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

17) Fundamental Principles of Islam

All who believe in one God and acknowledge the Holy Prophet are true believers. The fundamental principles of Islam are few and simple. Islam knows no castes and ought not to have divisions and sub-divisions. Yet we find Islam divided into sects, into innumerable divisions. This is certainly against the spirit of Islam. All true believers are equal. By Mussalman Law they can all eat with each other -- nay more, they can eat with the followers of the Great Prophets on whom Revelation has descended. All Musalmans can intermarry -- nay more, Musalman males can marry females from the followers of the Great Prophets. Yet the different sects of Indian Musalmans will not intermarry, even amongst themselves. It is the duty of all true believers to educate themselves, their wives, and their sons and their daughters, so as to enable them to know God aright. Yet ignorance is the prevailing rule amongst Indian Musalmans.

Musalman females are free. Marriage is a contract in which the husband and the wife are parties. Females have independent property. Yet amongst Indian Musalman there are frequent cases of maltreatment of wives. The Musjids are places of worship, as also places for giving education, and places of meeting for discussion of social and political matters. Yet discussion and consideration and expression of opinions is an exceptional thing amongst Indian Musalmans.

Freedom of speech and liberty of action, consistent with a few fundamental and world-recognised principles, are the birth­right of Musalmans. Yet Indian Musalmans are content to sit idle. To point out to the rulers their own grievances and to ask redress for them is the privilege of Musalmans. Yet Indian Musalmans prefer to remain silent.

To be active and to be energetic, to be enterprising and to be fearless, has been the characteristic of the faithful. Yet Indian Mussalmans prefer to remain indolent and apathetic. Are not Indian Musalmans, then, to blame themselves? If the Indian Musalmans once shake off their lethargy and rid themselves of their apathy, if they unite together and love each other, as members of the same fold, as brothers of a universal Brotherhood, mix with each other and intermarry, educate themselves and their wives and children, and meet together and exchange opinions, and voice their grievances, and generally endeavour to raise themselves, and actively cooperate in the raising of their brethren, they have under merciful Providence as bright a future before them as they had a glorious past.

The Indian Musalmans are a brave and generous race, and it is natural that they should smart under the misfortunes that have overtaken them, and resent the treatment that has been and is extended to them. But certainly apathy and lethargy are not the means calculated to reinstate them in any thing like their former greatness. Relying, therefore, upon merciful Providence and True Religion, and placing confidence in Almighty God, the Creator of the Universe and the Dispenser of all things, they must rise equal to their present trials, and it is to be fervently hoped that the Benign Ruler may have mercy upon them and raise them again to prosperity and good fortune.

18) Muslim Education

One of the obvious means by which Indian Musalmans can raise themselves is education. It is stated that there are five crores of Musalmans in India. It is further stated that the average annual income per head of population in India is rupees twenty-seven. If so, the average annual income of Indian Musalmans ought to be rupees one hundred and thirty-five crores. The Zakat or tax on this income at the rate of two-and-a-half per cent comes to nearly rupees three crores. Making all possible allowances for those who may be exempted from payment of Zakat, and for that purpose reducing it to one-tenth, we can have the splendid annual sum of rupees thirty lakhs -- that is, at the rate of one anna per annum per head of Musalmans in India, which is certainly not a very heavy average annual payment. If all the Indian Musalmans join together and voluntarily contribute as above suggested, they will thereby be fulfilling one of the main commandments of Islam, and thus performing an act of duty.

With this magnificent sum, schools for primary, secondary and higher education can be established and maintained; and in such schools education, as also food and clothing, to students may be given, and there will thus every year be maintained, lodged, and educated thousands and thousands of Indian Musalman youths. Government will have, under the grant-in-aid rules, to contribute to this sum, and thus the total sum will be materially increased. If this system is established and continued, in the course of a few years education will have permeated all ranks of Indian Musalmans, and the condition of the whole body will have become so much improved as to be a matter for admiration.

What is wanted is voluntary performance on the part of all Indian Musalmans of a strictly religious duty, and on the part of the leaders cooperation and good management; and it is to be devoutly wished that Musalmans in every part of India, instead of scouting the idea, will allow good sense for once to overcome apathy and lethargy, and give to this suggestion a sympathetic consideration.

