The Case For India
Annie Besant


The Presidential Address Delivered by Annie Besant at the
Thirty-Second Indian National Congress Held at Calcutta
26th December 1917


Everyone who has preceded me in this Chair has rendered his thanks in
fitting terms for the gift which is truly said to be the highest that
India has it in her power to bestow. It is the sign of her fullest love,
trust, and approval, and the one whom she seats in that chair is, for
his year of service, her chosen leader. But if my predecessors found
fitting words for their gratitude, in what words can I voice mine, whose
debt to you is so overwhelmingly greater than theirs? For the first time
in Congress history, you have chosen as your President one who, when
your choice was made, was under the heavy ban of Government displeasure,
and who lay interned as a person dangerous to public safety. While I was
humiliated, you crowned me with honour; while I was slandered, you
believed in my integrity and good faith; while I was crushed under the
heel of bureaucratic power, you acclaimed me as your leader; while I was
silenced and unable to defend myself, you defended me, and won for me
release. I was proud to serve in lowliest fashion, but you lifted me up
and placed me before the world as your chosen representative. I have no
words with which to thank you, no eloquence with which to repay my debt.
My deeds must speak for me, for words are too poor. I turn your gift
into service to the Motherland; I consecrate my life anew to her in
worship by action. All that I have and am, I lay on the Altar of the
Mother, and together we shall cry, more by service than by words: VANDE

There is, perhaps, one value in your election of me in this crisis of
India's destiny, seeing that I have not the privilege to be Indian-born,
but come from that little island in the northern seas which has been, in
the West, the builder-up of free institutions. The Aryan emigrants, who
spread over the lands of Europe, carried with them the seeds of liberty
sown in their blood in their Asian cradle-land. Western historians trace
the self-rule of the Saxon villages to their earlier prototypes in the
East, and see the growth of English liberty as up-springing from the
Aryan root of the free and self-contained village communities.

Its growth was crippled by Norman feudalism there, as its
millennia-nourished security here was smothered by the East India
Company. But in England it burst its shackles and nurtured a
liberty-loving people and a free Commons' House. Here, it similarly
bourgeoned out into the Congress activities, and more recently into
those of the Muslim League, now together blossoming into Home Rule for
India. The England of Milton, Cromwell, Sydney, Burke, Paine, Shelley,
Wilberforce, Gladstone; the England that sheltered Mazzini, Kossuth,
Kropotkin, Stepniak, and that welcomed Garibaldi; the England that is
the enemy of tyranny, the foe of autocracy, the lover of freedom, that
is the England I would fain here represent to you to-day. To-day, when
India stands erect, no suppliant people, but a Nation, self-conscious,
self-respecting, determined to be free; when she stretches out her hand
to Britain and offers friendship not subservience; co-operation not
obedience; to-day let me: western-born but in spirit eastern, cradled in
England but Indian by choice and adoption: let me stand as the symbol of
union between Great Britain and India: a union of hearts and free
choice, not of compulsion: and therefore of a tie which cannot be
broken, a tie of love and of mutual helpfulness, beneficial to both
Nations and blessed by God.


India's great leader, Dadabhai Naoroji, has left his mortal body and is
now one of the company of the Immortals, who watch over and aid India's
progress. He is with V.C. Bonnerjee, and Ranade, and A.O. Hume, and
Henry Cotton, and Pherozeshah Mehta, and Gopal Krishna Gokhale: the
great men who, in Swinburne's noble verse, are the stars which lead us
to Liberty's altar:

These, O men, shall ye honour,
Liberty only and these.
For thy sake and for all men's and mine,
Brother, the crowns of them shine,
Lighting the way to her shrine,
That our eyes may be fastened upon her,
That our hands may encompass her knees.

Not for me to praise him in feeble words of reverence or of homage. His
deeds praise him, and his service to his country is his abiding glory.
Our gratitude will be best paid by following in his footsteps, alike in
his splendid courage and his unfaltering devotion, so that we may win
the Home Rule which he longed to see while with us, and shall see, ere
long, from the other world of Life, in which he dwells to-day.



The Great War, into the whirlpool of which Nation after Nation has been
drawn, has entered on its fourth year. The rigid censorship which has
been established makes it impossible for any outside the circle of
Governments to forecast its duration, but to me, speaking for a moment
not as a politician but as a student of spiritual laws, to me its end is
sure. For the true object of this War is to prove the evil of, and to
destroy, autocracy and the enslavement of one Nation by another, and to
place on sure foundations the God-given Right to Self-Rule and
Self-Development of every Nation, and the similar right of the
Individual, of the smaller Self, so far as is consistent with the
welfare of the larger Self of the Nation. The forces which make for the
prolongation of autocracy--the rule of one--and the even deadlier
bureaucracy--the rule of a close body welded into an iron system--these
have been gathered together in the Central Powers of Europe--as of old
in Ravana--in order that they may be destroyed; for the New Age cannot
be opened until the Old passes away. The new civilisation of
Righteousness and Justice, and therefore of Brotherhood, of ordered
Liberty, of Peace, of Happiness, cannot be built up until the elements
are removed which have brought the old civilisation crashing about our
ears. Therefore is it necessary that the War shall be fought out to its
appointed end, and that no premature peace shall leave its object
unattained. Autocracy and bureaucracy must perish utterly, in East and
West, and, in order that their germs may not re-sprout in the future,
they must be discredited in the minds of men. They must be proved to be
less efficient than the Governments of Free Peoples, even in their
favourite work of War, and their iron machinery--which at first brings
outer prosperity and success--must be shown to be less lasting and
effective than the living and flexible organisations of democratic
Peoples. They must be proved failures before the world, so that the
glamour of superficial successes may be destroyed for ever. They have
had their day and their place in evolution, and have done their
educative work. Now they are out-of-date, unfit for survival, and must
vanish away.

When Great Britain sprang to arms, it was in defence of the freedom of a
small nation, guaranteed by treaties, and the great principles she
proclaimed electrified India and the Dominions. They all sprang to her
side without question, without delay; they heard the voice of old
England, the soldier of Liberty, and it thrilled their hearts. All were
unprepared, save the small territorial army of Great Britain, due to the
genius and foresight of Lord Haldane, and the readily mobilised army of
India, hurled into the fray by the swift decision of Lord Hardinge. The
little army of Britain fought for time; fought to stop the road to
Paris, the heart of France; fought, falling back step by step, and
gained the time it fought for, till India's sons stood on the soil of
France, were flung to the front, rushed past the exhausted regiments who
cheered them with failing breath, charged the advancing hosts, stopped
the retreat, and joined the British army in forming that unbreakable
line which wrestled to the death through two fearful winters--often,
these soldiers of the tropics, waist-deep in freezing mud--and knew no

India, with her clear vision, saw in Great Britain the champion of
Freedom, in Germany the champion of Despotism. And she saw rightly.
Rightly she stood by Great Britain, despite her own lack of freedom and
the coercive legislation which outrivalled German despotism, knowing
these to be temporary, because un-English, and therefore doomed to
destruction; she spurned the lure of German gold and rejected German
appeals to revolt. She offered men and money; her educated classes, her
Vakils, offered themselves as Volunteers, pleaded to be accepted. Then
the never-sleeping distrust of Anglo-India rejected the offer, pressed
for money, rejected men. And, slowly, educated India sank back,
depressed and disheartened, and a splendid opportunity for knitting
together the two Nations was lost.

Early in the War I ventured to say that the War could not end until
England recognised that autocracy and bureaucracy must perish in India
as well as in Europe. The good Bishop of Calcutta, with a courage worthy
of his free race, lately declared that it would be hypocritical to pray
for victory over autocracy in Europe and to maintain it in India. Now it
has been clearly and definitely declared that Self-Government is to be
the objective of Great Britain in India, and that a substantial measure
of it is to be given at once; when this promise is made good by the
granting of the Reforms outlined last year in Lucknow, then the end of
the War will be in sight. For the War cannot end till the death-knell of
autocracy is sounded.

Causes, with which I will deal presently and for which India was not
responsible, have somewhat obscured the first eager expressions of
India's sympathy, and have forced her thoughts largely towards her own
position in the Empire. But that does not detract from the immense aid
she has given, and is still giving. It must not be forgotten that long
before the present War she had submitted--at first, while she had no
power of remonstrance, and later, after 1885, despite the constant
protests of Congress--to an ever-rising military expenditure, due partly
to the amalgamation scheme of 1859, and partly to the cost of various
wars beyond her frontiers, and to continual recurring frontier and
trans-frontier expeditions, in which she had no real interest. They were
sent out for supposed Imperial advantages, not for her own.

Between 1859 and 1904--45 years--Indian troops were engaged in
thirty-seven wars and expeditions. There were ten wars: the two Chinese
Wars of 1860 and 1900, the Bhutan War of 1864-65, the Abyssinian War of
1868, the Afghan War of 1878-79, and, after the massacre of the Kabul
Mission, the second War of 1879-80, ending in an advance of the
frontier, in the search for an ever receding "scientific frontier"; on
this occasion the frontier was shifted, says Keene, "from the line of
the Indus to the western slope of the Suleiman range and from Peshawar
to Quetta"; the Egyptian War of 1882, in which the Indian troops
markedly distinguished themselves; the third Burmese War of 1885 ending
in the annexation of Upper Burma in 1886; the invasions of Tibet in 1890
and 1904. Of Expeditions, or minor Wars, there were 27; to Sitana in
1858 on a small scale and in 1863 on a larger (the "Sitana Campaign");
to Nepal and Sikkim in 1859; to Sikkim in 1864; a serious struggle on
the North-west Frontier in 1868; expeditions against the Lushais in
1871-72, the Daflas in 1874-75, the Nagas in 1875, the Afridis in 1877,
the Rampa Hill tribes in 1879, the Waziris and Nagas in 1881, the Akhas
in 1884, and in the same year an expedition to the Zhob Valley, and a
second thither in 1890. In 1888 and 1889 there was another expedition
against Sikkim, against the Akozais (the Black Mountain Expedition) and
against the Hill Tribes of the North-east, and in 1890 another Black
Mountain Expedition, with a third in 1892. In 1890 came the expedition
to Manipur, and in 1891 there was another expedition against the
Lushais, and one into the Miranzal Valley. The Chitral Expedition
occupied 1894-95, and the serious Tirah Campaign, in which 40,000 men
were engaged, came in 1897 and 1898. The long list--which I have closed
with 1904--ends with the expeditions against the Mahsuds in 1901,
against the Kabalis in 1902, and the invasion of Tibet, before noted.
All these events explain the rise in military expenditure, and we must
add to them the sending of Indian troops to Malta and Cyprus in 1878--a
somewhat theatrical demonstration--and the expenditure of some
L2,000,000 to face what was described as "the Russian Menace" in 1884.
Most of these were due to Imperial, not to Indian, policy, and many of
the burdens imposed were protested against by the Government of India,
while others were encouraged by ambitious Viceroys. I do not think that
even this long list is complete.

