INDIA - GEOGRAPHY (cont.)
The supreme authority over all British India, both for executive and legislative purposes, is vested by a series of Acts of Parliament _ in the viceroy or governor-general-in-council, subject to the ultimate sanction of the secretary of sate in England. Every executive order and every legislative statute runs in the name of the "Governor-General-in-Council";_ but in certain exceptional classes of cases_ a power is reserved to the viceroy to act independently of his council. This council is twofold. First, there is the ordinary or executive council,4 usually composed of about six official members besides the viceroy, which may be compared with the cabinet of a constitutional country. It meets regularly at short intervals, discusses and decides upon question of foreign policy and domestic administration, and prepares measure for the legislative council. Its members divide among themselves the chief departments of such as those of foreign affairs, finance, war, public worksm, &c.; while the viceroy combines in this own person the duties both of constitutional sovereign and prime minister. Secondly, there is the legislative council,5 which is constituted by the same members as the preceding, with the addition of the governor of the province in which it may be held, and official delegates from Madras and Bombay, together with certain nominated members representating the non-official native and European communities. The meetings of the legislatives council are held when and as required. They are open to the public ; and a further guarantee for publicity is insured by the proviso that draft bills must be published a certain number of times in the Gazette. As a matter of practice, these draft bills have usually been first subjected tot he criticism of the several provincial governments. In regard to the supreme judicial authority there is no such uniform system. The presidencies of Madras and Bombay, and also two of the three great provinces which have been created out of the old presidency of Bengal, and are now known as the lieutenant-governorships of Bengal and the North-Western Provinces, have each a high court,6 supreme both in civil and criminal business, with an ultimate appeal to the judicial committee of the privy council in England. Of the subordinate provinces, the Punjab has a chief courts, with three judges ; the Central Provinces, Oudh, Mysore, an Berar have each a judicial commissioner, who sits alone ; while in Assam and British Burmah the chief commissioner, or supreme executive officer, is also the highest judicial authority.
The law administered in the Indian courts consists mainly of (1) the enactments of the Indian legislative councils above described and of the bodies which preceded them, (2) statutes of the British parliament which apply to India, (30) the Hindu and Mahometan laws on domestic inheritance or other cases affecting the Hindus and Mahometans, and (4) the customary law affecting particular castes and races. Much has been done towards consolidating individual sections of the Indian law ; and in the Indian penal code, together with the codes of civil and criminal procedure, we have memorable examples of such efforts.
But, though the governor-general-in-council is theoretically supreme over every part of India alike,7 his actual authority is not everywhere exercised in the same direct manner. For ordinary purposes of administration British India is partitioned into provinces, each with a government of its own; and certain of the naïve states are attached to those provinces with which they are most nearly connected geographically. These provinces, again, enjoy various degrees of independence, in accordance with the course of their historical development. The two sister presidencies of Madras and Bombay still retain many marks of their original equality with Bengal. They each have an army and a civil service of their own. They are each administered by a governor appointed direct from England, with an executive and a legislative council, whose functions are analogous to those of the councils of the governor-general.8 They thus possess a domestic legislature ; and in administrative matters, also, the interference of the viceroy is a somewhat remote contingency. Of the other provinces, Bengal, or rather Lower Bengal, occupies a peculiar position. Like the North-Western Provinces and the Punjab, it is administered by a single official, with the style of lieutenant-governor, who is controlled by no executive council ; but, unlike those two provinces, Bengal has a legislative council, so far preserving a sign of its early preeminence. The remaining provinces, whether ruled by a lieutenant-governor or by a chief commissioner, may be regarded from an historical point of view as fragments of the original Bengal presidency as thus defined would be co-extensive with all British India that is not appropriated either to Madras or to Bombay. The lieutenant-governors and most of the chief commissioners are chosen from the covenanted civil services. In executive matters they are the practical rulers ; but excepting the lieutenant-governor of Bengal, they have no legislative authority. To complete the total area of territory under British administration, it is necessary to add certain quasi-provinces, under the immediate control of the viceroy.
These consist of Ajmír (Ajmere), transferred from Rájputána ; Berar, or the districts assigned by the nizám of Hyderabad ; the state of Mysore, to be restored in 1881 upon terms to its native rájá ; and the tiny territory of Coorg, in the extreme south.
Another difference of administration, though now of less importance than in former times, derives its name from the old regulations, or uniform rules of law and practice which preceded the present system of acts of the legislature. These regulation, originally intended to be universal in their application, have been from time to time withdrawn so far as regards certain tracts of country which from their backward state of civilization or other causes seemed to require exceptional treatment. In non-regulation territory, broadly speaking, a larger measure of discretion is allowed to the officials, both in the collection of revenue and in the administration of civil justice; strict rules of procedure yield to the necessities of the case, and the judicial and executive departments are to a great combined in the same hands. Closely connected with this indulgence in favour of the personal element in administration, a wider field is also permitted for the selection of the administrative field is also permitted for the selection of the administrative staff, which is not confined to the convenanted civil service, but includes military officers on the staff And also uncovenanted civilians. The title of highest authority in a non-regulation districts is not that of collectord-magistrate, but deputy commissioner ; and the supreme authority in a non-regulation province is usually styled, not lieutenant-governor, but chief commissioners. The Central Provinces and British Burmah are examples of non-regulation provinces ; but non-regulation districts are to be found also in Bengal and the North-Western Provinces, where their existence can always be traced by the office of deputy commissioner.
