Source: Sir Syed Ahmed on the Present State of Indian Politics, Consisting of Speeches and Letters Reprinted from the "Pioneer" (Allahabad: The Pioneer Press, 1888), pp. 29-53. Modern facsimile version (Lahore: Sang-e-Meel Publications, 1982). Translator unknown. The text presented here has been slightly edited for classroom use, and its punctuation slightly improved, by FWP. Paragraph numbers, and some paragraph breaks, and annotations in square brackets have been added by FWP. The original spelling have been retained; all the footnotes are original.  NOTE: In virtually every place where the Pioneer's translation says "nation," the Urdu word is actually "qaum," or "community."
*Sir Sayyid's introductory speech on these issues: Lucknow, 1887*
*The Urdu text of this 1888 speech*

AT MEERUT [1888]

At the invitation of the Mahomedans of Meerut, Sir Syed Ahmed went to that town on the 14th of March [1888], and delivered two lectures, one on education and one on politics. He was met at the station by the leading Mahomedan gentlemen of Meerut, who raised a cheer as the train drew up at the platform, and threw flowers over him when he alighted. Carpets and red cloth were at once spread along the ground from the railway-carriage to the road. The first lecture was given at 8 A.M. in the durbar tent of the Meerut fair. Four hundred and fifty chairs had been placed in the tent, and not only were all filled, but a large number of people had to stand. The audience rose as the Syed entered. An address was first read, after which Sir Syed Ahmed delivered his first lecture which lasted an hour and twenty minutes, and was received with rapt attention. It was devoted to the condition of the Mahomedans and to the need of education; and was very effective, the audience being, at times, moved to tears. Next day in the evening he gave his second lecture on politics. As the Nauchandi Fair was at its height, the audience was very crowded, not less than seven or eight hundred being present, including many people belonging to the Delhi, [[30]] Saharanpur, Moradabad, and other districts. The audience was mainly Mahomedan, all the great Rases being present, and great appreciation of the speech was manifested. At the close three cheers were given for the lecturer, and then the people adjourned to another tent where a tea-party was held in honour of Sir Syed, some hundred and fifty people sitting down to the repast. The utmost enthusiasm prevailed, and at the close Maulvi Hashmat Ullah, Statutory Civilian, made a speech, expressing the prevailing sentiment, and thanking the Syed for the great service he had rendered the Mahomedans. The political speech was as follows:--

    {1}  I think it expedient that I should first of all tell you the reason why I am about to address you on the subject of tonight's discourse. You know, gentlemen, that, from a long time, our friends the Bengalis have shown very warm feeling on political matters. Three years ago they founded a very big assembly, which holds its sittings in various places, and they have given it the name "National Congress." We and our nation gave no thought to the matter. And we should be very glad for our friends the Bengalis to be successful, if we were of the opinion that they had by their education and ability made such progress as rendered them fit for the claims they put forward. But although they are superior to us in education, yet we have never admitted that they have reached that level to which they lay claim to have attained. Nevertheless I have never, in any article, or in any speech, or even in conversation [[31]] in any place, put difficulties or desired to put difficulties in the way of any of their undertakings. It has never been my wish to oppose any people or any nation who wish to make progress, and who have raised themselves up to that rank to which they wish to attain and for which they are qualified. But my friends the Bengalis have made a most unfair and unwarrantable interference with my nation, and therefore it is my duty to show clearly what this unwarrantable interference has been, and to protect my nation from the evils that may arise from it. It is quite wrong to suppose that I have girded up my loins for the purpose of fighting my friends the Bengalis; my object is only to make my nation understand what I consider conducive to its prosperity. It is incumbent on me to show what evils would befall my nation from joining in the opinions of the Bengalis: I have no other purpose in view.

    {2}  The unfair interference of these people is this that they have tried to produce a false impression that the Mahomedans of these Provinces agree with their opinions. But we also are inhabitants of this country, and we cannot be ignorant of the real nature of the events that are taking place in our own North-West Provinces and Oudh, however their colour may be painted in newspapers, and whatever aspect they may be made to assume. It is possible that the people of England, who are ignorant of the real facts, may be deceived on seeing their false representations; but we and the [[32]] people of our country, who know all the circumstances, can never be thus imposed on. Our Mahomedan nation has hitherto sat silent. It was quite indifferent as to what the Babus of Bengal, the Hindus of these Provinces, and the English and Eurasian inhabitants of India, might be doing. But they have now been wrongly tampering with our nation. In some districts they have brought pressure to bear on Mahomedans to make them join the Congress. I am sorry to say that they never said anything to those people who are powerful and are actually Rases [nobles] and are counted the leaders of the nation; but they brought unfair pressure to bear on such people as could be subjected to their influence.