Ever since the Government of India was taken over by the Crown, India
has been regarded as an Imperial military asset and training ground, a
position from which the jealousy of the East India Company had largely
protected her, by insisting that the army it supported should be used
for the defence and in the interests of India alone. Her value to the
Empire for military purposes would not so seriously have injured at once
her pride and her finances if the natural tendencies of her martial
races had been permitted their previous scope; but the disarming of the
people, 20 years after the assumption of the Government by the Crown,
emasculated the Nation, and the elimination of races supposed to be
unwarlike, or in some cases too warlike to be trusted, threw recruitment
more and more to the north, and lowered the physique of the Bengalis and
Madrasis, on whom the Company had largely depended.

The superiority of the Punjab, on which Sir Michael O'Dwyer so
vehemently insisted the other day, is an artificial superiority, created
by the British system and policy; and the poor recruitment elsewhere, on
which he laid offensive insistence, is due to the same system and
policy, which largely eliminated Bengalis, Madrasis and Mahrattas from
the army. In Bengal, however, the martial type has been revived, chiefly
in consequence of what the Bengalis felt to be the intolerable insult of
the high-handed Partition of Bengal by Lord Curzon.

On this Gopal Krishna Gokhale said:

Bengal's heroic stand against the oppression of a harsh and
uncontrolled bureaucracy has astonished and gratified all
India.... All India owes a deep debt of gratitude to Bengal.

The spirit evoked showed itself in the youth of Bengal by a practical
revolt, led by the elders, while it was confined to Swadeshi and
Boycott, and rushing on, when it broke away from their authority, into
conspiracy, assassination and dacoity: as had happened in similar
revolts with Young Italy, in the days of Mazzini, and with Young Russia
in the days of Stepniak and Kropotkin. The results of their despair,
necessarily met by the halter and penal servitude, had to be faced by
Lord Hardinge and Lord Carmichael during the present War. Other results,
happy instead of disastrous in their nature, was the development of grit
and endurance of a high character, shown in the courage of the Bengal
lads in the serious floods that have laid parts of the Province deep
under water, and in their compassion and self-sacrifice in the relief of
famine. Their services in the present War--the Ambulance Corps and the
replacement of its _materiel_ when the ship carrying it sank, with the
splendid services rendered by it in Mesopotamia; the recruiting of a
Bengali regiment for active service, 900 strong, with another 900
reserves to replace wastage, and recruiting still going on--these are
instances of the divine alchemy which brings the soul of good out of
evil action, and consecrates to service the qualities evoked by

In England, also, a similar result has been seen in a convict, released
to go to the front, winning the Victoria Cross. It would be an act of
statesmanship, as well as of divinest compassion, to offer to every
prisoner and interned captive, held for political crime or on political
suspicion, the opportunity of serving the Empire at the front. They
might, if thought necessary, form a separate battalion or a separate
regiment, under stricter supervision, and yet be given a chance of
redeeming their reputation, for they are mostly very young.

The financial burden incurred in consequence of the above conflicts, and
of other causes, now to be mentioned, would not have been so much
resented, if it had been imposed by India on herself, and if her own
sons had profited by her being used as a training ground for the
Empire. But in this case, as in so many others, she has shared Imperial
burdens, while not sharing Imperial freedom and power. Apart from this,
the change which made the Army so ruinous a burden on the resources of
the country was the system of "British reliefs," the using of India as a
training ground for British regiments, and the transfer of the men thus
trained, to be replaced by new ones under the short service system, the
cost of the frequent transfers and their connected expenses being
charged on the Indian revenues, while the whole advantage was reaped by
Great Britain. On the short service system the Simla Army Commission

The short service system recently introduced into the British
Army has increased the cost and has materially reduced the
efficiency of the British troops in India. We cannot resist the
feeling that, in the introduction of this system, the interest
of the Indian tax-payer was entirely left out of consideration.

The remark was certainly justified, for the short service system gave
India only five years of the recruits she paid heavily for and trained,
all the rest of the benefit going to England. The latter was enabled, as
the years went on, to enormously increase her Reserves, so that she has
had 400,000 men trained in, and at the cost of, India.

In 1863 the Indian army consisted of 140,000 men, with 65,000 white
officers. Great changes were made in 1885-1905, including the
reorganisation under Lord Kitchener, who became Commander-in-Chief at
the end of 1902. Even in this hasty review, I must not omit reference to
the fact that Army Stores were drawn from Britain at enormous cost,
while they should have been chiefly manufactured here, so that India
might have profited by the expenditure. Lately under the necessities of
War, factories have been turned to the production of munitions; but this
should have been done long ago, so that India might have been enriched
instead of exploited. The War has forced an investigation into her
mineral resources that might have been made for her own sake, but
Germany was allowed to monopolise the supply of minerals that India
could have produced and worked up, and would have produced and worked up
had she enjoyed Home Rule. India would have been richer, and the Empire
safer, had she been a partner instead of a possession. But this side of
the question will come under the matters directly affecting merchants,
and we may venture to express a hope that the Government help extended
to munition factories in time of War may be continued to industrial
factories in time of Peace. The net result of the various causes
above-mentioned was that the expense of the Indian army rose by leaps
and bounds, until, before the War, India was expending, L21,000,000 as
against the L28,000,000 expended by the United Kingdom, while the
wealthy Dominions of Canada and Australia were spending only 1-1/2 and
1-1/4 millions respectively. (I am not forgetting that the United
Kingdom was expending over L51,000,000 on her Navy, while India was free
of that burden, save for a contribution of half a million.)

Since 1885, the Congress has constantly protested against the
ever-increasing military expenditure, but the voice of the Congress was
supposed to be the voice of sedition and of class ambition, instead of
being, as it was the voice of educated Indians, the most truly patriotic
and loyal class of the population. In 1885, in the First Congress, Mr.
P. Rangiah Naidu pointed out that military expenditure had been
L1,463,000 in 1857 and had risen to L16,975,750 in 1884. Mr. D.E. Wacha
ascribed the growth to the amalgamation scheme of 1859, and remarked
that the Company in 1856 had an army of 254,000 men at a cost of 11-1/2
millions, while in 1884 the Crown had an army of only 181,000 men at a
cost of 17 millions. The rise was largely due to the increased cost of
the European regiments, overland transport service, stores, pensions,
furlough allowances, and the like, most of them imposed despite the
resistance of the Government of India, which complained that the changes
were "made entirely, it may be said, from Imperial considerations, in
which Indian interests have not been consulted or advanced." India paid
nearly, L700,000 a year, for instance, for "Home Depots"--Home being
England of course--in which lived some 20,000 to 22,000 British
soldiers, on the plea that their regiments, not they, were serving in
India. I cannot follow out the many increases cited by Mr. Wacha, but
members can refer to his excellent speech.

Mr. Fawcett once remarked that when the East India Company was abolished

the English people became directly responsible for the
Government of India. It cannot, I think, be denied that this
responsibility has been so imperfectly discharged that in many
respects the new system of Government compares unfavourably
with the old.... There was at that time an independent control
of expenditure which now seems to be almost entirely wanting.

Shortly after the Crown assumed the rule of India, Mr. Disraeli asked
the House of Commons to regard India as "a great and solemn trust
committed to it by an all-wise and inscrutable Providence." Mr. George
Yule, in the Fourth Congress, remarked on this: "The 650 odd members had
thrown the trust back upon the hands of Providence, to be looked after
as Providence itself thinks best." Perhaps it is time that India should
remember that Providence helps those who help themselves.

Year after year the Congress continued to remonstrate against the cost
of the army, until in 1902, after all the futile protests of the
intervening years, it condemned an increase of pay to British soldiers
in India which placed an additional burden on the Indian revenues of
L786,000 a year, and pointed out that the British garrison was
unnecessarily numerous, as was shown by the withdrawal of large bodies
of British soldiers for service in South Africa and China. The very next
year Congress protested that the increasing military expenditure was not
to secure India against internal disorder or external attack, but in
order to carry out an Imperial policy; the Colonies contributed little
or nothing to the Imperial Military Expenditure, while India bore the
cost of about one-third of the whole British Army in addition to her own
Indian troops. Surely these facts should be remembered when India's
military services to the Empire are now being weighed.

In 1904 and 1905, the Congress declared that the then military
expenditure was beyond India's power to bear, and in the latter year
prayed that the additional ten millions sterling sanctioned for Lord
Kitchener's reorganisation scheme might be devoted to education and the
reduction of the burden on the raiyats. In 1908, the burdens imposed by
the British War Office since 1859 were condemned, and in the next year
it was pointed out that the military expenditure was nearly a third of
the whole Indian revenue, and was starving Education and Sanitation.

Lord Kitchener's reorganisation scheme kept the Indian Army on a War
footing, ready for immediate mobilisation, and on January 1, 1915, the
regular army consisted of 247,000 men, of whom 75,000 were English; it
was the money spent by India in maintaining this army for years in
readiness for War which made it possible for her to go to the help of
Great Britain at the critical early period to which I alluded. She spent
over L20 millions on the military services in 1914-15. In 1915-16 she
spent L21.8 millions. In 1916-17 her military budget had risen to L12
millions, and it will probably be exceeded, as was the budget of the
preceding year by L1-2/3 million.

Lord Hardinge, the last Viceroy of India, who is ever held in loving
memory here for his sympathetic attitude towards Indian aspirations,
made a masterly exposition of India's War services in the House of Lords
on the third of last July. He emphasised her pre-War services, showing
that though 19-1/4 millions sterling was fixed as a maximum by the
Nicholson Committee, that amount had been exceeded in 11 out of the last
13 budgets, while his own last budget had risen to 22 millions. During
these 13 years the revenue had been only between 48 and 58 millions,
once rising to 60 millions. Could any fact speak more eloquently of
India's War services than this proportion of military expenditure
compared with her revenue?

