25 OCTOBER 1930, Page 17

[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] s a a,—One of your correspondents

charges me with " writing in a fit of anger " : another with " playing with words." I own that it is annoying to find statements that one knows to be inaccurate appearing in the form of propaganda in a paper of the reputation of the Spectator. But I can assure your correspondents that I have not lost my temper and I am content to leave quibbling and " railing " to others. I was glad to read Sir Tej Supru's excellent article in your issue of October 18th. He speaks of "the refusal of the Congress to participate in the Conference," which shows that Mr. Mahanti was wrong in calling it " exclusion," whatever the Daily Herald may say.

In your issue of October 4th Mr. Raychaudhuri asked " whether opium and liquors were not still sold in India against the demand of a united country." In your issue of October 18th, the same gentleman admits that " pro- hibition will mean some hardship to these people and they will protest against it." It follows from this that India is not united in demanding prohibition. I challenge his theory that a secret ballot either in this country or in India would find numbers in favour of having no punishment for thieves. Everybody wishes his own property to be safe from theft and burglary. The analogy drawn by your correspondent between the problems of total prohibition of strong drink and the introduction of compulsory primary education is not easy to follow, because primary education is an obvious good, while the positive harm of moderate drinking of beer ur toddy is open to question. It seems rather quaint to think of considering children's wishes about the introduction of compulsory primary education. Surely it is for their parents to decide what education their children should receive. would like to see compulsory primary education in every village in India. It is the cost that is prohibitive with the population increasing at its present rate. If higher education was made to pay for itself, and if the grants now allotted to Universities and 'Colleges were diverted to primary schools, It would be possible to make some progress with the extension of compulsory primary education from towns to villages. Your correspondent thinks that other sources might have been tapped and refers to the recommendations of the Lee Commission, to which I would reply that the carrying on of the administration of the country by a contented service, not underpaid when the cost of living increases far beyond what it was when salaries were originally fixed, is a necessity, while the extension of primary education is a desideratum to be accomplished as soon as it is practicable.

As regards your Editorial comments, the medical treatment of millions of consumers would be a formidable task for the medical department to tackle, India being so much larger than Formosa, and would involve the difficulty of drawing a line between moderate and heavy consumers.

I maintain that in India (more than in any other country owing to the conservative nature of the pecple) " custom reigns supreme," and cannot be changed in a day by an Executive Order, but that is what, in effect, it is suggested, in the article and letter which I have ventured to criticise, that the Viceroy should have rashly attempted.

For a reply to Mr. Reynolds's comments on my remarks re the salt tax I would refer him to my letter published by