Indian Unrest - Valentine Chirol
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Title: Indian Unrest
Author: Valentine Chirol
Release Date: August 5, 2005 [EBook #16444]
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A Reprint, revised and enlarged, from "The Times," with an introduction by Sir Alfred Lyall
_We have now, as it were, before us, in that vast congeries of peoples we call India, a long, slow march in uneven stages through all the centuries from the fifth to the twentieth._
MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON
DEDICATED BY PERMISSION
AS A TRIBUTE OF PRIVATE FRIENDSHIP AND PUBLIC RESPECT
INTRODUCTION. BY SIR ALFRED C. LYALL VII
I. A GENERAL SURVEY 1
II. SWARAJ ON THE PLATFORM AND IN THE PRESS 8
III. A HINDU REVIVAL 24
IV. BRAHMANISM AND DISAFFECTION IN THE DECCAN 37
V. POONA AND KOLHAPUR 64
VI. BENGAL BEFORE THE PARTITION 72
VII. THE STORM IN BENGAL 81
VIII. THE PUNJAB AND THE ARYA SAMAJ 106
IX. THE POSITION OF THE MAHOMEDANS 118
X. SOUTHERN INDIA 136
XI. REVOLUTIONARY ORGANIZATIONS OUTSIDE INDIA 145
XII. THE INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS 154
XIII. CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS 162
XIV. THE DEPRESSED CASTES 176
XV. THE NATIVE STATES 185
XVI. CROSS CURRENTS 198
XVII. THE GROWTH OF WESTERN EDUCATION 207
XVIII. THE INDIAN STUDENT 216
XIX. SOME MEASURES OF EDUCATIONAL REFORM 229
XX. THE QUESTION OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION 238
XXI. PRIMARY EDUCATION 246
XXII. SWADESHI AND ECONOMIC PROGRESS 254
XXIII. THE FINANCIAL AND FISCAL RELATIONS BETWEEN INDIA AND GREAT BRITAIN 271
XXIV. THE POSITION OF INDIANS IN THE EMPIRE 280
XXV. SOCIAL AND OFFICIAL RELATIONS 288
XXVI. THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA 306
XXVII. CONCLUSIONS 319
_The numerals above the line in the body of the book refer to notes at the end of the volume._
BY SIR ALFRED C. LYALL.
The volume into which Mr. Valentine Chirol has collected and republished his valuable series of articles in _The Times_ upon Indian unrest is an important and very instructive contribution to the study of what is probably the most arduous problem in the politics of our far-reaching Empire. His comprehensive survey of the whole situation, the arrangement of evidence and array of facts, are not unlike what might have been found in the Report of a Commission appointed to investigate the causes and the state of affairs to which the troubles that have arisen in India may be ascribed.
At different times in the world's history the nations foremost in civilization have undertaken the enterprise of founding a great European dominion in Asia, and have accomplished it with signal success. The Macedonian Greeks led the way; they were followed by the Romans; and in both instances their military superiority and organizing genius enabled them to subdue and govern for centuries vast populations in Western Asia. European science and literature flourished in the great cities of the East, where the educated classes willingly accepted and supported foreign rulership as their barrier against a relapse into barbarism; nor have we reason for believing that it excited unusual discontent or disaffection among the Asiatic peoples. But the Greek and Roman Empires in Asia have disappeared long ago, leaving very little beyond scattered ruins; and in modern times it is the British dominion in India that has revived and is pursuing the enterprise of ruling and civilizing a great Asiatic population, of developing the political intelligence and transforming the ideas of an antique and, in some respects, a primitive society.
That the task must be one of prodigious difficulty, not always free from danger, has been long known to those who watched the experiment with some accurate foresight of the conditions attending it. Yet the recent symptoms of virulent disease in some parts of the body politic, though confined to certain provinces of India, have taken the British nation by surprise. Mr. Chirol's book has now exhibited the present state and prospect of the adventure; he has examined the causes and the consequences of the prevailing unrest; he has collected ample evidence, and he has consulted all the best authorities, Indian and European, on the subject. His masterly analysis of all this material shows wide acquaintance with the facts, and rare insight into the character and motives, the aims and methods, of those who are engaged in stirring up the spirit of revolt against the British Government. He has pointed to instances where the best intentions of the administrators have led them wrong; his whole narrative illustrates the perils that beset a Government necessarily pledged to moral and material reform, which finds its own principles perverted against its efforts, and its foremost opponents among the class that has been the first to profit by the benefits which that Government has conferred upon them.
The nineteenth century had been pre-eminently an era of the development of rapid and easy communication between distant parts of the world, particularly between Europe and Asia. So long as these two continents remained far apart the condition of Asia was unchanged and stationary; if there was any change it had been latterly retrogressive, for in India at any rate the eighteenth century was a period of abnormal and extensive political confusion. In Europe, on the other hand, national wealth, scientific discoveries, the arts of war and peace, had made extraordinary progress. Population had increased and multiplied; and partly by territorial conquests, partly by pacific penetration, the Western nations overflowed politically into Asia during the nineteenth century. They brought with them larger knowledge, novel ideas and manners, which have opened the Asiatic mind to new influences and aspirations, to the sense of needs and grievances not previously felt or even imagined. The effect, as can now be clearly perceived, has been to produce an abrupt transition from old to new ways, from the antique order of society towards fresh models; and to this may be ascribed the general unsettlement, the uneasy stir, that pervade Asia at the present moment. Its equilibrium has been disturbed by the high speed at which Europe has been pushing eastward; and the principal points of contact and penetration are in India.