Alike in regulation and in non-regulation territory the unit of administration is the district,a word of very definite meaning in official phraseology. The district officer, whether known as collector-magistrate or as deputy commissioner, is the sole responsible head of his jurisdiction.
Upon his energy and character rests ultimately the efficiency of the Indian Government. Not only are his own special duties so numerous and so vast as to be bewildering to the outsider, but the work of his subordinates. European and native, largely depends upon the stimulus of his personal example. His position has been compared to that of the French préfet ; but such a comparison is unjust in many ways to the Indian district officer : he is not a creature of the Home Office, who takes his colour from his chief and represents only officialism, but an active worker in every department of popular well-being, with a large measure of individual initiative. As the very name of collector-magistrate implies, his main functions are twofold. He is a fiscal officer, charged with t he collection of the revenue from land and other sources ;and he is a civil and criminal judge of first instance. But this explanation of his title by no means exhausts his multifarious duties. He does in his local sphere all that home secretary is supposed to do in England, and a great deal more ; for he is the representative of a paternal and not of a constitutional government. Police, jails, education, municipalities, roads, sanitation, dispensaries, are all to him matters of daily concern ; while, in addition, he is expected to make himself acquainted with every phase of the social life of the natives and with each natural aspect of the country. Besides being a lawyer, an accountant, and a clerk, he ought also to possess no mean knowledge of agriculture, political economy, and engineering .
The total number of districts in British India is two hundred and thirty-eight. They vary greatly in size and in number of inhabitants. The average area is 3778 square miles, ranging from an average of 6612 square miles in Madras to an average of 1999 square miles in Oudh. The average population is 802,927, similarly ranging from an average of 1,508,219 in Madras to an average of 161,597 in Burmah. The Madras districts are thus both the largest and the most populous. In every province but Madras, the districts are grouped into larger areas, known as divisions, each under the charge of a commissioner. But these divisions are not properly units of administration, as the districts are. They are aggregates of units, formed only for convenience of supervision, so that an intermediate authority may exercise the universal watchfulness which would be impossible for a distant lieutenant-governor. The districts are again partitioned out into lesser tracts, which are strictly units of administration, though subordinate ones. The system of partitioning, and the nomenclature, vary in the different provinces ; but generally it may be said that the subdivision or tahsíl is the ultimate unit of administration. The double name indicates the twofold principle of separation : the subdivision is properly the charge of an assistant magistrate or executive officer, the tahsíl is the charge of a deputy collector of fiscal officer ; and these two offices may or may not be in the same hands. Broadly speaking, the subdivision is characteristic of Bengal, where revenue duties are in the background, and the tahsíl of Madras, where the land settlement requires attention year by year. There is no administrative unit below the subdivision is characteristic of Bengal, where revenue duties are in the background, and the tahsíl of Madras, where the land settlement requires attention year by year. There is no administrative unit below the subdivision or tahsíl. The tháná, or police division, only exists for police purpose. The parganá, or fiscal division under native rule, has now but an historical interest. The village still remains as the agricultural unit, and preserves its independence for revenue purposes in certain parts of the country. The township is peculiar to Burmah.
The judicial jurisdictions coincide for the most part with the magisterial and fiscal boundaries. But, except in Madras, where the districts are large, a single civil and sessions judge, i.e., the supreme judicial officer under the high court, sometimes exercises jurisdiction over more than one district. As has been already mentioned, in non-regulation territory judicial and executive functions are combined in the same hands.
The preceding sketch of Indian administration would be incomplete without a reference to the secretariat, or central office, which in some sense controls and gives life to the whole. From the secretariat are issued the orders which regulate or modify the details of administration ; into the secretariat come all the multifarious reports from the local officers, to be there digested for future reference. But though the secretaries may enjoy the advantages of life at the presidency capitals, with higher salaries and better prospects of promotion, it is recognized that the efficiency of the empire rests ultimately upon the shoulders of the district officers, who bear the burden and heat of the day, with few opportunities of winning fame or reward.