The Great War began on August 4th, and in that very month and in the
early part of September, India sent an expeditionary force of three
divisions--two infantry and one cavalry--and another cavalry division
joined them in France in November. The first arrived, said Lord
Hardinge, "in time to fill a gap that could not otherwise have been
filled." He added pathetically: "There are very few survivors of those
two splendid divisions of infantry." Truly, their homes are empty, but
their sons shall enjoy in India the liberty for which their fathers died
in France. Three more divisions were at once sent to guard the Indian
frontier, while in September a mixed division was sent to East Africa,
and in October and November two more divisions and a brigade of cavalry
went to Egypt. A battalion of Indian infantry went to Mauritius, another
to the Cameroons, and two to the Persian Gulf, while other Indian troops
helped the Japanese in the capture of Tsingtau. 210,000 Indians were
thus sent overseas. The whole of these troops were fully armed and
equipped, and in addition, during the first few weeks of the War, India
sent to England from her magazines "70 million rounds of small-arm
ammunition, 60,000 rifles, and more than 550 guns of the latest pattern
and type."

In addition to these, Lord Hardinge speaks of sending to England

enormous quantities of material,... tents, boots, saddlery,
clothing, etc., but every effort was made to meet the
ever-increasing demands made by the War Office, and it may be
stated without exaggeration that India was bled absolutely
white during the first few weeks of the war.

It must not be forgotten, though Lord Hardinge has not reckoned it, that
all wastage has been more than filled up, and 450,000 men represent this
head; the increase in units has been 300,000, and including other
military items India had placed in the field up to the end of 1916 over
a million of men.

In addition to this a British force of 80,000 was sent from India, fully
trained and equipped at Indian cost, India receiving in exchange, many
months later, 34 Territorial battalions and 29 batteries, "unfit for
immediate employment on the frontier or in Mesopotamia, until they had
been entirely re-armed and equipped, and their training completed."

Between the autumn of 1914 and the close of 1915, the defence of our own
frontiers was a serious matter, and Lord Hardinge says:

The attitude of Afghanistan was for a long time doubtful,
although I always had confidence in the personal loyalty of our
ally the Amir; but I feared lest he might be overwhelmed by a
wave of fanaticism, or by a successful Jehad of the tribes....
It suffices to mention that, although during the previous three
years there had been no operations of any importance on the
North-West frontier, there were, between November 29, 1914, and
September 5, 1915, no less than seven serious attacks on the
North-West frontier, all of which were effectively dealt with.

The military authorities had also to meet a German conspiracy early in
1915, 7,000 men arriving from Canada and the United States, having
planned to seize points of military vantage in the Panjab, and in
December of the same year another German conspiracy in Bengal,
necessitating military preparations on land, and also naval patrols in
the Bay of Bengal.

Lord Hardinge has been much attacked by the Tory and Unionist Press in
England and India, in England because of the Mesopotamia Report, in
India because his love for India brought him hatred from Anglo-India.
India has affirmed her confidence in him, and with India's verdict he
may well rest satisfied.

I do not care to dwell on the Mesopotamia Commission and its
condemnation of the bureaucratic system prevailing here. Lord Hardinge
vindicated himself and India. The bureaucratic system remains
undefended. I recall that bureaucratic inefficiency came out in even
more startling fashion in connection with the Afghan War of 1878-79 and
1879-80. In February 1880, the war charges were reported as under L4
millions, and the accounts showed a surplus of L2 millions. On April 8th
the Government of India reported: "Outgoing for War very alarming, far
exceeding estimate," and on the 13th April "it was announced that the
cash balances had fallen in three months from thirteen crores to less
than nine, owing to 'excessive Military drain' ... On the following day
(April 22) a despatch was sent out to the Viceroy, showing that there
appeared a deficiency of not less than 5-1/4 crores. This vast error was
evidently due to an underestimate of war liabilities, which had led to
such mis-information being laid before Parliament, and to the sudden
discovery of inability to 'meet the usual drawings.'"

It seemed that the Government knew only the amount audited, not the
amount spent. Payments were entered as "advances," though they were not
recoverable, and "the great negligence was evidently that of the heads
of departmental accounts." If such a mishap should occur under Home
Rule, a few years hence--which heaven forbid--I shudder to think of the
comments of the _Englishman_ and the _Madras Mail_ on the shocking
inefficiency of Indian officials.

In September last, our present Viceroy, H.E. Lord Chelmsford, defended
India against later attacks by critics who try to minimise her
sacrifices in order to lessen the gratitude felt by Great Britain
towards her, lest that gratitude should give birth to justice, and
justice should award freedom to India. Lord Chelmsford placed before his
Council "in studiously considered outline, a summary of what India has
done during the past two years." Omitting his references to what was
done under Lord Hardinge, as stated above, I may quote from him:

On the outbreak of war, of the 4,598 British officers on the
Indian establishment, 530 who were at home on leave were
detained by the War Office for service in Europe. 2,600
Combatant Officers have been withdrawn from India since the
beginning of the War, excluding those who proceeded on service
with their batteries or regiments. In order to make good these
deficiencies and provide for war wastage the Indian Army
Reserve of Officers was expanded from a total of 40, at which
it stood on the 4th August, 1914, to one of 2,000.

The establishment of Indian units has not only been kept up to
strength, but has been considerably increased. There has been
an augmentation of 20 per cent. in the cavalry and of 40 per
cent. in the infantry, while the number of recruits enlisted
since the beginning of the War is greater than the entire
strength of the Indian Army as it existed on August 4, 1914.

Lord Chelmsford rightly pointed out:

The Army in India has thus proved a great Imperial asset, and
in weighing the value of India's contribution to the War it
should be remembered that India's forces were no hasty
improvisation, but were an army in being, fully equipped and
supplied, which had previously cost India annually a large sum
to maintain.

Lord Chelmsford has established what he calls a "Man-Power Board," the
duty of which is "to collect and co-ordinate all the facts with regard
to the supply of man-power in India." It has branches in all the
Provinces. A steady flow of reinforcements supplies the wastage at the
various fronts, and the labour required for engineering, transport,
etc., is now organised in 20 corps in Mesopotamia and 25 corps in
France. In addition 60,000 artisans, labourers, and specialists are
serving in Mesopotamia and East Africa, and some 20,000 menials and
followers have also gone overseas. Indian medical practitioners have
accepted temporary commissions in the Indian Medical Service to the
number of 500. In view of this fact, due to Great Britain's bitter need
of help, may we not hope that this Service will welcome Indians in time
of peace as well as in time of war, and will no longer bar the way by
demanding the taking of a degree in the United Kingdom? It is also
worthy of notice that the I.M.S. officers in charge of district duties
have been largely replaced by Indian medical men; this, again, should
continue after the War. Another fact, that the Army Reserve of Officers
his risen from 40 to 2,000, suggests that the throwing open of King's
Commissions to qualified Indians should not be represented by a meagre
nine. If English lads of 19 and 20 are worthy of King's Commissions--and
the long roll of slain Second Lieutenants proves it--then certainly
Indian lads, since Indians have fought as bravely as Englishmen, should
find the door thrown open to them equally widely in their own country,
and the Indian Army should be led by Indian officers.

With such a record of deeds as the one I have baldly sketched, it is not
necessary to say much in words as to India's support of Great Britain
and her Allies. She has proved up to the hilt her desire to remain
within the Empire, to maintain her tie with Great Britain. But if
Britain is to call successfully on India's man-power, as Lord Chelmsford
suggests in his Man-Power Board, then must the man who fights or labours
have a man's Rights in his own land. The lesson which springs out of
this War is that it is absolutely necessary for the future safety of the
Empire that India shall have Home Rule. Had her Man-Power been utilised
earlier there would have been no War, for none would have dared to
provoke Great Britain and India to a contest. But her Man-Power cannot
be utilised while she is a subject Nation. She cannot afford to maintain
a large army, if she is to support an English garrison, to pay for their
goings and comings, to buy stores in England at exorbitant prices and
send them back again when England needs them. She cannot afford to train
men for England, and only have their services for five years. She cannot
afford to keep huge Gold Reserves in England, and be straitened for
cash, while she lends to England out of her Reserves, taken from her
over-taxation, L27,000,000 for War expenses, and this, be it remembered,
before the great War Loan. I once said in England: "The condition of
India's loyalty is India's freedom." I may now add: "The condition of
India's usefulness to the Empire is India's freedom." She will tax
herself willingly when her taxes remain in the country and fertilise it,
when they educate her people and thus increase their productive power,
when they foster her trade and create for her new industries.

Great Britain needs India as much as India needs England, for prosperity
in Peace as well as for safety in War. Mr. Montagu has wisely said that
"for equipment in War a Nation needs freedom in Peace." Therefore I say
that, for both countries alike, the lesson of the War is Home Rule for

Let me close this part of my subject by laying at the feet of His
Imperial Majesty the loving homage of the thousands here assembled, with
the hope and belief that, ere long, we shall lay there the willing and
grateful homage of a free Nation.



Apart from the natural exchange of thought between East and West, the
influence of English education, literature and ideals, the effect of
travel in Europe, Japan and the United States of America, and other
recognised causes for the changed outlook in India, there have been
special forces at work during the last few years to arouse a New Spirit
in India, and to alter her attitude of mind. These may be summed up as:

(a) The Awakening of Asia.

(b) Discussions abroad on Alien Rule and Imperial Reconstruction.

(c) Loss of Belief in the Superiority of the White Races.

(d) The Awakening of Indian Merchants.

(e) The Awakening of Indian Womanhood to claim its Ancient

(f) The Awakening of the Masses.

Each of these causes has had its share in the splendid change of
attitude in the Indian Nation, in the uprising of a spirit of pride of
country, of independence, of self-reliance, of dignity, of self-respect.
The War has quickened the rate of evolution of the world, and no country
has experienced the quickening more than our Motherland.