Moreover, towards the latter end of the nineteenth century and in the first years of the present century came events which materially altered the attitude of Asiatic nations towards European predominance. The defeat of the Italians by the Abyssinians in 1896 may indeed be noted as the first decisive victory gained by troops that may be reckoned Oriental over a European army in the open field, for at least three centuries. The Japanese war, in which Russia lost battles not only by land, but also at sea, was even a more significant and striking warning that the era of facile victories in Asia had ended; since never before in all history had an Asiatic navy won a great sea-fight against European fleets. That the unquiet spirit, which from these general causes has been spreading over the Eastern Continent, should be particularly manifest in countries under European Governments is not unnatural; it inevitably roused the latent dislike of foreign rule, with which a whole people is never entirely content. Precisely similar symptoms are to be observed in the Asiatic possessions of France, and in Egypt; nor is Algeria yet altogether reconciled to the _régime_ of its conquerors.
That in India the British Government has found the centres of active disaffection located in the Maratha country and in Lower Bengal, is a phenomenon which can be to a large extent accounted for by reference to Anglo-Indian history. The fact that Poona is one focus of sedition has been attributed in this volume to the survival among the Maratha Brahmins of the recollection that "far into the eighteenth century Poona was the capital of a theocratic State in which behind the Throne of the Peshwas both spiritual and secular authority were concentrated in the hands of the Brahmins." The Peshwas, as their title implies, had been hereditary Ministers who governed in the name of the reigning dynasty founded by the famous Maratha leader Sivajee, whose successors they set aside. But before the end of the eighteenth century the secular authority of the Peshwas had become almost nominal, and the real power in the State had passed into the grasp of a confederation of chiefs of predatory armies, whose violence drove the last Peshwa, more than a century ago, to seek refuge in a British camp. The political sovereignty of the Brahmins had disappeared from the time when he placed himself under British protection; and the Maratha chiefs (who were not Brahmins) only acknowledged our supremacy after some fiercely contested battles; with the result that they were confined to and confirmed in the possession of the territories now governed by their descendants. But it is quite true that to the memory of a time when for once, and once only, in Indian history, their caste established a great secular dominion, may be ascribed the tendency to disloyalty among the Maratha Brahmins.
The case of Bengal is very different. Poona and Calcutta are separated geographically almost by the whole breadth of India between two seas; yet the historical antecedents of the Bengalees and Marathas are even further apart. The Marathas were the leaders of revolt against the Moghal Empire; they were formidable opponents to the rise of the British power; their chiefs fought hard before yielding to British authority. On the other hand, Lower Bengal belonged to a province that had fallen away from the Moghal Empire, and which was transferred from its Mahomedan Governor to a British General by the result of a single battle at Plassey. The Bengalees took no part in the contest, and they had very good reason for willing acquiescence in the change of masters.
In a comparison, therefore, of the Marathas with the people of Bengal, we have a remarkable instance of the production of similar effects from causes very distinct and dissimilar. In the former case their present unrest may be traced, in a large degree, to the memories of early rulership and to warlike traditions. In the latter case there can be no such recollections, military or political, for the country has had no experience whatever of a state of war, since Lower Bengal is perhaps the only considerable province of India which has enjoyed profound peace during nearly 150 years. It is no paradox to suggest that this prolonged tranquillity has had some share in stimulating the audacity of Bengalee unrest, for the literary classes seem to have no clear notion that the real game of revolutionary politics is necessarily rough and dangerous--certain, moreover, to fail whenever the British Government shall have resolved that it is being carried too far, and must end.
But it is beyond question that the promoters of disaffection on both sides of India have been making strenuous exertions to enlist in the movement the influence of Brahminism; and upon this point the book rightly lays particular stress.
The position and privileges of the Brahmins are rightly compared to those of the Levites; they are the depositories of orthodox tradition; they preside over and hold (not exclusively) a monopoly for the performance of the sacred rites and offices; and ritual in Hinduism, as in most of the ancient religions, is the essential element; it is closely connected with the rules of caste, which unite and divide innumerable groups within the pale of Hinduism. And in India the peculiar institution of caste, the strict regulation of social intercourse, particularly in regard to inter-marriage and the sharing of food, prevails to an extent quite unknown elsewhere in the world. The divisions of caste have always operated to weaken the body politic in India, and thus to facilitate foreign conquest; but, on the other hand, they have opposed a stiff barrier to the invasion of foreign religions, to the fusion of alien races with the Hindu people, and to any success in what may be called national unification.