Land Settlement.As the land furnishes the main source of India revenue, so the assessment of the land tax is the main work of India administration. No technical term is more familiar to Anglo-Indians, and none more strange to the English public, than that of land settlement. No subject has given rise to more voluminous controversy. It will be enough in this place to explain the general principles upon which the system is based, and to indicate the chief differences of application in the several provinces. That the state should appropriate to itself a direct share in the produce of the soil is a fundamental maxim of India finance, that has been recognized throughout the East them time immemorial. The germs of rival systems can be traced in the old military and other service tenures of Assam, and in the poll tax of Burmah, &c. The exclusive development of the land system is due to two conditions,comparatively high state of agriculture and an organized plan of administrationboth of which are supplied by the primitive village community. During the lapse of untold generations, despite domestic anarchy and foreign conquest, the Hindu village has in many parts preserved its simple customs, written in the imperishable tablets of tradition. The land was not held by private owners, but by occupiers under the petty corporation; the revenues was not due from individuals, but from the community represented by its headman. The aggregate harvest of the village fields was thrown into a common fund, and before the general distribution the head-man was bound to set aside the share of the state. No other system of taxation could be theoretically more just, or in practice less obnoxious to the people. Such is an outline of the land system as it may be found at the present day throughout large portions of India both under Birtish and native rule; and such we may fancy it to have been universally before the Mahometan conquest. The Musalmáns brought with them the avarice of conquerors, and a stringent system of revenue collection. Under the Mughal empire, as organized by Akbar the Great, the share of the state was fixed at one-third of the gross produce of the soil; and a regular army of tax-collectors was permitted to intervene between the cultivator and the supreme government. The entire vocabulary of the present land system is borrowed from the Mughal administration. The zamíndár himself is a creation of the mahometans, unknown to the early Hindu system. He was originally a mere tax-collector, or farmer of the land revenue, who agreed to furnish a lump sum from the tract of country assigned to him. If the Hindu village system may be praised for its justice, the Mughal farming system had at least the merit of efficiency. Sháh Jáhán and Aurangzeb extracted a larger land revenue than the British do. When the government was first undertaken by the east India Company, no attempt was made to understand the social zamíndár seemed a solvent person, capable of keeping a contract; and his official position as tax-collector was confused with the proprietary rights of an English landlord. The superior stability of the village system was overlooked, and in the old provinces of Bengal and Madras the village organizations had gradually been suffered to fall into decay. The consistent aim of the British authorities has been to established private property in the soil, so far as is consistent with the punctual payment of the revenue. The annual Government demand, like the succession duty in England, is universally the first liability on the land; when that is satisfied, the registered landholder has powers of sale or mortgage scarcely more restricted than those of a tenant in fee-simple. At the same time the possible hardships, as regards the cultivator, of this absolute right of property vested in the owner have been anticipated by the recognition of occupancy rights or fixity of tenure, under certain conditions. Legal rights are everywhere taking the place of unwritten customs. Land, which was before merely a source of livelihood to the cultivator and of revenue to the state, has now become the subject of commercial speculation. The fixing of the revenue demand has conferred upon the owner a credit which he never before possessed, by allowing him a certain share of the unearned increment. This credit he may use improvidently but none the less has the land system of India been raised from a lower to a higher stage of civilization.
The means by which the land revenue is assessed is known as settlement, and the assessor is styled a settlement officer. In Bengal the assessment has been accomplished once and for all, but throughout the greater part of the rest of India the process is continually going on. The details vary in the different provinces; but, broadly speaking, a settlement may be described as the ascertainment is the work of survey which first determines the area of every village and frequently of every field also. Then comes the settlement officer, whose duty it is to estimate the character of the soil, and kind of crop, the opportunities for irrigation, the means of communication and their probable development in the future, and all other circumstances which tend to affect the value of the produce. With these facts before him, he proceeds to assess the Government demand upon the land according to certain general principles, which may vary in the several provinces. The final result is a settlement report, which records, as in a Domesday Book, the entire mass of agricultural statistics concerning the district.
Lower Bengal and a few adjoining districts of the North-Western Provinces and of Madras have a permanent settlement, i.e., the land revenue has been fixed in perpetuity. When the Company obtained the díwání or financial administration of Bengal in 1765, the theory of a settlement, as described above, was unknown. The existing Mahometan system was adopted in its entirely. Engagements, sometimes yearly, sometimes for a term of years, were entered into with the zamíndárs to pay a lump sum for the area over which they exercised control. If the offer of the zamíndárs was not deemed satisfactory, another contractor was substituted in his place. But no steps were taken, and perhaps no steps were possible, to ascertain in detail the amount which the country could afford to pay. For more than twenty years these temporary engagements continued, and received the sanction of Warren engagements continued, and received the sanction of Western Hastlings, the first titular governor-general of India. Hastlings great rival, Francis, was among those who urged the superior advantage of permanent assessment. At last, in 1789, a more accurate investigation into the agricultural resources of Bengal was commenced and the settlement based upon this investigation was declared perpetual by Land Cornwallis in 1793. the zamíndárs of that time were raised to the status of landlords, with rights of transfer and inheritance, subject always to the payment in perpetuity of a rent-charge. In default of due payment, their lands were liable to be sold to the highest bidder. The aggregate assessment was fixed at sikká Rs. 26,800,989, equivalent to Co.s Rs. 28,587,722, or say 2 _ millions sterling. By the year 1871-72 the total land revenue realized from the same area and increased to Rs. 35,208,866, chiefly owing to the inclusion of estates which had escaped the original assessment for various reasons. While the claim of Government against the zamíndárs was thus fixed for ever, it was intended that the rights of the zamíndárs over their own tenants-right was inserted in the settlement papers, and, as a matter of fact, the cultivators lost rather than gained in security of tenure. The same English prejudice which made a landlord of the zamíndárs could recognize nothing a tenant-at-will in the ráyat. By two stringent regulations of 1799 and 1812 the tenant was practically put at the mercy of a rack-renting landlord. If he failed to pay his rent, however excessive, his property was rendered liable to distraint and his person to imprisonment. At the same time the operation of the revenue sale law had introduced a new race of zamíndárs, who were bound to their tenants by no traditions of hereditary sympathy, but whose sole object was to make a profit out of their newly purchased property. The rack- rented peasantry found no protection in the law courts until 1859, when an Act was passed which restricted the landlords powers of enchancement in certain specified cases. The zamíndár is the only person recognized by the revenue law; but in a large number of cases the zamíndár has in effect parted with all his interest in the and by means of the creation of perpetual leases or patnis. These leaves are usually granted in consideration of a premium or lump sum paid down, and there is nothing to prevent the patnidár from creating an indefinite series of sub-tenures beneath his own. The permanent settlement was not preceded by any systematic survey. But in the course of the past thirty years the whole of Bengal has been subject to a professional survey, which determined the boundaries of every village, and issued maps on the scale of 4 inches to the mile. This survey, however, has only a topographical value. No statistical inquiries were made, and no record obtained of rights in the soil. Even the village landmarks then set up have fallen into decay.