    {3}  In some districts they pressed men by the weight of authority, in others they forced them in this way saying that the business they had at heart could not prosper unless they took part; or they led them to suppose that they could not get bread if they held aloof. They even did not hold back from offering the temptation of money. Where is the man that does not know this? Who does not know who were the three or four Mahomedans of the North-West Provinces who took part with them, and why they took part? The simple truth is they were nothing more than hired men. (Cheers.) Such people they took to Madras, and having got them there, said, "These are the sons of Nawabs, and these are Rases of such-and-such districts, and these are such-and-such great Mahomedans," whilst everybody knows how the men were bought. We [[33]] know very well the people of our own nation, and that they have been induced to go either by pressure, or by folly, or by love of notoriety, or by poverty. If any Ras on his own inclination and opinion join them, we do not care a lot. By one man's leaving us our crowd is not diminished. But this telling of lies that their men are landlords and Nawabas of such-and-such places; and their attempt to give a false impression that the Mahomedans have joined them this is a most unwarrantable interference with our nation. When matters took such a turn, then it was necessary that I should warn my nation of their misrepresentations, in order that others should not fall into the trap; and that I should point out to my nation that the few who went to Madras, went by pressure, or from some temptation, or in order to help their profession, or to gain notoriety; or were bought. (Cheers.) No Ras from here took part in it.

    {4}  This was the cause of my giving a speech at Lucknow [in 1887], contrary to my wont, on the evils of the National Congress; and this is the cause also of today's speech. And I want to show this: that except Badruddin Tyabji, who is a gentleman of very high position and for whom I have great respect, no leading Mahomedan took part in it. He did take part, but I think he made a mistake. He has written me two letters, one of which was after the publication of my Lucknow speech. I think that he wants me to point out those things in the Congress which are opposed to the interests of Mahomedans, in order that he may exclude them [[34]] from the discussion. But in reality the whole affair is bad for Mahomedans. However, let us grant that Badruddin Tyabji's opinion is different from ours; yet it cannot be said that his opinion is the opinion of the whole nation, or that his sympathy with the Congress implies the sympathy of the whole community. My friend there, Mirza Ismail Khan, who has just come from Madras, told me that no Mahomedan Ras of Madras took part in the Congress. It is said that Prince Humayun Jah joined it. Let us suppose that Humayun Jah, whom I do not know, took part in it; yet our position as a nation will not suffer simply because two men stand aside. No one can say that because these two Rases took part in it, that therefore the whole nation has joined it. To say that the Mahomedans have joined it is quite wrong, and is a false accusation against our nation. If my Bengali friends had not adopted this wrong course of action, I should have had nothing to do with the National Congress, nor with its members, nor with the wrong aspirations for which they have raised such an uproar. Let the delegates of the National Congress become the stars of heaven, or the sun itself I am delighted. But it was necessary and incumbent on me to show the falsity of the impression which, by taking a few Mahomedans with them by pressure or by temptation, they wished to spread, that the whole Mahomedan nation had joined them. (Cheers.)

    {5}  Gentlemen, what I am about to say is not only useful for my own nation, but also for my Hindu [[35]] brothers of these Provinces, who from some wrong notions have taken part in this Congress. At last they also will be sorry for it although perhaps they will never have occasion to be sorry; for it is beyond the region of possibility that the proposals of the Congress should be carried out fully. These wrong notions which have grown up in our Hindu fellow-countrymen, and on account of which they think it expedient to join the Congress, depend upon two things. The first thing is this: that they think that as both they themselves and the Bengalis are Hindus, they have nothing to fear from the growth of their influence. The second thing is this: that some Hindus I do not speak of all the Hindus but only of some think that by joining the Congress and by increasing the power of the Hindus, they will perhaps be able to suppress those Mahomedan religious rites which are opposed to their own, and, by all uniting, annihilate them. But I frankly advise my Hindu friends that if they wish to cherish their religious rites, they can never be successful in this way. If they are to be successful, it can only be by friendship and agreement. The business cannot be done by force; and the greater the enmity and animosity, the greater will be their loss. I will take Aligarh as an example. There Mahomedans and Hindus are in agreement. The Dasehra/1/ and Moharrum/2/ fell together for three years, and no one knows what took place [that is, things remained quiet]. It is worth notice how, when an agitation was started against cow-killing, the [[36]] sacrifice of cows increased enormously, and religious animosity grew on both sides, as all who live in India well know. They should understand that those things that can be done by friendship and affection, cannot be done by any pressure or force.

