of Government to the wisdom of utilizing India’s immense natural resources. The viceroy has spoken of organizing these resources with a view to making India more self-contained and less dependent. It is a hope; we heartily welcome this but we have grown septic and can get little consolation until we see something tangible being does actually for previous experience and long suffering have made us rather difficult.
The action of the Government of India has been confirmed to the appointment of a commission to investigate the possibilities f Indian Industries. We want to see the good it does; but when this commission declined to investigate the deliberate charges of Sir Pirbhoy Karimbhoy and Lala Herkishenlal concerning the positive discouragement and opposition dealt out to Indian concerns and unfair preference to the European ones, it shook Indian’s credit in its good intentions. It would have been better, if their charges had been investigated; confidence would have been restored and a cloud removed.
The Indian Railway companies do no provide proper transport facilities for indigenous goods and their rates of freight are very prejudicial. Even the sea-port rates are favourable to foreign imports. In the matter of carrying goods, the impression appears to have gone deep in the Indian mind that Indian producers are refused the same facilities by the Railway and shipping authorities all over the country which are easily extended to industries under European management.
Is it any wonder then that can have the power to impose duties on foreign goods to protect itself and permit Indian industries to develop and prosper.
Gentlemen, in this deplorable state of affairs, I appeal to you to help yourselves and come to the country’s help. Let us give whole-hearted encouragement to our Swadeshi movement. The present is the juncture: for even free traders and the Government will have nothing to urge against this ours will be a voluntary preference on the part of consumers to promote our own industries. We have cotton at our own doors and can easily employ any amount of labour of our own. We have about 200 cotton mills at a cost of 20 crores (though Lancashire alone has invested over 200 crores) with five million spindles and fifty thousands power-looms. These are mostly worked by Indian employees and in addition we have about a quarter of a million persons engaged in hand-looms in the country.
Of the industrial population of India very much larger portion is engaged in the indigenous industries carried on in village houses and bazaars. In our efforts to improve the condition of our people, we should help the works in the mills and the dwellers in the cottage; and this we can do only by preaching and practicing Swadeshism. The humble weavers in towns and villages and the braziers, the copper-smiths, the ironsmiths, the potters and the carpenters in Sind who carry on their ancestral vocations in their ancestral homes, all deserve our help and encouragement. Let us make a vow to help these men by giving them that help an protection which has been hitherto refused by Government , by wearing their manufactured goods, by creating a demand for their manufactures and by preaching to all to wear and use in all domestic needs India – made articles. Indigenous industries and Indian mills are already turning out articles of good make and finish and they are bound to improve as the demand increases and they get decent prices. What is needed is only the opportunity. But true Twadeshism lies in consuming indigenous articles in their early stage when their quality is inferior or price higher. In Sind it is a pity there is not a single cotton mill worth the name. We have a small one at Shikarpur owned by Seth Mulechand but there is not much of encouragement to it. We had once swadeshi stores in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Shikarpur and Larkana but one by one they closed down for want of encouragement. Let us restart these and have traveling vendors of Swadeshi Goods. It is a matter of gratification that our patriotic men from Sind like Messra Mehta, Lokamal Chellaram, Sri Krishen Lula, Chainrai Virbhandas and others have already opened a Swadeshi stores at Karachi on sound basis and I would appeal to all of you to help this cause whole-heartedly. Let us open a museum of Swadeshi Stores at Karachi where all information on the subject could be had. When England did all I have described above in the name of its Swadeshism, why can not we?
We now turn to our educational system under the present form of Government.
Education is the foremost factor in the evolution of a nation. The educational policy of our Government has the same disadvantages as I have outlined with regard to the Government of this country. In the words of one of the greatest educationists of o0ur own times Mr. G.S, Arundale, I say most emphatically and without any fear of contradiction, that “Good education is no substitute for national education”. To quote the same distinguished educationalist once more, “India refuses any longer to be an educational dependency of Great Britain.”
Judging by the results that present educational system has produced in India demands the slow and tardy progress that this system has made inspite of our insistant demands for a substantial advance along the lines that have been approved of by Western Nations and our neighbouring Indian states – judging by these facts the impression grows stronger and stronger on our minds that nothing great can possibly be achieved in the domain of education without National system of education. Home Rule and National education must march hand in hand. Both are component part of one whole and India can not be ranked as a Nation unless India possesses both in their entirely. Indiathat had the broad and well-deserved title of Jagat Guru is now on her knees receiving driblets of reforms in education and India to whose shores came several distinguished scholars for the sake of knowledge, has now to send her sonsto foreign countries for education. This deplorable condition has to be remedies or overcome and I venture to suggest that National Education is the only remedy for all these evils. The system of education in India is too much a Government affairs. Sir Michail Hicks Beach, one of the leading English statesmen said the other day at Aligarh that the universities should be entirely free from the Government control an that the Government ought to have nothing to do with universities. What is the system in England and it works well. The Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Dubliu, Glasgow and Edinburgh have all grown out of private endowments given by kings, nobles and other gentlemen and they all rest on donations from philanthropic men. What is therefore wanted here is that the country itself should build up universities and schools so that the curriculum should be on national lines, for the nation and the institutions should be linked together. That like England, such universities are possible in India and response ample is evidenced by the institution of the Hindu and Mahomedan Universities. The aim of education under the present system seems to be to enter Government service or the learned profession and to this end to pass examinations. This has led to cramming the boys, heads with a lot of disjoined facts poured as if into a basket to be emptied out again in the examination hall and the empty basket to be taken away again into the outside world. Mrs. Besant said in one of her speeches “To exhault the strength, to destroy the energy, to turn out a sickly worn-out man when the youth should be bringing over the life, has been the result of the system of education prevalent here.”
To be truly useful, education must be founded on a knowledge of the past of the country as well as its present and should adapt itself to meet at every point the growing needs of an ever increasing Nation. Education should therefore be physical, moral, mental and spiritual. The colour-bar in Educational service, begotten of distrust, has been a profile source of discontent and has on account of forces inferiority made our Indian Professors and teachers less enthusiastic for work and research. The recent instance of Professor Shahani’s suprecession inspite of his recognized experience and ability – inspite of his educational attainments, in favour of a young man is a standing monument of this colour bar. The Government of Bombay paused for a while over the opposition that the dinner canvassing against Professor Shahani evoked – but after all threw aside Professor Shahani’s claims.
In addition to these defects, the so called “serene atmosphere of eduction” produced by Lord Gurzon’s retrograde policy and by subsequent Government orders and circulars, this atmosphere has turned teachers into spies or cowards and superintendents are suspected of having assumed the role of C.I.D. officers. The Hon. Bobu, Ambiea Charan Muzumdar, as President of 31st Indian National Congress said, “the sanctity of the temples of learning has been violated and our boys and young men are brought up in the unhealthy atmosphere of what may be called insecure jails. This the people sorely resent and here the first conflict has taken place between a sensitive subject race and autocratic Government, each believing the other to be in the wrong and several other wrongs were embosomed for a considerably long time and several attempts were made for healing them up but a united and determined effort was necessary for the purpose and this was supplied by our revered leader Mrs. Annie Besant with the co-operation and consultation of almost all the leading elite of India too numerous to mention and yet some of them are too illustrious to be omitted. She drew out the Poer Laureate of India, Dr. Sir Rabindra Nath Tagore from his secluded corner into the noble field of action and made him the Chancellor of National University and she picked out Dr. Sir Subramama lyer the ex_chief Justice of Madras and forced him to accept the post of Pro-Chancellor; Lokamanya Tilak’; C.P. Ramswaim Tyer, G.S. Arundale and our worthy patriot Hon. Mr. Bhurgri also answered the call of Bharat Mata, and have lent their support to this movement whose living illustration is granted to the educationally advanced city in Sind viz. Hyderabad where now exists a National College affiliated to the National University. Our official year 1917-18 whereof I have as President of this Conference to chronicle the principal events, has thus been the most memorable and historical one in the domain of education in Sind, Another notable event o the year under review is the passing of Hon, Mr. Patels Free and Compulsory Education bill for Municipalities. This measures will if carried out by all the Municipalities concerned touch one-length of our population only, for nine-tenths live in villages where this Act will yet have no operation. Inspite of this and other disappointing features of the Act, this step forward ought to be counted as a victory. I am afraid very few Municipalities in Sind will take advantage of this Act in the near future on account of their financial difficulties. Gentlemen, after 150 years of British Rule, you find 50 percent of the people are uneducated. On 31st December 1915 out of total population of 310 millions we had only 5.5 million of scholars in primary schools and 1.1 in secondary schools.
While other countries spend 30 percent and more on the education of the people our Government which professors to be so anxious for the welfare of the feeming millions of this ancient land are unable to spare more 5 than P.e. of the State revenue, that is to say, hardly 1/40th part of what is spent in England.
On primary education the expenditure per head of the population is only a few annas. America, with a population has only 5 universities.
To get an idea of the proverbial illiteracy of India, one has only to remember that one of 1,000 males only 110 can read and write : while out of 10,000 females, only 10 can do so.
Comparison of figures has proved that even American negroes are better off than ourselves in this respect.
In the midst of this terrible war, entailing tremendous pecuniary burden on England, Government have sanctioned the new educational scheme of Mr. Fisher involving an additional cost of crores of rupees. Now, I should like to offer a few suggestions for consideration.
1. Sind depends mostly on agriculture and the great bulk of its population is devoted to agricultural pursuits. No satisfactory arrangements appear to have been made hitherto for the amelioration or education of the agricultural masses: In addition to the provision for free and compulsory education, there ought to be agricultural schools, colleges, farms and shows where scientific system of education should be imparted and the ultimate object ought to be to fit the peasants concerned for practical agricultural work on improved lines. Agricultural colleges should be open to all classes and not “restricted to zamindars or any particular class. One of the main problems that agitates the world today is food-power. This problem depends mere upon intensive agriculture than upon extensive. It is by means of this intensive agriculture based on scientific knowledge, that Germany was able to supply food to 75 people out of a hundred acres, whereas England can supply to 45 persons only. In India where agriculture is carried on in a primitive style the yield is negligibly small. Every town and big village ought to be able to teach agriculture on modern lines.
