பிராமணர் அல்லாதார் பிரதிநிதித்துவம் குறித்து பிரிட்டன் நாடாளுமன்றம்
1919 GOI Draft Rulesகுறித்த விவாதம் ஜூலை 15, 1920ல் பிரிட்டன் நாடாளுமன்றத்தில் நடந்தது. அதில் பிராமணர் அல்லாதவர்க்கு மெஸ்டன் அவார்டு கொடுக்கப்பட்ட எண்ணிக்கை மிகக்குறைவு என்பதை சுட்டிக்காட்டி அம்ப்தில் பிரபு மற்றும் சைதன் ஹெம் பிரபு போன்றவர்கள் கடுமையான வாதங்களை பிராமணர் அல்லாதவர் பிரதிநிதி எண்ணிக்கைகாக முன்வைத்தனர். கூட்டுக்கமிட்டிக்கு தலைமைதாங்கி சட்டவிதிகளை இறுதிப்படுத்தியவர்கள் பதிலும் தந்தனர். அந்த விவாதங்களிலிருந்து சில பகுதிகளை வரலாற்று புரிதலுக்காக இங்கு கொடுத்துள்ளேன். ஆங்கில வரிகள்தான். சிலராவது படித்து கூடுதல் புரிதல் எனும் பயனைப்பெறமுடியும். இச்சட்டம் மூலம்தான் நீதி கட்சியின் ஆட்சி மதராஸ் மாகாணத்தில் ஏற்பட்டது.
I am principally concerned with the complaints of the non-Brahmins of the Presidency of Madras—that is to say, the vast majority of the people of that great Presidency, with a population and an area equal to those of the United Kingdom. The Brahmins are only 3 per cent. of that population; the remainder are non-Brahmins. The first result of rousing the people of India from their apathetic contentment, which was the avowed and principal object of the Secretary of State and the Viceroy, has been to divide Brahmins and non-Brahmins into bitterly hostile parties, to revive century-old animosities, and to awake apprehensions which British rule has hitherto prevented from being felt. The British Bureaucracy have been impartial arbitrators between the different races and classes and castes and sects in India. That impartial arbitration is in danger of being weakened.
The Brahmins (and it is as well to know this) are not only of a different caste, but of a different race, from the non-Brahmins of Madras. The Brahmins claims to be of Aryan descent, the remainder are of a totally different race. The Brahmins are securely established in the impregnable fortress of a privileged class—privileged in a way in which no class of men in any other country has ever been privileged. They are armed with the powers of a dominant priesthood over a superstitious people—with greater power than any priesthood has had in any other country—a people whose religion is their social code, whose every act of every-day life is governed by religious ordinance. These Brahmins are a class who are in possession at the present time of overwhelming official and social power. As I have said, the Brahmins are only 3 per cent. of the population, but they hold 80 per cent. of the positions in the public service and in the Councils. They contribute practically nothing in the way of revenue to the State. Their land is "agraharam" or "inam," and they have even contrived not to pay the irrigation cess which is imposed through- 195out the Presidency. The effect of these reforms will be to increase the overwhelming powers of this privileged class, and to render the British bureaucracy powerless to continue their rule as impartial and benevolent arbitrators.
I want to tell you what the attitude of the non-Brahmins is, and to put it into popular and homely language. The non-Brahmins say, "We would a hundred times rather have British rule than Brahmin rule. We have played the game by you. We have contributed an overwhelmingly large share to the Revenues which have enabled you to keep up your Government. We have stood by you and supported you in all you wanted to do, particularly during the war when we were the people who prevented agitation. We did all we could to assist you and to support the British cause. We do not want these political reforms, but, since it is your wish that we should be governed in a different way, we will do our very best to work this reform scheme. But give us a fair chance."
Remember that Madras is different from the rest of India. The men of Madras are as different from other races in India—the Punjabis or the Bengalis, or the Sikhs—as the British are from the Portuguese; and remember that the people of Madras have had personal acquaintance with both of those European nations. The Madras Presidency has been untouched by successive waves of invasion in the past, and it remains the home of Hinduism and of the caste system. So long as caste exists, and there is no sign that it will be abolished—they say that the Government is powerless. The only hope is to put every community on a level of political equality. Therefore they say, "If you want to give us a fair chance give us communal representation through communal electorates which will enable us to act as a community. That is the only way in which we can act with the slightest hope of success. It is thus that you will give us a chance of organising, of becoming politically minded, and of fitting ourselves to compete with the Brahmins whom we fully admit have all the education and ability and power at the present time. We do not want communal representation for ever, but only until we can train enough people to be politically-minded in the sense which you now desire."
... Therefore, it was ordained by the Secretary of State, through this Joint Select Committee, that the grievance of the non-Brahmins in Madras—the grievance of practically the entire population of Madras—should be met by separate representation and by reservation of seats. That is not at all the same thing. Brahmins and non-Brahmins were told to confer together and to arrive at an agreement. A pretty hopeless suggestion! That was the suggestion of the Joint Committee, and it would not have been made by anyone acquainted with the people of the Madras Presidency. But in all good faith they met and attempted it. The Conference broke down.