One can easily understand the formidable power invested by this system in the Brahmins, and the enormous obstacles that it might raise against the introduction of Western ideas, manners, and education. Nevertheless we all know, and we have seen it with real satisfaction, that the Brahmins, very much to the credit of their intelligence and sagacity, have been forward in accepting the new learning, the expansion of general knowledge, offered to them by English schools and Universities; they have acquired our language, they have studied our sciences; they are prominent in the professions of law and medicine, which the English have created; they enter our civil services, they even serve in the Indian Army. Yet their readiness to adopt secular culture does not seem to have abated their religious authority, or to have sensibly weakened their influence over the people at large. And indeed the fact that the Brahmins, with others of the educated classes, should have been able, for their own purposes, to appeal simultaneously to the darkest superstitions of Hinduism and to extreme ideas of Western democracy--to disregard caste rules personally and to stir up caste prejudices among the masses--will not greatly surprise those who have observed the extraordinary elasticity of practical Hinduism, the fictions and anomalies which can be invented or tolerated at need. But the beliefs and practices of popular Hinduism are obviously irreconcilable with the principles of modern civilization; and the various indications of a desire to reform and purify their ancient religion may be partly due to the perception among educated Hindus that so contradictory a position is ultimately untenable, that the incongruity between sacrifices to the goddess Kali and high University degrees is too manifest.
The course and consequences of the measures taken by the British Government to promote Western education in India has been attentively studied by the author of this volume. It is a story of grave political miscalculation, containing a lesson that has its significance for other nations which have undertaken a similar enterprise. Ignorance is unquestionably the root of many evils; and it was natural that in the last century certain philosophers should have assumed education to be the certain cure for human delusions; and that statesmen like Macaulay should have declared education to be the best and surest remedy for political discontent and for law-breaking. In any case it was the clear and imperative duty of the British Government to attempt the intellectual emancipation of India as the best justification of British rule. We have since discovered, by experience, that, although education is a sovereign remedy for many ills--is indeed indispensable to healthy progress--yet an indiscriminate or superficial administration of this potent medicine may engender other disorders. It acts upon the frame of an antique society as a powerful dissolvent, heating weak brains, stimulating rash ambitions, raising inordinate expectations of which the disappointment is bitterly resented. That these effects are well known even in Europe may be read in a remarkable French novel published not long ago, "Les Déracinés," which, describes the road to ruin taken by poor collegians who had been uprooted from the soil of their humble village. And in Asia the disease is necessarily much more virulent, because the transition has been more sudden, and the contrast between old ideas of life and new aspirations is far sharper. From the report of an able French official upon the Indo-Chinese Colonies we may learn that the existing system of educating the natives has proved to be mischievous, needing radical reform. Of the Levantine youths in the Syrian towns, the product of European schools, a French traveller writes (1909), "C'est une tourbe de déclassés"; while in China some leaders of agitation for democratic changes in the oldest of all Empires are said to be those who have qualified by competitive examination for public employ, and have failed to obtain it. In every country the crowd of expectants far outnumbers the places available. If, indeed, the Government which introduced Western education into Bengal had been native instead of foreign, it would have found itself entangled in difficulties no less grave than those which now confront the British rulers; and there can be little doubt that it would probably have broken down under them.
The phases through which the State's educational policy in India have passed during the last fifty years are explained at length in this volume. The Government was misled in the wrong direction by the reports of two Commissions between 1880 and 1890, whose mistakes were discerned at the time by those who had some tincture of political prudence. The problem is now to reconstruct on a better plan, to try different lines of advance. But some of us have heard of an enterprising pioneer in a difficult country, who confidently urged travellers to take a new route by assuring them that it avoided the hills on the old road. Whether the hills were equally steep on his other road he did not say. And in the present instance it may not be easy to strike out a fresh path which may be clear from the complications that have been suffered to grow up round our system of Indian education; while no one proposes to turn back. The truth is that in India the English have been throughout obliged to lay out their own roads, and to feel their way, without any precedents to guide them. No other Government, European or Asiatic, has yet essayed to administer a great Oriental population, alien in race and religion, by institutions of a representative type, reckoning upon free discussion and an unrestricted Press for reasonable consideration of its measures and fair play, relying upon secular education and absolute religious neutrality to control the unruly affections of sinful men. It is now seen that our Western ideas and inventions, moral and material, are being turned against us by some of those to whom we have imparted an elementary aptitude for using them. And thus we have the strange spectacle, in certain parts of India, of a party capable of resorting to methods that are both reactionary and revolutionary, of men who offer prayers and sacrifices to ferocious divinities and denounce the Government by seditious journalism, preaching primitive superstition in the very modern form of leading articles. The mixture of religion with politics has always produced a highly explosive compound, especially in Asia.
These agitations are in fact the symptoms of what are said by Shakespeare to be the "cankers of a calm world"; they are the natural outcome of artificial culture in an educational hothouse, among classes who have had for generations no real training in rough or hazardous politics. The outline of the present situation in India is that we have been disseminating ideas of abstract political right, and the germs of representative institutions, among a people that had for centuries been governed autocratically, and in a country where local liberties and habits of self-government had been long obliterated or had never existed. At the same time we have been spreading modern education broadcast throughout the land, where, before English rule, learning had not advanced beyond the stage of Europe in the middle ages. These may be taken to be the primary causes of the existing Unrest; and meanwhile the administrative machine has been so efficiently organized, it has run, hitherto, so easily and quietly, as to disguise from inexperienced bystanders the long discipline and training in affairs of State that are required for its management. Nor is it clearly perceived that the real driving power lies in the forces held in reserve by the British nation and in the respect which British guardianship everywhere commands. That Indians should be liberally invited to share the responsibilities of high office is now a recognized principle of public policy. But the process of initiation must be gradual and tentative; and vague notions of dissolving the British connexion only prove incompetence to realize the whole situation, external and internal, of the country. Across the frontiers of India are warlike nations, who are intent upon arming themselves after the latest modern pattern, though for the other benefits of Western science and learning they show, as yet, very little taste or inclination. They would certainly be a serious menace to a weak Government in the Indian plains, while their sympathy with a literary class would be uncommonly slight. Against intruders of this sort the British hold securely the gates of India; and it must be clear that the civilization and future prosperity of the whole country depend entirely upon their determination to maintain public tranquillity by strict enforcement of the laws; combined with their policy of admitting the highest intellects and capacities to the Councils of the State, and of assigning reasonable administrative and legislative independence to the great provinces in accord with the unity of a powerful Empire.