2. Next in importance comes technical education and neglected here is mutual. The two technical schools at Sukkur and Jacobabad are not attractive to students and prospects of advancement in after-life are considerably limited. These schools should impart information and instructions and give training that would help the students in opening small village industries wherewith they may be able to earn their livelihood.
3. Commercial education on sound lines is also a very great necessity at the present juncture when large number of India’s youth must turn their energies in the direction of development the material resources of the land. A chemist or an engineer with mere technical knowledge of industries can never run a successful industry because it should not only be a technical success but the production should be on a commercial basis and for this latter part a sound commercial knowledge is essential. In India, where industries have to be build up, if at all, against powerful rivalry of foreign countries, the case is much stronger for systematic business training. In fact the American principle of vocational institutions should be adopted without any delay.
4. Education in all primary and secondary schools ought to be imparted through the medium of vernacular of the Province for it will smoothen the way to knowledge which the child will tread, leave his intelligence free and enable his observation and reasoning faculties to work on the subjects presented to him without fetters of a foreign tongue.
5. Religious education is imperatively necessary-where religion is not apart of the education given to the youth of a nation, there the nation has no literature worthy to be called great i.e., original. Everywhere history testified to the close relationship between religion and literary genius and the inspiration that the former gives to the latter. Religion is necessary also as the basis for morality and as the inspiration of art. What kind of nation can ever be without literature, without morality and without art? When India was mightiest in peace and war, when here industries were most productive and here commerce most enriching, she was above all a religious nation.
(All Figures quoted under are pre-war)
In India, Local Self-Government may be divided under two heads – urban and rural. Under the first come the municipalities and notified areas and under the second the District and Taluka Local Boards. The Bombay Government started Local Self-Government in its present form in the Presidency in 1860 by starting Municipalities in urban areas and in 1863 in the rural areas by starting rural Boards. Unfortunately District Collectors and other officials in their over-activity and over-zeal subordinated the views and wishes of non-official members to their own notions of what is best for the people and this state of affairs necessitated the passing of the famous resolution on 18thMay 1882 by Lord Ripon.
The important functions of these bodies within their respective areas are to take care of people’s (1) Health (2) Education (3) Communication i.e. roads, streets etc.
These local bodies are constituted by nominating or partly by elections and partly by nomination. In our consideration of these representative bodies we must direct attention to (a) the constitution of these local bodies (b) their powers and functions (c) the resources at their disposal.
There are in the whole of India 717 Municipalities, 897 District Local Boards and 517 Taluka or Sub-District Local Boards. In the Bombay Presidency we hae 457 Municipalities and 25 notified areas with 2166 members of whom only 963 entrusted to their care and they had an income of Rs.1,24,73,669. The population in the Municipal areas is about 16 million i.e. about 7 percent of the total population. This is the urban population and the remaining has the highest urban population i.e. 18 per cent while Bengal the lowest i.e. 2 percent .
These bodies are thus of greatest importance as they have charge of the people’s health and education i.e. the two things essential for the uplift of any country.
These institutions of great importance also because they form a stepping stone to Self-Government in India.
In the speech from the Congress platform at Bombay Mrs. Besant said:-
“The training for Self-Government is of vital importance to the nation today. For the Government of States is at once a science and an art: and in order that it may be worthily exercised, the lesson must be learnt in Local Self-Government, than in Provincial autonomy and finally in the Self-Government of the nation, for the work of Government is the most highly skilled profession upon earth………..what then should you do? You should take part in the Self-Government wherever it is possible. As it is, take it and practise it, for you will gain experience and you will gain knowledge; and only that experience and knowledge will guide you when you come to speak in large Councils and make your voice heard in larger areas, So I will plead to you – face this drudgery – it is drudgery, make no mistake, understand the details of local administration and understand how to manage your own drains particularly your water-drudgery, no amount of enthusiasm and love for the country will make your administration a success.
Lord Morley in his Reform Dispatch dated 27th November 1908 said:-
“The village in India has been the fundamental and indestructible unit of the social system surviving the downfall of dynasty after dynasty. I desire your Excellency to consider the best way of carrying out a policy that would make the village a starting point of public life.”
Here then is a vast field in which we can in co-operation with the Government work heart and soul for the amelioration of the conditions of the masses of the people. Let us start with the village Panchayat. The Decentralization Commission in their report recommended the constitution and development of the village Panchayat, possessed with certain administrative powers, with jurisdiction in petty Civil and Criminal cases and financed by a certain portion of the land cess, special grants, receipts from derate recommendation has not been given effect to, in any shape in our province, though several years have since passed.
Another recommendation of the Commission was that the District and Sub-District Boards should contain a large preponderance of elected members. There are 26 District Local Boards and 216 Taluka Local Boards in Bombay Presidency with a member-ship of 3690 of whom only 1644 are elected by the people. These bodies administered to the wants of 1,80,12,044 souls and had an income of Rs.83,39,701. All these Boards without a single exception had official majority and ex-officio Presidents. Only recently about 16 or 17 of them have been given non-official majority and 3 have been given non-official presidents, not elected but nominated. Thus the machinery of Government proverbially slow, moves still more slowly in this direction.
As regards the constitution of elected Municipalities, I consider that time has come for these bodies to consist entirely of elected members. The introduction of the new system of communal representation in the Sind Municipalities does away with the necessity of nomination powers.
The Decentralization Commission recommended (para 6 of Government Resolution) that Municipal Boards should be ordinarily constituted on the basis of a substantial elective majority and that nominated members should be limited to a number sufficient to provide for the one representation of minorities and of official experience. The new rules have already made provision for the “due representation of minorities.” Then here remains the question of official experience.
I think there are good many retired officials of experience in every Municipal area and they manage to get elected on the Board. Moreover experts are good for advice and not for deliberation or decision. Nor are they necessary for every day working of Lord Hinches. See 31 of the Bombay District Municipality Act provides for calling in the aid of express whenever necessity arises. If however the Commissioner in-Sind cannot see his way to give on the whole power of nomination all at once, he may be least, in principles preserve me in the than two seas for experts to be nominated by him on each Municipality . From gratefully acknowledge the progressive steps ………in this direction by our present Commissioner. The Franchise of an elective member and un-official president have been conferred on Rohri and Larkana Municipalities and the other important Municipalities in Sind have been given the right to elect un-official president by ordinary majority . The number of voters has also been ……………………………………in each Municipal area for election purposes.The present tendency of the Sind Local Government is to foist Government servants in the Revenue Department as Chief Officers on Municipalities. Thus Shikarpur Municipality must have a Deputy Collector as its Chief Officer and Larkana and Rohri are to men from the Revenue Department for employment as their Chief Officers. While recognizing that it is really difficult, for various reasons, for a Municipality to secure a really suitable man by advertisement, the proper remedy lies in establishing Local-Self-Government service on the lines suggested by the Local Self-Government Conference held at Poona, on 27th July last under the Presidency of Hon. Mr. Patel.
In Sind the sanitary condition of our towns and villages is disgraceful. Plague, malaria and other diseases have taken root and mortality has risen to a tremendous figure. While in England mortality is 14 per mile, in Sind it is 40 per mile and in some parts of India it is seventy per mile. The infantile death rate in England is 130 but in India it is 213 for males and 196 for females. Large schemes of sanitary reforms and town planning should be taken in hand in every town and village. Fullest and immediate advantage should also be taken of the compulsory education Act. Our friends Hon. Mr. Bhurgri and Hon. Seth Herchandrai have already taken the matter of compulsory education for Sind seriously in hand.
You will agree me, gentlemen, that considering that these local bodies have to provide for primary and partly for secondary education of the population entrusted to their care, that they have to provide for sanitary requirements and drainage and water supply of the areas in their charge, that they have to provide for adequate means of communication by constructing widening roads and streets and maintaining them, that they have to provide for the medical relief of human beings and animals in their areas and generally speaking that they are responsible to a considerable extent for the well-being and orderly progress of the population within their areas – considering all these duties, the sources of income at their disposal are most inadequate. Unless Government comes to their aid by largest recurring grants, it is not possible for those bodies discharge their lies efficiently- nothing could be done with an empty exchange. We are told we should take ourselves more and increase our income; but is there any margin life? ………………….. say in Sind is that we should impose the House tax in pleasant …………….has not been introduced. I shall take my town for the sake of this ………………………………………….Shikarpur a population of 54,000 souls. Our present Municipal ………………………………………3,20,000 i.e over Rs.4 per head of population. The figures of population ……………………………….for the whole of British India work out an supposing we introduce ………………………………….will it bring? Not more than Rs. Ten of fifteen thousands, deducting ………………………recoveries and other incidental expenses. Will this amount enable as to come……………… a system of drainage and water supply costing over ten lacs or will it provide sufficient funds to carry out costly town planning schemes, or to undertake primary and compulsory education of the masses or to build a central and upto-date hospital?
The bonafide of this form of taxation is considerably detracted from , when, gentlemen, we consider the instance of Larkana where House-tax was imposed by the so-called Municipality (consisting of officials and outsiders) by resorting to objectionable methods in the teeth of united opposition of the people, it was done under the cloak of raising of Municipal income so as to provide for sanitary reforms, and run a High School etc. But the scheme was unmasked, when however simultaneously the Halalkhore cess was cancelled, a cess which light in its burden brought nearly as much income as the proposed House tax was expected to bring and there never had been any complaint against this cess. The purpose it now serves is to molest the people than to benefit them.
The House tax is opposed by the people not because the rich don’t want to tax themselves, not because they don’t take to increase the resources of Local Bodies , not because they have no mind to introduce sanitary reforms etc., but because it is a tax most unsuitable to local conditions. Our officers unfortunately cannot see eye to eye with us – they cannot enter into our feelings - may they even decline to see it or be convinced. In the consciousness of their power “their over –activity and over-zeal they want to subordinate our views and wishes to their to their western notions of what is best for us”.
Gentlemen, you all know that except in some parts of Karachi, in all cities and villages in Sind, house building is taken up by the people for their personal and family requirements and not as a financial enterprise. In 95 percent cease, houses (hardly sufficient for their own needs) are occupied by the owners themselves. Not even 5 per cent of the houses are let out on rent. The rents are extremely low, and bring hardly one per cent on the outlay. This system has its own advantages. While we on our side are enjoying the beneficial result of this ancient system of each family living in their own dwelling houses, residents in Karachi, Bombay and such other places have to face enormous difficulties in the way of extortionate rents, scarcity of houses etc.