In a conversation I had with Lord Minto, soon after his arrival as
Viceroy, he discussed the so-called "unrest in India," and recognised it
as the inevitable result of English Education, of English Ideals of
Democracy, of the Japanese victory over Russia, and of the changing
conditions in the outer world. I was therefore not surprised to read his
remark that he recognised, "frankly and publicly, that new aspirations
were stirring in the hearts of the people, that they were part of a
larger movement common to the whole East, and that it was necessary to
satisfy them to a reasonable extent by giving them a larger share in the

But the present movement in India will be very poorly understood if it
be regarded only in connexion with the movement in the East. The
awakening of Asia is part of a world-movement, which has been quickened
into marvellous rapidity by the world-war. The world-movement is towards
Democracy, and for the West dates from the breaking away of the American
Colonies from Great Britain, consummated in 1776, and its sequel in the
French Revolution of 1789. Needless to say that its root was in the
growth of modern science, undermining the fabric of intellectual
servitude, in the work of the Encyclopaedists, and in that of
Jean-Jacques Rousseau and of Thomas Paine. In the East, the swift
changes in Japan, the success of the Japanese Empire against Russia, the
downfall of the Manchu dynasty in China and the establishment of a
Chinese Republic, the efforts at improvement in Persia, hindered by the
interference of Russia and Great Britain with their growing ambitions,
and the creation of British and Russian "spheres of influence,"
depriving her of her just liberty, and now the Russian Revolution and
the probable rise of a Russian Republic in Europe and Asia, have all
entirely changed the conditions before existing in India. Across Asia,
beyond the Himalayas, stretch free and self-ruling Nations. India no
longer sees as her Asian neighbours the huge domains of a Tsar and a
Chinese despot, and compares her condition under British rule with those
of their subject populations. British rule profited by the comparison,
at least until 1905, when the great period of repression set in. But in
future, unless India wins Self-Government, she will look enviously at
her Self-Governing neighbours, and the contrast will intensify her

But even if she gains Home Rule, as I believe she will, her position in
the Empire will imperatively demand that she shall be strong as well as
free. She becomes not only a vulnerable point in the Empire, as the
Asian Nations evolve their own ambitions and rivalries, but also a
possession to be battled for. Mr. Laing once said: "India is the
milch-cow of England," a Kamadhenu, in fact, a cow of plenty; and if
that view should arise in Asia, the ownership of the milch-cow would
become a matter of dispute, as of old between Vashishtha and
Vishvamitra. Hence India must be capable of self-defence both by land
and sea. There may be a struggle for the primacy of Asia, for supremacy
in the Pacific, for the mastery of Australasia, to say nothing of the
inevitable trade-struggles, in which Japan is already endangering Indian
industry and Indian trade, while India is unable to protect herself.

In order to face these larger issues with equanimity, the Empire
requires a contented, strong, self-dependent and armed India, able to
hold her own and to aid the Dominions, especially Australia, with her
small population and immense unoccupied and undefended area. India alone
has the man-power which can effectively maintain the Empire in Asia, and
it is a short-sighted, a criminally short-sighted, policy not to build
up her strength as a Self-Governing State within the Commonwealth of
Free Nations under the British Crown. The Englishmen in India talk
loudly of their interests; what can this mere handful do to protect
their interests against attack in the coming years? Only in a free and
powerful India will they be safe. Those who read Japanese papers know
how strongly, even during the War, they parade unchecked their
pro-German sympathies, and how likely after the War is an alliance
between these two ambitious and warlike Nations. Japan will come out of
the War with her army and navy unweakened, and her trade immensely
strengthened. Every consideration of sane statesmanship should lead
Great Britain to trust India more than Japan, so that the British Empire
in Asia may rest on the sure foundation of Indian loyalty, the loyalty
of a free and contented people, rather than be dependent on the
continued friendship of a possible future rival. For international
friendships are governed by National interests, and are built on
quicksands, not on rock.

Englishmen in India must give up the idea that English dominance is
necessary for the protection of their interests, amounting, in 1915, to
L365,399,000 sterling. They do not claim to dominate the United States
of America, because they have invested there L688,078,000. They do not
claim to dominate the Argentine Republic, because they have invested
there L269,808,000. Why then should they claim to dominate India on the
ground of their investment? Britons must give up the idea that India is
a possession to be exploited for their own benefit, and must see her as
a friend, an equal, a Self-Governing Dominion within the Empire, a
Nation like themselves, a willing partner in the Empire, and not a
dependent. The democratic movement in Japan, China and Russia in Asia
has sympathetically affected India, and it is idle to pretend that it
will cease to affect her.


But there are other causes which have been working in India, consequent
on the British attitude against autocracy and in defence of freedom in
Europe, while her attitude to India has, until lately, been left in
doubt. Therefore I spoke of a splendid opportunity lost. India at first
believed whole-heartedly that Great Britain was fighting for the freedom
of all Nationalities. Even now, Mr. Asquith declared--in his speech in
the House of Commons reported here last October, on the peace resolution
of Mr. Ramsay Macdonald--that "the Allies are fighting for nothing but
freedom, and, an important addition--for nothing short of freedom." In
his speech declaring that Britain would stand by France in her claim for
the restoration of Alsace-Lorraine, he spoke of "the intolerable
degradation of a foreign yoke." Is such a yoke less intolerable, less
wounding to self-respect here, than in Alsace-Lorraine, where the rulers
and the ruled are both of European blood, similar in religion and
habits? As the War went on, India slowly and unwillingly came to realise
that the hatred of autocracy was confined to autocracy in the West, and
that the degradation was only regarded as intolerable for men of white
races; that freedom was lavishly promised to all except to India; that
new powers were to be given to the Dominions, but not to India. India
was markedly left out of the speeches of statesmen dealing with the
future of the Empire, and at last there was plain talk of the White
Empire, the Empire of the Five Nations, and the "coloured races" were
lumped together as the wards of the White Empire, doomed to an
indefinite minority.

The peril was pressing; the menace unmistakable. The Reconstruction of
the Empire was on the anvil; what was to be India's place therein? The
Dominions were proclaimed as partners; was India to remain a Dependency?
Mr. Bonar Law bade the Dominions strike while the iron was hot; was
India to wait till it was cold? India saw her soldiers fighting for
freedom in Flanders, in France, in Gallipoli, in Asia Minor, in China,
in Africa; was she to have no share of the freedom for which she fought?
At last she sprang to her feet and cried, in the words of one of her
noblest sons: "Freedom is my birthright; and I want it." The words "Home
Rule" became her Mantram. She claimed her place in the Empire.

Thus, while she continued to support, and even to increase, her army
abroad, fighting for the Empire, and poured out her treasures as water
for Hospital Ships, War Funds, Red Cross organisations, and the gigantic
War Loan, a dawning fear oppressed her, lest, if she did not take order
with her own household, success in the War for the Empire might mean
decreased liberty for herself.

The recognition of the right of the Indian Government to make its voice
heard in Imperial matters, when they were under discussion in an
Imperial Conference, was a step in the right direction. But
disappointment was felt that while other countries were represented by
responsible Ministers, the representation in India's case was of the
Government, of a Government irresponsible to her, and not the
representative of herself. No fault was found with the choice itself,
but only with the non-representative character of the chosen, for they
were selected by the Government, and not by the elected members of the
Supreme Council. This defect in the resolution moved by the Hon. Khan
Bahadur M.M. Shafi on October 2, 1915, was pointed out by the Hon. Mr.
Surendranath Bannerji. He said:

My Lord, in view of a situation so full of hope and promise, it
seems to me that my friend's Resolution does not go far enough.
He pleads for _official_ representation at the Imperial
Conference: he does not plead for _popular_ representation. He
urges that an address be presented to His Majesty's Government,
through the Secretary of State for India, for official
representation at the Imperial Council. My Lord, official
representation may mean little or nothing. It may indeed be
attended with some risk; for I am sorry to have to say--but say
it I must--that our officials do not always see eye to eye with
us as regards many great public questions which affect this
country; and indeed their views, judged from our standpoint,
may sometimes seem adverse to our interests. At the same time,
my Lord, I recognise the fact that the Imperial Conference is
an assemblage of officials pure and simple, consisting of
Ministers of the United Kingdom and of the self-governing
Colonies. But, my Lord, there is an essential difference
between them and ourselves. In their case, the Ministers are
the elect of the people, their organ and their voice,
answerable to them for their conduct and their proceedings. In
our case, our officials are public servants in name, but in
reality they are the masters of the public. The situation may
improve, and I trust it will, under the liberalising influence
of your Excellency's beneficent administration; but we must
take things as they are, and not indulge in building castles in
the air, which may vanish "like the baseless fabric of a

It was said to be an epoch-making event that "Indian Representatives"
took part in the Conference. Representatives they were, but, as said, of
the British Government in India, not of India, whereas their colleagues
represented their Nations. They did good work, none the less, for they
were able and experienced men, though they failed us in the Imperial
Preference Conference and, partially, on the Indentured Labour question.
Yet we hope that the presence in the Conference of men of Indian birth
may prove to be the proverbial "thin end of the wedge," and may have
convinced their colleagues that, while India was still a Dependency,
India's sons were fully their equals.

The Report of the Public Services Commission, though now too obviously
obsolete to be discussed, caused both disappointment and resentment; for
it showed that, in the eyes of the majority of the Commissioners,
English domination in Indian administration was to be perpetual, and
that thirty years hence she would only hold a pitiful 25 per cent. or
the higher appointments in the I.C.S. and the Police. I cannot, however,
mention that Commission, even in passing, without voicing India's thanks
to the Hon. Mr. Justice Rahim, for his rare courage in writing a
solitary Minute of Dissent, in which he totally rejected the Report, and
laid down the right principles which should govern recruitment for the
Indian Civil Services.

India had but three representatives on the Commission; G.K. Gokhale died
ere it made its Report, his end quickened by his sufferings during its
work, by the humiliation of the way in which his countrymen were
treated. Of Mr. Abdur Rahim I have already spoken. The Hon. Mr. M.B.
Chaubal signed the Report, but dissented from some of its most important
recommendations. The whole Report was written "before the flood," and it
is now merely an antiquarian curiosity.

India, for all these reasons, was forced to see before her a future of
perpetual subordination: the Briton rules in Great Britain, the
Frenchman in France, the American in America, each Dominion in its own
area, but the Indian was to rule nowhere; alone among the peoples of the
world, he was not to feel his own country as his own. "Britain for the
British" was right and natural; "India for the Indians" was wrong, even
seditious. It must be "India for the Empire," or not even for the
Empire, but "for the rest of the Empire," careless of herself. "British
support for British Trade" was patriotic and proper in Britain.
"Swadeshi goods for Indians" showed a petty and anti-Imperial spirit in
India. The Indian was to continue to live perpetually, and even
thankfully, as Gopal Krishna Gokhale said he lived now, in "an
atmosphere of inferiority," and to be proud to be a citizen (without
rights) of the Empire, while its other component Nations were to be
citizens (with rights) in their own countries first, and citizens of the
Empire secondarily. Just as his trust in Great Britain was strained
nearly to breaking point came the glad news of Mr. Montagu's appointment
as Secretary of State for India, of the Viceroy's invitation to him, and
of his coming to hear for himself what India wanted. It was a ray of
sunshine breaking through the gloom, confidence in Great Britain
revived, and glad preparation was made to welcome the coming of a

The attitude of India has changed to meet the changed attitude of the
Governments of India and Great Britain. But let none imagine that that
consequential change of attitude connotes any change in her
determination to win Home Rule. She is ready to consider terms of peace,
but it must be "peace with honour," and honour in this connection means
Freedom. If this be not granted, an even more vigorous agitation will


The undermining of this belief dates from the spreading of the Arya
Samaj and the Theosophical Society. Both bodies sought to lead the
Indian people to a sense of the value of their own civilisation, to
pride in their past, creating self-respect in the present, and
self-confidence in the future. They destroyed the unhealthy inclination
to imitate the West in all things, and taught discrimination, the using
only of what was valuable in western thought and culture, instead of a
mere slavish copying of everything. Another great force was that of
Swami Vivekananda, alike in his passionate love and admiration for
India, and his exposure of the evils resulting from Materialism in the
West. Take the following:

Children of India, I am here to speak to you to-day about some
practical things, and my object in reminding you about the
glories of the past is simply this. Many times have I been told
that looking into the past only degenerates and leads to
nothing, and that we should look to the future. That is true.
But out of the past is built the future. Look back, therefore,
as far as you can, drink deep of the eternal fountains that are
behind, and after that, look forward, march forward, and make
India brighter, greater, much higher than she ever was. Our
ancestors were great. We must recall that. We must learn the
elements of our being, the blood that courses in our veins; we
must have faith in that blood, and what it did in the past: and
out of that faith, and consciousness of past greatness, we must
build an India yet greater than what she has been.

