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quarantine, and heterogeneous other matters, have been lately able to undertake the Viceroyalty of Ireland in rebellion while still theoretically, and even sensitively, responsible for his Vice-President's independent educational experiments in England, and that School Boards under him were largely borrowing public money for undertakings far outside his, or any parliamentary, authority.
In such a state of things it is that our Government aid to elementary education is attempting a flight into Continental bureaucracy over the general education of the nation, which, if Mr. Mundella's strongly avowed German preferences lead us vainly to imitate it, must fail against an antagonistic English spirit, however damaging to it the attempt may be.
The attempt has already led the Minister astray from aiding the elementary education of those most needing his help, in vain ambition of higher work, while the independent middle classes instinctively resent his hindrance of their providing far better education for themselves.
But, of all ideas, the most preposterous ever taken of a mode of public aid to national education such as in this country could only be bred of official incubation on national spirit-is that of a Government Agency for buying individual results of special instruction from Managers of general education.
INDIA, HER WHEAT. AND HER
The real foundations of our power in India do not rest on the interested approval of the noisy few. They rest on justice, on the contentment of the millions who may not always be silent and quiescent, and on their feeling that, in spite of the selfish clamour of those who profess to be their guardians and representatives, they may place implicit trust in the equal justice of our Government, and in its watchful care of the interests of the masses of the people.—(SIR J. STRACHEY).
It will hardly be disputed by the most British of English officials that our greatest dependency ought to be so organised as to promote, as far as possible, the prosperity of her people, and not with a view to the advantage of English civil servants or merchants. Few will now dispute the statement that India has benefited by her connection with England, though there are many who doubt whether England has derived great good from that connection, regard being had to the wars and complications resulting from our Eastern possessions. But some ways of assisting India involve direct and important benefits to the mother country, and it is to one of these that I wish to draw attention.
India is said to be a land of puzzles and paradoxes. But perhaps there is no greater puzzle than the conduct of her public works. They are divided into non-productive,' the cost of which is defrayed out of revenue, and productive,' for which money can be borrowed. There is another set called 'protective,' as to which what are known as the “famine taxes' may be applied. The idea of course is that, unless a work may be expected pretty soon to produce a revenue, it should be paid for out of current revennie. Here at home we adopt no such distinction. We do not tax the people to pay for a permanent work; we borrow and repay by instalments spread over a term of years. No one would dream of asking Parliament to impose an income tax to pay for any great work, however important. But in India there is no Parliament. The people are poor, but we tax their salt in order to pay for these non-productive works. In other words, the cost of these works amounts to almost exactly the same sum as that of the revenue raised from salt. But for this mode of payment we might just about dispense with the salt tax. The excuses are that Government is afraid of borrowing, and that the best check on officers is the knowledge that such works must be paid for out of the yearly budget. I shall hope to show that India can well afford to pay for all works worth making by means of borrowed money, and it is surely the duty of Government to select the works necessary to be made, and to refuse any demand for what is not necessary. It is absurd to say that because our officers may be careless, we will tax our people, year by year, in order to put a check on their proceedings. Such an argument is all very well where there is no true representation, but it would not live for a day in the light of a free discussion in a real Parliament.2
i See Life of Lori Lanrence, vol. ii. p. 525. * India is really a poor country. The actual condition of the masses of the people is a bare, I might say, a miserable existence. We, its rulers, are at our wits' end to increase the amount of taxation
Sir J. Strachey, in his recent work on Public Works in India, has denounced all these distinctions between one class of works and another, and he sums up the whole matter thus (p. 423):
It may perhaps appear incredible, but it is true, that under the existing rules, strictly applied, the East Indian Railway would have been proscribed; and the construction of the Ganges Canal would have been impossible.
The distinction would not perhaps be so mischievous were the Government endowed with courage as to works which are admitted to be productive. In that case we should be moving on rapidly with such works. The fact is, however, far otherwise. A similar excess of caution afflicts them even as to works paid for out of borrowed money. The question is not merely whether the works are likely to be of great public utility and are urgently needed, but a hard and fast line has been adopted by reason of the decision of a Committee of the House in 1878, to the effect that no more than 2,500,0001. shall be borrowed on account of these works in any one year.
It is not easy to conceive a more unreasonable resolution. Circumstances
to devise new sources of revenue. Cf. Lord Ripon in Council, Sept. 1, 1882, to Secretary of State (C. 3507, p. 11): "The poverty of the people of India is a fact which is notorious, and, indeed, has been so frequently discussed, that it is unnecessary that we should on the present occasion dwell on it at any length.'
2 The author of Indian Wheat v. American Protection (a paper quoted with approval by Sir E. Baring in his last Financial Statement), who has lived long in India and conducted a large business there, greatly doubts whether there is any true economy in Indian administration, eren as regards works paid for out of revenue. “The powers of all authorities,' he says, 'concerned to spend or to waste the ordinary revenues on non-productive works are complete.' ... 'During my whole residence in India nothing has impressed me more than the needless waste of the public
It is not so much that there are any large items on which the public expenditure is notably extravagant, as it is that there is a general leakage all round. Money is laid out on buildings that for the present might well be done without; 1,000,0001. goes yearly in unproductive milltary works alone; no one is found strong enough to deal with the exhaustive military charges, both in India and at home,' &c.
