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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.
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
1 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.
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
of schools for the rural population.'. His successor, Sir Charles Wood, admitted the objections to the imposition of local cesses on land; but he thought that the obligations to keep up roads was a liability which everywhere attached to the proprietors of land; and in respect of education, he considered a special enactment necessary. Local Rates on land, over and above the Land Revenue, were levied in the Punjab, Northern India, and the Central Provinces; and a special enactment, imposing such rates, was passed for Bombay.
Lord Lawrence, who was Viceroy of India from January 1864 to January 1869, was unwilling to empower Local Governments to impose fresh cesses on the people, and was generally against the principle of the Decentralisation Scheme which was adopted by his successor. Questioned by the Finance Committee on this subject after his retirement from India, he said : “ The system which was subsequently introduced was put before me, and I carefully considered it, and I did not think it advisable to introduce it. I thought that what was wanted really in India was to keep the Local Governments in order; to make them be careful in preparing estimates and not in exceeding their estimates; in fact that what was wanted was a restriction over them in matters of large works.” 3 Nevertheless, Lord Lawrence's Government had in 1867 and 1868 recommendedo that a cess, voluntary or otherwise, should be imposed on land in Bengal for roads and rural education.
It was under Lord Mayo's Government that the question came up for final consideration. The Bengal Government made a strong protest against the imposition of the proposed cess on the Zemindars with whom
Despatch dated April 7, 1859. ? Despatch dated May 25, 1861. & Finance Committee's Report of 1873 ; Question 4525.
* Letters to Bengal Government, dated October 28, 1867, and April 25 and 27, 1868.
5 Letter to the India Government, dated April 30, 1869.
a Permanent Settlement had been made in 1793. The Government pointed out that the increased profits from extended cultivation did not benefit the Zemindars, but benefited a large class of sub-tenants and the cultivators themselves; that estates had changed hands, and new purchasers had paid their present values; that James Wilson, the Finance Minister, and Sir Barnes Peacock, Chief Justice of Bengal, had considered special cesses on the soil in Bengal to be a violation of the Permanent Settlement; that Bengal paid a higher proportion of her revenues to the Imperial Exchequer than any other province; that a special educational cess was therefore neither feasible nor proper; but that with regard to a cess for roads, “the Lieutenant-Governor hopes that a cess for this purpose would be far less unpopular than one for education.”
Neither Lord Mayo's Government, nor the Duke of Argyll, who had succeeded Sir Stafford Northcote as Secretary of State for India, agreed with the Bengal Government's views. The Duke of Argyll held that it was open to the Government to impose both a road cess and an education cess in Bengal, but recommended that “until the systein, machinery, and incidence of local rating in Bengal has been satisfactorily established, so much only should, in the first instance, be raised as is required for roads." And speaking generally of India, the Duke of Argyll betrayed his ignorance of its agricultural conditions and its land revenue history, when he denied that “ in the Land Revenue raised from the agricultural classes, the Government of India took so much from the resources of the people as to leave them unable to bear any additional burdens."
It is strange also to note that the author of the Reign of Lav disregarded in this matter the opinions
1 See Letter from the Governor-General in Council, dated December 31, 1869, and the Secretary of State's Reply to the Governor-General in Council, dated May 12, 1870.