And again:

I know for certain that millions, I say deliberately, millions,
in every civilised land are waiting for the message that will
save them from the hideous abyss of materialism into which
modern money-worship is driving them headlong, and many of the
leaders of the new Social Movements have already discovered
that Vedanta in its highest form can alone spiritualise their
social aspirations.

The process was continued by the admiration of Sanskrit literature
expressed by European scholars and philosophers. But the effect of these
was confined to the few and did not reach the many. The first great
shock to the belief in white superiority came from the triumph of Japan
over Russia, the facing of a huge European Power by a comparatively
small Eastern Nation, the exposure of the weakness and rottenness of the
Russian leaders, and the contrast with their hardy virile opponents,
ready to sacrifice everything for their country.

The second great shock has come from the frank brutality of German
theories of the State, and their practical carrying out in the treatment
of conquered districts and the laying waste of evacuated areas in
retreat. The teachings of Bismarck and their practical application in
France, Flanders, Belgium, Poland, and Serbia have destroyed all the
glamour of the superiority of Christendom over Asia. Its vaunted
civilisation is seen to be but a thin veneer, and its religion a matter
of form rather than of life. Gazing from afar at the ghastly heaps of
dead and the hosts of the mutilated, at science turned into devilry and
ever inventing new tortures for rending and slaying, Asia may be
forgiven for thinking that, on the whole, she prefers her own religions
and her own civilisations.

But even deeper than the outer tumult of war has pierced the doubt as to
the reality of the Ideals of Liberty and Nationality so loudly
proclaimed by the foremost western Nations, the doubt of the honesty of
their champions. Sir James Meston said truly, a short time ago, that he
had never, in his long experience, known Indians in so distrustful and
suspicious a mood as that which he met in them to-day. And that is so.
For long years Indians have been chafing over the many breaches of
promises and pledges to them that remain unredeemed. The maintenance
here of a system of political repression, of coercive measures increased
in number and more harshly applied since 1905, the carrying of the
system to a wider extent since the War for the sanctity of treaties and
for the protection of Nationalities has been going on, have deepened the
mistrust. A frank and courageous statesmanship applied to the honest
carrying out of large reforms too long delayed can alone remove it. The
time for political tinkering is past; the time for wise and definite
changes is here.

To these deep causes must be added the comparison between the
progressive policy of some of the Indian States in matters which most
affect the happiness of the people, and the slow advance made under
British administration. The Indian notes that this advance is made under
the guidance of rulers and ministers of his own race. When he sees that
the suggestions made in the People's Assembly in Mysore are fully
considered and, when possible, given effect to, he realises that without
the forms of power the members exercise more real power than those in
our Legislative Councils. He sees education spreading, new industries
fostered, villagers encouraged to manage their own affairs and take the
burden of their own responsibility, and he wonders why Indian incapacity
is so much more efficient than British capacity.

Perhaps, after all, for Indians, Indian rule may be the best.


* * * * *


The position of women in the ancient Aryan civilisation was a very noble
one. The great majority married, becoming, as Manu said, the Light of
the Home; some took up the ascetic life, remained unmarried, and sought
the knowledge of Brahma. The story of the Rani Damayanti, to whom her
husband's ministers came, when they were troubled by the Raja's
gambling, that of Gandhari, in the Council of Kings and Warrior Chiefs,
remonstrating with her headstrong son; in later days, of Padmavati of
Chitoor, of Mirabai of Marwar, the sweet poetess, of Tarabai of Thoda,
the warrior, of Chand Bibi, the defender of Ahmednagar, of Ahalya Bai of
Indore, the great Ruler--all these and countless others are well known.

Only in the last two or three generations have Indian women slipped away
from their place at their husbands' side, and left them unhelped in
their public life. But even now they wield great influence over husband
and son. Culture has never forsaken them, but the English education of
their husbands and sons, with the neglect of Sanskrit and the
Vernacular, have made a barrier between the culture of the husband and
that of the wife, and has shut the woman out from her old sympathy with
the larger life of men. While the interests of the husband have
widened, those of the wife have narrowed. The materialising of the
husband tended also, by reaction, to render the wife's religion less
broad and wise.

The wish to save their sons from the materialising results of English
education awoke keen sympathy among Indian mothers with the movement to
make religion an integral part of education. It was, perhaps, the first
movement in modern days which aroused among them in all parts a keen and
living interest.

The Partition of Bengal was bitterly resented by Bengali women, and was
another factor in the outward-turning change. When the editor of an
Extremist newspaper was prosecuted for sedition, convicted and
sentenced, five hundred Bengali women went to his mother to show their
sympathy, not by condolences, but by congratulations. Such was the
feeling of the well-born women of Bengal.

Then the troubles of Indians outside India roused the ever quick
sympathy of Indian women, and the attack in South Africa on the
sacredness of Indian marriage drew large numbers of them out of their
homes to protest against the wrong.

The Indentured Labour question, involving the dishonour of women, again,
moved them deeply, and even sent a deputation to the Viceroy composed of

These were, perhaps, the chief outer causes; but deep in the heart of
India's daughters arose the Mother's voice, calling on them to help Her
to arise, and to be once more mistress in Her own household. Indian
women, nursed on Her old literature, with its wonderful ideals of
womanly perfection, could not remain indifferent to the great movement
for India's liberty. And during the last few years the hidden fire, long
burning in their hearts, fire of love to Bharatamata, fire of resentment
against the lessened influence of the religion which they passionately
love, instinctive dislike of the foreigner as ruling in their land, have
caused a marvellous awakening. The strength of the Home Rule movement is
rendered tenfold greater by the adhesion to it of large numbers of
women, who bring to its helping the uncalculating heroism, the
endurance, the self-sacrifice, of the feminine nature. Our League's best
recruits are among the women of India, and the women of Madras boast
that they marched in procession when the men were stopped, and that
their prayers in the temples set the interned captives free. Home Rule
has become so intertwined with religion by the prayers offered up in the
great Southern Temples, sacred places of pilgrimage, and spreading from
them to village temples, and also by its being preached up and down the
country by Sadhus and Sannyasins, that it has become in the minds of the
women and of the ever religious masses, inextricably intertwined with
religion. That is, in this country, the surest way of winning alike the
women of the higher classes and the men and women villagers. And that is
why I have said that the two words, "Home Rule," have become a Mantram.


* * * * *



India demands Home Rule for two reasons, one essential and vital, the
other less important but necessary: Firstly, because Freedom is the
birthright of every Nation; secondly, because her most important
interests are now made subservient to the interests of the British
Empire without her consent, and her resources are not utilised for her
greatest needs. It is enough only to mention the money spent on her
Army, not for local defence but for Imperial purposes, as compared with
that spent on primary education.


What is a Nation?

Self-Government is necessary to the self-respect and dignity of a
People; Other-Government emasculates a Nation, lowers its character, and
lessens its capacity. The wrong done by the Arms Act, which Raja Rampal
Singh voiced in the Second Congress as a wrong which outweighed all the
benefits of British Rule, was its weakening and debasing effect on
Indian manhood. "We cannot," he declared, "be grateful to it for
degrading our natures, for systematically crushing out all martial
spirit, for converting a race of soldiers and heroes into a timid flock
of quill-driving sheep." This was done not by the fact that a man did
not carry arms--few carry them in England--but that men were deprived of
the _right_ to carry them. A Nation, an individual, cannot develop his
capacities to the utmost without liberty. And this is recognised
everywhere except in India. As Mazzini truly said:

God has written a line of His thought over the cradle of every
people. That is its special mission. It cannot be cancelled; it
must be freely developed.

For what is a Nation? It is a spark of the Divine Fire, a fragment of
the Divine Life, outbreathed into the world, and gathering round itself
a mass of individuals, men, women and children, whom it binds together
into one. Its qualities, its powers, in a word, its type, depend on the
fragment of the Divine Life embodied in it, the Life which shapes it,
evolves it, colours it, and makes it One. The magic of Nationality is
the feeling of oneness, and the use of Nationality is to serve the world
in the particular way for which its type fits it. This is what Mazzini
called "its special mission," the duty given to it by God in its
birth-hour. Thus India had the duty of spreading the idea of Dharma,
Persia that of Purity, Egypt that of Science, Greece that of Beauty,
Rome that of Law. But to render its full service to Humanity it must
develop along its own lines, and be Self-determined in its evolution. It
must be Itself, and not Another. The whole world suffers where a
Nationality is distorted or suppressed, before its mission to the world
is accomplished.

The Cry for Self-Rule.

Hence the cry of a Nation for Freedom, for Self-Rule, is not a cry of
mere selfishness demanding more Rights that it may enjoy more happiness.
Even in that there is nothing wrong, for happiness means fulness of
life, and to enjoy such fulness is a righteous claim. But the demand for
Self-Rule is a demand for the evolution of its own nature for the
Service of Humanity. It is a demand of the deepest Spirituality, an
expression of the longing to give its very best to the world. Hence
dangers cannot check it, nor threats appal, nor offerings of greater
pleasures lure it to give up its demand for Freedom. In the adapted
words of a Christian Scripture, it passionately cries: "What shall it
profit a Nation if it gain the whole world and lose its own Soul? What
shall a Nation give in exchange for its Soul?" Better hardship and
freedom, than luxury and thraldom. This is the spirit of the Home Rule
movement, and therefore it cannot be crushed, it cannot be destroyed, it
is eternal and ever young. Nor can it be persuaded to exchange its
birthright for any mess of efficiency-pottage at the hands of the

Stunting the Race.

