Part Two of the *Presidential address of Rahimatulla Sayani to the Indian National Congress, 1896*

7) Congress Programme

I now proceed to point out how far in unison with the declared policy of Great Britain and British statesmen is the programme of the Indian National Congress. From the following few extracts it will be seen that the Congress is doing nothing but nobly endeavouring to practically pursue the very policy which the statesmen whose views I give in these extracts, laid down for the better government of India during the best part of the present century.

    Sir John Shore, in 1787:

Whatever allowance we may make for the increased industry of the subjects of the State, owing to the enhanced demand for the produce of it (supposing the demand to be enhanced), there is reason to conclude that the benefits are more than counterbalanced by evils inseparable from the system of a remote foreign dominion.

    Mr. Charles Grant, in 1927:

Whatever diversity of opinion may have prevailed respecting the past conduct of the English in the East, all parties will concur in one sentiment: that we ought to study the happiness of the vast body of subjects which we have acquired there. Upon this proposition, taken as a truth of the highest sincerity and importance, the following observations . . . are founded . . . . Although in theory it never can have been denied that the welfare of our Asiatic subjects ought to be the object of our solicitude, yet, in practice, this acknowledged truth has been but slowly followed up . . . . Of late undoubtedly much has been done, and excellently done, to improve the condition of our subjects in the East, yet upon attentive examination, it may perhaps be found that much yet remains to be performed.

Amongst measures of improvement, Mr. Grant advocates that no force but reason should be employed, that knowledge should be communicated to the natives of India through the medium of English language; extension of printing for dissemination of English ideas; enlightening Indians by promoting mechanical industry; improvement in agriculture by introduction of machinery.

    The Act of 1813:

That it is the duty of this country to promote [the] interest and happiness of the native inhabitants of the British Dominions in India, and such means ought to be adopted as may tend to the introduction among them of useful knowledge and of religious and moral improvement, and in furtherance of the above objects sufficient facilities ought to be afforded by law to persons desirous of going to and remaining in India for the purpose of accomplishing the benevolent designs; so [long] as the authority of the local Governments respecting the intercourse of the Europeans with the interior of the country be preserved, and the principles of the British Government on which the natives of India have hitherto relied for the free exercise of their religion be unavoidably [=unbreakably] maintained.

    State and Education:

By clause 43 of this Act, it was ordered that the sum of £10,000 should be appropriated to the education of the natives in all the three Presidencies. This was the first statutory declaration enjoining on the East India Company to spend a lakh of rupees on education. The sum, however, was not spent till 1824, which is the first year in which the State spent some
money on education. .

    Lord Moira's Views:

On the 2nd October, 1815, Lord Moira issued a minute declaring his solicitude for the moral and intellectual condition of the natives, and his anxiety to see established and maintained some system of public education.

    Lord Hastings' Views:

In 1817, Lord Hastings announced that the Government in India did not consider it necessary to keep the natives in a state of ignorance in order to retain its own power; consequent on this announcement the Calcutta Text-book Society and the Hindu Col1ege were immediately founded.

    Elphinstone's Views:

Elphinstone, in 1823: It is difficult to imagine an undertaking in which our duty, our interest and our honour are more immediately concerned. It is now well understood that in all countries the happiness of the poor depends in a great measure on their education. It is by means of it alone that they can acquire those habits of prudence and self-reliance from wbich all other good qualities spring, and if. ever there was a country where such habits are required, it is this. We have all often heard of the ills of early marriages and overflowing population, of the savings of a life squandered on some one occasion of festivity, of the helplessness of the ryots which renders them a prey to money-lenders, of their indifference to good clothes or houses which has been used on some occasions as an argument against lowering the public demands on them, and finally, of the vanity of the laws to protect them when no individual can be found who had spirit enough to take advantage of those enacted in their favour; there is but one remedy for an this, which is education. If there be a wish to contribute to the abolition of the horrors of self­immolation and of infanticide, and ultimately to the destruction of superstition in India, it is scarcely necessary now to prove that the only means of success lies in the diffusion of knowledge.