There were ugly rumours that the Secretary of State had forbidden the Governor to allow even discussion on communal representation. There were the usual denials. The Conference was a failure, and Lord Meston (whom I saw here a minute ago) was sent out to arbitrate. He gave his award, and the result of it has been the bitter and continued discontent voiced every week from India in the papers and communications I have received. The award is described as "cruel and unjust." The effect of that award is that only twenty-eight seats are reserved out of sixty-five. The Brahmins themselves were prepared to concede 50 per cent. Lord Willingdon, the Governor, said 50 per cent. would not be unreasonable. The non-Brahmins asked for forty-two, but Lord Meston has cut them down to twenty-eight. The non-Brahmins say, "We could get twenty-eight seats without representation. What we want is a sufficient number of seats reserved to make this concession of any use to us at all."
....In the Madras Presidency, with its 41,000,000 of population, and with its area as great as that of the United Kingdom, this is not merely a matter of political enfranchisement, of new civic duty, it is an even more vital matter—it is a question of civil and religious liberty. And the greater part of the fear entertained by the non Brahmins of Madras is that their religious liberty, their religious institutions, will be interfered with in a manner in which the British Raj has never interfered with them, by those who will now be given the power; that is to say, by the Brahmin oligarchy.
But, lest your Lordships should think that I am merely giving you my own views, allow me to quote to your Lordships what has been said by the leaders of the new organisations which have sprung up in the Madras Presidency in order to defend their rights and their civil and religious liberty. Here is some of the evidence which was given before the Joint Select Committee. It refers to Madras only, and I confine myself to extracts— In the public services of the country Brahmins preponderate. A small minority is dominating over a large majority. All non-Brahmins want communal electorates. Even the non-Brahmins of the Madras Presidency Association, a minority party, want communal representation. Almost all the Brahmin organisations conceded the need for communal representation. The All-India Conference of Moderates at Bombay agreed to give communal representation. The Government of Madras has shown that communal electorates are necessary. The Indian Government would concede communal representations, and whatever comes from that source favourable to the non-Brahmins should be given special weight. There is no force in the objection raised in the Report of the Joint Committee against communal representation. The other objections—such as non-Brahmins being in the majority in population and amongst the voters—raised elsewhere do not stand the test of criticism, and numbers do not count. That is a very important point. And here is the summing up of the attitude of the non-Brahmins as given by the President of the non-Brahmin Conference at Tinnevelly in December, 1917— We non-Brahmins are to remain and multiply in order that the chosen few may have subjects to rule, and the British are to remain to keep off external danger by their Military and Naval Forces and to suppress us if we should dare to oppose the orders of a Brahmin oligarchy. Great Britain has the right to demand from us obedience and, if necessary, to secure it by force, provided she rules well and is willing to give us a share in ruling as we become fitter and fitter to bear the 198responsibilities. But I say emphatically that Great Britain has no right to say, 'I will put over you an oligarchy in which you have no share, which you distrust, which is socially contemptuous of you. I will let that oligarchy shape its policy as it pleases, and if you dare to dispute its authority, then I, even if I disapprove of its policy, will use the British Army to enforce non-British policy. We are not cattle to be sold by one master to another, with the further humiliation of the first master standing by with a bludgeon in case we object to be sold. That is strong language, but it is confirmed by many similar utterances and resolutions, and it expresses what is felt by the non-Brahmins of Madras. The Select Joint Committee have not understood the case at all
The Joint Committee last year would not accept (wrongly as I venture to think) the principle of communal representation; yet only by communal representation can you secure a just system of election for the people of India. They did, however, adopt communal representation in certain eases of which we know. They seemed to be particularly sympathetic to the Marathas of the Bombay Presidency. Now they have cut down to seven the seats which were originally intended to be eight, which is far too low to represent that great community adequately. The reason for that reduction is that they accept a definition of "Marathas" which is not historically accurate, which excludes some very closely allied castes altogether. The result of that is that the Hindu non-Brahmin classes of Bombay, large numbers of which are really Marathas, come very badly off in the matter of representation in the Council. The seven members who now remain may have to represent the interests of something like 14,000,000 non-Brahmin Hindus in the Province of Bombay, whilst the Mahometians, who number only 3,500,000, have twenty-seven seats given them. Whatever that may be it is certainly not democracy, and I greatly regret that the backward classes generally have been deprived of their rights under the electoral arrangements now proposed. How the dominant Congress faction regard these poor people can well be understood by the number of violent attacks they have been making on the Maharaja of Kolhapur, who is a stout champion of the working classes in India.