The Government of India in their resolution on the Report of the Decentralization Commission pare 14 say:-
“This tax (House and Land tax however is difficult of assessment in many places where it is the custom to men rather than to rent dwelling houses because in such cases the house affords no indication of the financial status of the owner. Many aristocratic but impoverished families live in large buildings which are merely relies of vanished prosperity, while the rich trader often remains content with the humble dwelling in which he was born.”
Again in para 17 it is said:-
“The Commission were of opinion that Municipalities should have full liberty to impose or alter taxation within the limits laid down by the Municipal laws”.
In the face of these opinions of highest authorities I cannot understand how such ill-advised pressure was put upon Larkana and Rohri Municipalities to introduce House-tax in the teeth of united opposition from the people. In his famous Durbar speech at Sukkur on 18th February the Hon. Mr. Lawrence the Commissioner in Sind remarked. “There has been a great deal of talk in some of your towns in Upper Sind about the levying of some small taxation of some Rs. 5,000 or Rs.10,000 by one method in place of another.” No doubt the taxation (house tax) proposed by the authorities was petty in as much as after all it could not bring to any Municipality more than the figures laid down but how can it be said that the good deal of talk of the people was unnecessary. Beyond condemning the talk as it diametrically opposes his own hobby the House-tax, the Commissioner-in-Sind laid not materials before his audience to convince them of its usefulness.
It is the first principale of Local Self-Government that local bodies should have full liberty of selecting their methods of taxation according to local conditions. This has been recognized by the Government of India and the Decentralisation Commission – but discarded by the local Government in Sind.
When this sound principle was deliberately departed from , when the cherished rights and wishes of the people were trampled upon, when very questionable methods were employed to secure majorities to gain a hobby, when the measures was being hastily rushed through just when the elected representatives were about to come in when the protests and petitions of the people were un-headed, the question became one not of House-tax only but of the general rights of liberty of action of what in name was termed Local Self-Government. How can it be said in fairness that under these circumstances the great deal of talk of people was unnecessary.
I am sorry I am unable to agree in the proposition that the House-tax falls upon the rich and not upon the poor. The above cited opinion of the Government of India and the Commission fully bear me out in this. Gentlemen, the keynote of the learned Commissioner’s speech was that in order to secure for our towns the advantages of good sanitation, water supply, electric light and other public amenities we should raise Municipal revenue very considerably.
While I do agree that there is a great necessity of raising the Municipal revenues or the purposes indicated, I am of opinion that the additional revenue must come, in the shape of recurring grants, from the Imperial Government, which takes away all the Income tax, Excise revenues, Stamp duties etc., etc., and land assessment from citizens residing in Municipal areas.
Those who advocate that local bodies must tax themselves more to provide the necessary funds, do so on the ground that the incidence of local taxation is much less in this country than in the west. But they forget that taking the local and imperial burdens together, the people of this country relatively to their resources, contribute no less to the taxation that the people in the western countries. The real truth is that the Imperial Government retains in its own hands very much larger portion of the total taxation than the Imperial or central Governments in the west and there lies all the difference and the inability and poverty of the local bodies to meet their expenditure for improvements.
In the Western countries there are three systems of Local Self-Government; (1) American (2) English and (3) Continental. In America the local authorities have absolutely independent revenues and they also enjoy complete immunity from the control of the state in this respect. In England the local bodies derive a large part of their revenue from their own rates and in addition to that, certain revenues have been made over to them by the Central Government as Assigned Revenue. They also receive certain grants from the Exchequer.
In France the local bodies derive a large part of their revenue by the very simple process of being permitted to add extra centuries to the taxes levied by the Central Government like our village cess of an anna per rupee. Our system of local Government is more on the lines of the French system.
In England it is one of the Local Governments to maintain their poor while in India it is the private people who have to bear this burden in addition to other taxation.
The average income per head in England is $40 and population 45 millions. The total taxation raised by the local bodies and Central Governments was 200 million I.e, 11 percent of the whole national income was raised as taxes for use for all purposes- local and Imperial.
In British India our population is 230 millions. Income per head may be taken at £2 as fixed by Local Curzon though the late Mr. Dadabhai Noaroji calculated it to be £ 1 only. This gives us a total national income of 460 millions.
Total taxation is 50 million i.e. 9.15 percent. Add to this the duty of maintaining our poor private which will come to about 1 percent i.e. 10.1/5 per cent.
That while in England taxation people’s income is 11 percent, in India it is nearly as much. But which we consider the proportion of distribution of the taxes for expenditure between local bodies and Imperial requirements, we realize the magnitude of disproportion and the injustice done to local bodies.
In England out of 200 millions raised by total taxation, the local bodies get in all 70+28=98 million that is to say about half of the total revenue is spent by local bodies and the other half by Government.
In France two fifths of the total revenue is left to be spent by local bodies and three fifths by the Government : but in India out of the total revenue of 50 millions, 40 millions are at once taken by Government for their own purposes. Out of the remaining 10million nearly two thirds was administered by the State itself and only about a third was left to be spent by the local bodies i.e. one sixteenth of the total revenue, Here then is the root of all evils. This is the tune reason why our town cannot have sanitary reforms, free education and good communication.
Gentlemen this injustice in the distribution of revenue has gone on too long and it is high time that we should now be given a definite share of what are called the imperial revenues for our municipalities and local boards, or we should be given a great share of the imperial taxes of all sorts levied within municipal areas or be permitted to add extra centimes as is done in France. I should not be understood to mean that we should not exert ourselves to tap the remaining sources of income at our disposal but what I do mean is that it is absolutely necessary for Government to recognize our immense needs and let the local bodies spend at least a third, if not one half of the total revenue derived from India.
You might give the best constitution in the world to local bodies and yet Local Self-Government will never be a success unless their financial resources are improved. On this point the official and the non-official opinions as well as the opinion of the Decentralization Commission are all agreed that the resources of these local bodies are pitifully unequal to a proper performance of functions which have been entrusted to them. The suspension of the Hyderabad Municipality was therefore a great blunder.
Any one who has read the charges laid by Government against that municipality and the replies on each charge, will be struck with the fact that the blame laid by Government at the doors of the municipality should have in fairness been laid at their own doors. The charges, hollow in themselves , simply amount to this, that the Government sanctioned elaborate and costly schemes of town improvement and of removal of congestion without providing the necessary funds as they ought to have done. In carrying out these schemes, the municipality with the approval of the Collector and in some cases for the Commissioner-in-Sind spent a part of the sale proceeds derived from the sales of municipal plots. Instead of appreciating this laudable work done by the municipality without touching the pocket of Government, they have been condemned for an inability not their own. Then all the sins of commission and omission of whomsoever, whether of the Chief Officer or his assistant or the District Court or the Collector have been foisted on the municipality. If the doings of the official presidents or of the present municipal Commissioner of Hyderabad were to be construed and judged of in the same way, they will all have to be summarily dismissed.
Government should never forget that “Self-Government implies the right to go wrong, for it is nobler for a nation as for a man to struggle towards excellence with its own natural force and vitality, however blindly or vainly, than to live in irreproachable decency under expert guidance from without.
FUEL AND SALT
The prices of fuel and salt had gone very high and continued complaints were heard from all parts of the Province. But I am glad the Commissioner-in-Sind has kindly interested himself in the matter and arrangements are made through municipalities to sell salt at the rate of one anna per see and fuel Kaudi at a little over 8 annas md, and lai a little over 6 annas a maund throughout the year. If the municipalities can take up coupes according to their requirements direct from the forest department, they will be able to sell fuel still cheaper to the people, I am sure Government will make reasonable concession in railway charges in such a case.
The new Income tax Bill No.21 of 1917 has been passed by the Imperial Legislative Council. Instead of lessening the burden of the tax upon the people, it has augmented it. In India both among the Hindus and Musalmans there is the family system. The head of the family earns and feeds not only his own children but also his father’s, brother’s and sister’s children if they have no other means of support. In these hard times when famine prices of necessaries of life prevail in the market, or oven in ordinary times an income of a thousand rupees per year or Rs.84 million, leave aside their clothing, education and other expenses. To tax such a case amounts to depriving the family of a part of their daily bread.
In England there is not much of family system like India, yet the Income tax law of England exempts incomes under £ 700 as under:
Income not exceeding Amount of abatement
£ 400 £ 160
“ 500 “ 150
“ 600 “ 120
“ 700 “ 70
It also grants an abatement of £ 10 per child under 15 years of age if the total income does not exceed £ 500 i.e. Rs. 7500. It is but fair that in section 12 of the present bill therefore, a scale of graded abatement should be similarly provided and an abatement of at least Rs. 60 per minor child or widowed female should be made if they are dependent for their maintenance on the assessee.
In the new bill an attempt was made to indirectly tax agricultural income but the united action of the elected members saved the situation.
Gentlemen, you will be surprised at the present procedure of assessment. A special Deputy Collector of income tax has been appointed – an officer who has no acquaintance with the local condition of sale and purchase in Sind or of the people. He has to justify his existence. In the method of assessment, a fictitious rate of profit is supposed to accrue to the assessee – and on this rate, the figure is assessed. The intention of the act is that the actual profits should be assessed. May I ask, where is the provision to enable an assessing officer to assume that on a particular commodity the rate of profit should be a fixed quantity. We are told that on provisions 2 to 3 annas profit is assessed and so on various fancy figures on different commodities. We are told that the rates of profit in the Presidency are supposed to exist in Sind. On such fanciful conjectures and figures of sale and profit are calculations made. And again it is a travesty of justice to convert an assessing officer into an appellate authority to stultify itself by reducing income tax if the actual rate of profit shown is lower. The legality of this power of appeal too is doubtful.
In Sind the poor and middle class people are groaning under the weight of this tax. Take the figures of Income tax in shikarpur. The total Income tax was Rs.32,018 in 1916, Rs.43,530 in 1917 and Rs.1,53,711 in the present year!