The permanent settlement was confined to the three provinces of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa, according to their boundaries at that time. Orissa Proper, which was conquered from the Marhattás in 1803, is subject to a temporary settlement, of which the current term of thirty years will not expire until 1897. The assessment is identical with that fixed in 1838, which was based upon a careful field measurement and upon an investigation into the rights of every landholder and under-tenant. The settlement, however, was made with the landholder, and not with the tenant, and in practice the rights of the cultivators are no more secure than in Bengal. In Assam Proper, or the valley of the Brahmaputra, the system of settlement is simple and effective. The cultivated area is artificially divided into mauzás or blocks, over each of which is placed a native official or mauzádár. Every year the mauzádár ascertained the area actually under cultivation, and then assesses the fields according to their character, at a certain prescribed rate.
The prevailing system throughout the Madras presidency is the ráyatwári, which takes the cultivator or peasant proprietor as its rent-paying unit, somewhat as the Bengal system takes the zamíndár. This system cannot be called indigenous to the country, any more than the zamíndárí of Bengal. If any system deserves that name it is that of village assessment, which still lingers in the memories of the people in the south. When the British declared themselves heir to the nawáb of the Carnatic at the opening of the present century they had no adequate experience of revenue management. The authorities in England favoured the zamíndárí system already at work in Bengal, which appeared at least calculated to secure punctual payment. The Madras Government was accordingly instructed to enter into permanent engagement with zamíndárs, and, where no zamíndárs could be found, to create substitutes out of enterprising contractors. The attempts resulted in failure in every case, except where the zamíndárs happened to be the representatives of ancient lines of powerful chiefs. Several of such chiefs exist in the extreme south and in the north of the presidency. Their estates have been guaranteed to them on payment of a peshkash or permanent tribute, and are saved by the custom of primogeniture from the usual fate of subdivision. Throughout the rest of Madras there are no zamíndárs either in name of fact. The influence of Sir Thomas Munro afterwards led to the adoption of the ráyatwárí system, which will always be associated with his name. According to this system, an assessment is made with the cultivating proprietor upon the land taken up for cultivation year by year. Neither zamíndár nor village officer intervenes between the cultivator and the state which takes directly upon its own shoulders all a landlords responsibility. The early ráyatwárí settlements in Madras were based upon insufficient experience. They were preceded by no survey, but adopted the crude estimates of native officials. Since 1858 a department of revenue survey has been organized, and the old assessments have been everywhere revised.
Nothing can be more complete in theory and more difficult of exposition, than a Madras ráyatwárí settlement. First, the entire area of the district, whether cultivated or uncultivated, and of each field within the district is accurately measured. The next stop is to cultivate the estimated produce of each field, having regard to every kind of both natural and artificial advantage. Lastly, a rate is fixed upon every field, which may be regarded as roughly equal to one-third of the gross and one-half of the net produce. The elaborate nature of these inquiries and calculations may be inferred from the fact that as many as thirty-five different rates are sometimes struck for a single district, ranging from 6d. to £1, 4d. per acre. The rates thus ascertained are fixed fro a term of thirty years; but during the period the aggregate rent-roll of a district is liable to be affected by several considerations. New land may be taken up fro cultivation, or old land may be abandoned; and occasional remissions are permitted under no less than eighteen specified heads. Such matters are discussed and decided by the collector at the jamabandi or court held every year for definitely ascertaining the amount of revenue to be paid by each ráyat for the current season. This annual inquiry has sometimes been mistaken by careless passer-s by for an annual reassessment of each ráyatss holding. It is not, however, a change in the rates for the land which he already holds, but an inquiry into an record of the changes in his former holding or any new land which he may wish to take up.
In the early days of British rule no system whatever prevailed throughout the Bombay presidency; and even at the present time there are tracts where something of the old confusion survives. The modern "survey tenure," as it is called, dates from 1838, when it was first introduced into one of the tálukas of Poona district, and it has since been gradually extended over the greater part of the presidency. As its name implies, the settlement is preceded by survey. Each field is measured, and an assessment placed upon it according to the quality of the soil and the crop. This assessment holds good, without any possibility of modification, for a term of thirty years. The average rate varies from a maximum of 4s 6d. an acre in the rich black soil lands of Cuzerat to a minimum of 10d. an acre in the barren hills of the Concan.
The primary characteristic of the Bombay system is its simplicity. The field is the unit, and its actual occupier is the only person recognized by the revenue law. He knows exactly what he will have to pay, and the state knows what it will receive, during the currency of the term. The assessment is, in fact, a rent-charge liable to be modified at intervals of thirty years. Secondly the system is characterized by its fairness to the tenant. He possesses "a transferable and heritable property, continuable without question at the expiration of a settlement lease, on his consenting to the revised rate." To borrow a metaphor from English law, his position has been raised from that of a villain to that of a copyholder. In exchange for the more leave to exist and till the soil he has received a right of property in the soil he tills, and he stands forth a free man. if the Bombay peasants have not reaped all the advantages from this system that might have been hoped for, the fault rests, not with the system, bit with themselves. They were unequal to the responsibilities of property which they had not won by their own exertions, but which the state (perhaps prematurely) cast upon them.
