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extent, effectual. . . . The most striking comparison is that between the administration of Public Works under the Queen and their administration under the Company.” 1
Four times had Sir Charles Trevelyan, as Governor of Madras, protested against the increase of expenditure and taxation. In 1859, he had protested against a tax on tobacco; and “from that time,” he said in his evidence, “two conflicting policies prevailed in India; one the policy advocated by me of reduction of expenditure ; the other, which was the favourite of Calcutta and in England, increase of taxation." His second and third protests were also submitted in the same year; but it was his fourth protest, dated March 20, 1860, which cost him his high post. “Taxes," he wrote, “ are a portion of the property of the community taken by the Government to defray necessary public expenditure. The Government therefore has no right to demand additional taxes unless it can be shown that the object cannot be secured by a reduction of unnecessary expenditure. In other words the reduction of expenditure is the primary mode for making good deficiency. . . . If we use the strength which our present advantages give to force obnoxious taxes upon the people, we shall place ourselves in a position towards them which will be totally incompatible with a simultaneous reduction of the native army. We cannot afford to have a discontented people and a discontented army upon our hands at the same time.”? It was the publication of this Minute, urging obvious but unpalatable truths, which led to Sir Charles Trevelyan's recall. But a man like him could not be spared by the Indian administration; and three
years after his recall, he was sent back to India as • Finance Minister.
In urging reduction, Sir Charles did not fail to see the difficulties in its way. Practically all Great Britain as well as official India was interested in increased expenditure; the people of India who were interested in reduction had no voice and no hand in the administration of their own concerns. Trevelyan boldly faced this difficulty, and the most valuable portion of his evidence is that in which he recommended that the people should be consulted before new taxes were imposed.
1 Report of 1873; Question 965. 2 Ibid. ; Questions 1281 and 1282.
“I am of opinion,” he said, “ that as in other countries where the same principle has been carried out, Representation must be commensurate with Taxation. I think there ought to be, first, Provincial Councils, i.e. eight quasi-representative Councils, (I do not say that they should be appointed by popular election at first), at the chief seats of the eight Local Administrations; then there should be Zilla or County Councils, each district being represented by its notables and confidential men. And lastly there should be Town and Village Municipalities, and the principle of direct election should be introduced within such limits as may be safe and expedient.”
“The Natives are by no means deficient in public spirited liberality; the country is covered with ancient works, tanks, caravansaries, and works of various kinds, which have been constructed by individual munificence; and the extraordinary liberality of Parsees and others, who have acquired fortunes during the late time of mercantile activity, is well known. If the Councils were merely consultative, the members would never become. emancipated from the control of the European official Presidents. The Natives should not always be made to go in leading strings. It is the old story of not allowing a boy to go into the water till he can swim ; he never will learn to swim unless he goes into the water and incurs a little risk and paddles about. At first, no doubt, they will be timid and frugal; but a little done willingly is better than a great deal done under compulsion, or done for them. Give them the raising and spending of their own money, and the motive will be supplied, and
life and reality will be imparted into the whole system. All would act under a real personal responsibility under the eye of those who would be familiar with all the details, and would have the strongest possible interest in maintaining a vigilant control over them. And it would be a school of Self-Government for the whole of India -the longest step yet taken towards teaching its 200,000,000 of people to govern themselves, which is the end and object of our connection with that country.” 1
Thirty years have passed since the above evidence was recorded, but even Consultative Provincial Councils have not been created yet to give the people of India some voice in the administration of their finances. Expenditure has not been reduced; taxes have not been lightened; and there is more widespread poverty, with more frequent and severer famines to-day, than thirty years ago.
With regard to the capacity of the people of India, Sir Charles Trevelyan, with his more than forty years' knowledge of India, had no misgivings.
“ The Natives,” he said, “have all the qualities to make them good revenue officers. From Todar Mall, Akbar's Minister, who made the first revenue survey of India, and Purnea, who made Mysore so flourishing ... down to Madhava Rao, and a very remarkable man, although less known to fame, Ramia Ayangar, the Natives are specially qualified for revenue functions. The whole of the appointinents to the Customs might be filled by Natives."
" Then there is the great judicial department; it stands a fortiori, that if they are fit to be Judges of the High Court, they are fit for the subordinate appointments."
“ They have shown practical talent [in engineering); and on the main point of all, that of irrigation, nothing can be better than the ancient irrigation works of
1 Report of 1873 ; Questions 863 and 866.
Southern India ; in fact, they have been a model to ourselves. Sir Arthur Cotton is merely an imitator, on a grand scale and with considerable personal genius, of the ancient Native Indian engineers.” 1
Other great administrators, distinguished by their work in various provinces in India, also felt the necessity of consulting the people in some way or other in the matter of assessments and taxation,
“There seems to me a great necessity,” said Sir Bartle Frere, who had been Governor of Bombay, “ for having some means of ascertaining directly from the cultivators their views regarding assessments, which used to be ascertained by general communication with them, and for which there has been every year less and less facility, as our officers become more completely occupied and less able to put themselves in intimate communication with the taxpayers. I think that it would be very desirable that, before every revision of assessment after the expiration of the thirty years' leases, there should be some means of directly ascertaining what the cultivator and the cultivating class have to say upon the subject.” ?
“ In India,” said Sir Robert Montgomery of Punjab faine, “we set aside the people altogether; we devise and say that such a thing is a good thing to be done, and we carry it out without asking them very much about it.” “I think if each local Governor had a Consultative Native body, which he would select from year to year or from time to time, and before which he would put certain points or questions, whether on taxation or on law, which might affect their welfare generally, he would get a most excellent opinion from them; and with that opinion, and the opinions of the officers of the Local. Government, he would be able to arrive at the right decision.” 3
1 Report of 1873 ; Questions 851 and 1547.
Report of 1871; Question 454.
Robert Elliot, who spoke with an intimate knowledge of the people of Madras and Mysore, regretted that there was no channel of communication between the Government and the people, and suggested the formation of Councils of the People. “I would first of all accustom the people to the idea that the Government had something to communicate to them, and they to the Government, and you might develop that system gradually towards Representative Institutions.”
“If there were a Local Council of the composition that you describe,” Sir Charles Trevelyan was asked, "such taxes as were passed by the Bombay Legislature, viz., a tax on the non-agricultural rural population, or such a tax as the one on feasts or on marriages, would hot be passed by any freely chosen representative body?”
“They certainly would not have been passed,” replied Sir Charles Trevelyan; "and that is a striking example of calling the Natives to our Councils.”
“And very possibly, if the Government should recommend them an unobjectionable tax in itself, they may say, • We will not burden the people of this Province; this sum of money must be provided for by a reduction of expenditure in some other item;' you would not interfere with their decision in the matter ?”
“ You would give them independence, subject to veto on any measure they may pass ?”
“Yes, it would be their own affair ?" 2
A paper was handed in by Mr. Gay to the Finance Committee 8 comparing the taxation of 1856–57, the year before the Mutiny, and 1870–71, the twelfth year of the Crown Administration. The limits of the empire had .not been extended within this period; the resources of the people and their industries and manufactures had not
would be the
by Mr. Gay to
1 Report of 1872 ; Question 3454. ? Report of 1873; Questions 1444 to 1446. 3 Report of 1872, page 518.