Before the present year the assessment used to be made by Mukhtiarkars who were thoroughly acquainted with the people and their means and were well-versed in the mercantile system of accounts in Sind. This year at Shikarpur though the people were already crushed by one calamity after another – heavy rains followed by cholera, malignant type of fever and plague, though for over six months all their business had been dislocated and ruined, though they were still morning the loss of some dear relatives, who had been a support of the family, though many had not much left to restart their business, though famine prices are raging, the new income tax officer, specially imported from the Presidency has raised the income tax to a fabulous figure of a lac and seventy three thousand rupees i.e. more than four times the previous year’s figure. I assure you gentlemen, several men of the lower and middle class who were actually driven by calamities to the painful necessity of begging for relief to feed their families, and are not able even to pay off their debts, have been assessed. In 1903 Lord Curzon in his durbar speech at Delhi announced that he was granting a loan to the people by raising assessable income from Rs.500 to 1,000. But what was done in actual practice? The same men who formerly paid Rs.10 as income tax had many of them to pay Rs.20. What has been done in Shikarpur this year, was done in Hyderabad the year before. Sukkur has shared the same fate.
Inability to produce any regularly kept account books is visited with penal assessment. The general public in India and the small dealers are not in the habit of keeping any regular accounts and those who keep them are not in a position, for very good reasons in some cases, to make up a profit and loss balance sheet at a time when wanted to do so, by the assessing officer; and this is visited with heavy assessment.
Unjustified pecuniary burdens are far more bitter than temporary aberrations of justice; and when people just groaning under various diseases and calamities are brought face to face with these conditions, the situation becomes harder, and therefore it is our function as a united body to raise our voice and tell the rulers the facts as they are. In the new act there ought to have been:-
(a) Abatement clauses on the lines of the English Act as shown above; allowing deduction of Rs.10 per child and widowed female relation besides graded abatement.
(b) The assessing work should be done by a board consisting of one Government assessing officer and at least two mashirs like what government does in the case of grant of remissions of land revenue.
(c) The appeal should lie to the District Court or to a board, or at least the Judicial Commissioner’s court should have ample powers of revision.
(d) The assessing officer should be required to state in writing in each case detailed figures, and brief but intelligent reasons, for fixing each assessment so that the assessee should be able to know and meet the same. In England there is a right of appeal to the Court of Appeal and the Parliament.
(e) The assessee should have the right to get copies, on payment, of the assessing officer’s order containing facts and figures of assessment.
(f) The right of appeal or revision should not be made conditional on the assessee’s having made a return or having complied with all the terms of notice as section 22 purports to do.
(g) Section 35 empowers the Collector to charge double the amount of income tax in case of default. This should be done away with altogether. At the most a notice fee of annas 8 or utmost interest for the period of default may be charged. In many cases default is unintentional. When people run away from their houses owing to the outbreak of any epidemic or other cause, or fall ill, or do not know that they have seen many such cases of poor people who are made to pay the penal amount of the tax for no fault of theirs and they are condemned unheard for having made default.
In this speech in the Imperial Legislative Council on 27th February 1912 the Hon. Mr. Gokhale pressed the same pints, and said- “ The principle of abatement should be introduced in this country. It is a just principle and is found in operation in many civilized countries …………………….The chief grievance with income tax is the manner in which it is collected. The assessments are notoriously haphazard and there is no real relief in the shape of appeals as they are now hard. Some better machinery has got to be devised in order to give relief to those – and their number is very large – who suffer from the vagaries of the assessing officers.”
Gentlemen, you all know very well what these abuses are and what great hardships and misery they work upon our peasantry, upon the zamindars and the village banias.
Can it be denied that during the cold season every year, contribution in the shape of kids, lambs, goats, grass, fuel, grains and cash are levied from the peasantry and the zamindars according to a fixed scale for the officers touring? Who has not seen stores and depots where all the collections are kept for being used for the year. These of us who are zamindars know well weather these contributions are cheerfully given as presents for the use of the officers, for their private revenue, for their often establishment including the peons, for their horses, riding and loading camels and for the host of attendants; or whether they are submitted to through fear of consequences. So about cher and lapo. Tapedars and the supervising tapedars have not given up levying the lapo or anangi. But why to blame them? They can’t be expected to make heavy rasai from their meager slaries. Do they not say so plainty? Any one who has been in the country just before any high official is expected to encamp there, will have observed how hundreds of the poor peasantry are dragged from their homes and cultivations and made to toil not only the whole day but over night to finish the work of preparing roads, landhies, and camping grounds in a given time which of course is short. It is awful to imagine the misery entailed on these unfortunate beings by an officer suddenly changing his campus from those previously notified. I had once an occasion to witness such a sight. The cher had to work the whole day and night by torch light to prepare the new command the new road. Little do the officials know or realize the attendant misery: of course when I informed the official concerned, he was really sorry for it.
There have been efforts made by individual officers in the past to cheek the almost, by issue of circulars and by themselves setting the example; and in this respect I must give credit to the Hon. Mr. Lawrence, Mr. Martin, Mr. Monie and Mr. Rothfield. But no united and sustained efforts have been made by the Government of Sind to eradicate the evils.
A soon as any officer who has interested in checking the abuses, leaves his charge and is succeeded by another whose tendencies are not known, the subordinates again resort to rasai in order to please the new officer who happens to look upon it indifferently, with the result that the practices begin again and are in full swing.
Thus the evil has never been crushed or abolished but it has only occasionally diminished by individual officers. It is also to say that touring officer can’t purchase food, stuffs except through the tapedars or the zamindars. Even in towns and big villages where every requirement could be purchased in the bazaars, it is the tapedar who is made the supplier. It is equally idle to say that the provisions etc taken at any camp are adequately paid for. This under-charging is resorted to by the supplier not because he does not want full payment but because he fears the frowns of the officers and thinks that it will otherwise cost him either his service or his promotion. Their fears on occasion are not unjustified.
Inspite of circulars’ of the Commissioner in Sind, the rasai continues and the tapedar or ther supervising tapedar does levy rasai contributions and lapo from the zamindar, who in his turn, collects from his haris. I am very glad that our indefatigable and energetic representative the Honourable Mr. Bhurgri has already moved this matter in the Bombay Council and succeeded in having got a committee appointed to investigate the matter and it is indeed a matter of gratification that we have officers amongst us who are prepared to co-operate in the eradication of this evil in Sind. The members to be appointed on this committee should be men of independence and education from Sind. Some independent men in touch with raiyat and the zamindars should be on it. With the co-operation of such officers and the committee I am sure the Hon. Mr. Bhurgri will find his task made easy and some effective remedy will soon be found to root out the abuses. Only the other day some police servants staioned in a small village in Garhi Yasin taluka had exacted so much of rasai from the villagers that after 3 days the shopkeepers had to shut up their shops and run away from the village. On their approaching the D.S.P. Mr. Kirkpatrick, a genuinely sympathetic officer, the police were ordered to clear out from the village. The culprits ought to be severely punished in order to warn others that it is not legitimate even for police to exact such rasai.
Follow rules are peculiar to Sind only. Ordinarily such numbers as are brought under cultivation are liable for assessment : but rule 4 empower the Government to levy assessment even without cultivation the 5th year, if the land has remained fallow for 4 preceding years; the unjustness of such a rule is apparent and works great hardship in practice. Though in their resolution No. 1836 of 25th August 1884, the Government of Bombay, clearly held out a definite assurance that follow rules which charged assessment on time expired fallow numbers would be done away with, yet the pledge remains still unredeemed of course.
Mr. Muir Mackenzie, the late Commissioner is Sind while inviting opinions on this from various officers observed : “It is occurred to the Commissioner that the rule might be abolished altogether. In a bad year its operation is always suspended and in a good year when all hand is pretty certain to be cultivated for which water is available ordinarily there will be little occasion to enforces it. The forfeiture of fallow lands is moreover merely nominal since forfeited lands almost always given back to the original proprietors. The amount of revenue realized in the shape of fallow assessment recovered when forfeited lands are restored to original occupants, is not large compared with the total revenue of the province. The abolition of the rule too is likely to result in an appreciable saving of work all round.” There could be no better denunciation of this rule than this opinion of the head of the provinces.
The maintenance of this rule involves untold hardship on the zamindars. When through circumstances over which a zamindar has no control such as the exhaustion of land or over-growing of weeds, land which has remained fallow for four years could not be cultivated in the fifth, how could the zamindar be asked in fairness to make a gift of one assessment to Government. In consequence of this rule in the fifth year the zamindars try to induce haris by extra payments in addition to seed etc. to cultivate the unfit land with the result that very often there is total failure of crop entailing tremendous loss to the zamindar in addition to payment of Government assessment.
The grounds upon which Government claims the maintenance of the rule have been discussed thread-bare by the Hon. Mr. Bhurgri and the Hon. Seth Harchandrai in their presidential addresses in 1916 and 1908 respectively and it is not necessary for me to cover the same ground over again. By cogent arguments and by citing chapter and verse they have made out a strong case for Government to abolish the rule and I fully endorse their views.
If Government can not see its way to abolish the rule altogether they should atleast make the payment of one penal assessment co-extensive with the period of settlement instead of five years. It is also worth while for our honourable representatives in the Council to bring up a motion on the subject every time till the rule is abolished.
BANK SIDE TREES
Among the chief grievances of the Sind zamindars the orders of the Commissioner in Sind about the bankside tress on private water courses, in one. The karias are excavated and cleared by the zamindars themselves at their own cost and the trees are planted, nurtured, and maintained by the zamindars similarly. The produce of these tress is also enjoyed by the zamindars. The incidents of ownership lie with the zamindars. There is thus no hand in their creation or growth. I am aware that the portion of the land no hand in their creation or growth. I am aware that the portion of the land covered the karia is deducted from the area of the land for the purpose of assessment but the land revenue charged includes the water-rate of the zamindar to the trees grown and maintained by him and not by Government though the usufruct is admittedly the zamindars. Government claims ownership of the land under the water courses but Government similarly claims to be the power paramount of all the survey numbers and yet the tress grown in the survey numbers are recognized to be the legitimate property of the zamindar. For many years there was no interference by Government with the rights of zamindars over these trees and no permission was required for cutting them. Latterly however a circular (No.29) went forth and warned the royat that such trees no longer were their property. This circular seems presumably to be based on the view that the Land Revenue Code had vested the proprietorship of all the soil in the power paramount. But this inspite of Sind Sadar Court deciding in 1883 as against Government assertion of such a claim “that though there may have been originally nothing proprietary in he character of some zamindars the position was one wwhich readily developed in a proprietary form.” I think in fairness to the zamindars Government should now uphold their rights to these trees and issue clear orders to that effect so as to save the zamindars from unnecessary presentations in Criminal Courts and harassment at the hands of revenue officials.