19) Mohamedan Moral Code

It may be observed here in passing that it is sometimes contended, in disparagement of the Indian Musalmans, that "Islam is unfit to be a moral code for a nation to live in": that "the faith of the Islam is incompatible with good Government and with the happiness of a people." Both the above accusations are absolutely false. In fact, the tenets of Islam are inherently capable of good Government and good and happy subjects. The very first and most fundamental doctrine of Islam that there is no God but God; that is but one God is not only the true doctrine, but also binds the true believer to be a respectable man; and if Musalmans have become degenerated, it is not on account, but in spite, of Islam.

Another fundamental doctrine is that of prayers. Prayers bring the human being in personal contact with his Creator. Another fundamental doctrine is that of observing fast, which teaches men by personal experience to think of the miseries of their fellow human beings. Another fundamental doctrine is that of charity, which has been admitted all over the earth and in all times to be an excellent virtue. Another fundamental doctrine is that of Haj, which apart from its religious benefit, has all the benefits of travel. There is nothing, therefore, in Islam to cause degeneracy; on the other hand, there is everything in Islam to make Musalmans loyal subjects and good citizens.

20) England and India Compared and Contrasted

If you will look at the map of India, you will find that India has the appearance of a one-legged horse. India has from time to time been a prey to foreign invasions from without, and to internecine wars within. Famine periodically visits the land, and so does plague. English Rule has, however, stopped foreign invasion, and the Pax Britannica has put an end to internecine wars. Western arts and Western methods are employed to prevent -- at all events to check -- famine and plague, to keep them within gradually diminishing limits and under steadily increasing control; it is to be hoped that these monster evils will. in the near future be completely laid at rest. The resources of the country are being gradually developed, and its trade is increasing. Public expenditure, however, under British Rule, is increasing by leaps and bounds, far beyond the national income that is at present realized, or that can reasonably be expected to be realized in the near future.

The average income per year per head of population is, in England £33 (thirty-three pound sterling); in France £13 (twenty-three pounds sterling); in Russia over £9 (nine pounds sterling); in Turkey in Europe £4 (four pounds sterling); whilst in India, it is only Rs. 27 (twenty-seven rupees) or at 1s. 4d. per rupee, £1-14-6 (one pound sterling, fourteen shillings and six pence). Thus the average income per year per head of [the] population of India is about one-nineteenth of the average income per year per head of population in England; or, in other words, so far as the annual income is concerned, [England is] nineteen times better off than India, or India is nineteen times worse off than England.

Again, the population ofIndia is mostly agricultural. The ratio of town population to country population in India is one to twelve; that is, the agricultural population of India is twelve­thirteenth of the total population of the country. In England, the ratio of town population to country population is two to one; that is, the agricultural population in England is only 1/3 (one-third) of the total population of the country. Thus town population as compared to country population is in England 24 to 12, whilst in India it is 1 to 12; or in other words, so far as the ratio of proportion of town population to country population is concerned, England is 24 (twenty-four) times better off than India.

Again, the population of British India is, in round numbers, 22 (twenty-two) crores, whilst the total imperial taxation in round numbers, is Rs. 95 (rupees ninety-five) crores; or, in round numbers. Rs. 4.8 (rupees four and annas eight) per head of population; and as the average annual income per head is Rs. 27 (rupees twenty-seven), the percentage of taxation to annual income is 4.5 to 27; that is, sixteen and a half per cent. The population of United Kingdom is, in round numbers, about four crores, whilst the total Imperial taxation is a little more than that of India and comes to about Rs. 25 (rupees twenty-five) per head; and as the average annual income per head is £33, the percentage of taxation to income comes to about six per cent. Thus, so far as the percentage of taxation to income is concerned, India is two and-a-half times worse off than England.

Moreover, it is a well known fact, the same percentage of tax to income, when levied on persons having good incomes, may be easily borne by them and may not be at all felt by them; when levied on persons having poor or small income, may be heavily felt -- may even become wholly unbearable. In fact, this incidence is now well admitted in the case of income tax, and it is for this reason that on levying that tax, incomes under a certain amount are wholly exempted, and on incomes above that amount and up to a certain amount, there is a sliding scale put into operation. Thus the ratio of 16.5 per cent of taxation to income, in the case of India, though nominally only two and-a-half times higher than the ratio in the case of England, is in incidence considerably more heavy, and India is therefore in reality considerably worse off than that ratio indicates.

