Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 4


page 22


All the conclusions in the foregoing section will only bo intensified if to the relations of England with the Colonies proper we now add those which connect her with India.

India combines some of the features found separately in the other Colonies, whilst it possesses some additional ones of its own. Its main character is that of a great political establishment, and one involving political consequences far above any question of actual trade. But the English dominion in India originated in a few Trading Stations established by the East India Company. These could hardly be compared even with the Trading Stations included in our first-class of Colonies; Bombay, Surat, Fort St, George, or Fort William, were not territorially independent, as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Aden now are. The only parallel would be that of the English trading establishments at Shanghai and at the other Chinese Treaty ports. The historical events which made a few Trading Stations a nucleus for the great Indian Empire are well known. But it is important to observe that as the dominion of the East India Company extended, the settlements in India began to acquire characters and functions additional to those of Trading Stations. A plantation and a manufacturing element began to develop itself. The cultivation of indigo in the Gangetic Valley by English planters introduced a state of conditions similar in every way to those existing in the Plantation Colonies proper. At the present time the trading character is maintained in full force, the unofficial European community of Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras being mainly a mercantile community perfectly analogous to that settled in Hong Kong and in the other Trading Stations, the only difference being that whilst the trade of Hong Kong is with an independent country—China, the trade of Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay is with the 240 millions of natives under British rule in India. The old manufacturing element of the East India Company still survives in the silk filatures of Bengal, and has of late received an unexpected development by the establishment of jute, cotton, and oil mills. The plantation element has been, however, of late years developed to a remarkable extent. The annual production of what may be called plantation products in page 23 India amounts in value to about 7½ millions sterling, and probably at the present moment, amongst the European settlers in India, the planting community, as regards the number of capitalist; and skilled employes, rivals, if it does not surpass, the purely mercantile element. Entire districts have been occupied by European planters. There are the coffee plantations of Coorg and Mysore, the tea plantations of Assam and the Himalaya, and the indigo estates of Tirhoot and the Gangetic Valley. The success of the plantations in India has to a great extent depended upon the improvement in the means of communication and the opening up of the previously less accessible districts in the hills, the climate of which has proved itself so much more congenial to European constitutions than the hot and unhealthy plains. At present the experience of the plantations of our hill sanitaria almost proves that there arc parts of India, such as the Dehra Doon and other valleys in the Himalaya, some parts of Cachar and Silhet and the Nilagiri Hills, which might be suitable for colonisation, and the establishment of communities in which the English element would be predominant. If this were possible, India would then likewise combine the features of the third class of Colonies—those settled by the English in bulk—with those which it already has in common with the Trading Stations and the Plantation Colonies.

But, however much India may in time acquire characters making it in some respects similar to all the other Colonies taken separately, it will always retain its distinguishing character as a unique political establishment—unique not only at the present time, but also unique in history. It is beyond the scope of this paper to consider the English rule in India in its bearing on the political power of England, or the historical mission of the English nation. It is enough for our present purpose to point out the manner in which the existence of an English administration in India has affected English commerce and manufactures, as also the personal fate and interests of a large class of Englishmen.

The Indian trade has already been included in the trade of the whole British possessions. Taken by itself, however, India, as regards its total trade with England, occupies the third rank. The United States and France are the only countries from which England page 24 draws larger imports than she draws from India, although the latter country is now only at the beginning of the development of her resources; while, as regards the consumption of English produce and manufacture, India at present almost equals Germany, and is not much behind the United States, to which the exports of England in 1874 amounted to £28,242,000, whilst those to India amounted to £24,081,000. Nothing could better show the importance of India as a market for our produce; and it is quite possible that, notwithstanding the depression at present existing, she may, from the operation of natural causes, be again in a few years at the top of the list as the best market in the whole world for English manufactures, as happened in the years 1861-65, owing to the accidental cause of the American civil war.