Form of Government in Sind as it is and as it ought to be
Sind in comparision to her eister-provinces stands on a lower rung of the ladder leading to the destined goal of Swaraj. Her position in the presidency is peculiar : she has therefore, to work harder and more strenuously than other provinces for the purpose reaching he desired goal.
Even India’s political rishi late Mr. Gokhale in his political testament teated Sind with scant attention and for this treatment Sind is mainly responsible on account of the inactivity and inertia displayed by her. But now the same state of things can not be permitted to continue and Sin refuses to be called a “Benighted province” or a “sleepy hollow.” She is an integral and non-negligible part of India and is prepared tocontribute rateably to the Indian culture.
This subject had very recently been a matter for discussion at the last Special Sind Conference held at Hyderabad a few months ago. As it was the legitimate and special province of that Conference to deal with it, my task is considerably simplified so far as this subject is concerned and I have thus to make a very few observations only.
It is an anomaly that Sind is still on the list of “Scheduled Districts” although with Karachi rivaling Bombay, it has been advancing commercially and though in consequence of Mesopotamian consequent, its geographical importance is an assured and unprecedented one.
Whether be the view adopted with respect to the political status that Sind may occupy in the proposed reforms, we all are unanimously agreed that Sind Commissioners Act of 1868 that has remained with us for half a century ought to be abolished and one man’s rule out to end. This Act confers powers of the Governor-in-Council on the Commissioner-usually of the Indian Civil Service and trained to be an autocrat, and his acts remain uncontrolled and unquestioned by the Bombay Government. That Government has voluntarily parted with its power to cheek the actions of each occupant that comes and goes. His will is supreme for good or for evil and absolute. Sind feels sequestered. It has a poor representation on the University – her educational advancement is slow-her development of Local Self-Government stunted and her agricultural, irrigational and industrial condition unsatisfactory. I cannot refrain myself from observing that this system is repugnant to the democratic principles that have now surcharged the political atmosphere all over the world and that at present the autocratic system cannot inspire that confidence in the minds of the governed that would otherwise be done in the case of a representative Government wherein “Self-determination” has a part. What is done in the province, be it in the dispensation of state service, be it in the nominations of municipalities and local boards, be it in the forests or in the judiciary, never reaches the ears of the Bombay Government.
With the repeal of this Act where-with a pre-anti-diluvium form of Government is carried on, arises the question of demand for a suitable and satisfactory form of Government.
The only possible suggestions for consideration are:-
(1) Should Sind be autonomous with a Governor and Council?
(2) Should Sind be linked to the Punjab?
(3) Should Sind be made a part of Baluchistan?
(4) Should Sind remain annexed and Sind be given a Commissioner with the same powers that other Commissioners in the Presidency have.
Brother delegates, these are all momentous questions-on the right determination of which the future of Sind depends. All the above suggestions have been fully considered at the last Sind Special Provincial Conference. Mine will be but a feeble voice in endorsement of those views. But the importance of the question is such that the ablest and the most thoughtful men of Sind should meet in committee to consider the various aspects of the questions. Difficulties there are in every course-but they have to be met. Under the present system Sind has not gained any thing from the introduction of Morley-Minto reforms. Sind unless it rises to suggest its fate will I am sure remain untouched by any changes that the Parliament may introduce at the bureaucratic rule with “wooden, in-elastic and iron” machinery cannot go on any longer. Before these changes are introduced let this Conference or its specially authorized committee prepare a scheme of reforms for the administration of Sind Government.
Internees, Detenues and Political Suspects.
That the British power so well established in this country with its High Courts, its Penal, its Criminal Procedure Codes, and let us not forget the Press Act, should have resorted to the arbitrary step of internments must be proof of its utter lack of statesmanship. The application of the Defence of India Act, a measure designed “for the purpose of securing the public safety and the defence of British India” and “powers primarily required in the military interests of the country”, in the case of constitutional and law-abiding citizens of India is entirely a misuse of authority.
In winding up his speech on the Defence of India Bill, in the Imperial Legislative Council, on the 18th March 1915, the Hon. Mr. Surendranath Bannerjee made the prophetic observation, “I hope and trust that it will not be a weapon in the hands of the enemies of Indian advancement for the purpose of blasting those prospects and frustrating those hopes which have been roused in our hearts by the loyal devotion of our countrymen consecrated by their blood on the battlefields of France.” The non-official members who were induced to give their sanction to this “ dangerous addition” to the repressive laws that have been enacted during the last few years, may well complain of breach of faith on the Part of the authorities who have made such un-authorized use of it. It will not be far from truth to say that what was styled as a purely war measure had been used as a weapon by the authorities for gagging and oppressing the political workers and in a majority of cases the persons who are rightly or wrongly suspected by the police or by the C.I.D. To deprive any person of liberty without even a semblance of public trial and proof of guilt is a grievous wrong and a grave offence against the spirits of fairness, freedom and democracy, for which the allies are professedly fighting at present.
The year that has just closed has witnessed several instances in which on the word of a spy many young men, several of them being brilliant products of university, or self-developed workers in the service of humanity, have been interned without trial in prisons or far-off inhospitable places and left to brood in loneliness without the freedom to communicate with their kindred. Some of them are reported to have gone mad or committed suicide.
Some few have been liberated but they are still shadowed and persecuted with the result that they find themselves unable to do any business.
By this method the careers of several blossoming youths have been blasted. This atmosphere of suspicious and distrust has penetrated the schools and colleges where a move serene atmosphere of love, trust and reverence ought to have away. Heart-rending tales are wafted to us from Bengal about the miserable existence that these detunes are passing through and the cruel indifference that is shown to their health and comfort and the treatment that is meted out to them in the jail of their detention. The relatives of the internees are not allowed to see them nor is timely information sent to the relatives about the health or place of residence of the detunes. The latest information is about hunger-strikes and this is the highest point which misery can reach. How long is the government going to play with the lives of our peoples?
Any further indifference on our part would mean that we attach no value to human life. Even if these detenues are revolutionists; as the Government would have us believe, the treatment that is given to them, in the name of peace and security of the country, is more in keeping with the middle ages than with a civilized Government of the twentieth century. Even hardened criminals and murderers receive better treatment than these detenues. To them at least a fair and impartial trial wherein their guilt is tested by cross examination is given. This shows that Government wanted not the co-operation of the public or their inquisitive gaze.
Gentlemen, I fail to see why Government should refuse to disclose the charge and evidence on which a man is deprived of his liberty indefinitely and why should the friends and relatives not be allowed to visit periodically?
In the name of justice, in the name of humanity and in the name of civilization all this must end and every effort of ours should be directed to the betterment of this state of things. I am glad to learn that a Central Bureau for the help of the Muslim interness has been formed very recently at Delhi and from Sind Hon. Mr. Bhurgri and Mr. Ghulam Ali Chagla, our worthy patriots have enlisted themselves as its members. Time has far advanced when to this movement an All-India character irrespective of caste, colour or creed should be imparted.
In this respect Sind has also paid its contribution in a direct form. All appeals for mercy and justice have failed to secure the release of the interness.
Our worthy patriot Diwan Wadhumal Oadharam has sent, as president of the public meeting, telegrams and petitions but without any success.
Things have instead of improving gone from bad o worse. Brother delegates, language is but too poor to convey to youths sorrowful accounts about the life that our brothers are made to live in purgatories and prisons. With all her efforts and provisions Mrs. Annie Besant has failed to secure the release of two Mahammadan interns-brothers-Mahmed Ali and Shaukatali. Te spectacle of a vacant provincial chair at the last meeting of the Moslem League was a lving and burning emblem of the injustice done to them and yet a very powerful index of the reverence that Mahmed Ali’s co-religionists have for him. The Hindus also possessing equal reverence for these two immortal brothers. Some thing must be done to secure liberty of person and in indefatigable exertions for their release, Hindus and Mahammadans must unite.
This act of 1878 is another great grievance of the people. Its existence on the pages of the Indian Statute Book ever reminds us of the gloomy fact that Indians are not citizens of the British Empire. This impression gathers support from the one dismal fact that non-Indians, so says the Arms Act, are tree to carry and use arms without a license. This obnoxious distinction based on race, caste and creed none counter to the spirit of Magna Charta of Indian liberties which has been ratified in several sovereign and distinguished statesmen. This act virtually proclaims aloud to the world that Indians from the highest to the lowest are not to be trusted in their own country and creates doubts against their loyalty. But the part India has played and the blood her sons have shed on all the battle –fronts prove the response it has given and remove all doubts of her loyalty. Loyalty to the sovereign and his representatives is inbred in Indian nature. The absence of the arms from Indian homes has left the Indian manhood untrained and emasculated. Little did the powers think that in 1914 will be launched on the European world a gigantic struggle for liberty that will tax England and Allies, resource to the full and that will necessitate England to call on India for help and yet if they had been trained in arms, have easy it would have been to send millions in the field and turn the tide of war. In its times, Indian’s sons and heroes have fought for the land – but an age of emasculation has killed the Kabtrya –hood and the material spirit within us. One of the main reasons for insufficient response to the Indian Defence Force Act is the operation of the Arms Act – and the feeling that we are not trusted.
Raja Rampalsing in the Congress of 1885 prophetically raised a voice of protest against the policy of distrust pursued by the Government. He said:-
“Nor is it only we who shall have to regret and suffer for the mistaken policy that our Government is unhappily pursuing in this matter. Look where you will remind you in the world and you will see gigantic armies and armaments. There is trouble in steps for the whole civilized world and sooner or later a tremendous military strength will commence in which assuredly before it terminates, Great Britain will be involved.” There prophetic words have come out to be true.
