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popular, and almost all the second votes of his party were given to him, the result being his final election by forty-seven votes, or exactly one more than the quota, his opponent failing with thirtythree.

It will thus be seen that the two Liberal candidates, the Duke and Oliver Cromwell, were elected; the minority, by sticking to their candidates and voting solid, succeeded, as they were entitled to succeed, in returning one member. A second counting was made, according to Mr. Parker Smith's directions. It is not necessary to follow it in detail. The same candidates were elected, and on the whole it seemed a somewhat more expeditious process than the other. In neither case was there the slightest difficulty in counting and apportioning the votes. In fact, I may say that the whole experiment succeeded perfectly. I do not profess to attach much value to it as far as the counting of the votes is concerned. How far this process will present any difficulties when the number of votes is very great can only be decided by a trial on a much larger scale. It is intended shortly to make such a trial with 20,000 votes.

But one point of the first importance I do claim to have established, namely, that the idea of proportional representation and the method of recording transfer votes may be easily understood by children in an elementary school. The instruction given to our voters was conveyed in a few sentences.

If the plan be tried throughout the country, there are a hundred sources from which information of the same kind will be forthcoming. I entirely refuse therefore to believe that proportional representation can with any show of reason be rejected on the ground of its being too complicated for the electorate. The apologists for our existing plan of misrepresentation must fall back upon other arguments not yet made public for the defence of the inequitable system to which they are pledged.




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We will now deal with the most important of the defences put forward by the Indian bureaucracy, to prove that the people are prospering under their rule. They assert that under the British Revenue system only a small proportion of the gross produce of the soil is taken from the Indian cultivator. This proportion was estimated by the official members of the Famine Commission at only from 3 to 7 per cent. of the gross outturn. The UnderSecretary of State for India last year in his place in Parliament estimated it at 12 per cent., and John Indigo, with the official optimists generally, puts it at less than 10 per cent.' Even Dr. W. W. Hunter, one of the least biassed of Anglo-Indian officials, adopts the same figures. He congratulates the people of India on having a Government which objects to sweeping off the whole margin of profit, and jubilantly asks the question, 'What becomes of the surplus which our Government declines to take ?'Obviously, if anything like 90 per cent. of the cultivator's produce is left to him, he can have no cause for complaint. It remains, therefore to consider whether any of these estimates at all approach the truth, and if they do not, to trace the methods by which officials are enabled, with any colour of truth, to publish such statements to the world.

| The Indian Empire, by W. W. Hunter, C.I.E., LL.D., p. 355. VOL. XV.No. 87.

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It is universally admitted that the most important factor in the prosperity or otherwise of the Indian people is the incidence of the Land Revenue. Sir Charles Trevelyan confessed this to the Finance Committee in these words:

It depends upon the accuracy of the information, the accuracy of the calculations, and the individual judgment of the Settlement officer, whether there should be for the next thirty years a happy, wealthy, well-to-do village community, or one which would have a prolonged struggle. How the land revenue is assessed determines whether the great agricultural population of India lives in a state of comfort, or even affluence, or in a state of misery. I have seen both states of things—both extremes. I have seen, by mismanagement of the assessment, by over-assessment, whole districts depopulated, to our disgrace, and the people taking refuge in the adjoining native states.

Lord Lawrence, before the same Committee, thus strongly urged the importance of moderation in the assessment:

When we reflect that probably two-thirds of the whole population depend for their subsistence, in one shape or the other, on the cultivation of the land, it seems to me that, if the proportion of the produce which the Government demand represents could be reduced, it would prove a vast relief to the population. Wherever there is a light assessment, and they have had it for any time, you see before long that the people clothe themselves and their wives and children, under the one state of things, in a very much better manner than under the other.

In approaching this important enquiry, it is necessary at the outset plainly to state that, notwithstanding the tremendous gravity of the subject, no serious attempt has ever been made to estimate the yearly produce of the soil of India on any sound principle. On the contrary, the various Survey and Settlement Departments, to which the assessment of the Land Revenue is entrusted in the different provinces, vie with each other in proceeding on rules least adapted to secure such a result. In fact, they usually assess the land by an elaborate system of mere guesswork as to its produce value. Under former native systems, and even under the older British settlements, the cultivators themselves and the village authorities were questioned as to the productive powers of the land; but in the recent settlements, which have resulted in very large enhancements, this practice has been abandoned. The Settlement officer knows nothing whatever regarding the actual producing power of the soil, but merely applies all round a series of mechanical rules, which are the derision of every cultivator who understands them. Here is a general description of the Bombay rules given by the Famine Commissioners :

The soils are classified on a uniform system, according to their depths and their faults, such as sloping surface, liability to inundation, or having a mixture of sand, clay, or gravel in the soil, the nearness of the field to the village site, the nearness of the village to the market town, and the water privileges.