As regards investment for English capital, it has already been pointed out that the bulk of the public debt of India, amounting to £125 millions, and that of the railway capital, amounting to £95 millions, is held in England, in addition to English interest in a variety of smaller enterprises, such as Banks, Mills, Tea and Coffee plantations, etc., so that probably India is at the present moment the country which affords the largest field for the investment of English capital, being, perhaps, only equalled by the United States. If it is considered that the number of the English holders of Indian Railway Stock and Debentures amounts to upwards of sixty thousand persons, it may be concluded that the total number of individuals in England who, by the investment of their capital in India have acquired a personal stake in the welfare of that country, will amount to at least one hundred thousand.

This number, large as it is, is, however, considerably exceeded by that of the Englishmen actually out in India as Government officials, officers and soldiers, merchants, and planters, amounting in all to more than one hundred and fifty thousand.* The rank and

* Curiously enough, notwithstanding repeated enumerations, there is hardly a subject on which the Indian statistics are less satisfactory than they are with reference to the total number of Englishmen present in India. At a preliminary census in June, 1871, the total number of Europeans was returned at 64,000. Although the return professes to be exclusive of the Army and Navy, yet 5,000 officers of the army are given, whilst apparently the wives and children of the soldiers are left out. In many other respects, also, the numbers seem to be much under-stated. At the end of the same year the English population was again enumerated as part of the general census of India, but the numbers are likewise unsatisfactory. Madras and Oude return no Englishmen, they being included amongst "Europeans unspecified." Adopting, however, the figures of the general census, and dividing the unspecified Europeans between Englishmen and other Europeans, according to the proportion found in the other provinces, we obtain a number of about 110,000 English residing in India, exclusive of the army, and rather less than 10,000 other Europeans, mainly Germans and Frenchmen. As the strength of the army is about 60,000, this would bring the total English population to about 170,000 and the total European population to about 180,000.

page 25 file of the English army, about sixty thousand, being deducted leaves for all the other occupations about ninety thousand as the number of Englishmen and their families now residing in India. In addition many of the Europeans have their families in England, and there are besides the pensioned members of the civil and military services of India mostly residing in England, together with the members of the home administration, so that the total number of Englishmen depending for their livelihood on India will come to considerably more than one hundred thousand.

A very large proportion of this number belongs to the most enterprising and intellectual portion of the middle-class in England, and occupies important positions in the civil or military services of the Government, or else stays in India as merchants, planters, lawyers, and engineers. The number of careers thus opened to the English middle-class bears a considerable proportion to the total number of similar positions at home, so that there is no profession in England, and hardly a family which does not either directly or indirectly experience the advantages of possessing such an increased field for its enterprise.

There are great difficulties in ascertaining the numbers of Englishmen not in Government employ. We know that the railways alone afford occupation to about 3,200 European skilled mechanics, and the directories of Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras afford the best proof of the numbers engaged in commerce and professions. But the most important element amongst the Europeans is the official.

There are no exact returns showing the total number and pay of the European members of the Indian Administration, but still this can be approximately determined. The officers in the army alone amount to about 6,500, including in that number those of the page 26 European army quartered in India, and paid out of the Indian Exchequer. By adding all the officers on the retired list in this country, the number will probably rise to about 8,000. On the whole, the number of English officers paid from the Indian revenues will probably equal the number of those paid out of the revenues of England. The number of Englishmen in the Civil Service will not be much less than those in the military. The covenanted Civil Service alone numbers about 1,200 members, and the uncovenanted civil service has of late been largely developed owing to the rapid increase of the Public Works and the Educational Departments. The number of Englishmen in the Public Works Department cannot be much less than 2,000; and although a considerable portion of overseers and persons in other positions with inferior salaries are drawn from the army, and although the highest appointments are for the most part held by officers of the Royal Engineers, already included in the list of army officers, there is still a large number of appointments left, which have been specially filled by members of the engineering profession in England. Another profession counts an even larger number of members in India. The number of men in the Indian medical service and of surgeons in Queen's regiments doing duty in India, approaches 1,200.