The North-Western Provinces and the Punjab have a similar land system. In that part of India the village community has preserved its integrity more completely than elsewhere. Government therefore recognized the village, and not the zamíndárs estate or the ráyats field, as the unit of land administration. Throughout the North-Western Provinces, indeed, the village is commonly owned by proprietors with the title of zamíndár, whereas in the Punjab the community is still the proprietor. But this is a distinction of tenure rather than of administration. In both cases alike the state recognizes only the villages, and makes its arrangement with the owners of the village, whether they be one or many, whether they be individuals, a corporation, or a bháyáchára (brotherhood). The survey there becomes a more comprehensive undertaking than in Madras or Bombay. In addition to measurement, and agricultural appraisement and calculation, it includes the duty of drawing up an exhaustive record of all rights and sub-tenures existing in every village. The proprietors are alone responsible for the revenue; but when the state limits its claims against them, it is not less careful to define at the same time the rights of others parties interested in the soil. The term of settlement both in the North-Western Provinces and in the Punjab is thirty years. The principle of assessment is that the Government revenue shall be equal to one-half of the improved rent, leaving the other half as the share of the landlord, who is liable for due payment, and has the trouble of collecting it from the cultivators. The average rate of assessment is about 2s. 11d. per acre in the North-Western Provinces, and 1s 4d. in the Punhab.
The Oudh tálukdárs resemble English landlords even more closely than do the zamíndárs of Bengal. In origin the majority were not revenue-farmers, but territorial magnates, who influence was derived from feudal authority as much as from mere wealth. Their present legal status dates from the pacification that followed on the mutiny of 1857. The engagement then entered into has been described as a political treaty rather than a revenue assessment. The great tálukdárs were invited to become responsible each fro a gross sum payable from the territory over which he exercised feudal rights. This sum was fixed in perpetuity; and the exceptional position of the tálukdárs was recognized by conferring upon them, not only the right of succession by primogeniture, but also the privilege of bequest,a privilege unknown alike to Hindu and Mahometan law. Land not comprised in tálukdárí estates was settled in the ordinary way with its proprietors or zamíndárs for a term of thirty years. The whole of Oudh has since been accurately surveyed.
The Central Provinces contain many varieties of land tenure, from the feudatories, who pay only a light tribute, to the village communities, whoa re assessed in the usual manner after survey. Population is sparse and agriculture backward, so that the incidence of land revenue is everywhere low. The survey was conducted generally on the Punjab system, adopting the village and not the field as the unit of measurement. The current settlement for a term of thirty years will empire in 1897.
In 1873-74 the total land revenue realized from territory under British administration in India amounted to £20,919,256, which is raised to £22,768,144 by the inclusion of certain local rates and cesses levied on land. This latter figure shows an average of 9·4d. per acre of gross area and 2s. 4·7d. per head of total population. The highest rate of assessment appears to be that in Bombay, which is 3s. 10·4d per head; the lowest, 1s. 2·7d per head in Bengal and Assam.
Salt-Administration.Next to land, salt contributes the largest share to the Indian revenue; and, where salt is locally manufactured, its supervision becomes an important part of administrative duty. Up to within quite times the tax levied upon salt varied extremely in different parts of the country, and a strong preventive staff was required to be stationed along a continuous barrier hedge, which almost cut the peninsula into two fiscal sections. The reform of Sir J. Strachey in 1878, by which the higher rates were reduced and the lower rates raised, with a view to their ultimate equalization over the whole country. Effectually abolished this old engine of oppression. Communication is now free; and it has been found that prices are absolutely lowered by thus bringing the consumer nearer to his market, even though the rate of taxation be increase. In the Punjab and Rágputána salt administration has thus become, as in Lower Bengal, a simple matter of weighing quantities and levying a uniform tax. In Bombay, also, the manufacture is now conducted with a minimum of expense at large central depots in Guzerat under a thorough system of excise supervision. Along the western coast, however, from Orissa to Cape Comorin, the process of evaporating sea-water is everywhere carried on as a private industry, though on Government account. As with poppy cultivation in Bengal, the manufacture of salt is a monopoly, which can only be defended by the peculiar circumstances of the case. No one is compelled to manufacture, and rights of property in a salt-pan are strictly respected, while the state contrives, by means of a careful staff of supervisors, to obtain the maximum of profit with a minimum of interference. The system as at present carried on has been gradually developed out of the experience of nearly a century. The manufactures belongs to the same class as ordinary cultivators; and, as a rule, their condition is somewhat more prosperous, for they possess an hereditary privilege with a commercial value. They do not work upon a system of advances, as is the case with so many other Indian industries; but they are paid at a certain rate when they bring their salt to the Government depot. This rate of payment, known as kudivaram, is at present fixed at an average of 1 ánná 5·8 pies per maund of 82 2/7 lb; the other expenses of the salt department, for supervision, &c., raise the total cost of 3 ánnás 5·6 pies per maund. The price now charged to the consumer by the Madras Government is Rs 2.8.0 per maund, the balance being net profit. The equal rate of salt duty which will ultimately prevail throughout all India is Rs. 2.8.0 per maund, or 7s. a cwt. This rate is already (1881) levied in Madras, Bombay, the North-Western Provinces, and the Punjab, but in Bengal a higher rate is provisionally in force of Rs. 2.14.0 per maund, or 8s. a cwt. In British Burmah only 3 ánnás per maund, or 6d. a cwt., in charged for local consumption, and a transit duty of 1 per cent. ad valorem for salt sent across the frontier.