A GENERAL SURVEY.
That there is a lull in the storm of unrest which has lately swept over India is happily beyond doubt. Does this lull indicate a gradual and steady return to more normal and peaceful conditions? Or, as in other cyclonic disturbances in tropical climes, does it merely presage fiercer outbursts yet to come? Has the blended policy of repression and concession adopted by Lord Morley and Lord Minto really cowed the forces of criminal disorder and rallied the representatives of moderate opinion to the cause of sober and Constitutional progress? Or has it come too late either permanently to arrest the former or to restore confidence and courage to the latter?
These are the two questions which the present situation in India most frequently and obviously suggests, but it may be doubted whether they by any means cover the whole field of potential developments. They are based apparently upon the assumption that Indian unrest, even in its most extreme forms, is merely the expression of certain political aspirations towards various degrees of emancipation from British tutelage, ranging from a larger share in the present system of administration to a complete revolution in the existing relations between Great Britain and India, and that, the issues thus raised being essentially political, they can be met by compromise on purely political lines. This assumption ignores, I fear, certain factors of very great importance, social, religious, and economic, which profoundly affect, if they do not altogether overshadow, the political problem. The question to which I propose to address myself is whether Indian unrest represents merely, as we are prone to imagine, the human and not unnatural impatience of subject races fretting under an alien rule which, however well intentioned, must often be irksome and must sometimes appear to be harsh and arbitrary; or whether to-day, in its more extreme forms at any rate, it does not represent an irreconcilable reaction against all that not only British rule but Western civilization stands for.
I will not stop at present to discuss how far the lamentable deficiencies of the system of education which we have ourselves introduced into India have contributed to the Indian unrest. That that system has been productive of much good few will deny, but few also can be so blind as to ignore the fact that it tends on the one hand to create a semi-educated proletariate, unemployed and largely unemployable, and on the other hand, even where failure is less complete, to produce dangerous hybrids, more or less superficially imbued with Western ideas, and at the same time more or less completely divorced from the realities of Indian life. Many other circumstances also which have helped the promoters of disaffection I must reserve for subsequent discussion. Some of them are economic, such as the remarkable rise in prices during the last decade. This has seriously enhanced the cost of living in India and has specially affected the very classes amongst whom disaffection is most widespread. The clerk, the teacher, the petty Government official, whose exiguous salaries have remained the same, find themselves to-day relatively, and in many cases actually, worse off than the artisan or even the labourer, whose wages have in many cases risen in proportion to the increased cost of living. Plague, which in the course of the last 14 years has carried off over 6,000,000 people, and two terrible visitations of famine have caused in different parts of the country untold misery and consequent bitterness. On the other hand, the growth of commerce and industry and the growing interest taken by all classes in commercial and industrial questions have led to a corresponding resentment of the fiscal restraints placed upon India by the Imperial Government for the selfish benefit, as it is contended, of the British manufacturer and trader. Much bad blood has undoubtedly been created by the treatment of British Indians in South Africa and the attitude adopted in British Colonies generally towards Asiatic immigrants. The social relations between the two races in India itself--always a problem of infinite difficulty--have certainly not been improved by the large influx of a lower class of Europeans which the development of railways and telegraphs and other industries requiring technical knowledge have brought in their train. Nor can it be denied that the growing pressure of office work as well as the increased facilities of home leave and frequent transfers from one post to another have inevitably to some extent lessened the contact between the Anglo-Indian official and the native population. Of more remote influences which have indirectly reacted upon the Indian mind it may suffice for the present to mention the South African War, which lowered the prestige of our arms, and the Russo-Japanese War, which was regarded as the first blow dealt to the ascendency of Europe over Asia, though it may be worth noting that in his novel, "The Prince of Destiny," Mr. Surat Kumar Ghosh lays repeated emphasis on the impression produced in India some years earlier by the defeat of the Italian forces in Abyssinia. Each of the above points has its own importance and deserves to be closely studied, for upon the way in which we shall in the future handle some of the delicate questions which they raise will largely depend our failure or our success in coping with Indian unrest--that is, in preventing its invasion of other classes than those to which it has been hitherto confined. But the clue to the real spirit which informs Indian unrest must be sought elsewhere.
