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REFORM COMMITTEE DELHI, FEBRUARY 1919.
Ground: Mr. J. D. V. Hodge; Mr. P. C. Tallents. Chairs: Maulvi Sir Rahim Bakhsh; Sahibzada Aftab
A MONTHLY PERIODICAL DEVOTED TO THE DISCUSSION OF ALL TOPICS OF INTEREST.
THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA BILL
MR. G. A. NATESAN
N the absence of the accurate and authorised text of the Bill and of the rules to be made thereunder it is difficult to attempt anything like a criticism of the before Parliament. The recommendations of both the Franchise and Functions Committees approved in the main by the Indian public are to be embodied in rules and schedules and are to be considered by the Joint Committee and then presented for final decision to Parliament. But not only this; even some of the most vital points have been reserved for the Joint Committee and the Bill before us is nothing but a skeleton, a bare frame work. is a matter for great relief that many of the reactionary and retrograde proposals of the Government of India are not accepted by Mr. Montagu. The ring of sincerity which runs through every line of his speech on the occasion of the Second Reading of the Bill, the emphatic and forceful manner in which he presented the case for reform of the existing system of the Government of India, the imminent necessity for the transference of power from the bureaucracy to the people and to give India 'an enduring constitution,' though by a transitional' form-a bridge between government by agents of Parliament and government by the representatives of the peoplemake India feel hopeful. India rejoices that Mr. Montagu in his great speech has recognised in no uncertain terms our claim for responsible Government on the only logical, possible, and acceptable meaning of empire and democracy, viz, an opportunity to all nations flying the imperial flag to control their own destinies.' We are glad too that he emphatically asserted that
'there could be no greater stimulus to education, no better way of promoting community of action, of overcoming the acerbities of caste, than by setting the population the common task of working out the rosperity of their country. There was no better
way of promoting democratic customs than by working them through democratic institutions despite all difficulties."
There could be no better indictment of the false theories and misleading statements with which Lord Sydenham and other self-styled 'well wishers' of India have been trying to infect an un-informed and ignorant British public. Every friend of reform and progress will rejoice that the Indo British Association's so-called scheme of reforms has been summarily rejected by the Secretary of State, and justly described as 'a scheme of bureaucrats, for the consumption of bureaucrats and intended for the enthronement of
bureaucracy'. Such a state of things has already been found impossible; to attempt to perpetuate it would be to perpetuate what is intolerable. India can no longer tolerate future Sydenhams remaining upon the throne untrammelled by control from above and undisturbed by criticism from below.' Any step for reform must lead to the progressive realisation of responsible government and the country will be justified in opposing any reactionary attempts to make India go backwards. We take it that the passing of the Second Reading without division is an augury that Parliament is committed to the general principles of the Bill and that it is morally responsible for launching India on the road to complete self-government. All India will watch with keen interest the proceedings of the Joint-Committee. We sincerely hope that the Committee's endeavours will be directed to improve the Bill in every respect, to provide for the will of the representatives of the people to prevail to some extent at least on the Central Government, for some form of fiscal autonomy if full freedom in that direction were not possible, in short, to make such alterations and improvements as to enable the people of India to say that the steps to responsible government are at the outset substantial.'
DR. FITZGERALD-LEE, M. A.
HE German schools of thought were the first to devote particular attention to what they called the Zeitgeist, the Spirit of the Age.
The idea meant to be conveyed by this expression is that successive periods of the world's history have had peculiar features of their own, by which they are specially distinguished from former periods and so the Zeitgeist is simply a combination of the prevalent influences and opinions of a particular period. Thus, during the greater part of the sixteenth century in Europe, the Spirit of the Age was one of discovery, of enquiry into established opinions, of struggling towards mental independence and new paths of thought. In the seventeenth century, it was that of an upheaval of thought transformed into action; in the eighteenth, scepticism and rationalism; in the nineteenth, a wave of materialism, an increase of practical knowledge, marked, however, by the want of a corresponding forward movement in the direction of the intellectual and the spiritual.
It is said that humanity moves on three parallel lines; namely, the material, the intellectual and the spiritual; and further, if the advance is too rapid along any one of these three lines without a corresponding advance on the other two, or at the expense of the other two, the result will prove to be so much the worse for Humanity. So the Spirit of the Age is marked- —as on a barometer-by the rise and fall along these three lines.
The greatness of the truly great men of any particular nation, at any period, consists in their being able to focus this Spirit of the Age; and by their ability in this respect, in satisfying the hopes and desires of their people; such men build in strength. But they are few and rare: Pitt and Frederick of Prussia in the eighteenth century; Bismarck, Gladstone and Cavour, in the nineteenth, and Lincoln in America. If, at the Treaty of Frankfort (1871), Bismarck's proferred advice had been followed, Alsace and Lorraine would not have been taken from France; and "the legacy of hate and bitterness for fifty years (as Bismarck truly forecast it) would never have cursed Europe. But, unfortunately for both France and Germany, the counsel of the Soldier
was in this case preferred to that of the Statesman. And the natural results followed.
We are face to face with a similar state of
things to day; but we have no Bismarck, Gladstone nor Lincoln. In the storm through which we have struggled, our statesmen and diplomatists have not added to their reputation: our soldiers have. A successful war adds to the reputation of armies and the leaders of armies; and herein lies a danger as to the immediate future.
History gives many examples of the fact that successful soldiers have availed themselves of their popularity with the many, and of reputation gained on the battle-field, to pose as statesmen, and to attempt to direct the politics of their country. Wellington was made Minister because he had won Waterloo; and he naturally failed, because he tried to rule his Cabinet as he had ruled
his Camp. Successful fighting-men have sometimes created and ruled States in India; but such States have rarely survived their founders. The Kingdom of Mysore did not survive Hyder Ali; the Kingdom of the Punjab fell to pieces shortly after the death of Ranjeet Singh.
When soldiers take to dabbling in politics they fail; and this will be particularly the case when they take up politics as a mere fad, after having laid down the sword. If they only failed, and no more, perhaps they would not cause so much positive harm; but sometimes they go so far as to dogmatise and lay down the law on points which can be decided only by deeply-thinking and farseeing statesmen. For instance, the mere dictum of Lord Wolseley on the advisability of the Channel Tunnel was sufficient to put a stop to a work the timely accomplishment of which would have saved England millions of money and thousands of lives in the recent Great War. His Lordship stated most emphatically that the projected Channel Tunnel would constitute a grave danger to England; and, in a special interview which he granted to a newspaper correspondent next day, he said that the building of the Tunnel would be nothing short of "flying in the face of Providence, who evidently meant England to be protected by its insular position." And that settled it; because when a man who has been Commander-in-Chief in India begins to talk about the