To: Henry Fawcett, Esq., M.P.
10 South St.
Park Lane W.
March 11, 1880
My dear Sir:
The consensus of the newspapers about the "flourishing state of the Indian finances" is incomprehensible. Therefore I venture to appeal to you.
What makes them "flourishing"? Does it come out of the people's stomachs? What is the improvement due to?
Opium and cheese parings?
Last year the government made a merit of submitting to your motion for "retrenchment" and economy. "See how we follow the "Popular voice: We go further even than it calls" they said.
See now what has been their retrenchment: They have cut down the Public Works:
all that constitutes the welfare of the people who have no voice: "hit
him hard, he's no friend" doomed hundreds of thousands to semi - very semi
starvation from being turned out of work.
And they have clapped on for the War expenditure what? Something like 5 millions?
I refer to the figures in the 'Times' of Sir John Strachey's Budget:
"Calcutta, Feb 24,
"The war expenses in 1878-9 amounted to £676,000, in 1879-80
£3,216,000, in 1880-81 £2,090,000."
"After setting off the increased railway and telegraph revenue, the total
net war expenditure to the of 1880-1 is estimated at £5,750,000."
"Calcutta, Feb 29.
"The Budget estimates for the coming year:
"The estimated expenditure includes excess of military charges £4,360,000, of
which £2,690,000 is for military operations proper, and £2,270,000 for frontier
The interest is so keen in your coming discussion on the Budget that I venture
to trouble you.
I am not here dwelling upon the cutting down of useful, rather
essential, Public Works expenditures, because all, all in India, from the
Viceroy, Governors, Lt. Governors, down thro' all the officials who know
anything about the people, deplore it as lamentable.
But I would gladly ask
your permission to mention a few only of the type cheese parings which
come to the knowledge of an Indian drudge alone, like me.
And is it
not impossible in a country like India to separate the social from the
finance question for two reasons:
1. In England finance is governed by Parliamentary
majorities, therefore by social majorities. In India social questions do
not govern the political or finance question in the least - simply because
the enormous bulk of the millions, the agricultural millions, have no voice:
2. Social questions are further let to take care of themselves in India
- or rather they never rise to the dignity of questions - in England there
is an immense social world of influence quite apart from the small political
world of the Cabinet and Parliament. And this can more or less manage its
own affairs, thank God. There is a vast world of mercantile, upper, and
middle, and professional classes and the Press, and the public, who treat
their social questions apart from the Political and Administrative machinery.
In India there is nothing of the kind. If the "social questions" are
not treated by the Financial and Political authorities, they are not treated
at all. There is no society to treat "social questions". There is no world
with a voice outside the infinitesimally small official despotic world. There
is no free Press: (in any sense like the English Press) there is no public.
In India, wholly unlike England, financial questions are at once kept wholly
apart from social questions - and at the same time, there are no social questions
apart from financial ones; i.e. there are no social agencies apart from
Yet political agencies are wholly ungoverned by social interests.
Some will call this a paradox, and some a truism, but is it not true?
India there is, alike, no world to treat its social questions for itself,
and no world to influence the treatment of social questions by the political
Whereas in England the social world exercises both functions.
I can better explain having no gifts for exposition, by instances:
- India being an agricultural country - my type instances should be agricultural.
In the sole Agricultural College and Model Farm (worth the name) in all India,
and to which enterprising students come from very distant parts in other
Presidencies - come purely with the view of obtaining a professional knowledge
of agriculture - not to recommend themselves to Govt. employment, the bane
of India - many such students have spent in traveling, in classes, dress,
board and lodging, ten times the sum that any could possibly earn in the
shape of prizes or scholarships. But, referring to scholarships, Govt.,
in cutting down expenses (by order), have reduced the number of scholarships
from 15 to 5 in a Division.
The result is the saving of a few hundred rupees
(under £100 a year) annually, and the removal of an encouragement which in England is afforded
to all students under technical education, whether in the Science and Art
Dept. of Kensington, or elsewhere. The expenses of students at the Agricultural
College in India in question from distant parts are great, and the 10 Rs
a month that might be earned by gaining a scholarship did something to
lessen that cost.
No promises of appointments either are held out to students
as is done in Engineering and Medical Colleges.