India’s position necessitates that she should be made strong as well as free otherwise not only does she become a vulnerable point in the Umpire but also procession to be battled for.
Let these responsible for the safety of British Empire including Indian Report given realize the grave situation and repeal the Arms Act.
Apart from the political aspect of the question, can any deny that possessing alarms is right of self defence and is the birth-right of every individual citizen. Nowhere in the world, is the possession of arms fettered.
The most comic feature of the Act is the granting and renewal of licenses. This unhappy function is no doubt entrusted to the District Officer viz, the Collector, but world know that he relies for the purpose of selection on the reports of the C.I.D. and police officers.
The worst effect of the Arms Act is that it stunts the growth of a people and citizens them of their sense of national self respect. The Arms Act has failed to achieve its object in as much as the lawless few are never in want of fire arms, but it is the law-abiding many that have been deprived of the use of them. Illustrative of this era the numerous decoities and robberies that visit Sind at the time of non-abkalani season. Dacoits and robbers somehow manage to get fire-arms and swords and attack the unarmed people to the disgrace of the Arms Act.
The recent disturbance among some frontier tribes created so much of alarm and unsafety that Government had to requisition police from all departments in order to protest the people and property. The people themselves are helpless in their homes and have to rely for their ordinary protection on a handful of policeman.
LIBERTY OF PRESS
Indian Press in India labours under several difficulties and impediments and the heaviest of those is the Press Act of 1910 that hangs like Damocles Sword over the heads of editors, journalists and keepers of the press. This Act, conceived in a spirit of repression, and ostensibly intended at first to be sparingly used, carries within its bosom the deadliest weapon that cuts at the very root of independence of any paper that comes within its range. The press, instead of being an independent critic of Government as it ought to be and is in all other countries where British flag flies has been reduced to a state of meek submission and terror and is permitted to exist on itself. The vesting of such altimited power on the Executive Government is undoubtedly a serious encroachment on the freedom which the press in India enjoyed before the passing of the Act.” There cannot be severer condemnation of the measure and its existence than the above words.
The Press Act, I dare say has been in the hands of the Executive a convenience weapon for repressing inconvenient criticisms which they could not bring under the operation of the sections of the Penal Code. The fate of the editors of journals circulating in a small area is veritable as they with very small income and capital and mostly depending for their existence on official patronage and advertisements have more often than not to live under the perpetual tutelage and arbitrary censorship of local or district official in the interests of the public or incurs the displeasure of local police authority, he is called upon to show cause why security should not be demanded from him. The taking of security is a foregone conclusion. It often happens that the magistrate demanding the security and sitting on judgment is the very person whose views had been severely criticized by the editor concerned or an immediate subordinate of him. Thus the complaint, the witness and the judge merges in one – a principle abhorrent to every judicial measure.
It is well-known maxim of law that every one is to be presumed incept until guilt is proved. But in the operation of the Press Act the two important words “innocence” and “guilty” have changed places and the maxim has been reversed. As the Defence of India Act trenches on the liberty of person without trial, so does the Press Act snatch its freedom from the press. Under the Press Act, the pressman is often called upon to prove his innocence without a affording him even an opportunity of knowing contradicting either the contents, or the source of confidential reports that may have been made against him by the C.I.C. or the police nor is he allowed in certain cases, where security is demanded, to know the objectionable passages or articles. The use rather the misuse of the Act and solemn promises given by Government at the time of the passage of the act as to the use or intention there have proved illusory.
The non-official members were told by Sir Herbart Risley “the Pill does not prepare to confer any power on the police, they will be absolutely outside it and will have nothing whatever to do with its administration” – what a poor realization of fact. Mr. Merniman in supporting the resolution on the repeal of the Press Act at the ……………………….of the Congress said “ I say – I am prepared to justify it-I say from this platform that the police come in at every step in the administration of the act. The whole question of the respectability if I may so put, it, of the proprietors of a newspapers or the proprietor of a press rests in the hands of the Criminal Intelligence Department. This stands un-contradicted till this date. This with respect to the first safeguard Another safeguard held out to us is the appeal to the High Court against any order for forfeiture and the late Sir Herbert Risely described it as ‘a very complete cheek upon any hasty or improper action by a local Government.” On the basis of such an assurance the framers of the act had ‘barred all other remedies.” But an order demanding a deposit of security does not carry with itself this safeguard, so the highest judges in the land tell us. Even in the case of forfeiture the Madras High Court in the “New India” case while holding that the Magistrate’s order was administrative and not judicial. Thus the appeal against forfeiture is meaningless and our High Court are powerless.
Experience has shown us that this safe-guard is illusory and a sham. Press is thus left at the mercy of the executive assisted by the police and C.I.D. and as long as human nature exists adverse criticism will always place the press under the head of a single executive officer.
Another disappointing feature of the Act is the unfair manner in which it is being administered as, between certain classes of journals. While Anglo-Insane journals that vilify the people of this country and create class-hatred are immune we hear but too often that the Indian papers advocating national views are ordered to deposit heavy securities with the result of forfeiture in several cases.
I have brother-delegates, laboured over this problem at great length for two reasons. One is that I regard free press to be the strongest bulwark of the Empire and a tower of strength to the reformer. Milton the great seer of England proclaimed the truth that the one essential of good Government is to keep in touch with the governed, that its ear should be placed near the ground so as to hear the rumblings of the populace. This essential truth can be realized only with a press free and not muzzled as in India.
The second reason for me is that Sind has during this year been greatly victimized by the Press Act in as much as “New Times” “Home Ruler”, Trade Advertisement” and Hindvasi” have been asked to deposit securities within the space of a few months. “Sindhi” was already under this has at the very start of the Act for the curious person of having changed its editors.
The “Trade Advertiser” was not allowed even the benefit of seeing the objectionable articles or passages and action against it was admittedly taken on police information which was not disclosed. In the case of “Hindvai” the Magistrate refused to follow the ruling of the Madras High Court and sought to get support from a Magisterial judgment in preference to the Madras High Court. “Home Ruler” was made to deposits a pre-natal security. The Press Association of India and the public must try all legitimate and constitutional methods in their power to resist the operation of this arbitrary and oppressive measure. The Press Act must be repealed and be amended. The safety of the Press in Sind will until the repeal of the Act depend upon the public support and more upon an organization, of which all the Press aware should be members, and in the event of a particular Press being harassed by the Executive all support must proceed from this organization.
And now brother delegates, I have placed before you to the best of my light what we wish Government should do for us and what we should do for ourselves so that we may have an India of the future answering our ideal, satisfying our aspirations and rising to the height of our noblest emotions. And towards this end the war and other forces of great moment are fast helping us onward. The war has created a new spirit of self sacrifice the highest imaginable-shedding of blood-and this being abroad throughout the British Empire there appears to prevail an atmosphere of good will and mutual service. It seems to me that under the benign dispensation of an inscrutable Providence our beloved Motherland will occupy an honoured place in the Empire with which her fortunes are indissolubly linked and we shall be the free and equal citizens of that great empire bearing its burden, sharing its responsibilities and participating in its heritage of freedom and glory as comrades and brothers. With a liberated manhood, with buoyant hope, with a love that over-leaps all bounds, renovated and free India will take her proper rank among the nations of the world and be the master of the situation and of her own destiny.
This is the goal to be reached – This is the promised land.
Happy are they who see it in distant vision; happier those who are permitted to work and clear the way on to it; happiest they who live to see it with their eyes and trend upon the holy soil of Bharat Mata and Sindhu Desh.
WELCOME ADDRESS OF THE HONOURABLE
Mr. Harchandrai Vishindas, C.I.E. Chairman of the Reception Committee
Brother-Delegates, Ladies & Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Reception Committee and the citizens of Karachi, I tender a hearty welcome to you all for having done us the honour of gracing this, the Fifth Sind Provincial Conference, with your presence. Although, Karachi being the capital of Sind, in the normal order of events she would be expected to take the lead by holding the First Sind Provincial Conference, as Fates would have it, in fact the exact opposite has been the case. Of all the principal cities she has been the last in this respect. All credit to Sukkur for not only taking the place of honour but also for conceiving and initiating the idea of Sind Provincial Conferences. That city, conscious not only for its picturesque hills and magnificently shaded river bank, its river girt islands with palatial shrines but also for its parks, its broad avenues and thorough fares and sanitary lanes and its go-ahead civic administration, threw the rest of the Province into the shade by calling the First Sind Provincial Conference in the year 1903, the second, third and fourth being held at Hyderabad, Larkana and Shikarpur respectively with a break of six years between the second and third conferences. These breaks, however, are not an uncommon feature of Provincial Conference, the first of three years from 1897 to 1899, the second of three years from 1904 to 1905, and the third of seven years from 1908 to 1899, the second of three years from 1904 to 1905, and the third of seven years from 1908 to 1914. The explanation that Karachi has to furnish for this apparent remissness is that the invitation for the first two conferences were rushed, she being given od chance and afterwards she was in the midst of preparations for the far more exacting and ambitions assemblage of the National Congress which happily did materialize in 1913 and whereby was redeemed the honour of the province which was being twitted with unconscionable neglected in its primary national duty. Whether this apologia is valid or only an argumentum she solicits forgiveness and offers this Conference as her quota for what it may be worth. If you find any shortcomings in the actual performance of our hospitality (which will be many) you will kindly over-look them and accept the will for the deed.
Sir William Wedderburn
We deeply mourn the death of Sir William Wedderburn one of the fathers and founders of our great National Organization, who dedicated his noble life to the relift of this country, whose services this country specially towards her political and economic amelioration were too numerous to mention, who spent lavishly a considerable portion of his wealth for this country and worked wholeheartedly for it up to his death. It is impossible to give an adequate expression to what he has done for our motherland. “The picture of this great venerable rishi of modern times,” said Mr. Gokhale, “who has done this work for us is a picture too venerable. Too beautiful, too inspiring for words: it is a picture to dwell upon lovingly and reverentially, a picture to contemplate in silence.” It is a matter for bitter sorrow that he, who so patiently suffered with us in the days of adversity and did no much to help us to the onward march of progress, should pass away at this critical juncture when India stands at the threshold of momentous charges.
He was specially connected with this city in the early seventies of the last century as the Judicial Commissioner of Sind from which post he was transferred to Presidency proper in 1875.
