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British merchants but by Indian princes, and the most accentuated of his functions will be to preside over the Indian Native States, not to represent the interests and opinions of the British democracy.
So far as the people's real interests are concerned none of these changes can compare in importance with the expansion of the Indian Legislative Councils which will be associated with the names of Lord Morley and Lord Minto. This measure pursued a policy which was initiated by Lord Lansdowne twenty years ago. But it involved so great a popular development as to cause some anxiety to those who realise the difficulties of our position in India. Apprehensions, so far, have not been justified, and the reform may be welcomed as exceedingly beneficial. As is not unusual with political changes, its most striking results have been, primarily, indirect. It has often been observed that in society and in politics Indians are influenced far more by sentiment than by considerations of material loss or gain : the new constitution and working of the Councils, by gratifying their selfrespect, háve not only softened their feelings towards British rule, but have strengthened their resolutions for self-improvement. In the Council Chamber, Indian elected representatives and British officials meet on perfectly equal terms : in debate assumptions of official superiority are indeed ludicrous, and the officials cannot but respect a political force which they may outweigh in number of votes but it takes all their powers to withstand in argument. Suspicion and even hostility have gradually given way before a feeling of comradeship, which the Indians manifest very clearly by a tempering of declamatory eloquence, a willingness to compromise, and, not infrequently, by appeals for official assistance in elaborating their projects. Nor does this spirit of geniality evaporate at the door of the Council Chamber : it is carried into private life, and is infusing a freedom and sympathy into the social relations of Indians and Europeans which will be welcomed with delight by all well-wishers of the country.
The Indian members, as a class, are alert and often eloquent in debate; in intellect they are on
a par with their British colleagues, and the Government will no doubt profit by their acquaintance with popular feelings and their ability to influence them. Reformers press their suggestions with acrimony when they cannot command a serious hearing ; but on the new Councils Indians are sufficiently numerous to enforce attention and to put unreasoning opposition out of the question. Responsibility has had its natural effect : declamation is giving way to discussion, passionate feeling to a consideration of argumentseven to impartial admissions.
It was encouraging to hear members of Nationalist sympathies frankly admit-even when pressing for an inquiry into the conduct of the police—that the
force had immensely improved in honesty and efficiency during the past few years. Apprehensions have been felt that in regard to social customs the elected members would show reactionary tendencies, and would oppose reform. Such misgivings were warranted by the attitude of the popular leaders in regard to such measures as the Age of Consent Act. But this was in the days when they were out of power. Things have now changed, and there are signs to show that the elected members will themselves take a lead in social reform, and may even be disposed to press the Government to move more rapidly than is prudent. They are urged, not by a desire to change their surroundings—for this is generally foreign to the Oriental temperament—but by a patriotic sentiment, a desire that India should take rank alongside the nations of Europe, and a conviction that for this she cannot hope without a change of habits. Such a' motive was probably effective in prompting the nations of the Mediterranean to follow in the footsteps of Northern Europe. It will suffice as an impetus to useful action. And it must be remembered that criticisms of Indian customs, which would be scouted as insulting if advanced by Europeans, arouse no such irritation when expressed by Indians. It is clear from the history of the past half-century that the only hope of social legislation lies in its being advocated by Indians themselves; and if the new Councils can provide champions for this cause, India' will have reason to be grateful indeed to those who endowed these institutions with political vitality.
The classes who are represented on the Councils are the educated and the well-to-do. They cannot be expected to welcome protective legislation for their poorer brethren, and it may be feared that such intervention as the Government has dared in the past on behalf of tenants will in future be so difficult as to be wellnigh impossible. And it must be realised that, in meeting such a storm of anti-British feeling as has lately swept the country, the Government will be seriously hampered by the presence in its Council Chamber of a strong contingent which cannot be expected to withstand the force of popular opinion. But when the present is so encouraging it seems ungracious to search the future for unpleasant possibilities. After all, in the Imperial Countil the Government is secure in possession of a substantial majority; and the reforms have not touched the prerogatives of the Viceroy to overrule and to veto, and, in cases of emergency, even to legislate on his own authority.