Now, if this were a class
for Astronomy instead of Agriculture, it would matter nothing.
Or if India
were a rich country like England, it would matter nothing. Rich people
or societies would put students to the Agricultural College.
But it matters
very much under the circumstances of India.
And that is why we cannot separate
the social from the financial side, can we?
If you but knew the letters
which reach me from India:
"The policy appears to be to put every possible hindrance in our way."
(And all for £100 a year!)
The Revenue Officials - this is what is believed - know well that when
the agricultural population is better educated and trained, they will
not be content as things now are: they will demand new roads, irrigation
works, tree planting, drainage, etc., to be carried out with some of the£20,000,000
that is yearly drawn from Agriculture. They prefer - (this is what is
believed) - ignorance to intelligence as a rule: the ignorant ryot gives
no trouble, he submits to the village headman, better educated men would
worry the English officials to have irrigation works, or roads, or repairs,
or new appliances, etc.
It is so common to say: "oh the ryots don't care
about irrigation: they won't take the water if we give it."
We give them no practical instruction: if we did they would call out for
irrigation and most inconveniently loud to us. Please God they may yet!
Just let them come to know what Mr. Caird tells us, viz., that Egyptian
cotton, which is a 'wet' crop, is from 6 to 12 times the value
of Indian cotton which is a 'dry' crop.
Lord Hartington's allusion to Indian 'Public Works' in his address of this
morning warms my heart.
If this is electioneering, then may God help
But it is a proof that Englishmen will not long deny
India justice, when such a topic can find place in an address to constituents
by the leader of the opposition at a general election.
To return to Agricultural
In Ireland a large number of students are educated and boarded
and lodged at the Agricultural Schools and Colleges almost entirely at
the expense of the State.
But in India, not only has the small encouragement
we were able to afford to deserving students been greatly restricted,
but the buildings promised over and over again for carrying on the educational
work have been again, for cost reasons left and not yet begun.
such treatment, can it be expected that the better class of natives will
join an institution?
Yet, of what incalculable importance is it to encourage
agricultural enterprise in India? Of what incalculable importance that
landlords' estates should be centres and nuclei of improvement; examples
to peasant proprietors!
It would not signify if these were classes for
It signifies more, I believe, than anything you can conceive,
and is more (justly) commented upon, that drawing 20 millions £ a year
from the land ('land revenue') government
does little or nothing for agriculture.
Is it any answer to say to this
that finance cannot deal with "social" questions?
Finance in India is Agriculture, and Agriculture is the "social question." Finance
is the "social question."
A single show of our Royal Agriculture Society here costs more than govt.
spend over all India in efforts at Agricultural reform, and in Gt. Britain
there are hundreds of Agriculture shows, local and country - there being
in England the "social" world, the public, besides Govt. which there is
not in India. The allowance for the Kew Gardens is larger than the whole
sum allowed for Agricultural shows, farms, colleges, etc., in British
I wish Kew were India or India Kew.
But the Govt. says: India
is poor: therefore she shall be poor. And from her that hath little shall
be taken away even that which she hath.
Yet I have known young men actually
cross India to learn manures, rotation of crops, etc., at this one and
much tried Agricultural College, knowing that they can only learn these
from European trained men. All the best men of its first class of trained
students (the only class yet trained) have got employment at fair salaries.
Unfortunately the natives of India are to the Govt. of India, - in one
sense, that of dependence, - a great deal too much like soldiers to military
authorities. And 'retrenchment' in
India has been far too like a Commissariat retrenching its bakeries -
Reading rooms left intact and ordinances and arms increased.
is another small project concerning a country only two and a half times
the size of England, and of which the capital is the first town in the
Empire after London - a project carefully matured and zealously advocated
by its Govt.
Its remarkable tho' not first object was to make practical
agricultural knowledge an essential not only for the native Revenue and
other Officers, but also for the village headmen and village accountants
in an empire where almost all is agriculture. It is almost impossible
to calculate the reform which might gradually have been worked, could
this scheme have been set and going and thoroughly carried out.
the opening of 6 High School classes in Agriculture: 3 of which were
to be in that province which sent students to an Agriculture College,
exactly on the other side [of] the Indian Empire: Such is its thirst
for knowledge in scientific agriculture, the teachers of which, it knows,
must have been trained in Europe.