Loyalty to the Sovereign
We vow our profound loyalty and devotion to the King Emperor and answering questions to the British connection. We sincerely pray for an early and victories …………of Great Britain and her Allies from this stupendous and insane war busted on green fields and smiling pastures of the Earth by the criminal avarice, the said bombed and blood-thirst of wicked man whereby the innocent bleed of ……………………..
What has been proved by History and held true for all times that Government of the people by themselves makes by far more for the welfare and happiness of nations than the rule of one or of few, has never been more clearly demonstrated this than during war. Some of the belligerents who have had no axes of their own to grind have been dragged into the vertex by the inexorable exigencies of the situation. These Nations entered the war to remove the deadly menace to those righteous methods of governing people which make life worth living and ensure the safety of the weak living side by side with the strong. The statesmen of these countries have made “Self-Determination” as their watch word. Peoples must be left free to choose their own machinery of Government. Not only has this doctrine an a priori application to India but she has been specifically declared to be a country whose goal should be the attainment of Self-Government; and Self-Government within the British Empire has been our cry for a long time.
Mr. Montagu’s Visit
The most absorbing event of the year which will vitally affect our political status and be a land mark in the history of our country was the coming of Mr. Mongagu in pursuance of an announcement in Parliament that the Secretary of State should visit India for the purpose of consulting official and non-official opinion on the changes to be effected for establishing Responsible Government, as enunciated on the 20th August last. Mr. Montague has come and gone. He has had innumerable deputations, addresses and interviews. After his return to England it is expected that he will publish his scheme about the end of May next, and after it has seen the light of criticism, it will be submitted to Parliament. The immence of Mr. Montagu’s visit necessitated that we should focuss our attention upon the problems connected with the peculiar administration of Sind and place our mature views before him. To that end we assembled in Special Session of the Sind Provincial Conference in Hyderabad in November last and embodied the decisions reached there in a Memorial which was duly presented to the Secretary of State by the deputation appointed for the purpose. In addition to backing up the Congress-League scheme relating to the whole country, proposals suggesting the lines for the government of this Province in particular, were made; the key-note of which was that of the various conflicting schemes of re-adjustment, preference was given to the present connection with Bombay with the important qualification that the super-Commissioner of Sind be brought to the level of the ordinary Commissioner and in every respect this province be placed on a par with the other divisions of the Bombay Presidency.
Sind Mahomedan Association
You must be aware that following close on our movement some members of the Sind Mahomedan Association set to work counterblast to our representation. The deputation of the Mahomedan Association took ticket after us to Bombay and presented their address which you must have seen. The aim and object of that deputation and address were to whittle down our demand for Home Rule. This is not the place to refute the reasoning of that address. But the exotic forces that were at work to organize resistance to our movement, the protests and defections of the advanced section, the establishment of the Sind branch of the Muslim League to counteract the reactionary policy of the Sind Mahomedan Association, that however they may act, we have no quarrel with them and harbour no ill-will towards them. We realize that they are our countrymen and have interests identical with ours. Their progress is our progress and their down fall our down fall. We are at all times prepared to extend the hand of fellowship to them. We realize, as some of the most enlightened among them realize now and others will realize hereafter, that their present circumstances render them an easy prey to those whose interest lies in diverting and wheedling them away from the path of true advancement. Whaever share of Home Rule is acquired by the country, in Sind the Mahomedans, consisting as they do the majority of the population, will receive a substantial portion of the same. When the present walls of illiteracy are broken and the doors of education opened wide, the members of the Mahomedan Association wore misguided in their present attitude and thereby missed a mighty opportunity for serving their community and country. But in this history repeats itself. The same was the case with the Mahomedans of the U.P. and the North. So long as they were under the spell of false guides they kept aloof from National Movements, which attitude however vanished like mist before the sun as soon as they received Higher Education and found out how misled they had been in the past.
We are confident that the Secretary of State and those who will have the final shaping of the Reforms to be introduced will not fail to comprehend the genesis and the true inwardness of the Sind Mahomedan Association’s attitude. Because, when I demand a benefit not only for myself but also for my brother and that that brother not only fails to support me but vigorously shouts his protest against the grant of the benefit, it would naturally arouse the suspicion of the deciding party that there must be something behind the protest.
But the humour of the situation consists in this that the Mahomedan Association in their Memorial, while condemning the grant of Self-Government as forcing the pace, still claim the bulk of it in the event of its being conceded. Now if there were any consistency in the Association’s case they would have said that the Mohomedans of Sind would have nothing to do with Self-Government even if it were granted. However, this playing fast and loose, leads to the inference that the Association at heart are in favour of Self-Government, but have been reluctantly impelled into their repudiation by some extraneous force.
We are extremely grateful at the grant of one lac by Government for the Education of Sind Mahomedans. And I am glade of my support of Mr. Bhurgri’s Bill for the levy of Educational cess on Mahommedans of Sind which unhappily, owing to technical difficulties and the opposition of elements of Sind Mahomadens did not come to fruition. In the education of this community, which constitutes the for-fifths of the entire population of Sind, lies the political salvation of the Province and albeit that in every acquisition of political or administrative right the Mahomedans would naturally get a lion’s share, we of this Conference are of opinion that the Hindus of Sind would none the less enthusiastically hail and accept the same catholic spirit in which they have accepted preferential distribution of Government posts to Mahomedans.
Sind Branch of the Moslim League
We welcome the Sind Branch of the Moslim League recently started as a healthy sign of the progress of the Province as we trust that this body like its parent institution will appreciate the benefit of making common cause with the Congress party and co-operate in their political activities.
On what reformed lines the Government of India should be carried on in the future must naturally take the front rank in all important deliberations of the country until the question is finally settled by the passing of a Parliamentary Statue, Likewise, the future Government of Sind in particular should occupy the thoughts of us all Sindhis until final solution. Meanwhile, it should be the duty of the country to support the deputation which will proceed to England to plead our cause before the bar of the British electorate and parliament after Mr. Montagu’s scheme is published, so that judgment may not go against us by default.
We should exercise the utmost vigilance to meet the mischievous campaign conducted against us by our opponents in England under the leadership of that Goliath of the Philistines, Lord Sydnenham, who will leave no stone natured to thwart us. As a sample you may look at the manner in which the Resolution of the Labour Conference with regard to India was distorted. Lord Sydenham has rushed on to the stage with the brief of the bureaucracy in his hands. One is agape with astonishment at the spectacle that, whilst British minister as well as other great statesmen of the world have in the most unmistakable terms declared in favour of Self-Rule for India, and these declaration have been given effect to and sealed up by the authoritative and final announcement of the 20th August last, the bureaucracy under the advocacy of Lord Sydenham and Madras Mail should keep on beating the big drum and denouncing Self-Government for India making use of the well-worn shibboleths and stock-in-trade pleadings. They say Congress-League scheme would result in government by Oligarchy? And supposing the insinuation well-founded, which really it is not, would not a change from an alien to an indigenous oligarchy be for the better? They harp upon efficiency. Lord Curzon was an apostle of efficiency. And still what was the legacy, he left behind? The most crushing reply to this plea of efficiency was the remark of the President of the last Congress when she said “would German Government be considered best because it was most efficient “. The emphatic answer would be “Certainly not”. Another can’t trotted forth is the smallness of the number of Educated Indians and those who are demanding Reform. Mr. P.C. Lyon, a late number of the Bengal Copuncil and once a lieutenant of Sir Bamphylde Fuller, in the course of a debate on a paper read to the East Indian Association in London effectively disposed of this objection. He said that from his experience he had gathered that the Nationalist movement had spread out in all directions and had influence in schools and colleges of the country. When he had a conversation on this point with Lord Morley, that statesman reminded him that it was not the people of England as a whole who wanted to cut off the head of King Charles I. Real revolution in any country in the world had been brought about by strong vigorous men, energetic men, before they had persuaded the people as a whole to rally to them.
The long and short of the story is that we have to reckon with a citadel of vested interests. Men do not willingly surrender great power and privileges. The following words of Mr. Gokhale are very apposite:
“ The main difficulty arises from the fact that the Government of this country is really in the hands of the civil service which is practically a caste, with all the exclusiveness and love of monopoly that characterize castes……………… And as they (the members of the service ) happen to be practically the sole advisers of both the Viceroy chance of being adopted ………………..In a general way they seem to recognize that some advance is now necessary, but when you come to a discussion of different measures of reform, a majority, thought not necessarily composed each time of the same individuals, is to be found arrayed against every reform that may be proposed …………….And thus we move round and round the fortress of official conservatism and bureaucratic reluctance to part with power without being able to effect a breach at any point. This kind of thing has going on for many years, with the result that the attitude of the public mind towards the Government has undergone a steady and, of late years, even a rapid change”.
Another grave danger which looms largely in front of us, and which we should spare no skill or pains to guard against, is what is known by the name of the Curtis Scheme. You may be aware that this scheme against a solving the problem of achieving Responsible government by successive stages. It has a very plausible exterior. But it is like Dead Sea apples goodly to behold but dust and ashes within. You know that the outstanding features of this scheme are that Government is divided into two sections. The Executive power with regard to one section is to vest in people’s representatives. This section will consist of the portfolios of Education, Sanitation, Local Bodies & e. It will receive allotments of funds for expenditure. The experiment will be tried for a certain number of years, at the end of which, if successful, it may be extended to other portfolios. The scheme, whilst on the surface appearing as if it answers to the two criteria of Responsible Government and successive stages, betrays fundamental drawback and has therefore been condemned by the leaders of the country as unacceptable. The scheme does not confer a substantial power on the elected of the people, nor does it give them financial autonomy. The department as assigned to them will be fed doles from the Revenues of other departments. They being spending departments, if their conductors are invested with the power of taxation, their they will be serving their apprenticeship with the brand of odium upon them.
Nothing can satisfy our legitimate and reasonable aspirations short of the following essentials i.e., elected majorities on the Councils, half of the executive members elected by our representatives on the Council, and the power of the purse.