ExciseExcise, like salt, is not only a department of revenue collection, but also to a great extent a branch of the executive. In other words, excise duties in India are not a mere tax upon the consumer, levied for convenience through the manufacturer and retail dealer, but a species of Government monopoly. The only excisable articles are intoxicants and drugs; and the avowed object of the state is to check consumption not less than to raise revenue. Details vary in the different provinces, but the general plan of administration is the same. The right to manufacture and the right to retail are both monopolies of Government permitted to private individuals only upon terms. Distillation of country spirits is allowed according to two systems,either to the highest bidder under strict supervision, or only upon certain spots set apart for the purpose. The latter is known as the sadr or central distillery system. The right of sale is also usually farmed out to the highest bidder, subject to regulations fixing the minimum quantity of liquor that may be sold at one time. The brewing of beer from rice and other grains, which is universal among the hill tribes and other aboriginal races, is practically untaxed and unrestrained. The European breweries recently established at several hill stations pay a tax at the rate of 6d. a gallon. Apart from spirits, excise duties are levied upon the sale of a number of intoxicating or stimulant drugs, of which the most important are opium and ganja or bhang. Opium is issued for local consumption in India from the Government manufactories at Patná and Benares, and sold through private retailers at a monopoly price. This drug is chiefly consumed in Assam, Burmah, and the Punjab. Gánjá is an intoxicating preparation made from the flowers and leaves of Indian hemp (Cannabis sativa, var. indica). The cultivation of hemp for this purpose is almost confined to a limited area in Rájsháhí district, Bengal, and to the farther valleys of the Himálayas, whence the drug is imported under the name of charas. Its abuse is sometimes a cause, not only of crime, but also of insanity. Government attempts to check consumptionfirst, by fixing the retail duty at the highest rate that will not encourage smuggling, and, secondly, by continually raising that rate as experience allows. Scientifically speaking, ganja consists of the flowering and fruiting heads of the female plant; bhang or siddhi, of the dried leaves and small stalks, with a few fruits; while charas is the resin itself, collected in various ways as it naturally exudes. No duty whatever is now levied upon tobacco in any part of India. The plant is universally grown by the cultivators for their own smoking, and, everything else, was subject to taxation under native rule; but the impossibility of accurate excise supervision has caused the British Government to abandon the impost.
The municipalities at present existing in India are a creation of the legislature and a branch of the general system of administration. Their origin is to be traced, not in the native pancháyat, but in the necessity for relieving the district officer of some of the details of his work. The pancháyat or elective council of five is one of the institutions most deeply rooted in the Hindu mind. By it the village community was governed, the head-man being only the executive official, not the legislative or judge; by it all caste disputes were settled; by the traders and merchants were organized into powerful guilds, to the rules of which even European outsiders have had to submit; by it the Síkh army of the khálsá was despotically governed, when the centralized system of Ranjít Sinh fell to pieces at his death. But the Hindu village organization had been greatly broken up under Mughal rule. The modern municipal committee is a body appointed by Government, on the nomination of the collector, to assist him in the discharge of his local duties, and to assess new modes of taxation. Police, roads, and sanitation are the three main objects for which a municipality is constituted. Outside a municipality these objects are (in different provinces) the care of the collector, of some member of his subordinate staff, or of a local fund board. Within municipal limits they are delegated to a committee, who practically derive their authority from the collectors sanction, implied or expressed. Except in the great towns, the municipalities cannot be said to enjoy any of the attributes of corporate life. However, as education advances, and with it the desire and capacity of self-government, the municipal committee will doubtless form the germ from which free local institutions will in the future be developed. In 1876-77, excluding the three preseidency capitals, there were altogether 894 municipalities in British India, with 12,381,059 inhabitants, or just 7 per cent. of the total population. Out of an aggregate number of 7519 members of municipal committees concerning whom information is available, 1794 were Europeans and 5725 natives; 1863 were ex-officio, 4512 nominated, and 1144 elected,the last class being almost confined to the North-Western and Central Provinces. The financial statistics of these municipalities are given in a subsequent section.
Imperial FinanceIt is impossible to present a concise view of India finance, such as shall be at once accurate and intelligible. In the first place, the aggregate figures of revenue and expenditure are officially returned according to a system which, though necessary for purposes of account, usually misleads the English financier. The whole system of administration is based upon the view that the British power is a paternal despotism, which owns, in a certain sense, the entire soil of the country, and whose duty it is to perform the various functions of a wealthy and enlightened proprietor. In addition, it takes on itself the business of a manufacturer and trader on a grand scale, as in the case of opium and salt. All these considerations tend to swell the totals on both sides of the balance-sheet with large items, which, on strict analysis, ought to be eliminated as mere matters of account. The actual taxation on the people of British India for 1878, as will be shown below, was 34 _ millions, or under 3s 8d. per head of the population. In the second place, the methods of keeping the public accounts have been subjected to frequent changes during recent years, to such an extent as to render comparative statements of total valueless. The following table, which has been compiled from the Parliamentary Abstract for 1877-78, exhibits the gross imperial revenue and expenditure of India for that years, according to the system of accounts adopted at the time. For the reasons already given, it is practically impossible to analyse these statements in such a way as to show the actual amount raised by taxation, and the actual amount returned in protection to person and property. It is equally impossible to compare the totals with those for previous years. The only profitable plan is to take some of the items and explain their real meaning.