    Sir John Malcolm's Views:

Sir John Malcolm, in 1828: One of the chief objects I expect from diffusing education among the natives of India, is our increased power of associating them in every part of the administration. This I deem essential on grounds of economy, of improvement, and of security. I further look to the employment of the natives in such duties of trust and responsibility as the only mode in which we can promote their improvement; and I must deem the instruction we are giving them dangerous, instead of useful, unless the road is opened wide to those who receive it to every prospect of honest ambition and honourable distinction.

    Views of the Court of Directors:

The Court of Directors, in 1830: In the meantime we wish to be fully assured not only of our anxiety that the Judicial offices to which natives are at present eligible should be properly filled, but of our earnest wish and hope to see them qualified for situations of higher importance and trust. There is no point of view in which we look with greatest interest at the exertions you are now making for the instruction of the natives, than as being calculated to raise up a class of persons qualified, by their intelligence and morality, for high employments in the Civil administration of India.

As the means of bringing about this desirable object. we rely chiefly on their becoming, through a familiarity with European literature and science, imbued with the ideas and feelings of civilized Europe, on the general cultivation of their understandings, and specifically on their instruction in the principles of morals and general jurisprudence. We wish you to consider this as our deliberate view of the scope and end to which all our endeavours with respect to the education of the natives should refer. And the active spirit of benevolence, guided by judgment, which has hitherto characterized your exertions, assures us of your ready and zealous co-operation towards an end which we have so deeply at heart.

The improvements in education, however. which most effectually contribute to elevate the moral and intellectual condition of a people, are those which concern the education of the higher classes, of the persons possessing leisure and important influence over the minds of their countrymen. By raising the standard of instruction among the classes you would eventually produce a much greater and more beneficial change in the ideas and feelings of the community than you can hope to produce by acting directly on the more numerous class.

You are, moreover. acquainted with our anxious desire to have at our disposal a body of natives qualified by their habits and acquirements to take a large share and occupy higher situations in the Civil administration of their country than has hitherto been the practice under our Indian Governments.

    Lord Macaulay on Indian Education:

Lord Macaulay, in 1831: It would be far better for us that the people of India were well­governed and independent of us than ill-governed and subject to us; that they were ruled by their own kings and wearing our broadcloth, and working with our cutlery, than that they were performing their salaams to English Collectors and English Magistrates. but were too ignorant to value, or too poor to buy, English manufactures. To trade with civilised men is infinitely more profitable than to govern savages. That would indeed be a doting [=foolish] wisdom which would keep a hundred millions of men from being our customers in order that they might continue to be slaves.

    Mr. Charles Grant in the House of Commons:

Mr. Charles Grant, in 1833: Resolution moved by him in the House of Commons: That it is expedient that the Government of the British possessions in India be entrusted to the said company under such conditions and regulations as Parliament shall enact, for the purpose of extending the commerce of this country and of securing the good government and promoting the religious and moral improvement of the people of India.

    The Act of 1833:

The Act of 1833: That no native of the said territories (India) nor any natural­born subject of His Majesty resident therein shall, by reason only of his religion, place of birth, descent, color, or any of them, be disabled from holding any place, office, or any employment under the said Government.

That the policy of British Rule in India should be a policy of justice and advancement of the people. India was to be regarded as a Test placed by God in the hands of Englishmen, and they would follow the "plain path of duty."

    Free Press:

Free Press, 1835: Free Press was conceded.

8) Vicws of Eminent Englishmen on Indian Questions

    Mr. Gladstone:

It will not do for us to treat with contempt or even with indifference the rising aspiration of this great people.

    Lord Roberts:

Our greatest strength must ever rest on the firm base of a united and a contented India.

    Lord Northbook, in 1874:

There is one simple test which we may apply to all Indian questions: let us never forget that it is our duty to govern India. not for our own profit and advantage, but for the benefit of the natives of India.