Whilst having our eyes constantly fixed upon the movements of the hands of the Clock in England we should pursue with redoubled zeal and energy the work lying at hand at home. Educating the masses is a most important work which should never be slackened. The Indian proletariat should be enlightened as to their needs, their claims and rights. We are eminently grateful to that great lady who has done so much for us within a comparatively short space of time, for inter alia, not only vigorously preaching but untiringly practicing propagandist work. Mrs. Aunie Besant, after her advent on the Congress, laid stress on the colossal potentialities of this item of the programme and by incessant example and precept succeeded in making the whole nation throb with the pulsation of the new ideal of Home Rule, a word with which the peasant no less than the prince has become familiar. We in Sind must not forget this but must carry this but must carry on propagandist work with greater regularity and energy than we have hitherto been able to do.
After having treated in its different aspects the all engrossing topic of the moment, the Reforms in the Government for the whole of India in general and Sind in particular, I proceed with the limitations, necessary to be observed in an address of this kind, to pass in review some subjects of local interest.
Mr. Bhurgri & Congress
I consider this an opportune place for referring to an event which is of no little significance to Sind in its relation to the Indian National Congress. That event is the election of the Honourable Mr. Bhurgri to the Joint General Secretaryship of the Congress, for the current year. I opine that this conference with one voice, will congratulate the Congress on the excellence of their choice and thank them for the recognition they have vouchsafed to this province. Mr. Bhurgri is a shining example of patriotism of the purest ray serene. He has translated into practice the maxim that the country is above self, above family, and above everything. He has not only spurned away all allurements to self-aggrandizement, which every Mahomedan of position and education in Sind has had dangling before his eyes, but has, at great obloquy, sacrifice and personal risks, stood staunch by Congress and country while others have exulted in the intoxicating pastime of launching thunderbolts against their own country’s demand for Self-Rule. All honour to him, and may God grant him life and health to continue in the service of his Motherland.
Sind being an agricultural province, there are several problems affecting the prosperity of the Agricultural population, which we have to deliberate upon at every session of our conference. These problems may be exhaustively dealt with in the Presidential speech and will be submitted for your consideration in detail in the form of Resolutions, and I will only briefly glance at some of them.
Extension of Settlement Period
Conference after Conference it was resolved after discussion that the present Decennial period of Settlement should be extended to thirty years r more, as a short term Settlement was detrimental to the development of land retarded agricultural progress, and that in this respect Sind was being treated unfavourably as compared to the rest of the whole country.
The agitation in this behalf culminated in the appointment of a Commissioner on the motion of the Honourable Mr. Bhurgri in the Bombay Legislative Council, who took evidence and made their report recommending extension to 29 years, which was adopted by Government in their Resolution 8118 of the 4th July 1917. Wheather things for the present should be left at that and acquiescence there in pending further experiment or agitation should be still further prosecuted is left to this Conference to decide.
The hardship which the present Fallow Rules impose upon the agriculturist has been variously pointed out. The sum and substance of the Rules, which have invoked universal criticism from the landed proprietors is that, when a survey number is left out of cultivation for five years successively, it must pay assessment for the fifth year, in default of which it would be forfeited, that is, removed from the proprietor’s name to that of government in the occupancy Register; with the proviso that it may be later be on re-transferred to the proprietor’s name on his paying assessment for the year of default and the year of resumption. Now, this system is wrong in principle, and inequitable. It involves waste of labour and unnecessary redtape and harassment to the zemindar. Prominent and highly placed Government Revenue officers have in no uncertain voice pronounced against it. This system being avowedly a commutation of the one, whereby assessment was distributed over the whole area on the assumption that one-fifth would be cultivable every year, there would be no justice in levying fallow assessment in cases where on making quinquiennial computations, it can be shown (as it can be in most cases) that the one-fifth ratio per year or even more of the holding has been brought under cultivation.
Further, there is no occasion or justification for taking the number of the name of the registered occupant when it is admitted in the first place that it is his by birthright, and in the second that he is entitled to its resumption as a matter of right whenever he chooses : forfeiture being merely nominal. That it causes needless expenditure of energy and red-tape, is evident from the inconvenience, delay and expense people have to endure in the process of mutation of names in Revenue Registers. The hollowness of the ground, that the dread of forfeiture operates as a stimulus to activity, is apparent when we consider that self-interest would act as a much greater incentive to the zemindar to make the most of his holding than the dread aforesaid. This dread would rather tend to misplaced activity in driving the zemindar to cultivate for the mere purpose of averting forfeiture, without getting a due return for self or Hari. This is not merely hypothetical argumentation but the mature opinion of high big officials based on personal experience.
Is another allied subject which has engaged the attention of Conferences. While admitting the spirit of justice in which these rules have been conceived viz., relieving the cultivator of the burden of Government assessment on failure of crops due to calamities, experience has revealed their defects in actual working. Antecedent to the grant of remission, there must be inspection by the Revenue Officer, whose multifarious occupations prevent timely inspection of all lands claiming remission. Belated inspections create the dilemma of no harvest or no remission. Then again, the ratio in which remissions are calculated calls for revision. As it is, the ration of remission is struck between the gross value of the produce and the assessment, whereas equity demands that it should be between the net value and assessment; it being reasonable to make allowances for hari’s share, cultivation expenses, clearance & c.
Rasai Chher and Lapo
No enumeration of the agriculturist’s woes will be complete without mention of the hydra-headed monster of Rasai with its off-shoots and companions Chher and Lapo. The latest and most exhaustive contribution to the discussion of this subject is contained in the debate in the Bombay Legislative Concil at its meeting of December last raised by the motion of the Honourable Mr. Bhurgri for the appointment of a Committee to suggest means for the suppression of the evil – a debate which has been immortalized by a comical and at the same time striking episode of a non-official Sindhi nominated member of the Council delivering himself of the dictum that Rasai had disappeared from Sind. As this dictum received an unequivocal contradiction from the Commissioner-in-Sind, who confessed to the existence of the evil, it provoked the mirthful outburst of another Honourable member to the effect that the Honourable Sindhi seemed to be more loyalist than the King himself. Notwithstanding that, the terms used may bear other constructions, the sense in which they are attacked as evils can not be misunderstood by any one. This is the distinctions shown by the Honourable Mr. Lawrence in the Council between the different significations of the words. It is also superfluous, after so much has been said in the press, conferences and Council, to describe the practices or to point out and prove the oppression and the grievance they constitute. Suffice it to say that with will and determination it will not be impossible to exterminate Rasai and its branches. The farming out of supplies to independent men like banias, removing completely the hand of the zemindar and the Revenue Officer from the business, and effective supervision of the touring officer will scotch the evil in a short time if not kill it. If every Collector and Assistant Collector sees at every tour that neither the tapedar not the zemindar has anything to do with the supplies, and impresses on them the penalties attending on breach, besides the grave displeasure of Government, I think the system can be brought to an end in a year or two. If on the other hand, as was disclosed in the Council debate, one Officer issues a Circular condemning and prohibiting the practice, another officer thinks it pious to honour the Circular in the breach, a third shows a pathy, and a fourth despairingly yields to a long established usage, things will merrily drift on as usual and redress will recede further and further from accomplishment. Now the matter will be in the hands of a well constituted committee; let us trust that public attention will be concentrated on the subject and some measures devised for successfully eradicating this abuse. It is hoped that in making appointments to the Committee care is taken to select only such officers as have made themselves conspicuous by putting down the evil.
The passing of Mr. Patel’s Bill in the Bombay Legislative Council authorizing Municipalities to introduce primary Compulsory Education within their areas is an epoch making event. It will mark the era of continuous progress and Reform-Everybody observes in his every day life that most of our drawbacks in political, social, economic, industrial and domestic spheres are due to ignorance and illiteracy-Education will open the eyes of the people to the many ills they have been suffering, darkness and superstition will vanish and give place to light and knowledge. People have come to realize that there was no greater blunder and disservice to the country than opposition to Mr. Ghokhle’s measures seven years ago. Some of the bureaucracy, who were loud and insistent in opposing Gokhle’s Bill are now declaiming against our acquisition of responsible Government and a larger share in the administration of our country, because of our illiteracy which it was the object of that bill to remove. The country is very much beholden to Mr. Patel for the remarkable zeal, industry and for-thought displayed in successfully launching this legislative. His example has been followed in other Presidencies by similar measures being introduced there. It is hoped that education in urban areas will be the forerunner of eduction in rural areas, and by degrees there will be a net work of educational institutions all over the country, and a time will come when almost every Indian male and female will be educated, as is the case in all the foremost countries of the world. It is true that it will be tedious and wearisome journey towards the promised land. We shall have to contend with difficulties, meet with opposition and make sacrifices at every successive stage. But we should not be daunted by these. We should not flinch from the financial burdens we shall have to carry, always bearing in mind that in education lies the germ of every form of advancement and uplift of India.
Every body will rejoice at the manifold of blessings which Compulsory Education will confer upon the Mahomedans of Sind with their preponderating numbers. The Moslim zemindar will learn to practise economy and shake off his present aloth and extravagance. He will understand how to make his present impoverished soil rich by the use of chemical manures and more scientific means of ploughing and tilling. We expect to see pauperism turned into affluence, waste and improvidence into prudence and thrift. The services will also receive their share of benefit. In order to raise the number of Mahomedan employees in the services commensurate with their enormous proportion of population, Government are obliged to put up with raw material at the expense of efficiency and risk of public discontent. But when Education spreads, the supply of solid material for services among Mahomedans will exceed the demand.
We should not rest content with the spread of elementary education but lose no time in tackling the problems of Higher and Scientific, Economic and Industrial Education.
In conclusion, earnestly appeal to all the people of Sind to constantly bear in mind and heartily exert towards the fulfillment of what was announced as one of the most cherished objects, for which the Sind Provincial Conference was instituted. That object is I may repeat the oft quoted aphorisms “Unity is Strength.” “United we stand and Divided we fall.” There was time when Sind was torn by divisions. That time happily is no more. But still thing remains to be desired. We should sink all differences; differences between Hindus and Mahomedans, between Hindus and Hindus and so on. We shall not be true to ourselves or to our country if we do not banish rivalries, fling away ideas of self and work together for the service of the Motherland and for amelioration of our countrymen. There can be no higher conception of duty than that.
With these remarks, Brother Delegates, I once more tender you a hearty welcome to this Conference. May God crown its deliberations with success.
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