19 DECEMBER 1896, Page 2

The reports of last week from the Indian famine area

are, on the whole, more hopeful ; but the danger is not over, especially in the Punjab, part of the North-West, Behar, Central India, and Assam. Prices of food are every- where excessively high ; the agricultural labourers are suffer- ing greatly—they always suffer first in India—and three ?hundred and thirty thousand persons have gone on to the relief works. The body of the peasantry are, however, not starving yet, but rather suffering from a scarcity. Some fear is expressed in Northern Bengal whether the supply of food, as distinguished from the supply of money to buy it, is sufficient; and we should judge from the price-lists that the stocks were getting exhausted. The Government, however, which is both anxious and well informed, is confident that the regular importation by private traders will prove sufficient. The native Press dislikes the relief system, but the native Press is usually on the side of the landlords, who dislike the plan because, while it feeds the poorest of the ryots, it does not help them to pay their rent. The native landlords are liberal enough, but they would rather give money and food than remissions of rent.