    {6}  If these ideas which I have expressed about the Hindus of these provinces be correct, and their condition be similar to that of the Mahomedans, then they ought to continue to cultivate friendship with us. Let those who live in Bengal 'eat up their own heads' [that is, involve themselves in difficulties]. What they want to do, let them do it. What they don't want to do, let them not do it. Neither their disposition nor their general condition resembles that of the people of this country. Then what connection have the people of this country with them? As regards Bengal, there is, as far as I am aware, in Lower Bengal a much larger proportion of Mahomedans than Bengalis. And if you take the population of the whole of Bengal, nearly half are Mahomedans and something over half are Bengalis. Those Mahomedans are quite unaware of what sort of thing the National Congress is. No Mahomedan Ras of Bengal took part in it, and the ordinary Bengalis who live in the districts are also as ignorant of it as the Mahomedans. In Bengal the Mahomedan population is so great that if the aspirations of those Bengalis who are making so loud an agitation be fulfilled, it will be extremely difficult for the Bengalis to remain in peace even in Bengal. These proposals of the Congress are extremely inexpedient for the country, which is inhabited [[37]] by two different nations who drink from the same well, breathe the air of the same city, and depend on each other for its life. To create animosity between them is good neither for peace, nor for the country, nor for the town.

    {7}  After this long preface I wish to explain what method my nation nay, rather the whole people of this country ought to pursue in political matters. I will treat in regular sequence of the political questions of India, in order that you may have full opportunity of giving your attention to them. The first of all is this In whose hands shall the administration and the Empire of India rest? Now, suppose that all English, and the whole English army, were to leave India, taking with them all their cannon and their splendid weapons and everything, then who would be rulers of India? Is it possible that under these circumstances two nations the Mahomedans and the Hindus could sit on the same throne and remain equal in power? Most certainly not. It is necessary that one of them should conquer the other and thrust it down. To hope that both could remain equal is to desire the impossible and the inconceivable. At the same time you must remember that although the number of Mahomedans is less than that of the Hindus, and although they contain far fewer people who have received a high English education, yet they must not be thought insignificant or weak. Probably they would be by themselves enough to maintain their own position. But suppose they were not. [[38]] Then our Mussalman brothers, the Pathans, would come out as a swarm of locusts from their mountain valleys, and make rivers of blood to flow from their frontier in the north to the extreme end of Bengal. This thing who, after the departure of the English, would be conquerors would rest on the will of God. But until one nation had conquered the other and made it obedient, peace could not reign in the land. This conclusion is based on proofs so absolute that no one can deny it.

    {8}  Now, suppose that the English are not in India, and that one of the nations of India has conquered the other, whether the Hindus the Mahomedans, or the Mahomedans the Hindus. At once some other nation of Europe, such as the French, the Germans, the Portuguese, or the Russians, will attack India. Their ships of war, covered with iron and loaded with flashing cannon and weapons, will surround her on all sides. At that time who will protect India? Neither Hindus can save nor Mahomedans; neither the Rajputs nor my brave brothers the Pathans. And what will be the result? The result will be this: that foreigners will rule India, because the state of India is such that if foreign Powers attack her, no one has the power to oppose them. From this reasoning it follows of necessity that an empire not of any Indian race, but of foreigners, will be established in India. Now, will you please decide which of the nations of Europe you would like to rule over India? I ask if you would like Germany; whose subjects weep for heavy taxation and the stringency of their military [[39]] service? Would you like the rule of France? Stop! I fancy you would perhaps like the rule of the Russians, who are very great friends of India and of Mahomedans, and under whom the Hindus will live in great comfort, and who will protect with the tenderest care the wealth and property which they have acquired under English rule? (Laughter.) Everybody knows something or other about these powerful kingdoms of Europe. Everyone will admit that their governments are far worse nay, beyond comparison worse than the British Government. It is, therefore, necessary that for the peace of India and for the progress of everything in India, the English Government should remain for many ycars in fact forever!