Two misconceptions appear to prevail very widely at home with regard to the nature of the unrest. The first is that disaffection of a virulent and articulate character is a new phenomenon in India; the second is that the existing: disaffection represents a genuine, if precocious and misdirected, response on the part of the Western educated classes to the democratic ideals of the modern Western world which our system of education has imported into India. It is easy to account for the prevalence of both these misconceptions. We are a people of notoriously short memory, and, when a series of sensational dastardly crimes, following on a tumultuous agitation in Bengal and a campaign of incredible violence in the native Press, at last aroused and alarmed the British public, the vast majority of Englishmen were under the impression that since the black days of the Mutiny law and order had never been seriously assailed in India, and they therefore rushed to the conclusion that, if the _pax Britannica_ had been so rudely and suddenly shaken, the only possible explanation lay in some novel wave of sentiment or some grievous administrative blunder which had abruptly disturbed the harmonious relations between the rulers and the ruled. People had forgotten that disaffection in varying forms and degrees of intensity has existed at all times amongst certain sections of the population, and under the conditions of our rule can hardly be expected to disappear altogether. Whether British statesmanship has always sufficiently reckoned with its existence is another question. More than 30 years ago, for instance, the Government of India had to pass a Bill dealing with the aggressive violence of the vernacular Press on precisely the same grounds that were alleged in support of this year's Press Bill, and with scarcely less justification, whilst just 13 years ago two British officials fell victims at Poona to a murderous conspiracy, prompted by a campaign of criminal virulence in the Press, closely resembling those which have more recently robbed India of many valuable lives.
To imagine that Indian unrest has been a sudden growth because its outward manifestations have assumed new and startling forms of violence is a dangerous delusion; and no less misleading is the assumption that it is merely the outcome of Western education or the echo of Western democratic aspirations, because it occasionally, and chiefly for purposes of political expediency, adopts the language of Western demagogues. Whatever its modes of expression, its main spring is a deep-rooted antagonism to all the principles upon which Western society, especially in a democratic country like England, has been built up. It is in that antagonism--in the increasing violence of that antagonism--which is a conspicuous feature of the unrest, that the gravest danger lies.
But if in this respect the problems with which we are confronted appear to me more serious and complex than official optimism is sometimes disposed to admit, I have no hesitation is saying that there is no cause for despondency if we will only realize how strong our position in India still is, and use our strength wisely and sympathetically, but, at the same time, with firmness and consistency. It is important to note at the outset that the more dangerous forms of unrest are practically confined to the Hindus, and amongst them to a numerically small proportion of the vast Hindu community. Not a single Mahomedan has been implicated in, though some have fallen victims to, the criminal conspiracies of the last few years. Not a single Mahomedan of any account is to be found in the ranks of disaffected politicians. For reasons, in fact, which I shall set forth later on, it may be confidently asserted that never before have the Mahomedans of India as a whole identified their interests and their aspirations so closely as at the present day with the consolidation and permanence of British rule. It is almost a misnomer to speak of Indian unrest. Hindu unrest would be a far more accurate term, connoting with far greater precision the forces underlying it, though to use it without reservation would be to do a grave injustice to the vast numbers of Hindus who are as yet untainted with disaffection. These include almost all the Hindu ruling chiefs and landed aristocracy, as well as the great mass of the agricultural classes which form in all parts of India the overwhelming majority of the population. Very large areas, moreover, are still entirely free from unrest, which, except for a few sporadic outbreaks in other districts, has been hitherto mainly confined to three distinct areas--the Mahratta Deccan, which comprises a great part of the Bombay Presidency and several districts of the Central Provinces, Bengal, with the new province of Eastern Bengal, and the Punjab. In those regions it is the large cities that have been the real hot-beds of unrest, and, great as is their influence, it must not be forgotten that in India scarcely one-tenth of the population lives in cities, or even in small townships with more than 5,000 inhabitants. Whereas in England one-third of the population is gathered together in crowded cities of 100,000 inhabitants and over, there are but twenty-eight cities of that size in the whole of India, with an aggregate population of less than 7,000,000 out of a total of almost 300,000,000.
That a movement confined to a mere fraction of the population of India has no title to be called a "national" movement would scarcely need to be argued, even if the variegated jumble of races and peoples, castes and creeds that make up the population of India were not in itself an antithesis to all that the word "national" implies. Nevertheless it would be equally foolish to underrate the forces which underlie this movement, for they have one common _nexus_, and a very vital one. They are the dominant forces of Hinduism--forces which go to the very root of a social and religious system than which none in the history of the human race has shown greater vitality and stability. Based upon caste, the most rigid of all social classifications, Hinduism has secured for some 3,000 years or more to the higher castes, and especially to the Brahmans, the highest of all castes, a social supremacy for which there is no parallel elsewhere. At the same time, inflexibly as they have dominated Hinduism, these higher castes have themselves preserved a flexibility of mind and temper which has enabled them to adapt themselves with singular success to the vicissitudes of changing times without any substantial sacrifice of their inherited traditions and aspirations. Thus it is amongst high-caste Hindus that for the last three-quarters of a century English education has chiefly spread, and, indeed, been most eagerly welcomed; it is amongst them that British administration has recruited the great majority of its native servants in every branch of the public service; it is amongst them also that are chiefly recruited the liberal professions, the Press, the schoolmasters--in fact all those agencies through which public opinion and the mind of the rising generation are most easily moulded and directed. That it is amongst them also that the spirit of revolt against British ascendency is chiefly and almost exclusively rife constitutes the most ominous feature of Indian unrest.