It comprised the taking of an university
degree in scientific agriculture after a 3 year course, including practical
out of doors farming instruction.
It comprised the taking of "School
proficiency in agriculture, after a 2 years' course, and of "College
Certificates" after a further 2 years' course.
Land was provided for
a vernacular class in the Middle Schools: - for each of the High School
agricultural classes - for the university degree course.
Now it can scarcely
be said that this bears any comparison at all in its supreme importance
(India being an agricultural country) with any other College in India's
world - not with Law - not with English literature - Scarcely even with
Medicine and Engineering. Let us live first: afterwards we will doctor
and engineer ourselves.
Yet this scheme was disapproved by the Secretary
of State; he objected to the cost which was considerably under£1,000
a year for the whole Presidency, 2-1/2 times larger than England.
as if the whole trade and commerce of Great Britain had (unhappily) depended
on Govt.: - Govt. drawing from it the bulk of its revenue. And as if
Govt. had refused a petty £1,000 a year to give the first elements of progress in
it, - for the livelihood of the poor - for the instruction of the officials
in whose hands is the livelihood of the poor - and for the indication
to those poor of the methods by which they might make themselves rich
- and to the few rich of the methods by which they might profitably invest
capital and show enterprise in the way in which we pretend that we wish,
of all others, capital should be invested.
It is a sine qua non that village headmen and 'village accountants' in India
should have to "pass" in Agriculture: it is a 'reductio ad absurdum' that
they should not.
All this was negatived for £1,000 a year and under.
We are often told (and most truly told) that we cannot judge for India here.
But here was a scheme carefully matured and zealously urged by a government
in India, and a governor who is the man of greatest (living) experience
now in India.
And we negative it at home for the saving of a paltry sum
which there is many a society in England would have been thankful to
give, and many a rich man in England who would never have missed.
may indeed truly say 'We do not care for them,' and - not truly but naturally
- they infer, as said before, that we prefer to keep them ignorant and
poor, that they may not give us trouble.
III. I have given only two instances of this horrible petty cheese-paring
in order to appear to be following out the 'Ho. of C." 'cry for economy' while
adding £5,000,000 to military expend[itures]. Few know as you do, few labour
as you do, knowing what that is for India where the five millions £ have
literally to be made up out of the 'coarse grain' of the poor, the daily
food of the people. And the Govt. of India is ostentatiously declaring
as if Sir John Strachey were a Cavour, or Lord Lytton a V. Emmanuel,
fara da se.'
Therefore I wish your discussion 'God speed' from the very bottom of my
heart. But I have plunged into a subject of which there are whole branches
in which only Anglo Indians of great experience - the race is dying out
- can instruct us.
One is the tendency of Native India to pass the most
admirable Exams in what they know nothing at all about.
Another is: that
Scientific Agriculture does not as yet exist in the Agricultural Empire
A third is that neither do landlords make their estates centres
and examples of agricultural improvement - nor do we, the Govt. upon whom
all depends, make the least effort to encourage them to do so. Rather we
may say we prevent their doing so.
(It is well know that, in India, What
the natives think the Govt. does not care for, they will not care for themselves.)
1. and 2. Scientific husbandry does not exist in India: the science has
not yet been solidly founded on experiment and induction: Axioms of agricultural
science there are, supposed to be generally applicable, such as men might
learn and reproduce who never saw a field of tobacco, or sugar cane, or
indigo, or rice, or cotton.
(Please remember what we know about the inferiority
of Indian cotton.)
The basis of agricultural knowledge is laid in about
two corners - literally corners - of an Empire nearly the size of Europe.
- and with 200 millions of people.
And meanwhile we are told on authority
which cannot be successfully challenged that the soil of India is becoming
more exhausted every year. If courses of speculative agricultural instruction
are opened, and Govt. insists on the Tahsildars, mamlutdars, and Revenue
and other officers frequenting these classes, and 'passing' in
this science, any number will do so, and pass the most admirable exams,
and write papers in the most 'luxuriant
phraseology.' And some good might thus be done by leading to a more intelligent
local study and observation of the popular agriculture and to the dissemination
of some ideas.