    {9}  When it is granted that the maintenance of the British Government, and of no other, is necessary for the progress of our country, then I ask whether there is any example in the world of one nation having conquered and ruled over another nation, and that conquered nation claiming it as a right that they should have representative government. The principle of representative government is that it is government by a nation, and that the nation in question rules over its own people and its own land. Can you tell me of any case in the world's history in which any foreign nation, after conquering another and establishing its empire over it, has given representative government to the conquered people? Such a thing has never taken place. It is necessary for those who have [[40]] conquered us to maintain their Empire on a strong basis. When rulers and ruled are one nation, representative government is possible. For example, in Afghanistan, of which Amir Abdur Rahman Khan is the ruler, where all the people are brother-Afghans, it might be possible. If they want, they can have representative government. But to think that representative government can be established in a country over which a foreign race rules, is utterly vain, nor can a trace of such a state of things be discovered in the history of the world. Therefore to ask that we should be appointed by election to the Legislative Council is opposed to the true principles of government, and no government whatever, whether English or German or French or Russian or Musalman, could accept this principle. The meaning of it is this: "Abandon the rule of the country and put it in our hands." Hence, it is in no way expedient that our nation should join in and echo these monstrous proposals.

    {10}  The next question is about the Budget. They say: "Give us power to vote on the Budget. Whatever expenses we may grant shall be granted, whatever expenses we do not grant shall not be granted." Now, consider to what sort of government this principle is applicable. It is suited to such a country as is, according to the fundamental principles of politics, adapted also for representative government. The rulers and the ruled must be of the same nation. In such a country the people have also the right of deciding matters of peace and war. [[41]] But this principle is not adapted to a country in which one foreign race has conquered another. The English have conquered India, and all of us along with it. And just as we made the country obedient and our slave, so the English have done with us. Is it then consonant with the principles of empire that they should ask us whether they should fight Burma or not? Is it consistent with any principle of empire? In the times of the Mahomedan empire, would it have been consistent with the principles of rule that, when the Emperor was about to make war on a Province of India, he should have asked his subject-peoples whether he should conquer that country or not? Whom should he have asked? Should he have asked those whom he had conquered and had made slaves, and whose brothers he also wanted to make his slaves? Our nation has itself wielded empire, and people of our nation are even now ruling. Is there any principle of empire by which rule over foreign races may be maintained in this manner?

    {11}  The right to give an opinion on the Budget depends also on another principle, which is this: that in a country in which the people accept the responsibility for all the expenses of government, and are ready with their lives and property to discharge it in such a country they have a right to give their opinion on the Budget. They can say; "Undertake this expense," or "Leave that alone." And whatever the expense of the State affairs, it is then their duty to pay it. For example in England, in [[42]] a time of necessity the whole wealth and property of everyone, from the Duke to the cobbler, is at the disposal of the Government. It is the duty of the people to give all their money and all their property to the Government, because they are responsible for giving Government all that it may require. And they say: "Yes, yes; take it! Yes; take it. Spend the money. Beat the enemy. Beat the enemy." These are conditions under which people have a right to decide matters about the Budget.

    {12}  The principle that underlies the Government of India is of a wholly different nature. In India, the Government has itself to bear the responsibility of maintaining its authority; and it must, in the way that seems to it fittest, raise money for its army and for the expense of the empire. Government has a right to take a fixed proportion of the produce of the land as land-revenue, and is like a contractor who bargains on this income to maintain the empire. It has not the power to increase the amount settled as land-revenue. However great its necessity, it cannot say to the zamindars, "increase your contributions." Nor do the zemindars think that even in a time of necessity, Government has any right to increase its fixed tax on land. If at this time there were a war with Russia, would all the zemindars and taluqdars/3/ be willing to give double their assessment to Government? They would not give a pice/4/ more. Then what right have they to interfere and say,  "So much should [[43]] be spent, and so much should not be spent"? The method of the British Government is that of all Kings and Asiatic Empires. When you will not, even in time of war, give a pice more of your land-revenue, what right have you to interfere in the Budget?