The high intellectual capacity of Indians has been recognised by the freedom with which they have been appointed to high judicial office. In sifting evidence, and in applying legal formulae to particular cases, their mental acuteness is seen at its best, and they reasonably hope for a gradual but very substantial increase in their share of high judicial appointments. We must remember, however, that judicial honesty is an exotic which has grown up under British influence, and that it may decline if not supported by the example of an influential body of British judges and magistrates. And there are, of course, political dangers in relinquishing very widely the administration of criminal justice to Indian hands. But, everything said, the judicial service affords to Indians a career for which they are suited by capacity and which they follow with success. It is different with the executive services of government. Speaking generally, Orientals lack that form of energy which busies itself with its environment and seeks to make changes in it. Their attitude towards their surroundings is one of passive endurance : the perception of an abuse is not of itself a stimulus to reform. The service of Government has profited by many Indians who have been as zealous in action as the most strenuous of Europeans. But they are exceptions : there are British officers who are lamentably deficient in powers of initiative. Generally, an Indian official when confronted, not with an intellectual problem, but with a question of changing the conditions of the men or the things around him, needs the initiating impulse of a European authority. This inertness in action is illustrated by the inability of Oriental governments to put an end to official corruption except during the first flush of revolutionary enthusi
It is very apparent on such a strenuous occasion as the relief of famine; and there are few who will deny that, when the charge of a district has been long committed to Indian hands there is a material loss of administrative efficiency. We may have insisted too strongly upon efficiency in details. But we should realise that the usefulness of our Government is the ultimate justification for our dominion in India, and that if its fruits can be commended only when judged by Oriental standards, the reason for our authority will, to an Indian mind, have disappeared. This essential difference between the capacity of Indians for judicial and for executive functions will no doubt be borne in mind by the Commission which is to inquire into the condition of the Indian services. There is no question of denying the claim of Indians to an increasing share of executive as well as of judicial appointments. They are gaining in executive capacity, as they have gained in judicial honesty, from the example of Europeans; and they may reasonably demand that from time to time their achievements in both lines should be reviewed and be recognised by the grant of increased opportunities. But for long time to come Indians will be more alert in conceiving reforms than in carrying them into execution by practical action. And it may be remarked here that
energy and initiative in the executive staff will be especially required if any serious efforts are to be made to stem the tides of the diseases-of fever in particular—to which is due the portentous height of the Indian death-rate.
Turning now from politics to more important questions of social improvement, it appears that India is awaking from her sleep. She shows signs of movement under the stimulating influence, not so much of a desire for change as of a patriotic feeling of shame that she should lie under the reproach of Western nations. Naturally, this feeling is first experienced by those who have come into contact with Europe or America, or have been influenced by the example of their travelled brethren. Traditional custom has been but little affected by the study of English : during the past half-century we have seen that youths can pass by thousands through our schools and colleges, learning our language, studying our literature and our science, but not imbibing from either the least effective desire to change their habits. The force of environment is much more compelling; and in India, as in Turkey and China, reform has been the outcome of residence in the West.
For Indians, perhaps, the most fruitful of reforms would be the emancipation of their wives and daughters. We shall understand this if we reflect upon the enormous influence that woman has exerted upon the environment and upon the development of the peoples of Europe. To draw an illustration from the most material standpoint, if women were not able to observe, to emulate, and to purchase, our shops and factories would, in great measure, have no reason for their existence. In India woman's functions have been limited to those connected with reproduction. She is secluded from her environment and has no influence upon it. For many years past Indian ladies of rank have been privileged to take part in European society, and one might meet some Bengali ladies unveiled in the drawing-rooms of Calcutta. But these belonged to the small sect of the Brahmo Samáj, with whom the education and emancipation of women has been almost a point of religious doctrine. One may now perceive a deeper current. A Hindu revivalist movement—the Arya Samaj --which is of rapidly growing influence in the Punjab, opposes itself strongly to child-marriage, and is convincing its disciples that a girl should not be a wife until she is at least fifteen years old. In this case, girls could stay at school until they had acquired some education; their education is strongly insisted upon, and even married women may be found attending the schools of this sect. To one who had been five years absent from India it was surprising to see the number of Indian ladies, untroubled by veils, who were visiting the places of interest at
Delhi in the company of their husbands and brothers. Amongst the Mahrattas also, one may notice a growing desire to widen the horizon of woman's outlook. They have never married their daughters so preposterously young as has been the general practice; they are now delaying marriage until fifteen or sixteen, and are showing a practical interest in the higher education of their daughters. The Parsi ladies in Bombay have long been emancipated, and it appears that it is in the West of India, among the Mahrattas and the people of the Punjab, that woman's future is dawning most clearly. It must not be supposed, however, that the Indian woman is sighing for liberty. In most cases she needs urgent persuasion to relinquish her veil. But she appreciates her liberty, and in Western India some ladies' clubs have been formed where ladies of education can meet of evenings at badminton and tennis, and even at the bridge table. They are, of course, very far in advance of their humbler sisters. Reform will come slowly—as, indeed, is desirable, for its path is thickly set with pitfalls.
Material relaxations can be noticed in the caste rules relating to food and drink. For the generality of the people broader views are the outcome of railway travel : visits to Europe apart, the railways have been the strongest solvent of ancient prejudice. Indians who in Europe or America have been accustomed to live in Western fashion are no longer willing to abandon their new habits on their return to India, and they are annually attracting a larger number of imitators. One is no longer surprised to meet Indians at dinner-parties in Calcutta or Bombay. Liberality of views in this respect has been stimulated by the wisdom of King George, who, disregarding the custom of the past, impartially invited Indians and Europeans to sit together at his dinner-table.
It seems that an opinion is gaining ground that the narrow limitations of marriage within the caste—or the sub-casteis responsible for Indian decadence; and there are some spirits so ardent as to attack this—the most guarded stronghold of the Hindu social system. A few men of position have even married out of caste; and, although their daring excites more wonder than admiration, it is not without its effect on public opinion. It was amazing, at the last session of the Viceroy's Legislative Council, to hear a Hindu gentleman advocating a change in the law that would enable Hindus of different castes, and even a Hindu and a Mohammedan, to contract a civil marriage without the formal abjuration of their religion which the law now imposes---nay, more, pushing home his arguments with reflections upon current prejudices which from the mouth of a European would have aroused a storm of passion. The Govern