It will be readily understood that the supposed value of land assessed under such rules bears little relation to the real value of the

crop. Moreover, the same rules, which assess the land according to the depth and quality of the soil, are applied whether the rainfall is certain or uncertain, whether the atmosphere is moist or dry, warm or cold, whether the land be a forest garden, or a reclamation on the stony ridges of a mountain side. They are even applied in the valley of a river, where the productiveness of the land does not depend on the depth of soil at all, but on an alluvial deposit from its yearly overflow; and the assessment, once made, is continued on the wretched cultivator, though the river may have meantime changed its course, and left his land a dry and sandy waste.

The present system, in fact, leaves the whole question of the assessment to the mere discretion of the British Settlement officers, who do not know the real amount of produce of the fields. Its defects have been admitted over and over again, but, as under it large revenues are secured, no remedy is applied. Sir Charles Trevelyan spoke as follows before the Finance Committee:

However elaborate the investigations may be in what is called the Revenue Settlement, it really after all entirely depends upon the opinion of the Settlement officer. No doubt about it. I have made settlements myself, and so I know.

And the following verdict was recorded in 1876 by Mr. Carpenter, a member of the Deccan Riots Commission:

The data for ascertaining the true reut of land do not apparently exist.?

Mr. Lyon, another member of that Commission, wrote as follows:

The survey system can at best afford a rery rough method of obtaining an approximate valuation. An examination of the system shows clearly that it would be nothing less than miraculous, if anything like the true value was ascertained from such evidence.

Sir James Caird, in his official Report on the Condition of India, recognises the same truth as follows:

The officers engaged in many cases admit that they have no special knowledge of the quality or value of land. Nothing more alarms the people than a new surrey of their fields.

Meanwhile the officers, aware of the cravings of the Indian Government, feel that their whole prospects in the service depend upon the amount of their returns from a long-suffering peasantry. Mr. J. M. Maclean, editor of the Bombay Gazette, and a strong supporter of the British system generally, stated, in his evidence before the Finance Committee, as follows :

So great is the demand for money at headquarters, that it creates a very unwholesome zeal in the officials of the Revenue Survey Department to get as much revenue as they possibly can, and to screw up the land assessment as high as possible.

Parliamentary Fapers, 2071 of 1878, p. 78.

Mr. Kazi Shabudin, Deputy Collector and Magistrate, Guzerat, said before the same Committee :

Revenue officers were under the impression that the more they collected the smarter they would appear to be in the eyes of their superiors.

Sir Bartle Frere, Governor of Bombay, on the same occasion testified:

The danger in India always is that the Government officer will strain a little in favour of Government. There is always a tendency to look upon a man who gives you a good balance sheet as an extremely good administrator.

It will not be wondered at that, acting under such rules, and under such bias and pressure from its superiors, the Survey and Settlement Department has become subdued to what it works in, like the dyer's hand, and strains its enormous powers against the miserable ryots. Sir C. J. Wingfield, Chief Commissioner of Oude, thus described how. the officers stretched their powers, so as even to assess fields which had no existence except in their own imagination :

You put a rate on the cultivated land, and then the Settlement officer throws in something for culturable. He says, “I think this is culturable, and there is population enough in the village to bring it under cultivation. I will put sixpence an acre on this land.' That is the sort of way it is done.

It thus comes to pass that the Survey Departments throughout India have now only two objects—first, to screw as much of the ryot's produce out of him as possible, and second, to convince themselves and the public that they are after all taking only a very small share of it. Let us now examine how they go to work to attain these two somewhat incongruous objects.

Although the arbitrary rules of the principal Survey Departments practically exclude the question of the amount of either the gross or net produce from consideration, yet, unreasonably enough, it is asserted on paper that officers acting under these rules ought never to raise the assessments above 50 per cent. of the net produce, or true rent, leaving an equivalent balance to the ryot, after defraying the cost of cultivation. This Rule was formally laid down in 1864 by the Secretary of State for India, as the Magna Charta of the Indian cultivator, which all the Survey and Settlement Departments in India were bound in duty to carry into practice. It is on the strength of the mere existence of this Rule, irrespectively of whether or not it is carried into practice, that. authoritative statements are made in Parliament that our demand on the ryot never exceeds one-half of the true rent of the land. Yet every well-informed person in India admits that the Rule is absolutely a dead letter, and that the people are sunk in poverty simply because they have little or no surplus produce left to them.

Whenever the net produce of any village or district has been tested, the assessment has been proved to amount to a percentage very

different from one-half of it. In the proceedings of the

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