    {13}  The real motive for scrutinising the Budget is economy. Economy is a thing of such a nature that everyone has a regard for it in his household arrangements. It is a crude notion that Government has no regard for economy and squanders its money; Government practises economy as far as possible. Our Government is so extremely miserly that it will not uselessly give anyone a single pice. Until great necessity arise and great pressure be brought to bear on it, it will not spend a pice. It has completely forgotten the generosity of the former Emperors. The Kings of later times presented poets and authors with estates and lakhs [hundreds of thousands] of rupees. Our Government does not spend a pice in that way. What greater economy can there be than this? Instead of rewards it gives authors copyright. That also it does after taking two rupees for registering. It writes a letter as a sanad [warrant], and says that for forty years, no other man may print the book. Print it, sell it, and make your profit: this is a reward to you from Government.

    {14}  People look at the income of the Government and say it is much greater than that of former empires, but they don't think of the expenses of Government, and how much they have increased. [[44]] In the old days, a sword of fifteen or twenty rupees, a gun of ten or fifteen rupees, a card-board ammunition bag, and a coil of fuse was enough equipment for a soldier. Now look and see how the expenses of the army have increased in modern times, and what progress has been made in arms, and how they are daily improving, and the old ones becoming useless. If a new kind of gun or cannon be invented in France or Germany, is it possible for Government not to abandon all its old kinds of guns or cannon and adopt the new? When the expenses have grown so much, the wonder is how on earth Government manages to carry on its business on the small tax which it raises. (Cheers.) Perhaps many people will not like what I am going to say, but I will tell them openly a thing which took place. When after the Mutiny, the Hon'ble Mr. Wilson was Financial Minister, he brought forward a law for imposing a tax, and said in his speech that this tax would remain for five years only. An honourable English friend of mine showed me the speech and asked me if I liked it. I read it and said that I had never seen so foolish a Financial Minister as the Hon'ble Mr. Wilson. He was surprised. I said that it was wrong to restrict it to five years. The condition of India was such that it ought to be imposed forever. Consider for a moment that Government has to protect its friends the Afghans, and their protection is necessary. It is necessary for Government to strengthen the frontier. If in England there had been any need for strength[[45]]ening a frontier, then the people would themselves have doubled or trebled their taxes to meet the necessity. In Burma there are expenses to be borne, although we hope that in the future it will be a source of income. If under such circumstances, Government increase the salt-tax by eight annas per maund, is this thing such that we ought to make complaints? If this increase of tax be spread over everybody, it will not amount to half or quarter of a pice. On this to raise an uproar, to oppose Government, to accuse it of oppression what utter nonsense and injustice! And in spite of this they claim the right to decide matters about the Budget!

    {15}  When it has been settled that the English Government is necessary, then it is useful for India that its rule should be established on the firmest possible basis. And it is desirable for Government that for its stability it should maintain an army of such a size as it may think expedient, with a proper equipment of officers; and that it should in every district appoint officials in whom it can place complete confidence, in order that if a conspiracy arise in any place they may apply the remedy. I ask you, is it the duty of Government or not, to appoint European officers in its empire, to stop conspiracies and rebellions? Be just, and examine your hearts, and tell me if it is not a natural law that people should confide more in men of their own nation. If any Englishman tells you anything which is true, yet you remain doubtful. But when a man of your [[46]] own nation, or your family; tells you a thing privately in your house, you believe it at once. What reason can you then give why Government, in the administration of so big an empire, should not appoint, as custodians of secrets and as givers of every kind of information, men of her own nationality; but must leave all these matters to you, and say, "Do what you like"? These things which I have said are such necessary matters of State administration that whatever nation may be holding the empire, they cannot be left out of sight. It is the business of a good and just Government, after having secured the above-mentioned essentials, to give honour to the people of the land over which it rules, and to give them as high appointments as it can. But, in reality; there are certain appointments to which we can claim no right; we cannot claim the post of head executive authority in any zila./5/  There are hundreds of secrets which Government cannot disclose. If Government appoint us to such responsible and confidential posts, it is her favour. We will certainly discharge the duties faithfully and without divulging her secrets. But it is one thing to claim it as a right, and another for Government, believing us to be faithful and worthy of confidence, to give us the posts. Between these two things there is the difference between Heaven and Earth.