Again, in the year 1849-50, the population of British India was about fifteen crores, whilst the expenditure was about twenty-seven crores. In the year 1894-95, the population was about twenty-two crores, whilst the expenditure was about ninety-five crores. The increase in population, therefore, was about fify per cent, whilst the increase in taxation was about three hundred and fifty per cent; that is, the growth of expenditure was about seven times the growth of population.
During the same period, the charges of coIlection rose from 6.06 to 9.75; that is, more than fifty per cent; the expenditure on Civil administration rose from 6 to 14.83, that is, more than 240 per cent; and the expenditure on Army rose from 11.39 to 24.31, that is, more than 213 per cent.

Again, the estimated debt of British India for the year 1895 is £127 (one bundred and twenty-seven million pounds), whilst that of Britain is £660 (six bundred and sixty million pounds). Thus, the Indian debt is about one-fifth of the British debt, whilst the capacity of India for repayment of debt, as judged by the average annual income per head of population, is only one nineteenth! Again, the debt of Britain in the year 1875 was £780 (seven hundred and eighty miIlion pounds); of India £130 (one hundred and thirty miIlion pounds). Thus, from the year 1875 to the year 1895, the British debt is reduced by £120 (one hundred and twenty million pounds); whilst that of India, only by £3 (three million pounds).

Again, the rate of interest on public loans in England, in the year 1875, was 3 1/4 (three and one. fourth) per cent; in India, 4 (four) per cent, and there is still a corresponding difference in favour of England and against India.

Again, Great Britain annually pays, by way of interest, 12s. 9d. (twelve shillings and nine pence) per head; and as the average annual income per head is £33 in England, the proportion of interest to income is nearly two per cent. India annually pays, by way of interest, annas three and pies nine per head; and as the average annual income per head is Rs. 27 in India, the proportion of interest to income is nearly one per cent. Thus a British subject, who so far as his average income is concerned is nineteen times better off than a British Indian subject, has to pay by way of interest on national debt only two per cent out of his average income; whilst an Indian subject who, so far as his average income is concerned, is nineteen times worse off than a British subject, has to pay one per cent -- that is, in this respect also is nine times worse off than British subject.

Again, the Imperial expenditure of the United Kingdom has risen from 81 (eighty-one) million pounds in the year 1881, to 94 {ninety-four) millions in the year 1895. This addition is caused, for the most part, by an increase of the Naval and Military expenditure from 25 (twenty-five) to 38 (thirty-eight) millions, an exceptional and temporary measure. The charges of the national debt have decreased from 28 (twenty-eight) to 25 (twenty-five) millions, and the debt itself from 770 (seven hundred and seventy) to 660 (six hundred and sixty) millions. The Imperial expenditure of India has risen from 71 (seventy-one) crores in the year 1894. The charges on the national debt have, contrary to what has happened in England, instead of decreasing, risen from 485 (four crores and eighty. five lakhs) of rupees in the year 1881 to 512 (five crores and twelve lakhs) in the year 1894, and the debt itself has increased from the year 1884 to the year 1894 as follows, that is, permanent debt in India from 93 (ninety three crores) and odd of rupees, to 104 (one hundred and four crores) and odd, and permanent debt in England from 69,271,088 (sixty-nine millions and odd) pounds to 114,005,826 (one hundred and fourteen millions and odd).

Again, the total land, according to the survey of India, is 539,848,840 (five hundred and thirty-nine) and odd million acres. Of this, land actually cropped is 196,600,688; current fallows, 30 (thirty millions) and odd; available for cultivation, 99 (ninety-nine millions) and odd; not available for cultivation, 113 (one hundred and thirteen millions) and odd; forests, 62 (sixty-two millions).

The average incidence of Government Revenue per cultivated acre is one rupee three annas and two and two fifths pies. The population of British India is 22 (twenty-two) crores. The average acreage under food-crops is 18.60 (eighteen and six-tenths) and odd. The average of food crops per acre, both irrigated and unirrigated, is 0.31 ton or 694 (six hundred and ninety-four) pounds. The total of food-crops is 576 (five crores and seventy six lakhs) tons. The average consumption of food grains per head of the population per annum is 585 (five hundred and eighty five) pounds, or per day 1.60 (one and six­tenths pounds). The total consumption is 5.77 (five crores and seventy-seven lakhs) tons.