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Revenue.It will be seen from above statement that the larger portion of the gross revenue is not derived from taxation at all. Public works, including railways, alone yield about 7 _ millions sterling, or nearly 13 per cent. of the total. If we add the items of post office and telegraphs, which also represent payment for work done or services supplied, the proportion rises to nearly 14 per cent. Then the sum of 9 millions gross, or 6 _ millions net, derived of the gross revenue, is admitted to be no charge upon the native tax-payer, but a voluntary contribution to the Indian exchequer by the Chinese consumer of the drug. Nearly one-third of the total gross revenue is thus accounted for. The land revenue, amounting to just 20 millions in an exceptionally bad year, cannot be passed over so lightly. Whether it should be properly regarded as a tax, or only as rent, is an abstruse problem for political economists to settle; but, in any case, it is paid without question, as an immemorial perquisite of the state. It yields 34 per cent., or more than one-third of the revenue. The importance of the land tax from the point of view of administration has been considered in a previous section. Setting aside provincial rates and assessed taxes as insignificant in their amount and variable in their incidence, we are left with four principal headings,excise, customs, salt, and stamps,which together constitute the indisputable taxation of the people. The total amount yielded by these four items is just 14 _ millions, being nearly 25 per cent., or one-fourth of the whole. Salt alone yields 6 _ millions, or 11 per cent. On the total population of 191 millions, the gross revenue of 59 millions shows an incidence of 6s. 2 1/8 per head. The land tax alone shows an incidence of 2s. 1 1/8 d. per head, the four taxes proper of 1s. 6 _ d. per head. The whole revenue of British India of the nature of actual taxation, including land revenue, excise, assessed taxes, provincial rates, customs, salt, and stamps, amounted in 1878 to £38,883,586, or 3s. 7 3/4d. per head. The rate was about 4s. per head in 1880.
Of the four items, excise and stamps are both almost entirely creations of British rule. Excise is simply a tax upon intoxicating liquors and deleterious drugs, levied both on the manufacture and on the sale, according to different systems in different provinces. Like the corresponding duty in England, it is voluntarily incurred, and presses hardest upon the lowest classes. But, unlike the English excise, it can hardly be called an elastic source of revenue, for the rate is intentionally kept so high as to discourage consumption. No duty whatever is levied upon tobacco. Stamps, as in England, is an ambiguous item. The greater part is derived from fees on litigation, and only a comparatively trifling amount from stamps proper on deeds of transfer, &c. Customs are divided into import and export duties, both of which have been so greatly lightened in recent years that their permanent maintenance must be considered doubtful. At the present time (1181) import duties, usually at the rate of 5 per cent. ad valorem, are levied upon a comparatively long list of commodities, of which the chief are cotton goods above a certain degree of fineness. All duties on exports have now been removed, with the single exception of that on rice, which brings in about £500,000 a year. That is levied at the rate of 3 ánnás a maund, or about 6d. per cwt., being equivalent to an ad valorem rate of about 10 per cent. India, including Burmah, possesses a practical monopoly of the supply of rice to Europe, and therefore the tax falls upon the consumer rather than upon the native producer. The salt tax is a matter of more importance and of greater difficulty. As an impost upon an article of prime necessity, and as falling with greatest severity upon the lowest classes, it violates the elementary rules of political economy. On the other hand, it may be urged that this tax is familiar to the people, and levied in a manner which arouses no discontent, and that it is the only means available of spreading taxation proper over the community. Recent reforms have tended to equalize the incidence of the salt tax over the entire country, with the immediate result of abolishing arbitrary and vexatious custom s lines, and with a view to its ultimate reduction.