    Lord Lytton, in 1877:

But you the natives of India, wbatever your race and whatever your creed, have a recognised claim to share largely with your English fellow-subjects, according to your capacity for the task, in the administration of the country you inhabit. This claim is founded on the highest justice. It bas been repeatedly affirmed by British and Indian statesmen and by the legislation of the Imperial Parliament. It is recognised by the Government of India as binding on its honour and consistent with the aims of its policy.

    Lord Ripon. in 1892:

The document (Her Majesty's Proclamation) is not a treaty, it is not a diplomatic instrument, it is a declaration of principles of Government, which, if it is obligatory at all, is obligatory in respect to all to whom it is addressed. The doctrine, therefore, to which Sir Fitz-James Stephen has given the sanction of his authority, I feel bound to repudiate to the utmost of my power. It seems to me to be inconsistent with the character of my sovereign and with the honour of my country, and if it were free to be received and acted upon by the Government of England, it would do more harm than anything else could possibly do to strike at the very root of our power and to destroy our just influence, because that power and that influence rest upon the conviction of our good faith more than upon any other foundation; aye, more than upon the valour of our soldiers and the reputation of our armies.

My study of History has led me to the conclusion that it is not by force of her armies or by the might of her soldiery that a great empire is permanently maintained, but it is by the righteousness of her laws, by her respect for the principles of her justice.

    Lord Dufferin, in 1887:

Glad and happy should I be if. during my sojourn among them (the people of India), circumstances permitted me to extend and to place upon a wider and more logical footing the political status which was so wisely given a generation ago by that great statesman Lord Halifax, to such Indian gentlemen as by their influence, by their acquirements and the confidence they inspired in their fellow-countrymen, were marked out as useful adjuncts to our Legislative Councils.

British Policy in India

The principles of policy, which may be deduced from the above extracts, are:

(a) That it is the duty of England to study the interest, the happiness and the welfare of the people of India.

(b) That it was not necessary to keep the people of India in a stage of ignorance in order to retain the power of England over India.

(c) That the people of India should be educated. That this education should be given to them through the medium of the English language and that English ideas should be disseminated amongst them.

(d) That the people of India should be associated in the administration of the country and that every prospect of honest ambition and honourable distinction should be open to them.

(e) That all disabilities in regard to public employment should be removed.

(f) That the policy of British Rule in India should be a policy of justice, good faith, and righteousness, and of advancement of the people.

10) The Royal Proclamation of 1858

I now pass on to the gracious Proclamation of the Queen in 1858 -- a Proclamation which is rigbtly held to be the Magna Charta of the Indian people. It will be observed that it is to secure the fulfilment of the solemn pledges of the Proclamation that the Congress is strenuously endeavouring. It is because some of the pledges remain unfulfilled and others are violated, that the Congress is obliged to appeal to our rulers. Let me now repeat some of the extracts:

"We hold ourselves bound to the natives of our Indian territories by the same obligations of duty which bind us to all our other subjects; and those obligations, by all the blessings of Almighty God, we shall faithfully and conscientiously fulfil.

And it is our further wish that, so far as may be, our subjects, of whatever race or creed, be truly aud impartially admitted to offices in our service, the duties of which they may be qualified by their education, ability, and integrity to discharge."

This document is, as stated by Lord Ripon, a declaration of principles of Government. It is the Magna Charta of British India. It was not the result of agitation or even of petition. It was granted by the free will and pleasure of the Sovereign, and truly displays the generosity of the Royal nature. It was given after the suppression of the Mutiny, and is a remarkable proof of the clemency of the British Crown. It is characteristic of the Noble Lady, the Mother of her Subjects, whose reign has been an epoch in the history of the world. Deep reliance on merciful Providence and true sincerity pervade the document. It is stated that this century, which is rapidly approaching its end, has been the humanitarian century par excellence, and has seen the end of many injustices and of many follies, that deserved to be wiped off the face of creation. But of all the mementoes of this humanitarian century, so far as India is concerned, the Proclamation will stand the highest, and will be cherished the deepest and the longest by a grateful people.

