27 JANUARY 1939, Page 23


Social Service in India (Sir Stanley Reed, M.P.) ... ... 135 The Social Function of Science (C. P. Snow) ... ... 136 Denmark's Day of Doom (T. G. Barman) ... ... 136 The Mozart Correspondence (Dyneley Hussey) ... ... 137 A Plea for America (D. W. Brogan) ... ... 138 The Refugee Problem (Frank Singleton) ...



American Caste and the Negro College ... ... 140 Your House and Mine (Morley Horder) ... 140 A Heart for the Gods of Mexico (Graham Greene) ... 141 Fiction (Forrest Reid) ... 142



IT is instructive to mark how the modest suggestion of a dis- tinguished Indian Civilian, Sir Mul Chatterji, G.C.I.E., that a short series of lectures should be given to probationers for the Indian Civil Service expanded to a round dozen, and that these should be issued to the public in the form of a generous tome of 450 pages, with illustrations and charts. Those genuinely interested in Indian problems, even though they have been remitted to responsible Ministries in the Provinces, will not quarrel at the expansion. In the result we have an authoritative volume, each chapter written by a master of the subject, embracing every important branch of the administration, prepared under the general editorship of Sir Edward Blunt, K.C.I.E.

The task to which Indian ministers are directing themselves with zeal and energy is the improvement of the economic and social standard of the community. When we examine that, one problem overshadows all—the terrific growth of the population. As Burma must now be excluded the growth of the Indian peoples between 1921 and 1931 was 32 millions. At the present rate it will have reached the impressive proportions of 380 millions by 1941. If there were any assurance that the resources of the country could keep pace with this growth it might be a matter for satisfaction rather than regret. There is none. The predominant agricultural population just makes ends meet, and cannot provide a reserve against a bad year. Even at present in many places the population is larger than the soil can carry. There is no escaping the conclusion of Sir John Megaw that when the production of the necessaries of life no longer keeps pace with the growth of the population economic standards and health deteriorate. The problem may be stated in another way. Dr. Aykroyd shows that the diet of the rural population is ill-balanced and deficient in essentials. But the balanced diet he proposes would cost eight shillings and twopence a month, which is twice as high as the present scale. It is clear, therefore, that the future of India lies in raising the standard of the rural population.

The root cause of this poverty lies in the fragmentation of holdings. It is not so much that the holdings are of un- economic size in themselves, though this is often the case ; these small holdings, owing to Hindu practice and the Moslem law of inheritance, are split into 'a multitude of patches, in extreme cases degenerating into fields no more than 3o yards square. It has been calculated by good authority that given the consolidation of holdings the out-turn of the soil could be doubled without any additional labour or capital. In this respect, as in many others, the Punjab has shown the way. Through the agency of the Co-operative Societies a million acres have been re-allotted into working holdings, and the reader, by glancing at the map of the village of Kishanpura, will readily grasp what this means in rural economy. Consolidation is not enough. So long as the present customs and laws prevail it would immediately be followed by fresh fragmentation and the work would have to be done again.

No less intimately associated with custom is the problem of debt. The figures commonly accepted are stupendous. Eight years ago the Indian Banking Committee assessed the rural debt at £675 millions, and it is estimated to have increased by 5o to x oo per cent. since, owing to the . agricultural depression. The distinguishing feature of the rural debt of India is that only a fraction was incurred for produc- tive purposes. The deadweight mass was either borrowed for extravagances on weddings and funerals or built up from compounded interest. The moneylender knows full well that at least 75 per cent. of this debt is hopeless, and where con-

Social Service in India. (H.M. Stationery Office. ma. 6d.) ciliation measures have been adopted is willing to accept huge reductions. The lightening, or even complete removal, of this burden would in itself lead to no permanent cure. It is not uncommon for an Indian earning two or three pounds a month to spend a year's wages on a wedding ; middle-class Indians are compelled by caste rules to entertain three or four thousand of their fellows on ceremonial occasions. Honesty compels agreement with Mr. C. G. Chenevix-Trench when he says that of millions of ryots it is true to say that if their debts were liquidated today their credit would be pledged to saturation point in a month or two. The evil has its roots deep down in Hindu custom and caste rules. Most of the Nationalist Ministers in their own lives set an admirable example of simple living ; it will demand courage of no mean order to translate it to a community demoralised by centuries of practice. Assuming that the cramping burden of debt is resolutely dealt with, the most promising scope for the re-creation of a stable agricultural credit lies in the develop- ment of co-operation. It will surprise most readers to be told that the number of societies in India exceeds that in any other part of the world ; they are twice as numerous as in Germany. The economic movement is now in the trough; the economic blizzard hit a shrewd blow ; but Mr. C. F. Strickland, writing with unchallenged authority, scouts the idea of failure, and insists that the health and stability of the movement are slowly being restored.

Closely allied with these reforms is rural education. Whilst attention has been directed to the illiteracy of India, insuffi- cient study has been directed to the enormous waste of the present system. Only a devastating fraction of those who enter the primary schools reach the standard of literacy. The wreckage of waste runs through the chain—the high percentage of failures in the matriculation, and in the college courses at the Previous and Intermediate examinations. One Congress Minister has had the courage to tell his colleagues that there will be no additional grants for education until this waste is eliminated. An experienced educationist, Mr. Arthur Mayhew, claims that the waste in primary instruction will only be corrected by compulsion. Sir George Anderson, who writes the relevant chapter in this volume, believes that compulsion should only be applied where conditions are favourable, and to schools rather than to larger areas. A reform of an even more drastic character is the reduction of the domination of the matriculation, which draws the educated away from the villages into the overcrowded towns; conditions in India are not markedly different from those discussed by the Spens Committee. Sir George Anderson suggests the remedy in the development of the Vernacular Middle Schools, which unfortunately labour under a snobbish inferiority.

After his recent visit to Canada the High Commissioner for India, Sir Feroze Khan Noon, himself a Minister of wide experience, bore testimony to the efficiency of the adminis- trative machine established by the British in India. It is impossible to study these crowded pages without being pro- foundly impressed by the solidity of that work in every department. If this administrative efficiency has not produced the economic results desired, the causes do not lie so much in defects in the administration, though none would say it is perfect. They are found for the most part in deep-seated custom—and in India custom is almost undistinguishable from religion. So they were beyond the purview of an alien government pledged to the strictest neutrality. National governments are free from these cramping restrictions. A well-forged instrument has been placed in their hands under the great Act of 1935. We shall watch with the deepest interest the purposes to which they put it.