The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, July 06, 1906, Page 5, Image 5

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JULY 6, 1905
The Commoner.
nearly all of whom aro tenants, but to the land
lords, tho government being the largest holder.
Not only aro tho people being impoverished
but tho land is being worn out Manure, which
ought to be used to renew the fields, is consumed
as fuel, and no sight is more common in India
than that of women and children gathering ma
nure from the roads with their hands. This,
when mixed with straw and sun-dried, Ib used
In place of wood, and from tho amount of It
carried in baskets, it must bo one of the chief
articles of merchandise. There are now large
tracts of useless land that might be brought under
cultivation if the irrigation system were extended.
Proof of this is to be found in the fact that the
government of India has already approved of
extensions which, when made, will protect seven
million acres and irrigate three million acres.
Tho estimated cost of these extensions is about
forty-five million dollars, and tho plans aro to be
carried out "as funds can be provided." Ten per
cent of the army expenditure, applied to irriga
tion, would complete the system within five years,
but instead of military expenses being reduced,
the army appropriation was increased more than
ten million dollars between 1904 and 1905.
Of the total amount raised from- taxation
each year about forty per cent is raised from land,
and the rate is so heavy that the people can not
save enough when the crops are good to feed
themselves when the crops are bad. More than
ten per cent of the total tax is collected on salt,
which now pays about five-eighths of a cent per
pound. This is not only a heavy rate when com
pared with the original cost of the salt, but it
Is especially burdensome to the poor. The salt
tax has been as high as one cent a pound, and
when at that rate materially reduced the amount
of salt consumed by the people.
The poverty of the people of India is distress
ing in the extreme; millions live on the verge
of starvation all the time, and one would think
that their very appearance would plead success
fully in their behalf.
The economic wrong done to the people of
India explains the political wrong done to them.
For more than twenty years an Indian national
congress has been pleading for a modified form
of representative government not for a severing
of the tie that binds India to Great Britain, but
for an increasing voice in their local affairs. But
-this request can not be granted. Why? Because
a local government composed of natives selected
by the people would protest against so large an
army, reduce the taxes and put Indians at lpwer
salaries into places now held by Europeans. It
is the fear of what an Indian local government
would do that prevents the 'experiment, although
two other reasons, both insufficient, are given.
One of these is that the Indian people are not,
intelligent enough and that they must be pro-'
tected from themselves by denying them a voice
in their own affairs. The other is that the In
dians are so divided into tribes and religious
sects that they can not act harmoniousy to
gether. The first argument will not impress any
unprejudiced traveler who has come into contact
with the educated classes. There are enough
well informed, college trained, men in India, not
to Bpeak of those who, like our own ancestors a
few centuries ago, have practical sense and gQod
judgment without book learning, to guide public
opinion. While the percentage of literacy is de
plorably small, the total number of educated men
is really considerable, and there are at this time
seventeen thousand students above the secondary
schools and studying for the B. A. degree. There
is not a district of any considerable size that has
not some intelligent men in it, and these could
be relied upon to direct the government until a
larger number are qualified to "assist. It is true
that native princes have often seemed indifferent
to the welfare of their subjects princes who
have lived in great luxury while the people have
been neglected, but today some of the native
states vie with those controlled by European offi
cials in education and material advancement.
And Is not the very fact that the people are left
under the government of, native princes in the
native states conclusive proof that in all the
Btates the government could be administered with
out the aid of so large a number of Europeans?
-The second argument is equally unsound.
To say that the Indians would necessarily fight
among themBelves is to ignore the progress of
the world. There was a time when Europe was
the scene of bloody religious wars, and our own
country . is indebted to the persecution of the
pilgrims in England for some of its best pioneers.
There has been a growth in religious
during the last century, and this is as noticeable
in India as elsewhere. Already the intellectual
leaders of all the sects -and elements of the In-
dian population aro mingling in congresses, con
ferences and public meetings. Already a national
spirit is growing which, llko the national spirit
in England and America, disregards roligtous
lines and emphasizes more and moro tho broad
social needs which aro common to all; and with
the increase of genoral education there will bo
still moro of unity and national sentiment. Thoso
who make this argumont also forget that as long
as England maintains sovereignty it will be im
possible for religious differences to lead to war
and that differences in council and In congress
would strengthen rather than weaken her posi
tion. But why is there a lack of Intelligence among
the Indians? Have they not had tho blessings
of British rule for several generations? Why
have they not been fitted for self-government?
Gladstone, whoso greatness of head and heart
shed a lustre upon all Europe, said: "It Is lib
erty alone which fits mon for liberty. This prop
osition, like every other In politics, has it bounds;
but it is far safer than the counter doctrine, 'wait
till they are fit.' "
How long will it take to fit the Indians for
self-government when they aro denied the bene
fits of experience? They aro excluded from tho
higher civil service (ostensibly open to them) by
a cunningly devised system of examinations
which make It Impossible for them to enter. Not
only are the people thus robbed of opportunities
which rightfully belong to them, but the country
Is deprived of the accumulated wisdom that would
come with service, for the alien officials return
to Europe at the end of their service, carrying
back their wisdom and earnings, not to speak
of the pensions which they then begin to draw.
The illiteracy of the Indian people is a dis
grace to the proud nation which has for a cen
tury and a half controlled their destiny. The
editor of the Indian World, a Calcutta magazine,
says in last February's number:
"If India has not yet been fit for free insti
tutions, it is certainly not her fault. If, after
one and a half centuries of British rule, India re
mains where she was in the MiddleAges, what
a sad commentary must it be upon the civilizing;
influences of that rule! When the English came
to India, this, country was the leader of Asiatic
civilization and the undisputed center of light
in the Asiatic world; Japan was then nowhere.