In Madras the non-Brahmins, comprising the vast majority of the population, will be nowhere in the Council of the future. The Government of India gave them originally thirty seats out of sixty-one, and the Joint Committee considered that the final proportion ought to be settled by a Conference in India itself. There was a Conference at which some of the Brahmins were prepared to give thirty-six out of the sixty-five seats, but the Governor ruled that no more than half could be given to the non-Brahmins, and the conference broke up. Then came Lord Meston as arbitrator, and he went to Madras without any know- 204ledge of Southern India. He cut down the non-Brahmins to twenty-eight out of sixty-five seats and gave a number of reasons for doing so, with which I totally dissent. We had the old story that the non-Brahmins, who are there in a large majority, can perfectly well take care of themselves, but it is impossible in the present conditions of Madras for them to take care of themselves unless they have adequate representation of their own.
Then a most misleading deduction was drawn from the Madras municipality where the non-Brahmins are in a majority. I am told that the noble Lord refused to hear the whole case of the non-Brahmins. I may be quite wrong and perhaps he will wish to explain. In Madras the Brahmins dominate all the public services and they will be able to exercise immense influence at the Elections by methods which everybody who has served in India well knows. The result must be bitter resentment among the loyal people who are the real workers of the Presidency and whose interests it is our duty to safeguard.
Last year the non-Brahmins were at a very great disadvantage before the Joint Committee. They lost their great leader Dr. Nair, who died before his evidence could be taken. They were a small body, and insufficiently provided with funds. They found the Congress Party amply financed and in possession of the field. The Congress delegates had captured the Labour Party in this country and had induced the Labour Party to believe that Brahmins, lawyers, and capitalists, were the only people who represented the working classes in India. Their proceedings were extraordinarily well stage-managed. We had to deal with three Home Rule organisations, all holding exactly similar views, but each requiring a separate deputation to represent those views. In effect it was a procession of town-bred persons whose interests and objects were diametrically opposed to the agriculturists who form the backbone and vast majority of the people of India.
The Election Rules proceed on the assumption that conditions in India are the same as those in Western countries. There are to be bribery laws, and candidates are to make accurate returns of their Election expenses. The Joint Committee has included "employment of paid canvassers in excess of the maximum, which they trust will be rigidly limited" among 205corrupt practices. This is most right and proper, but it will be absolutely ineffectual when the Elections come on. There can be no proper supervision whatever of the Elections to be held this autumn. A large number of the electors will be totally illiterate and will not know what it is about. There will be corruption and intimidation on a large scale and the first principles of democracy will be flagrantly violated.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
My Lords, Lord Sydenham and Lord Ampthill are recognised as frank and very direct critics of the whole scheme of reform, and both noble Lords have revived all kinds of attacks on the main principles of the Act which were very frequently heard last year and which, on most occasions, were adequately answered by Lord Sinha and by the noble Earl the Leader of the House. I am sorry that Lord Ampthill should have brought so many charges of bad faith, about adroit manԓuvring, taking advantage of the war, which I confess seemed to me to be very much over-stated and overdrawn. I submit that, rightly or wrongly, fortunately or the reverse, the time has gone by when the Act and its main principles can be profitably attacked. The Act is now a Statute of the Realm. The Rules are an honest interpretation of that Act. That is all that the Draft Rules represent.
The Earl of Selborne
As I was Chairman of the Joint Select Committee I think your Lordships will expect me to say something on this subject. My noble friends, 209Lord Ampthill and Lord Sydenham, hold very strong views, to which, I think, they are wholly entitled, against the policy of the Government, which is embodied in the Government of India Act. I have no responsibility whatever for that policy, but I must endorse what my noble friend who has just sat down has said—namely, that that is not the issue before us to-night. For good or for evil the Government of India Act passed into law. It received the King's Assent, last December, but it cannot be brought into operation until the Rules, which are now laid before your Lordships, have effect, and they cannot be brought into operation until the judgment of this House and of the other House has been passed upon them. Therefore, really the only question before your Lordships to-day, is whether you should pass judgment now upon these Rules, as proposed by the noble Lord, the Under-Secretary of State for India.
Last year the Joint Select Committee sat for an endless series of weeks. We heard an enormous number of witnesses representing every shade of opinion, and I have no hesitation in saying that most of those witnesses simply repeated what another witness had said before them. Nevertheless, we thought it our duty to show the greatest patience and courtesy, and to make it impossible for any Party in India to say that it had not had ample opportunity of stating its case. Having done that once, there is no conceivable reason why we should do it twice. Therefore, the first thing that the Joint Select Committee decided when it was appointed the other day was that it would hear no more evidence on this subject. We heard that a certain 210deputation, without any communication with us or with the Government of India, had started from India in order to give evidence before us. We had never said or done anything that could lead anyone to suppose that we were disposed to re-open the case or to hear further evidence. We all received an extraordinary number of communications in the form of telegram, memoranda and letters. These have all been received be the Committee and have had the attention due to them.
The question really has been—Were we, the Joint Select Committee, composed of members of the two Houses of Parliament (some of whom had Indian experience, most of whom had not), to attempt to do over again the work so admirably done by the Government of India, and by the local Governments in India. We made no such attempt. We studied the result of their work carefully, and we have made a few changes, but very very few.