SWARAJ ON THE PLATFORM AND IN THE PRESS.
Before proceeding to describe the methods by which Indian unrest has been fomented, and to study as far as possible its psychology, it may be well to set forth succinctly the political purpose to which it is directed, as far as there is any unity of direction. One of the chief difficulties one encounters in attempting to define its aims is the vagueness that generally characterizes the pronouncements of Indian politicians. There is, indeed, one section that makes no disguise either of its aspirations or of the way in which it proposes to secure their fulfilment. Its doctrines are frankly revolutionary, and it openly preaches propaganda by deed--i.e., by armed revolt, if and when it becomes practicable, and, in the meantime, by assassination, dynamite outrages, dacoities, and all the other methods of terrorism dear to anarchists all over the world. But that section is not very numerous, nor would it in itself be very dangerous, if it did not exercise so fatal a fascination upon the immature mind of youth. The real difficulty begins when one comes to that much larger section of "advanced" politicians who are scarcely less bitterly opposed to the maintenance of British rule, but, either from prudential motives or lest they should prematurely alarm and alienate the representatives of what is called "moderate" opinion, shrink from the violent assertion of India's claim to complete political independence and, whilst helping to create the atmosphere that breeds outrages, profess to deprecate them.
The difficulty is further enhanced by the reluctance of many of the "moderates" to break with their "advanced" friends by proclaiming, once and for all, their own conviction that within no measurable time can India in her own interests afford to forgo the guarantees of internal peace and order and external security which the British _Raj_ alone can afford. Hence the desire on both sides to find some common denominator in a nebulous formula which each can interpret as to time and manner according to its own desires and aims. That formula seems to have been discovered in the term _Swaraj_, or self-rule, which, when euphemistically translated into Colonial self-government for India, offers the additional advantage of presenting the political aspirations of Indian "Nationalism" in the form least likely to alarm Englishmen, especially those who do not care or wish to look below the surface and whose sympathies are readily won by any catchword that appeals to sentimental Liberalism. Now if _Swaraj_, or Colonial self-government, represents the _minimum_ that will satisfy Indian Nationalists, it is important to know exactly what in their view it really means. Fortunately on this point we have some _data_ of indisputable authority. They are furnished in the speeches of an "advanced" leader, who does not rank amongst the revolutionary extremists, though his refusal to give evidence in the trial of a seditious newspaper with which he had been connected brought him in 1907 within the scope of the Indian Criminal Code. Mr. Bepin Chandra Pal, a high-caste Hindu and a man of great intellectual force and high character, has not only received a Western education, but has travelled a great deal in Europe and in America, and is almost as much at home in London as in Calcutta. A little more than three years ago he delivered in Madras a series of lectures on the "New Spirit," which have been republished in many editions and may be regarded as the most authoritative programme of "advanced" political thought in India. What adds greatly to the significance of those speeches is that Mr. Pal borrowed their keynote from the Presidential address delivered in the preceding year by the veteran leader of the "moderates," Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji, at the annual Session of the Indian National Congress. The rights of India, Mr. Naoroji had said, "can be comprised in one word--self-government or _Swaraj_, like that of the United Kingdom or the Colonies." It was reserved for Mr. Pal to define precisely how such _Swaraj_ could be peacefully obtained and what it must ultimately lead to. He began by brushing away the notion that any political concessions compatible with the present dependency of India upon Great Britain could help India to _Swaraj_. I will quote his own words, which already foreshadowed the contemptuous reception given by "advanced" politicians to the reforms embodied in last year's Indian Councils Act:--
You may get a High Court judgeship here, membership of the Legislative Council there, possibly an Executive Membership of the Council. Or do you want an expansion of the Legislative Councils? Do you want that a few Indians shall sit as your representatives in the House of Commons? Do you want a large number of Indians in the Civil Service? Let us see whether 50, 100, 200, or 300 civilians will make the Government our own.... The whole Civil Service might be Indian, but the Civil servants have to carry out orders--they cannot direct, they cannot dictate the policy. One swallow does not make the summer. One civilian, 100 or 1,000 civilians in the service of the British Government will not make that Government Indian. There are traditions, there are laws, there are policies to which every civilian, be he black or brown or white, must submit, and as long as these traditions have not been altered, as long as these principles have not been amended, as long as that policy has not been radically changed, the supplanting of European by Indian agency will not make for self-government in this country.
Nor is it from the British Government that Mr. Pal looks for, or would accept, _Swaraj_:--
If the Government were to come and tell me to-day "Take _Swaraj" I would say thank you for the gift, but I will not have that which I cannot acquire by my own hand.... Our programme is that we shall so work in the country, so combine the resources of the people, so organize the forces of the nation, so develop the instincts of freedom in the community, that by this means we shall--_shall_ in the imperative--compel the submission to our will of any power that may set itself against us.
Equally definite is Mr. Pal as to the methods by which _Swaraj_ is to be made "imperative." They consist of _Swadeshi_ in the economic domain, i.e., the encouragement of native industries reinforced by the boycott of imported goods which will kill British commerce and, in the political domain, passive resistance reinforced by the boycott of Government service.