Coming closer to the daily life of the people as individuals, we see
that the character of each man, woman and child is degraded and weakened
by a foreign administration, and this is most keenly felt by the best
Indians. Speaking on the employment of Indians in the Public Services,
Gopal Krishna Gokhale said:

A kind of dwarfing or stunting of the Indian race is going on
under the present system. We must live all the days of our life
in an atmosphere of inferiority, and the tallest of us must
bend, in order that the exigencies of the system may be
satisfied. The upward impulse, if I may use such an expression,
which every schoolboy at Eton or Harrow may feel that he may
one day be a Gladstone, a Nelson, or a Wellington, and which
may draw forth the best efforts of which he is capable, that is
denied to us. The full height to which our manhood is capable
of rising can never be reached by us under the present system.
The moral elevation which every Self-governing people feel
cannot be felt by us. Our administrative and military talents
must gradually disappear owing to sheer disuse, till at last
our lot, as hewers of wood and drawers of water in our own
country, is stereotyped.

The Hon. Mr. Bhupendranath Basu has spoken on similar lines:

A bureaucratic administration, conducted by an imported agency,
and centring all power in its hands, and undertaking all
responsibility, has acted as a dead weight on the Soul of
India, stifling in us all sense of initiative, for the lack of
which we are condemned, atrophying the nerves of action and,
what is more serious, necessarily dwarfing in us all feeling of

In this connexion the warning of Lord Salisbury to Cooper's Hill
students is significant:

No system of Government can be permanently safe where there is
a feeling of inferiority or of mortification affecting the
relations between the governing and the governed. There is
nothing I would more earnestly wish to impress upon all who
leave this country for the purpose of governing India than
that, if they choose to be so, they are the only enemies
England has to fear. They are the persons who can, if they
will, deal a blow of the deadliest character at the future rule
of England.

I have ventured to urge this danger, which has increased of late years,
in consequence of the growing self-respect of the Indians, but the
ostrich policy is thought to be preferable in my part of the country.

This stunting of the race begins with the education of the child. The
Schools differentiate between British and Indian teachers; the Colleges
do the same. The students see first-class Indians superseded by young
and third-rate foreigners; the Principal of a College should be a
foreigner; foreign history is more important than Indian; to have
written on English villages is a qualification for teaching economics in
India; the whole atmosphere of the School and College emphasises the
superiority of the foreigner, even when the professors abstain from open
assertion thereof. The Education Department controls the education
given, and it is planned on foreign models, and its object is to serve
foreign rather than native ends, to make docile Government servants
rather than patriotic citizens; high spirits, courage, self-respect, are
not encouraged, and docility is regarded as the most precious quality in
the student; pride in country, patriotism, ambition, are looked on as
dangerous, and English, instead of Indian, Ideals are exalted; the
blessings of a foreign rule and the incapacity of Indians to manage
their own affairs are constantly inculcated. What wonder that boys thus
trained often turn out, as men, time-servers and sycophants, and,
finding their legitimate ambitions frustrated, become selfish and care
little for the public weal? Their own inferiority has been so driven
into them during their most impressionable years, that they do not even
feel what Mr. Asquith called the "intolerable degradation of a foreign

India's Rights.

It is not a question whether the rule is good or bad. German efficiency
in Germany is far greater than English efficiency in England; the
Germans were better fed, had more amusements and leisure, less crushing
poverty than the English. But would any Englishman therefore desire to
see Germans occupying all the highest positions in England? Why not?
Because the righteous self-respect and dignity of the free man revolt
against foreign domination, however superior. As Mr. Asquith said at the
beginning of the War, such a condition was "inconceivable and would be
intolerable." Why then is it the one conceivable system here in India?
Why is it not felt by all Indians to be intolerable? It is because it
has become a habit, bred in us from childhood, to regard the sahib-log
as our natural superiors, and the greatest injury British rule has done
to Indians is to deprive them of the natural instinct born in all free
peoples, the feeling of an inherent right to Self-determination, to be
themselves. Indian dress, Indian food, Indian ways, Indian customs, are
all looked on as second-rate; Indian mother-tongue and Indian literature
cannot make an educated man. Indians as well as Englishmen take it for
granted that the natural rights of every Nation do not belong to them;
they claim "a larger share in the government of the country," instead of
claiming the government of their own country, and they are expected to
feel grateful for "boons," for concessions. Britain is to say what she
will give. The whole thing is wrong, topsy-turvy, irrational. Thank God
that India's eyes are opening; that myriads of her people realise that
they are men, with a man's right to freedom in his own country, a man's
right to manage his own affairs. India is no longer on her knees for
boons; she is on her feet for Rights. It is because I have taught this
that the English in India misunderstand me and call me seditious; it is
because I have taught this that I am President of this Congress to-day.

This may seem strong language, because the plain truth is not usually
put in India. But this is what every Briton feels in Britain for his own
country, and what every Indian should feel in India for his. This is the
Freedom for which the Allies are fighting; this is Democracy, the Spirit
of the Age. And this is what every true Briton will feel is India's
Right the moment India claims it for herself, as she is claiming it
now. When this right is gained, then will the tie between India and
Great Britain become a golden link of mutual love and service, and the
iron chain of a foreign yoke will fall away. We shall live and work side
by side, with no sense of distrust and dislike, working as brothers for
common ends. And from that union shall arise the mightiest Empire, or
rather Commonwealth, that the world has ever known, a Commonwealth that,
in God's good time, shall put an end to War.


Tests of Efficiency.

The Secondary Reasons for the present demand for Home Rule may be summed
up in the blunt statement: "The present rule, while efficient in less
important matters and in those which concern British interests, is
inefficient in the greater matters on which the healthy life and
happiness of the people depend." Looking at outer things, such as
external order, posts and telegraphs--except where political agitators
are concerned--main roads, railways, etc., foreign visitors, who
expected to find a semi-savage country, hold up their hands in
admiration. But if they saw the life of the people, the masses of
struggling clerks trying to educate their children on Rs. 25 (28s.
0-1/4d.) a month, the masses of labourers with one meal a day, and the
huts in which they live, they would find cause for thought. And if the
educated men talked freely with them, they would be surprised at their
bitterness. Gopal Krishna Gokhale put the whole matter very plainly in

One of the fundamental conditions of the peculiar position of
the British Government in this country is that it should be a
continuously progressive Government. I think all thinking men,
to whatever community they belong, will accept that. Now, I
suggest four tests to judge whether the Government is
progressive, and, further, whether it is continuously
progressive. The first test that I would apply is what measures
it adopts for the moral and material improvement of the mass of
the people, and under these measures I do not include those
appliances of modern Governments which the British Government
has applied in this country, because they were appliances
necessary for its very existence, though they have benefited
the people, such as the construction of Railways, the
introduction of Post and Telegraphs, and things of that kind.
By measures for the moral and material improvement of the
people, I mean what the Government does for education, what the
Government does for sanitation, what the Government does for
agricultural development, and so forth. That is my first test.
The second test that I would apply is what steps the Government
takes to give us a larger share in the administration of our
local affairs--in municipalities and local boards. My third
test is what voice the Government gives us in its Councils--in
those deliberate assemblies, where policies are considered.
And, lastly, we must consider how far Indians are admitted into
the ranks of the public service.

A Change of System Needed.

Those were Gokhale's tests, and Indians can supply the results of their
knowledge and experience to answer them. But before dealing with the
failure to meet these tests, it is necessary to state here that it is
not a question of blaming men, or of substituting Indians for
Englishmen, but of changing the system itself. It is a commonplace that
the best men become corrupted by the possession of irresponsible power.
As Bernard Houghton says: "The possession of unchecked power corrupts
some of the finer qualities." Officials quite honestly come to believe
that those who try to change the system are undermining the security of
the State. They identify the State with themselves, so that criticism of
them is seen as treason to the State. The phenomenon is well known in
history, and it is only repeating itself in India. The same writer--I
prefer to use his words rather than my own, for he expresses exactly my
own views, and will not be considered to be prejudiced as I am thought
to be--cogently remarks:

He (the official) has become an expert in reports and returns
and matters of routine through many years of practice. They are
the very woof and warp of his brain. He has no ideas, only
reflexes. He views with acrid disfavour untried conceptions.
From being constantly preoccupied with the manipulation of the
machine he regards its smooth working, the ordered and
harmonious regulation of glittering pieces of machinery, as the
highest service he can render to the country of his adoption.
He determines that his particular cog-wheel at least shall be
bright, smooth, silent, and with absolutely no back-lash. Not
unnaturally in course of time he comes to envisage the world
through the strait embrasure of an office window. When perforce
he must report on new proposals he will place in the forefront,
not their influence on the life and progress of the people, but
their convenience to the official hierarchy and the manner in
which they affect its authority. Like the monks of old, or the
squire in the typical English village, he cherishes a
benevolent interest in the commonalty, and is quite willing,
even eager, to take a general interest in their welfare, if
only they do not display initiative or assert themselves in
opposition to himself or his order. There is much in this
proviso. Having come to regard his own judgment as almost
divine, and the hierarchy of which he has the honour to form a
part as a sacrosanct institution, he tolerates the laity so
long as they labour quietly and peaceably at their vocations
and do not presume to inter-meddle in high matters of State.
That is the heinous offence. And frank criticism of official
acts touches a lower depth still, even _lese majeste_. For no
official will endure criticism from his subordinates, and the
public, who lie in outer darkness beyond the pale, do not in
his estimation rank even with his subordinates. How, then,
should he listen with patience when in their cavilling way they
insinuate that, in spite of the labours of a high-souled
bureaucracy, all is perhaps not for the best in the best of all
possible worlds--still less when they suggest reforms that had
never occurred even to him or to his order, and may clash with
his most cherished ideals? It is for the officials to govern
the country; they alone have been initiated into the sacred
mysteries; they alone understand the secret working of the
machine. At the utmost the laity may tender respectful and
humble suggestions for their consideration, but no more. As for
those who dare to think and act for themselves, their ignorant
folly is only equalled by their arrogance. It is as though a
handful of schoolboys were to dictate to their masters
alterations in the traditional time-table, or to insist on a
modified curriculum.... These worthy people [officials] confuse
manly independence with disloyalty; they cannot conceive of
natives except either as rebels or as timid sheep.

Non-Official Anglo-Indians.

