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which were supposed to compete with imported goods, were excised in 1894. And home goods, which did not compete with foreign goods, were excised in 1896. Such is the manner in which the interests of an unrepresented nation are sacrificed.
The result of this iniquitous legislation, combined with the recent famines and currency legislation, has been disastrous. The following figures will show how the industry has been checked in the closing years of the century.
New mills are struggling into existence in spite of every check, but the output in yarồs and piece goods shows a lamentable decline.
In the fiscal controversy which is going on in England at the present time (1903), Protectionists, Retaliationists, and Free Traders, all appeal the good of the people of Great Britain as the final test. Protectionists urge that Protection secures the interests of the people. Retaliationists argue that it is necessary to point the revolver at the foreigner to secure justice to the people. Free Traders insist that absolute Free Trade is the only possible policy to save the overgrown population of Great Britain from dear-loaf, penury, and starvation. All parties agree in regarding the good of the people as the final aim and end of fiscal legislation; they only differ as to the method by which it can be best secured. Will Englishmen honestly apply this test to India ? Will they dare to be just to the Indian manufacturer, and legislate in the interests of the Indian industries and the Indian nation ?
RAILWAYS AND IRRIGATION
“RAILWAYS are now almost completed,” wrote an official chronicler in 1873, “ so that with the cessation of heavy outlay on construction, the financial position may be expected to improve."
“Sir Arthur Cotton proposes the summary and indefinite suspension of nearly all railway schemes and works,” wrote the Select Committee headed by Lord George Hamilton in 1878. “He would, however, devote ten millions annually for the next ten or twenty years to irrigation works.” 2
“Among the means,” wrote the Famine Commission of 1880, “that may be adopted for giving India direct protection from famine arising from drought, the first place must unquestionably be assigned to works of irrigation.” 3
These anticipations and recommendations have been disregarded. There was no “ cessation of heavy outlay" on the construction of railways. There was no “suspension” of new railway schemes and works. “The first place” among famine-prevention works was not assigned to irrigation.
The reasons are, that the Indian administration is .very considerably influenced by the trend of public opinion in England, and not by the opinion of the people of India. Englishmen understand railways, and do not understand the importance of irrigation for India.
1 Moral and Material Progress and Condition of India, 1872-73.
English manufacturers look to the opening of distant markets in India by means of railway extension. English merchants demand fresh facilities for trade with India by new lines of communication. British houses of trade influence Indian administration, both through Parliament and by direct correspondence with the India Office. Members of Parliament urge the construction of new railway lines by frequent questions in the House of Commons. None cares for irrigation because none in England understands its supreme importance for India. The pious intention recorded in the official report of 1873, to discontinue heavy outlays on new railway lines, was soon forgotten. Sir Arthur Cotton was ridiculed as an enthusiast and a visionary. The Famine Commission's Report slept in official archives. New railway lines were pushed on vigorously beyond the urgent needs of India, and certainly beyond her resources.
But there was a difficulty in constructing new lines in a country where the people were poor and railways did not pay. The policy of guaranteeing profits to private companies, from the revenues of India, had led to extravagance and to a disregard for the comfort of the passengers which were fully exposed before the Finance Committees of 1871, 1872, 1873, and 1874. It was then resolved that the State should itself undertake future constructions with borrowed capital. This policy was followed for a few years; but the famine of 1877 and the Afghan War of 1878 upset Indian finance, and stopped the further construction of State railways.
Endeavours were then made to induce private companies to undertake fresh lines. The endeavours failed; and the Indian Government again fell back to the vicious guarantee system. Again that policy was abandoned, and State railways were commenced; but the fall of the rupee made it necessary for the Government to curtail their gold liabilities, and State railways were discontinued.
Once more the Government appealed to private companies, and a Resolution was passed in 1893 specifying the conditions on which the Government would grant concessions to such companies. The Resolution failed to attract investors. New terms were set forth in 1896. A few lines were constructed on these new terms, and then they failed to work. Capitalists would not invest without a clear guarantee of profits from the revenues of India. “And at the present time the Government find it most difficult to take up railway schemes without a guarantee in some form or other, and are, speaking generally, obliged to give a guarantee, or to find capital themselves, for all new lines of railway.” 1
Is there not a third alternative ? Now that all the main lines are completed, may not the future extension of Indian railways be left entirely to private enterprise without a guarantee? The people of India do not ask for the construction of more railways from taxes paid by them. The Famine Commission of 1897 do not think more railways are needed for famine-protection purposes, and declare that “greater protection will be afforded by the extension of irrigation works.”? The Famine Commission of 1900 recommend an increase in the rolling stock, but do not urge the further extension of railway lines. And the Special Commissioner recently sent out to India to inquire into Indian railways, admits that “SO far, therefore, as railways per square mile of territory are concerned, India is rather better served than most countries outside Europe," better served than Trans-Caspian Russia or Siberia, than Egypt or Natal, than Transvaal • or Orange River Colony, than New Zealand or Victoria, than New South Wales or Queensland, than Venezuela, Brazil, or the Argentine Republic. Japan alone has more railways compared to her area, because her area is
1 Robertson's Report on the administration and working of Indian railways, 1903, p. 30.
? Famine Commission's Report, 1898, p. 330.
small; but in respect of population, India has a mile of railway for every 12,231 people against & mile for 12,713 people in Japan. Surely these are facts which should make us pause. We cannot enjoy the luxury of European travelling when the annual earning per head of population in India is £2, and that in England is £42. We are content to be among the foremost nations out of Europe, so far as the facilities of travelling are concerned. We can wait till private companies find it remunerative to undertake new lines, without asking for a guarantee from our taxes. We object to the revenues of India being assigned for new lines, or for guarantees on new lines. The further extension of State railways or of guaranteed railways would be a betrayal of the interests of the people of India under pressure from other quarters.
The rapid advance in railway construction in recent years will appear from the following table showing the mileage of Indian railways since the beginning of railway construction in India.
And the mileage for 1901 was 25,373. It will be seen that, within twenty-eight years since the official historian wrote that “railways are now almost completed,” the mileage .of railways has increased from five thousand to twenty-five thousand.
1 Robertson’s Report (1903), p. 35.