They say:--Can you boycott all the Government offices? Whoever said that we would? Whoever said that there would not be found a single Indian to serve the Government or the European community here? But what we can do is this. We can make the Government impossible without entirely making it impossible for them to find people to serve them. The administration may be made impossible in a variety of ways. It is not actually that every deputy magistrate should say: I won't serve in it. It is not that when one man resigns nobody will be found to take his place. But if you create this spirit in the country the Government service will gradually imbibe this spirit, and a whole office may go on strike. That does not put an end to the administration, but it creates endless complications in the work of administration, and if these complications are created in every part of the country, the administration will have been brought to a deadlock and made none the less impossible, for the primary thing is the prestige of the Government and the boycott strikes at the root of that prestige.... We can reduce every Indian in Government service to the position of a man who has fallen from the dignity of Indian citizenship.... No man shall receive social honours because he is a Hakim or a Munsiff or a Huzur Sheristadar.... No law can compel one to give a chair to a man who comes to his house. He may give it to an ordinary shopkeeper; he may refuse it to the Deputy Magistrate or the Subordinate Judge. He may give his daughter in marriage to a poor beggar, he may refuse her to the son of a Deputy Magistrate, because it is absolutely within his rights, absolutely within legal bounds.
Passive resistance is recognized as legitimate in England. It is legitimate in theory even in India, and if it is made illegal by new legislation, these laws will infringe on the primary rights of personal freedom and will tread on dangerous grounds. Therefore it seems to me that by means of the boycott we shall be able to do the negative work that will have to be done for the attainment of _Swaraj_. Positive work will have to be done. Without positive training no self-government will come to the boycotter. It will (come) through the organization of our village life; of our talukas and districts. Let our programme include the setting up of machinery for popular administration, and running parallel to, but independent of, the existing administration of the Government.... In the Providence of God we shall then be made rulers over many things. This is our programme.
But Mr. Pal himself admits that even if this programme can be fulfilled, this _Swaraj_, this absolute self-rule which he asks for, is fundamentally incompatible with the maintenance of the British connexion.
Is really self-government within the Empire a practicable ideal? What would it mean? It would mean either no real self-government for us or no real overlordship for England. Would we be satisfied with the shadow of self-government? If not, would England be satisfied with the shadow of overlordship? In either case England would not be satisfied with a shadowy overlordship, and we refuse to be satisfied with a shadowy self-government. And therefore no compromise is possible under such conditions between self-government in India and the overlordship of England. If self-government is conceded to us, what would be England's position not only in India, but in the British Empire itself? Self-government means the right of self-taxation; it means the right of financial control; it means the right of the people to impose protective and prohibitive tariffs on foreign imports. The moment we have the right of self-taxation, what shall we do? We shall not try to be engaged in this uphill work of industrial boycott. But we shall do what every nation has done. Under the circumstances in which we live now, we shall impose a heavy prohibitive protective tariff upon every inch of textile fabric from Manchester, upon every blade of knife that comes from Leeds. We shall refuse to grant admittance to a British soul into our territory. We would not allow British capital to be engaged in the development of Indian resources, as it is now engaged. We would not grant any right to British capitalists to dig up the mineral wealth of the land and carry it to their own isles. We shall want foreign capital. But we shall apply for foreign loans in the open market of the whole world, guaranteeing the credit of the Indian Government, the Indian nation, for the repayment of the loan, just as America has done and is doing, just as Russia is doing now, just as Japan has been doing of late. And England's commercial interests would not be furthered in the way these are being furthered now, under the conditions of popular self-government, though it might be within the Empire. But what would it mean within the Empire? It would mean that England would have to enter into some arrangement with us for some preferential tariff. England would have to come to our markets on the conditions that we would impose upon her for the purpose, if she wanted an open door in India, and after a while, when we have developed our resources a little and organized our industrial life, we would want the open door not only to England, but to every part of the British Empire. And do you think it is possible for a small country like England with a handful of population, although she might be enormously wealthy, to compete on fair and equitable terms with a mighty continent like India, with immense natural resources, with her teeming populations, the soberest and most abstemious populations known to any part of the world?
If we have really self-government within the Empire, if we have the rights of freedom of the Empire as Australia has, as Canada has, as England has to-day, if we, 300 millions of people, have that freedom of the Empire, the Empire would cease to be British. It would be the Indian Empire, and the alliance between England and India would be absolutely an unequal alliance. That would be, if we had really self-government within the Empire, exactly the relation as co-partners in a co-British or anti-British Empire of the future; and if the day comes when England will be reduced to the alternative of having us as an absolutely independent people or a co-partner with her in the Empire, she would prefer to have us, like the Japanese, as an ally and no longer a co-partner, because we are bound to be the predominant partner in this Imperial firm. Therefore no sane Englishman, politician or publicist can ever contemplate seriously the possibility of a self-governing India, like the self-governing colonies, forming a vital and organic part of the British Empire. Therefore it is that Lord Morley says that so long as India remains under the control of Great Britain the government of India must continue to be a personal and absolute one. Therefore it seems to me that this ideal, the practically attainable ideal of self-government within the Empire, when we analyse it with care, when we study it in the light of common human psychology, when we study it in the light of our past experience of the racial characteristics of the British people, when we study it in the light of past British history in India and other parts of the world, when we study and analyse this ideal of self-government within the Empire, we find it is a far more impracticable thing to attain than even our ideal _Swaraj_.