British Sympathy with Indian Aspirations

It will be observed from the above extracts, both from the opinions of the English statesmen and from the Proclamation, that the people of England, possessing as they do a genuine admiration for their own constitution, and jealous as they are for their own liberty, are not the people to view with disfavour the political aspirations of the people of India -- aspirations, forsooth, which the people of England themselves have deliberately inspired in the hearts of the people of India by purposely educating them in the English language, by disseminating amongst them English ideals of political life, and by encouraging them to raise themselves by education, intelligence, and integrity, so as to become qualified to occupy positions of importance and trust in the service of the Government, as also to take part in the administration of the country.

Under the circumstances those persons -- and I regret to say some such do exist amongst my community -- who imagine that the people of England are at heart against the people of India, are certainly doing a great injustice to the people of England. It may be that such wrong-headed persons may have been led into committing the mistake by the insular rigidity of England and the stiff, stand-off attitude of some Englishmen, and their rough refusal at times to budge or bend an inch. But surely such persons should not be carried away by outward appearances or by false inferences derived from such outward appearances. If such people will go a little deeper into things, their minds will soon be disabused of these pure delusions. In fact, a more honest or sturdy nation does not exist under the sun than this English nation; and there ought to be no doubt whatever as to the ultimate concession of our demands, founded as such demands are on reason and justice on the one hand, as on the declared policy and the plighted word of the people of England on the other -- provided always that the people of India are true to themselves.

I repeat that there can be no doubt whatever as to these reasonable demands being ultimately conceded. Sir William Wilson Hunter, in his article dealing with "the effects of a strongly constructed and vigorously enforced system of Western instruction upon an Asiatic population," says:

"India is now going through a quicker and more striking metamorphosis. We sometimes hear its marvellous awakening compared to the renaissance of Europe four hundred years ago. But in India the change is not only taking place on a greater scale, but it also goes deeper. It derives its motive power, moreover, not from the individual impulse of isolated men of genius or of cultural popes and princes, but from the mighty centralising force of a Government which, as an engine of human unification, has had nothing to compare with it since the days of Imperial Rome. English Rule in India is however calmly carrying out processes of consolidation that never entered the brain of Roman Statesman or Emperor. While maintaining a policy of cold non-interference towards the rival religions, the domestic institutions, and the local usages of the Indian peoples, it is silently undermining those ancient separatist influences which made for the isolation of races. It has created a new nexus for the active intellectual elements in the population -- a nexus which is beginning to be recognised as a bond between man and man and between province and province, apart from the ties of religion, of geographical propinquity, or of caste, a nexus interwoven of three strong cords: a common language, common political aims, and a sense of the power of action in common, the products of a common system of education.

"I may therefore briefly say that these political movements are the legitimate and inevitable results of Western education in India. The men who conduct them are the men to whom in all other respects, intellectual and moral, we are accustomed to point as the highest products of British Rule in India. They are the men who form the natural interpreters of our Rule to the masses of the people. To speak of such men, when their activity takes a political direction, as disaffected, would be
equally unjust and untrue; for they are the men who, of all our Indian fellow-subjects, realise most clearly that their interests, present and future, are identified with the permanence of British Rule.

"But brief as this survey has unavoidably been, it suffices to show that the present political movements among the Indian races are only one aspect of a general advance -- moral, intellectual, and industrial -- that is now going on. The most significant fact connected with the late Indian National Congress at Bombay was not its marvellous assemblage of 1,889 representatives from every Province of India. It was rather that this great gathering for political purposes was held side by side with a still greater meeting in the same city for ameliorating the condition of women in India: the Social Reform Conference, attended by 6,000 persons, chiefly Hindus. A political movement which is purely political may be wise or unwise; but a political movement which forms part of the general advance of a people to a higher state of society and to a nobler ideal of domestic and individual life is irresistible. It may be guided, it may be moderated, but it must assuredly be reckoned with."

[on to *12) Syed Ahmad Khan on Indian Agitation*]

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