The problem becomes more complicated by the existence in India of a
small but powerful body of the same race as the higher officials; there
are only 122,919 English-born persons in this country, while there are
245,000,000 in the British Raj and another 70,000,000 in the Indian
States, more or less affected by British influence. As a rule, the
non-officials do not take any part in politics, being otherwise
occupied; but they enter the field when any hope arises in Indian hearts
of changes really beneficial to the Nation. John Stuart Mill observed on
this point:

The individuals of the ruling people who resort to the foreign
country to make their fortunes are of all others those who most
need to be held under powerful restraint. They are always one
of the chief difficulties of the Government. Armed with the
prestige and filled with the scornful overbearingness of the
conquering Nation, they have the feelings inspired by absolute
power without its sense of responsibility.

Similarly, Sir John Lawrence wrote:

The difficulty in the way of the Government of India acting
fairly in these matters is immense. If anything is done, or
attempted to be done, to help the natives, a general howl is
raised, which reverberates in England, and finds sympathy and
support there. I feel quite bewildered sometimes what to do.
Everyone is, in the abstract, for justice, moderation, and
suchlike excellent qualities; but when one comes to apply such
principles so as to affect anybody's interests, then a change
comes over them.

Keene, speaking of the principle of treating equally all classes of the
community, says:

The application of that maxim, however, could not be made
without sometimes provoking opposition among the handful of
white settlers in India who, even when not connected with the
administration, claimed a kind of class ascendancy which was
not only in the conditions of the country but also in the
nature of the case. It was perhaps natural that in a land of
caste the compatriots of the rulers should become--as Lord
Lytton said--a kind of "white Brahmanas"; and it was certain
that, as a matter of fact, the pride of race and the possession
of western civilisation created a sense of superiority, the
display of which was ungraceful and even dangerous, when not
tempered by official responsibility. This feeling had been
sensitive enough in the days of Lord William Bentinck, when the
class referred to was small in numbers and devoid of influence.
It was now both more numerous, and--by reason of its connection
with the newspapers of Calcutta and of London--it was far
better able to make its passion heard.

During Lord Ripon's sympathetic administration the great outburst
occurred against the Ilbert Bill in 1883. We are face to face with a
similar phenomenon to-day, when we see the European Associations--under
the leadership of the _Madras Mail_, the _Englishman_ of Calcutta, the
_Pioneer of_ Allahabad, the _Civil and Military Gazette_ of Lahore, with
their Tory and Unionist allies in the London Press and with the aid of
retired Indian officials and non-officials in England--desperately
resisting the Reforms now proposed. Their opposition, we know, is a
danger to the movement towards Freedom, and even when they have failed
to impress England--as they are evidently failing--they will try to
minimise or smother here the reforms which a statute has embodied. The
Minto-Morley reforms were thus robbed of their usefulness, and a similar
attempt, if not guarded against, will be made when the Congress-League
Scheme is used as the basis for an Act.

The Re-action on England.

We cannot leave out of account here the deadly harm done to England
herself by this un-English system of rule in India. Mr. Hobson has
pointed out:

As our free Self-Governing Colonies have furnished hope,
encouragement, and leading to the popular aspirations in Great
Britain, not merely by practical success in the art of
Self-Government, but by the wafting of a spirit of freedom and
equality, so our despotically ruled Dependencies have ever
served to damage the character of our people by feeding the
habits of snobbish subservience, the admiration of wealth and
rank, the corrupt survivals of the inequalities of
feudalism.... Cobden writing in 1860 of our Indian Empire, put
this pithy question: "Is it not just possible that we may
become corrupted at home by the reaction of arbitrary political
maxims in the East upon our domestic politics, just as Greece
and Rome were demoralised by their contact with Asia?" Not
merely is the reaction possible, it is inevitable. As the
despotic portion of our Empire, has grown in area, a large
number of men, trained in the temper and methods of autocracy,
as soldiers and civil officials in our Crown Colonies,
Protectorates and Indian Empire, reinforced by numbers of
merchants, planters, engineers, and overseers, whose lives have
been those of a superior caste living an artificial life
removed from all the healthy restraints of ordinary European
Society, have returned to this country, bringing back the
characters, sentiments and ideas imposed by this foreign

It is a little hard on the I.C.S. that they should be foreigners here,
and then, when they return to their native land, find that they have
become foreigners there by the corrupting influences with which they
are surrounded here. We import them as raw material to our own
disadvantage, and when we export them as manufactured here, Great
Britain and India alike suffer from their reactionary tendencies. The
results are unsatisfactory to both sides.

The First Test Applied.

Let us now apply Gokhale's first test. What has the Bureaucracy done for
"education, sanitation, agricultural improvement, and so forth"? I must
put the facts very briefly, but they are indisputable.

_Education_. The percentage to the whole population of children
receiving education is 2.8, the percentage having risen by 0.9 since Mr.
Gokhale moved his Education Bill six years ago. The percentage of
children of school-going age attending school is 18.7. In 1913 the
Government of India put the number of pupils at 4-1/2 millions; this has
been accomplished in 63 years, reckoning from Sir Charles Wood's
Educational Despatch in 1854, which led to the formation of the
Education Department. In 1870 an Education Act was passed in Great
Britain, the condition of Education in England then much resembling our
present position; grants-in-aid in England had been given since 1833,
chiefly to Church Schools. Between 1870 and 1881 free and compulsory
education was established, and in 12 years the attendance rose from 43.3
to nearly 100 per cent. There are now 6,000,000 children in the schools
of England and Wales out of a population of 40 millions. Japan, before
1872, had a proportion of 28 per cent. of children of school-going age in
school, nearly 10 over our present proportion; in 24 years the
percentage was raised to 92, and in 28 years education was free and
compulsory. In Baroda education is free and largely compulsory and the
percentage of boys is 100 per cent. Travancore has 81.1 per cent. of
boys and 33.2 of girls. Mysore has 45.8 of boys and 9.7 of girls. Baroda
spends an. 6-6 per head on school-going children, British India one
anna. Expenditure on education advanced between 1882 and 1907 by 57
lakhs. Land-revenue had increased by 8 crores, military expenditure by
13 crores, civil by 8 crores, and capital outlay on railways was 15
crores. (I am quoting G.K. Gokhale's figures.) He ironically calculated
that, if the population did not increase, every boy would be in school
115 years hence, and every girl in 665 years. Brother Delegates, we hope
to do it more quickly under Home Rule. I submit that in Education the
Bureaucracy is inefficient.

_Sanitation and Medical Relief_. The prevalence of plague, cholera, and
above all malaria, shows the lack of sanitation alike in town and
country. This lack is one of the causes contributing to the low average
life-period in India--23.5 years. In England the life-period is 40
years, in New Zealand 60. The chief difficulty in the way of the
treatment of disease is the encouragement of the foreign system of
medicine, especially in rural parts, and the withholding of grants from
the indigenous. Government Hospitals, Government Dispensaries,
Government doctors, must all be on the foreign system. Ayurvaidic and
Unani medicines, Hospitals, Dispensaries, Physicians, are unrecognised,
and to "cover" the latter is "infamous" conduct. Travancore gives
grants-in-aid to 72 Vaidyashalas, at which 143,505 patients--22,000 more
than in allopathic institutions--were treated in 1914-15 (the Report
issued in 1917). Our Government cannot grapple with the medical needs of
the people, yet will not allow the people's money to be spent on the
systems they prefer. Under Home Rule the indigenous and the foreign
systems will be treated with impartiality. I grant that the allopathic
doctors do their utmost to supply the need, and show great
self-sacrifice, but the need is too vast and the numbers too few.
Efficiency on their own lines in this matter is therefore impossible for
our bureaucratic Government; their fault lies in excluding the
indigenous systems, which they have not condescended to examine before
rejecting them. The result is that in sanitation and medical relief the
Bureaucracy is inefficient.

_Agricultural Development_. The census of 1911 gives the agricultural
population at 218.3 millions. Its frightful poverty is a matter of
common knowledge; its ever-increasing load of indebtedness has been
dwelt on for at least the last thirty odd years by Sir Dinshaw E. Wacha.
Yet the increasing debt is accompanied with increasing taxation, land
revenue having risen, as just stated, in 25 years, by 8
crores--80,000,000--of rupees. In addition to this there are local
cesses, salt tax, etc. The salt tax, which presses most hardly on the
very poor, was raised in the last budget by Rs. 9 millions. The
inevitable result of this poverty is malnutrition, resulting in low
vitality, lack of resistance to disease, short life-period, huge
infantile mortality. Gopal Krishna Gokhale, no mischievous agitator,
repeated in 1905 the figures; often quoted:

Forty millions of people, according to one great Anglo-Indian
authority--Sir William Hunter--pass through life with only one
meal a day. According to another authority--Sir Charles
Elliot--70 millions of people in India do not know what it is
to have their hunger fully satisfied even once in the whole
course of the year. The poverty of the people of India, thus
considered by itself, is truly appalling. And if this is the
state of things after a hundred years of your rule, you cannot
claim that your principal aim in India has been the promotion
of the interests of the Indian people.

It is sometimes said: "Why harp on these figures? We know them." Our
answer is that the fact is ever harping in the stomach of the people,
and while it continues we cannot cease to draw attention to it. And
Gokhale urged that "even this deplorable condition has been further
deteriorating steadily." We have no figures on malnutrition among the
peasantry, but in Madras City, among an equally poor urban population,
we found that 78 per cent. of our pupils were reported, after a medical
inspection, to be suffering from malnutrition. And the spareness of
frame, the thinness of arms and legs, the pitiably weak grip on life,
speak without words to the seeing eye. It needs an extraordinary lack of
imagination not to suffer while these things are going on.

The peasants' grievances are many and have been voiced year after year
by this Congress. The Forest Laws, made by legislators inappreciative of
village difficulties, press hardly on them, and only in a small number
of places have Forest Panchayats been established. In the few cases in
which the experiment has been made the results have been good, in some
cases marvellously good. The paucity of grazing grounds for their
cattle, the lack of green manure to feed their impoverished lands, the
absence of fencing round forests, so that the cattle stray in when
feeding, are impounded, and have to be redeemed, the fines and other
punishments imposed for offences ill-understood, the want of wood for
fuel, for tools, for repairs, the uncertain distribution of the
available water, all these troubles are discussed in villages and in
local Conferences. The Arms Act oppresses them, by leaving them
defenceless against wild beasts and wild men. The union of Judicial and
Executive functions makes justice often inaccessible, and always costly
both in money and in time. The village officials naturally care more to
please the Tahsildar and the Collector than the villagers, to whom they
are in no way responsible. And factions flourish, because there is
always a third party to whom to resort, who may be flattered if his rank
be high, bribed if it be low, whose favour can be gained in either case
by cringing and by subservience and tale-bearing. As regards the
condition of agriculture in India and the poverty of the agricultural
population, the Bureaucracy is inefficient.

