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on Lord Macdonald's estates in Skye, he says he appointed an inspector of improvements to go about amongst the crofters, and direct them as to the cultivation of their lands :—
"He was instructed not to expect or demand too much, but to aim rather at a steady progressive improvement though slow, rather than at any sudden or violent change. Being a judicious man, he quite comprehended my views. He carried out his instructions to my satisfaction, and with manifest advantage. Crooked ridges were made straight, springs or spouty spots were drained, and other improvements gradually carried out; but this mode of introducing a better system had been in operation only three years, when the failure of the potatoes overturned all our arrangements. Had that calamity not occurred, and forced the people to seek their subsistence for a great part of the year from the wages of labour elsewhere, I am of opinion that by this time such progress would have been made towards an improved mode of culture, as would have made it advisable to grant leases to many of the crofters."
LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT IN INDIA
LOCAL self-government for the natives of India is a matter of interest to all thoughtful observers. Much has been, and is being, done by the British Government for its Indian subjects. But it is felt that more than heretofore ought to be done by them for themselves, and that the Government ought to teach them how to do this. The idea that everything should be for the people and nothing by them, or, in other words, that everything should be effected by the Government and nothing through the agency of the people themselves, is not likely to be approved by British people. It is well, indeed, to bestow upon them material prosperity, security of rights and property, equitable and moderate taxation, the means both of preserving Oriental scholarship and of acquiring Western knowledge, some insight also into the wonders of modern science. Thus they will look up to the foreign Government as an embodiment of moral as well as political power; and, notwithstanding all that doubting critics may say, they will feel a loyal gratitude in the contemplation of what they have to be grateful for. But it is better still to afford to them that practical education which comes from the actual study of self-government, and that robustness of character which arises from exercise in the discipline of managing their own affairs. Under an administration like that of the British, which, though conducted with a comprehensive legislation and a strict executive, is in many essentials paternal or patriarchal, there is always a fear lest the people should regard themselves as forming an entity separate from the Government. If such should become the state of the public mind, the Government is likely to be en I'air as regards sympathy and moral support in the event of a political or military crisis. It is desirable indeed to found institutions intrinsically excellent; but it is yet more desirable to make the people regard themselves as forming a part of such institutions. Theu they will begin to feel their corporate existence as being one with the State. England must, no doubt, for an indefinitely long time, rely mainly ou her own right arm. Still the popular support, if rendered ex animo, would be of priceless value. One of the best and surest means of winning such support is to promote that local self-government which I now propose briefly to consider.
For many years past, indeed almost from the beginning of British rule, there has been in India the germ of what in England is known as "local government and taxation." This germ has been fostered, till in some of the principal cities and of the rural towns, and nearly throughout the districts in the interior (which districts correspond very much to English counties), the affairs commonly called local in India, as in other countries, are largely under the management and control of local bodies consisting partly of Europeans (chiefly official) and partly of natives. These affairs may, for India, be summarized as,—roads and communications, primary and middleclass education, sanitation and medical work, municipal police. Under this agency much external improvement has been effected, leaving a happy impress on nearly every part of a widely-extended country. The system, such as it is, was further strengthened, in 1872, by a measure introduced and executed by Lord Mayo's Government, officially termed the system of Provincial Services, whereby an increased financial control was conceded by the Supreme Government of India to the several Local Governments in the empire, of various grades, eight in number, respecting the heads of service mentioned above, and some others besides. By legislation also a complete constitution, after the British model, was conferred upon the municipal corporations of the two great cities, Calcutta and Bombay.
Nevertheless, in the interior of the country the position of these local bodies has been uncertain, and their action fitful. The native members were nominated by official authority, and were supposed or intended to be representatives of local interests. Still, not being elected, they have never been representatives in the English sense of the term. Their proceedings have been under an official control to which there has not been any limitation, either by rule or practice. Despite numerous instances of praiseworthy public spirit, there has often been an atmosphere of apathy pervading their conduct. On the whole, their proceedings have been such as might be expected on the part of those who arc not stimulated by a sense of real power and responsibility.
Since the middle of 1881, the Government of India, under Lord Bipon, appear to have been earnestly considering the best way of consolidating the position of these local bodies, broadening their basis, augmenting their powers, and investing them with responsibilities corresponding thereto. In September, 1881, the Government issued a Resolution extending further the system of Provincial Services—that is, enlarging the financial powers of the several Local Governments in provincial affairs. Then in May of last year (1882), another Resolution was issued regarding the local bodies already described, and for the avowed purpose of promoting the principle of local self-government for the natives.