It is clear, from the above facts and figures, that India is a very poor country; that it is an agricultural country with but few manufactures, that Indians are a poor nation, living from hand to mouth -- indeed, some of them actually starving, and many of them having barely one meal a day! -- that taxation is very heavy; that changes for collection and the cost of administration, both Civil and Military, have increased far beyond the capacity of meeting them; that, notwithstanding the heavy taxation, the national debt -- specially the gold debt and the charges to meet such debt -- are steadily increasing.

Poverty of India

That the Indians are a poor people, that they are overtaxed, that the Civil and Military expenditure of India is excessive, that the drain from India is of a ruinous character, that both justice and self. interest demand of our rulers that native labour should be more and more substituted for foreign labour and that all unproductive expenditure should be stopped, the following extracts from the speeches and writings of English Statesmen themselves make abundantly clear:

Mr. Bright in the House of Commons, 14th June, 1858: "The cultivators of the soil, the great body of the population of India, are in a condition of great impoverishment, of great dejection, and of great suffering."

Lord Lawrence, in 1864: "The mass of the people enjoy only a scant substance."

Lord Lawrence, before the Select Committee of the House of Commons, in 1873: "The mass of the people of India are so miserably poor that they have barely the means of subsistence."

Major Baring, Finance Minister of India, in his Budget Speech, 1882, after stating that the average income per annum per head of population in India is Rs. 27, says: "It is sufficiently accurate to justify the conclusion that the tax­paying community is exceedingly poor.

Mr. Gladstone, in the House of Commons, 10th May, 1870, said that India was "too much burdened."

Mr. Bright, in his speech at the Manchester Town Hall, 11th December, 1877: "I say that a Government . . . . which has levied taxes till it can levy no more . . . . and which has borrowed . . . . more than all that it can levy . . . ."

Mr. Gladstone, in the House of Commons. 30th June 1893: "The expenditure of India and especially the Military expenditure is alarming."

Lord Salisbury: "India must be bled."

Lord Salisbury, Secretary of State for India, Minute, 29th April, 1875: ". . . . where (in India) so much of the revenue is exported without a direct equivalent."

Mr. Bright, in the House of Commons, 24th June, 1858: "We must in future have India governed, not for a handful of Englishmen . . . ."

Sir George Wingate, in "A few words on our Financial Relations with India," 1859: "They (taxes not spent in India) constitute an absolute loss and extinction of the whole amount withdrawn from the taxed country."

Mr. Fawcett, in the House of Commons, 5th May, 1868: "Lord Metcalfe had well said that the bane of our system was that the advantages were reaped by one class and the work was done by another."

The Duke of Argyll, in the House of Lords, 11th March, 1869: "I must say that we have not fulfilled our duty or the promises and engagements which we have made."

Sir George Wingate, in "A few words on our Financial Re­lations with India," 1859: "Such is the nature of the tribute we have so long exacted from India. From this explanation some faint conception may be formed of the cruel, crushing effect of the tribute upon India." "The Indian tribute, whether weighed in the scales of justice or viewed in the light of our own interest, will be found to be at variance with humanity, with common sense . . . ."

Lord Hartington, Secretary of State for India, in the House of Commons, 23rd August, 1883: "The Government of India cannot afford to spend more than they do on the administration of the country, and if the country is to be better governed, that can only be done by the employment of the best and most intelligent of the natives in the service."

Lord Randolph Churchill, Secretary of State for India, in a letter to the Treasury, 1886: "The position of India in relation to taxation and the sources of public revenue is very peculiar . . . . from the character of the Government, which the hands of foreigners who hold all the principal administrative offices and form so large a part of the Army. The impatience of the new taxation which will have to be borne wholly as a consequence of the foreign rule imposed on the country, and virtually to meet additions to charges arising outside of the country, would constitute a political danger the real magnitude of which, it is to be feared, is not at all appreciated by persons who have no knowledge or concern in the Government of India, but which those responsible for that Government have regarded as of the most serious order."

British Administration

The table [not reproduced in the printed edition], recently prepared by Mr. W. Martin Wood, formerly Editor of the Times of India, whose knowledge of Indian finance and economics is surpassed by few, and who in his retirement still takes a deep and abiding interest in Indian affairs. gives the financial condition of the country at a glance.