3 I am quite aware that more than 2,500,0001, is spent in one way or another
are constantly changing, but the rule does not change. No matter what the causes of the demand for such works may be ; no matter how certain it may be that they will show a good return, the rule blocks the way, and important works must be delayed, not by reason of the condition of the money market, or of the credit of India, but by reason of a vague fear of over-borrowing which laid hold of a committee some five years ago. The figures given by Mr. Cross on the 22nd of August last show how little real cause there is for this fear. The uncovered debt of India is only 66,000,0001., and the public works pay a handsome interest, not merely on the amount of their cost, but on the amount of that cost when augmented by the loss incurred through the guarantee of interest on capital, before railways had so far developed as to pay their interest. Nor is this all, for it is notorious that the interest was at first guaranteed at a high rate, and that the railways first made were far too costly, so that the traffic has sufficed to pay interest, not merely on a heavy loss of interest, but also on the amount of a needless and extreme outlay. Railways or canals now made on economical principles may be expected very quickly to produce a profit so considerable as to relieve the Government from loss on any reasonable guarantee, and to remunerate shareholders for their risk.
It is very satisfactory to find, from his recent remarks, that Mr. Cross desires further inquiry as to the Resolution of 1878, with a view, it would seem, to the removal of this obstacle from the path of the Government, and it is hardly conceivable that any committee would now recommend a policy so full of danger to the future of India. Much has happened since 1878, and it will be my first object to show from what has been done how much more may be expected to be done, when once the Government can act freely, and deal with the facts as they stand, unaffected by resolutions which were never sound in principle, and are now peculiarly absurd and reactionary.
The history of the trade in Indian wheat will afford an excellent illustration alike of the productive power of India, and of the influence of facilities for the transit of produce on the condition of the
yearly in the construction of railways. But the surplus is not paid for out of borrowed money. For instance, in the current year, 1883–84, 1,800,0001, is taken from the loan for productive works. This, with a balance of 590,0001. unspent from the previous year, gives about 2,390,0001. for this year from borrowed money. For non-productive' railways paid for out of revenue 510,0001. is allotted, and for 'protective' 1,000,0001. also paid for from revenue. (See Col. Stanton's Report, 1883, p. 37.)
4 Cf. Sir John Strachey, as quoted in Life of Lord Lawrence, vol. ii. p. 545. "The policy of constructing railways and irrigation canals on a vast scale through the direct agency of the State, and of raising for this purpose by loan whatever sums were required, and which could not be supplied from the ordinary revenues, was a policy which was first set in motion by Lord Lawrence. . . . This policy has already given to the people of India increased wealth, increased national prosperity, and increased protection against the calamities of famine, to an extent hardly possible to estimate or exaggerate, and it has already led to a very large reduction in the public burdens, and will, if wise counsels prevail, give us in the future the certain assurance of financial prosperity.' See also Mr. Cross's Budget Speech.
people. Not that this is by any means the only illustration. remarkable passage of his budget speech, Mr. Cross alluded to the case of rice, and to the fact that in districts where carriage is difficult and dear the grain cannot be sold far from home, so that a great crop is of no benefit to the people. But the case of wheat is more striking and interesting to us Western people, as the conditions surrounding its production affect so many of our own agriculturists.
Soon after the annexation of the Punjab, and before even roads were general, a remarkable illustration occurred of the effect of great production without sufficient means of carriage. The country did not at first prosper as was expected, and the biographer of Lord Lawrence states the cause as follows:
There were three rich harvests after annexation. The soldiers of the Khalsa betook themselves to the plough or the spade; and agriculture, encouraged by the lowered land tax, and by the peace and security of the country, spread over tracts which had never before been broken up. There was thus a glut of agricultural produce in the markets, while there was as yet no ready means of disposing of it. The cultivators found difficulty in paying even the reduced land tax. A cry arose for further remissions. . and it was a cry not raised in vain.5
Dr. Hunter also puts the case very strongly (Indian Empire, p. 466):
Within the last twenty years, the cultivators have learnt for the first time the real value of their produce. In the old days. . the slightest failure meant local distress; while a bumper harvest so depreciated the value of grain, that part of the crops was often left unreaped to rot in the fields. In 1780 and 1781 a suspension of revenue had to be granted to the district of Sylhet because the harrest was so bountiful that it would not pay the cost of carriage to market, and consequently farmers had no means of raising money.
A few years ago no one thought much of Indian wheat as an article of commerce. The trade may be said to have commenced in 1873, when the export duty ceased. Great reductions in freight have recently occurred; and railways, however gradually, have approached some of the great wheat-growing districts. The progress of the trade has been truly astonishing. The figures are as follows:
Amount and Value of Indian Wheat Exported.
520,138 1,124,267 3,277,942 8,869,562 6,613,432
5 Life of Lord Lawrence, vol. i. p. 304.
6 In the next page of this work we find the following statement in illustration of the progress of local trade’:- Dongargáon now forms the principal market for grain on the fertile plateau of Chatisgarh, which is perhaps destined to become a regular