Now, in fifty years, Japan has revolutionized her
history with the aid of modern arts of progress
and India, 'with an hundred and fifty years of
English rule, is still condemned to tutelage."
Who will answer the argument presented by
this Indian editor? And he might have made It
stronger. Japan, the arbiter of her own destiny
and the guardian of her own people, has In half
a century bounded from Illiteracy to a position
where ninety per cent of her people can read and
write and is now thought worthy to enter into an
Anglo-Japanese alliance, while India, condemned
to political servitude and sacrificed for the com
mercial advantage of another nation, still sits in
darkness, less than one per cent of her women
able' to read and write and leBs than ten per
cent of her total population sufficiently advanced
to communicate with each other by letter or to
gather -knowledge from the printed page. In the
speech above referred to, Mr. Gokhale estimates
that four villages out of every five are without
a school house, and this, too, in a country where
the people stagger under an enormous burden
of taxation. The published statement for 1904-5
shows that the general government appropriated
but six and a half million dollars for education
while more than ninety millions were appropriat
ed for "army service," and the revised estimate
for the next year shows an increase of a little
moro than half a million for education while tho
army received an increase of more than twelve
The government has, it is true, built a num
ber qf colleges (with money raised by taxation)
and it is gradually extending the system of pri
mary and secondary schools (also with taxes)
but the progress is exceedingly slow and the
number of schools grossly inadequate. Benevo
lent Englishmen have also aided the cause of edu
cation by establishing private schools and col
leges under church and other control, but the
amount returned to India In this way is insignifi
cant when compared with the amount annually
drawn by England from India.
It Is not scarcity of money that delays the
spread of education in India, but the deliberate
misappropriation of taxes collected and the sys
tem which permits this disregard of the welfare
of the subjects and the subordination of their
industries to the supposed advancement of an
other nation's trade is as indefensible upon po
litical and economic grounds as upon moral
grounds. If moro attention wore given to tho
intellectual progross of tho pooplo and moro re
gard shown for their wishes, it would not require
many soldiers to compel loyalty to England,
nolther would it requiro a largo army to , pre
sorvo peace and order. If agriculture wore pro
tected and encouraged and nativo industries built
up and diversified, England's commerce with In
dia would bo greater, ''for prosperous people would
buy moro than can bo sold to India today when
so many of her sons and daughters aro liko walk
ing shadows.
Lord Curzon, tho most brilliant of India's
viceroys of recent years, inaugurated a policy of
reaction. Ho not only divided Bengal with a
view of lessoning tho political influenco of tho
great province, but ho adopted an oducatlonal
systora which tho Indians hellovo was intoiided
to discourage higher education among the nativo
population. Tho result, however, was exactly tho
opposite of that which was intended. It arousod
tho Indians and made them conscious of tho
possession of powers which thoy had not before
employed. As tho cold autumn wind scatters
winged seods far and wide, so Lord Curzon's ad
ministration spread tho seeds of a national senti
ment, and there Is moro life In India today, and
therefore moro hope, than there has ever been
before. So high has feeling run against tho gov
ernment that there has been an attempted boy
cott of English mado goods, and there is now a
woll organized movement to encourago tho uso
of goods mado in India. ,
Let no one cite India as an argumont in
defenso of colonialism. On tho Ganges and tho
Indus the Briton, in spite of his many noble qual
ities and his largo contributions to tho world's
advancement, has demonstrated, as many have
before, man's inability to exercise with wisdom
and justice, irresponsible power over helpless
people. He has conferred some benefits upon
India, but he has extorted a tremendous price
for them. While he has boasted of bringing
peace to tho living, ho has led millions to tho
peace of the grave; while he has dwelt upon,
order established between warring tribes, he has
impoverished the country by legalized pillage.
Pillage is a strong word, but no refinement of
language can purge the present system of Its
Iniquity. How long will It bo before the quick
ened conscience of England's Christian people
will heed tho petition that swells up from fet
tered India and apply to Britian's greatest colony
the' doctrines of human brotherhood that havo
given to tho Anglo-Saxon race the prestige it now
Rev. Dr. David M. Steele, a prominent Phila
delphia divine, attended the unveiling of a tablet
to Washington In the chapel reared at Valley
Forge, and made an address in which he attacked
tho first president's religious life. He declared
that Washington preferred card playing and rid
ing to the hounds to attending church services,
and further said that Washington's accounts
showed great interest in distilleries; lotteries,
cards, clubs, fox hunting, fishing and raffles, but
not one word about religion. To cap it all, Rev.
Mr. Steele even Intimated that Washington's abil
ity as a soldier was greatly overestimated, saying
that he was never present in person when tho
Continental troops won a victory. The first thing
wo know some man will stand up and tell us that
John Hancock never signed tho Declaration, of
Independence, that Patrick- Henry never said,
"Give mo liberty or give me death," that "Old
Tippecanoe" did not whip Tecumseh, and that
Dan'l Boone was just a common squirrel hunter.
The expert burglars, porchclimbers and
bunko men will not be slow to follow the pre
cedent laid down in Kansas City. They will lay
all the plans, provide all the means, and then
employ cheap agents to do the work.
The Topeka Daily Herald notes that the;
celebration of the fiftieth annlversaryJfof the g. o.
p. brought out tho fact that the grave of John
C. Fremont is in a state of sad neglect. Tho
Herald should not worry. A lot of principles ad
vocated by the founders of the g. o. jtf are in even
a worse state of neglect.
People who wonder at the growth of socialism
in this country might learn something by reading
more carefully the exposure in the insurance,
packing house and railroad cases. The Hydes,
Alexanders, Armours, Cudahys, Rockefellers, Mor
gans, Gates and Baers havo made more social
ists than Karl Marx and all of his class.
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