THE CIVIL SERVICE IN LOWER BENGAL
[TO THE EDITOR Or TEl ”STICOTAT01:1 SIB,—The article in your issue of May 29, on "The Grievance of the Bengal Civilians," was confined to the ill-treatment to which the civilians of the North-West Provinces, Punjab, and Oude object. Perhaps you are not aware that the civilians of Lower Bengal also have good cause for complaint of the way in which they have been taken in by Government, and that your perfectly sound advice to "the educated class to reject Bengal as a career for their sons" is as applicable to those whose sons think of going to Lower as to those whose sons think of going to Upper Bengal. You do not know, perhaps, that there is at present a memorial from the Bengal Civil Service as a whole before the Secretary of State for India, dealing, not with the special grievance of the North-West men, but with those under which they, in common with all the rest of the Service, labour. The memorial shows that Government has for years systematically gone on breaking faith with the Service, and robbing it of the emoluments to which its members looked forward. This course was adopted with the very best of motives, no doubt, but it was swindling all the same. Consequently, the Service has lost pretty well all its attractiveness, and the civilians begin to entertain serious fears of having what little yet remains taken from them. A short aummary of the memorial will make this clear.
The 33rd George III., cap. 52, see. 57, provided that all vacancies in the East India Company's Service in India should be filled only by members of the Civil Service of the Presidency in which they occurred. This provision was continued by 21 and 22 Vic., cap. 106, secs. 30, 32, 64; and it was also further enacted that only those persons who held the certificate of the Civil Service Com- missioners should be appointed to the Civil Service. In 1861 these engagements were broken by 24 and 25 Vic., cap. 54, which enacted that others than covenanted civilians might be appointed to posts hitherto reserved by law exclusively for covenanted civilians. In 1870, 33 Vic., cap. 3, authorised the direct admission of natives of India to appointments previously held by covenanted civilians.
Here the Civilians should have protested, but they foolishly clung to a belief in the fairness of Government till recently, when rules were framed by the Indian Government for the admission of natives to the Service under the Act last cited ; and it was pro- posed to bestow upon them a large number of district judgeships, the only valuable posts to which a young civilian can now-a-days reasonably look forward as the reward of a long and laborious career. This naturally alarmed the Seryice, and hence the memorial, copies of which, I may mention, are to be obtained at Messrs. Coutts, the bankers, together with an appendix of minutes by members of the Indian Council, adverse to the dishonest con- duct of the Government in its dealings with the Service. The memorialists very properly state that they do not object to the ap- pointment of natives because they are natives,—what they do object to is the breach of faith with themselves, the barefaced robbing them of that which had been held out to them as an inducement to aban- don an English for an Indian career. They point out also that this is all the harder, since these things have combined of late years to diminish the attractiveness of the Service. Since 1859 salaries have decreased 11 per cent., and within the last twenty-five years their purchasing power has diminished 50 per cent., while promotion has long been, midis likely long to remain, stagnant. They there- fore pray for redress, which, judging by Government's previous behaviour, they are by no means likely to get.
English parents should think very seriously before they let their sons trust themselves to the mercy of a Government which can Itct towards its servants as the above facts show it has acted. As for the Service itself, it is thoroughly permeated by the spirit of discontent. The memorial is signed by civilians of all ranks, from High-Court Judges and members of the Board of Revenue, down to the latest-joined assistant. This shows how strong the feeling against the injustice of Government is, for your highly-placed and well-paid officials generally bear with much resignation the mis- fortunes of those low down on the ladder. Is it well to have a whole service composed of unwilling servants ?
in place of your proposal, in the case of the North-West civilians, to give five years' service towards pension, I would sub- stitute the suggestion to let all who wish retire at once on pensions proportionate to their term of service, instead of compelling them to work out their whole twenty-five years before they can claim a pension, as they now have to do. Let a man, say, who has served five years (and if at the end of that term be is discontented and sus- picious of his masters, he is likely to remain so throughout his service) retire, if he wishes it, on /200 a year, and so on, at the rate of £.40 for every additional year of service, the rate at which the ultimate pension of £1,000 a year is calculated. This plan I
recommend as a temporary measure, and to effect a clearance of
the Service, that things may be put on a fresh footing. In this way, the malcontents would be got rid of, and Government might fill up their places with the natives, to whom it now appears dis- posed to hand over the administration of the country. They need not be paid as highly as Europeans. Those of the latter whose confidence in the good faith of Government was gone could, while still young enough, leave the Service to seek elsewhere the treatment which they had learned not to expect from their present masters ; and if any more Europeans were weak enough to enter the Service afterwards, they, at least, could not say they expected what had been denied to their predecessors.—! am, Sir, &c., J. B.