It is difficult to state precisely the total expenditure on account of the salaries of the whole of the civil and military services, but it will probably amount to something like £12,000,000 sterling per annum, exclusive of the pay of the rank and file of the European army. Of this amount, something above two millions will go for pensions and other non-effective services, leaving rather less than £10,000,000 for effective services, the bulk of the money for the latter being spent in India, and the greater proportion of the cost of the former being paid in England. Large as this sum is, and great as the effects must be on England, from an additional employment to the extent of £12,000,000 per annum, it represents probably, at the present time, a much smaller proportion of the entire public expenditure of India than it has ever done from the very commencement of the regular European administration at the end of the last century. The whole public expenditure of India may now be taken roughly as follows:—

page 27

The ordinary imperial expenditure amounts to about 50 millions sterling, the extraordinary (for various public works and railways) to about four millions, and the excess of provincial, local, and municipal expenditure beyond the grants from the Imperial treasury to about eight millions; the sum total being 02 millions sterling, of which about 58 millions are defrayed by taxation, and four millions by loans. The European salaries amount thus to rather less than 20 per cent, of the total, and there is a constant tendency to diminish that proportion. In fact, the highly-paid covenanted Civil Service has been, if anything, rather diminished of late, and whatever there has been of an increase has occurred in the ranks of the far less highly-paid uncovenanted services, especially in the Public Works and Education Branch; whilst at the same time the number of natives in Government employment, as also the number of high appointments open to them, has increased in a probably greater ratio than the number of Europeans.

Yet we very often hear of the extreme costliness of the foreign rule in India; and the cost of the European officers and officials in India; and the heavy home charges of the India Office in England are adduced as proofs of this view. Independently, however, of the fact that the English administration effects a yearly saving of at least tenfold its cost by putting a stop to the old state of internecine war and misrule, and independently of the benefits which must result to India from its becoming initiated into a higher state of civilisation, a few remarks may be made which will show the position of the expenditure from the mere money point of view.

It must be remarked that the cost of the whole India Office in this country, from the Secretary of State and the Council down to the lowest messenger, is less than £250,000, or less than half per cent., or an almost imperceptible fraction of the entire Indian expenditure, all the other home charges being for interest on loans, purchase of stores for India, or payments on account of pensions, &c., for services performed in India. The cost of the European administration, therefore, arises, not from the existence of an overgrown home establishment, but almost exclusively from the service of Englishmen in India itself.

The rule is undoubtedly a foreign one, but almost all the known page 28 Governments which existed in India before our time were more or less foreign. All the Mahommedan Governments were essentially so, not only in the sense that they were originally the result of a foreign conquest, but especially because throughout the whole period of their existence they retains the foreign character, and remained dependent upon the Mahommedan countries beyond India for all their ideas, their civilisation, their system of Government, and especially for a large proportion of men. Just, as at present, all the intellectual and material elements of the Indian administration are drawn from England, so the whole Mahommedan Government and civilisation of India were not a product of indigenous growth, but a reflex from other parts of the Mahommedan world. The Indian courts only afforded splendid opportunity for the display of whatever was best in the Mahommedan civilisation, but the supply did not come from India. Their ideas were at first derived from the Moorish Universities in Spain, later on from the high schools in Samareand and Bokhara, and then from Persia. Their literature, arts, and civilisation are all of Persian origin; and the degeneracy of the Mahommedan element in India was preceded by its decay in all its original sources. In the same manner as India now affords employment to thousands of enterprising Englishmen, it was for five centuries the promised land of all the Mahommedan adventurers from the frontiers of China to Spain. It is enough to look through the lists of the courtiers of Akbar or Aurungzebe to see what a large proportion of them came from beyond India; and even at the present time, in the only great Mahommedan power left in India, the Nizam's dominions, it is only due to the active exertions of the English Government that the number and power of non-Indian Arabs, Abyssinians, and Afghans, has been restricted, and the employment of the natives of the country encouraged.