    {16}  How can we possibly claim as a right those things on which the very existence and [[47]] strength of the Government depends? We most certainly have not the right to put those people in the Council whom we want, and to keep out those whom we don't want; to pass those laws that we want, and to veto those laws that we dislike. If we have the right to elect members for the Legislative Council, there is no reason why we should not have the right to elect members for the Imperial Council. In the Imperial Council thousands of matters of foreign policy and State secrets are discussed. Can you with justice say that we Indians have a right to claim those things? To make an agitation for such things can only bring misfortune on us and on the country. It is opposed to the true principles of government, and is harmful for the peace of the country. The aspirations of our friends the Bengalis have made such progress that they want to scale a height to which it is beyond their powers to attain. But if I am not in error, I believe that the Bengalis have never at any period held sway over a particle of land. They are altogether ignorant of the method by which a foreign race can maintain its rule over other races. Therefore reflect on the doings of your ancestors, and be not unjust to the British Government to whom God has given the rule of India; and look honestly and see what is necessary for it to do, to maintain its empire and its hold on the country. You can appreciate these matters; but they cannot who have never held a country in their hands nor won a victory.

    {17}  Oh! my brother Musalmans! I again remind you that you have ruled [[48]] nations, and have for centuries held different countries in your grasp. For seven hundred years in India you have had Imperial sway. You know what it is to rule. Be not unjust to that nation which is ruling over you, and think also on this: how upright is her rule. Of such benevolence as the English Government shows to the foreign nations under her, there is no example in the history of the world. See what freedom she has given in her laws, and how careful she is to protect the rights of her subjects. She has not been backward in promoting the progress of the natives of India and in throwing open to them high appointments. At the commencement of her rule, except clerkships and kaziships [judgeships] there was nothing. The kazis of the pargana, who were called commissioners, decided small civil suits and received very small pay. Up to 1832 or 1833 this state of things lasted.

    {18}  If my memory is not wrong, it was in the time of Lord William Bentinck that natives of India began to get honourable posts. The positions of Munsif, Subordinate Judge, and Deputy Collector, on respectable pay, were given to natives, and progress has been steadily going on ever since. In the Calcutta High Court a Kashmiri Pandit was first appointed equal to the English Judges. After him Bengalis have been appointed as High Court Judges. At this time there are perhaps three Bengalis in the Calcutta High Court, and in the same way some Hindus in Bombay and Madras. It was your bad fortune that there was for a long time no Mahomedan High Court Judge, but now [[49]] there is one in the Allahabad High court. (Cheers.) Native High Court Judges can cancel the decision of English Judges and Collectors. They can ask them for explanations. The subordinate native officers also have full authority in their posts. A Deputy Collector, a Sub-Judge, or a Munsif decides cases according to his opinion, and is independent of the opinion of the Judge or Collector. None of these things have been acquired by fighting or opposition. As far as you have made yourselves worthy of the confidence of Government, to that extent you have received high positions. Make yourselves her friends, and prove to her that your friendship with her is like that of the English and the Scotch. After this what you have to claim, claim on condition that you are qualified for it.

    {19}  About this political controversy, in which my Hindu brothers of this Province to whom I have given some advice, and who have, I think, joined from some wrong notions have taken part, I wish to give some advice to my Mahomedan brothers. I do not think the Bengali politics useful for my brother Mussalmans. Our Hindu brothers of these provinces are leaving us and are joining the Bengalis. Then we ought to unite with that nation with whom we can unite. No Mahomedan can say that the English are not "People of the Book." No Mahomedan can deny this: that God has said that no people of other religions can be friends of Mahomedans except the Christians. He who had read the Koran and believes it, he can know that our nation cannot expect [[50]] friendship and affection from any other people./6/ At this time our nation is in a bad state as regards education and wealth, but God has given us the light of religion, and the Koran is present for our guidance, which has ordained them and us to be friends.

