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does not know the requirements of agriculture. He is amenable to pressure for railway extensions, but is not cognisant of the desires and the needs of the people of
During half a century, numerous works have been constructed which the country did not urgently need, and many works have been neglected which were vital to the protection of agriculture. Gathering wisdom from past experience, the Government may now think it expedient and necessary to admit some popular element in a Board of Public Works. It would be the duty of the Board to supervise the construction of all the public works in the future; to represent the needs and requirements of railway passengers on State and Guaranteed lines alike; to adjust the water rate imposed on cultivators so as to safeguard the revenue without being aunjust to the people ; and generally to help the Government of India in a branch of administration which is in special need of the co-operation and help of the people.
ROYAL COMMISSION ON EXPENDITURE
THERE was a growing feeling of uneasiness at the continuous increase of the Indian Debt and the Indian expenditure. There was a complaint that the apportionment of charge between Great Britain and India was neither just nor expedient.
Able and cautious financiers had reduced the Public Debt of Great Britain by over a hundred and fifty millions after the Crimean War, but there was no decrease in the Indian Debt. On the contrary, the cost of the Abyssinian and other wars had been unjustly charged to India, and a needless Afghan war had swelled the Indian Debt. Mr. Gladstone had marked the growing evil with pain and solicitude ; he had appointed a Select Committee on Indian Finance to remedy it; but the Finance Committee discontinued its work after 1874 and achieved no results. Mr. Gladstone had also relieved the Indian Exchequer of five millions sterling, which was paid out of the Imperial Exchequer as a portion of the cost of the Afghan War of 1878. But the balance, about eighteen millions sterling, fell on India. During the long administration of Lord Salisbury, from 1886 to 1892, Indian finance went from bad to worse; Indian expenditure increased under the rule of Lords Dufferin and Lansdowne. When Mr. Gladstone formed his fourth and last administration in 1892, the people of India looked for some redress.
For the first time in the history of the British Parliament, an Indian was elected as a Member. Born in 1825, Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji had from his early youth devoted
himself to social and political reforms in his own country. In 1854 he was Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Elphinstone College, Bombay; in 1855 he visited England, and was appointed Professor of the Gujrati language at University College, London. He gave his evidence before the Finance Committee of 1873, as we have stated before. In the following year he was appointed Prime Minister of Baroda State, when Lord Northbrook seated a young prince on the throne of the deposed Gaekwar. Returning to England after a few years, he once more devoted himself to an untiring advocacy of the cause of his country. And in 1892, at the ripe age of 66, he was elected Member for Central Finsbury, and entered the House of Commons.
With a zeal and capacity for work undimmed by age, with a sincerity of patriotism which called forth the .admiration even of his opponents who disagreed with his opinions and resented his vehemence, Mr. Naoroji continued his labours in the House of Commons for three years. If anything could add to the fame and influence of such a patriot, it was the absolute sincerity of his convictions, the unsullied purity of his motives, the childlike simplicity of his character, the beauty and charm of his private life. Like the great Gladstone, Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji riveted his hold on the hearts of his countrymen as much by his life-long political work as by his high and spotless private character. And men of all classes and persuasions in India were as proud of their Grand Old Man.
For three years Mr. Naoroji pressed for financial justice to India in the House of Commons, and his endeavours · bore fruit. A Royal Commission was appointed in May 1895, "to inquire into the administration and management of the Military and Civil Expenditure incurred under the authority of the Secretary of State for India in Council, or of the Governor of India, and the apportionment of charge between the Governments of the
United Kingdom and of India for purposes in which both are interested." Lord Welby was the President of the Commission, and Leonard Courtney, George Nathaniel Curzon, Sir William Wedderburn, Sir Donald Stewart, Thoinas R. Buchanan, William S. Caine and Dadabhai Naoroji, were among the Commissioners. My. Curzon resigned his seat on the Commission in the following year on being appointed Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
The Commission began their work well, and recorded a mass of valuable evidence given by such witnesses as Sir Charles Bernard, Sir David Barbour, Sir Auckland Colvin, Lord Cromer, Lord Wolseley, Lord Northbrook, Lord Roberts, Lord Lansdowne, Lord Ripon, and a number of other distinguished witnesses. All this evidence was recorded within two years, from November 1895 to July 1897. And the Commission then went to sleep for three years !
When the final report was at last submitted in 1900, there was a feeling of disappointment in England and in India. Sir Henry Fowler himself gave expression to this sense of disappointment in the House of Commons. The Commission had elicited much valuable evidence; but the majority of them hesitated to come to the obvious conclusion. They would not radically disturb the existing financial relations between Great Britain and India. They would not withdraw from the Indian tax-payer charges for which India alone was not justly liable. In the closing year of the century, a year in which India was suffering from the severest famine known in the history of modern times, her starving population failed to obtain that financial justice which they had expected from the British Parliament and from a British Royal Commission.
The majority of the Commissioners submitted a Report which, with reservations, covers 150 folio printed pages. A few of the recommendations made on the apportionment of charge deserve mention.
Civil Charges. The majority of the Commissioners recommended that the United Kingdom should contribute € 50,000 towards the expenses of the India Office, and should pay half the charges incurred at Aden and in Persia.
Employment of Indian Troops out of India. They held that India had a direct and substantial interest in keeping open the Suez Canal, in questions affecting Siam, Persia, and the Arabian coast, and in questions affecting Afghanistan and Central Asia. That India had sole interest in punitive expeditions on her borders. That India might have a modified interest in questions affecting the East Coast of Africa as far as Zanzibar. That subject to these principles questions of apportionment of charge between India and Great Britain might be referred to a tribunal for mediation.
Naval Charges.—They found that India maintained a local marine, was responsible for the defence of her coasts, and contributed £100,000 for general naval defence undertaken by the Admiralty. They held that the contribution was not excessive..
Army Charges.—They held that the Capitation Charge of £7, ios. on every British soldier sent out to India should be continued. But they recommended that half the cost of the transport of troops to and from India should be paid by Great Britain. On the point urged that the Indian Army was maintained largely for the Imperial purposes of Great Britain, they stated: “When the time for revising the present arrangement arrives, the exceptional position of India as to military charges should be borne in mind. If, on the one hand, she imposes a certain strain on the Imperial resources in the supply of services which she properly pays, on the other she renders services to the Imperial Government which should not be disregarded.”
The only relief to India, therefore, which the Commission recommended out of the Imperial Exchequer was :