Expenditure.Putting aside the cost of collection and civil administration, which explain themselves, the most important items of expenditure are army, interest on debt, famine relief, loss by exchange, and public works, to which may be added the complex item of payments in England. Military expenditure averages fully 16 millions a year, being thus considerably more than the whole amount obtained from taxation proper. Of this total, about 12 millions represent payments in India, and 4 millions payments in England. On non-effective services nearly 2 millions are expended in England and less than £700,000 in India. Regimental pay accounts for nearly 7 millions, the commissariat for about 2 millions in India, and stores for anther million in England. In 1877-78 the total capital of the Indian debt was returned at over 146 _ millions sterling, being just 15s. 4d. per head of the population. The total charge for interest was 5 millions, being at the rate of £3, 14s. 4d. per cent; but this excludes the interest to be credited against expenditure on reproductive public works, which is entered under another heading. In 1840 the debt amounted to only 30 millions, but it gradually increased to 52 millions in 1857. Then came the Mutiny, which added 42 millions of debt in four years. The rate of increase was again gradual but slow till about 1874, when famine relief conspired with public works to cause a rapid augmentation, which has continued to the present time. The most significant feature in that augmentation is the larger proportion of debt contracted in England. During the last ten years the silver debt has risen only 10 millions, whereas the gold debt has risen 28 millions. No charge has recently pressed harder upon the Indian exchequer than that of famine relief. Apart from loss by reduced revenue, the two famines of 1874 and 1877-78 have caused a direct expenditure one haritable and relief works, amounting in the aggregate to nearly 15 millions. Loss by exchange is an item which has only lately taken its place in the accounts, and is due to the circumstance that large payments in gold require to be made in England by means of the depreciated rupee. It is, of course, not a matter of expenditure proper, but merely the result of a peculiar mode of book-keeping, which estimates the rupee at the arbitrary value of 2s. In 1869-70 the loss by exchange on the other side of the ledger. In 1876-77 this item attained its maximum of nearly 1 _ million net. The expenditure on public works is provided from three sources(1) the capital of private companies, with a Government guarantee, (2) loans fro the construction of railways and canals, (3) current revenue applied towards such works as are considered to be not directly remunerative. In 1877-78 the total capital raised by the guaranteed railway companies was 95 _ millions, and the net earnings were 5 millions, thus showing on the average a satisfactory balance-sheet. In the ten years ending with 1878 29 millions were expended under the second head upon works classed as reproductive or extraordinary, of which 19 millions were appropriated to state railways and 10 millions to irrigation. The amount spent from revenue upon ordinary public works in 1877-78 was nearly 3 _ millions. The division of the expenditure into that paid in India and that paid in England becomes of importance when it is remembered that the latter portion requires to be provided in gold. In 1877-78, out of the total expenditure of 62 _ millions, 48 _ millions, or 78 per cent, were paid in India, and 14 millions, or 22 per cent., in England, including the guaranteed interest of the railway companies.
Local Finances.Independent of imperial finance, and likewise independent of certain sum annually transferred from the imperial exchequer to be expended by the provincial governments, there is anther Indian budget for local revenue and expenditure. That consists of an income derived mainly from cesses upon land, and expended to a great extent upon minor public works. In 1877-78 local revenue and expenditure were each returned at about 3 _ millions.
Municipal Finance.Yet a third budget is that belonging to the municipalities. The three presidency towns of Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay had in 1876-77 a total municipal income of £668,400, of which £519,322 was derived from taxation, being at the rate of 7s. per head of population. In addition, there were 894 minor municipalities, with a total population of 12,381,059. There aggregate income was £1,246,974, of which £979,088 was derived from taxation, being at the rate of 1s. 7d. per head. In the presidency towns, rates upon houses, &c., are the chief source of income; but more the district municipalities, excepting Bengal, octroi duties are more relied upon. On the side of expenditure the chief items are conservancy, roads, and police.
Army.At the present time (1181) the entire constitution of the Indian army is under the consideration of a commission. The existing organization is based upon the historical division into the three presidencies of Bengal, Madras and Bombay. There are still three Indian armies, each composed of both European and native troops, with their own commanders-in-chief and separate staff, though the commander-in-chief in Bengal exercises a supreme authority over the other two. There is also a fourth army, known as the Punjab frontier force, which, though on the Bengal establishment, is under the immediate orders of the lieutenant-governor of the province.
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Police.excluding the village watch, which is still maintained as a subsidiary force in many parts of the country, the total regular police of all kinds in British India in 1877 consisted of a total strength of 157,999 officers and men, being an average of one policeman to every 7 _ square miles of total area or to total area or to every 1096 of the total population. The total cost of maintenance was £2,511,704, of which £2,165,073 was payable from imperial or provincial revenues. The former figure gives an average cost of £3 per square mile of area and 3d. per head of population. The average pay of each constable was 7 rupees a mouth, or £8, 8s. a year.
Jails.In 1877 the total number of places of confinement in British India, including central and district jails and lock-ups, was 636; the total number of prisoners admitted during the year, or remaining over from the previous year, was 587,288; the daily average was 118, 456113,087 males and 5369 females. These figures prisoner to every 1618 of the total population of both sexes. The places of transportation for all British India are the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where there are two penal establishements; these contained in 1877 a daily average of 9145 convicts.
768- 1The chief of these Acts are 13 Geo. III. c. 63 ; 33 Geo. III. c. 52 ; 3 and 4 Will. IV. c. 85 ; 21 and 22 Vict. c. 106; and 24 and 25 Vict. c. 67.
768-2 A style first authorized by 33 Geo. III. c. 52, § 39.
768-3 "Cases of high importance and essentially affecting the public interest and welfare" (33 Geo, III. c. 52, § 47) ; "when any measure is proposed whereby the safety, tranquility, or interests of the British possessions in India may in the judgment of the governor-general be essentially affected" (3 and 4 Will. IV. c. 85, § 49) ; "cases of emergency" (24 and 25 Vict. c. 67, § 23).
768-4 The lineal descendant of the original council organized under the charters of the Company, first constituted by parliamentary sanction in 1773 (13 Geo. III. c. 63,§ 7).
768-5 Originally identical with the executive council, which legislative powers were conferred by 13 Geo. III. c. 63, § 36. The distinction between the two councils was first recognized in the appointment of "the fourth member" (3 and 4 Will. IV. c. 85, § 40).
768-6 First constituted out of the Supreme Courts and the Sudder (Sadr) Courts in 1861 (24 and 25 Vict. c. 104).
768-7 3 and 4 Will. IV. c. 85, §§ 39 and 65.
768-8 24 and 25 Vict. c. 67. § 42.
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