The language with which the last-named resolution opens is so positive and specific as to deserve quoting, and it runs thus:—
"At the outset the Governor-General in Council must explain that in advocating the extension of local self-government and in the adoption of this principle in the management of many branches of local affairs, he does not suppose that the work will be, in the first instance, better done than if it remained in the sole hands of the Government district officers. It is not primarily with a view to improvement in administration that this measure is put forward and supported. It is chiefly desirable as an instrument of popular and political education. His Excellency in Council has no doubt that, in course of time, as local knowledge and interest are brought to bear more freely upon local administration, improved efficiency will in fact follow. But at starting there will doubtless be many failures, calculated to discourage exaggerated hopes and even in some cases to cast apparent discredit upon die practice of self-government itself. If, however, the officers of Government only set themselves, as the Governor-General in Council believes they will, to foster sedulously the small beginnings of independent political life; if they accept loyally, and as their own, the policy of the Government; and if they come to realize that the system opens to them a fairer field for the exercise of administrative tact and directive energy than the more autocratic system which it supersedes, then it may be hoped that the period of failures Till be short and that real and substantial progress will very soon become manifest.
"It is not uncommonly asserted that the people of this country are themselves entirely indifferent to the principle of self-government, that they take but little interest in public matters, and that they prefer to have such affairs managed for them by Government officers. The Governor-General in Council doe3 not attach much value to this theory. It represents, no doubt, the point of view which commends itself to many active and well-intentioned district officers; and the people of India are, there can be equally no doubt, remarkably tolerant of existing facts. But as education advances there is rapidly growing up all over the country an intelligent class of public-spirited men whom it is not only bad policy but sheer waste of power to fail to utilise."
This frank and unreserved declaration of principle is followed by directions in detail, of which the prominent points only can be stated here. While the municipal administration in the cities and towns is to be maintained and extended as far as possible, a network of local boards is to be formed in the districts (like the English counties, as already mentioned) into which the country is divided. The area placed under each board is to be small, as an administrative unit; consequently there will be many boards in a district. Each hoard will have the supervision of a group of villages, following as much as possible the traditional divisions into which the country has from olden times been divided. But ordinarily there will be at the headquarters of the district a central board, having control over the lesser boards. The members of the boards are to be chosen by election, wherever it may, in the opinion of the local governments, be practicable to adopt that system of choice. The qualification of the electors and other matters pertaining to the elections are to be determined by the local governments. It is anticipated that, as a consequence, the electoral system throughout the country will present a very diversified appearance. This may prove to be rather convenient than otherwise, as tending to develop the idiosyncrasies of a vast and diverse population. But if there be any inconvenience therefrom, it must be endured, as above all things it is desirable to proceed cautiously in deference to the sentiments prevailing in widelyscattered localities. The boards are to have as much of iudependent power as possible, consistently with the control of official authority in two respects—first, the sanction of certain specified acts, such as the raising of loans and the imposition of taxes, and secondly, the power of suspending temporarily a board from its functions in case of any gross and continued neglect of an important duty. Respecting the several branches of local administration already mentioned, the boards are to be entrusted not only with the expenditure of established funds, and of other moneys which may be allotted to them, but also with the management of certain among the Governmental revenues, such as the License Tax.
Thus local funds amounting to several millions sterling annually, roads of many thousands of miles in total length, rustic school-houses numbered by tens of thousands, medical and other institutions to be counted by hundreds, will be hereafter administered by boards elected by electors from the villages of British India,—in number about 400,000. This is of itself a considerable piece of administration.
Now, of these comprehensive instructions the greater part amounts to an expansion of the existing system. The expansion is, however, remarkable in respect to the number of the boards in each district (Anglicd county). Whereas there has heretofore been only one such board in a district, commonly called "the Local Committee," there will in future be many boards. This of itself will ensure a more equitable distribution than heretofore of improvement throughout the whole district, and especially in remote or comparatively neglected tracts. But the real novelty lies in the instruction that, so far as may be practicable, the members of the boards shall be elected. This is a principle heretofore almost unknown practically in the interior of India—that is in the agricultural regions of a country where (in contrast to the proportions existing in England) four-fifths of the popu