It may even be said that the proportion which the European salaries bear to the total expenditure is probably much smaller than was the case with the emoluments of the ruling classes at any period of Indian history. The actual proportion, barely one-fifth, is less than the traditional blackmail or chout (the fourth part of revenue) exacted by the Mahrattas, not for ruling a province, but simply as a price for freedom from their predatory incursions. Moreover, at page 29 present, an equivalent of useful work is exacted for every payment made. The figures year by year inserted in the budget under the head of allowances and assignments under treaties and engagements, and including the pensions to the dispossessed native princes, most of whom, at best, were only descendants of provincial governors, supply a most eloquent memento of the change in the whole spirit of administration. Whilst the actual sovereign of India derives no increase in the Civil List from that country, and whilst one whole salary of the Viceroy only amounts to £25,000, and the salary of the Secretary of State to £5,000 per annum, the pension of the ex-king of Oude amounts to £120,000 per annum, being more than the entire cost of all the Europeans engaged in the civil administration of the present province of Oude. In addition to the allowances and assignments appearing in the budget, there have been enormous alienations of revenue not inserted in it, all generally having the character of compensation for emoluments received for the performance of certain military or administrative duties, now no longer required from the present recipients. If all these items could be put together, it might be shown that the old ruling classes receive at the present time for doing nothing a sum bearing a very large proportion to the sums which the Englishmen in India receive for governing the country better than it has ever been governed before.

And, unexpected as it may appear to those who have no special knowledge of Indian history, even the case of most of the Hindu governments with which we are acquainted is not very different from that of the Mahommedan ones.

The whole history of India presents a constantly shifting scene of conquest. Before the establishment of the Mohammedan power, Hindu conquered Hindu. But the term Hindu no more indicates a common nationality than the term European. There are in India more than ten nationalities,* all possessing in common the Brahminical religion and the sacred Sanscrit literature,

* There are at least five well-defined languages in the north, the Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, Kashmiri, and Guzerati; and six in the south, the Uriya, Mahratta, the Tamil, Telugu, Canarese, and the Malayalam. The list might be easily extended by including the various hill tribes and the Himalayan populations. And then it only applies to India proper, and does not include Burma. In addition, the Mohammedans settled in India use four different languages, viz., Arabic, Persian, Pushtoo, and Hindustani or Urdu.

page 30 just as the different nations of Europe possess f Christianity, and use Latin as the learned tongue. These Indian nations are quite as distinct from each other as the different nations of Europe, each of them speaking a different language and even making use of a different alphabet. Almost every one of these ten nationalities has been in its turn conqueror and conquered; has had its hour of glory, when it imposed its rule over the surrounding peoples, and then again has had to endure the rule of a conqueror.

At the present time—with the exception of the Rajput principalities in the north, the Mahratta in the Deccan, and the Nair principalities in the extreme south—we have scarcly an example of a really indigenous Hindu Government. The most powerful and flourishing, and the best known of the Hindu kingdoms which were overthrown by the Mahommedans, and the one which succumbed last, was the kingdom of Vijyanagar, on the Tumbudra. Yet it was a foreign government, established over a Canarese and Tamil population by a Telinga dynasty, which had been turned southward and displaced from its own people by the advancing tide of Mahommedan conquest, just as the overthrow of Rajput principalities in upper India in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries led to the Rajput conquests and establishments in Behar and Bengal. In more recent time the rule of the Sikhs in the Punjab was essentially that of a small military caste over an alien population. Military plunderers, indeed, were successful in founding new principalities as late as half a century ago; and of the existing native governments, the Mahratta principalities of Baroda, Gwalior, and Indore, under the Gaekwar, Scindia, and Holkar, are established among a population strangers to them in language and origin, and they are no more indigenous governments than would be a rule of Frenchmen in Spain or in Italy.