    {20}  Now God has made them rulers over us. Therefore we should cultivate friendship with them, and should adopt that method by which their rule may remain permanent and firm in India, and may not pass into the hands of the Bengalis. This is our true friendship with our Christian rulers, and we should not join those people who wish to see us thrown into a ditch. If we join the political movement of the Bengalis our narion will reap loss, for we do not want to become subjects of the Hindus instead of the subjects of the "People of the Book." And as far as we can we should remain faithful to the English Government. By this my meaning is not that I am inclined towards their religion. Perhaps no one has written such severe books as I have against their religion, of which I am an enemy. But whatever their religion, God has called men of that religion our friends. We ought not on account of their religion, but because of the order of God to be friendly and faithful to them. If our Hindu brothers of these Provinces, and the Bengalis of Bengal, and the Brahmans of Bombay, and the Hindu Madrasis [[51]] of Madras, wish to separate themselves from us, let them go, and trouble yourself about it not one whit. We can mix with the English in a social way. We can eat with them, they can eat with us. Whatever hope we have of progress is from them. The Bengalis can in no way assist our progress. And when the Koran itself directs us to be friends with them, then there is no reason why we should not be their friends. But it is necessary for us to act as God has said. Besides this, God has made them rulers over us. Our Prophet has said that if God place over you a black negro slave as ruler, you must obey him. See, there is here in the meeting a European, Mr. Beck. He is not black. He is very white. (Laughter.) Then why should we not be obedient and faithful to those white-faced men whom God has put over us, and why should we disobey the order of God?

    {21}  I do not say that in the British Government all things are good. Nobody can say that there is any Government in the world, or has ever been, in which there is nothing bad, be the Government Mahomedan, Hindu, or Christian. There is now the Sultan of Turkey; who is a Mahomedan Emperor, and of whom we are proud. Even his Mahomedan subjects make complaints of his government. This is the condition of the Khedive of Egypt. Look at the Governments of Europe, and examine the condition of the Government of London itself. Thousands of men complain against Government. There is no Government with which everybody is satisfied.

    {22}  [[52]] If we also have some complaints against the English Government, it is no wonderful thing. People are not even grateful to God for His government. I do not tell you to ask nothing from Government. I will myself fight on your behalf for legitimate objects. But ask for such things as they can give you, or such things to which, having due regard to the administration of the country, you can claim a right. If you ask for such things as Government cannot give you, then it is not the fault of Government, but the folly of the askers. But what you ask, do it not in this fashion that you accuse Government in very action of oppression, abuse the highest officials, use the hardest words you can find for Lord Lytton and Lord Dufferin, call all Englishmen tyrants, and blacken columns on columns of newspapers with these subjects. You can gain nothing this way. God had made them your rulers. This is the will of God. We should be content with the will of God. And in obedience to the will of God, you should remain friendly and faithful to them. Do not do this: bring false accusations against them and give birth to enmity. This is neither wisdom nor in accordance with our holy religion.

    {23}  Therefore the method we ought to adopt is this: that we should hold ourselves aloof from this political uproar, and reflect on our condition that we are behindhand in education and are deficient in wealth. Then we should try to improve the education of our nation. Now our condition is this: that the Hindus, if they wish, can ruin us in an hour. [[53]] The internal trade is entirely in their hands. The external trade is in possession of the English. Let the trade which is with the Hindus remain with them. But try to snatch from their hands the trade in the produce of the county which the English now enjoy and draw profit from. Tell them: "Take no further trouble. We will ourselves take the leather of our country to England and sell it there. Leave off picking up the bones of our country's animals. We will ourselves collect them and take them to America. Do not fill ships with the corn and cotton of our country. We will fill our own ships and will take it ourselves to Europe!" Never imagine that Government will put difficulties in your way in trade. But the acquisition of all these things depends on education. When you shall have fully acquired education, and true education shall have made its home in your hearts, then you will know what rights you can legitimately demand of the British Government. And the result of this will be that you will also obtain honourable positions in the Government, and will acquire wealth in the higher ranks of trade. But to make friendship with the Bengalis in their mischievous political proposals, and join in them, can bring only harm. If my nation follow my advice they will draw benefit from trade and education. Otherwise, remember that Government will keep a very sharp eye on you because you are very quarrelsome, very brave, great soldiers, and great fighters.


/1/ A Hindu religious festival.
/2/ A Mahomedan religious festival.
/3/ Large landholders.
/4/ A farthing.
/5/ The position of Collector.
/6/ Thou shalt surely find the most violent of all men in enmity against the true believers to be the Jews and the idolaters: and thou shalt surely find those among them to be the most inclinable to entertain friendship for the true believers, who say "we are Christians."-- (Koran, Chapt. V).

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