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increased; the taxable wealth of the country and the material condition of the people had not improved ; and yet there was increase in taxation, specially in salt and in assessed taxes, which is startling. We note some of the items below :
Twelve years of Crown Government had increased the taxation by more than 50 per cent. “During the last twelve years," wrote the Bombay Association in their petition to the House of Commons, dated March 29, 1871, “the salt tax has been raised 100 per cent. in Madras, 81 per cent. in Bombay, and 50 per cent. in other parts of India; the duty on sugar has been enhanced 100 per cent. ; the Abkari or excise on spirits 100 per cent.; the stamp has been repeatedly revised and enhanced, and is now so complicated, vexatious, and excessive, as frequently to lead to a denial of justice; customs duties have been increased several times; heavy court fees and a succession tax of 2 per cent. have been recently imposed; a local land cess of 64 per cent., village service cess at the same high rate, rural town cess, taxes on trades and callings, house-tax, tolls; and a considerable variety of municipal and local rates and taxes, amounting in the aggregate to an extremely large and oppressive sum, have been levied in different parts of the country. It is now proposed to impose fresh Local Taxes to supply the deficiency caused by the conduct of the Government of India in curtailing the grant of several Provincial
Services. Your Petitioners submit that over-taxation has, for many years of British Rule, been the bane of India, and that strenuous endeavours have not been made by the authorities to reduce the public expenditure, which has been increased from year to year, until the augmentation now amounts to the vast sum of 19 millions over and above the expenditure of 1856–57."1
And Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji, the patriotic Indian representative who appeared as a witness before the Finance Committee, placed before the Committee with equal force and cogency the fact of the extreme poverty of the people of India, their decadence in wealth and resources under British Rule, and the heavy and growing taxation of the country.
“I may put this great financial fact before the Committee,” he said. “The United Kingdom out of its resources (I use Lord Mayo's word) obtains 70 millions, from which about 27 millions being deducted for interest on Pubtic Debt, there remains about 43 millions for the ordinary wants of the Government. This amount is about 54 per cent. of the income of the country of 800 millions. The British (Indian] Government out of its resources obtains 50 millions, from which about 8 millions being deducted for interest on Public Debt, Railways, &c., there remain 42 millions for its ordinary wants; this makes 14 per cent. of the income of the country of 300 millions. So that the Indian Government is two and a half times more expensive than the Government of the United Kingdom.” 2
It is painful to note that these protests from the people of India led to no reduction in expenditure and in taxation. On the contrary, Lord Mayo's Decentralisation .Scheme, which will be specially referred to in the succeeding chapter, led to the imposition of various new taxes by the Provincial Governments. And every proposal made by Sir Charles Trevelyan and other able 1 Report of 1871, page 512. ? Report of 1873; Question 6727.
administrators, to allow the people some voice in limiting taxation and reducing expenditure, was disregarded.
For the cry from England was for fresh lines of railways and fresh expenditure in India, and official India was bent on increased expenditure, rather than reduction. And as if the requirements of India were not more than enough for the resources of that country, other burdens like the cost of the Chinese War and of the Abyssinian War, the cost of telegraph lines and military charges properly payable from English estimates, were again and again thrown on India.1
For there was no body of men in the Constitution of the Indian Government who could effectually resist such unfairness, in the manner in which the Directors of the East India Company had endeavoured to resist it before 1858. The Secretary of State was a Member of the British Cabinet, and could not resist the joint wishes of the Cabinet; the Members of his Council, not representing the people of India, failed to resist British influences and British demands; and the Viceroy of India and his Council, unsupported by Indian representatives, had to carry out the mandates which came from England. How entirely the interests of India were sacrificed, whenever there was sufficient pressure put on the India Council, will appear from the statements of Lord Salisbury himself, who was once more Secretary of State for India in 1874, when he gave his evidence before the Finance Committee.
Henry Fawcett. -Then it comes to this simplywithout saying whether any one is justified or not in doing it—that throughout the existence of an administration, the Secretary of State for. India is aware that India is being unjustly charged; that he protests and protests, again and again; that the thing goes on, and apparently no remedy can be obtained for India unless the Secretary of State is prepared to take up this line
See the evidence of Samuel Laing, formerly Finance Minister of India, Report of 1872; Questions 7518, 7519, 7676, 7677, &c.
and say—“I will not submit to it any longer; I will resign”?
Lord Salisbury. — It is hardly so strong as that, because the Secretary of State, if his Council goes with . him, can always pass a resolution that such and such a . payment is not to be made; but, of course, any Minister shrinks from such a course, because it stops the machine.
Henry Fawcett.—You have these alternatives; you must either stop the machine, or you must resign, or you must go on tacitly submitting to what you consider to be an injustice ?
Lord Salisbury.—Well, I should accept that statement barring the word “ tacitly.” I should go on submitting with loud remonstrances.
These extracts disclose the real weakness in the machinery of the Indian Government. There is no effective resistance to financial injustice towards India ; no possible opposition to increasing taxation and expenditure. The system of taxation without any form of representation has failed in India as in every other civilised country. And future statesmen will be forced, before long, to introduce some form of representation in the financial administration of India, to save the country from calamities which no longer threaten, but have actually overtaken the Indian Empire.
1 Report of 1874 ; Questions 2234 and 2235.
LOCAL CESSES ON LAND
We have in the last chapter dwelt upon the general increase of Public Debt and Taxation in India during the first nineteen years of the Queen's Administration. It is necessary, however, to make a special reference to the Local Taxes which were multiplied in every Province of India within this period. The objects of these Local Taxes were twofold. Ostensibly they were imposed for the greater development and improvement of the country by the construction of roads and the extension of education. But an equally important object was to relieve the Imperial Revenues of those charges, and throw them more and more on the new Local Taxes. The objections to this scheme were also twofold. In the first place, they greatly added to the burdens on an overtaxed population. And secondly, as the new cesses were imposed on the soil, they violated the limits which the East India Company and Sir Charles Wood had fixed for the Land Revenue, both in permanently settled tracts, .. and in provinces where settlements were made for thirty years on the principle of demanding half the rental.
The Local Rates which were imposed by the Company's Government on the soil were small and insignificant, and were generally based on ancient village customs. But within six months after the empire had passed to the Crown, the eyes of administrators were turned to this source of revenue. Lord Stanley, the first Secretary of State for India, called special attention to the expediency of imposing a special rate to repay the expense