It may also be said in favour of the English rule, that probably for centuries there has been no time in which the administration and justice of the country have been conducted to so great an extent in the languages of the different peoples of the country as at present. The two chief administrative languages at the time when the English rule was established, were the Persian, in the Bengal Presidency, and the Mahratta, in the Madras Presidency, both being marks of the previous conquests of the Mahommedans and the Mahrattas. These languages were not page 31 understood by the people of these presidencies. Even at the present time, Persian remains the official language in the Nizam's dominions among a population speaking Mabratta, Telugu, Canarese, and Hindustani; whilst in the state of Baroda, with a Guzerati population, the official language is Mahratta. For a long time Persian and Mahratta were the two languages which the Indian civilians had to learn, so that the curious spectacle presented itself of Englishmen conducting the administration of a country in a language alike foreign to themselves and to the people over whom they ruled. In those days the introduction of the English language into the courts and the administration was frequently urged, on the ground that there would be only the substitution of one foreign language for another, and that English, if they acquired it, would be more likely to prove useful to the people in the future than either Persian or Mahratta. After long discussions, however, it was decided to use in each province the language spoken and understood by the people, and not the language either of English or other conquerors and rulers. Since then, the use of the local vernaculars in the administration, in the courts, and in the schools, has become one of the most noteworthy characteristics of the English rule in India, the full advantages of which are only now beginning to show themselves.

Under such circumstances, it is useless to speak of England as being a foreign Government, though, no doubt, the English rule has hitherto differed from the previous conquests, in the fact that the previous conquerors remained in the country and took root in it, whereas to the English, India affords only a temporary sojourn. Bat even in this respect there are signs of a coming change. The rapid development of European plantations in the salubrious hill districts of India affords a basis—small as yet, but capable of great extension—for a settlement of the English in India. A considerable number of retired officers have already prefered the settling down in the Dehra Doon or in the Nilagiris, to returning to England; and this movement is capable of a rapid increase, with excellent results, both on England and on India. Probably, for a long time, the best effects would be merely moral, such, namely, as would be produced on the tone of public feeling with regard to the English occupation of India. At present, page 32 a certain section of the public finds it difficult to believe in the permanency of a governing mechanism, all the elements of which are so shifting, and only, as it were, lent from England to India for the time being. A real settlement of Europeans in India would be a plain evidence of the permanency of the English regime, a proof that it had taken root, and intended to become an organic part of the future development of the country. European colonies in India, the growth of which could be watched and the progress registered, would supply that element of definite and realisable hopes and expectations which is now so eminently wanting in all our speculations about the English rule in India. A committee of the House of Commons considered the question of the European colonisation of India in 1819; but since that time circumstances have so greatly changed, that the chances of the success of such an enterprise are incomparably better than they were then. The main obstacle, the opening of communications throughout the country, has already been in the main accomplished. The great difficulty in the way of all settlements of colonists, the heavy charges, to wit, for the passage of the emigrants and their families, does not exist in India. In fact, we have there already most excellent raw material for a colonisation in the families of the European civilians, officers, and soldiers, hitherto periodically drafted back to England at a heavy charge. An official return, supplied at the time of the last general census in 1871, shows that, among the military alone, there are in the British army serving in India, 910 officers and 6,565 soldiers who are accompanied by their wives and families, exceeding 20,000 in number. This is more than enough for a beginning. There are difficulties, no doubt, in the way of a true European colonisation of India, but the question is certainly one which deserves the serious consideration of all who take an interest in the development of our Indian Empire.

Returning to the original question of the employment of Europeans in India, it may be asserted that, however much advantage may have resulted to India from the English administration, the effect of an additional employment, to the extent of no less than twelve millions sterling per annum, must have been very beneficial in England, page 33 especially considering that at no time of the English occupation of India has India occasioned a charge of a single penny to the English Treasury. The above sum is no doubt given in exchange for a fair equivalent of work, but it has to be borne in mind that this is not a question of labour, which, finding one channel closed, is diverted into another; on the contrary, if the Indian channel had not existed, all the other channels would not only not have afforded more room for the occupation of English brain, energy, and capital, but less. What would the Cape have been without India? Would the communications with Australia have been so rapidly developed if there had be no English rule in India? The mercantile navy, the commercial establishments of Liverpool and Glasgow, the manufacturing industry in Lancashire would all have been less than they now are. The position, therefore, is not that the English labour now in India, without the existence of the English rule there, would have swelled the total of English labour employed in other fields, but rather that the employment of the English in India created at the same time a favourite field for the growth of all the other interests; so that without the English occupation of India, the English trade and manufactures not only could not have absorbed the excess of Englishmen now employed in India, but could not possibly have provided room even for their present numbers.