The application of Mr. Gokhale's first test to Indian handicrafts, to
the strengthening of weak industries and the creation of new, to the
care of waterways for traffic and of the coast transport shipping, the
protection of indigo and other indigenous dyes against their German
synthetic rivals, etc., would show similar answers. We are suffering now
from the supineness of the Bureaucracy as regards the development of the
resources of the country, by its careless indifference to the usurping
by Germans of some of those resources, and even now they are pursuing a
similar policy of _laissez faire_ towards Japanese enterprise, which,
leaning on its own Government, is taking the place of Germany in
shouldering Indians out of their own natural heritage.

In all prosperous countries crafts are found side by-side with
agriculture, and they lend each other mutual support. The extreme
poverty of Ireland, and the loss of more than half its population by
emigration, were the direct results of the destruction of its
wool-industry by Great Britain, and the consequent throwing of the
population entirely on the land for subsistence. A similar phenomenon
has resulted here from a similar case, but on a far more widespread
scale. And here, a novel and portentous change for India, "a
considerable landless class is developing, which involves economic
danger," as the _Imperial Gazeteer_ remarks, comparing the census
returns of 1891 and 1901. "The ordinary agricultural labourers are
employed on the land only during the busy seasons of the year, and in
slack times a few are attracted to large trade-centres for temporary
work." One recalls the influx into England of Irish labourers at harvest
time. Professor Radkamal Mukerji has laid stress on the older conditions
of village life. He says:

The village is still almost self-sufficing, and is in itself an
economic unit. The village agriculturist grows all the food
necessary for the inhabitants of the village. The smith makes
the plough-shares for the cultivator, and the few iron utensils
required for the household. He supplies these to the people,
but does not get money in return. He is recompensed by mutual
services from his fellow villagers. The potter supplies him
with pots, the weaver with cloth, and the oilman with oil. From
the cultivator each of these artisans receives his traditional
share of grain. Thus almost all the economic transactions are
carried on without the use of money. To the villagers money is
only a store of value, not a medium of exchange. When they
happen to be rich in money, they hoard it either in coins or
make ornaments made of gold and silver.

These conditions are changing in consequence of the pressure of poverty
driving the villagers to the city, where they learn to substitute the
competition of the town for the mutual helpfulness of the village. The
difference of feeling, the change from trustfulness to suspicion, may be
seen by visiting villages which are in the vicinity of a town and
comparing their villagers with those who inhabit villages in purely
rural areas. This economic and moral deterioration can only be checked
by the re-establishment of a healthy _and interesting_ village life, and
this depends upon the re-establishment of the Panchayat as the unit of
Government, a question which I deal with presently. Village industries
would then revive and an intercommunicating network would be formed by
Co-operative Societies. Mr. C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar says in his pamphlet,
_Co-operative Societies and Panchayats_:

The one method by which this evil [emigration to towns] can be
arrested and the economic and social standards of life of the
rural people elevated is by the inauguration of healthy
Panchayats in conjunction with the foundation of Co-operative
institutions, which will have the effect of resuscitating
village industries, and of creating organised social forces.
The Indian village, when rightly reconstructed, would be an
excellent foundation for well-developed co-operative industrial


The resuscitation of the village system has other bearings, not
usually considered in connection with the general subject of
the inauguration of the Panchayat system. One of the most
important of these is the regeneration of the small industries
of the land. Both in Europe and in India the decline of small
industries has gone on _pari passu_ with the decline of farming
on a small scale. In countries like France agriculture has
largely supported village industries, and small cultivators in
that country have turned their attention to industry as a
supplementary source of livelihood. The decline of village life
in India is not only a political, but also an economic and
industrial, problem. Whereas in Europe the cultural impulse has
travelled from the city to the village, in India the reverse
has been the case. The centre of social life in this country is
the village, and not the town. Ours was essentially the cottage
industry, and our artisans still work in their own huts, more
or less out of touch with the commercial world. Throughout the
world the tendency has been of late to lay considerable
emphasis on distributive and industrial co-operation based on a
system of village industries and enterprise. Herein would be
found the origins of the arts and crafts guilds and the Garden
Cities, the idea underlying all these being to inaugurate a
reign of Socialism and Co-operation, eradicating the entirely
unequal distribution of wealth amongst producers and consumers.
India has always been a country of small tenantry, and has
thereby escaped many of the evils the western Nations have
experienced owing to the concentration of wealth in a few
hands. The communistic sense in our midst, and the fundamental
tenets of our family life, have checked such concentration of
capital. This has been the cause for the non-development of
factory industries on a large scale.

The need for these changes--to which England is returning, after full
experience of the miseries of life in manufacturing towns--is pressing.

Addressing an English audience, G.K. Gokhale summed up the general state
of India as follows:

Your average annual income has been estimated at about L42 per
head. Ours, according to official estimates, is about L2 per
head, and according to non-official estimates, only a little
more than L1 per head. Your imports per head are about L13:
ours about 5s. per head. The total deposits in your Postal
Savings Bank amount to 148 million sterling, and you have in
addition in the Trustees' Savings Banks about 52 million
sterling. Our Postal Savings Bank deposits, with a population
seven times as large as yours, are only about 7 million
sterling, and even of this a little over one-tenth is held by
Europeans. Your total paid-up capital of joint-stock companies
is about 1,900 million sterling. Ours is not quite 26 million
sterling, and the greater part of this again is European.
Four-fifths of our people are dependent upon agriculture, and
agriculture has been for some time steadily deteriorating.
Indian agriculturists are too poor, and are, moreover, too
heavily indebted, to be able to apply any capital to land, and
the result is that over the greater part of India agriculture
is, as Sir James Caird pointed out more than twenty-five years
ago, only a process of exhaustion of the soil. The yield per
acre is steadily diminishing, being now only about 8 to 9
bushels an acre against about 30 bushels here in England.

In all the matters which come under Gokhale's first test, the
Bureaucracy has been and is inefficient.

Give Indians a Chance.

All we say in the matter is: You have not succeeded in bringing
education, health, prosperity, to the masses of the people. Is it not
time to give Indians a chance of doing, for their own country, work
similar to that which Japan and other nations have done for theirs?
Surely the claim is not unreasonable. If the Anglo-Indians say that the
masses are their peculiar care, and that the educated classes care not
for them, but only for place and power, then we point to the Congress,
to the speeches and the resolutions eloquent of their love and their
knowledge. It is not their fault that they gaze on their country's
poverty in helpless despair. Or let Mr. Justice Rahim answer:

As for the representation of the interests of the many scores
of millions in India, if the claim be that they are better
represented by European Officials than by educated Indian
Officials or non-Officials, it is difficult to conceive how
such reckless claim has come to be urged. The inability of
English Officials to master the spoken language of India and
their habits of life and modes of thought so completely divide
them from the general population, that only an extremely
limited few, possessed with extraordinary powers of insight,
have ever been able to surmount the barriers. With the educated
Indians, on the other hand, this knowledge is instinctive, and
the view of religion and custom so strong in the East make
their knowledge and sympathy more real than is to be seen in
countries dominated by materialistic conceptions.

And it must be remembered that it is not lack of ability which has
brought about bureaucratic inefficiency, for British traders and
producers have done uncommonly well for themselves in India. But a
Bureaucracy does not trouble itself about matters of this kind; the
Russian Bureaucracy did not concern itself with the happiness of the
Russian masses, but with their obedience and their paying of taxes.
Bureaucracies are the same everywhere, and therefore it is the system we
wage war upon, not the men; we do not want to substitute Indian
bureaucrats for British bureaucrats; we want to abolish Bureaucracy,
Government by Civil Servants.

The Other Tests Applied.

I need not delay over the second, third, and fourth tests, for the
answers _sautent aux yeux_.

_The second test, Local Self-Government:_ Under Lord Mayo (1869-72) some
attempts were made at decentralisation, called by Keene "Home Rule" (!),
and his policy was followed on non-financial lines as well by Lord
Ripon, who tried to infuse into what Keene calls "the germs of Home
Rule" "the breath of life." Now, in 1917, an experimental and limited
measure of local Home Rule is to be tried in Bengal. Though the Report
of the Decentralisation Committee was published in 1909, we have not yet
arrived at the universal election of non-official Chairmen. Decidedly
inefficient is the Bureaucracy under test 2.

_The third test, Voice in the Councils:_ The part played by Indian
elected members in the Legislative Council, Madras, was lately described
by a member as "a farce." The Supreme Legislative Council was called by
one of its members "a glorified Debating Society." A table of
resolutions proposed by Indian elected members, and passed or lost, was
lately drawn up, and justified the caustic epithets. With regard to the
Minto-Morley reforms, the Bureaucracy showed great efficiency in
destroying the benefits intended by the Parliamentary Statute. But the
third test shows that in giving Indians a fair voice in the Councils the
Bureaucracy was inefficient.

_The fourth test, the Admission of Indians to the Public Services:_ This
is shown, by the Report of the Commission, not to need any destructive
activity on the part of the Bureaucracy to prove their unwillingness to
pass it, for the Report protects them in their privileged position.

We may add to Gokhale's tests one more, which will be triumphantly
passed, the success of the Bureaucracy in increasing the cost of
administration. The estimates for the revenue of the coming year stand
at L86,199,600 sterling. The expenditure is reckoned at L85,572,100
sterling. The cost of administration stands at more than half the total

Civil Departments Salaries and Expenses L19,323,300
Civil Miscellaneous Charges 5,283,300
Military Services 23,165,900

The reduction of the abnormal cost of government in India is of the most
pressing nature, but this will never be done until we win Home Rule.

It will be seen that the Secondary Reasons for the demand for Home Rule
are of the weightiest nature in themselves, and show the necessity for
its grant if India is to escape from a poverty which threatens to lead
to National bankruptcy, as it has already led to a short life-period and
a high death rate, to widespread disease, and to a growing exhaustion of
the soil. That some radical change must be brought about in the
condition of our masses, if a Revolution of Hunger is to be averted, is
patent to all students of history, who also know the poverty of the
Indian masses to-day. This economic condition is due to many causes, of
which the inevitable lack of understanding by an alien Government is
only one. A system of government suitable to the West was forced on the
East, destroying its own democratic and communal institutions and
imposing bureaucratic methods which bewildered and deteriorated a people
to whom they were strange and repellent. The result is not a matter for
recrimination, but for change. An inappropriate system forced on an
already highly civilised people was bound to fail. It has been rightly
said that the poor only revolt when the misery they are enduring is
greater than the dangers of revolt. We need Home Rule to stop the daily
suffering of our millions from the diminishing yield of the soil and the
decay of village industries.


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