Govt. does sanction: at least it has just sanctioned and
made compulsory an Agricultural Primer, a Sanitary Primer. And the latter
is to be a subject in all Govt. Scholarship examinations.
will be that both Schoolmaster and children will learn the Primer beautifully
by rote: and neither the one nor the other have the least idea of applying
either the one or the other to 'my Father's land' or 'my Father's house,
water supply, drainage, etc.'
Without the palpable exhibition of practical
results in local model and experimental farms - deliberately ascertaining
the various methods of rotations, manures, etc., that can be profitably
adopted - the new productions that can be usefully introduced, - the
new or improved machines that can be economically employed, - the improvements
practicable in the breeds of sheep and cattle, - the result will be next
N.B. On a very small scale, of course, an outdoor curriculum
was provided in the (£1,000 a year) scheme which was negatived.
all these things on the ground - open shops and sales - institute shows
and exhibitions, and the result would be astounding.
You who are going
to give us improved water supply in London will think of water supplies
in India. With regard to the Sanitary Primer, then, unless the students
can be taken to the ground, (as Dr. Acland does in Oxfordshire and Bucks
with his students - as we do with our District Nurses in London) unless
they can be shown these things on the ground: 'Look
on this village and on that: this village has a stupid headman: it is
a model of bad water, bad air, dirt and dirt diseases: that has a selected
headman: it is a model of cleanliness, good water, good air. Cholera
and Fever never touch it.'
And if the children of headmen, the future headmen, could in this way be
instructed, it is not exaggerating to say that it would be the saving
of millions, for Hindoos are always either under Fever or the consequences
of Fever - just as Famine lasts in the constitutions of the living for
years after the dead have been counted.
3. You know by Mr. Phose, that
Bengalee, who was merely a paid agent of the zemindars, who came to England
to cry up the Permanent Settlement and meetings were got up for him both
in London and Birmingham - and even Mr. Bright spoke for him - and he,
Phose, made a (or perhaps it was his dress) a great impression here. (That
is the misery in England - Our ignorance- We think we are listening to
a representation of the people of India. We are listening only to an attorney
of the zemindars) but, you know - by these Bengal zemindars, and by the
writing of the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha (National Association) which again
pretends to represent the people and merely represents the money lenders,
officials, and a few effete Mahratta landlords. What a stir is being made
in Bombay as well as Bengal to further 'Permanent Settlements' in favour
But when they write to me, I venture to answer back, and
tell them that the estates of gentlemen landlords ought to be the centres
and models of improvements, - examples to the peasant proprietors, - and
that it should be their aim to prove that a peasant is better off as the
tenant of an improving and intelligent landlord than as a proprietor who
has to stand by himself.
You know it is just the contrary.
The Poona S.
Sabha, a very powerful association, urge upon our Govt. that there are
so few gentlemen landlords in Western India that most of the land is held
direct from Govt. by the cultivators and that this is the reason of agricultural
backwardness, poverty, etc.
You know that the gentlemen landlords do do
nothing for the soil or for improvement. All that
is done is done by the tenant, cultivator, or peasant.
What the Poona
S. Sabha urge is a measure like the Settlement in Bengal, creating a landlord
class - handing over to them half existing rents and all future increments
of rent: and making all the peasantry their tenants.
("Let the example:
show us the improving landlords," I
venture to say).
(I trust the House of Commons will never listen to this
But what do the Government do to inform, reform, inspire with
knowledge and practice of agricultural improvements either landlord,
peasant or Revenue official, native or European?
They themselves say that
we would rather they were ignorant.
And in the meantime the soil is deteriorating
year by year.
And our remedy is English Law!!
The only fault in our plans for India is that we leave out the people. The
financial without the social question is: India Without the Indians.
I have written far more than I ought.
But your questions are so keenly interesting I venture to say my say.
The Government says that India must bear the cost of the War because
otherwise the Government of India would be "So reckless in making war:" it
is much nearer the truth to say that must bear the cost of the
War, because England has been "so reckless in making" India's War.
With many apologies, pray believe me my dear Sir, ever your faithful
Henry Fawcett, Esq., M.P.
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