I have quoted Mr. Pal's utterances at some length, because they are the fullest and the most frank exposition available of what lies beneath the claim to Colonial self-government as it is understood by "advanced" politicians. No one can deny the merciless logic with which he analyses the inevitable results of _Swaraj_, and Englishmen may well be grateful to him for having disclosed them so fearlessly. British sympathizers who are reluctant to look behind a formula which commends itself to their peculiar predilections, naturally dislike any reference to Mr. Pal's interpretation of Indian "self-government," and would even impugn his character in order the better to question his authority. But they cannot get over the fact that in India, very few "moderate" politicians have had the courage openly to repudiate his programmes, though many of them realize its dangers, whilst the "extremists" want a much shorter cut to the same goal. It is only by pledging itself to _Swaraj_ that the Indian National Congress has been able to maintain a semblance of unity.
Moreover, if any doubt still lingers as to the inner meaning of _Swaraj_ and _Swadeshi_, and other kindred war-cries of Indian Nationalism, the language of the Nationalist Press remains on record to complete our enlightenment. However incompatible with the maintenance of British rule may be the propositions set forth by Mr. Bepin Chandra Pal, they contain no incitement to violence, no virulent diatribes against Englishmen. It is in the Press rather than on the platform that Indian politicians, whether "extreme" or merely "advanced" are apt to let themselves go. They write down to the level of their larger audiences. So little has hitherto been done to enlighten public opinion at home as to the gravity of the evil which the recent Indian Press law has at last, though very tardily, done something to repress that many Englishmen are still apparently disposed to regard that measure as an oppressive, or at least dubious, concession to bureaucratic impatience of criticism none the less healthy for being sometimes excessive. The following quotations, taken from vernacular papers before the new Press law was enacted, will serve to show what Lord Morley meant when he said, "You may put picric acid in the ink and the pen just as much as in any steel bomb," and again, "It is said that these incendiary articles are 'mere froth.' Yes, they are froth, but froth stained with bloodshed." Even when they contain no definite incitement to murder, no direct exhortation to revolt, they will show how systematically, how persistently the wells of Indian public opinion have been poisoned for years past by those who claim to represent the intelligence and enlightenment of modern India. Only too graphically also do they illustrate one of the most unpleasantly characteristic features of the literature of Indian unrest--namely, its insidious appeals to the Hindu Scriptures and the Hindu deities, and its deliberate vilification of everything English. Calumny and abuse, combined with a wealth of sacred imagery, supply the place of any serious process of reasoning such as is displayed in Mr. Pal's programme with all its uncompromising hostility.
In the first place, a few specimens of the hatred which animates the champions of _Swaraj_--of Indian independence, or, at least, of Colonial self-government. The _Hind Swarajya_ is nothing if not plain-spoken:--
Englishmen! Who are Englishmen? They are the present rulers of this country. But how did they become our rulers? By throwing the noose of dependence round our necks, by making us forget our old learning, by leading us along the path of sin, by keeping us ignorant of the use of arms.... Oh! my simple countrymen! By their teaching adultery has entered our homes, and women have begun to be led astray.... Alas! Has India's golden land lost all her heroes? Are all eunuchs, timid and afraid, forgetful of their duty, preferring to die a slow death of torture, silent witnesses of the ruin of their country? Oh! Indians, descended from a race of heroes! Why are you afraid of Englishmen? They are not gods, but men like yourselves, or, rather, monsters who have ravished your Sita-like beauty [Sita, the spouse of Rama, was abducted by the demon Ravana, and recovered with the help of the Monkey God Hanuman and his army of monkeys]. If there be any Rama amongst you, let him go forth to bring back your Sita. Raise the banner of Swadesh, crying Victory to the Mother! Rescue the truth and accomplish the good of India.
The Calcutta _Yugantar_ argues that "sedition has no meaning from the Indian standpoint."
If the whole nation is inspired to throw off its yoke and become independent, then in the eye of God and the eye of Justice whose claim is more reasonable, the Indian's or the Englishman's? The Indian has come to see that independence is the panacea for all his evils. He will therefore even swim in a sea of blood to reach his goal. The British dominion over India is a gross myth. It is because the Indian holds this myth in his bosom that his sufferings are so great to-day. Long ago the Indian Rishis [inspired sages] preached the destruction of falsehood and the triumph of truth. And this foreign rule based on injustice is a gross falsehood. It must be subverted and true _Swadeshi_ rule established. May truth be victorious!
The _Gujarat_ hails the Hindu New Year which is coming "to take away the curse of the foreigners":--
Oh noble land of the Aryas, thou who wert so great art like a caged bird. Are thy powerful sons, Truth and Love, dead? Has thy daughter Lakshmi plunged into the sea? or art thou overwhelmed with grief because rogues and demons have plundered thee? ["Demons" is the term usually affected by Nationalist journalists when they refer to Englishmen.]
The _Shakti_ declares that:--
By whatever names--anarchists, extremists, or seditionists --those may be called who are taking part in the movement for independence, whatever efforts may be made to humiliate and to crush them, however many patriots may be sent to jail, or into exile, yet the spirit pervading the whole atmosphere will never be checked, for the spirit is so strong and spontaneous that it must clearly be dir