Again, in the words of another Englishman, money is leaving the country without commercial "equivalent" to the tune of £25,000,000 (twenty-five millions pounds) yearly; or, if you take the present fall of the rupee into consideration, then to the tune of forty millions of pounds yearly. In short, it is as clear as possible that the ability of the country to bear any fresh taxation is exhausted, and any further burden on the taxpayers would simply break their back -- a dangerous consequence to be avoided at all hazard.

Yet it is stated that Indians should remain silent, forsooth, because it will be an act of disloyalty to discuss -- aye, even to discuss in a loyal and constitutional manner, with the best of motives, honourable in themselves, and calculated to ensure the safety of the country and the maintenance of the British Rule in India -- moderate measures of reform. It is true that English Rule in India has done much for India, but much more yet remains to be done, and it is a matter of extreme surprise as well as of deep regret that the sort of supercilious objection above referred to comes from people who, to say the least of it, ought to know better.

With the above facts and figures -- and it is certainly not an overdrawn picture glaring in their faces -- all true lovers of their country, and all its inhabitants, and all its rulers, possessing the most ordinary common sense, if they have even a spark of humanity left in them, ought to bestir themselves and, leaving aside differences of race or creed and forgetting even just resentment if there is any, join with their fellow-countrymen in the movement -- sober and temperate as it is -- expressly organised for the amelioration of the country, of their country­men, themselves included. The objectionists should remember that even the most honest and the best regulated administration has constant need of proper criticism even at the best of times. For all Governments are, in their nature, monopolists, and as such have constantly to be watched and warned.

In India, moreover, on account of its foreign character, it is excessively bureaucratic, more than other Governments in the world are, and hence the greater necessity for constant watchful criticism on the part of the people. The Government of India, moreover, consisting as it does of capable and well-meaning gentlemen, is, from the nature of its position and constitution, between two conflicting interests, the interests of England and the interests of India; and it is the sacred duty of all loyal Indian subjects to strengthen the hand of the Government of India in its laudable efforts to obtain financial justice for India, by moral support of the united Indian nation; and judged from this point of view, keeping aloof from the Congress movement is not only undesirable but may even merit censure.

Muslims and English Education

If the short sketch above given of the financial result of the British administration in India for one century only be correct, we are necessarily forced to ask, "If these be the results in the green leaf, what will they be in the dry wood?" And yet Indian Musalmans still hold aloof, alike from western education and from those political movements among our countrymen to which Western education has given rise; and when appealed to, they talk of difficulties in their way and ask for special encouragement and special facilities and special privileges.

Special encouragement to any class, said the Education Commission, "is in itself an evil, and it will be a sore reproach to the Musalmans if the pride they have shown in other matters does not stir them up to a course of honourable activity; to a determination that whatever their backwardness in the past, they will not suffer themselves to be outstripped in the future; to a conviction that self-help and self-sacrifice are at once nobler principles of conduct and surer paths to worldly success than sectarian reserve or the hope of exceptional indulgence.

Indeed, it will be a happy day for India when the disproportion between the Mohamedans who ought to be at school, and those who are actually at school, is reduced to the lowest possible minimum, and the Indian Musalmans as a body make it a point to educate their children and actively cooperate in all the public movements in the country generally, and especially "our good Congress, the germ of future federated Parliament . . . . with hearts honest, true and unselfish . . . ." and participate in our great bloodless battle for justice and freedom, and specially make a beginning now when "all minor sources of anxiety are overshadowed by the cloud now impending over our beloved land, in which we too plainly discern the gloomy spectre of famine frowning down upon . . . . a teeming, frugal and ceaselessly industrious population, and join in asking a redress at the hands of government, and in expressing disapproval of the mistaken system whereby the entire resources of 229 millions of people are placed at the disposal of able and well-meaning men who are nevertheless foreigners, who cannot in the nature of things sufficiently and adequately appreciate the wants, the necessities, the real condition of the people over whom they rule, and are naturally, though unconsciously, drifting to the conclusion that India is to be ruled for the glory of Great Britain and not for the good of her own people."

That this system is a mistaken one, and that a strong financial check is necessary, is now admitted by eminent Englishmen themselves.

[on to *24) Lord Welby and Sir Auckland Colvin on Indian Financial Checks*]

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